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.


Making a vow

There was a vow on the front page of the Record yesterday. Britain isn’t just great, it’s superduper and comes with fruit preserves. Davie, Ed and Nick have promised Scotland jam, and marmalade, and curd if the uppity Caledonians get back into their tartan decorated shortbread tin. There will be massed choirs singing our praises when Scottish visitors get off the train at Euston where they will be bedecked with garlands of flowers and winning lottery tickets. Everyone is going to get devo-max, even Berwick. The BBC weather map is going to be redrawn so that north is at the bottom, and newspaper reporters will remember that Stirling doesn’t have an e in it. It’s going to be just lovely back in the shortbread tin, although you still can’t get the TV remote control. It’s a vow, a solemn pledge, a shiny pledge buffed with jam flavoured candy floss.

Vow is an interesting word. Like almost most words starting with v, vow is not natively inherited in the English language. Vow came into English in the Middle Ages, borrowed from the French vœu. Well I say borrowed, it’s not like we plan to give it back anytime. It’s not a borrowed word in French. French is a daughter language of Latin, and the Latin word from which vœu descends is votum – the same word which English borrowed directly as vote. So Davie and Ed and Nick are really telling us that if Scotland votes No, then Davie Ed and Nick will vote on our future for us. They’ll decide, not us. So they were telling the truth, just not the truth that they wanted us to hear.

The Delware Indians on Manhattan at least got some shiny beads, some blankets and mirrors, in return for the surrender of their sovereignty. Scotland gets a shiny vow made by shiny politicians promising nothings of substance.

That’s what you get if you vote No. No shiny beads, only a mirror in which to reflect on misery. You vow your vote to Davie, Ed, and Nick. You give a blank cheque to Westminster the home of the wizards of weasel words. You grant consent to thoughtlessness, you concede to powerlessness, you surrender responsibility and place yourself at the mercy of those who tell us Scotland is too helpless and hopeless to manage its own affairs.

Too wee too poor too stupid. Those words have never passed the lips of a No campaigner, they’ve never been uttered by a Unionist politician except to deny that a Unionist politician has ever uttered them. But that’s what all their arguments boil down to. Many in Scotland believe them – those who ask “Where is the money going to come from?” They can’t believe that the money is already here and has been here all along. It just gets siphoned away by a distant Parliament before anyone gets to see it. Our wealth is drained away with our confidence.

We’re told we’re too poor by the very same people who have created this Scotland that’s supposedly too too poor. If you vote No you place yourself at the mercy of those who created a Scotland which is too helpless and hopeless to manage its own affairs and who are intent on keeping it that way.

Vote No, think about the X-Factor, think about Royal Babies, think about cereal. Remember your place in the shortbread tin. Don’t dream that things can be better. Dreams are for romantics, hopes are for idealists. Vow No, and revel in apathetic cynicism.

Now they beg you that if you don’t know you must vote no. Don’t think. Thinking is dangerous, self-belief is heresy. You can sup your regrets as you eat your cereal. Ignore your heart, ignore your longings, forget that you can reason. Pretend that your head is supposed to tell your heart how to love and live. Live with regret and remorse in return for a vow with no heart or head. Going nowhere in the head cart before the heart horse. Shhhh. Don’t think. You might imagine a better Scotland.

Here we are. Poised on the brink. Breath bated. Nerves stretched. We got this far. You, me, the wummin alang the street, the guy with his wee boy in Rutherglen, the doctor in Skye, the grumpy auld git in Dumfries, the carer in Easterhouse, the mother with the autistic son, the student, the granny, the joiner, the polisman – we’ve turned into druids and bards, we’ve turned into voices that sing and laugh our way into a future that we write ourselves. We’ve turned into the power of a people in movement. We’ve taken on the British state. We scoff at the combined weight of almost the entire UK media. We challenge the privilege of the rich. We defy the corporate interests. We pull the plug on the warmongers. We change the world. We paint a picture of a future where other paths are possible. We’re doing that. Ourselves. With nothing more than our passion and our belief. Just think what we can do with a country. We are Scotland.

Our dreams will not be chained. Our aspirations will fly. Our hearts will tell our heads what we want to do and we’ll use logic and reason to get there. We can read and we can write and we have a guid Scots tongue in our heids. A tongue which will not be silenced. We look to the past and the struggles to defend and preserve what our grandparents fought to build. We dream of building. We aspire to creation.

I’m making my own vow.  My heart and head sing as one. I am doing this. I will be the master of my own destiny.

I’m voting YES.


A personal plea to the undecideds

A guest post by Sinclair of Indie Authors for Scotland

This is an unashamedly emotional post. On Tuesday 9th October 2007 our son, Calum, went to bed, tired but happy. He awoke at around three o’clock on the Wednesday morning with a severe headache, and by half past six he was on a ventilator in Yorkhill Hospital diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. Over the next day and a half the doctors and nurses worked tirelessly to save his life but on the Thursday afternoon we were told there was nothing they could do for him.

My wife and I were then asked to think about his organs being used to help save others and after thinking long and hard, we decided that was what Calum would have wanted, and gave our permission. He was kept alive for one more day while the arrangements for the transplants were made. His organs saved the lives of people across the UK and gave us a little comfort in the darkest of days. (Gordon Brown’s lies about the transplant services are for me has been the low point of an abysmal No campaign.)

The loss of our bright, happy intelligent boy was truly the worst thing that has ever happened to us but it could have been even worse. After the trauma of Calum’s death and the pain of organising his funeral we could have had a bill dropping through our door. In the United States we would have had a bill that included the GP in the out of hours clinic, the services of the nurses and doctors in A&E; the tests which included three MRI scans; the services of the ICU staff who were constantly by his side, the neurologists and paediatricians whose expertise was called upon; the cost of the numerous drugs that were administered; the cost of his room in ICU and probably the room where family and friends gathered to support us. If we had the same cruel healthcare system as the US, that bill would have amounted to tens of thousands of pounds. Not only would we have lost our son, we would be either thousands of pounds in debt or maybe even have lost our home.

The NHS is the single greatest achievement of any government this country has ever had. In a recent survey of healthcare systems the NHS ranked the best in the world. It was rated the most efficient, the best value for money and the best for results. All that has been achieved within the NHS is now at risk as the coalition has begun to privatise the service to allow American healthcare companies to profit from the sick people of England.

This is obviously an important issue in the referendum debate and the No side have protested that the NHS in Scotland is safe but are they telling the truth? If we vote no, cuts to Scottish Government funding will have an impact on the service but the threat is far greater than purely funding. Andy Burnham, the Shadow Health Secretary is telling the English electorate that the pace of the coalition’s changes is too fast (there is no pledge to reverse the changes) while indicating that he thinks separate health services might not be the best way to organise a service that has been separate since its inception.

The Tories hate the health service with a passion and they will do all that they can to destroy the principle of free at point of need. A Tory victory in May’s election will be the final nail in the coffin of the NHS and as Mr Burnham has already planted the seed, the Tories will have no problem removing the Scottish Government’s control over the service. Add to that the very real threat of the disgusting TTIP trade deal and you have the perfect storm of ‘greed before people’ about to crash down on the NHS in Scotland.

If you think this is scaremongering, just consider how many in the House of Commons and the House of Lords have shares in private healthcare firms and then ask yourself whose interests are they going to put first their own or ours?

The vast majority of the people of Scotland understand the great job the NHS does, as do the majority of people in England and Wales; the difference is we can do something to protect ours. With a Yes vote we can write the NHS into the constitution, we can guarantee that the people of Scotland will have care, free at the point of need as long as they will it.

I don’t want to live in a country where families are devastated by sickness or death only to have further pain inflicted as they lose their home. I don’t want to live in a country where a mother puts off taking her child to see a GP because she can’t afford it. Meningitis is just one disease where quick diagnosis can save a life and the thought that someone may lose a child because some corporation wants greater profits is abhorrent to me and I’m sure to the majority of you.

I am reaching out to those who remain undecided. Sickness is not something people should be punished for. If you are looking for one reason to sway your decision between Yes and No, think of Calum. I know which choice he would have made.


The shlock of naw

A few random thoughts at the start of a new week and a new life.  Queen Betty has spoken, she wants people to “think very carefully” before exercising their vote on Thursday. The No campaign has, predictably, taken this as an endorsement of their position, although thinking carefully is the exact opposite of shutting up and eating your cereal, refusing to send speakers to public debates and events, and claiming that Scotland is on hold. It’s probably a safe bet that Betty is a Unionist, this is news of the milk makes your cornflakes soggy variety. But the Nawnentities are now desperately clutching at any fresh rice crispies that are going.

There’s not much else a world power that punches above its weight can do when it’s put on the run by two guys with a rickshaw, the theme tune to the Empire Strikes Back, and a sense of humour. The British establishment is intimidated by a tune. Mighty Britannia stands before the people of Scotland intent on cowing us with shock and awe and we laugh and point out she’s got nae knickers and nae vision, only managementwankspeak, unfocussed focus groups and glaikit glares. The shlock of naw scares no-one except those who were already cowering.

So this week we’re going to bring about a new global depression if we vote Yes, as opposed to last week when a Yes vote was going to turn us into an unnoticed non-entity. There was me quite resigned to a future where where Scotland would be so insignificant that Belarus would seem like a giant striding the world stage, and now I need to get my heid around being personally responsible for a global cataclysm that will see New York bankers leaping out of windaes in Wall Street and landing on Buster Keaton. See that damp patch in an Armani suit, that’s Scotland’s fault that is.

Can these people not make up their minds? Scotland, incapable of tying its own shoelaces or wiping its own arse, but an evil genius of catastrophe creation which can paralyse the entire planet and bring about the downfall of capitalism. Ach feckit, I can live with the guilt. People already tell me I look like Lenin. I was going for a Beatles’ look and it all went tragically wrong, but I’ve learned my lesson and am now immune to the pernicious influence of style-icons. So David Beckham’s letter begging Scotland not to leave has come a bit late. It was supposed to have been published a couple of weeks ago, but it took a while to decipher the crayon.

Mind you the free thinking Viviane Westwood has said that she’s all for a Yes vote and thinks it would be “absolutely great”. Scotland could become an inspiration to the world once it’s got out of Westminster’s bondage trousers.

The No campaign’s message for this week is “we’re not panicking” and an entreaty to people who don’t know to vote no. There we go with that just don’t think thing again. Being told by John Reid not to think and to put our trust in him and his pals is precisely what got us into 13 years of Labour’s wasted opportunities and the Iraq war. You can trust John, you can trust him to push for ID cards, rendition, cosying up to defence contractors, and a Labour party made in his own image.

Meanwhile in order to prove that it really is a mass movement, no honest, the No campaign published a photie a No logo formed out of ordinary people. Or as they were described in the Irish Times Posh Edinburgh cricket types.

We’re also getting a dose of love-bombing. The No campaign is closely following the Canadian Federal Government’s Quebec referendum playbook, which likewise involved making a big deal of currency threats. But having overdone the negativity, the U-KOK campaign is struggling badly with the happy clappy cuddly stuff. The Canadian government subsidised thousands of plane, train and bus tickets so Canadians from the rest of the country could go to Quebec to say je t’aime to a Quebecois. There was a mass rally in Montreal a few days before the vote, with tens of thousands of Anglophone Canadians swearing blind that nous adorons toutes les choses francophones and had even realised that French speakers do not in fact finish every utterance with beep beep like they did on the audio in French classes at school.

However in the UK Naw version, the lovebombing rally is being held in London, which would be a bit like the Canadians holding their rally for Quebec in Vancouver or Calgary. This decision was taken in the knowledge that the only critical mass in Scotland is the mass of critics that greets every hauf-airsed intervention by a clueless celeb. However it’s also because they really love us even more than the Canadians love Quebec, as holding the event in London means it’s really REALLY important. If it wasn’t important it wouldn’t be held in London. Besides, the UK Government is both too cheap to subsidise trips to Scotland, and knows that damn few would take them up on the offer. Most people in England don’t give a toss – and this is part of the problem.

Over the next few days the combination of scare stories, threats, and patronising condensension will continue unabated. We will have no let up, no respite. We’re going to get a lot more of the same stuff that drove many undecideds to turn Yes in the first place – just today the CBI and other business people made yet another entirely predictable warning that doom and gloom can be the only outcome for an independent Scotland. They think that the system in the UK isn’t broken, but they’re amongst those broke it.

Our job is to persuade, to reassure, and to include. Time is running short now, so focus your efforts where it can make a difference. Stay calm, stay positive, stay happy. Don’t get frustrated with people who don’t seem to be receptive, move on. Not everyone is going to be convinced by you – but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be convinced, it may just require a different approach so let someone else do it.

We can do this, we are doing this. Scotland stands before the first days of a new future, or we are looking at a return to the hopelessness, powerlessness, cynicism, and apathy that disfigured this country for decades. Moving on is hard, it’s difficult, it can be frightening.  At this particular juncture in my own life I know that better than anyone.  But I will not be bowed, I will not cower, I will draw on my inner strength.  I choose hope, choose power, choose self-belief.

We stand hand in hand, we can do anything.

Click here for the audio version of this article, courtesy of One of the 99%