CS Letters: Indyref at 5

A round-up of contributions from CommonSpace readers to our week of coverage on Indyref At 5

THANKS to everyone who contributed to our week of coverage to mark the fifth anniversary of the 2014 independence referendum. 

As well as pieces from CommonSpace journalists on defending popular democracy, 40 years since the ‘79 Group and the new obstacles to independence post-Brexit, we had a contribution from Stuart Crawford and Richard Marsh on defence in an independent Scotland post-Brexit, from Iain Black on the camaraderie of 2014, Val Waldron on how politics has changed since indyref, Karen Dietz remembering the Indy Choir, Craig Berry on why he voted No in 2014 and what’s changed his mind, and Robin McAlpine on honesty about the limited progress made for the independence cause since indyref.

Don’t forget that we still have our CommonSpace Forum this month on the same subject on 26 September, 7.30pm at the Kinning Park Complex, Glasgow. Tickets and full details available here.

We conclude our week of coverage by rounding up the remaining contributions e-mailed to us from CommonSpace readers.

Heather Rebecca Ross

We in Yes Rutherglen and Cambuslang (previously know as Yes Rutherglen) have remained active since the referendum in order to raise a fighting fund, analyse the changes in politics, peoples outlooks and concerns, and work with other groups to produce campaigning material. Most importantly we remained a place people knew they could come to when the campaign reignited. 

That time is now. We are ready, we have leaflet runs prepared, we have ideas and plans but we are looking for more. As are many established groups around the country so check your local area.

Our group is non party affiliated. We ask only that members also fight for independence whilst being respectful. If you want to get involved then join us or any of your local groups. All contributions are welcome. 

We don’t have the mass media behind us or vast wealth and multi million pound donors. What we do have is: the truth, the strength, the wisdom, and the might.

With new tools available to us from places like Business for Scotland, the Common Weal and more, and the fact the Westminster Government is making the case for us, we have everything we need to win. Come join the winning team, you’ll be welcomed!

John Stewart

The campaign during 2014 was a cornucopia of highs and lows, politically and emotionally for the activists involved.

One never will be forgotten was the constant feeling of bias and lack of a level playing field in the media. Particularly despised by many Yes activists was the stance of the BBC who routinely portrayed an anti-Yes bias. This situation has been addressed on and off by various people in the independence movement since the Referendum, with little progress. The BBC routinely refuses to acknowledge the problem, and seems to have standing orders to deny it when continued complaints are made. This situation alone is a festering source of an increasing chasm of respect towards the state broadcaster.

In many societies when there is a major upheaval, politicians and leaders of the country will attempt to heal the wounds of division and work towards a positive future.

However in the immediate aftermath of the Referendum, the very next morning after the vote, the leader of the UK government made clear there would be no attempt at conciliation with those who had voted for Independence. The Prime Minister instead ‘upped the ante’ and declared the principle of English Votes for English Laws. This signalled a process described by a former Labour UK Government minister as “bayonetting the wounded”. Horrendous language in any circumstances, let alone at a time when conciliation would have been a productive stance.

This policy of the Establishment continued with the Smith Commission, which supposedly delivered the greater devolution promised during the campaign. This process has been comprehensively dismissed since, with very few new powers being devolved and none of those having any significant meaningful upgrading of the Scottish Parliament.

The SNP has consolidated its position within the Scottish political scene since the vote on 18 September 2014. It saw a massive public surge of support in the immediate aftermath. On the other hand, the traditional big beast of Scottish politics, the Labour party, has seen its position utterly destroyed. In the eyes of many this is apt payment for its fronting of the Better Together campaign, which has turned out to be nothing like better together. The brains behind that campaign have not suffered as much as the ‘brawn’ have.

The independence movement since 2014 has tried to regroup. The ubiquitous influence of Brexit has prevented any campaign for independence from being a major public forum. That being said, there have been many campaigns run by local activists which are raising the profile of independence in general.

Hammy Morison

A wee story from the 18th.

At 5am the alarm went off and I jumped out of bed with all the excitement and enthusiasm of an 8 year old at Christmas. 

I heard a car pull up out side, so I ran down stairs. It was was my mates arriving, who I met through the last two years of campaigning. I have never felt so happy and free thinking - we were going to choose a new direction. 

We had a wee mission to go to Ruthven Barracks. 

And our mission was to place a 15 metre by 7 metre tarpaulin with a ‘Yes’ on it. 

Driving down to Kingussie the mist was thick and swirling, the feeling was pent up excitement. We new from the doors that Badenoch was yes but Strathspey we were not so sure. 

I wanted to hang the tarp from the ruins but was persuaded to place on an embankment. There was people there that morning, friends from my life before the referendum and friends which I had made since. During the time spent campaigning, making signs, writing articles for our own paper, which we hand delivered to every house in Strathspey and Badenoch. 

We hosted debates too. We knocked on doors and and held stalls and socials - it was an empowering time for me personally. 

The tarp was put out on the embankment and we went back up the strath for some food and a chuckle. 

The news came to us that someone had set fire to one of our signs in town where we had people write their hopes for the future. 

A lot of people were upset by that, especially as it was in the centre of Aviemore.

The day  went on and we were driving all over the Strath helping the different polling booths and helping people get out and vote. 

Then the news came that the mist had cleared and the sign could be seen all over Kingussie [see picture above]. But the best news was that as the kids saw it, in the high school, a huge cheer went up. 

That still makes my heart smile as our bairns will keep the hope going. 

COMMONSPACE FORUM 26 SEPTEMBER: Indyref at 5