When I took to the stage at Glasgow Green after the magnificent All Under One Banner march from Kelvingrove Park on Saturday, I spoke without notes. The following is partly a transcript of my address based on Martin Hannan’s report in The National, and partly the speech I would like to have made. Little of it is based on personal recollection, as I confess to having been quite overcome by the immensity of the occasion.
I have supported independence all my life. I joined the SNP as soon as I was eligible. That was in 1962, when I was aged 12. A lot has happened in the fifty odd years between then and now.
I remember Winnie Ewing’s stunning Hamilton by-election victory in 1967.
I well recall the hard graft of the two UK general elections of 1974 – both winter campaigns.
I remember the British Labour betrayal of Scotland in 1979 and the ugliness of the Thatcher years which ensued.
But we got past all that. We got over it. We survived it. And here we are, 50-odd years on, in May 2018.
May is a significant month. It was on 12 May 1999 that the Scottish Parliament was reconvened by Winnie Ewing – three decades after her historic victory.
At last, Scotland had a real Parliament again!
On 3 May 2007 there was an election which shocked the British parties and broke their stranglehold on Holyrood. On 11 May, SNP administration was sworn in and Alex Salmond became First Minister.
Somewhat inconveniently for my rhetoric, it was 3 September 2007 before we were finally rid of the derisory ‘Scottish Executive’.
At last, Scotland had a real Government again!
In the years since then, Scotland has developed an increasing distinctive political culture. As far as the limits of devolution allow, Scotland has been doing things its own way.
At last, Scotland was acting like a real nation again!
And the British political elite doesn’t like it!
Friends! Over the years of campaigning to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status there were times when I felt great elation. There were times when I felt bitter disappointment. But always I felt quietly confident that our cause would prevail.
Lately, however, I have felt something else. I have felt anger. And I have felt fear.
I have felt anger at the British state and its utter contempt for our Parliament and its disrespect for our Government and its disdain for our people.
I have felt fear for what British Nationalists will do if we fail to stop them. They will emasculate our parliament. They will dismantle our democratic institutions. They will eradicate our distinctive political culture. They will sacrifice our public services on the altar of private profit.
Friends! I will not let my anger turn to impotent rage or misdirected hate. I will not let my fear turn to tremulous hesitancy or paralysed inaction.
I will hold fast to my fear. I will be motivated by it. I will raise aloft my anger. I will be energised by it. And I will make a stand against the rolling juggernaut of anti-democratic ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism which is threatening this country.
Will you stand with me?
Will you stand in defence of Scotland’s Parliament?
Will you stand in defence of Scotland’s Government?
Will you stand in defence of Scotland’s public services?
Will you stand in defence of Scotland?
If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence campaign.