I’ve been wanting to write this blog post all week. The words would flow through my head, taking shape into sentences, teasing the edges of my mind — but each time I sat down to write it, the blog post editor stayed blank. No title or paragraphs, just the blankness that occurs when there are too many words blending together like so much coloured light into whiteness.
But today, here I am. I know what I want to say.
The title, if you’re wondering, is a wee jab at Patronising BT Lady. 😛
I can’t pretend this vote didn’t affect my mood all week. When the numbers came in, and I sat there staring at the blank chunk of map where they were still waiting to plug in the Highland result, I felt numb. Seeing the map overwhelmed with white and only a few tiny patches of blue — I felt like those great white swaths. Numb. Tired.
Hearing Eilean Siar read out their No result in Gaelic, my fledgling understanding of the language enough to translate Bu Choir and the numbers that came after it into less than it needed to be — it sent a tear streaming down my cheek. I have no words for how I felt when Dundee and West Dunbartonshire announced, followed by North Lanarkshire and Glasgow. But in the end we all know it wasn’t enough.
It really hit me the next day with the reports coming out of Glasgow of Brit Nats being just generally wanker-y in George Square, which had been the site of so many positive Yes rallies. It hit me when I saw Rule Britannia trending on Twitter. It hit me when I saw update after update from people I value and care for, their devastation and their pain at seeing the Scotland they’d dreamed shunted away for now.
Last night I had a Glaswegian man at one of my tables. I told him I used to live in Inverness and planned to move back, and he looked up and said, “Inverness voted Yes, you know.” I nodded and said I did. And he said, “And Glasgow, and West Dunbartonshire.” And I said, “And North Lanarkshire and Dundee.” And while he didn’t follow it up by saying that he’d voted Yes himself, I saw it in his eyes. In that moment as we rattled off those communities who declared for Yes, it was heavy with many, many more words.
The Yes movement for me was always a beacon of hope. I intend to make my home in Scotland, and the Yes campaign is one that values what I do: diversity, equality, fairness, peace. This kind of world. A world where the people in the shadow of Trident voted for independence without fear for the jobs that could be lost; in hope and trust that an independent Scotland would replace those jobs with new ones. A world where renewable energy is not just some wistful dream, but a reality actively pursued. A world where gender, class, ability, ethnicity, and sexual orientation are only facets of people, not the whole person, and those who may differ from the majority are protected by law.
Scotland is truly unique in that her people are on the same page about many major issues: the NHS, free post-secondary education, care for the elderly and the poor.
They may differ a bit on how to get there, but those values are common and closely held.
The Story Has Not Ended
I have three major thoughts about this. First, that even from this side of the pond, I could see Better Together’s Project Fear as exactly that. Scaring people with their pensions, the pound, likening a Yes vote to aiding the forces of darkness (No, really. Indy Scotland is apparently Mordor. Salmond is only a few letters away from Sauron, after all. :P), whatever they could. And it worked. What’s horribly saddening about that is within days of the No vote, 10 Downing St has said there will be a decrease of funds to Scotland, and…basically the No campaign frightened the pensioners and is now turning around to make those fears come true themselves. Shame on BT and Westminster both. Shame.
Second, look at the 16-17 year olds. There will be an entire generation of strong Yes — and there are more adolescents turning 16 every day. While that 71% is staggering, something to note is that they do not exist in a vacuum. To the contrary, they have younger peers, peers who watched the referendum happen with the engagement of their older friends who overwhelmingly favour independence. To discount the 14-15 year olds who will likely be able to vote next time this question comes up is foolhardy. Generation Yes is real, they are engaged, they are empowered, and they are not going away.
Third, my generation. I’m smack in the middle of those 25-34s. My generation. My generation who entered the workforce in the worst economic climate since the Great Depression. My generation who were told if we followed in the footsteps of our baby boomer parents life would work out for us. My generation who have struggled against a corrupt system and felt powerless. My generation who saw what Yes could offer and empowered ourselves. My generation who chose to believe in a fairer Scotland, a fairer world. My generation. My generation. I am proud.
It’s not difficult to suss out why my generation voted Yes in such large numbers. It was a chance to make a change, to take an active hand, to seek something better.
All these things come together to say that this conversation is not over. We did not wake from a dream of Scottish independence that vanished into the recesses of our minds come 19 September. That dream did not fade. Indeed, that dream is nothing more or less than a vision for the future that can become a reality.
When this conversation continues, it’s going to include the already-broken promises of Westminster. The bias of a BBC that went from reporting the drying up of Scotland’s North Sea oil last month to its apparent bounty this month. The hostility of the mainstream media in a land where only one newspaper, the Sunday Herald, declared for Yes. (Their readership has doubled, by the way.)
This week the Scottish National Party more than doubled its numbers. Doubled. From around 25K to over 60K and still growing as quickly as their servers can accommodate the traffic. Over 1% of Scotland’s electorate now actively belongs to a political party. The SNP is now the third largest party in the United Kingdom. The Scottish Green Party and the Scottish Socialist Party have also reported massive gains as Yes voters (and unhappy No voters) leave Labour in droves. The Greens’ youth sector is now bigger this week than the entire party was last week.
A new Scotland will come, and it will be built by the youth and celebrated by those who are hoping to live long enough to see it, who voted Yes in the face of fear.
This is not over.
A new Scotland. For the Common Weal.