Saturday 28 March 2015, it’s an unremarkable date in many ways but a significant one for me. What happened, well I went to the rostrum and spoke at the SNP Conference. For those unfortunate to know me over the years that will seem completely normal, I’ve been speaking at Conference etc for many, many years. But six months earlier, on September 19 2014, I was ready and willing to up sticks, sell the house, stand down as a Councillor and move permanently to Tenerife.
I had woken that morning to utter despair, we had lost, Scotland had bottled it once again, grasped defeat from the jaws of victory. In short having worked for Independence all my adult life I felt that I had wasted my life. I loaded the car with every bit of YES and SNP material, took it all to the dump and washed my hands of it all.
Over the next few days and weeks though, I witnessed as did you all, a truly wondrous thing. The cause rose phoenix like from the ashes of defeat and despair and those wonderful people who had come to help the YES campaign in their thousands answered their Country’s call in an amazing way. Rather than allowing the SNP to sink into despair and internal warfare as we had post ’79, they created a new party around us and for people like me eventually provided the reason to pick up the leaflet bag and canvass pack again and get back into the fight.
Sure, I’ve changed. I still hurt, the pain is still raw and I will never forgive those on the NO campaign who resorted to the foulest of scaremongering to win. No, I’m not thinking of the likes of Gordon Brown or Darling or even Beaker Alexander. I think of the pensioner my Mum told me about who was using every penny of her pension that referendum week to buy tinned foods because she was terrified that there would be no more food in the shops of YES won.
I could accept defeat, maybe not gracefully because that is not me, if it had been won on the basis of principle, on a vision of how we would be better off in ten, twenty years, if we voted to stay in the union. But there was none of that at all. And the sight of Labour Activists high fiveing Tories at the count made me want to spew! Over the years we have learned that perfidy is the natural state for labour in Scotland, the Party always comes before Country or even class. But celebrating with tories? Beyond contempt!
So six months on, I’m beginning to pick myself up. I’ve made a few attempts at getting some of the dust off. I truly do not know just how much there is left in the tank but I’m willing to start finding out. And if my severely battered and bruised political instincts have any life left in them there is a whole new generation of activists coming through who will not just pick up the baton from my generation, they will carry it with a new determination, a new steel forged in the referendum and carry it proudly to victory and with it carry Scotland to a better, more just place among the community of Independent nations.
And on Saturday 28 March 2015, I finally got my backside back into the fight to give them whatever support my experience etc can provide. My generation came close but we ended up without a cigar, the new generation can start placing the orders with Havana.
This was submitted by Stephen Bird, SNP activist and Councillor. I am sure he is feeling even better this week