I joined the SNP in 1969, that would be five minutes after I was born! Sadly no, but my teacher was John Gair and I had quite a few other close influencers who did inspire me to become an activist. At an early age I absorbed anything I could about everything I couldn’t access in school books about Scotland. My Grandfather and Father were members of the local Burns Club, and their enthusiasm was infectious. I joined the local pipe band and learned to play the pipes. I wrote poetry and became fascinated by my own history through local historians in the Borders through song and prose.
This week is my 70th birthday, my age is important only to me, but I only mention it because for those of you who have never seen the likes of the trauma the SNP has gone through just to get to this point, this current situation is not quite on the Richter Scale yet. I remind those of you who know, the uproar in 1979 when divisions were wider and deeper than any split showing now. Indeed, it’s all happened before, in some cases, by the same individuals, who I still respect but feel betrayed.
In 1979 the 79 Group led in part by Alex Salmond and others, was a factional left wing group highly critical of the Party leaders of the times. Eventually, they were all expelled from the Party but eventually readmitted. The idea came from Roseanna Cunningham and her brother when, at the time, the devolution referendum was trying to establish whether there was support for a Scottish Assembly. When the the votes were counted, something around 51.6% voted in favour, sadly an amendment in the Act stated it would be repealed if less than 40% voted in favour. Making a total YES vote around 32% and the Act was repealed. Devastating the whole Party and supporters. Following that the SNP lost nine of its 11 seats adding to the pain.
It was Winnie Ewing who formed the rival group, ironically the 79 Group were suppressed in order to put Independence to the fore over all other policies. The rest should be studied by those who are speaking the same language of the time, and for those who don’t believe it, it did not lead us to Independence.
So let’s look at what is really happening just now. For me, those who cause dissent obviously don’t understand the damage they cause in the minds of the voters. Only the voters count. One thing I learnt early on in politics, never show your hand if you know others have different agendas. Walk only with fellow travellers, and from 1979 the lessons should be understood that civil disobedience, in every form, is not favoured by the public, which is why the Gatherings and Marches around Scotland are having an effect. The way to Independence is through education, respect and an element of humour, but most of all, a steady ship.
Divide and conquer, is that what is damaging our whole ethos at this minute? Don’t ever think we don’t have rivals in our group, these Trolls who do it for fun or real hatred, like ticks on a dog’s leg, it sucks the blood until it’s satisfied, drops off, and then waits for the next victim. Keyboard warriors thrive by sucking the joy out of all our lives, they thrive on chaos, and destroy hope, they are not any warriors you would want to be part of any campaign. But they have been effective in peddling doubt. When those who feel entitled take matters into their own hands, let them think carefully about the real goal, which is not about individuals, it’s about making Scotland an Independent country. Which means, those who feel they don’t want to adhere to the brief, then maybe, they need to rethink what really is important to them, their family and to Scotland’s future because dissent ain’t working. So when we eventually gain our freedom, we should think on these times in our history and remember, success is a grim business.