Unchaining the heart

There’s a common Unionist argument, most often espoused by those who fondly believe they’re supporting a progressive politics, that Scotland is not any more left wing than the rest of the UK. We’ve even got our very own Jibberjabber the Hutt, UKIP MEP for not doing anything at all except mouthing off, so we are clearly borderline fascists. It is peculiar that these self-described progressives appear to take a certain pride in the fact that Scotland has an elected UKIP politician, but that’s really a matter for those progressives and their therapist.

Even with independence, we are told, Scotland will still be run for the benefit of the rich and the well-connected. “They” will still be in charge. It will be every bit as shite living in a country run for the benefit of the bosses in the financial sector in Edinburgh as in a country run for the benefit of the bosses in the financial sector in London.

So vote No, and let’s just sit here in the shite and not bother trying to get out of it. It’s Great British Shite that you can rely on, it’s certain shite, not like the hypothetical shite of the nationalists. And at least we will have working class people in Liverpool and Newcastle as company in our misery, and then we can all have a jolly working class time of it being salt of the British earth types even though there’s a terrible smell. There may be some rocks we can all go and crawl under, but be quick, they’ll be privatised soon. There is no alternative, there is no escape. It’s solidarity as a suicide pact.

At its core, this argument wants us to believe that there is a better chance of a UK government espousing and implementing a set of progressive political policies than there is of a Scottish government doing so. And by progressive I mean genuinely left wing as opposed to the Labour leadership’s definition of “progressive”. Labour’s definition of progressive is “whatever happens to be Labour policy this week and assists in the progress of a Labour MP’s career”. Or in the case of Johann Lamont, “wanting to have a debate about whatever policy Labour would perhaps like to introduce at some point in the future after a newly appointed commission has reported back, if that’s alright with Eds Miliband and Balls”.

So we are invited to reject an independent Scotland because it might possibly be shite in order to remain with the certainty of UK shite. It’s not exactly the strongest argument in the No Thanks Little Red White and Blue Book of reasons not to be cheerful. The fact it’s trotted out at all, and with mind numbing regularity in the comments section of the more, ahem, liberal periodicals, is because the rest of their arguments are pretty crappy too.

And that’s the big flaw in this Unionist argument. What happens in an independent Scotland is as yet hypothetical, but we can actually see how the UK parties act.

Over large swathes of Scotland, the Conservatives effectively ceased to exist in the 1980s and 90s. Labour was the Westminster party supposedly capable of mobilising the populace to campaign for the Union. The referendum campaign has left Labour exposed and naked, its progressive union jack knickers have snapped their elastic and flap around their ankles.

The British Labour party began life as the political organisation of a grassroots labour and trades union movement, it was the Parliamentary manifestation of hopes and dreams of a better life. It was the head of a socialist heart. That’s why Labour still proudly claims to be the People’s Party. But over the years the Parliamentary party took over the movement, and the head began to direct the heart. Now British Labour has become the Party of Managing the People’s Expectations. It’s an instrument of rule, and no longer a grassroots movement. It’s a party which is prepared to accept unemployment and benefits cuts in order to brown nose the financial sector of the City of London. The certainty of shite, that’s the UK’s political and economic system – jobbieness and joblessness.

Labour is no longer the People’s Party, it no longer expresses the heart. Labour sold its soul and disconnected itself from the beating heart of hope. 18 years of Tory rule was followed by 13 years of Labour majorities, and nothing much changed as Tony Blair smiled his dead eyed smile. The heart was sold off in privatisations, blown apart in illegal wars, bled dry by troughers and politicians whose main concern is securing themselves a profitable portfolio of directorships and a made up pretendy title in the Lords.

For years the heart was quiet and muffled, pulsing slowly despite the weight of cynicism and alienation that threatened to crush all life and hope. The heart was imprisoned in PFI contracts, tied up in an ATOS interview. The heart was a small voice lost beneath the bluster of the politicians justifying war in Iraq. The heart marched in protests that went ignored. The heart was a flash of sunlight glimpsed beyond the grey clouds of crushed expectations. But the heart still beat, in late night conversations, in plans put on hold, in dreams unrealised.

But then the referendum happened, and the heart discovered a connection to a new artery of aspiration. Cautiously, tentatively, the blood vessels flush out the old cynicism, they clear the fatty blockages of careerists and miserabilists. There is no guarantee of success, there is no cast iron certainty – but hope is in movement again. There is a place to go, and it’s a space we can make for ourselves. Hope is alive again.

The heart beat is getting louder, it grows stronger every day. You hear it in the conversation between two women on the bus who wonder whether independence means their grandchildren can stay in Scotland. You feel it in the hope that fills the air of the public meeting. You see it in the Yes signs that sprout on windows like bluebells after the long cold winter. Hope will triumph over cynicism. The multicoloured diversity of yes will defeat the bleak grey monochrome of miserabilism.

Can you feel the heartbeat, can you feel the hope? The heart is pulsing to the beat of a different drum, a Scottish bodhran beating a new tune. There is another way, it sings. It’s the song that choruses a tune of accountability, of keeping politicians close by so their arses are within reach of our feet. It’s a reel that tells of a written constitution that spells out the rules for one and all and reels in those who seek only their own profit. It’s the Scottish air that sets the air free.Β  No one knows how the song ends – but it’s a song we write for ourselves.Β  And we will write our own destiny.

Scotland’s heart is unchained. It can’t be chained again.


40 comments on “Unchaining the heart

  1. innerbearsdenurchin says:

    Sorry so early

    It is Joe Cocker at his best and very aposite.

    Great upbeat article BTW

  2. Our hearts daring to hope is really really threatening to the powers that benefit from us maintaining our sense of powerlessness.

    They want us cynical, and give us plenty of reason to be so. But we are the reason we don’t need to hide in cynicism any more. Well we can see through them, and dare to not hope in that Obama way which leaves it up to politicians who give us just more of the same. We are not going to let them get away with it whether its a Yes or a No (and it’s going to be a Yes) – it’s up to us to make it happen, not up to anyone else.

    Wonderful writing as ever, thank you

  3. diabloandco says:

    We can win this!

    ( unfortunately I have the song from Titanic stuck in my head – I’m off to listen to old dish cloth hands Joe Cocker in the hope he is the cure)

  4. Clatchard Craig says:

    Nobody can deny the blossoming you describe here. ‘Yes’ symbols are popping up everywhere. In house windows, on car windscreens, draped over fences, flying from flagpoles, posted in gardens and pinned to peoples’ clothes. Every display represents someone who wants a change for the better and isn’t afraid to declare it in public.

    But where are the equivalent displays for the ‘No’ campaign? They’re pitifully scarce. Could it be that such people know privately that they’re backing “The Baddies” and don’t want to admit it?

  5. allan sayers says:

    required reading now

  6. JimnArlene says:

    Simply brilliant writing, nothing more to add.

  7. Excellent! “The referendum campaign has left Labour exposed and naked, its progressive union jack knickers have snapped their elastic and flap around their ankles.” Gave me a much needed larf :o)

  8. […] Unchaining the heart […]

  9. macart763 says:

    Not another damn thing need be said.

    If they can’t care for all of their electorate, then they are fit to care for none.

    Great post Paul.

  10. Thanks Paul; this gave me a much needed lift as I get into my last night shift.
    Oh, a wee box arrived here safely yesterday. Meant to say. I’ll have a proper examination of the contents tomorrow. 😊

  11. Bamstick says:

    I can feel the heartbeat.
    It reminds me of the past when I was a wee lassie waiting for the summer holidays. A big suitcase appeared and each week new pants and socks and wee dresses were put in it ready for the big event. Independence and the thought of it are doing the same to me now. Oh the excitement at the thought and promise of what lies ahead.
    So for me it’s not just about unchaining my heart its about being a hopeful innocent child again with the whole of my future shining brightly in front of me.
    Everything is possible and it will last for eternity.
    Beautiful, heartfelt writing. Thank you.

  12. mary vasey says:

    Smashing, right from your heart to all our hearts. Thank you

  13. bringiton says:

    Great stuff Paul.
    In an independent Scotland, politicians must be selected on the basis of what they are going to do for their country rather than what their country is going to do for them.
    The ability for a constituency to recall a representative who has fallen below expected standards must be paramount.
    Lack of accountability is at the core of the disconnect many people feel with goverrnance and politics in general and must be a priority for a future Scottish government.
    We need to put the heart back into public service.

  14. Jan Cowan says:

    “The song that choruses a tune of accountability.” Brilliant description of true democracy…… which we know is missing in Westminster rule. Paul, you have more than a way with words. Not many have your ability.

    I’m not a “Proud Scot” but I am proud of certain Scots – and you’re one of them.

  15. banaughton49@gmail.com says:

    Thanks wee ginger dug. That was a very beautiful end to a great piece. You’re dong a grand job, a great talent you have.xx

    Sent from my iPad

  16. Heartfelt thanks for that.

  17. […] There's a common Unionist argument, most often espoused by those who fondly believe they're supporting a progressive politics, that Scotland is not any more left wing than the rest of the UK. We've…  […]

  18. Alex Wright says:

    Also, on the juke box, by the better no ta boys, “Your cheating heart, will tell on you”.

  19. thedogphilosopher says:

    A very good, almost poetic, analysis of the current state of things, particularly the head/heart analogy of Labour. Many people still have a blind faith in SL, usually because they are not engaged enough with politics. Writing as good as this may help melt away that resistance.

  20. ian foulds says:

    Brilliant – in every way.

    Well said Sir.

  21. Colin McGarvie says:

    Let’s have Ray say it as well!

  22. KayBee says:

    Top job article.

    Independence is already here to stay folks – you know it and I know it – —- roll on the 18th to put final pen to paper and make it official.

    The Yes grassroots movement has both the strength and numbers to carry on with even greater vigor across the board until the finishing line – we don’t need buses to ferry folk up from England to fight our campaign. This is a very good indicator of just how poor the BT/Nae Ta/UKnoOK/Nae odors campaign really is.

    If it were not for the obvious pro-unionist bias of the BBC this independence debate would already be very much a case of ‘game over’, and all of the main Westminster parties MUST already be aware of this hence the more frequent their public gaffs have become – Carmichael’s threat of cutting back Holyrood powers being his latest clanger. Followed by fracking licenses and extended deals with the US for keeping nukes in Faslane being done on the quiet.

    Chins & heads up folks – and crack on, we are nearly there now.

  23. macart763 says:

    Just went over to the Guardian as I haven’t been there in a while and OMG, now I remember why I decided to give it a rest.

    The latest brain fart from the Guardian by Mr Kettle is a beaut.πŸ˜€


    • hektorsmum says:

      Oh naughty Mac, I went over and read the tripe and it is tripe. Obviously could not help myself and gave them what for.

      • macart763 says:

        Its a hoot isn’t it? I don’t know what Kettle’s on but I’d like a double.πŸ˜€

        Their own articles are becoming wilder by the week and honestly they’ve given up all pretence at Liberal or leftist attitudes as far as Scotland is concerned. I’d swear it was like visiting the Mail these days.

  24. Shit, yir on fire today!

  25. Another great piece thanks, summed it up perfectly “No one knows how the song ends – but it’s a song we write for ourselves. And we will write our own destiny.” (shared on my facebook page)

  26. Andrew Brown says:

    Brilliant and spot on as usual. Thanks Paul.

  27. well now,theres a fine way to start the morning(its nearly afternoon but…).exceptional article and makes a very fine point-we are not going away.No matter the attempts to deaden or deny this new hope once it takes it wont be stilled.Ive often thought those who argue no matter the referendum outcome Indy will happen etc etc are just just attempting to manage their disappointment if the answer is no.that may be,in some cases,true and yet………….all is changed,or at least a fair bit anyway.So much that we are not going away no matter the september result.Great piece.Esperenza is indeed contagious.

  28. hektorsmum says:

    Wonderful post Paul, loved every last word of it.

  29. To turn the talk of shite into a thing of poetry and beauty that made the wee feart bit of my heart sing.. is the genius that you are Wee Dug !!! Cheers !!!

  30. dcanmore says:

    What they are really afraid of IS Scotland doing better, being more equal and fair to its citizens, because it will show the rUK up, black affront those in Westminster and then their own citizens will question about ‘why Scotland can do this and that and we can’t?’ Then maybe comes a much needed revolution in England.

    That’s what they are afraid of and that is why they need us to believe that everything is shite so we won’t vote at all. They thrive in apathy, go about business with little interference. Well change is a comin’ and it will be a hurricane!

  31. jdman says:

    “Can you feel the heartbeat, can you feel the hope? The heart is pulsing to the beat of a different drum, a Scottish bodhran beating a new tune.”

    I cant find a bodhran but I found this in the back
    will that do?

  32. David Agnew says:

    When you allow the likes of George Osborne to come to Scotland and crap all over you and your nation, and no one is prepared on the Unionist side to stand up to him and fight Scotland’s corner? You are not only allowing yourself to be bullied, but you also see how little respect people like him have for Scotland.

    This is what No voters really should be aware of. A no vote is simply them agreeing with Osborne that that they are worthless scroungers. Why anyone would think they should be afforded respect following a no vote is beyond me.

    The idea that “they’ll give us more powers if we vote no” is total bollocks. If you negotiate from a position of weakness, you don’t get to dictate terms to anyone. Be it Grand strategy, business, or local politics – if you give up you winning hand before the other side has made a counter offer, you don’t win anything. at all. ever.

    No voters seem to be smugly complacent about the consequences of a no vote. They have no concept of what is happening, as they seem oblivious to what is happening in the UK at the moment. They are in for a rude awakening.

    My prediction is that if it is a no vote, and god help us if it is, then we are so fucked. Doubly fucked if the Tories get in. I guarantee you that come 2019 the union will be toast.

  33. Capella says:

    Brilliant stuff! I have a guest this weekend who, when questioned by a canvasser why she was voting YES, quoted Nelson Mandela “May your choices reflect your hopes rather than your fears.”

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