This wasn’t supposed to happen. We were supposed to be quiescent and quiet little drones, grateful for the scraps we were tossed, eager for the bones we were given to gnaw on. We were supposed to be eating our cereal, silently, shamefaced, and grateful. We were not supposed to be where we are, riding on the crest of an avalanche that’s wiping away a century of Labour’s wasted opportunities. Riding on the lead wave of the deluge that’s drowning the entrenched interests of Tory rule. Riding on the landslip that’s erasing the Lib Dems forever. Riding on a landslide and laughing and joking, feeling alive and vital, noisy and loud, changing the world with conversations in the street, in the pub, with blog posts, tweets, and comments. Running, jumping and never standing still.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. But it is happening and it feels so good. Liberating like coming out into the fresh air after being trapped in a lift on a hot summer’s day with a pub bore with bad breath. Blindfolds are off and we’re at the top of a Scottish mountain taking in the view – and this land is ours as far as the eye can see. No wonder the lairds are terrified. We’re their nightmare, and we’re awake. We’re going to take their privilege from them. This land is our land, and we will be the masters in it.
The truth is we are unstoppable. The people of Scotland are a force of nature, an organic mass of ideas, a living pulsing interconnected network. We cannot be halted, we cannot be corralled. We will not be dictacted to by the media, we will make our own. We will not go back into the shortbread tin, our spirit is too big.
The depression of the 19th of September did not last long. It was a brief pause for breath, a change of tack, not the end of the journey. It was a slap in the face that invigorated not castigated. Because it was a highly conditional No. It was not an absolute negative, a final say. It was the settled will of Scotland to say “not yet, not now”. A No that said we’d give Westminster one last chance. A no that said we’d see if they fulfilled their vow. And now we know what happened to that. How now Brown’s vow, discredited like the paper it was printed in. Pensioned off and vain like the man who created it.
The landslide that began its journey down the rockface of Westminster’s implacable opposition during last year’s referendum campaign was not blocked or deflected by the No vote. It slides on, changing the face of the landscape, erasing old certainties, gouging out the old patterns, striving still for the shore. It’s uncertain how the dust will settle, no one knows what the moving earth will reveal. All that we know is that the future is being written, right here, right now. And we are the makers of that story. We are the story, the active ingredients, the agents of change. We are the avalanche. We are the rocks in motion. We are the future and we are here now.
It’s a story that’s being written by ordinary people doing remarkable things. It’s a story that’s being written by people who refuse to accept the tales we are told by those who have held power. It’s the story of a Scotland that refuses to accept that it cannot define itself.
What changed last summer was that the rock called Mary and the stone called Tam realised that the story of Scotland is their story, not the story of the rich and the powerful and the well connected. And they started to move, they started to tell their story. They connected. They refused to listen to those who tried to define their choices for them, to tell them how the story must end. They became the avalanche, they’re moving still. And the story is still being written.
The avalanche didn’t stop because the Westminster parties confused the willingness of a generous people to give them yet another chance with subservience. They mistook magnanimity of spirit for submission. They were given generosity and thought they had the PIN number to our bank accounts, their hands in our pockets, the keys to our hearts. They thought they’d be given permission to go back to their old games while we would watch passively, and accept the inevitability. They were wrong.
And now we are scaring them. They can see the strength of our determination. They can hear the rumble of distant voices that combine into the earthquake that will demolish their entitlement, that will rewrite their rules without them being in control. So they rant, they scream, they insult, they threaten. They write panicked editorials in the press. They draw cartoons that have no understanding or humour. They proffer little bribes, a few crumbs to the starving, a drop of brackish water to the thirsty. It always worked in the past, but it’s not working now.
The old certainties are as dead as Magrit Curran’s career. The old way of doing things has the credibility of Jim Murphy’s spin and lies. The old structures are as risible as a speech by Wullie Rennie, and crumbling like a Labour safe seat. There is nowhere safe for them now. We are everywhere. We are Scotland.
We’ve learned how to feed ourselves. We’ve learned how to educate ourselves. We’ve learned how to articulate what we want. We’ve learned that we are the judges of what is best for us. We’ve learned that we have no need to beg. We are not asking nicely any more. We are going to take what is ours, and we will not be stopped. Scotland is angry. They don’t like us when we’re angry, because when we’re angry we will get our way. And if they get in our way, we will remove them. The removal vans arrive on May 7th. They’re going to be busy.
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