Anas Hassan: The wisdom of Jimmy Reid will lead us to Scottish independence

CommonSpace columinst Anas Hassan calls for the Yes Scotland campaign and the Scottish nation to take inspiration from the late trade unionist Jimmy Reid when it comes to progressing towards Scottish independence

"AND there will be no hooliganism. There will be no vandalism. There will be no bevvying. Because the world is watching us and it is up to us to conduct ourselves with responsibility, and with dignity, and with maturity."

These precious words are equally as relevant today as they were nearly half a century ago when Jimmy Reid heroically led the mission to save the shipyards on the Clyde. His extraordinary efforts are still fondly remembered to this very day and his legacy remains as relevant as ever.

But let us move from the Clyde and along the M8 to Bute House in Edinburgh. Nicola Sturgeon has, to her absolute credit, taken in the spirit of Jimmy Reid in her robust leadership of Scotland since the United Kingdom shocked the world by voting for a Brexit from the European Union.

Nicola Sturgeon has, to her absolute credit, taken in the spirit of Jimmy Reid in her robust leadership of Scotland since the United Kingdom shocked the world by voting for a Brexit from the European Union.

Look what has happened since last Friday morning. The leadership of the UK (or more appropriately, the lack of it) has melted down into virtual hollowness. The Westminster establishment really just does not know how to handle the political earthquake that is rumbling before it, and Boris Johnson at the start of this week is now making out in The Daily Telegraph that cooperation with the EU is more or less the way forward.

So what on earth was last Thursday for? Brexit voters will roar with rage if an exit from the EU is blocked in any way, shape or form. Many of the voters of Brexit in England, and even in Wales, were motivated by a realistically unfounded fear of immigration, and believed that by leaving the EU that control of the borders would be fully taken back.

The political earthquake has definitively set the political path for England and Wales, but for Scotland and Northern Ireland, the situation is different. Scotland decisively and universally backed membership of the EU, and so did much of Northern Ireland as well.

It is of no surprise to anyone that both Scotland and Northern Ireland find themselves in a situation where they feel compelled to protect their links with the EU as much as possible. In Northern Ireland, while unlikely at this stage, it is absolutely not impossible that the people of Northern Ireland could find themselves in a situation where re-unification of Ireland could be a realistic way forward.

If a well known Democratic and Unionist Party (DUP) MP is openly admitting that he signs off Irish passport applications for his constituents, then that says it all, frankly. It's obvious that the DUP isn't in any business to openly support Northern Ireland joining up with the Republic of Ireland, but it is also clear that there is a realisation of the transformed reality that faces many in Northern Ireland today.

The Westminster establishment really just does not know how to handle the political earthquake that is rumbling before it.

But back to Scotland. Polls since the start of the past weekend are suggesting that there is an immediate swing towards support for Scottish independence. It is by any means astonishing and the possibility of a second independence referendum for Scotland has suddenly become a high priority. 

And understandably so, given that it is possible that Scotland may well have to be dragged towards Brexit against its own democratic wishes.

What is also very telling is the lack of aggressive resistance towards the idea of a second independence referendum. There's almost a feeling in the No camp of apathy and an acceptance of the sentiment behind the exploration of the idea of Scottish independence. 

The Better Together pledge that a vote for the UK would secure Scotland's EU membership has been shattered into pieces.

There is no doubt that some in Scotland fear the prospect of a second independence referendum, but there is also a growing realisation that the only way forward that will probably emerge is independence for Scotland within the wider context of the European Union.

Last Friday morning, the UK became 'Little Britain'. Let's make sure that we don't become part of that and instead become 'Big Scotland' in Europe.

Picture courtesy of Anas Hassan

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