I’ll be heading for Dumfries tomorrow (Friday 1 June) to take part in the All Under One Banner march on Saturday 2 June. I want to be there in plenty of time to fully enjoy what I know will be a wonderful atmosphere. But the main reason for travelling on Friday and staying overnight is that , for health reasons, I don’t like being under any kind of pressure. I want to join the march at the start fresh after a good night’s sleep and be at the end in plenty time for my speaking slot at 14:55. And I’ll be staying over on Saturday night as well so I can do a bit of socialising after the event.
This is an important event. (The march, I mean. Not my wee speech.) The Yes movement needs to show that it is strong, not just in Glasgow and Edinburgh and across the central belt, but the length and breadth of Scotland. It is up to us, as individuals, to make the effort to be there. There will be some who genuinely cannot attend. That simply puts more of an onus on those who might, if they just roused themselves a bit.
The Dumfries march is also important because it takes the Yes movement right into the heart of Tory territory – where Unionism holds sway, but where Mundell’s brand of rampant ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism is ripe for attack. An odious ideology which should be abhorrent to ‘old-time’ Tory voters who still cling to a Scottish Conservative tradition of standing up for Scotland’s identity and values.
The Union is a comfort zone for most small ‘c’ conservatives. But it’s not as comfortable as it once was. Many are already questioning whether the Union that has emerged since 2014 is the Union that they signed up to. Many are beginning to wonder if ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism is compatible with either their Unionism or their conservatism/Conservatism.
The Yes campaign must exploit these doubts. We must miss no opportunity to aggravate discomfort with the Union and increase unease about where this new breed of ultra-Unionism threatens to take Scotland. We must tell the true story of what the Union now means for Scotland and what it will mean if the British Nationalist project isn’t stopped. We must shatter comfortable illusions and undermine complacent attitudes.
But we also must make it clear that these traditional Tories and small ‘c’ conservatives have an alternative. It is pointless trying to deter people from a harmful course of action without offering them somewhere else to go. They need to know, not only that independence will be better for Scotland, but that it will be better for them. They need to know that there is a place for them in the Scotland that the Yes movement aspires to. They need to realise that nobody is trying to take anything from them.
They need to be made aware that, while we reject the Union, the Yes movement reaches out to them. They are as much part of Scotland’s enriching diversity as anyone else. It is their Scotland as much as it is ours. They must want to rescue their Scotland from the onslaught of ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism every bit as much as we do – even if for different reasons.
Let’s go to Dumfries with our minds, hearts and arms open. Let’s make it clear that, while you may not march with us, you are welcome to join us on the journey to a better, fairer, more prosperous 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.