Ten days after

A guest post by William Duguid

Call off the search party, I’m still here. It’s just taken me a bit longer to return to blogging than I expected.

It’s not that I’ve been lying disconsolately in bed, surrounded by tear-sodden Kleenex and empty beer cans. Apart from that first Friday, anyway. It’s just that when your stock-in-trade is jokes, and you look in the Quality Street tin where you keep them and find nothing but sarcasm, sweary words and barely suppressed rage, it’s probably sensible to step back from comedy till the sense-of-humour fairy brings fresh supplies.

For my own rehabilitation I have to thank one or two prominent No campaigners whose patronising triumphalism stank out my Twitter timeline, swiftly replacing gloom with anger and determination. Other grieving Yessers, even if they body-swerved the social media wasps’ nest, were perhaps roused to resistance by the BBC’s footage – only kiddin’, it was Russia Today’s – of George Square being desecrated by sectarian wankers bent on mayhem.

However, as the dents in my filing cabinet testify, the path to renewed optimism hasn’t been entirely smooth. After all, for 1,617,989 of us the word “Clackmannanshire” will forever trigger nightmares, as we recall our jaws clanking to the floor at the silent majority suddenly materialising out of nowhere. I’m sure some of us are still enveloped in a monochrome fog, surveying the popping-candy vitality of the resurrected Yes movement with a mixture of bemusement and envy. Hang in there, folks, take as long as you need to get your mojo back, and we’ll save you a seat at the coming firework display.

Anyway, for the record, and to satisfy the thought police hovering over my shoulder, I accept the referendum result. I acknowledge there’s a core group of people who, for reasons ranging from respectable to ridiculous, will always vote No to independence, even if scientists prove that it would transform Campbeltown Loch into whisky.

And I won’t condemn anybody else who in good faith voted No, although I hope Hell has a special barbecue setting for the duplicitous weasels who lied to them on their TVs and doorsteps. When those voters’ expectations unravel like a moth-eaten semmit, I’ll rely on Zen-like emotional control to reach out to them with warmth and sympathy, rather than sand-blasting them with colourfully-embroidered cries of “Told you so!”

Tip-toeing into controversial territory, and squeezing into my Kevlar onesie for protection, I have to say that I disagree with claims that the count was rigged. Small-scale jiggery-pokery in Glasgow, a drama-queen fire alarm in Dundee and a notorious YouTube video casting doubt on easily-explained activities don’t amount to wholesale Government pauchling. Beady eyes from both camps, scrutinising every event from the sorting of ballots to the scratching of bums, would make such a stunt impossible to pull off, unless you kidnapped the entire count staff and replaced them with clones of Derren Brown.

But, before I morph into a cheerleader for the Electoral Commission, I’ve got one or two wee niggles. Firstly, control of the electoral register at Glenrothes obviously fell into the hands of Mr Frank Spencer, as several punters arrived at the polling place only to discover a bunch of spivs had already voted in their name. Few observers considered this a surprise, given the town’s fast-growing reputation as the Bermuda Triangle of fair electioneering.

Secondly, cyberspace is awash with allegations that ballot papers in some places were blank on the reverse, without the official bar-coding people were expecting. Now, it’s quite possible that (1) this doesn’t matter, because Big Brother knows best, (2) it’s merely a public-spirited saving of ink in Austerity Britain, or (3) it’s the most widespread example of false memory syndrome since half the population claimed they’d always suspected the 1978 World Cup squad of being a bit rubbish. But, if the authorities want to see the 84% indyref turnout repeated any time before the rocks melt with the sun, that sort of thing deserves a decent explanation, not the bog-standard civil service brush-off.

As for postal votes, I may be a vinegary old cynic, but aren’t they simply a licence to cheat? I preferred the days when they were reserved for those who genuinely needed them, rather than being given away with copies of the Metro or dropped from helicopters on to a grateful populace. I’m not griping about the referendum, where I’d say either postal voters behaved themselves or both sides cheated equally, but this could be dynamite in a closely-fought constituency with tactical voters on the prowl.

Ruth Davidson is probably fed up with the whole idea of postal voting, having inadvertently stitched up the No campaign’s polling agents live on TV by blabbing that they’d sampled ballot papers during verification checks. Of course, sampling has been a widely-practised black art ever since Homo sapiens first won a slim majority over the Neanderthals, but because it’s the electoral equivalent of insider dealing people normally have the sense to stay schtum about it. Not so the hapless Ruth, whose prefect’s badge is now at a decidedly un-jaunty angle as the Crown Office polishes its knuckledusters. Edge-of-seat entertainment to keep the Yes movement buoyed up in the coming days.

And it’s the coming days on which we must concentrate. Our sneerier detractors would like nothing better than to see us mired in the past, wide open to caricature as conspiracy theorists, tetchy losers and woad-wearing fantasists. Sorry, perhaps there’s one thing they’d like more: for us to shut our traps, chuck this political engagement malarkey, melt our Yes badges down to make cereal bowls, settle down on the sofa for the next 307 years and proudly join in the booing of Alex Salmond. Any alternative activity, the irony-deaf Dalek voice screeches, is “anti-democratic”.

Bugger that. I don’t know if my ballot paper had a bar-code on the back, but it certainly didn’t have the words “For Ever And Ever Amen” beside the No option. We’re in the minority, and we don’t need a Professor Branestawm lookalike on the telly to remind us, but it’s only two letters and an episode of Westminster stupidity away from becoming a majority. We’ve got every right to keep striving for that goal, and reason to believe we’ll find ears willing to listen. This isn’t denial or bloody-mindedness, it’s a gravitational pull.

Now is the time for everyone to be politically engaged, no matter how they voted. Just ten days after the referendum, “New powers for Scotland” has mysteriously become “Hey, what’s in it for England?”, fracking operators are gearing up to shaft the Central Belt, knives are being noisily sharpened for the Scottish budget, and we’re dropping bombs on Iraq for the third time, yet again without the haziest clue what happens next. Even if there’s no public appetite for another referendum, that little lot should surely resonate with some No voters who can be persuaded to stand alongside us.

I’m not particularly uptight about what we call ourselves, though I have sympathy with those who think “the 45” is too exclusive, “45 rising” too Jacobite and “45 plus” too like an intelligence test for middle-aged people. In these early days, it’s sometimes frustrating seeing energy being wasted on “Judaean People’s Front” naming scuffles, but the wizened old sage in me says these things have a habit of settling down and evolving naturally.

Personally, for the moment, I’m going with the “butterfly rebellion” idea first suggested in Robin McAlpine’s brilliant article here. In large numbers, butterflies are a near-impossible target for an opponent relying on brute force. Individually, a butterfly is colourful and attractive, and has a nifty set of wings just like the sense-of-humour fairy.

Oh, and if it decides to flap those wings you never know what hurricanes might result.

This post was first published on William’s blog, and is republished here with kind permission.

Being irrelevant

Yeah! We’re irrelevant again. So we had this wee referendum thingy and Scotland scared the shiters out of the Westminster establishment – which was a lot of fun – and the UK media and political classes have gone back to ignoring us in the hope we don’t go away. Now they’re far too busy talking about UKIP, English devolution, and starting World War Three to bother themselves over much about Scotland. And there was me thinking that George Robertson had told us that it would be Scottish independence that started that. I must have missed something. Anyway, Scotland now gets to sit unobtrusively at the back of the class watching World War Three start without it being our cataclysmic fault, and we can plot how escape the clutches of the Westminster system without anyone paying us too much attention, which is pretty much the situation we’ve been in for the past 30 years.

So, you may recall – because the UK media doesn’t – that a vow was made. It was a lovely vow, splattered all over the front page of the Record like one of those fake manuscripts you can buy at the market that assures you in wedding invitation lettering that everyone possessing your surname, like Kavanagh, Krisztowski or Kapoor, is a direct descendant of Robert the Bruce, William Wallace, and that guy that invented asphalt. Printing it like that just showed how serious the vow was, like a vow Buddhist monks make, only without any of the troubling obligations demanding self-denial, telling the truth, and not copping bad karma from the electorate. The one about the orange bedsheets is strictly observed however, because they can be claimed on expenses and you can get lovely Egyptian cotton ones from John Lewis.

I did say during before the referendum that I never knew independence campaigns could be such a laugh, and we really needed to have more of them. Looks like I’m going to get my wish. Pity it has to involve killing people. But hey, they’re Middle Easterners. Perpetual warfare and killing Middle Eastern people is a British tradition, like bunting, royal babies, and swearing a lot whenever Nicholas Witchell comes on the telly. If Westminster had made a vow to Scotland to take military action against Nicholas Witchell instead of some Middle Eastern country I’d probably have voted No.

But back to the death, devastation, hubris, bleeding, weeping, and suffering, or the ‘action’ as the testosterone fueled commentators on the telly refer to it as though it was a species of video game and not the destruction of human life. Yes, it’s the Tory party conference.

The conference started today in Birmingham. Far from strutting the stage as the saviour of the Union, poor wee Davie is having to fight off defections to UKIP and a sex scandal involving some minister no one has ever heard of. It’s not even a very juicy sex scandal, as no fishnet stockings, orange segments, orgiastic encounters with a Guardsman in Regents Park, or regimental goats played any part in it. It used to be that apart from kicking the working classes in the balls – but that’s a given – the one thing you could rely on the Tories for was juicy sex scandals. They can’t even do those properly any more and it’s really not good enough. At the very least they could make sure their sex scandals involved shrubbery. It’s just tiresome sleaze these days, and we can get that from the British Labour party.

But the sex scandal is the very least of Davie’s woes. Despite their rubbish sex scandals, the Tories have still managed to screw themselves, and look set to do to themselves in England what British Labour has managed to do to itself in Scotland – pissing off their core voters to such an extent that they desert them in droves. In the Tories’ case, the pissing off has been done with the force of a watercannon, and not that of a flaccid wee dick – although I promised not to say that about Ed Miliband. Voters in England have been driven in their desperation into the welcoming arms of the grinning Nigel. Another Tory wonder that we all wonder who the hell he is has defected to Nige’s mob. At least in Scotland we have something noble to vote for instead, and many of us have the fake vellum manuscript from the market to prove it.

Just over a week after the referendum, and the Tories have joined British Labour in the waiting room for the express train to perdition. Divided, fractious, and trapped between the conflicting demands of the electorates in Scotland and England, the only reason they’re still hanging around is because they privatised the railways and the service is as rubbish as the sex scandals.

British Labour in Scotland is equally too busy for vows, as it is currently preoccupied with in-fighting between those giants of Scottish politics, Johann Lamont and Jim Murphy, who are fighting over the chance to be chief undertaker in a party of corpses.

Johann’s contribution to Scottish public life was eloquently summed up in a Tweet from Sean Bell, honest the cheque’s in the post: Every time I see Johann Lamont in action, I’m reminded there’s a Scotmid somewhere without an assistant manager.

And then there’s Jim, the hero who bravely faced down an egg and shouted at old ladies. As a dedicated Blairite, Jim’s chances of advancement within a shadow cabinet headed by Gordie Broon’s former henchpersons are about as good as Magrit Curran’s chances of ever actually swallowing that wasp, so all of a sudden he’s remembered Scotland exists as an opportunity for him to build a power base within the party for himself. Johann’s determined to organise the staff rota so Jim’s on permanent back shift. Jim has the advantage here, as he makes a more convincing looking undertaker. And as a big fan of Tony Blair and an enthusiastic supporter of the war in Iraq – both the last one and this one – he’s got previous experience.

The vow drops rapidly down the list of important things-to-do that fill the lives of our political leaders. It’s now dropped below devolution for Yorkshire and reform of the 1863 Regulation of Mechanical Tin Plate Sex Toys Act, and is currently plummetting below “should I buy the orange sheets or the peach coloured ones”. Though it has to be orange, that’s the colour that really suits Labour and means they’ll match the only friends they’ve got left in Scotland.

Meanwhile, us lot, the defeated, the hauden doon, and the beaten, the ones who are supposed to be bewailing our lot, rending our clothing and tearing out our hair, as we sit in the gloom besmeared with the ashes of our dreams, we’re not following the script at all. Scotland has seen the membership of the SNP soar through the roof to over 70,000 and rising, membership of the Greens more than double, that of the SSP treble, and proposals are floating about to create a new Yes Alliance to hoover up the rest of the Yes voters and ensure a pro-sovereignty majority of Scottish MPs in 2015. So much for bayonetting the wounded then. The wounding of the British Labour party and the Tories has only just begun.

Dunno about you, but I’m feeling pretty smug already. The Unionist parties are the ones who are heading straight to irrelevance on a one way ticket. See – we told you so. It’s the new national catchphrase.


I’m feeling pretty positive and upbeat and would like to thank everyone who has contacted me privately to express their concern or to offer a shoulder to cry on after the personal events of the past few weeks. I’ve not had time to contact everyone individually. But I’m OK, honest, and am doing far better than I had anticipated.

The big news is that I’ve bought a new flat, and – fingers crossed – the contracts will be exchanged next week and I can move to the new place. It’s a bigger flat, still in the East End of Glasgow, a short walk from my parents place and close to a train station. So I have loads to do in order to organise the flitting and won’t be able to keep this blog updated daily until things settle down. That’s where you come in. I’d like to publish more guest posts over the next few weeks. Please send your text to me at weegingerdug [at] gmail.com (replace the [at] with @ when you email).


An open letter to Magrit Curran

I wasn’t going to blog anything today, but I read in the Scotsman that Magrit Curran is to head a British Labour party commission which plans to visit the 10 areas of former British Labour support which returned a high Yes vote in order to discover why we turned our backs on Magrit’s beloved career ladder. British Labour is asking us to put our trust in them once again. They have no shame, they have learned nothing, and now they look to us for answers to a problem of their own making and expect us to solve it for them so they can get back to business as usual, so they can pretend that nothing has happened.

No doubt the commission will operate as British Labour always operates, behind closed doors and talking to no-one except those who have been pre-approved. It is a window dressing exercise, a sham with no intent except to pretend to listen. It is a lie, like the very name “Scottish Labour” is a lie. British Labour does not listen, it only orders, it only commands, it only directs, it only takes. It is a creature of Westminster, not a child of Scotland’s working class communities. British Labour sold out the working classes of Scotland for party interests, it exists to keep us trapped in hopelessness.

So as a former British Labour voter, who was brought up and lives in one of the working class areas that was lost to British Labour, I’d like to tell Magrit why we reject them, because she will not be soliticing my opinion, she will not ask to speak with me – or you. We are not pre-approved, and we will never approve.

We are not coming back to you Magrit. Your empty words are meaningless. We did not turn our backs on you, you turned your back on us. You have made your choices, and now we have made ours. We choose to repay your contempt with rejection, we choose to reject your platitudes with our passion, we choose to stand against you for you have chosen to stand apart. We are the people, not you, and you do not speak for us.

We see how quickly your vows evaporate. How little you offer. There is no place for you in our struggles, for you stand with the Tories, with big business, with the banks, and you wrapped yourself in the Union flag and grinned when the forces of the powerful threatened the community you claim to represent. You have bequeathed us a land where foodbanks are protected by nuclear missiles, and you tell us we can expect nothing better. You offer austerity, you offer loss, you offer disappointment. You offer to manage our expectations on behalf of the bosses. And the only gains that can be made are those which benefit the Magrit Currans, the Party people who put party before people.

British Labour has become nothing more than a career path for the ambitious, a chance of fame for the talentless. The British Labour party is the parliamentary tail of the Labour movement, the arse that thinks it’s the brain and heart. The movement continues, the movement moves on. It must move on without British Labour. We have excreted you Magrit. You will be flushed away, unmourned.

Look forward to a future of exclusion Magrit. Embrace your rejection, it is the only comfort you will find. There is no place for your tribalism amongst the alliance of Yes. You have nothing to offer us, and all we have for you is to show you the door. Leave. There is no place for you amongst us. You do not belong here. You belong with the Tories, you belong in the boardrooms, you belong with those who play party games with people’s lives. The only message we have for you is to tell you to fuck off back to your focus groups.

You are a nationalist Magrit, a British nationalist. You can reject the label but it will forever stick to you. The rampaging Loyalist mobs who sought out Yes voters to attack and assault in the wake of the vote, they are your people and your responsibility. The selfish ones who were asked to think of their country and the future of us all but who thought only of their nice shiny motors, their ipads, their foreign holidays. They are your people, the materialists and the shallow ones. You represent their pinched faces, their pursed lips and their poverty of spirit.

This is a whirlwind of your own creation Magrit, and it will blow you away like the lifeless dust your party has become. There can be no reconciliation with your kind. Even Ramsay MacDonald once had principles, the great betrayer was a better human being than you and your and your party have become. The current generations of British Labour have never known principles. No soul. No heart. No love. You are dead to us because you are dead to yourselves. I will not reconcile myself to your corpse of hope, to the rotting stench of your decay. You will never put the coffin lid on my aspirations and dreams.

British Labour has been a long time dying. The last drops of red had dripped from its veins long before the referendum campaign began. Now all that is left is a rotting cadaver and a bad smell. It must be cleared away. If you wish to understand why we reject you Magrit, you do not need a commission. You do not need reports that will lie unread and undigested. You only need to look in a mirror. You are the problem, not us. We are the solution.

British Labour has made its choices, and now we make ours. Magrit and the rest of the British Labour party, we choose a future without you in it.



A short pause for breath

The last few weeks have been pretty momentous, and not just the referendum but on a far more personal level. I need some time to think, to catch up with myself, and to start to tackle the foundations of building a life for myself as a single person. I also need to look into self-publishing, and explore some options for getting the Collected Yaps available for sale. And I need to consider where I’m going to live, and where I go from here. I’ve got a lot to do, and need some time to myself to do it.

Meanwhile there are a lot of ideas and proposals flying around about ways to proceed with the tasks of building a new autonomous Scottish media, challenging the droit-de-seigneur of the British Labour party, and forging new alliances amongst the pro-Yes forces. There is the enthusiasm and will to ensure that a Yes phoenix will arise from the ashes, even if its shape is as yet unclear. I hope that a clearer picture will emerge over the next few days.

So I’m taking a short blog-break, and will be back in a few days, invigorated, refreshed, and hopefully with good news.

Thanks to everyone for all the informative and thoughtful comments on the last few blog pieces. They’ve been extremely useful – and please keep adding to them.



A phoenix from the ashes

It’s time for the British Labour party in Scotland to end. Their party is over, their balloons bounce only because they are kept aloft by an alliance with big business and the City of London. British Labour wrapped itself in a Union flag and preached solidarity with the Tories and big business – remember that, never forget. There is no get out clause four, there is no devo-max or federalist jam. The solemn vow had evaporated long before it stained paper with the ink of the venal press printing machines.

Scotland must now refuse the worn out lies and brasso’ed necks of the Jim Murphys and the Magrit Currans – the man who whipped an egg up into a war, and the cereal woman who turns milk sour. Scotland must scoff at the platitudes of the visionless Gordie Broons and the Holy Wee Dougies – the one eyed man who made himself king by blinding his country with fear, and the creeping bejezuz of unchristian charity. They have used us long enough. Their victory will be pyrrhic.

There is no Scottish Labour party. There is a British Labour party which labours only to manage your expectations and keep the bosses happy. Every time they say that their name is Scottish Labour, they lie to you. Scottish Labour is nothing more than a brand label on a tin that contains Conservative policies. It’s a party whose great One Nation slogan is ripped off from 19th century Tories – British Labour is the backward looking clown face of progressive politics, a tape worm in the swollen belly of a Victorian working class child.

I’m proud of my city, Glasgow the city of Labour’s birth, and proud of those throughout Scotland who saw through the deceit and voted Yes. The referendum campaign was the Thatcher moment for the British Labour party in Scotland. British Labour’s cradle has rejected its accursed changling child. It will be rejected and despised.

British Labour’s party is over, but a new party is about to begin. One of the lessons to take from the second Scottish 45 is that the SNP alone cannot bring about independence. The idea of a single party leading a nation to independence belongs to the past century and in this modern age leaves the independence movement open to easy attack. It was all about Alicsammin. Or it will all be about Nicola Sturgeon or whoever takes over now that Alex Salmond has gracefully bowed out. The wider aims of the independence movement were lost in media attacks on SNP policies which the rest of us do not necessarily support. We cannot win an independence campaign if we all must agree to the policies of a single party. It must be a broad based coalition, and be seen to be such.

I have great respect for the achievements of Alex Salmond and the SNP for bringing the referendum about, and for opening Scotland to the opportunity to allow her diverse voices to talk, to sing, to laugh and debate. It’s because of them that we are here, and for that they are due our sincere thanks and recognition. But we need a party which can find its support amongst those on the left, those of us who do not consider ourselves nationalists but independentistas, those who have been alienated from politics. People who would never support the SNP.

One of the dreams I held and still hold for independence was a Scottish Labour party that really was a Scottish Labour party, a Scottish people’s party that was really a Scottish People’s Party. Independence was the magic key that would open the door. But now in the aftermath of the Second 45, I see that we can’t wait for independence in order to bring that party about. We must build our Scottish People’s Party now. It is a precondition of independence.

We must ensure that pro-sovereignty parties dominate in Scottish politics. It is only by reducing the British Labour party to an insignificant rump that we have the best chance of a future Holyrood with a majority of pro-sovereignty parties. We must replace Westminster’s useless windbags with MPs whose allegiances lie only with a party in Scotland and who will not sell out Scotland’s interests. We must punish those who stood outside supermarkets and grinned ear to ear after David Cameron called on his pals in the boardrooms to scare Scots with higher prices.

Common Weal people, Labour for Indy, left wing SNP people, peace campaigners, anti-poverty campaigners, Greens, Socialists, RIC activists, LGBT rights activists, disability rights groups – we need to band together and found a new Scottish People’s Party. A party firmly on the left, a party that is the true heir to the Scottish radical tradition coopted and traduced by the British Labour party. I willingly offer my services as a lippy bastert for the cause.

Our hopes have been scorched and torched by the parasites of British Labour for too long, but a phoenix shall rise from the ashes.



Wee Ginger Dug – the collected yaps

There are many things that need to be done, so much work we have to do. But I must build a new life for myself. I gave up work to look after my partner after he was diagnosed with a terminal illness, and now that he has passed away I am left without an income. I need to find work and a way of earning a living. If you have any ideas about that – I am open to all and any offers!

Many readers have suggested a book version of some of the best articles published on the Wee Ginger Dug over the past year. I plan to go ahead with this as quickly as possible. So I’d like readers of the blog to suggest their favourite pieces, so they can be published in the new book. Please leave your comments and suggestions below.

Meanwhile I do not intend to give up. I will continue to publish and post on this blog, and hope to get involved in the challenging and exciting task of building a new Scottish media, and who knows – perhaps also a new Scottish political party of the left.  I have a huge anger at the British Labour party, and do not intend to let them get away with their betrayal of the working class communities which gave birth to the Labour movement.  The British Labour party in Scotland must be punished, it must be held to account, it must be wiped off the electoral map.

I won’t be going away, and I won’t be shutting up. I hope you feel the same way too. We’ve come so far and achieved so much. Right now, Scotland needs us all more than ever.

So watch this space … This dug will keep barking.


The tide goes out

We stand on the shore of the sea loch, and watch the tide go out. Now is the time to shelter the flame of hope from the howling gale. No has won through fear and threats of loss. But the dream is not dead, the dream still lives within the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands who refused to be bowed by fear, who refused to succumb to the one sided stories of the self-interested. It is not a dream that will be forgotten. The flame of hope still burns within.

I’ve already lost this year. I’ve already had to grieve. But I will not grieve for Scotland, because Scotland still lives and hope still lives within me. I do not feel ashamed for the shame of others. Now is a time for building, for defending what we have built, for ensuring that the politicians keep their worthless words. We achieved so much with so little, we learned how to organise ourselves, and we must use those skills to maintain the pressure for change. I didn’t come this far only to give up now. It is only if you slink away that they will have won. We cannot go back into the shortbread tin. We have outgrown it.

It was always a big ask, to break through generations of apathy at the first attempt, to leap the prison walls of cynicism in a single bound. In the end we could not overcome the weight of a media almost uniformly opposed to change, and because of that a million minds remained closed and out of reach. We have a media overwhelmingly owned and controlled outside Scotland. A media that speaks for the established interests and is beamed into the shortbread tin, where it turns a debate on national self-determination into a warning about the price of car insurance. They ensured the debate revolved around money, and ignored morality.

For all Westminster’s talk of home rule, they’re keeping their paws firmly on the TV remote control. Now we all know why. It allows them to set the agenda. So we must build a new media, one that truly represents the diversity of this land and gives a space to Scotland’s voices, and take it beyond the internet, onto the TV screens, into the press, into every street, into every home. It must be owned and controlled within Scotland. We have work to do.

The Labour party must be held to account. No more can they claim to stand shoulder to shoulder with the poor and the excluded. No more can they claim to represent the working classes. No more will they leech moral authority from our struggles, sucking the life blood from change, managing the expectations of working class people. Labour is a creature of the bosses and the banks. It is the problem, not the solution. Labour cannot claim to defend us from the Tories after they and the Tories stood side by side. I will never vote for them again. Labour for Indy must consider their future. Perhaps it’s time for a new party of the left in Scotland. Independence cannot be the preserve of just one large party. It must be a broad based national movement, and be seen to be such. We have work to do.

I will scoff at the pride of those who are proud to be small, proud to be bullied. Proud not to think, proud to eat their cereal. And I will have the pride that comes from knowing that I stood with my sisters and brothers and dared to hope and dream of something better. The hoping and dreaming doesn’t end here. It has only just begun. A set back is not a death, a defeat is not annihilation. This is not the path over the mountain, but we have learned how to climb. We must climb to another path. We have work to do.

I have work to do. I must build a new life for myself. I must learn to be me after decades of we. But hope still burns within me. My life with Andy has left me strong enough to face the challenges that lie ahead, it gives me the resolve to build a new future. These past few months and years have given Scotland the strength and resolve to face the challenges that lie ahead. We will survive. We will flourish. We will strengthen our roots and grow.

No struggle for civil rights or reaching for self-determination achieves its goal easily. There are losses along the way. Take time to mourn and cry. Take time to grieve and weep. But guard the flame of hope within you, it is the cure for your wounds. It will see you through the dark nights. It will give you the resolve to go on. The future still waits for you, and it still burns bright with hope.

The tide goes out. The tide will return. Stand on the shore undaunted and unafraid, building for the future, and waiting the tide’s return. The high tide will come again. But we have work to do.


Jangling nerves and bitten nails

Oh God. I wasn’t going to post anything, but watch the results come in instead. Only I’m so nervous I can’t watch the results. I’ve decided Twitter is evil. I already knew Facebook was evil. But Twitter is eviller. It’s more evil than the Star Trek dark universe version of Iain Duncan Smith. You can’t get much more evil than that. Every half hour I go from the heady heights of optimism to the deepest gloom and back again. So I’ve turned down the sound on the telly, I’ve switched off the Twitter feed, and I’m listening to some nice calming music instead.

I keep repeating the mantra “It’s only a vote not the end of the world.” But somehow I’m not convincing myself. The end of the world would be less nerve wracking. There’s yer alien invasion, we’re wiped out by the death rays, and it’s all over before Bruce Willis can do anything heroic. You don’t have to sit through hours of Glenn Campbell first. So, definitely preferable to the BBC referendum coverage. Unless it was an alien invasion fleet of smug Jim Murphys complaining about their dry cleaning bills. Then it would be pretty much the same as the referendum.

The turn out has been incredibly high. So much for no one being interested in the referendum. And whatever happens, we know that the No campaign’s initial claims of a 70% plus vote for the Union have been proven spectacularly wrong. The desire for Scottish self-determination hasn’t been put back into it’s wee shortbread tin – we’ve moved into the living room and are building an extension to the house. Scotland now has an entire nation of politically engaged and educated people who know how to self-organise. Things are never going to be the same again. So whatever happens (and be still my jangling nerves), we can take great comfort in that.

Ohgodohgodohgodohgod. We’ve reach the top of the indyref campaign rollercoaster, too late to do anything about it now. Let’s hold on for the ride.


Scotland be brave

I look to my past. Afraid and scared. Pushing gingerly at the closet door, fearful of doom and rejection. Fearful of myself. But I came out into the light, and discovered I already had the tools to allow me to face any challenge. And I learned that self-determination starts with the self, and I grew and I flourished and I learned the meaning of fulfilment. And now many years later, Scotland is on the same journey. Learning the meaning of self-determination, learning how to flourish. Scotland, the country that came out of the closet.

The time is here. The road has been long. We’ve laughed and loved and lost along the way, and on our journey we found ourselves. We’ve looked into our souls and found an ocean of strength, a Scottish rainforest of potential. We learned how to hope, we learned how to make dreams come real. We learned that the people can be the power in this land, we learned that we scare the establishment. We learned that Scottishness is a state of mind, a state of justice, a state of looking forwards, a state of inclusion, a state of self-belief.

We march arm in arm, the born Scots, the become Scots, we are all Scottish and we are diverse and beautiful. We’ve learned that Scotland can be what we make her be, and she can be good, and she can be witty and wise, and she can graceful and joyous. These are lessons we will never unlearn.

These are potentials that always lived within us, and now we know how to make them sing. This is the start of a new sang. Our voices will not be silent in the new Scotland.

The No campaign tells you to vote No if you love Scotland. They ask if you love Scotland then to surrender her care to those who do not love her. That is not how you treat the ones you love. I vote out of love. I surrender the care of Scotland to those who love her, the people of Scotland. Vote to give Scotland to the ones you love. The time of choosing is here. Choose love, choose faith in yourself.

I never thought the day would ever come. We’ve arrived at the doorway. It stands half open. Beyond lie the open fields, the streets of the city, the mountains and glens, the islands and the shining sea, the pathways that connect us to the world on our own terms. It beckons. Define yourself or be defined. It’s time.

Do not be afraid of your own potential. Do not fear your strength. Focus on the singing voice within. You’re as good as anyone. You can dream, you can hope. You can change the world. You can make a difference, create a legacy. This is our time. The time of loss and regret is over. It’s time to build a future.

Take a deep breath. Hold your nerve. Take history by the balls and shape your destiny. Grasp the thistle.

Scotland be brave. Step into the light, and breathe.


A wee note about posting comments on Thursday.

There are strict laws about publishing during the time that polling stations are open. It’s illegal to publish any exit polls or anything which might be construed as an exit poll while the ballot is going on. So because I have things to do and can’t spend all day hovering over the comments, overnight I will suspend the publication of any comments on the blog until polling stations close at 10pm on Thursday. You can still post a comment, but all comments will be held in the moderation queue and will not be published until 10pm. After 10pm commenting will return to normal and if you’ve had a previously published comment, your comments will appear instantly.



Tino rangatiratanga – a letter from an old friend in NZ

A guest post by Tina McCafferty

I am wondering how you are? How the days are and where you find yourself? I was very glad that my mum and sister could come to the Andy’s funeral and represent my family and myself. They know how much I love you and how I loved Andy and how at home I always was with you both. It was so great that Kirsten could be there too. As she said after 20 years is too long and she is looking forward to a walk on the beach with you and the dug. The words around Andy’s funeral are consistently ‘sad but beautiful’. He was a beautiful man in every way. I am very glad that I came home when I did a few months ago and got to say goodbye.

On reading the blog I am so deeply touched by the honest and raw kindness of strangers to you both and to the fact that there is such a lack of homophobia. All kids of people from everywhere united around the yes vote and finding themselves touched by the love between you two men. It has reduced me to tears at times. I think you shouldn’t miss that people ‘saw you both’ and sexuality is irrelevant, invisible. Genuinely… It seems a fitting way to honour Andy and your life together as individuals and as a couple.

Maybe it is the loss of Andy and my own grief and sentimentality, my own sense of hope and my belief that as one thing ends another begins, but it does feel to me like Andy leaving us and the opportunity for a free and self-determining Scotland are linked as they both speak of strength, new beginnings, character, hope and the future in a way that honours the past.

I was watching the NZ news tonight and there was a piece on the fact that lots of New Zealanders are living in Scotland at the moment and so have the right to vote. It really pushed me around emotionally. One Kiwi said this was not his country and he was going home to NZ one day and so he didn’t feel it was his place. I applaud his insight. Another Kiwi said he was going to vote no and I cursed him as he is not voting on his heritage, his identify, his right to self-determine, but ours. I was angry at him and I was jealous as although a Scot, a proud, fiery, politically active, interested, passionate and committed Scottish woman I am not allowed to have a say about my country. I was jealous and filled with an envy and anger so deep as I thought ‘how dare you say no to an issue that is not yours!’ and I wept for the fact that I am denied it. If I was there Scottish and proud as is my right my yes vote would have countered his no!

If this was a national election I would not care a jot if New Zealanders voted. However it is not. It is a vote on identity, sovereignty, self-determination, freedom, the future of generations. I feel cheated. Yet I cannot regret living here in NZ either. My sadness in not being allowed a say, is not a want to run from here. It is the sting of injustice.

NZ is a life changing place. I met the love of my life here, became a parent, found myself and I stay because I cannot ask those I love to leave the place they love. I was the immigrant traveler. My darling partner and our weans are in their homeland. I live with the pride and the deep ache of traversing two worlds and grieve for the denial of the right to have a say about who I am and the future of the country and culture I love. The land, the people, the heritage all run in me.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the country in which I have lived so many years and I think being a Scot has allowed me to connect with many New Zealanders but particularly my Maori brothers and sisters in this land. They have taught me, gifted me so much. I recognise this is their land and I recognise it was taken from them by the Crown of England. We share this knowing on both tacit and formal levels, a shared experience that pulses through the blood of ancestors. This longing to have what was ours returned, reclaimed to self rule to shape your own future, to be self determining; tino rangatiratanga – roughly translated as ‘absolute sovereignty’.

I recognise they share it with so many cultures and do so with grace. Like so many of us Scots they do not want to hate, to exclude, they just want the right to have it recognised as their place. They envy Scotland’s position.

I have heard and read and considered the economic arguments, the global arguments, the political arguments. I have been joyed by the hope, the support of other nations. Saddened by the views of those who feel ‘staying together’ is better. Staying together is staying stuck. It is settling for being less than. Those people have the right to their view but I don’t share it. I have no wish to deny their right I just I don’t understand their position, how they can say they are Scottish but … However freedom is a core value of our society and I respect that.

I have been lucky and privileged to have 12 years of formal university education. I have weighed the arguments I vote yes. However I was always going to vote yes as for me this is my heart, my centre of being, my identity. I am not a separatist. I am not anti English. Some of the people I have loved the most in my life have been English – my grandfather, Andy – both shared a passion for Scotland mind ye! I have many friends who are English. I love them. This happening in Scotland, in Alba, is not anti-Sasannach sentiment. This is not about party politics. This is about who we are as a people, a country, a hopefully self-determined nation. I have believed in Scotland my whole life. The first wave of injustice stung so hard as a small child when my parents put ‘British’ on a form and I said we were ‘Scottish’ and they said ‘Aye hen we are but ye are no allowed to put that on a passport form’. I was an independence believer from that day – nearly 40 years ago. I remain a believer in us and our independence now. If I was there tomorrow I would cry with joy as I voted yes.

I do not understand why anyone would vote no. I don’t wish to deny them their right to vote that way but I truly do not understand. The arguments against independence have been run on fear mongering. They are shallow and ill informed. They are illogical, weak and without much substance if scratched a centimetre beyond their surface. We are a nation of thinkers, innovators, educators, entrepreneurs,, we have natural resources, a knowledge economy, world standing it is time to claim it. We will be ok. There will be waves and knocks. We will be ok. We will prosper and thrive.

It is seems small that in the breadth of argument, in my heart this tiny fear sits that if the ‘no’ fear mongering finds its way then I feel that I never again will be able to sing our anthem with joy. It will either be plagued by sadness or a sense of such profound disappointment. It will seem fraudulent. It will seem like folly to sing with passion, ‘o flower of Scotland when will we see your likes again who fought and died for your wee bit hill and glen’ and the words of ultimate hope of generations, ‘ or we can still rise now and be a nation again’.

We can rise now, tomorrow – after centuries and decades, after the passionate voices of the crowd over generations, we can, we should. How can we not say ‘YES’. Oh how I long that my Scottish brothers and sisters do not silence our song. I have observed with pride so many of my family make their way to yes. Come on yersel Scotland. Independence we can dae it. Come on!

I love you Paul, I loved Andy, we all love Scotland.  Let’s vote tomorrow for tino rangatiratanga.