By Alec Ross
Today the First Minister announced that she was ramping up preparations for a no-deal Brexit. This is where we are.
To be honest, even a people’s vote with a so-so outcome falls short of what Scotland voted for, and we’d be spending even more time, money and energy mitigating stuff than we currently are. We are good at mitigating stuff we didn’t vote for. This is Scotland. We are world class mitigators. This is what we do.
Honestly, I don’t get it – we’re fighting for a mandate for a vote that won’t solve anything instead of using the mandate we actually do have to solve both Brexit and save Scottish Democracy. Frankly, I’m as pissed off as the hundreds of people on the Twitter thread posted by Joanna Cherry about the Scottish mandate for the People’s Vote on Brexit. I’m a big fan of Joanna, incidentally, but I wasn’t surprised at the level of dismay at her continuing support for a vote that won’t happen and, even if it does, achieves nothing.
We cannot and will not win by playing nicely. It’s like bleating about Question Time, when it’s run by a media whose entire raison d’etre is to preserve the status quo and deny Scotland its democracy. A total, utter, waste of time. Westminster is an English Parliament (if anybody doubts this, ask them why it, not Edinburgh, continued after 1707). We will never be granted a second vote, so we call one ourself. Or we declare UDI. Or we make the next election the de facto independence vote.
What we mustn’t do is continue with this utter charade. You know, the 2014 vote has become a stick to beat us with. We said: “Aye, colonise us! Come on ahead!”. What does it say about when we are now – despite everything that has been done in our name – still here? It reeks of acquiescence. Fool me once? Shame on you.
We can’t keep trying to help England save itself from itself. There comes a time when prudence and canniness tips over into cowardice. There’s never been a more propitious set of circumstances to become independent in a short period of time. To not call it now would be a betrayal, a catastrophe. If I’m honest, I’ve put seven years into this and would love to think I’ve not been wasting my time. Part of me wants to say: “look, I’ve a business to run here. I need to know you believe in this. Call me when you need me. I’m ready. Because we had a chance in 2014 and blew it. There’s an even better chance right now and we’re pissing about calling for a people’s vote that isn’t going to happen that still sells us short”.
Tony Benn used to say this about socialism – “it’s either a crusade or it is nothing” . But this isn’t a political cause. It’s about morality, doing the right thing; standing up, being brave. Not necessarily for your country, but for each other. About believing that actually we’re about more than our (positive) contribution to the GDP and the price of oil and the value of our investments and mobile ‘phone roaming charges. We shouldn’t be measured on the width of our wallets but by the depth of our humanity.
Time we stopped apologising for wanting our lives to be better. Time to stop apologising for who we are. And God save us from another consultation. If not now, when? Jesus, it’s either a good idea or it isn’t, and mansplaining pensions and the Barnett Formula to already scunnered folk won’t work. Because we’d be imagining independence from within the prism of that strange, colonial, deliberately unequal, neoliberal clusterbouroch that we have been conditioned over 312 years of imperial and cultural colonialism to see as normal. Which brings us back to my original point.
Most folk get this, which highlights the subtle but crucial disconnect between those who make our case publicly and those who essentially want our leaders to say – “look, we’re getting nowhere here with these clowns. Our job is to look after the people of Scotland. We can’t fulfil our job description within the existing constitutional arrangement that Scotland voted for, but ruled by governments which we haven’t voted for since just after the Second World. Which makes our continuing presence in this deeply unholy of alliances – which no Scot should have any truck with – utterly self-defeating. It’s baffling. Either we are a country, or we aren’t. Either we want independence or we don’t. Either it’s a good idea or it is not. We can boast or we can cower. It’s up to us. We can serve the people of Scotland or we can go to London. But we cannot do both”.
Frankly, the rest is a distraction, noise. The singular purpose of the Scottish Government is to do its best by us and extricate us from this bouroch. Not in three to five years. Immediately.
“Lay your schemes alone / adore the rising sun / and leave a man alone to his fate”, writes Burns in “Ye Jacobites By Name”.
We can help our neighbours no more. I fear for them and I wish them well, I truly do. We leave them, reluctantly, alone to their fate.
For better or worse, we must now follow ours.