Not asking! Demanding!

Last Thursday (20 April) I attended a small demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament. It was certainly small. Barely half a dozen people attended ─ if we include Mike Fenwick, who was there to cover the event for IndependenceLive But it wasn’t about numbers. Not on this occasion. The Demo was organised by Sean Clerkin for the purpose of launching a new banner which reads “END THE UNION!”, with the tagline “LET SCOTLAND PROSPER!”. Who in the Yes movement would not echo these sentiments? And yet I am fully aware that many Yes activists, no matter how much they sympathised with the message, would have declined to attend this event on the grounds that it was organised by Sean Clerkin.

I was aware of how this individual is perceived by many in the Yes movement. Having spoken to him at length, however, I was persuaded that this event marked a change in his campaigning style. Personally, I never had more than minor misgivings about his methods. This is a fight to restore our nation’s independence in which we are opposed by one of the most ruthless imperialist powers that has ever existed. It is no place for exaggerated etiquette. Our campaign must be prepared to use robust tactics. I would never condemn anyone who is with us in this fight no matter what methods they employed short of violence against persons.

It is a matter of the most basic logic that to achieve solidarity the individuals within a movement must be willing to work uncomplainingly with people they don’t like. True solidarity cannot abide exceptions. Exceptions necessarily proliferate as every individual brings their own to the movement. Pretty soon, it is difficult to assemble significant numbers in pursuit of the cause due to the web of exceptions. Person A won’t attend if person B will be there. Person C won’t attend unless person A is there. Person D won’t attend because they are against something that person C supports. And so it goes until the marches and rallies that used to attract tens of thousands are embarrassingly poorly supported by comparison.

We have lost the knowledge of how to combine. As a movement, we have lost sight of our common cause as it has become obscured by a multitude of ‘add-on’ agendas and off-topic hobby-horses. Rediscovering that common cause and re-enabling our capacity to combine requires that we set aside the extraneous stuff ─ including our personal feelings ─ in order to focus exclusively on our shared desire to restore Scotland’s independence.

If the banner reads “END THE UNION!” I will march behind it no matter who is holding it aloft. In part, at least, my purpose in attending Sean Clerkin’s banner launch was to demonstrate this willingness to work with absolutely anyone who is part of this fight to end an ancient and abiding injustice. I have attended marches and rallies organised by Manny Singh, Gary Kelly, Neil Mackay, Tommy Sheridan and others. I have, over the years been to countless events organised by a multitude of different groups and organisations. I have never declined to attend an event on account of my personal feelings about the organisers their guests or other attendees. I take the term ‘common cause’ very seriously indeed. My commitment to that cause is unwavering. In this, even if in no other way, I hope to set an example everyone in the Yes movement should be able to follow.

In this spirit, I intend to be in Glasgow on Saturday 6 May for the All Under One Banner event, despite the fact that I insist all such events should rightly target the Scottish Parliament. My dearest wish is that the “One Banner” should read “END THE UNION!”. I realise this is too much to hope for. But maybe we could make a start on moving towards that as our common cause. Asking nicely for independence is unlikely to have any effect. It is time to start demanding an end to the Union which has blighted Scotland for 316 years.

In my mind I hear 100,000 voices chanting in unison “We’re not asking! We’re demanding! End the Union! End it now!”.

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12 thoughts on “Not asking! Demanding!

  1. Where and what time does this Glasgow demo take place?
    Tho I do think the timing, the date that is, a little ill judged.
    Maybe the following week, would have been a better time.
    I get the the idea behind it, of course, I just wonder if it will get the large numbers we would want for it.
    There being a certain section of the Independence movement being pro Monarchy.
    But I doubt too many of that side, are particularly pro Charles!


  2. As the May Day holiday was moved, this date is quite appropriate to mark that. The consequence that it could highlight an anti monarchy stance is a bonus, IMO.
    I agree, we need to get behind every situation which highlights our desire to be Independent. We need to be united!
    It will be interesting to see the stance the SNP now adopts regarding these marches and organisations. The YES movement is far wider than the SNP. They have to acknowledge that and work with us.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Now if we had a country full of Sean Clerkin’s we’d be rid of the union by now, but we don’t, the majority of Scots are too bloody afraid to upset anyone, and the SNP will only challenge Westminster on the S35 with the GRRB in mind, the gravy trainers know not to ever attempt to get seriously pro-active on the indy front.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. A plea to AUOB organisers…

    Please ditch the megaphone-orchestrated chants of “Tories Tories Tories – Out Out Out” in favour of something more directly related to ending the union since the current chant implies that the march is in protest against a Westminster tory government and NOT Westminster rule itself

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree wholeheartedly Peter. Ending this toxic union is priority number one, who cares who’s shouting the message. After we have rid ourselves of the shackles, then our differences can be addressed.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Agreed, which is why I was so dismayed to see the petulant and childish anti-Alba/anybody else stance taken by the SNP back at the last election… then on top of that to see precious political capital and energy wasted on a pointless Supreme Court case (why, indeed, are we asking permission even to ask a question?) and now the entire GRR Bill business…
    I do feel, as Neth says, above, that there needs to be a common, undistracted, focus on independence at these events, without the distractions of very partisan (and often just insulting) slogans, written or shouted; distractions because they give opponents and critics ammunition and material to refocus the agenda of media attention. Similarly with focusing scorn on individuals, however deserving they may be (Boris Johnson and Liz Truss were perfect distraction magnets). The individual personalities will come and go, it’s the institution we need to change.


    1. I stand outside the Alba/SNP tribalism. I see what each is blind to – their half of that tribalism. And it is half. There is no way to measure the degree of tribalism accurately. We know it cannot be zero. We know it cannot be 100%. The best we figure is a 50/50 split of blame. Not that it matters. Even if it was 60/40 or 80/20 it takes a minimum of two ‘tribes’ for tribalism to arise. I see what Alba did at the 2021 election. I see the trap they laid for the SNP. I see the shite they were flogging about a ‘supermajority’. I see all the stuff the SNP has done as well. I disgusted with the whole rotten lot of them – SNP, Greens, Alba and the British parties. But I expect fuck all from the latter because they are British. I demand a lot of the Scottish parties. To date, they are all failing us abysmally.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. The final death throws of the dire British Empire will not surprise any of the 62 countries that have gained independence from the United Kingdom. I fully agree with Peter A Bell’s comments about standing outside the Alba/SNP tribalism; I ended my membership in SNP a long time ago and now regularly share the following address

    Liked by 1 person

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