Few in the Yes movement can doubt that a game-changer is required. The fight to restore Scotland’s independence has made absolutely no progress in the seven years since the first referendum. The SNP/Scottish Government remains committed to an approach to the constitutional issue which cannot possibly succeed given that it is crucially dependent on the consent and cooperation of the British state. The Yes movement itself has fragmented into a plethora of disconnected and often incompatible groups and organisations. Much work is being done at the level of local groups. But this is almost entirely ineffectual – not least because the constitution is, by definition, a national issue. The movement is headless and uncoordinated. There is no leadership. No campaign. No plan. This must change. We need a game-changer.
That game-changer must come from the people. Only the people have the required strength. And only if we are united in the sort of numbers and with the kind of focus and determination that makes the professional politicians very nervous indeed.
That game-changer must be produced now. Anybody who is talking in terms of the next election or maybe the one after simply doesn’t understand Scotland’s predicament. Even as I write this the British are going about a task with which is is very familiar – and at which it is frighteningly adept, having had a great deal of practice over a number of centuries. We might describe that task as the de-powering of a nation. The British state looks to maintain its own power over Scotland by making us relatively weaker. By dismantling and/or delegitimising our democratic institutions while smothering our distinctive identity under a mountain of Union flags. The seek to sap our will and undermine our confidence. The seek to divide and manipulate us. We must resist. If Scotland is to survive as a nation, we must resist.
To be effective, our resistance to the British Nationalist onslaught must enlist the SNP/Scottish Government and thereby the Scottish Parliament. Only the Scottish Parliament can end the Union and restore our nation’s independence. Only the Scottish Parliament acting on behalf of and with a mandate from the people of Scotland can take back the powers that rightfully belong with the Parliament elected by the people of Scotland but which are withheld by the British state using the power afforded it by the Union. Only the Scottish Government can initiate the relevant process in the Scottish Parliament.
The game-changer we need is a massive popular campaign to both demand that the SNP/Scottish Government act immediately to initiate the process of restoring our independence by repudiating the Section 30 process and asserting to exclusive competence of the Scottish Parliament in all matters relation to Scotland’s constitutional settlement. This campaign must be huge. It must be highly visible. It must be loud. It must be impossible to ignore. It must also be big enough to stiffen the spine of politicians reluctant to confront the British state.
What does a game-changer look like?
To help understand what might serve as a game-changer please bear with me while I indulge what most will surely dismiss as a flight of fancy. Allow me to describe what I would like to see. Even if it is not what I expect to see. Let me describe my ‘dream demo’. What I’d really like to see greeting Scotland’s elected representatives when they return to the Scottish Parliament after the summer recess. I might as well set my sights high since its only a daydream.
On 31 August 2021 I’d like to see a significant part of the Yes movement standing on the doorstep at Holyrood. Would 10,000 be impressive enough? Who could ignore that? Not even the media media could disregard such a demonstration. It goes without saying that the demonstration should be peaceful and as good-natured as circumstances will allow. The SNP/Scottish Government is not our enemy. We are not demonstrating against the SNP/Scottish Government. It is a demonstration against the Union. We are merely demanding that our Government act to rescue Scotland from being absorbed into the latest iteration of the ‘Greater England’ project.
The demonstration will be solely about the constitution. Flags, banners, placards and chants relating to anything other than the dissolution of the anti-democratic constitutional anomaly that is the Union and/or the restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status. No anti-tory stuff. No material relating to specific policy issues or other campaigns e.g. Afghan refugees. Important as these other issues are they must be kept separate so that the independence campaign can be focused enough – strong enough. The hashtags used by White Rose Rising should act as a guide to what is wanted on those placards, banners and flags.
Nor in my mind’s eye view of the perfect demonstration do I see party political propaganda. Save that for elections. It’s not appropriate on this day at this event. It would be good, however, if parties and groups and organisation could indicate their support for the White Rose Rising campaign simply by making their presence evident. Now Scotland and All Under One Banner have already pitched in. It would be great to see others doing likewise. How else do we recreate the sense of unity of purpose that was once a defining characteristic of the Yes movement.
The mood of the 10,000 people gathered in front of our Parliament – the only democratically legitimate Parliament Scotland has – is cheerful but determined. There may be cause for anger about many things. There is a time for exhibiting that anger. Probably the second demonstration, if that is required. This demo is upbeat because we expect the SNP/Scottish Government to listen. We are entitled to be heard. They are obliged to listen. We will make our voice heard. We will not be ignored.
If you are stirred at all by the idea of such a demonstration of the strength of the Yes movement then help make it happen. Share information about the demonstration as widely and as often as you can. For it to be big we must make it look big even before it starts to get big. If you absolutely cannot attend on the day then contact your own and other MSPs by email and social media to register your support. Be there virtually even if you can’t be there actually.
Might the White Rose Rising demonstration be the game-changer we are looking for? That is entirely up to you.