In the run up to 18th September 2014 many of us living in the country experienced what it was like to imagine a better Scotland.
Many promises that were made by the No campaign during that period have been broken. Perhaps the starkest of these being the promise that ‘the only way for Scotland to stay in the EU was to vote No’.
It is sometimes the case that the range of visions within the Yes movement are portrayed as a weakness. But the opposite is true. Politics is about ideas and the plurality and vibrancy of the different groups that make up the movement are its greatest strength. What unites us is our belief that decisions made by us, not for us, offer the best future for Scotland.
And can you blame us? Look at the current state of the UK.
The Tories have forcefully taken the UK to the Brexit cliff edge, after former Prime Minister David Cameron called an EU referendum to tackle UKIP and to stave off internal division. He resigned and then the new Tory Prime Minister Theresa May called a cynical General Election to strengthen her hand. ‘Strong and stable’ quickly became ‘weak and wobbly’ and she almost lost, at a time when she should have been focusing on complex Brexit negotiations. Only a grubby deal with the DUP, costing the public an extraordinary £1 billlion, has kept them clinging on to power.
Labour, who fell short at the General Election, have undergone a grassroots mobilisation in England that in ways tried to replicate the Yes movement. However, under their leader Jeremy Corbyn, Labour have now totally endorsed the Tories’ hard Brexit position. This should give progressives across the UK food for thought. It is ironic that Labour rode on a wave of youthful enthusiasm at the General Election 2017 and that now they are trashing the dreams of those very same young people by embracing a hard Brexit that will affect their jobs, living standards and their ability to work in Europe.
We’re now left with a zombie Tory Prime Minister lacking any credibility and the two main UK parties who are stuck between a rock and a hard Brexit, with neither of them putting the national interest first. This is why it is important that Scotland should have a choice about our future direction as a country at the end of the Brexit process.
The Tories have attempted to block Scotland having that choice by stating that they would stand in the way of Scotland’s Referendum. By doing so they have temporarily managed to confine debate to uninspiring process, rather than inspiring vision. To change this, we must build and win the case that governing ourselves is the best way to tackle the challenges we face as country - from building a better balanced and more sustainable economy, to growing our population, strengthening our democracy, and tackling deep seated problems of poverty and inequality. We must build a better Scotland.
While the Scottish Government focuses on its Programme for Government and its budget for the year ahead, Nicola Sturgeon has announced that the SNP will ‘engage openly and inclusively with, and work as part of, the wider independence movement’. I can confirm that this is in progress.
If you look beyond the sneering, the reality is that many unionist politicians are terrified of another wave of grassroots energy in favour of Scottish independence. The politics of the possible are intoxicating, and they know it.
We witnessed first-hand people doing extraordinary things in 2014, the many activists and groups across Scotland who contributed their time voluntarily for a cause they believed in, the random acts of kindness, generosity and camaraderie. The creativity, the determination, and the vision. It is this spirit, aspiration and ingenuity that will deliver independence for Scotland.
So let’s get to work.
It’s over to you. Only you can make it happen.
Sign up at www.mobilise.scot.
Photograph by Peter McNally.