Two years ago today the people of Scotland went to the polls to answer the question ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’. They said no, voting 55% to 45% to stay part of the United Kingdom and I’d imagine a lot of people went through that first weekend thinking that was it. Scottish independence was dead and Scotland would take whatever’s coming down from Westminster.
Then the day after, the celebrations started…
Looking at the video above is a fascinating glimpse into what spurred independence back on the agenda that weekend. The violence from No supporters that day remains something defenders of the Union have never, ever addressed mainly because they can’t. If they accept that then they accept the violent nature of the some Unionist supporters.
But within hours of the No vote the debate shifted from Scotland to England, and the likes of Nigel Farage decided to kick Scotland down to the ground in the early hours of the 19th September.
It’s interesting to see two years later hearing Farage’s comments as they paved the way for the debate from the more staunch defenders of the UK. ”Scottish MPs should shut up’ being one of many frequent mantras, as is the idea the independence campaign was violent and thuggish on the Yes side. Again, here’s Nigel Farage showing the way..
I’m an subjective commentator, but if you’re objective there’s no way to listen to Farage’s words without noticing the rather obvious dislike of Scotland and the hypocrisy of his own criticisms, but what’s depressing is how quickly these comments became assimilated into the anti-independence mantra.
Of course even on the weekend of the result people didn’t give up and for some the fight continued..
Fact is independence should have died that weekend. It should have resulted in people giving up, but it didn’t. The promises made to gain a No vote crumbled in the weeks, months and years after the result, benefiting not just the SNP who had seen Alex Salmond stand down and replaced by Nicola Sturgeon as leader, but the Greens to such an extent that right now in the Scottish Parliament there is a majority of MSP’s who support independence.
One of the last big promises made to keep Scotland in the Union was its membership of the EU, something now under threat thanks to the oncoming storm that is Brexit, the key Nigel Farage policy outwith of xenophobia and racism.
In the wake of the EU referendum polls showed an increase of support for an independent Scotland with even the staunchly Unionist Daily Record suggesting they’d back Sturgeon if she went for a second referendum.
There’s now a situation where a second referendum is on the cards with timing being the issue as after all, although polls now three months on from the EU referendum show support for independence to be fairly static, the polls in the few weeks after show that in the right circumstances and with the right arguments enough people will support independence. That’s something I imagine not lost upon Unionists or indeed, Brexit supporters who realise that next time the status quo is going to be whatever half-arsed cobbled together deal Theresa May will have gotten from the EU, and just how bad Brexit has spun out. There’s no way that the status quo won’t be a Tory one.
Before though anybody says ‘what about Jeremy Corbyn and Labour’? Well, what about them? Corbyn’s not impressed at all in regards to Scotland showing himself to simply have picked up exactly the same rhetoric Ed Milliband used but we have now a Labour leader who supports Irish unity, is a left winger and would tell you the history of the left and the current political state of various countries in Central or South America but is without a clue in regards a country a few hundred miles from where he lives. I’m more than sympathetic to how he’s being attacked by the media, but he’s not the messiah many on the English left think he is to revive Labour in Scotland.
As for Labour, they’re considering going into partnership with the Tories to help them retain Glasgow council next year, something which would kill off any remaining credibility the party clings to in Scotland.
There’s no sign Brexit will start this year. Theresa May’s said invoking the mechanism to start that process, Article 50, isn’t going to happen til 2017. Rumour is that may well be early in 2017, though the EU themselves are getting itchy and want the UK gone and countries like Japan and the US have made it clear they’re not going to hang around waiting for the UK to sort themselves out so are carrying on business with the EU without us. Any deal May might get looks set to be vetoed unless the UK grants free movement which won’t please racists like Nigel Farage, so Scotland faces a choice; stay in the UK and be dragged into whatever grim resurgent imperialistically xenophobic future awaits, or leaving the UK to make it’s own future.
That future won’t be won by aping the actions or rhetoric of Unionists, it’ll only happen if Yes voters channel that excitement, positivity, intelligence and drive towards speaking to No voters or undecided voters. That’s something happening today in Glasgow as the Yes Movement starts gearing up for what will be a very different campaign to that which was lost in September 2014. That time saw a 30-35% lead whittled down to 10%. This time sees the Union side with a 5-10% lead and a volatile situation out of their control with Brexit showing that the ‘stable status quo’ may well not be what people want.
Two years on a second referendum looks winnable if things slot into place right, or it could be lost ending any hope of independence in my lifetime, probably of the lifetime of the generation after me. The stakes next time are far too high to rush into a referendum where if lost, leaves Scotland at the mercy of people who like think Nigel Farage for generations and we won’t have the EU or human rights legislation to temper their worst excesses.
So today, two years on there’s hope. This could be the start of something amazing…