This has been a bad week. My birthday was last Saturday and, with the improvement in the Covid rules, there was the promise of some contact with my elder son, daughter in law and their children for the first time in months. But then it all went wrong. That was they day when all hopes of independence seemed to die. The election results were announced and the new parliament was just like the old parliament, an SNP/Green combination which, since 2016, has done so much to prevent independence ever having a chance. Was it the day for your life’s dream to go up in smoke, or down the plughole, or get kicked so far into the future that you can’t see it any more? And maybe never to see it again?
I suppose I’ve really known for some time, at least since 2015, that the chances of independence happening in my lifetime were becoming slimmer, but I clung on to my few remaining hopes, hoping against hope that things would change, that suddenly I would wake up and realise that it was the last 6 years that were all just a bad dream, that Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP weren’t going to kick independence into the long grass, that a date would be fixed for IndyRef2.
But that’s not the way it was. The dream was independence, but the reality was Nicola Sturgeon.
Isn’t it always the same when you wake up from a dream. For a few seconds, you may think it’s all real, but then you realise you’re not in Freedom Square waving your saltire and hugging everyone in hugging distance, you’re still in bed and the depression you went to bed with the previous night has not gone away.
It’s amazing how dreams can let you down, because dreams are rarely anything like reality, and this dream is just about as far from reality as it could go.
I remember the excitement of 18th September, 2014. Canvassing had gone really well. I was certain we were in the lead and I went to the count full of optimism. Everything changed as the results started to come in. The outcome was made even worse by the decision of Alex Salmond to step down. The one positive was the election of Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister and party leader. She had taken a major part in the campaign and we all expected her to carry on from where Alex Salmond left off. Surely we could build on the result and next time there would be no mistake. Next time we would win.
Unfortunately, 2015 was not the start of something good: it was end of something good, because it’s all gone downhill from there. I won’t bore you with all that’s happened since then, except to remind you of two things: Thatcher’s comment “All the SNP need to do to achieve independence is to deliver a majority of MPs to Westminster” and the 2015 UK general election result: SNP 56 MPs, Labour 1 MP, LibDem 1 MP, Tory 1 MP. The first of many mandates ignored.
I used to think Sturgeon’s refusal to call a referendum was down to fear of losing, but now I’m not so sure. Perhaps she doesn’t believe in herself. Perhaps it’s fear of being found out. They say a great leader surrounds him or herself with the best people and develops their own successor. Look at Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon. Sturgeon’s idea of the best people is those who will never disagree with her. Her idea of developing a successor is picking someone who has no ideas other than those she tells them to have. Perhaps that’s why Angus Robertson seems to be the favourite. A man who can be certain to do what he’s told.
Perhaps Nicola Sturgeon’s knowledge that she would never have gained her current position without Salmond is partly responsible for her hatred of him today. Her success is not of her own making. She didn’t become First Minister because of her own abilities, but because of his. But maybe even Sturgeon herself doesn’t realise the truth.
So, what should happen after the election? Is it time for me and others to give up on all this independence lark, declare Nicola Sturgeon and the current SNP the winners, knowing that it probably means independence delayed for at least a decade, maybe longer, maybe for ever, retire to spend my remaining years watching TV with my cosy slippers and cup of cocoa? Just do a Pete Wishart?
Hell no, as the Americans would say. What was the quote from the Declaration of Arbroath?
“As long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours, that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself”.
It still applies today, except you might want to replace “brought under English rule” with “kept under British State rule” to bring it right up to date.
Well, there are more than 100 of us remaining. More than 100 who still want to fight to see Scotland as it always should have been, a free and independent country, even if the SNP, or more specifically, the leadership of the SNP, seem to have lost their taste for the fight. More than 100 who know Scotland can only be a better place when not controlled by an increasingly corrupt, right wing, fascist British State, determined to take without giving and determined to cut Scotland off from the rest of the world.
We are not going away. We will never give up.