Speech: Hope Over Fear 2019

The people of Scotland are sovereign!

There is no qualifier appended to that statement.

No ifs or buts. No conditions or caveats. No question. No argument. No equivotation. No ambiguity.

The people of Scotland are sovereign.

There’s a tendency to use that phrase quite glibly.

Even that great champion champion of people power, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has insisted that the government must honour the choices of the people.

So long as it’s the right kind of people making choices he agrees with.

But what are WE saying when we assert that the people of Scotland are sovereign?

We are saying that all legitimate political authority derives from the people.

We are saying that the people are the ultimate arbiters in all matters of public policy.

We are saying, quite simply, that THE PEOPLE DECIDE!



312 years ago, the ruling elites of both Scotland and England conspired together to impose on Scotland a political union which denies the sovereignty of Scotland’s people.

The Union is a constitutional device by which the people of Scotland are prevented – PROHIBITED – from fully and effectively exercising the sovereignty that is ours BY ABSOLUTE RIGHT!

312 years ago, a tiny elite of those privileged by birth or wealth claimed to speak for Scotland. The descendants of that elite; the inheritors of that privilege, still claim to speak for Scotland.

I have a message for them. YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR SCOTLAND ANY MORE!




To the British political elite I say, the days when you could, with impunity, overrule and override the democratic will of Scotland’s people ARE AT AN END!



But we also need to send a message to our own political leaders – to Scotland’s political leaders. We must FORCEFULLY remind them that the sovereignty of Scotland’s people IS NOT NEGOTIABLE!

We are asserting our sovereignty and we will not have it traded away for WORTHLESS BRITISH PROMISES!

We will not have our sovereignty compromised in a desperate and futile effort to find a path to independence which adheres to the rules made by British Nationalists for the purpose of preserving their precious Union at any cost.

We will not have our sovereignty sacrificed to make life easier for the people we elect to defend our sovereignty.


We must not grow complacent because we have an SNP administration in Edinburgh and a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament.

Our First Minister, our Scottish Government and ALL our MSPs must be repeatedly, constantly, incessantly, EMPHATICALLY reminded that THE PEOPLE OF SCOTLAND ARE SOVEREIGN!

But let’s end on a positive note. Let’s make Nicola Sturgeon a promise. Let’s offer her a solemn undertaking.

If she has the bottle to confront the British state…

If she is bold enough to defy British rules…

If she demonstrates determination to break the Union that was imposed on Scotland 312 years ago…


We give this undertaking! We make this promise! And WE ARE THE SOVEREIGN PEOPLE 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 movement.

Donate with PayPalDonate with Pingit

A significant day

The following is partly based on my notes for a speech given at the Hope Over Fear Rally in George Square, Glasgow on Saturday 15 September 2018.

“They wouldn’t be that stupid!” Thus did Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp pronounce his verdict on the UK Government. Admittedly, he was responding to the provocative suggestion that the British state might, at some point in the foreseeable future, declare the Scottish National Party a proscribed organisation. The founder and CEO of Business for Scotland (BfS) was answering questions from the audience at a meeting in the Grampian Hotel, Perth on Thursday night (13 September) jointly organised by Yes Perth City and SNP Perth St Johnstoun Branch. A packed room at the sell-out event had just watched Gordon give a slickly professional presentation setting out an economic case intended to bolster the constitutional demand for independence. Nobody does this better. Whether he is explaining how Scotland is economically disadvantaged by being part of the UK or setting out his vision of a new kind of ‘economics with a social conscience’, Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp presents his material with the confidence, conviction and comfortable good-humour of a man totally on top of his subject. On matters economic, he is utterly convincing. On venturing into the realm of politics, perhaps less so. It should be made clear, at this juncture, that the notion of the SNP being banned under UK law did not come from some bampot in a Bacofoil bunnet. The remark was made by a well-known and highly respected local Yes activist who was seeking to make a point about the lengths to which the British establishment might go driven by the imperative to maintain the British state’s grip on Scotland. The point being made was that we underestimate the manifest stupidity of the British political elite at our peril. I’ve no doubt there was a time prior to the 2016 EU referendum when the invariable response to suggestions that the British government might try to extricate the UK from the EU without so much as the pretence of any planning was, “They wouldn’t be that stupid!”. I know for a fact that right up to the moment Theresa May’s administration called a snap general election in 2017 there were people insisting that, “They wouldn’t be that stupid!”. Going back through the less recent history of the British state I’m certain one could identify any number of episodes which were, or could quite justifiably have been, preceded by the exclamation, “They wouldn’t be that stupid!”. Any expression of doubt about the British political elite’s capacity for stupidity risks giving the impression of naivety. Out of respect for Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, I’ll put it no more strongly than that. We would be stupid to imagine that the British state is benign. We would be stupid to ignore the fact that the British state is founded on a political union which contrives to deny to the people of Scotland the due and proper exercise of their sovereignty. We would be stupid to disregard the fact that the British state has already seized powers which must rightfully belong to the Scottish Parliament as the only Parliament with democratic legitimacy in Scotland. We would be stupid to neglect the fact that the British state has already awarded itself the legal authority to strip further powers from the Scottish Parliament at will. Or that it is in the process of establishing the necessary apparatus to administer those powers in the form of the ominously titled ‘UK Government in Scotland’. We would be stupid to remain oblivious to the British state’s efforts to marginalise the Scottish Government; delegitimise the Scottish Parliament; and, by means of a relentless propaganda campaign of distortion, disinformation and denigration, to undermine confidence in Scotland’s democratic institutions and public services. We would be stupid to suppose that there is no purpose to all of this. We would be stupid to imagine the purpose might have anything at all to do with serving Scotland’s interests. Given what is at stake, we cannot afford to be naive. We cannot afford to be complacent. We cannot afford to be stupid. “Brexit is the key!” This is another phrase that has remained firmly lodged in my mind following Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp’s presentation. The theory being that once the – presumably ‘unfortunate’- reality of Brexit fully impacts on the people of Scotland they will flock to the independence cause. I have a few problems with this. For a start, there is the perversity of wishing on the people of Scotland the worst that Brexit might bring. Call me old-fashioned, but I see it as the role of the progressive Yes movement to oppose every harmful policy that the British state seeks to impose on Scotland. Furthermore, I regard it as the solemn duty of the Scottish Government to protect us from such harm. The idea of facilitating potentially catastrophic damage for political gain is something I find utterly reprehensible and totally repugnant. Even if the gain were to be an end to the Union. Another problem with the ‘wait and see’ strategy is that it is quite falsely portrayed as a consequence-free option. I have yet to find any advocate of postponing action on the constitutional issue until ‘after Brexit’ who is even prepared to acknowledge that the British government will not be idle while we dither. The project to lock Scotland into a unilaterally rewritten constitutional arrangement is not going to be put on hold for the convenience of the hesitant and indecisive elements of the Yes movement. The process by which Scotland’s status within the UK is redefined continues independently of the Brexit timetable. That process is already in train. It is happening now. There is absolutely no rational reason to suppose it will be suspended until ‘after Brexit’. What does that phrase even mean? How might ‘after Brexit’ be defined? Brexit isn’t an event or an occurrence. It is a condition. It is a new and continuing reality – constitutional, economic, diplomatic, social, cultural and everything else. Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp spoke of a ‘Brexit deal’ as something being signed, sealed and delivered – with a full-stop gesture for emphasis – as if we are all going to awake one morning to a definitive awareness of all that is implied by being dragged out of the EU against our democratic will and without any plan or preparation. It is this awareness, together with an immediate tangible impact on pockets, which is proposed as the thing which will give decisive impetus to the independence campaign. This is deplorable, and potentially dangerous, nonsense. There will be neither clarity nor any moment of epiphany. Relations between the UK and the EU will be in flux for decades. The ‘deal’ will be a fudge and there will be just as many accounts of what Brexit ‘really means’ after it has supposedly happened as there have been to date. The theory that people will be firmly nudged towards Yes by the reality of Brexit is fatally flawed for another reason. It is not the reality that matters. What matters is the perception. And who controls the apparatus by which public perception is manipulated? The British state, of course! Even if it were true that “Brexit is the key!”, that key is entirely in the hands of a British state with a massive propaganda machine at its disposal. I don’t want the key to Scotland’s future in the hands the British political elite. I want the key to Scotland’s future firmly in the grasp of Scotland’s people. I urge that we seize that key with all due haste rather than wait in the hope that it will fall into our hands. I reluctantly acknowledge that there will be no referendum on Thursday 20 September 2018. History will judge whether I was right to press for this date. But my main purpose in pressing for action at the earliest opportunity remains valid. All too evidently, there is still a need to inject a sense of urgency into the independence campaign. It was immensely heartening to see elected SNP politicians on the stage at the Hope Over Fear Rally. The warmth with which they were received by the crowd in George Square – by no means all ‘natural’ SNP supporters – clearly indicated how welcome this engagement is. There was a palpable sense of something akin to relief that here, at last, was some sign of the de facto political arm of the independence cause reaching out to connect with the grassroots Yes movement in a way that the bulk of the Yes movement is now reaching out to the SNP. I am surely far from alone in entertaining the fervent hope that the appearance of SNP elected members at a Hope Over Fear Rally, and the manner in which they were welcomed, signifies something meaningful for the independence cause. Perhaps a start to restoring a unity which has, on occasion, seemed a bit fragile. Perhaps something more. But the impetus which will drive the final stage of our project to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status will not come from those SNP politicians alone. That impetus must come from rank-and-file SNP members and the grassroots Yes  movement. We must stand ready to provide that impetus. We must continue to demand action. We must be determined to break the Union.

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.

donate with paypal

donate with pingit

Bare-arsed defiance!

braveheart.pngI’ve probably watched Braveheart three or four times. I could watch Mel Gibson’s 1995 ‘arse and archery’ epic again today and still enjoy it. It’s that kind of movie. A fine piece of cinematic story-telling replete with powerful characters and rich in visual spectacle. It’s a bit of fun. But is it more than that? Is Braveheart culturally or politically important?

The film has always been controversial. There have always been those prepared to embarrass themselves by criticising Braveheart as if it was intended to be a historical documentary. Denouncing Braveheart for its lack of academic rigour is a bit like condemning the Frankenstein movies for their failure to accurately represent the intricacies of transplant surgery. There’s missing the point; and there’s taking an intergalactic detour around it.

Then there are those who choose to regard Braveheart as some kind of totem for Scotland’s independence movement. From my observations, these are mostly Unionists. A large part of my personal enthusiasm for the film derives from the fact that it is such an irritant to British Nationalists. I know of no actual research on the matter, but I’d venture a small wager that a suitable study would show Braveheart to be all but exclusively an obsession of those most vehemently opposed to the restoration of Scotland’s independence. Even political commentators who are supposedly worthy of respect quite commonly use the word ‘Braveheart’ as a woefully simplistic shorthand for what they imagine to be the motivation behind Scotland’s independence cause.

There are even those who insist that the whole independence campaign was provoked by Braveheart. It is not at all uncommon to find people insisting that, prior to Braveheart, your average ‘Sweaty’ was content with his or her lot, and would have remained so if they had not been roused to revolt against the natural order by the heavy symbolism of defiantly bared proletarian bums. If Che Guevara had been Scottish those iconic posters and T-shirts might have looked very different.

Disobligingly declining to conform to such facile British Nationalist stereotypes, I never regarded Braveheart as having any great political significance. While being glad of anything that might challenge – however inadequately – the stolidly British history traditionally taught to Scotland’s children, I never thought of Braveheart as relating to the modern civic nationalist movement in any meaningful way. But recent events have prompted me to revisit my attitude to something I had previously perceived to be no more than a bit of mass-appeal Hollywood hokum.

Call me contrary! But when something arouses the self-righteous ire of Mike Small and triggers the tut-tutting reflex of cultural gate-keepers such as Pat Kane, I am temperamentally inclined to look upon that something with a degree of favour inversely proportional to their elitist disapprobation. Admittedly, it doesn’t take much to set off Gerry Hassan’s supercilious sneering. But my first instinct is to sympathise with the target of his scornful disdain.

So it was that I began to consider whether I may have been wrong to dismiss Braveheart as mere superficial entertainment. I started to wonder if the movie might have acquired some special significance in the context of a Yes movement which, at the time the film was made, was not only non-existent but utterly unimaginable.

Jason Michael McCann may be guilty of some rose-tinted revisionism when he writes the following

Say what you like about Braveheart, at a time when we were taught next to nothing about Scottish history in our own schools it put the common people of Scotland’s past right at the very heart of our national story. The veterans on the field were given lines, we saw the pain and intimacy of the couple’s wedding disrupted by the English Lord, the love of Elder Stewart for Hamish his son, and the affable if utterly mad Irishman Stephen. It was their Scotland we were rooting for because that was our Scotland. It’s hard to know the rats when the poll tax isn’t taking food from your table, or expect clean toilets when dad has upped and left and mum is drunk. You can sneer at Braveheart only when you’ve never felt that independence might be your only chance.

Besides all this, Braveheart is only a film. It was never intended to be a documentary, it is truth without being fact – a story. And like every good story it lifted those who needed lifting and has no doubt done more for the cause of independence in Scotland than this blog, Bella Caledonia, CommonSpace, and all the rest combined. Those who love to sneer at it may want independence, but what Braveheart did – by accident or by design – was to embolden the hearts of those of us who really need independence. So, to the sneerers – Shut up! And to the rest – Sit down and enjoy the show!

I am rather doubtful about the extent to which anybody actually saw the film this way back in 1995. At least, not consciously. I certainly cannot claim to have analysed Braveheart as an allegory of class struggle. But the analysis has a certain resonance. It seems perfectly possible that the movie may have had a subliminal appeal much as Jason describes. If that analysis is valid, then it must have implications for the present-day symbolic relevance of the film and the ways in which that symbolism is deployed.

Mike Small disapproves of the decision to screen a heavily edited version of Braveheart as a ‘warm-up’ for the Hope Over Fear Rally in Freedom Square on Saturday (15 September). But my very strong suspicion is that what troubles him most is that nobody sought his approval. Scotland’s ‘radical’ elite simply don’t like the fact that the Yes movement is not under their control. They resent the fact that they have so little influence. They are frustrated by the fact that they have been unable to harness the Yes movement to their various agendas.

Showing Braveheart at the Hope Over Fear Rally is an act of (metaphorically) bare-arsed defiance, not only against the British establishment and its lackeys in Scotland, but against the mainly left-wing cliques who would claim ownership of the Yes movement, and so destroy it. By reclaiming Braveheart as a symbol of popular democratic dissent, we reassert the status of the Yes movement as a genuine grassroots democratic phenomenon – diverse, inclusive, unstructured and joyfully rebellious.

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.

donate with paypal

donate with pingit

Keeping it together

If there is one thing that the independence movement needs less than the infamous factionalism of the left it is people jumping on the bandwagon as the media exploit personal antagonisms and jealousies among leading figures on the left for the purposes of a vendetta against one of the establishment’s most reviled hate-figures.

I am not enamoured of the term “feminazi”. But my dislike for language which trivialises a truly abhorrent ideology is in conflict with my predilection for the bon mot – the word which captures the very essence of something, or which describes perfectly a particular phenomenon. I regret to say that “feminazi” is very much the apt term for some of those who reacted to the above comment on Saturday’s Hope Over Fear rally and its aftermath with such unbridled venom and brazen dishonesty.

I feel somewhat justified in using the term “feminazi”, not least because those who responded so vituperatively to my comment were themselves guilty of using language in a way that trivialise an abhorrent ideology. I refer to people who deploy the word “sexist” as a cudgel with which to bludgeon into silence those whose views they take exception to – however irrationally – without regard for the appropriateness of the language.

The “feminazis” were repeatedly invited to point out what was sexist in my post. None could do so. But this didn’t deter them from repeating the inane accusation, ad nauseam and with ever increasing shrillness – as if that alone would make it true.

It wasn’t only these bile-spewing harpies who reacted to my rather innocuous remarks with melodramatic hysteria. Another category included those who regard even the slightest reluctance to join in their “Two Minute Hate” as a wholehearted endorsement of the subject. One is either an enthusiastic participant in their game of detestation trumps, or one is unceremoniously assigned to a diametrically opposed camp reserved for those who perversely venerate the hate-figure du jour. There is only pure hatred or cult-like devotion. No other possible attitude exists. Not even benign indifference.

The hate-figure in question on this occasion is, of course, Tommy Sheridan. Although astute readers will have noticed that my original post made no mention of that particular individual. Or any female persons. Or any persons at all. And for very good reason.

Those who imagined that my post was all about Tommy Sheridan were guilty of what I call “creative reading”. That is to say, they read something other than what was written. They added their own content and connotations so as to create the thing they were geared up to react to. It’s rather similar to, if considerably more crude than, the politician’s “art” of fitting the question to the answer that they have prepared, even if there are two totally unrelated topics involved.

This isn’t about Tommy Sheridan. It would be gratifying if some people would get over their inane obsession with the man. The self-destructive factionalism to which I refer was rife on the political left long before Sheridan was even born. And the establishment has always stood ready to exploit such divisions for its own nefarious ends.

My concern is that the Yes movement might be tainted by this puerile internecine squabbling. The strength of the Yes campaign has been its inclusiveness. Now, coteries are forming and asserting the right to determine who is and is not deemed fit to be part of “their” movement. People are denounced as “not fitting into the ethos”. They are declared persona non grata by self-appointed gate-keepers of the independence movement. They are cast out by self-ordained guardians of the purity of the cause.

To anyone who has had even passing experience of group-based left-wing politics, all of this will be sickeningly familiar.

Tommy Sheridan is merely a high-profile target. But there must always be a target. Because these groups define themselves by their targets. Once they have flexed their muscles on Sheridan, they will move on to others – all the while cheered on by the ruling elites who have everything to gain from a weak and fragmented countervailing power.

This is a familiar process. Familiar enough that it should be easy to avoid. And yet we are seeing people rushing headlong into it as if totally unaware. Or as if carried away by the thrill of the witch-hunt.

Saner heads must prevail. The Yes campaign was a wonderful thing to be part of. It was was bold and aspirational; peaceful and lawful; good-natured and cooperative; imaginative and humorous; worthy and honourable. But most crucially of all it was inclusive. It was truly a people’s campaign.

It can be still. But not if we let these self-important, self-righteous, self-serving packs prevail. Our independence movement must be open to all who seek the restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status. The only qualification required is a genuine desire to bring Scotland’s government home for the benefit of all who call Scotland home.