You may have noticed that Scotland had an independence referendum a couple of years ago, one which the Unionist parties won on the basis of making certain promises to the Scottish people, promises which they had no intention of keeping. Despite the fact it ended in disappointment and Westminster deceit, the independence campaign was the greatest flourishing of participative democracy that Scotland has ever seen. 2014 was the summer when Scotland woke up and began to speak to itself and to the world. If democracy is a flower, 2014 in Scotland was a meadow carpeted in many colours.
People, ordinary punters, people like me, who had no previous involvement in politics got up off our arses and too part in a popular debate about what sort of country we want Scotland to be, a debate about who has the right to decide what sort of country Scotland should be. Should it be the people of Scotland and a government that they elect and which is responsible to them and to them alone, or should it be a government in Westminster which doesn’t enjoy the support of anything close to a majority of the people of Scotland? A government which is taking Scotland down a path to a right wing dystopia which only a tiny minority in Scotland want.
Local groups sprang up like flowers in the desert when the rains come after a long drought. Scotland is littered with communities which have been battered into submission by the inequalities and demoralisation of the Thatcher years and the betrayal of Blair, communities where kids learn young that dreams can only be found in drugs. But for the first time in my life, I saw people in communities like my own learn how to hope, learn how to dream real life dreams, learn how aspiration is something that they have a right to as well. They learned that their voices counted, that their views mattered, that their vote would make a difference. We learned that passivity is the route to impoverishment, and silence leads to submission. So we spoke out, and all across Scotland there was a chorus of conversation about the future of this country. Many small voices together make a loud sound. And it was a beautiful thing.
Scotland had a national conversation about its future, a national discussion about independence, a discussion which in many other countries is conducted with bullets and bombs and grieving mothers and bodies lying in the street, and the only casaulty of this debate, the only injury imposed by the independence movement, was Jim Murphy’s shirt. That is an enormous testament to the maturity of Scottish democracy and the people of this country. It is something about which we should rightly be proud. Scotland sets an example to the world about how to conduct a national debate on independence. In Catalonia, across Europe, all over the world, they point to Scotland as an example of how this kind of debate should be handled.
The violence that did occur came from the reactionary forces at the fag end of Unionism. The physical wounds that were inflicted were inflicted by fascists with Union flags. It would be wrong to characterise all of those who support the continuance of the Union with the hate filled spittle flecked baboons who ran rampage in George Square, beating up anyone suspected of separatism. And the mainstream Unionist parties would be the very first to take umbrage if an independence supporter attempted to link them to that violence and hatred, a violence and hatred that was very real and very bloody and which waved a Union jack and screamed God Save the Queen. Yet those same Unionist parties want to characterise the entire independence movement by the broken egg splattered on Jim Murphy’s shirt. They want to pretend that online discussion of Scottish politics is uniquely ugly and vile, when bad online behaviour is a characteristic of all social media, not just Scottish politics.
Ruth Davidson’s speech this week in which she characterised the independence debate as fratricidal was a shameful attempt to demonise the peaceful side in the independence debate. It was an attempt to diminish and denigrate the ability of the people of Scotland, irrespective of what stance we take on the constitution, to debate openly, peacefully, and in a mature and civilised manner. And she did it as a deliberate ploy in an attempt make people disengage with the arguments, because people like Ruth rely on passivity and silence, obedience and obeisance, in order to maintain their influence over us. She won’t apologise, because she has no shame or self-respect, and no respect for the people of this country. They do this as a deliberate tactic in order to close the debate down before it gets going, because it’s only through apathy and hopeless detachment that they can maintain the North Britain that gives them status. When Ruth tells Scotland that its exercise in democracy is fratricidal, she’s telling us she doesn’t think we’re fit to voice opinions. She’s displaying her cringe and her dependence on her Westminster masters. She’s projecting her own weakness and inability onto everyone else.
Scotland started a national conversation about this back when the first independence referendum was called. That referendum didn’t settle the matter, because it is now clear that it was won on a false prospectus. The United Kingdom that Scotland was told it could be a part of back in 2014 doesn’t exist. It never existed. All it was was a glossy sheen on a rotten corpse. That’s why the debate continues. But Ruth wants us to continue our dance with the dead, and to keep Scotland in its political grave.
The harsh reality for Scotland now, at this juncture in its history, is that the governments of Estonia or Malta have more of a say about the future Scotland faces than the people of Scotland do themselves. And Ruth Davidson wants to do all she can to ensure it stays that way, because in her universe everyone has the right to determine the path that Scotland treads except the people of Scotland who must tread that path. When Ruth speaks of fratricide, she’s speaking about her fears that if the people of Scotland can choose their own path, they will choose to trample her career into the dust. And all the photo opportunities with her pals in the press pack won’t save her.
Audio version of this blog article, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-1st-feb-2017
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