Much greeting today but not one drop of shame.
Before I start (and while this goes for every word we write at ATF), I feel it’s important given the strengths and depths of our varied feelings, to say this is purely personal. I can only speak for myself, today – whether I thought this yesterday or will think it tomorrow, I can’t comprehend.
I see anger in our midst and my job isn’t to quell that because I‘m also fucking furious and well we all might be; people wake up today walking a little less tall, feeling less confident in their future and feeling terrified and terrorised by what has been and may be unleashed. It would be disingenuous of those of us who fought for independence to pretend it doesn’t matter. It isn’t my job to “accept” anything on behalf of anyone else or to tell someone much more profoundly impacted than me that I’ve decided it’ll definitely be fine, and didn’t we do well.
There will be two narratives today – that the energy and politicisation unleashed by the Yes movement will not go away, that the “real winner” was democracy, that it was great so many people got involved and that their march cannot be slowed by losing one vote on one day – or that we had our chance and blew it, that we now deserve what’s coming to us, that all is lost.
Those of us familiar with losing know it matters: that energy dissipates, that those who nearly marched to the top of the hill can quickly fall back, that you can‘t just carry on like you‘ve won. But we’re also fucking used to it. We’re not getting our tinfoil nat hats on because we’ve not been defeated by a hidden conspiracy but by bastards in plain sight.
In 2014, in Scotland, in a sea of carefully and deliberately constructed depoliticisation which has been engineered over generations – power has been laid bare. I understand Scotland today in a way I didn’t when this all began, where we are and how far we have left to go. 1.6 million Scots wanted to go the whole fucking way despite it all or perhaps because of it all – the economy, currency, the media, the fear mongering, the play on sectarian loyalties, isn‘t Alex Salmond actually quite fat? Tell me this would happen a year ago and I simply wouldn’t believe it. Those in our nation who said Yes to a chance for change are in my heart today, as billions of pounds of brutal cuts and renewed attacks on the right to exist are directed our way for this insolence.
We will not forget those who have stood against us, those who directed the onslaught against a better kind of politics – the Scottish Labour Party chief amongst them. The message sold by our masters in red rosettes was ignorance “if you don’t know, vote no” – don’t educate yourself, don’t find out, you might like it and it‘s “ not worth the risk” (for them anyway.) Many of “their” voters will ensure they pay a heavy price for this naked loyalism to their own power. The majority in Glasgow who rejected the message of hopelessness will make those who have governed our city for 33 years almost unquestioned sleep a little less easy in their beds tonight. If something independent and grassroots can beat Labour in Glasgow once, it can do so again.
But overall, Scottish politics remains upside down – a “nationalist” party offering social democracy without an actual democracy and a “social democratic” (LOL) party offering narrow nationalism. We had a chance to turn politics the right way up yesterday and we failed to take it but Scottish Labour can only walk on the crumbling ceiling for so long. Miliband has already sold us out this morning, again, just like he did yesterday morning and the morning before.
My hope is that the independence we are creating in Scotland continues to resist the forces of nationalism. I fear for the dejected who hung their hopes on a differently coloured flag but we make no apologies for always pointing out that we knew today, the fight was only just getting started, whatever the outcome.
The new politics we need to continue to build must shine a light on the corridors of Holyrood just as it does on those at Westminster, it must not forget that the SNP could take measures to massively reduce poverty and redistribute wealth at any moment of their choosing – we could scrap the council tax, implement the childcare policies in the White Paper or set up a shitey Scottish broadcaster so we get to have our own Eurovision entry and so far, we’ve made political choices not to do these things.
Don’t believe those who talked about aligned stars, as though our day would simply never come again. The arrogance with which it is assumed that everything will go back to Labour voting business as usual is staggering. Cameron and his allies Clegg & Miliband are already back safely wrapped in their boxes but we’re all still here, fighting for something better.
I resolutely refuse to be wholly negative because for me, Scottish independence was a bit like world peace, something I “believed” in but could never envisage. In these past few years, I began to see it with an overwhelming clarity, thanks to the biggest mass movement which politics in Scotland has ever seen. 1.6 million Scots shared a tiny piece of collective vision yesterday and when you’re so used to the long game, that still counts for something. The class of those people, in every fucking sense, makes clear what is at stake and for who. Those who needed hope most stood most proudly on their feet yesterday and it‘s all the more ball breaking to watch that happen and not win.
My fear above all else is that those on all sides will now try to rein that vision in because it speaks with too schemy an accent and might scare the floating voter and can you just get back in your box now? We‘ve got a country to run. Independence isn’t something you vote for, it’s something you win. We need to remember that above all else. This was not and will never be handed to us easily but I remain determined to build an independent society which one day ratifies that material fact by declaring our right to have a new democracy in Scotland.
Now is not the time for reconciliation or to set aside tension and conflict, now is the time to fight. Injustice cannot be reconciled with justice, war cannot be reconciled with peace, poverty cannot be reconciled with obscene wealth. Tension and conflict are the drivers of political, economic and social change and that change must come. The Yes campaign promised us we could be rich so long as we didn‘t rock the boat, the Yes movement proved we can be much more than that when we really rattle our rulers. Never forget how scared they all were of us, how scared they ARE of us.
The settled will of yesterday is not the limit of tomorrow. Where there is harmony, let’s crack on with the fucking discord.