I wrote this back in June. But with the SNP Conference looming and the predictable anti-SNP smear campaign in full swing, I thought it might be worth sharing again.
Now that the #EUReferendum is over, and British politicians have finally come out of hiding, it is striking how much the aftermath of the EU vote resembles the period immediately following Scotland’s first independence referendum. After a campaign in which one half of the British political establishment belaboured those entitled to vote with hateful tirades and dire, sky-collapsing threats while the other half sought to beguile that same constituency with jingoistic nostalgia and ludicrously improbable promises, both sides now set about playing down or outright denying everything they said in the course of the campaign.
This time too, the winners appear less than delighted with their triumph and completely at a loss as to what to do with it, while – in Scotland, at least – the supposed losers walk away with all the prizes and proceed to extract maximum advantage from their “defeat”.
On both occasions, the obvious consequences of ill-thought gamesmanship appear to take established power totally by surprise, while countervailing power moves immediately to deal with those consequences in a cool, professional manner.
Now, as then, the shock, disappointment and anger with which the result was greeted by Scotland’s aware and engaged electorate, rapidly turned to inspired determination.
On both occasions, the progress of Scotland’s progressive civic nationalist movement was hardly slowed, and quickly gained new momentum. The British political establishment remains utterly baffled by its inability to crush this movement, while totally convinced of its own innate superiority even in the face of its serial failures.
Circumstances have changed for the independence movement in Scotland. What was previously a clear path to the restoration of our rightful constitutional status has now become a broad avenue. The thoroughfare is not without obstacles. But we have a superb driver with an excellent support team.
Just as the SNP took us from the disappointment of the No vote in 2014 to the landslide of the 2015 UK election and record-breaking results in May’s Holyrood election, so the party will take us from the UK-wide #Brexit vote to a secure relationship with Europe, #indyref2 and, ultimately, independence. Anybody who doubts that simply hasn’t been attending to the events of the last few days.
But the SNP hasn’t done this on its own. None of what has been achieved in the last decade would have been possible were it not for the people of Scotland giving the party their support – in massive numbers. Scotland’s politics started to change the day people realised that they could use the SNP as a means to effect change.
The SNP is not the countervailing power that is successfully challenging the best efforts of the British state. It’s you! It’s us! It’s the people of Scotland!
Over the coming weeks and months there will be those who try to plant insidious seeds of doubt. Worm-tongues – not all of them outside the independence movement – will endeavour to persuade us that the SNP is not the agency that will serve us best as we work towards bringing our government home. There will be talk of failure. And even of betrayal. Attempts will be made to drive a wedge between the people and the SNP.
Those who urge that we ignore those voices and resist the attempts to divide us will be denounced for the heinous crime of sticking with what is obviously working for the cause of independence. They will be accused of “blind” partisan loyalty.
I make no apologies for being an SNP “loyalist”. But I am not blind. I see the divisive propaganda for what it is. I see the worm-tongues for what they are. I am content to give steadfast, but not unquestioning support to Nicola Sturgeon because the allegiance that the shallow-minded see as being to a political party is, in truth, devotion to that “beautiful dream” of independence. A dream that I know is as close to her heart as it is to mine. A dream that she and her team are pursuing with relentless vigour and astute tactics.
It may not be fashionable to trust politicians. But, without an ounce of sentimentality and with all the pragmatism at my disposal, I’m putting my trust in Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.
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