Thanks! Sharp words to No voters.

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Tam Tolland

Did you vote NO at the referendum? If you did thanks for that, you bastards.

As a pensioner, we are next on the Tory hit list. No more winter fuel allowance. No more free bus passes. No more xmas bonus, and various other cuts. So because you voted NO you let loose the “Dogs of War”on your own people. Happy now are you? The unemployed, the disabled, working mothers, people on Tax Credits, low income families,  children. the old,and the sick, all being attacked the Millionaire Morons at Westminster. Because you voted NO. Some people may argue that when you voted against an Independent Scotland, you were not aware of the carnage you would cause, so it is unfair to blame you.

Being subject to these cuts, I am not one of those people. In my mind you are to blame. You caused this, you voted NO because you believed the lies, because you were afraid, because you didn’t give a fuck about anyone but yourselves. So as I said, thanks for that you bastards.

Because you voted NO, you are not immune to these cuts, they will effect you, they will effect your family, they affect your freinds. And when they do, me, and thousands like me, will say “Fuck You” for allowing this to happen.

Maybe next time you will think. I will help send them homeward to think again. I will vote YES.

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One Year On

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Chris Napier

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way. . . .”

So begins A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens’ homage to duality, social justice and resurrection set against the backdrop of the French Revolution and it neatly encapsulates my memory of the period immediately around the independence referendum one year ago.

As I said to one of my best friends just before the referendum, it felt like something special, possibly the first thing to happen in our adult lifetimes that matched the significance of the Moon landings or the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Before the day of the vote itself, it was a time of incredible hope, infused with a sense that genuine progressive change was possible and fuelled by the most widespread political awakening I’ve ever experienced. I spoke about the referendum, wider politics, what it meant to be Scottish or British to strangers and almost as importantly, to friends and family who I’d never have broached such subjects with in the past.

I remember being at the Yes rally in George Square the day before the referendum and feeling that this was the most excited I’d ever been about politics and the atmosphere was how I’d imagine it would be if Scotland won the world cup (or let’s be honest, just managed to qualify for a football finals…)

Of course, it wasn’t all good. There was conflict and I got into some blazing rows with workmates and friends (I have to admit that I didn’t always cover myself in glory in some of these debates) and there was also the fear that a chance at genuine, honest discussion was being stolen by the establishment and the media.

Then the time came to vote and I will always remember walking up to the polling station with my wife and my newborn son, accompanied by my mother in law (who lives in England but wanted to be in Scotland to experience the vote) and her English husband who insisted on winding me up by accepting and wearing a ‘No Thanks’ sticker.

Then some friends and I settled in with a few beers to watch the late night results show and it quickly became apparent as the results came in for each local authority, that it wasn’t going to go our way. Nonetheless, we saw it through to the end, feebly holding on to the usual Scottish sports fan hope that ‘it’s still mathematically possible if Edinburgh goes 80-20 for Yes’ and then we shuffled off to our beds (or got the first train home) as our hangovers and heartsick disappointment got the better of us.

That said, I remain massively proud that the city of my birth (Dundee) and the city I’ve lived in since the age of 18 (Glasgow) were two of the few parts of the country to cast their vote for change.

When I surfaced in the afternoon of the 19th to see the news coverage of the smug and derisory unionist response, with the debate swiftly shifted to being about EVEL and later the awful scenes in George Square, I was more disheartened than I’ve ever been in a long career of having hopes come to naught (Scottish sports fan, remember.)

So I did something I never thought I would do. I joined a political party and got politically active. I also started writing intensively about politics, rather than just arguing with people on social media. I knew that I couldn’t just lapse into the semi-apathetic state I’d occupied before… and neither did the rest of Scotland.

Fast forward to a year later and where are we?

With a majority Conservative government in Westminster who are openly opposed to revisiting the question of Scottish independence and have no intention of granting greater devolution as seemingly promised before the referendum. Five years and more of austerity cuts and warmongering at Westminster seems certain while the mainstream media stokes up fear and prejudice against refugees and benefits claimants.

Nonetheless (or perhaps because of this), support for independence only seems to grow, to the point where the SNP went from avoiding the topic of a second referendum to setting out a potential timeframe for one.

The worrying thing there is the general lack of self-reflection as to the reasons why Yes didn’t get over the line last year. Too many are too willing to assume that a victory is certain in a second independence referendum and the tendency of more than a few to insist blind compliance with the SNP party line is the only way to manifest support for independence or progressive change is concerning.

For me, independence was never about nationalism – I was Scottish when I was born and I will always be Scottish, regardless of the stamp on my passport or which government I pay my taxes to – but rather about making my country a fairer place with a more representative and responsible government.

I don’t think that can be achieved as an effective one party state or without continual self reflection as to why Scotland should be independent and what sort of independent country we’d want to be.

As such, with a year to get over the heartache of the No vote, a year spent raising my boys (now there’s two of them) and being more politically active than ever before, I’m still Yes because the economic, social and democratic reasons have only become more stark.

Now I’m a bit more cynical and very much settling in for the long haul rather than hoping for transformative change in the short term.

This will be the only year that I’ll dwell on this date as something to remember because I don’t believe in enshrining failure, rather in learning lessons and moving on.

The beauty of the Yes campaign was it’s diversity and inclusiveness, with supporters of almost all political hues, classes and ethnicities lending their voice to Yes. For a few sunny days last year, we had a glimpse of how positive, hopeful and dynamic Scotland’s future could be and that’s the memory I want to take forward.

Another Scotland is possible and even if it is delayed, we can still make it a reality, but only if we maintain all the energy, self awareness, diversity and above all, positivity which made last summer so memorable.

Roundtable – “What is an appropriate timeframe for the next Scottish Independence referendum and why?”

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Every week we’ll be asking our pool of contributors a topical question and presenting their responses, with the aim of fostering debate around an issue.  For this first week our question is…

“What is an appropriate timeframe for the next Scottish Independence referendum and why?”

Of course, we’d be delighted to hear your thoughts on the issue, so please feel free to join the debate or even join our team of contributors!

Anna Crow

In a time of unprecedented political change very much ongoing in Scotland and beyond, I find this an impossible question to give a specific answer to. I voted Yes not for independence as its own cause but as an opportunity for the kind of radical changes I feel we are very unlikely to see while tied to the Westminster establishment. I still largely feel this way, especially with events of recent months including the general election result.

However to rush into another referendum too quickly without comprehensive planning or a clear majority – eg upwards of 70% supporting a Yes vote – would be a mistake. There is benefit to seeing how things will play out regarding issues such as the EU referendum and also changes within the Labour leadership while carefully considering when a next referendum should take place if circumstances are still much the same in terms of the detrimental effect in many ways, as I see it currently, of remaining part of the UK rather than being independent.

I certainly would be less opposed to being part of a UK with someone such as Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister. As with so many things, I feel it is important to remain equally open-minded and critical. Scottish independence should not be regarded as a single issue, and neither should it be focused on in an unhelpful way at the expense of considering much more immediate and pressing concerns.

Chris Napier

My answer to this has to come from two viewpoints.

From an objective point of view, a second referendum cannot be rushed, after all the first referendum took place almost three and a half years after the SNP’s majority in the 2011 election so a similar timeframe (assuming an SNP majority in next year’s election) points to a referendum in autumn 2018. This is the minimum amount of time which should be allocated to organise, legislate and campaign for a plebiscite of such magnitude.

However, such a swift revisitation of the question is problematic for a few reasons. Firstly, the Conservative government in Westminster is not amenable to another independence referendum and would block it at every opportunity, so waiting for a change in government – or at least Conservative leadership (likely in 2018 or so) may be necessary.

Secondly, the EU referendum is pencilled in for autumn 2017 and it’s implications should be made clear before Scotland is asked to decide on it’s own constitutional future again. Thereby it would be preferable to wait rather than potentially have a predictable material change in circumstances midway through the campaign.

Lastly, four years is a very quick turnaround to revisit a constitutional question of such magnitude and more time for analysis, reflection and for attitudes to change in either direction is only seemly. Of course, the ‘once in a generation’ rhetoric is unreasonable, because if there is popular demand for a vote, no administration should stop there being a vote in the name of some arbitrary 25 year moratorium on the issue.

From the point of view of a Yes voter, who took that position in the informed belief that Scotland could thrive economically and socially as an independent country and that the progressive change needed could only happen shorn of the Westminster establishment, I don’t wish to rush a second referendum when the possibility of another loss exists.

Quebec took fifteen years between their independence referenda and the second result was still a No vote. Since that second (incredibly narrow) loss, the issue has not been revisited in twenty years…

I’m also of the belief that if progressive change becomes possible within the UK, then many of the most compelling reasons for undergoing the turmoil of secession from the union fade away.

Both points of view indicate that a second independence referendum should not take place within this parliament and that it would be best for both sides to fully analyse the reasons for the first result before even considering a second ballot.

There is also a lot going on at the moment, between the EU referendum and Jeremy Corbyn’s potential to revitalise the Labour party as a progressive force and it’s worth letting these issues play out before rushing back to the polls.

As such, I’d say that a referendum in the next parliamentary cycle is perfectly reasonable, perhaps initiated by the result of the EU referendum or an SNP majority in the next Holyrood elections, making anything between 2021-2024 a plausible date for the vote.

Louise Wilson

I agree that suggesting any specific length of time on this would be arbitrary. Should another referendum on independence go ahead, it ought to be as a response to the calls of the electorate – whether that is in two years or ten years or longer doesn’t matter, that’s just how a true democracy functions.

That being said, I think there does need to be a reasonable length of time to pass before the question is posed again. At the end of the day, any referendum will somewhat detract from other issues of importance, and that must be taken into consideration. Further, and as many politicians themselves have pointed out, there needs to be some change in circumstance to mean a referendum would be required, or simply risk repeating the same outcome we saw in September without actually addressing any new issues or for there to be a reasonable suggestion that voters have changed their minds.

Having a Conservative majority at Westminster does not qualify – we were all well aware that this could happen in September, and votes were cast with this knowledge. Any referendum that would fundamentally change a composition of Scotland and the wider UK should not be called on the basis that people don’t like the government of the day – after all, this is subject to change at least every five years (under current legislation).

I also believe that a ‘landslide’ win for the SNP next year would not necessarily provide the ‘mandate’ the party has been talking about. Many who vote for the SNP may not be supporters of independence, but rather their other policies. Poll after poll has actually indicated that many No voters trust the SNP to deliver on other issues – notably devolution.

On the EU referendum, this could qualify as a shift in circumstances – with a caveat. The difference between the Scottish and rUK vote would have to be more than just marginal. It could happen that the rUK vote 51% out whilst Scotland votes 51% in – though this marks the difference between In/Out, is also means thinking is similar enough than nearly as many people rUK would feel exactly the same about a result as Scotland. However, I genuinely don’t believe the UK will opt out of the EU, so have doubts that this would be an issue anyway.

Essentially, it’s a very difficult question to answer. Of course a referendum should be held if people are calling for one – but exactly how to measure those calls and what is deemed as a shift in circumstance are very complex issues.

Pat Wylie

I am wary of a kneejerk response to the ‘no’ vote and its immediate aftermath. When I narrowly fail a test or an exam, my first reaction is usually to wish to try again straight away; but the correct reaction is to learn from why I failed – while not forgetting what I did right, how hard I worked and how close I came. I think we have a lot of reflecting and learning still to do.

We are still in the aftermath of the 2014 referendum. The aftermath will last for many years to come, as the short term destinies of Scotland, the UK, the Eurozone and the EU develop over the next ten years or so. Much of the referendum campaign, rightly or wrongly, hinged on popular predictions around what was going to happen in the global economy. Factors such as North Sea oil, the destiny of the global economy, and the ability of ‘the left’ to stage a revival among floating voters in the South of England, all need to be given time to play out. It will be time to consider Scotland’s constitutional future when these grand macroeconomic and political positions have fermented.

I also feel uncomfortable even considering a second referendum while relations between our two biggest parties, Labour and the SNP, remain tribal and, at times, hostile. I do not blame London Labour alone for this; Miliband’s stance at the recent General Election was ill-considered but the SNP government has behaved provocatively towards Labour activists and Labour-run councils in Scotland over recent years, and this will have stoked the tension between the parties.

On the left, we also have to use our parliament and our local government to back up our discourse of a more equal society with well-resourced public services. Regardless of the pathetic dilution of ‘the Vow’, we have some (not enough, but some) powers over taxation and planning. We need to use these to defend our long tradition of universal public services, while finding creative and fair ways to discourage the creeping trend for better-off Scots to use private health and education services, to show that Scotland really is different, a place that knows, deep down, that we are all equal.

Then, and only then, will we be ready to sit the exam again.

Liam Muir

As much as it pains me to say it. I do not think a Scottish Independence referendum is a sensible decision in the current political climate. It hasn’t even been a year since the last one and given the significance of the recent developments in Greece, there are quite simply more pressing issues on the horizon!

Pressing issues such as the EU referendum. It is all relative. If (and thats a big ‘If’ given the Left’s recent loss of patience with the EU) Scotland is dragged out of the EU against its wishes, then of course there would be legitimate cause for protest. Nicola Sturgeon has often spoke of a material change in circumstance and this eventuality may well be it but we will just have to be patient. I believe some in the Yes camp are making a mistake by pushing for another vote as soon as possible!

We all know how little effort the House of Commons have made to keep their promises on devolution but this is going to take a while to sink in with the general public. The bottom line is, we need to convince more people of the practical benefits independence has. Now I fully accept there was significant influence from the state media and business last time around but asking people to contemplate our nation’s sovereignty again so soon is only going to alienate the people we need to sway!

I do not have an exact year and date I think another referendum should be called, but before we start thinking about when, we need think about how. There are arguments we must win that we didn’t last time. The currency was for most people the biggest obstacle. So if we return to this debate with the same arguments as before, we can expect the same result.  Once the EU referendum, the Holyrood election and the 2020 UK General elections are out of the way, Scotland will have a much better insight in to public opinion and what lies ahead. Timing is incredibly important regarding ‘Indyref 2’ because if we lose again, it really will be ‘settled for a generation’.

That’s what our contributors think, but what do YOU think?  Next week’s question will be “Would Jeremy Corbyn winning the Labour leadership be good for Scotland?” and we’d love to hear your take on both this week and next weeks topics.

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