In less than three weeks time, the voting will take place in the Tory leadership campaign, otherwise known as the EU referendum. As a side effect of the Conservative party deciding whether or not it wants to be led by a different Old Etonian clown to the Old Etonian clown it’s currently led by, the United Kingdom could very well find itself voting to leave the European Union. If the opinion polls are anything to go by, this prospect is becoming more likely with every day that passes, and with every new headline about benefits claiming immigrants who cause cancer and rape teddy bears that appears in the Daily Mail. The same opinion polls also indicate that Scotland remains one of the most pro-EU parts of the United Kingdom. In a fortnight from Friday, Scotland could wake up to find that the Westminster Parliament is committed to taking us out of the European Union even though a clear majority of Scots will have voted to remain.
Irrespective of your views on the European Union, safeguarding Scotland’s membership of the EU was one of the key promises of the Better Together campaign during the independence referendum. In a couple of weeks we could find that that promise wasn’t worth a harrumph of the tuba playing breath of Blair McDougall. Arguments about the EU were central to the campaign to keep Scotland in the UK, not some off the cuff remark made by Alistair Darling in an interview. Yet strangely we now find that the personal opinion of Alex Salmond in an interview has been transformed into the only promise that must be kept. The Unionists must be kept to their promises and commitments too, or the already cheapened and devalued democracy in this so called United Kingdom is worth nothing at all.
It could be argued less than three weeks from now that Scotland would have voted twice to remain part of the EU, once in the independence referendum and again in the EU referendum. And it is quite likely that Scotland will vote to remain a part of the EU by a considerably larger margin than we voted to remain a part of the UK. Yet if Scotland is to find itself being taken out of the EU against the twice expressed will of the Scottish people, it won’t be merely that Scotland sits at the back of the Westminster bus being taken to a destination that we’ve said we don’t want to go to. It will be far worse than that. Scotland will be being taken to that destination despite the fact that the drivers swore blind that they wouldn’t take us there. Material changes in circumstance do not come any more material than that. Scotland will need a new chance to assess its place within the UK or there will be no justice in this land.
Ruth Davidson and her pals harp on about the divisiveness of Scotland’s independence referendum, but that is as nothing compared to the divisiveness of an EU referendum in which Scotland’s will is ignored and traduced. If we wake up on the morning of June 24 to discover that the UK as a whole has voted to leave the EU but Scotland has voted by a convincing margin to remain, there must be another independence referendum. In May 2016 the people of Scotland voted for a Parliament in which there is a majority of pro-independence MSPs, we voted that way for a reason. This EU referendum and the prospect of Scotland being taken out of the EU against its will is that reason. The tank girl can have all the militaristic photo ops that she likes, but she cannot stand in the way of the democratic will of the people of Scotland.
This is why the initiative of the National Yes Registry is so important. We could find ourselves facing another independence referendum far sooner than many have anticipated, and we need to be ready for it. The Yes Registry allows yes groups and pro-independence organisations to share information and ideas, to develop tactics, to build on one another’s experience. We need this. We need unity. We need common purpose. The Yes Registry provides this. It’s a forum for sharing, for building, and for developing a message for yes that’s going to resonate in the parts of Scotland that are already for yes, and in those that were less receptive last time. We cannot sit back and rely on our political leaders to do this, we need to do it ourselves.
Party politics might have got us to the point where we get another referendum, but party politics won’t win it for us. Winning an independence referendum requires a broad based and inclusive national movement. We need to take the arguments into the streets and towns, we need to demonstrate that independence is not about the policies of any single political party. It’s not about the SNP, it’s not about the Greens, it’s not about Rise. It’s about you, it’s about me, it’s about our neighbours, our families, our friends. It’s about all of us. It’s about our right to choose and our right to decide the path that Scotland takes. It’s about driving the bus.
We need to earn yes. We need to put our divisions and our egos to one side, and unite for the common cause, the common good, the common weal. We have a lot of work to do, because if there is another referendum soon, and we lose it, we have lost Scotland for generations. We will have accepted our place at the back of the bus, accepted that we have no say over the journey this country is taking, accepted that we are meaningless and powerless.
Yet hundreds of thousands of us refuse to accept that. We have built so much already. We know that we have the skills and the talents and the ability. We will be the masters of our own land, we will drive our own bus, we will determine our own destination. This is why it’s so important to earn yes.
We need to be ready for the final push. We need to earn yes.
Find out more at the National Yes Registry website www.nationalyesregistry.scot
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