“Scotland won’t be ignored any longer”
By Alec Ross
Here’s the thing. Aye. It will. That’s what not being independent means. It’s time we were honest about this. Otherwise, how can we possibly move forward?
Let me spell this out.
For as long as Scotland chooses to be part of the UK – as it allegedly did in 2014 – Scotland chooses to be ignored forever. The whole point of the Union is that Scotland can and will always be ignored. Because it’s not a union (how could it be, given the relative sizes of the countries and their respective number of MPs), but an incorporation. The numbers make a union in any sense of the word arithmetically impossible. Which suits London fine, of course.
The No vote in 2014 – when we became the first country in history to vote against itself in an epic act of self harm – effectively sent a message to London which said: “come ahead, do your worst, do what you want in our name”. Which they have done. They were always going to. What did we think was going to happen?
Some of us might have pretended that the decision to outsource our democracy would be seen as an article of trust. Some of us would have been delighted to give it away, given that Britain – not Scotland – was – is – their country. Scotland the Slave.
It wasn’t and would never be seen as an article of faith. It was seen as a betrayal of weakness and everything – the power grab, the beginning of the end of Barnett, the trashing of the Sewell convention, the rolling back of devolution, Brexit – comes from that national failure of nerve. We boasted, then we cowered. We bottled it. I always said that if the independent country I yearned for turned out to be the economic basket case (oil is such a burden) that we were told we would be, I’d hold up my hands.
But there has to be a quid pro quo, and I’ve yet to meet a unionist / British Nationalist who is prepared to take any ownership for the omnibouroch and the broken promises that have ensued from dark money, a vow on the front page of the Daily Record and a public admission of postal vote tampering, treasury impartiality and breaking of purdah.
We need to be honest about this and say that it isn’t about which political party you support but about who gets to decide Scotland’s future. I’d love to be in an independent Scotland having a political debate rather than a constitutional one. But the truth is that the vision – if we can call it that – of a democratically weakened Scotland is an inherently negative and pessimistic one. You can have a better Scotland or you can have a United Kingdom. But you cannot have both.
The primary – only – responsibility of any leader is the continuing wellbeing of her people. Therefore the Scottish government must deliver independence at the earliest possible opportunity. It has to stop apologising when it has nothing to apologise for. Make independence the day job because democracy is ultimately about who decides. With self-determination, Scotland decides.
Making a better Scotland is a damn sight easier when we have the powers to make it so. In the current circumstances, taking powers from Scotland and then blaming it when it fails is like taking the wings off a bird and then mocking it for not being able to fly.
We are so much better than this.
For as long as Scotland chooses to be in a union that actively works against it, greeting about being ignored is a waste of our time and energies. Asking for another independence referendum is like asking a Rottweiler for your ball back.
Scotland will be ignored right up to the point where it gets off its knees and decides not to be ignored. It comes down to pride, self-esteem.
And whether you consider yourself a country or not. And in the end, that’s the deal.Not currency or dog licenses or whether we can watch “Strictly” on the telly. But “who are we”, and “what kind of society are we?”
It really is that simple. Who decides? Stands Scotland where it did?
It’s up to our Government. And I’ve chapped on a lot of doors and spoken to a lot of people these last seven years. I’d love my weans to live in a Scotland that espouses the pride that I try to instil in them. But we need more than a “wait until Brexit clears” press release.
Bollocks. Either independence is a good idea or it is not. And I’d love to think that my last seven years – campaigning, speaking with folk, writing, arguing, thinking, greeting – haven’t been in vain. I’d like the largest party in Scotland that supports independence to give me some sort of an indication that I haven’t been wasting my time.
We can boast or cower. Scotland can be a country or a region. Independence is either a good idea or it isn’t and the case doesn’t depend on stuff – like Brexit – that is essentially an English existential crisis that, while fascinating, has nothing to do with us.
Independence means choosing never to be ignored ever again.
Time to get this done. It’s later than you think.
This is an opinion piece by Alec Ross. If you would like to send in your views as an article or as a letter you can email firstname.lastname@example.org