Some of the completely unnecessary rubbish thrown at Mike Small, following his publication of “Eat Your Cereal” on Sunday, is the impetus behind me writing this. I’ve written on this subject before and thought there was nothing more to say but, no, some of the half-baked nonsense that I have read in relation to Mike’s article means that I’m back here again.
First of all, let’s get something straight. Not every criticism of the SNP is anti-SNP. Friends criticise each other. We wouldn’t be very good friends if we didn’t. In the run up to the referendum in 2014, we had a shared vision. It was plural, diverse, contradictory, a bit scary, but it was ours. The defeat was our defeat and we all felt it, deeply. We almost made it but almost wasn’t enough.
We should all be very proud of what we achieved, the rebirth of democratic engagement in Scotland on a scale I haven’t seen in my lifetime (and I’ve been around a bit) and it was all of us, with our friends and families, in old organisations and new, all of us, working together towards a common purpose, that got us this far.
Since the referendum things have changed. “Politics as usual” has been resumed and it’s narrow. It’s point-scoring. It’s binary. It’s trying to put that big vision in a box that can’t contain it. It doesn’t belong in a box. You’ll break it if you try. One party cannot contain indy. It couldn’t contain the indy movement in the run-up to 2014, so why should it now.
Let’s take an analogy. Two phrases I remember from school report cards – “could do better” and “easily distracted”. The is the essence of most pro-indy criticism of SNP policy. Just as my teachers weren’t anti-me, articles like Mike’s aren’t anti-SNP. They are challenging the SNP to be better, to go further, to remember the vision and not be cowed by the political establishment.
I don’t do party loyalty. I’m a member of RISE because it best reflects my ideas and aspirations but I willy happily criticise if I have to. I will even walk away if I have to. The party reflects the idea; it isn’t the idea. The party and the movement are only vehicles. We must be prepared to adapt, improve, even discard if we need to, in order to reach the goal.
This is a long-game but one which can’t wait. Every step matters and people are in need now. I spent the ’80s and early ’90s waiting for a Labour government would make things bette. I held my nose and voted Labour and all we got was Blair, Brown and the Iraq War. Seasoned politicians took us for granted and gave us nothing back. I will not vote on that basis again.
Let’s be bold. It’s time for us to tell our politicians what we want, not to be limited by what they say is possible. In the words of Robb Johnson: “Be reasonable and demand the impossible now!”.
To conclude, I remember the hope, standing on top of Calton Hill in 2013, singing the the Freedom Come All Ye alongside everyone else. Let’s take these words as our inspiration.
Sae come aa ye at hame wi freedom
Never heed whit the houdies croak for Doom
In yer hous aa the bairns o Aidam
Will fin breid, barley-bree an paintit room
Whan MacLean meets wi’s friens in Springburn
Aa thae roses an geeans will turn tae blume
An a black laud frae yont Nyanga
Dings the fell gallows o the burghers doun.