If you’re ever feeling doubtful…this is the campaign to save the Union in the busiest shopping street in Scotland’s largest city last Saturday (no photo-shopping required). As Donald Dewar looks on one poor soul stands alone.
The docile media and the cynical bombardment of corporate messaging by the No campaign might get you down, but really, take heart: we have Tariq Ali, they have Ally Carmichael; we’ve got Katie Morag, they’ve got Katie Hopkins; we have Will Self, novelist, they have Danny Alexander, fantasist; they have Melanie Philips, we have Jack Foster.
We have thousands of activist groups hitting the streets, they have career politicians hitting the panic button.
The reality is that the Yes campaign – maligned as it has been – has done its so job well that it’s becoming redundant. It was always needed to be a structure for a movement not a content delivery system for a slick advertising campaign, and now it’s being outflanked by reality on the ground.
As Blair Jenkins put it:
“It’s enormous. We’re no longer able to have an accurate handle on what’s happening, because like a proper grassroots campaign it’s self-generating, it’s autonomous, people are getting on with it.”
This is the biggest campaign Scotland has ever seen as people take the historic opportunity to question the basics of the way things are. As David Greig has written, this debate doesn’t have limits (‘Why the Debate on Scottish Independence Might Be More Interesting Than You Think?’):
“Over the last few months I’ve seen Independence based discussions on topics as diverse as crowd sourced constitutions, peak oil, Iceland’s collapse, arts policy in Finland, land reform, wildness as a concept, Black identity in Scotland, the function of defence forces, bilingualism and brain development, immigration, pensions… and the list goes on. Almost every area of public policy seems to be up for grabs. It’s a far cry from the political debate in the rest of the UK where the only area of discussion left to us seems to be whether we get a little bit more or a little bit less austerity.
In the context of independence the parameters of politics suddenly turn out to be more malleable that we thought. The pound, the monarchy, Trident – nothing is a given any more, not even the idea of Scotland itself. Should Shetland be part of Scotland? Should Newcastle? This new malleability is married to a practicality that gives even ordinary political discourse an extra piquancy. Change is possible. Put simply, the Independence debate allows us to explore every aspect of our national life and ask ourselves the question – ‘does it have to be like this?’
Yes Scotland is about to launch a £2 million-plus advertising campaign that will dominate billboards and in cinemas all the way to September 18. But that’s not what will win it. Canvassing, voter registration and a million one to one conversations will defeat a Better Together campaign fronted by a Tory Chancellor, Conservative-supporting big business with a history of opposing devolution and an inept and visionless Labour party running a cadaverous campaign. No is a top-down hollowed-out defence of the status quo, ours is a grassroots movement for change.
After RIC in Easterhouse and Super Saturday in Edinburgh, the Yes campaign is now beginning to kick off in real time. We’re inviting campaigners to send in reflections on the experience. What are people asking? What is the most effective way to work? What’s unexpected? Share ideas to charge the campaign. Send us notes for our campaign diary to: bellasletters (at) yahoo.co.uk or tweet to us at @bellacaledonia
As Chic MacGregor from Rangers Fans for Independence puts it:
Be aware that the tide is turning and the momentum is with the Positive Yes Campaign. The people who run the No Campaign are worried because no matter what they throw at us the Yes vote is steadily increasing. Threats are taken apart one by one as are the scaremongering stories and even the much anticipated Love Bombing ‘Bombed’ spectacularly. They are worried because for the first time in 300 years they are losing their grip on the Scottish people despite all the promises and threats.
It’s the beginning of spring after a long dark winter. Coming soon, a long hot summer of campaigning, discussion and debate about what kind of country you want to live in. To paraphrase a slogan from Paris in ’68: We will fight, we will win, Dundee, Glasgow and Carfin.