Tuesday, 18 September 2018

4 years on

4 years ago today, on 18 September 2014 I remember someone from Yes Provan asking me if we'd be going ahead with our 'party' the following night even if we lost the Independence referendum.

I said not to think like that, that we were going to win, I could feel it in my bones as we turned up in our 'Ayes' cream van (pictured) in various communities across the East End of Glasgow. (Turns out I wasn't wrong, in Provan constituency we got a 57% Yes vote but of course, we were only one of 59 constituencies taking part.)

Anyway I said that in answer to the question, yes we would go ahead regardless. In fact it was even more important to do it 'IF' we lost because we had some campaigners who were the only one in their family to be voting yes. They would need the support of others who would be equally devastated.

But it still wasn't going to happen. We WERE going to win.

On 19 September 2014 we went ahead as planned with our Yes Provan get together in the Craigpark Masters in Dennistoun. I remember feeling strangely apart from the group. We sat in a big circle, probably about 40 of us, and one by one everyone spoke about how they felt. It had a real support group feel to it with all the laughter and tears these kind of things bring.

Most people were crying and if they weren't doing that openly, they certainly had wet eyes. I didn't. I felt really odd because despite having campaigned for Scotland's Independence for most of my life and actively EVERY week (and of course, at peak times, every day) for the previous 26 years, I didn't feel emotional. Had I considered that we might lose, I would have told you that would have left me distraught and unable to control my emotions. And also unable to give anymore to the cause of Independence.

For years family members had been warning me that I had to think about my own life and my own career and not just Independence. I didn't neglect my life quite as much as they'd have you believe but I've always been very much a 'soon as X happens, I can do Y' kind of person and it was that way with Independence. It wasn't that I was obsessive and I was no martyr but I just didn't want to take my eye off the ball. I hadn't dreamt I would be doing it for decades and to the exclusion of things I should've been able to do alongside the campaigning. It was just how it worked out. 

So despite almost giving so much of my life to that cause, I shed no tears when we lost the referendum. 

I was sat in amongst people I'd formed an incredible bond with whether it was those I'd been campaigning alongside for most of those decades or people I'd only met in the last few months. I sat amongst them as many of them wept openly and yet, I didn't.

I thought then that perhaps I was just too numb but 4 yrs on, I still haven't cried. The moment seemed to have passed and it felt silly getting upset when I could do something about it. So, like many others I just did what we always did in the SNP after a defeat, I carried on campaigning, working towards the next Independence referendum. Of course, I also got elected to Westminster for 2 years - something I'm sure I'll blog about a fair bit if I actually persist with this blog this time. (I've stopped, started, stopped, started and each time I've thought 'twitter's quicker'!) So, as I say I just got on with it because I didn't know what else to do.

But today ... today I find myself unable to read any more of these #indyref tweets. It's too much, too painful. Everything could have been so different. It's all about to come crashing down on us. I don't know if I, personally, will escape the effects of the crash but whether I do or I don't there will be thousands who won't escape.

Scotland threw away the one thing that could have averted the crisis that's looming over us - we voted away the power to decide what direction we wanted to take our country in. We get to vote on the direction of course (how very kind of the British Government!) but those votes have to match the rest of the UK and if they don't, tough, we have no choice. 

It's as we said it would be and it's as it's been all my life. Only for the first time in my life, we, as a country, actively CHOSE to reject the power to decide.

I imagine many will find it hard to believe when I say I harbour absolutely no anger and no bitterness towards people who voted NO then but it's true. I feel despair at times, depressed about it but I bear no ill will towards people for doing what they believe to be right. I can't say the same for people who actively lied to voters but I'd rather spend my time on people with good motives, however they voted.

But I do wonder who could possibly think now that it was the right decision? I'm not reading any more, I'm chairing an SNP branch AGM tonight and before I go I'm sending a message to some activists to see if they will come out door knocking with me this week. 

It's been interesting the last few weeks, the numbers are still small but if the results we've been getting in Easterhouse, Carntyne and Balornock are replicated across the country, we will win the next referendum. I do think it's odd that I've never cried about the 18th September 2014 but I think I always knew deep down that our chance would come again in the not too distant future and that when it did, we wouldn't just win but we'd take the people of Scotland with us.

I think maybe I've been saving my tears for THAT moment. 


  1. That's quite a statement you've made. It's shows a lot about yourself and the passion you have for Scotland and the future.
    The commitment you and others of a like mind will carry the Will of Scots who are for Independence long into that future.

  2. Thank you. I didn't spot this before but thank you.