The Longest Short Campaign

The campaign for Scottish independence has been on the go now in some shape or form for over three hundred years. Having lunch with branch organiser David Linden yesterday, we started to feel the finish line in sight – now in terms of weeks and days rather than long months and longer years. Our branch has been working hard, leafleting and canvassing constantly for years now. It feels odd to be scheduling in the final deliveries, the target areas for canvassing, the strategy for the most crucial polling day Scotland has ever seen.
Yet these final weeks are indeed the most important. Our canvassing tells us there are still people to be persuaded; those moving along from sceptics to convinced Yes voters. I read just this week an incredibly brave and powerful article by Lauren Reid, who has travelled a long way to become a Yes voter. There are so many hooks out there, facts and glimmers of hope. You can’t predict what will be the thing that starts someone on the road to Yes.

The amazing thing for me about this campaign is that, even in the most unlikely places, Yes voters will emerge. In my own ward this week, our twelve-strong canvass team took on probably one of the most Unionist polling districts in Scotland in Bridgeton. Despite the reputation, and the Union flags draped from many windows, the Yes vote was surprisingly high. We must all be bold, ask the voters how they feel and give them the answers and all the information we can. Once they know, they will spread the word!

I spoke to an elderly constituent while leafleting yesterday. She was registered blind, but she took my leaflet as she wanted to have someone read it to her. She told me that she had always wanted independence for Scotland, and related tales of some of the friends she had tried to convince. The referendum will be won by conversations in that very same way – one at a time, on the bus, at the shops, in the hairdressers. Yes badges are a great conversation starter, and a good thing to supporters. I’ve had to restock my pockets, haven given away my last one to a friendly shopkeeper!

The other sign that the final phase of the campaign is nearing is the Yes shops popping up the length and breadth of the country. In Glasgow, Kelvin, Provan, Cathcart and Pollok are up and running. I visited the Provan shop yesterday (for badges!) and was very impressed with their set up – lots of information, friendly faces, enthusiasm, even a cup of tea. People who’d never been involved in campaigns before were coming there to lend a hand – and this all despite the attitude of the neighbouring shop owner! There’s lots of work to be done for people of all ages and experience, so I would really encourage anyone reading this who’s not been that involved up until now to get involved. Find your local group here:, you’ll be made most welcome.

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.


Manufactured outrage of the Unco Guid

James Halliday

Ridiculous, bogus, out of all proportion, but with political purpose

When the televising of Parliament was proposed MPs struggled fiercely to prevent this intrusion into their privacy and we wondered why. It would be wrong to think that they suspected then that, some day, financial disclosures would end the career of many and deal a grave blow to the reputation of the institution. Their fear was snobbish rather than corrupt. They just didn’t want all these nosy people actually to see and hear their rulers at work.

How wise they were. With appearances to be preserved loutish behaviour caught on camera diminished, and the knowledge that electors were watching encouraged more thoughtful contributions. As access to Westminster had been allowed similar access to Holyrood was taken for granted.

The degree of exposure now available is interesting and beneficial to our own democracy. Yet conduct deserving of criticism still goes unpunished. We observe but we cannot chastise. Not at least until the next election by which time stupid behaviour will have been forgotten. Recent events have provided examples of behaviour which calls for criticism. The synthetic shock-horror on discovering that dining and wining had been used to raise funds gave Mr Gray, a talented ham actor at the best of times, a chance to remind us of his skills. As a bonus he enjoyed the choral backing of the embittered shrews behind him and the nudging encouragement of sneaky Mr Scott, the class clype. If we hadn’t seen for ourselves we might have been deceived into thinking that something of serious importance had happened.

How lucky can you get? The same cast, in next to no time, found Cabinet Secretary Sturgeon responding to pleas for punishment other than jail to be considered for an ailing and elderly constituent. The Justice Secretary and several Chief Constables might well have taken the same view but never the less outraged virtue queued up to proclaim how appalled Nicola had made them feel. It was ridiculous, bogus and out of all proportion but not without political purpose.

In the most admirable moments of its history Labour was a party which devised policies to benefit the disadvantaged. “Disadvantaged” meant poverty, poor housing conditions and usually urban social problems. Likely to suffer from these conditions were recurring waves of immigrants. As these waves arrived they were advised to look for help from a party reputedly sympathetic. That party would, of course, do its best to live up to expectations and reap its reward in votes. The rest of the political world would just have to adjust, Liberals with dignified moral encouragement and Conservatives with no great interest and some distaste. While these traditions were establishing themselves there was no Scottish National Party, and no Scottish political system with a distinctive character. Time brought change. Immigrant generations developed an awareness and loyalty to their new country, or, rather their own country as the country of their birth. From the Indian sub-continent had come many people who remembered with pride and reverence the attaining of independence by the peoples of that sub-continent. They saw perfectly good reasons for seeking to attain the same liberty for Scotland. Apprehensively Labour watches, shudders, plots and screams. You’ve just heard them.

As the various investigations now proceed we remember that previous attempts to persuade the Holyrood standards arbiters to act against Government ministers have been dismissed, the last one with a warning against vexatious complaints. For whatever reason, the Press played down the rebuke and played up the recent complaints. True, these latest stunts are now treated with diminished interest, and one vigorous critic now mumbles “Let’s move on “. We do well to reflect that here we have the only governing Party in the democratic world which faces the cold hostility of all its country’s newspapers. Only the “Herald” till now, was reasonably fair and pretty well neutral. As the British General Election approaches, can it be falling into line with the others? It has very much seemed so in the past few weeks.