If as some of us are beginning to suspect, Scotland’s cause is in grave danger of dying for want of the effective political power that the SNP was supposed to provide then there may be no more fitting epitaph than the claim that the biggest Scottish independence event of 2020 is a diverting online celebration of the independence campaign’s most celebrated celebrities by the independence campaign’s most celebrated celebrities presented by the Scottish Independence Convention in its guise as Voices for Scotland who, The National informs us, have organised this event “as the next stage of its indy campaigning”. Which had me wondering what the previous stages were as I can only recall a series of fundraising appeals to finance better fundraising appeals.
If hopefully premature as an epitaph for Scotland’s cause then this celeb-fest may serve as a fitting commemoration of a year which makes that dampest of damp squibs look like a pyrotechnic display fit for an Olympics closing ceremony. Looking down the list of the show’s stars I get a feeling of deja grue similar to that occasioned by an Ian Blackford speech in the British parliament. Not that I have anything against the performers as performers or the personalities as personalities or the political activists and commentators as… well, two out of three will have to do. I have abiding respect for Ruth Wishart, for example. And great affection for Dougie MacLean. And huge admiration for Karine Polwart and Eddi Reader. I’m an unapologetic fan of Val McDermid’s writing. Stuart Cosgrove is, by my reckoning, one of the finest columnists around. Richard Walker is a hero. Gerry Hassan is an academic of note. Lesley Riddoch is a legend.
It’s not the people I have a problem with. Mostly. And even those that I do have issues with its not because of who they are but because of the pish they spout about the constitutional issue. What I have a huge problem with is the notion that an event such as this – something so shallow and trivial – should be the “biggest Scottish independence event of 2020”. Really?
Perhaps the idea offends because it is so close to being true. It has been another year in which the Scottish Government has done precisely nothing about rescuing Scotland from a Union which they are never done telling us only ceases to be disastrous for Scotland when it starts to be catastrophic. It has been another year in which the SNP has stuck determinedly to it’s policy of compromising the sovereignty of Scotland’s people by meekly accepting a British veto on our right of self-determination. It has been another year in which the party which is supposed to be the political arm of the independence movement has been preoccupied with internal squabbles and shenanigans such as make me want to virtually slap virtual heads until the actual flesh peels from my actual hands. All of which we’re told we must tolerate because of COVID COVID COVID.
Everything is COVID. COVID is everything. COVID is all we’re supposed to think about and talk about. Unless Mhairi Black or some other righteous radical wants to talk about gender or some other hobby horse of indeterminate and infinitely variable sex. That’s OK. But attempt to bring up the small matter of Scotland’s dire predicament and the SNP’s responsibility for getting us out and it’s back to COVID COVID COVID!
I cannot help but be offended by the idea that the absolute acme of the independence campaign in the whole of the past year is a 21st century makeover of Larry Marshall’s One O’Clock Gang interspersed with tantalising but ultimately disappointing glimpses of what BBC Scotland might be if it wasn’t British and had some relevance to Scotland. Really? I can see why the SNP Conference wasn’t even in the running for the biggest Scottish independence event of 2020. But White Heather Club for the Web? Really?
Fortunately, I can take comfort from at least one other development that came late in the year but maybe just in time to make the biggest Scottish independence event of 2020 something that actually relates to the fight to restore Scotland’s independence rather than the SIC’s perpetual fundraising effort and the SNP leadership’s attempts to divert attention from their own failures and failings. I refer to the AUOB initiative to create a membership organisation with a view to uniting the Yes movement in a way that would enable it to speak with one voice and exert serious political clout.
You may not have heard much about what is happening with this initiative. But I can assure you that it is proceeding apace. A 15-person interim National Committee has been appointed with Gillian Mair and George Kerevan as co-convenors. This ‘working committee’ is tasked with getting the new mass membership organisation for supporters of Scottish independence launched in early 2021 and includes SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil, Dr Ian Grant of the Scottish Independence Foundation, and former diplomat Craig Murray among others – all of them genuine stars of the independence movement.
As co-convener, George Kerevan gets the summing-up quote.
2021 will be a make-or-break year for Scotland. We simply can’t wait on the outcome of the May Holyrood elections before starting to organise the next independence referendum. That is why the grassroots of the movement have decided to set up this new, inclusive campaign body to start the ball rolling. There’s too much energy around to wait for the politicians to fire the starting gun.
Well said, George!
I genuinely hope today’s 7-hour divertissement goes well and that both celebrities and their virtual audience enjoy the event. But please don’t try to make it more than it is. On no account make it out to be the most significant event relating to Scotland’s cause in all of 2020. Not only is that a horribly depressing thought, it is a slight to all those who have striven to keep alive the fight to restore Scotland’s independence despite everything – including COVID.
The Big Indy Night In may be a suitable sign-off for a stagnant year. But Scotland’s cause isn’t yet ready for an epitaph. And when it is, this ain’t it.