So, twelve months has passed already, eah?
Does it feel, for you, like it does for me?
That it all went by in the blink of an eye? That it seems like yesterday that we got up full of optimism and went to bed as depressed and angry as we ever have? Can it really be that time’s marched on like that?
How could this happen?
What right do the clocks have to keep on turning so, when all of us were in the pit of despair? Shouldn’t time itself have halted for a while, to let us absorb the shock, to let us mourn it?
How can a year have gone by?
It has, of course. The reason it seems so quick is that not one of us sat down and cried ourselves into stupor. Some people started working even harder, from that moment onward, to make sure that this defeat was the last one.
I am in awe of those people. I didn’t feel right with the world for weeks, although I blogged on the following night when the Brit-Nats took over George Square and caused a near riot.
“If that’s how they react when they win,” I thought, “imagine their behaviour had we been victorious?” My anger got me off the floor, and I was grateful for it, but some amongst us didn’t need that pick me up; they were already making plans.
They were the ones who marched, and sat in at meetings and got up and spoke and organised and vowed that we would take our collective revenge.
The first part of that was to remind the world who it was that sold us out when the crunch came; Labour. It only took days from the result before that organisation began to fragment under the pressure they were feeling from outside and within. Johan Lamont resigned, echoing nearly every criticism we’d made before the referendum.
With one enemy general already down, our people eyed the ramparts of the fortresses which the party had erected all over this country, those impregnable redoubts where Labour was so complacent, and people so crushed, it had, quite literally, stuck party rosettes on village idiots and still saw them get elected.
Not recognising, in spite of a wealth of evidence, just how much the referendum had changed all that, they made one party leader.
Those amongst the 45% who were still groggy after our defeat could never have hoped for a greater motivation to shake themselves off and get back into the fray.
Within weeks, Murphy’s own seat was in play and we weren’t just eyeing a major victory any longer … we were looking at the Holy Grail of revenge scenarios; wiping these people off the map, ending careers, scattering these charlatans like nine-pins.
People who had never given a damn about politics found themselves scrutinising opinion polls like bank holiday weekend weather forecasts. Websites which offered analysis and commentary, and which once would have been the playgrounds only of the number-crunching anoraks from the backrooms of the parties themselves, saw their traffic go through the roof as every blip and alteration was studied and broken down.
The UK figures might have been off, but you didn’t have to be a True Believer in the Gospel According to YouGov to realise that in Scotland they were very, very real although absolutely unbelievable. You only had to talk to people on the streets, to converse with your fellow Scots, and the depth of anger, conviction and determination overwhelmed you.
I come from a staunchly Labour background, one where we’d never have countenanced voting SNP before the referendum. That the party had done so much to alienate people like us gave me a real sense of how it must feel out in the wider community and in the country at large.
I saw the landslide happen in my own house, in front of my own eyes, as every single member of my family turned, one after the other, making the journey in a wholly organic fashion, not being influenced by the rest in any way.
The tide has never so radically altered course in my lifetime.
Murphy’s election as Labour leader had been the final insult for some people. It was like a meteor strike on public opinion. It was a slap in the face to every Scot who’d voted Yes, the very people Labour needed to win over to their side.
The tsunami was inevitable. On the night Ed Miliband said in a televised debate that he would rather have David Cameron in Downing Street than have to negotiate in good faith with the elected representatives of Scotland, something inside me shifted irrevocably, so that not even the election of Jeremy Corbyn has moved it back a fraction.
A friend of mine sent me a Facebook message saying “we might as well be martyrs one more time”, and I made that the headline for my piece the following day, a piece in which I said I no longer cared who was in Downing Street because Scotland would get nothing from either man.
All I cared about was seeing Labour in Scotland obliterated.
We got the result we wanted. We got the government we hadn’t. Once again, Scotland had voted one way and the Westminster system forced something else down our throats. So, martyrs one more time it is, carrying the weight of another Tory administration, but knowing that our grandkids will never have to do the same.
In the midst of that, this was a year when we saw much that hardened our conviction that progressive politics on this island is perceived as a threat to more than just the bankers and the speculators who caused the economic crisis.
We saw that the media has its own vested interests, that much of our “journalistic class” is made up of rank individuals who’ve forgotten what the profession is supposed to be for.
Alex Salmond had suffered bad press before the referendum and some of the coverage during it was an insult to decency and our collective intelligence.
But on Day 1 of a post-referendum Scotland he resigned and no sooner was Nicola in his shoes but she was being subjected to as much vitriol as has ever been heaped on a politician in this land.
Neil Kinnock was treated fairly by comparison, and you could see Ed Miliband’s relief as he quickly found himself no longer the most smeared individual in Britain.
In the course of a few weeks, Nicola was compared to Attila the Hun, the baby killing King Herod, was subjected to sexist, gutter level cartoons right out of Larry Flynt’s imagination, referred to as Lady Macbeth (original, or what?) and labelled The Most Dangerous Woman In Britain.
The coverage reached its nadir with a story that traced her “ruthlessness” back to her childhood, where she had chopped the hair off her sister’s doll.
I fumed about that one in an article, and I mourned the passing of great, political journalism in Britain. I wondered how the profession that had never been more exalted than it was when Woodward and Bernstein brought down a corrupt President could have sunk so low as to think this passed for informed debate in an election year.
Newspaper numbers have been in decline for years, but I suspect that they’ve taken a particularly high dive in the last 12 months. Journalism now ranks with politics as one of the least trusted and least respected professions in the country … an appalling indictment on those who presently work in the field and one that has enormous repercussions for the future.
And of course, all of that is true in spades when you look at the savage way in which Jeremy Corbyn has been treated every day since the first shock opinion polls revealed that he was the front-runner in the Labour Party leadership election.
Such has been the filth hurled at him that you cannot help but think half of our media has simply gone mad and the other half was already there, wallowing in insanity, smearing its own faeces on the walls of a secure unit somewhere.
This very week, a man who refused to vote to send our soldiers to die in an un-necessary and illegal war has had to defend his patriotism from the same people who failed in their own responsibilities by acting like cheerleaders for that very same destructive conflict, and why?
Because he didn’t sing the racist, anti-Scottish dirge that is the British National Anthem at a memorial service for the RAF.
This is how the media wants us to judge our leaders in this Year of Our Lord 2015; on the basis that they bow and scrape (or don’t) to the head of an unelected, anachronistic, bigoted institution that belongs in another century.
As a consequence of this, New Media has started to dominate the debate. Here, in Scotland, the last 12 months has seen The National appear on our streets. IScot Magazine came out. Numerous new websites popped up to promote the cause of independence. Those writers and journalists who are sick of what’s been going on started their own projects and began to try and change the tenor of the national debate. And it’s coming along, but slowly.
The London based media continues to offend all our sensibilities, but its utility in moving matters of importance is slipping away. The referendum campaign grew strength in spite of it. The SNP landslide happened in the face of it and the grassroots membership of Labour elected Jeremy Corbyn in complete opposition to its “accepted wisdom.”
Think what might happen in the next few years, as their desperation to hang onto what power they have left compels them to do what our political class spent so long doing; following public opinion instead of trying to shape it.
And more and more I come to believe that public opinion is changing because of us.
Perhaps the greatest victory we scored in the last 12 months was to push Labour in the direction it has gone. The biggest convulsion of the political system on these islands in a generation began in Scotland but it has led to the moment we saw just this week, as a socialist stood up in the House of Commons as the leader of the official opposition.
And if you think we didn’t do that, guess again.
Those new Labour voters who went for Corbyn, who joined the party to elect him, they were inspired by what they saw happen up here. Those members who had been in the party, and who had watched it elect Ed Miliband, many hoping he’d give them the radical voice they’d been dreaming of, saw Nicola Sturgeon and our 56 MP’s emerge as a more principled alternative … and it brought home just how far their party had drifted from them.
They wanted it back.
When Corbyn got on the ticket they saw in him what we saw in Nicola and those we elected in May this year; the straight talking, no nonsense, unspun voices of hope that we could have a new kind of politics. The Hope Agenda was birthed here, but it has awakened the radical conscience of England, and I can think of no greater achievement of ours than that.
Some people will tell you that history is written by the winners. If that’s the case, who were the real victors on 18 September 2014?
Our movement is still together, still standing, stronger than it was before. Our political wing dominates the Scottish electoral map; 56 of 59 seats, and a Holyrood landslide still to come. Its elected officials are in for the long haul too, many on supermajorities like those they over-turned, shaking Westminster up and keeping alive progressive ideals.
Meanwhile, the constituent parts of the “victors” campaign have shattered.
The junior members, the Liberal Democrats, the great whores of British politics, have been stripped not only of credibility and power but were simply crushed.
Here in Scotland, their single MP clings desperately to his seat, drenched in scandal, as a crowd-funded legal challenge tries to force him back to the polling station.
He’s a dead man walking, and every day he remains in office drains his party of moral standing and support in the run up to next year’s Scottish elections, where an even more damning verdict will be delivered on them.
The catastrophe that struck them is nought compared to the one that hit Labour.
The “real victors” of 18 September have lost two heads of the Scottish party in the space of that year, all of its MP’s bar one, they’ve seen their UK leader resign and the remnants of the “modernising” wing, who thought of Scotland as little more than a repository for votes, routed in the internal election that followed. They are now led by an MP from the left, whose campaign drew much of its inspiration from our insurrection.
The Tories are back in office, with a majority, but will shortly bear the full brunt of a public uprising north and south of the border, a two pronged attack from the newly elected Labour leader and the SNP, a combination which has the potential to shock the British establishment to the core and which, win or lose, will drive the final nails into the coffin of the union by revealing its corruption and the selfish interests which underpin it like never before.
Some say Corbyn can’t win, which means that the independence movement can’t lose. If he’s given a chance and assembles a victorious coalition, the rewards for Scotland will be greater than we’ve ever seen before because that coalition won’t happen without us.
If he loses, either because the English electorate rejects his party or if the party itself won’t let him fight the good fight then the move towards our self-determination will be unstoppable.
The price the Tories will pay in the Holyrood elections next year will be exacerbated by the Corbyn effect and the natural inchoate desire of the Scottish people to extract vengeance for a new series of bloody cuts in social services and public spending.
Furthermore, their own Scottish leader ends this calendar year as the subject of a CPS inquiry into whether or not she broke the law in relation to the counting of postal votes.
If she’s charged in connection with that, her career is over. She’ll resign the same day, and whatever the outcome of any court case that’s the end of the road, and she was the very best they had up here; the so-called “acceptable face of Conservatism”.
On this, the anniversary of our “defeat”, it’s Team Yes who are making the political weather and charting a course for the future, and doing so largely without fear.
We’re in a towering position of strength, whilst the “victors” survey the devastation on their own doorsteps.
On 19 September last year, our present political class breathed a collective sigh of relief and our media were patting themselves on the back for a job well done. They thought, then, that this uprising would fade away quickly.
The idea that it might grow instead, that its foot soldiers might soon be pouring over the barricades, that we might overthrow the established order here at home and spark a revolution in the very heart of Westminster itself never entered their darkest dream.
Or our wildest one.
Who could have seen all this coming?
They said on this evening twelve months ago that for all our efforts we’d accomplished nothing … but by God, look around you … we’ve changed everything.
Think where we were last year.
Now, close your eyes and think where we’ll be this time next year.
It makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, right?
Brothers and sisters of Scotland, Happy Anniversary.
(I’m a full time writer who depends on the goodwill and support of my readers. If you want to support the work the site does, you can make a donation at the link. Many thanks in advance.)