Back in 2014, if independence campaigners had urged people to vote Yes warning that the British state would be stockpiling supplies of food and vital medicines, that it would be making contingency plans for the lights going out, and that ports were threatened with gridlock and planes might not fly, we would have been accused of ridiculous scaremongering. Even the frothiest and zoomiest of anti-independence campaigners who predicted all sorts of dire events for an independent Scotland didn’t dare claim that the country could be facing food shortages and a return to rationing. But that’s exactly where we are in the British state this last summer before Brexit.
Back in 2014, if independence campaigners had told the people of Scotland that the only way that Scotland could be certain of membership of the EU would be by voting for independence, the British nationalists would have ridiculed us and called us liars. It was only by voting to remain a part of the UK, they claimed with the certitude of the self-righteous, that Scotland could ever retain its place amongst the family of European nations. And that place was as a subordinate adjunct to a UK that punched above its weight in the corridors of Brussels. Yet here we are now, four years on, leaving the EU despite the fact that Scotland voted to remain by a much larger margin than it voted to remain a part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland has vastly more influence on the course of Brexit than the UK government does. Scotland doesn’t even get a say, never mind a place at the top table. Estonia, with a population a quarter the size of Scotland’s, gets a veto, Scotland gets vetoed whenever it opens its mouth. How’s that punching above your weight working out for you Scotland?
Back in 2014, if independence campaigners had warned that instead of strengthening devolution as it had promised, the British state would be doing its utmost to undermine the devolution settlement and would be taking the Scottish Parliament to the Supreme Court in order to overturn a bill that Holyrood had passed with the support of all parties except the Tories, we would have been accused of being hysterical liars. It seems highly unlikely that the current devolution settlement can survive in the unitary state that the Conservatives seem to have in mind for the UK after it has left the European Union. Yet Scotland didn’t vote to leave the EU, Scotland didn’t vote for the devolution settlement to be changed, Scotland didn’t vote for a fundamental restructuring of the British state that harms Scotland’s interests. Worse, Scotland wasn’t even consulted. But that’s exactly where we are in this summer of devodeath before Brexit.
Back in 2014, if independence campaigners had warned that Scottish products were going to be rebranded as British, and we’d see British shortbread, British whisky, British square slice and British Aberdeen Angus in our shops, all plastered with Union flegs, we’d have been accused of being petty minded scaremongerers. But Scottish products are at threat as never before. Brexit threatens to strip distinctively Scottish products of the protection that they currently enjoy, and any manufacturer anywhere in the world will be able to sell an alcoholic drink branded as Scotch whisky, or Stornoway Black Pudding made with genetically modified American crops. But that’s exactly where we are in this last summer of Scottish shopping before Brexit.
Back in 2014, if independence campaigners had cast aspersions on the solidity of British democracy, we’d have been howled down in rage. But we’ve seen dodgy donations and dark money funding the Scottish Conservatives. We’ve seen allegations of Russian involvement in the Brexit campaign. We’ve seen an official leave campaign which drove a coach and horses through electoral law and which received a minor slap on the wrist in the form of a fine that was a tiny fraction of the money that it had illegally spent. This is where we are now, being dragged out of the EU on the basis of an unfair vote.
Back in 2014, if independence campaigners had told voters in Scotland that within a few short years the far right would be soaring in UK opinion polls, that the Tories would have become all but indistinguishable from Ukip, and that Tory politicians were calling for the treason laws to be extended in order to prosecute people in favour of the EU or supportive of Scottish independence, we’d have been laughed at. Better Together had told us that the UK was a bulwark of tolerance and moderation, and our only protection against political extremism. No one is laughing now, as we face the spectre of a resurgent far right, one that’s wrapped in the Union fleg, one that has grown under the cover of a British nationalism whose main distinctive feature is the unshakeable belief that it’s not nationalist at all. This is where we are now, because four years ago Scotland voted no.
Back in 2014, we were told by the Labour party that it stood for devolution, that it was the guarantor of Scotland’s interests within the British state. And yet despite the unfolding horror, despite the utter incompetence, the sheer ineptitude, the total failure of British politics, despite the undermining of the devolution settlement, despite the thousands of jobs which might be lost, despite the hundreds of thousands of lives which face disruption, despite the humiliation of the UK on the global stage, despite the rise of the extreme right and the destruction of democratic accountability, there are still Labour politicians in Scotland who say that the worst thing to come out of all of this is that it reopens the question of Scottish independence. This is where we are now, with a Labour party exposed as a mouthpiece for the British state which abstains instead of opposing the Tories.
Back in 2014, a lot of people still believed in the promises and reassurances of Westminster. Now even those who trusted them before know that a vow from Westminster isn’t worth the newsprint it’s printed on. This is where we are now, on the verge of a second independence referendum, on the verge of an independent Scotland, because we were lied to, betrayed, taken for fools, taken for granted. Westminster’s tragedy is that it only has itself to blame, but Westminster’s tragedy will be Scotland’s opportunity. This is where we are now.
Independence will come about because of the shortcomings and failures of those who say that they love the British state. In years to come we will look back on 2014 as the year that the British state threw away its last chance to keep Scotland within the UK. 2014 isn’t where we are now, and that’s why the next independence referendum will have a very different outcome to the first.
WEE GINGER FUNDRAISER
It’s that time of year again. It’s been a year since I last did a fundraiser. This year is going to be a particularly expensive one for me personally. There’s a wedding to pay for, and I need to ensure that my earnings are sufficient to prove to the Home Office that I am able to import my American spouse into Scotland to live here permanently. As well as the need to demonstrate a minimum level of annual income, £18,600, there are also hefty legal and visa fees to pay.
I really don’t like doing fundraisers, and I really don’t like to blow my own trumpet, but I work my wee socks off for the independence movement. I publish this blog, and I do talks to local indy groups all over Scotland without asking for a fee. Don’t get me wrong, I greatly enjoy it. It’s a huge privilege to meet all the wonderful, talented, and committed people who make the Scottish independence movement something really special. However it takes up a lot of time and energy to keep blogging and doing public talks, time and energy that I could be using to generate an income to prove to the Home Office that I am able to support my American spouse.
The truth is that if every regular reader of this blog gave just one pound a year, I’d be pulling in well over £100,000 annually. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. Publishing and selling books and maps helps, as does selling t-shirts, but it’s pretty hit and miss. I do get paid by The National for my twice weekly articles, but that doesn’t pay anything like as much as you might think it would. In order to be confident that I can meet the minimum income requirements demanded by the Home Office, cover the cost of a wedding on both sides of the Atlantic, and cover the fees required to pay the visas and associated legal costs, I need to do a fundraiser for £10,000.
Any help you can give would be immensely appreciated. Help me to keep campaiging, and help me to show that Scotland is a welcoming place for migrants – at least one special migrant in particular, the man I’m going to marry in October.
You can donate by clicking the following link and donating on my Gofundme page.
Alternatively you can donate by clicking on the Paypal “Donate” button on this page, or by logging in to www.paypal.com and making a payment to me at email@example.com If you would prefer to donate by some other method, cash, cheque, or bank transfer, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Many thanks for all your support. You’ve no idea how much it means to me.
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If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send the necessary information. Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.