By Alec Ross
Five years on.
If I’m being honest, I find every 18th September anniversary difficult and a bit embarrassing. I know it’s complicated (actually, it isn’t), but given everything that has happened, it’s extraordinary that we aren’t independent yet.
The truth is that it’s entirely our fault, because five years ago we handed back power to the very people who are now taking us to Brexit oblivion. We are where we are because we took the wrong path. If we’d done the right thing and voted for normality, and not become the first people in history to vote against themselves, we’d today be sitting with our feet up watching our neighbours implode in an existential crisis, our EU membership card in our back pockets. Or maybe not – perhaps Scotland leading the way would have led to our neighbours taking a different path. Who knows?
But the awkward truth for us today is that what faces us – Brexit, a power grab, a prorogued Parliament, austerity – was entirely avoidable. We made these things inevitable when we voted no, simply because the nature of subjugation is having no power to stop them. They took our vote not as an article of trust but as a betrayal of weakness that they mercilessly exploited. They were always going to.
The first step to solving a problem is admitting that there is one.
Five years down the line, the best thing we can do is to take ownership for failing, five years ago today, to right a three centuries old wrong.
Nothing that was promised has been delivered. Pensions aren’t safe. Jobs have been lost. Instead of federalism we got EVEL. And by voting no to stay in the EU we got a Brexit we didn’t vote for.
So, mixed feelings today.
We started the 2014 campaign with 27% and nearly pulled it off. Today we’re at slightly more than half. It’s coming.
On one hand, that’s clearly positive. We’re winning the argument.
But on the other – why, after everything that has happened, why isn’t it 80-20? Why does 48% of Scotland want to be run by another country’s monied elite that despises us and we can never get rid of? What does that say about us? Is 52% a staging post, or a destination? What else can I say to you, the 48%, that I haven’t already said a thousand times?
What we must never do is give up. Apart from anything else, what would that say about me? Who wants to say to their weans: “I had a chance to make your lives better, but I was a bit worried about my pension. It looked a bit difficult so I didn’t try”?
A century ago, Ireland regained its independence. For some decades afterwards it was a struggle. But even in the bad times, had there been a a plebiscite to rejoin the union, do you suppose there’d be a single vote for yes? Because, come what may, it’s always better to be yourself.
Five years on, normal self-governance for Scotland is more than just an economic and democratic necessity. It’s an urgent moral imperative.
Let Scotland be normal.
Let Scotland be Scotland.
Wherever you are, happy nearly-independence day. We’ll have the real thing soon enough.
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