A couple of years ago, an annoyingly chirpy song called Happy was never off the radio. One of its lyrics irked me, “Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.” But I get it now. It means that your potential is no longer being capped. It means that above you there is no ceiling to keep you down, there’s only the sky and you can reach for it. That’s where the independence movement is just now, in a room without a roof. Clap along.
Yesterday’s massive march in Edinburgh and today’s huge attendance at the SNP conference in Glasgow demonstrate that there is an equally huge appetite in this country of ours to reach to the sky and grasp our potential. Compare and contrast the packed halls of the SNP conference with the half empty low ceilinged rooms of the Conservative conference last week. Compare and contrast the tens of thousands of marchers in Edinburgh reaching for the stars with the giggling gaggle of manky shirtit fearmongers. Compare and contrast the vision and dreams and poetry of an independence movement which looks forward to the future, with the pursed lipped resentment of a British nationalism that’s trapped in an imaginary past. Clap along if you feel that you’re on the right side of history.
The independence movement is far stronger than it was when the first independence referendum was called. The Scotland that first tentatively began to discuss the idea of independence back in 2012 seems like a different country now, because it was. Back in 2012 opponents of independence could credibly pretend that Scotland was a partner in a Union. That lie has been exposed. Back in 2012 the idea of independence was still regarded by many as a marginal notion that had no place in the mainstream of Scottish politics, and the goal of opponents of independence was to make sure it stayed that way. In 2018 no one can pretend that independence is not a serious option for this country, especially not those who are most opposed to it. Clap along if you feel like the winning arguments are ours.
But most importantly of all, back in 2012 we were just starting to learn how to do this, how to campaign for our country’s future. We were taking baby steps, now we’re running. The people of Scotland are now amongst the most politically engaged and informed of any country in the world. This country is filled with people who are experienced campaigners. All over Scotland, in every corner of the country, there are local groups and organisations making the case for independence in their own communities. We have a grassroots organisation and strength that opponents of independence can only look upon enviously and snark about from the safety of their Twitter bubble. They’re stuck on social media. We have the streets. We have the future. Clap along if you feel like we’re living in the real world where independence is normal.
In the papers there is still discussion about whether Nicola Sturgeon will be “allowed” to have a vote on Scotland’s future, and the consensus is that she won’t be. Either Scotland is in a Union, in which case it shouldn’t require anyone’s permission in order to decide its own future, or it’s a part of a unitary state and Westminster calls the shots irrespective of what the people of Scotland want. Opponents of independence can’t have it both ways. The sad reality for them is that Scotland doesn’t need anyone’s permission to have a vote on its future. Any election in this country can be transformed into an effective referendum on independence. This is not Spain. There is no constitutional bar against a plebiscite election. There is no constitutional bar against the Scottish parliament holding a consultative referendum without anyone’s permission. Clap along if you feel like you have a voice and you’re not afraid to use it.
The signs are that when Scotland does have its Scottish People’s Vote, that this country will vote to rejoin the community of independent nations. Even before any official campaign has been announced, support for independence is higher than it was in 2014, and that support becomes a majority in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and 50/50 in the event of Brexit. And that’s before the legion of experienced and enthused independence groups have even really got started. No wonder the British nationalists are so determined to prevent a vote happening. They’re terrified about the result, and rightly so. Because they’re going to lose. Clap along if you feel like a country with an open sky. Because we’re happy.
The biggest difference between the independence movement and British nationalism is that we have a monopoly on joy. When was the last time you saw an opponent of independence painting a joyful and happy picture of the great future that awaits Scotland as a part of the UK. When was the last time that you saw an opponent of independence detail all the heights and achievements that Scotland can attain as a subordinate part of a UK, governed by a Westminster that scarcely notices its existence. You never see these things, because committed opponents of independence are defined by fear, by can’t, by their low ceiling, by no. It’s the independence movement which looks up. It’s the independence movement which looks forward. It’s the independence movement which anticipates and aspires. They have fear, but we have joy. And that’s why we’re going to win. Clap along if you feel like you can laugh in the face of the scaremongers.
This is going to be my last blog post for a few weeks. I’m off to celebrate a real union while I anticipate the fall of the fake British one. Sam (Macart) will look after you in my absence. I’m off to get married in the USA to Peter, my partner of the past three years. A couple of days after the wedding in Portland Maine, we’re travelling back to Scotland along with his father and stepmother on the 28th of October, and it will be the first time that Henry and Francine will have visited Scotland. We’re having a second Scottish wedding reception in Glasgow on 2 November, a proper Scottish ceilidh. Normal blogging service will be resumed on 5 November. The plan is, in case you were wondering, for my new husband to come and live here in Scotland. That is most likely to happen next year.
So I’m happy. The future holds so much hope and so much potential on a personal level as well as for Scotland. The past belongs to the pursed lipped North Britons hidebound by fear and negativity, the future belongs to happy Scots, old Scots, new Scots, born Scots, adopted Scots, Scots by birth, and Scots by choice. Clap along if you feel that we live in a land whose potential is limited only by our imaginations. Watch while we dream the infinite. We’re on our way.
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