I’ve been getting a good feeling of late. Admittedly there’s a muckle black cloud looming on my personal horizons, but the Yes campaign seems to be going from strength to strength – at least in my small bubble of confirmation bias. Because that’s all positive feelings about the progress of the Yes campaign can ever be, according to media commentators too numerous to mention. For much of the media the words “progress” and “Alicsammin” can only be understood in the sense of a suicide’s progress off the end of a cliff. They’re already getting themselves set up for another knockout blow for Alicsammin, and it’s going to be all over for the Yes campaign just like it was last time. And the time before that. And the time before that.
It’s all been over for the Yes campaign since before the campaign even started. But here we are. Putting posters in windaes, chapping on doors, talking to friends and neighbours – and feeling pretty damn bouncy. A face to face conversation with a friend is a bombproof shelter against the anti-independence air campaign. You trust your friends and your family more than you trust some distant person with a column in a newspaper that no one in your street reads.
And that’s where Yes is winning. A couple of stories I heard this week brought it home to me. A few wee anecdotes don’t make data, but this referendum isn’t about data. It’s about people, and people have stories. When you put all those stories together you can make Scottish history.
When the campaign started all those oh so many long months ago, my mother was the only Yes supporter in her wee group of six friends – all women in their 70s, mostly retired teachers. The others were going to vote No. A couple of them were vehemently No. They’re precisely the demographic that’s supposed to be least likely to vote Yes – older women who are retired professionals. Yet every single one of them is now going to vote Yes. It was the same story with the mother of another friend, a Labour stalwart in her 70s, she’s now a Yes voter too.
They each have their own individual paths to Yes. For one of my mother’s friends it was going on holiday to the south of England. She met a lovely older woman from Birmingham, and spent the day with her. Her new companion told her she only ever went on holiday in England, and the previous year had gone to Inverness. My mother’s friend pointed out that Inverness is not in England but in Scotland, only to be told: “Oh it’s the same thing.” It was the wee off the cuff remark that crystalised the entire debate for my mother’s friend, that brought into focus decades of Westminster neglect, of a Scotland that cannot control her own destiny. Vote No for Scotland to remain a part of England.
Meanwhile another woman who has been a friend for decades is facing some very tough decisions of her own. She was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and is facing chemotherapy and an operation. She told me that last week as we exchanged our personal woes that she was discussing the chemotherapy with the medical staff and told them that she wanted to start it the week after the referendum. She wants to go and vote Yes to give her grandweans a future. She’s not voted since the 1980s but she’s voting now. This is a different vote, a vote that is so important that she is prepared to delay her chemotherapy treatment in order to participate and make a difference. With commitment like that – how can the Yes campaign possibly lose?
But with all of them it’s not so much that they’ve been swayed by the promises of Alicsammin. It’s more that they’ve been turned off by the No campaign, and in particular the Labour party. They’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with the Tories and their wee LibDem hingers on and told us that absolutely every single option that Scotland might exercise as an independent nation is worse than the possibility of Boris Johnson becoming the UK Prime Minister and a Westminster Parliament with Nigel Farage in it. Not just worse but cataclysmically worse. Scotland has absolutely nothing going for it except the kind hearted love of the Westminster Parliament and Dan Snow. And the oil is going to run out at 4.30pm on the first Wednesday after the declaration of independence.
We’re too wee and poor for our economic collapse to have any significant impact on the rest of the UK, but we’re too big a financial risk for them to enter into a currency union with us. We can’t have a currency union because we might raise taxes differently, but if we vote No we are going to be offered all sorts of lovely new tax raising powers. We’re being asked to believe all these propositions are true. But they can’t all be true. We’re coming to realise that none are true.
The No campaign want the currency to be the only question. A matter of a practicality is to determine the principle. It’s not allowed to be about Trident, it’s not allowed to be about social justice, it’s not allowed to be about politicians being held to account, or Scotland determining her own political choices. It’s about the price of everything and the value of nothing. This is, apparently, the positive case for the Union. That and the promise that Kate might get pregnant at some point. Ooooh intshe lurvely.
Labour lines up with the LibDems, and George Galloway and Brian Wilson are the welcome guests of the Tories. The Guardian and the Daily Mail look at one another in the pages of the Mirror. The bankers and the businessmen cheer along. And they all look the same.
Faced with a barrage of claim and counter claim, of facts and figures that contradict one another, women like my mum’s friends listen to what people around them are saying. And they think for themselves. Then they realise that it’s the Yes campaign which is saying exactly what they tell their own weans and the grandweans. Think for yourself. Believe in your own talents and your own abilities. Don’t listen to those who tell you you can’t do it because you can do anything if you put your mind to it. You’ll have your family and your friends to back you up.
They’re not trusting Alicsammin. They’re trusting themselves. They’re trusting their families. They’re trusting Scotland.