I should be upbeat today in anticipation of the Forward as One March & Rally in Dunfermline tomorrow (see below). I should be looking forward to being with old friends and enjoying the great atmosphere that always attends Yes events. I should be preparing for the meetings and discussions that always take place around the fringes of big Yes gatherings. I should be thinking about what I will say when I get up on that stage in front of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of eager and enthusiastic independence supporters desperate to get on with the job of restoring Scotland’s independence.
It’s difficult not to feel down, however, when I see all that’s happening. And what’s not happening. The news from Shetland is depressing enough, as the islanders once again inexplicably put their trust in a party of proven liars and despicable smear-mongers; rejecting a fine young SNP candidate and the opportunity to forge new and better connections with the rest of Scotland. I really don’t understand the mentality of those who cling to the familiar simply because it’s familiar and no matter how badly it has let them down. If ever there was a need for boldness in Scotland, it is now. How can we expect our political leaders to show the daring Scotland’s predicament demands if voters show only timidity?
The news from Edinburgh doesn’t help my mood. The Court of Session has rejected a petition for an interim interdict to stop the Johnson regime suspending the UK Parliament so that the British executive can exercise the powers of an absolute monarch. The rejection is temporary. But it can’t help but look like more timorousness in the face of a brazenly anti-democratic adventure by a privileged clique who, for all their outward appearance of stupidity and incompetence, nonetheless know how to bend the UK’s arcane, archaic and infinitely flexible constitution to their own dubious purposes.
The news from London just keeps on getting worse. A paper published today by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) sets out the range of Brexit scenarios in a manner which is all the more dismaying for being clear and concise. Would that it left room for doubt about the Gordian nature of the bind that the British political elite has got us all into. Would that it left space for hope that there might be an outcome that isn’t cause for dejection.
The news from Scotland’s political leaders is… no news at all. Lot’s of righteous condemnation of the way the Johnson regime is trampling all over democracy in the UK. Lots of outrage and indignation at the imperious manner in which Brexit is being imposed on Scotland. Lots of dire – but woefully belated – warnings of the real and imminent threat that rabid British Nationalism poses to Scotland’s democratic institutions. But, aside from an assurance that the Scottish Parliament will get back to work on the – also woefully belated – Referendums Bill sometime next week, nothing! Not a word from our First Minister about whether and how she intends to take action to prevent Scotland being wrenched, unwilling, from its place in Europe. Not a word about whether or how she and her government propose to circumvent the ‘suspension’ of the Scottish Parliament which now seems all but inevitable. Not a word that might lift my mood.
Somehow, I have to put this mood behind me. The folk who go to events like the one in Dunfermline tomorrow don’t want tales of doom, gloom and disaster. They get enough of that from the Unionist media day by grinding day. Yes activists are generally well-informed and politically aware. They know the reality of Scotland’s predicament. They don’t need to be constantly reminded. They certainly don’t want platitudinous complacency or empty assurances. What they want from Yes marches and rallies is encouragement and inspiration. Something to keep them going while they wait. And wait. And wait.
There is something in that SPICe briefing which offers a glimmer of hope.
The UK Government may request a further extension to Article 50 beyond 31 October. However, the EU would likely only agree to this under certain conditions: (1) on technical grounds, to get final approvals for any agreed Deal; or (2) a substantive change in UK politics, such as a general election or referendum.
The emphasis is mine. As the Johnson regimes continues to contrive ways of circumventing due democratic process, there seems vanishingly little possibility of effective action in the crippled and corrupt British parliament to prevent a no-deal Brexit and the ensuing dismantling of Scotland’s democratic institutions. But it was ever thus. Ultimately, it was always going to come down to the Scottish Government acting in and through the Scottish Parliament to secure Scotland’s democracy and defend Scotland’s interests on behalf of Scotland’s people.
The Union is Scotland’s great problem. And the solution to that problem must be entirely made in Scotland.
I’ll stand in front of that crowd in Pittencrieff Park tomorrow well aware that it is not me they want to hear from. It’s Nicola Sturgeon.
Forward as One March & Rally Dunfermline Saturday 31 Augus
Assemble Viewfield Terrace from 10:30. Depart 12:00.
Rally Pittencrieff Park (The Glen) 13:00.
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