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The Struggle for Normality

Alec RossBy 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.


The Orkney News welcomes its readers to share their views and opinions. Contributions either as a letter or an article can be sent to : fiona@theorkneynews.scot


Alec Ross

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  1. Thing is, Alec – it looks like the “monied elite” of England, don’t care much about the well-being of their own people, never mind their neighbours. So, why are the same old same olds still in charge?
    Where is the Nye Bevan of today when you need him/her?

    And, here’s a timely reminder………..

    Declaration of Independence
    Dáil Éireann

    Adopted by Dáil Éireann, the revolutionary parliament of the unilaterally-declared Irish Republic, at its first meeting in the Mansion House, Dublin, on 21st January, 1919.

    Whereas the Irish people is by right a free people:

    And Whereas for seven hundred years the Irish people has never ceased to repudiate and has repeatedly protested in arms against foreign usurpation:

    And Whereas English rule in this country is, and always has been, based upon force and fraud and maintained by military occupation against the declared will of the people:

    And Whereas the Irish Republic was proclaimed in Dublin on Easter Monday, 1916, by the Irish Republican Army acting on behalf of the Irish people:

    And Whereas the Irish people is resolved to secure and maintain its complete independence in order to promote the common weal, to re-establish justice, to provide for future defence, to insure peace at home and goodwill with all nations and to constitute a national polity based upon the people’s will with equal right and equal opportunity for every citizen:

    And Whereas at the threshold of a new era in history the Irish electorate has in the General Election of December, 1918, seized the first occasion to declare by an overwhelming majority its firm allegiance to the Irish Republic:

    Now, therefore, we, the elected Representatives of the ancient Irish people in National Parliament assembled, do, in the name of the Irish nation, ratify the establishment of the Irish Republic and pledge ourselves and our people to make this declaration effective by every means at our command:

    We ordain that the elected Representatives of the Irish people alone have power to make laws binding on the people of Ireland, and that the Irish Parliament is the only Parliament to which that people will give its allegiance:

    We solemnly declare foreign government in Ireland to be an invasion of our national right which we will never tolerate, and we demand the evacuation of our country by the English Garrison

    We claim for our national independence the recognition and support of every free nation in the world, and we proclaim that independence to be a condition precedent to international peace hereafter:

    In the name of the Irish people we humbly commit our destiny to Almighty God who gave our fathers the courage and determination to persevere through long centuries of a ruthless tyranny, and strong in the justice of the cause which they have handed down to us, we ask His divine blessing on this the last stage of the struggle we have pledged ourselves to carry through to Freedom

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