The dug and me, well mainly the dug but I got to tag along too, had a great time on Friday evening meeting the enthusiastic and committed volunteers at Yes Shettleston in the East End of Glasgow. From a wee group of less than ten a few weeks ago, Yes Shettleston’s ranks have now swollen to some fifty volunteers, and more keep arriving every day eager to make a contribution.
Earlier that day, Ruth Davidson the Action Krankie took a wee break from being sporty to give an interview to the Guardian. Being an Action Krankie and a big fan of Davie Cameron, Ruth believes sporting metaphors describe her politics perfectly – “Oh look someone got a gold medal for running about a bit” being the closest we’ve ever got to a positive case of the Union. With Ruthie there’s a lot of grunting, striving, tearful promises that she’s doing it all for Great-Auntie Annabel, and then she runs round in ever decreasing circles and ends up worse off than where she started. So exactly like the Unionist parties’ promises of extra powers for Scotland then.
But it’s a hard and lonely life being the only lesbian Tory Glaswegian in Scotland. I follow Ruth’s career with great interest, since part of the reason I came out as gay and made a general nuisance of myself about gay rights all those oh so many years ago was so that future generations of lesbians and gay men could pursue their dreams and still be true to themselves. But it turns out it was so some wee careerist abseiler could decide she wanted to be a Tory MSP and become the glittery lesbian bauble in Davie Cameron’s modern Conservative PR plan. I could weep sometimes, I really could.
In her interview Ruth explained what motivates her, and said: “If somebody says I can’t do something then it’s: ‘Right, I’ll show you,’ and I’ll go and do it.”
You got that one right Ruthie hen. Yes Shettleston is full of people who share that sentiment in full, and so are other Yes groups up and down the country. We’ve heard Ruthie and her pals tell us we can’t do it, we can’t govern ourselves, we need Westminster to do it for us. Aye right. We’ll show you. We’re going to go and do it ourselves. The message from Shettleston is that we have the confidence in our own talents, skills, experience to know that we can do it. We have the confidence of our own audacity and the strength of our passion to know that you’ll not only watch us do it Ruthie, but yer wee jaw will have abseiled down to the floor. Watch – and learn what gallus means. Cannae? Aye, right.
The Yes Shettleston volunteers want Scotland to break out of Ruth’s style of politics where a small minority run around energetically in circles getting nowhere while the majority tune out and watch soap operas instead. Like so many of us, they’re fed up fighting against the latest austerity threat, the latest Tory cut, the latest Labour betrayal. They want to fight for something positive. They want a plot line with a resolution, a story that develops. They want a Scotland where politics becomes a documentary of the possible and not a melodrama of you cannae.
You don’t get the quantity and quality of commitment and energy on display in Yes Shettleston in a campaign which feels like it’s losing. And that’s because we’re not losing, we’re winning. The media has been crowing for the past week that it’s all over for the Yes campaign, but while they’ve been stuck in their currency rutting, real people have been talking about fairness and justice.
People have been talking about oil, and rumours, and about politicians who think they have a right to lie to us. People have been talking about Shettleston, about Castlemilk, about Methil, about Niddrie and the Raploch, and about how the only way things will ever change is for those of us who live here to take matters into our own hands and change them ourselves. The words of Shettleston’s grannies ring in our ears: If ye want somethin done, dae it yersel.
The No campaign has the media, it has the corporate interests and the right wing foreign politicians trading favours with their Tory pals. Incidentally Tony Abbott, we’ve already had a message from Australia, and it’s from someone infinitely more dignified and with far greater wisdom than you. He said we should vote Yes.
The Yes campaign doesn’t have any of that. It doesn’t have the corporate backing, or the weight of the state, or the massed ranks of the media. The Yes campaign just has people in it. Real people, lots of people. People who give their time and their energy and their talents and skills and experiences. The authentic version of the kind of people that politicians invent so they can find quotes for their leaflets. Yes groups speak for themselves. Yes supporters think independently. We’re the people being told we can’t, watch us change the world.
Yes Shettleston is full of women and men of every generation, most have never been involved with politics before. They’re the Scotland of the friendly welcome, the Scotland of the enquiring mind and the passionate heart. The Scotland you always wanted to live in but were too ground down by the cynicism to believe could ever exist. It exists already. It’s here, and it’s in a Yes group near you. Come and make it happen everywhere.
There are loads of ways to get involved. From staffing the Yes centre and making tea for footsore canvassers, to chapping on doors, signing up to drive elderly or disabled voters to the polls on the Big Day, stuffing envelopes, or just providing a listening ear. Come and connect with Scotland. This isn’t party political. It’s people political, it’s about our lives, our futures, and about making our voices heard. The political is personal, and that person is you. And Agnes might bake you a Yes cake.
Yes Shettleston are based at the Yes Shettleston Campaign Centre, 647 Shettleston Road, Glasgow, G32 7EJ. The centre is on the corner of Blair Street, next to Sheddens bar. The Campaign Centre is open daily from 9am to 9pm. Drop in for a chat, volunteer, get involved, and become friends with a Scotland of possibility.
If you don’t live in the East End of Glasgow, you can find your local Yes group here:
Meanwhile in other news, the respected historian Tom Devine has announced that he’s decided to vote Yes. Tom Devine, now there’s a history man for you. Dan Snow, eat your heart out.