Friday, September 19, 2014


So we decided to give them one more chance...Well, I can't say I'm not grieved and deeply convinced that's awfully generous of us...But after a little gloomy reflection, can I say something I'd never have said while the campaign was "live"?

I don't feel one inch less democratically sovereign in my own country this morning than I did yesterday.  I feel not that I was on the losing side in a war, but in an election.  I think the power of decision is now permanently in our hands.

And that is almost...but not good as I ever thought it could get.

If you'd offered me 45/55 four weeks ago, I'd have taken it.  If you'd offered me that two years ago I'd have bitten both your hands off in bewildered gratitude.

Re,member, everyone, what we've done, in even in terms of rude arithmetic, is take Independence from 30% odd in every opinion poll between 1975 and now...and swing it...50%.

If you'd told David Cameron those figures two years ago...he'd have had a cow.

So...what does this mean?  Well. first, we have wounds to lick.  We also have to hope that some of the things that were said about us  while the campaign was, as I say, "live" will not inform too closely the victory celebrations of our opponents this morning - that "bayoneting the wounded" is not on the agenda of  our Scots opponents - and a more subtle, more devastating vengeance is not on the agenda of our more distant ones.

We and they must remember that this has not been a campaign like any other.  The participants haven't been "professional" politicians - and even the pros on both sides were perhaps more deeply invested in the result than any other completion they'd taken part in before.

(I saw Nicola Sturgeon at about ten o'clock yesterday morning in the Yes shop in Govanhill without her game face on...I knew we were in trouble)

Can I use my wee head start to think a couple of things aloud, as it were, for my own good as much as for anyone else who may want to read this today.

First, we have made a machine for popular democracy together the like of which we have never, ever seen.  We are part of the global struggle for autonomy now, for ourselves as individuals and as members of whatever network of collective identity we choose.  We are not going anywhere.

We are now going to turn that mighty beast to the next phase of what I still believe is a period of profound and unstable change in the politics of two of those collective entities to which we belong, exactly as we would have done if the percentiles had been reversed.

In terms of popular democracy, this defeat, though not to be denied or shied away from, is an opinion poll along the way to where we go next.  But the campaign is a legacy of extraordinary hope, energy, accumulated research and expertise.  We are a million miles from where we were.

For now, the focus of the action, the agency, as we might say, moves to the South for a while...and that's okay...this will take some getting used to. Now our opponents must decide what to do with the mandate they have received.

(I haven't watched Cameron's speech yet, by the way, or read any reaction pieces elsewhere, so I'm probably a bit behind the news...but I feel okay about that for a wee bit! I want to be in this moment for myself first and for my old and new friends, before I get wired back in)

I maintain what I said more than once.  I think this referendum was called reluctantly by the nationalists and seized on by the British State as a chance to kill the anomalous, awkward beast of devolution by taking independence off the table for ever. What will they do now that though the pessimism of the nationalists was justified, the beast is by no means dead? Will Westminster, under pressure from backbenchers and media and a UK population lashed and confused by austerity, resist the temptation to punish us, given the fright they've just had.

Will they, and we, live up to the terms of Edinburgh Agreement, truly and equitably to address the cataclysmic  demand for change that has issued from people who ended up voting both ways?  Will they treat the genie like it was back in the bottle?

Promises have been made that we never properly scrutinised during the campaign.  Those promises have to be kept. We have to see whether and how they are going to do that.  Will Westminster try to impose from on high?  Will the SNP join in the process or be tempted towards strategic side lining from the process as in the past?

Finally a turnout in the mid eighties.  It turns out paradoxically that what probably won it for no was that one opinion poll that put Yes in the lead.  It did what the No campaign failed to do.  It put the negative case.  And whether we like the result or not, as democrats we must agree that it was, as it always is, the right result.  We can choose to interpret this Narrow No as "not yet".  Our opponents can call it "never".  In a way that matters less than the energy released and the pressure and promise of participation in politics on a scale and of a quality that everyone who is a nerd for this stuff, me included, wouldn't have dared to dream of.

We are still, I think, in brand new country.  And I still think that we're better prepared for it..because we gave that new country it's colour, it's fun and its passion.  But that new country isn't Scotland of our hopes yet. The votes are in.  We weren't ready.

This outcome, and its sequel...will be a big test for all the parties.  But it will be a bigger test for us to stay involved, stay engaged, stay on top of them as the process goes forward. I think it is still up to us to keep the "pros" on both sides honest.

 I am confident we'll do that.


  1. They're thinking of their English rose
    And me, my Flower of Scotland
    they're feart a full #AyeNominate
    brings in a don't-know-what-land

    Yet Stand We Here
    Upon this Land
    Whose very elocution
    doth bless the Day
    that Scotland SAW
    Her velvet revolution

    For Come What May
    Unto this Day
    such galvanizing tide
    the grist has milled
    and sweet distill'd
    upon which wave we ride....
    Don't go back to sleep!!

    "....The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
    Don’t go back to sleep.
    You must ask for what you really want.
    Don’t go back to sleep.
    People are going back and forth across the door-sill
    where the two worlds meet
    but the door is round and open.
    Don’t go back to sleep!"
    {from Unseen Rain by Rumi}

  2. Thanks for being able to write something positive on this day!