Were you excited?

What follows is the letter I sent to the National when they requested comments on Nicola’s speech last Friday.   Unfortunately, it didn’t make the cut, perhaps too long or perhaps they already had enough to fill the space by the time they got mine.  However, to put the letter in some sort of context, and before too many of you get annoyed, I should make it clear that I have been a member of the SNP and a supporter of the Yes movement for many years and nothing in Nicola’s speech has changed that.  No tearing up the membership card, no refusal to campaign and definitely no desire to give up on independence, something I’ve wanted for at least 25 years more than Nicola.

I did, however, want to express my disappointment at the content of Nicola’s speech.  Not only was it largely something we had really all heard before, it mainly failed to rouse the activists to get out to have the conversations to get the so-called ‘soft noes’ moving to yes.  Ok, I’ve had lots of folk tell me that the speech wasn’t aimed at people like me: it was aimed at middle Scotland, folk who are cautious, not easily moved from the status quo, and though I can understand that point of view, activists like myself still need encouragement, still need to see things moving forward, still need to believe that we’re not being taken for granted.

There was a load of anticipation about the speech, a lot of it generated by the media and the Yes movement themselves, but the timing, moving it to Brexit day, also contributed.  Unfortunately, Nicola’s speech seemed not to read that mood and this, I feel, was a big factor in the enormous sense of disappointment felt by so many.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s my immediate reaction to the speech.


My reaction to Nicola’s speech on Friday 31st January

I remember all the talk pre and post the December election about how poor Labour were, because they were not able to make progress against possibly the worst Tory governments ever.  Was that because they were the worst Labour opposition ever?

Well, here we have the SNP making little progress on independence when faced with that same useless Tory governments.  Was that because too much time was spent on Brexit and not enough on independence?   Or was it because the SNP’s managerial, passionless approach hasn’t stirred enough enthusiasm in Scottish hearts?

I approached today’s speech with mixed feelings.  I hoped we were to get something to stir the blood, but I feared we would get more of the same.  Unfortunately, it turned out that my fears, rather than my hopes were justified.

Nicola Sturgeon’s speech today focussed on Brexit (again) and how WM couldn’t continue to deny us a section 30.  Well, good luck with that.  Westminster don’t do embarrassment, so trying to embarrass them enough to make them change their minds seems doomed to failure.  Little mention of the people of Scotland being sovereign, a fact she’s made a bit of a song and dance about before, but sovereignty of the people doesn’t fit too well with pleading with Johnson for a section 30.  If the people of Scotland are sovereign, they don’t need a section 30 to prove it.

Go out and campaign, she told us.  Get on to the doorsteps.  Convert the soft noes.  Well, some of us have been doing that since September, 2014 and the polls have barely moved.  But now support for independence is around 50%, I hear many cry.  When we started campaigning for 2014, support was only in the middle twenties and look where we finished, they tell us.  But there is one big difference between then and now.  Then, we were in the middle of a campaign.  Excitement reigned.  People were enthused.  Everyone was talking about it.  The media was full of it, even if much of the coverage was negative.  Now, there isn’t the same level of interest because not much is happening

Nicola suggested patience and many have agreed with her.  However, one final reminder to the ‘let’s wait for support to grow to 60% or whatever mythical level is chosen’ brigade, that waiting is not a risk-free option. The Scottish Parliament we vote for in 2021 may not be what we have today.  It may not even exist.  If Johnson has his way, existing powers will be removed, Holyrood’s budget will be cut and much of the money will go instead to the Scottish Office, or whatever they call themselves now, to be distributed directly to their pals with a big Union Flag on it.  And you can be sure that more money will go to Tory supporting councils, so Westminster can say that Tory managed local government is better than the rubbish ones run by the SNP.

All told, I found Nicola’s speech extremely disappointing, more likely to encourage the unionists and discourage Yes supporters.

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