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.

28 comments on “Ten days after

  1. Capella says:

    Well the good humour fairy has certainly returned. We’re all wondering where to go form here and doing whatever it takes to find direction, from joining YES political parties to just joining parties. I plan to keep engaged. Thanks.

  2. mary says:

    Glad to read your post thanks.
    I’m no giving up either AYE

  3. macart763 says:

    I’m all for smiling and the butterfly rebellion always did sound just fine. 🙂

    To put it in a nutshell we’ll win in the End because Westminster just can’t help being Westminster.

    Its inevitable.

  4. diabloandco says:

    Glad you’re there – still swithering between tears and burning rage here .
    But now I am a member of the SNP so I’m definitely engaged.
    Re butterflies – I loved the saltire butterfly and I would like it as the logo for all YES groups but I cannot remember who published it.

    • macart763 says:

      Forget tears or rage. That was last week.

      This week and from now on, focussed anger and a healthy dose of sarky humour for balance. We’ve got house cleaning and a blocked political lavvie to clear. Break out the Harpic and Marigolds we’ve got shite to flush right out of Holyrood’s current opposition seats.

  5. JimnArlene says:

    Enjoyed that, good read.
    You’ll never get Arlene to wear a butterfly badge, she’s terrified of them, nope I don’t understand it either.

  6. Dunkie says:

    Here are a couple of links to video documentaries that will depress and shock you but also show you what sort of powers we are really up against in our struggle for independence. I thoroughly recommend that you send them to any open minded NO voters you can find. I think it is a good time right now for all of us to consider the contents of these documentaries.



    I got these links from Auld Acquaintance Blog (23-06-13) – a pal has just sent me this link to his blog .


    Auld Acquaintance finishes his post with:

    “But after watching both these documentaries I have put up today, have a good think to yourself.
    If you do not want an independent Scotland after all that, then at least admit to yourself that by being silent, by not speaking out, by being part of and supporting the British State, you yourself become equally culpable, and it is all done in your name!
    Do you really want to be associated with that? Then think on! I want no part of it.”

    • hektorsmum says:

      Dunkie, trouble is that those who on the whole did vote NO would not watch those documentaries. Many are not even on line.
      We have the Tories, closet and otherwise. We have the stupid, believe me you can do anything to them, stuff their grannies into ovens in front of them. We have the frightened who have a goodly number of years behind them in the Yookay, who grew up during the War and believe everything said to them by nice men in suits. We had the middle class complacent, happy with things the way they are and let nobody dissuade them otherwise.
      I am sure there were some who were swithering but when they got let off the hook by the “Vow” they grabbed it with both hands.
      I do wish the SNP had turned down the chance to get shafted with this “commission”. I only hope that if things are iffy they walk away, better that than being left with a mess.

  7. northbritain says:

    I like the idea of a butterfly transformation. Instead of the 45 logo, I think a butterfly would be much more apt. Its inclusive and appealing.

  8. Conan_the_Librarian says:

    Oh I dunno. A flamethrower could take out those pesky butterflies…

  9. cynical lowlander says:

    If you take the illegal postal vote sampling (which could inform the No campaign’s run up to the real vote on the 18th) and encourage them to offer a timetable for new powers and the “Vow” – which incidentally I still haven’t been able to get a copy of.

    The poll we paid for but never got to see the results of.

    The BBC switcheroo ( Lets call these new powers Devo Max then, so it’s a choice between full independence and Devo-Max on the 18th then)

    The outright lies told to the weakest section of our society, which relies on the MSM for its information.

    And those photo’s of queen looking all sad and downcast while telling the people of Scotland to think carefully.

    I think we have evidence of a conspiracy against Scotland, led by WESTMINSTER.

    • hektorsmum says:

      My take on this too. We did not mistake that the whole of the British Establishment was against us and cheating continued much like the beatings we are in for now.
      If we get another chance and surely we must, it must not be too soon, We need to fight this time not roll over and let them kick us in the stomach.
      I would like the EC to check the Postal Votes against the Census, and annul each and every one who is not listed as being at that address who is of age to vote, unless below the previous voting age. Not much chance of that, packed with Labour apparatchiks..

  10. r baxter says:

    float like a butterfly sting like bee

  11. Float like a butterfly sting like a bee
    It will only take another 1 in 20 to vote like me
    And then
    We are

    (Sorry…doggeral – but we got so very close and next time may not be that far off.)

  12. Nana says:

    What a terrific post William, thank you. Certainly lifted my spirits this morning and the buddleia tree in my garden is covered in butterflies, so very beautiful in glorious sunshine.

  13. Luigi says:

    Remember that when a butterfly starts to flaps it’s wings, the end result can be a super storm somewhere in another time and space. Chaos theory. And we certainly live in chaotic times!

  14. Anne Lyden says:

    Thank goodness you were around to administer CPD to the good humour fairy. That certainly cheered me up!

  15. smiling vulture says:

    Better Together (BC–Sept 18th)

    Put up George Galloway/Ruth

    BBC — the big big debate 16/17 year olds

    to quote george he said not devo/max but Super Devo Max

    since the NO vote he’s said NOTHING about these new powers.

    anyone have a list of DEVO quotes ,gordon brown,vow

    they are now all backtracking taking the PISH

  16. J Galt says:

    I’m agnostic wae the fraud thing – if it was done, it was done behind closed doors by professionals with entire intercepted ballot boxes, and we have ZERO chance of proving it – so the moving on argument still prevails.

    With one proviso – we must be very aware of the nature of what we are up against.

    Butterfly analogy and logo – brilliant – we should rally round this, it’s colourful, adaptable, inclusive even quite gentle but also tenacious and mildly taking the piss – all good.

  17. Les Wilson says:

    Yes, without Indy being on the close horizon, I guess we are all down now, and yes, some of us would like to sleep UNDER the bed in our despair. Nevertheless, people are watching the Westminster debacle unfold, we have caused ructions in the Westminster machine, and it continues. We are also ( mostly ) aware that any powers that are actually offerred to Scotland will be geared in some cloaked way, to remove more funding on which we did, and unfortunately will continue to depend. This despite our own National Wealth.

    We now need a focus, something that raises our hopes again, something we can unite against, something to inspire us. The numbers joining the SNP, and other Indy entities are sending a message a message to Westminster. They may have lied, cheated and bullied us, but their tactics were there to see and now mull over. This was NEVER, a democratic process, the UK has never been truly democratic, and the elites and their friends are exposed for what they are.

    So let us all band together, let us all be close allies working for our single purpose, we will be more aware and ever more ready and better prepared next time, which I sincerly hope will be sooner rather than later. Our time will come.

  18. hektorsmum says:

    I love your blog William but I am not much of the forgiving type, I dearly want a t-shirt which says I voted YES, I hope a you NO voters are happy with what you did. Now my Sister in Law will have to spend hard won money on sitting innumerable citizenship tests when she could have got a Scottish Passport for being a good citizen and mother of a Scottish child.
    I want to do away with those who were willing to sell their country for money and or position. I do not need to name them they are all aware of their crimes. Scotland has forgiven too much over the centuries, we are far too law abiding and we breed these who have no sense of decency simply because the last lot got away with it.
    I laughed like a drain this morning listening to the BBC on Radio 4 talking about democracy in Hong Kong. I ended up switching off as I was getting irate. Democracy, the Westminster lot do not recognise the concept.
    Sadly the NO’s will suffer, but then they know nothing different, the trouble is we all will and this could ahve been a much happier country today if they had not been frightened of the future and cleaved to a past which does not bear examination too closely.

  19. James Coleman says:

    butterfly rebellion is too long winded for twitter. We need a PUNCHY 4 or 5 character logo. And @the45 does it for the time being. A suggestion is @45^, ^ being UC Greek letter lambda found on all keyboards among the numbers. ^ is a symbol used in ecology for the long-term intrinsic growth rate of a population.

  20. cirsium says:

    welcome back, William. I missed your input. I have never been able to comment on your site because the access letters are not shown clearly on my screen.

  21. cynical lowlander says:

    While we in Scotland could put up with another Tory government, could the Westminster government put up with a huge increase in the number of SNP MP’s in May 2015?

  22. Mary from Argyll says:

    We need to reach out to the No voters instead of having comfy chats with each other about names and logos. Part of our downfall was that we preached to the converted on blogs and websites (good though they were) rather than those who needed to BE converted – we mustn’t make that mistake when the General Election comes round.

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