恭喜發財 Gung hei faat choi! Happy Chinese new year, and we are now in the year of the dug. According to one Chinese astrology site, the year of the dog is the year for fighting the political causes that you believe in passionately, which seems appropriate for this blog. Not that I believe in astrology, but then you were expecting me to say that because I’m a Virgo. However the astrologists, perhaps for a change, do give some good advice – this is a year for pacing ourselves, for slow and steady growth, and above all else for hard work.
By the end of the Year of the Dug, there will just be a few short weeks left before the UK leaves the EU, taking Scotland with it. We’ll be out of the EU and into the Year of the Pig. You only have to glance at the Conservatives to see how appropriate that is. This coming year is certainly going to be a year for fighting a political cause. It’s in this Year of the Dug that we will build our campaign for a Scotland that decides its own path and is not led into piggery by Tory Brexiteers. We can win the campaign that is coming, but we need to prepare ourselves for it. We have work to do.
The first thing we need to do is focus our efforts. Above all else that means putting an end to the divisive and harmful infighting that blighted our movement last year. This is a grass-roots movement, a mass movement, a national movement. That means that by definition it’s going to contain people that you disagree with, people whose views you may find objectionable. The only thing that we all agree on is the core defining issue of the Scottish independence campaign, and that is that we all believe that the only sovereign body in Scotland should be the people of Scotland, all of us who were born here, all of us who have chosen to live here.
Being Scottish isn’t about your genes, it’s not about your ancestry, it’s about living in Scotland, identifying with Scotland, and sharing the future of Scotland. Above all else, Scottishness is a state of mind, and it’s one which is contagious. Collectively we are the Scottish people, and we are the only ones who have the right to decide what path Scotland takes, what kind of country we want to live in, what choices we want this nation to make. We agree that it’s for the people of Scotland to decide, that the people of Scotland are the only sovereign body and not a parliament on the banks of the Thames in which our representatives are a small and permanent minority which can be sidelined and ignored, but what we don’t necessarily agree on is what choices the sovereign body that is the people of Scotland should take.
A striking thing about the movement for Scottish self-determination is that it is characterised by people who are not demanding independence because they believe that Scotland is better than anywhere else. They’re certainly not working for independence because they hate the English. The overwhelming majority who are involved in this campaign seek Scottish independence because they recognise that there is so much that is wrong with this country, and it needs to be fixed. This is country which is scarred by inequality, riven by social injustice, divided by access to wealth. This is a country whose assets, resources, capital, and people have historically been bled for the benefit of the economy of London and the south east. Scotland isn’t a poor country, it’s an impoverished one. Scotland is a country where for too long people have learned to be passive, to be quiet, to dree their weird. That needs to change, and the only ones who can change it are ourselves.
A Westminster which makes political choices in its own interests, without considering Scotland’s needs, without listening to Scotland’s voices, isn’t going to fix those problems. All too often that Westminster parliament and the parties which inhabit it have a vested interest in ensuring that Scotland’s problems continue. The only people who are going to face up to Scotland’s problems, to tackle them, to solve them, are the people of Scotland.
These are things we can all agree on. What we don’t necessarily agree on is what the solutions are. But it’s unproductive, it’s self-destructive, for our movement to tear itself apart on questions which we can’t start to address until after independence has been achieved. Before we can argue about whether we want a shot on the swings or the roundabout, we have to get to the playpark. First of all we need to establish the principle of the sovereignty of the people of Scotland.
In this coming year, we need self-discipline. This isn’t about egos, this isn’t about personalities. This is about building visions of a better Scotland. Refraining from attacking other independence supporters doesn’t mean “wheesht for indy”. You can still, you should still, put forward and develop your own ideas, and if those ideas are seen to have merit then others will adopt them. You can do that without getting into fights with other independence supporters who have different views. The only people who benefit when independence supporters attack one another are the British nationalists. All of us who seek independence have a common interest in showing up the shortcomings and contradictions of British nationalist arguments, if there’s any verbal attacking to be done that’s what we should be attacking.
This year we need to be visible. You might not like rallies, but that doesn’t mean attacking those who attend them. Not everything in the indy campaign is about converting No voters. We also need to think about our own morale and our own resolve, and when you are an activist in a movement which is under seige by an overwhelmingly British nationalist media, you need the comfort, strength and support that comes from being in the presence of others who share your dreams. Because we are all too often marginalised and sidelined by the media, it’s all the more important that we raise our profile and become visible to the wider community. If you don’t like the idea of rallies or demonstrations, we always need more Yes hubs, we need more canvassing, we need more public events, we need more street stalls in town and village streets. The best form of criticism is to do your own thing and to make a success of it.
We need to support the existing pro-independence media and to encourage and support new initiatives. It is ironic that independence supporters spend far more to support anti-independence media than they do supporting pro-independence media. We need newspapers like The National, we need glossy magazines like iScot, we need video projects like Broadcasting Scotland, Indylive, Phantom Power.
But more than anything else, we need more yes groups. There is already a network of groups across the country, but there are still gaps. By the end of this year we ought to have local groups in every town and district in Scotland. Those groups are going to be the backbone of the coming campaign, and local activism in those groups will do infinitely more for the independence cause than picking fights on Twitter with people who have Union flegs in their avatars because they say they’re not nationalist at all.
Above all else, that’s the message of the Year of the Dug. Get involved. If we want to change Scotland, we need to do it for ourselves. Get involved and change the world.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
Wee Ginger Donations & Speaking engagements
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