The SNP’s historic “Tsunami” of a result in 2011 meant that what had been a dream, aspiration and hope of all Independence Supporters was now a real possibility as we all set our sights on the Referendum on Scotland’s future. I have been convinced for half my life, over twenty years, that Scotland should be an Independent country. Nothing in those intervening years from the banking crisis, selling off the gold reserves cheap, raiding of the pension funds, the Iraq war, the poll tax or bedroom tax to the privatisation of the Royal Mail has swayed me from the conviction that Scotland should be an Independent Country.
All those years of campaigning of countless activists, politicians, leaders, from Robert Cunningham Graham to Winnie Ewing, have led to the most important moment for our movement, And it is almost upon us. This is my last flag before the referendum (that feels really close! Soon it will be the last payday, the last debate in the chamber, the last First Ministers questions, the last Saturday HVP event, the last sleep before the referendum)! I sit down to write my flag filled with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. I would love if the polls were better, if the canvassing was more complete, but we can only do what we can do. Or can we? A last push from each and every one of us could make the difference!
I take heed from wise words from the late Margaret Ewing, at my very first Parliamentary vetting event. I will never forget the warm welcome and encouragement I was given then from some of our Party’s most influential members, Margaret and Fergus Ewing, Alan Mcartney, Kaye Ulrich and Alison Hunter all of whom I was in complete awe. Margaret told me that night ” It’s not over till the polls are closed and the work doesn’t stop until the polls close.” Margaret told me of the amazing by-election victory in Cumbernauld where they realised in the last half hour that a block of flats had been missed. A discussion was had and it was decided that despite the late hour and the dimming light that they’d give it a go. A handful of supporters came out at the late hour to vote. The SNP won by a handful of votes and every activist claimed the credit of knocking up the last voters at the last minute to secure victory ! Our party and the Independence movement has been built on that commitment, conviction and effort.
Having paused briefly to write and reflect following the incredibly moving and uplifting Commonwealth Games, I am listening to the coverage of the commemoration of WW1. I am proud that my son represented the Scouts at the ceremony in Glasgow; his Great Grandfather was injured and disabled at the Somme. And I also reflect on the conflicts in the world, such as the Ukraine and Gaza. How proud I am that our Government has supported the children of Gaza and offered Scottish help for refugees and injured in our NHS. I remember the start of the Iraq war and the powerful conference speeches condemning the decision of the UK to go the war “not in my name”. George Reid told our conference “well we already have this first casualty of the conflict – the truth”. And how right he was. He also went on to say “that there could be no peace in the middle east until there is justice for the People of Palestine”. And how right he was. His speech persuaded the visitor at conference sitting next to me to say “I came to watch, I’m going to join your party today”. And the next few weeks should be all about telling our Scottish communities, friends, families and neighbours that our movement has always been about justice in the world. Justice for the poor in Scotland, for those affected by welfare reform, for asylum seekers, for the people in the Ukraine and for the People of Palestine. An Independent Scotland will be a beacon of hope to the World. We can be Nation that rejects weapons of mass destruction, a broker for peace and a helping hand to the world. Most importantly of all it will be our people who, without violence or intimidation, will democratically have chosen to embrace these values. All we have to do is cast our vote, and bring our fellow citizens on that journey with us.
I hope you will forgive my indulgent reflections on just a couple of the influential experiences that I have had. We will all have such memories – intimately and importantly personal to each and every one of us. If we are ever going to tell those stories, now is the time and then we can all say “I got those last handful of votes that made the difference”.
Jimmy Halliday’s contributions to the Cause
Jimmy Halliday – lifetime Nationalist
To put matters into context, in 1955 the SNP contested only two Parliamentary seats in Scotland. Dr Robert McIntyre fought Perth and East Perthshire and Jimmy Halliday fought Stirling and Falkirk Burghs. Jimmy then became the youngest ever SNP Chairman and served 1956-70; in 1956 the entire SNP Conference delegates were photographed on the steps of the Allan Water Hotel, Bridge of Allan.
There will be a Referendum for Scottish Independence this year, which was unthinkable in the dark days of 1955. Jimmy died on 3rd January 2013 at the age of 85, and we will be publishing all his articles in the Scots Independent, all those we have electronic input for. It is anticipated we will publish a book with all his contributions over many years but this will have to wait until after the Referendum.
Labour’s bogus Unionist enthusiasm
We are thus slandered because our representatives are doing what any majority must do.
It is interesting to notice that some commentators are becoming critical of our opponents, who yelp monotonously about our government’s determination to conduct the referendum on independence at the predicted and appropriate time. No serious political thinker is truly persuaded that some sinister motive prevents an immediate vote, and still less persuaded that delaying a vote beyond today carried dreadful economic risks.
Most determined blethers have been the Liberals, who having kept Labour in power in England once, and in Scotland twice, are showing their moral flexibility by giving the Tories the two or three bodies needed to man the necessary offices in Scotland. We need feel no great concern for the genuineness of their carping. Theirs is only one trickle in the cataract of enmity which is now pouring down upon us from parties, media and columnists. Their most recent fury is prompted by the SNP “railroading” through legislation, encouraging feverish visions of a one-party state. We are thus slandered because our representatives are doing what any majority must do.
The feeling remains that there is more to this present hatred than either our objective or our conduct in office. Can it be because we have brought nearer than ever before a definitive confrontation?
In 1950 in discussion with John MacCormick, those present looked forward to the day when Scottish politics would see the Nationalists challenge to Unionism as the essential issue. The two sides are now lined up pretty much as in our vision of 62 years ago. It’s been a long time, but we still seemed to have caught our rivals by surprise. Perhaps that explains the over-wrought language and fervour on display.
Think about the origins of “Unionism”. Its routes are not in Scotland at all. When a Liberal government proposed to extend Home Rule to Ireland, it was deserted by a large proportion of its Lords, its MPs and its members. The deserters could not bring themselves to tolerate any legislature other than that in London, nor consent to any measures which might alter the sectarian situation in Ireland. The dissidents became the Liberal Unionists, a new party, but one which swiftly became a powerful element within the Conservative Party. They became in fact the worst influence within that party, adding to their sectarian prejudices their adherence to brutal laissez-faire economics.
What Liberals now make of the Union doesn’t matter very much. Nor oddly enough, need we brood over the Tory devotion to the Union. It is Tory eyes which water, Tory lips which tremble, Tory hearts which pound in response to any Unionist trigger. No mystery there. But why such Unionist zeal from Labour? For them there are no traditional grounds for deep emotional cherishing of the Union. In fact for many in Labour’s ranks the British state was rendered unattractive by financial plutocracy and class privilege. Quite right too.
So give up this recent, contrived and largely bogus Unionist enthusiasm.
After all, as you persistently campaign on the “save us from cruel Tory governments” slogan, have the sense to realise that Tory governments will get you more often than not as long as you stay in the Union. Have the grace to admit it and the wisdom to act accordingly.