Breaking The Silence

CoverI remember the first trip I took outside Glasgow, after 18 September.

I wrote about it on this blog, where I described seeing Yes paraphenalia everywhere and thinking “this country is haunted now.”

None of us could have forseen what has happened since, but that sense of a place that is stalked by the ghosts of “what might have been” has gone.

I travel to and fro and feel something very different than I did on that day, and that feeling is not quite hope … we’re beyond hope now.

What I feel, instead, is expectation … expectation that a corner is about to be turned, that something monumental is going to happen in the not too distant future.

And, of course, it is.

We have elections coming up … and they will define the next phase of the struggle.

Those elections will be unlike anything that has ever happened in Scottish politics before. It is the chance to change the landscape here, probably forever. If Labour suffers the shattering defeat that seems likely, the party will be faced with the choice of “change or die”, and I suspect Murphy will be the first casualty. That has a certain inevitability about it which sends a shiver down my spine.

The battle will be fierce though, there’s no doubt about that.

Labour’s strangehold on Scottish politics is strong, and the fear of a Tory government being returned to power will prove hard for many to resist … but I am definitely of the mind that the more MP’s we send to London with the best interests of this country at heart the better … and those aren’t Labour MP’s.

So yes, this will be a dirty campaign, one where I expect Labour’s parliamentarians and wannabes to fight like cornered cats. Every smear and slander will be thrown at Team Yes, whether we’re supporting Green candidates or, as I hope most will, those from the SNP.

Let me tell you right now, I won’t always like what the SNP does, and I won’t always like the people who carry their banner … but in terms of this election, there is no alternative to sending as many of them south as possible.

To do otherwise would be to undo every single positive thing that has happened to Team Yes since our defeat on 18 September.

I want to campaign for as many of them as possible, and everyone who can spare the time to get involved should do it without hesitation. It is no exaggeration to say that this is the most important general election of my lifetime. To get this wrong will set us back years, and might well be the catalyst for division and bitterness to take over from the optimism.

I am looking forward to it … but I am apprehensive too. So much can go wrong, from local candidates shooting themselves in the foot to a national event which transforms the mood and throws the whole thing into turmoil … anything can happen.

It is into that morass that I want to throw our long-awaited magazine, Enjoy The Silence?, which seeks to examine the Scottish political scene and the issues peripheral to it.

This magazine was born during the referendum campaign itself, when I started trying to pull together writers for the first issue, and to decide how I wanted it to look. It’s a labour of love, and I am proud of the result, although I’ll let you all decide how well realised it’s been.

It’s only the first one, and I am sure there’ll be other issues to come, as I am sure there are mistakes in the text and the design which I’ve yet to spot. For those, blame me. For everything that’s good, all praise goes to the contributors.

The content is wide and varied; I have written about Islamic fundamentalism, what’s gone wrong in Labour and the Democratic Party and a piece on Jim Murphy in the form of an open letter. There is a wonderful, inspiring, beautiful piece from Matt Lygate, on his journey across Scotland during the referendum, and the way he reacted after it. There’s a piece from Wilma Watts, on how she came to vote Yes. George Paterson looks at the rise of UKIP, and suggests that we “follow the money.” Allan Grogan has contributed an excellent article on his journey from Labour for Independence to his new home in the SSP. Alex Robertson has contributed two excellent articles, one on the expectations and hopes that ride on the shoulders of Nicola Sturgeon and the other on a future referendum. Finally, Kerry Anne Morrison has contributed a piece on Tony Blair and the blood on his hands.

Every article is named after a Proclaimers song, which I decided on early as it seemed quirky and neat, and gave me a structure for everything. The cover text is from another of their songs … and it seems appropriate to the moment, as so many No voters reconsider their positions.

As I say in the editorial, the name of the magazine itself comes from a Depeche Mode song, and I chose it for the statement it makes to our political classes, who probably thought the apathy of the voters would last forever.

They have enjoyed the silence, and in it they’ve feathered their nests, protected their friends, looked out for the well-off and those who could further their own ambitions and generally had a ball at our expense.

Change is coming. We’re not asleep any longer.

The tsunami which is going to sweep through Westminister, north and south of the border, in a little over 80 days time has been building for years now, and when it hits it will rock our cosy establishment to the foundations.

I want this magazine to reflect that mood, and whilst I welcome contributions from anyone who wants to get involved, I am especially keen on hearing from people who’ve never written about politics before, who have started to take an interest very recently, because they have the most authentic voices out there right now; they have the most to say, and they are not encumbered by the old ideologies or certainties.

They are the future, and their voices are more important than they know.

I make no bones about this being a magazine of the left … which isn’t to say I don’t want to hear from those on the right, because I’ll certainly publish any article sent to us that comes from a centre right perspective … but I suspect the number of those I’ll actually find in my inbox will be small, if I get any at all. Those articles will be like little besieged islands amidst a high tide.

With that, I’ll leave you to check out the magazine itself. Any comments on it should be left on this page, or emailed to me at, including offers to write something for us. I will not only welcome those … I need them.

I also need everyone who reads this piece, and the magazine, to send this on to as many folk as they can who they think would enjoy it. Our biggest challenge will be to get this out to as many people as possible, and so that’s priority one.

You can get your hands on a copy by clicking on the picture at the top of the piece, or by navigating to our Enjoy the Silence? page, using the menu at the top of the screen.

The magazine is free, and it will remain so. Nevertheless, myself and the editorial team feel we need to finance it properly if it’s to be a success, and so we’ll launch an official fundraiser as soon as we know the sort of thing we want to do.

In the meantime, any support you’d like to offer can be sent to us in the usual way, by using the PayPal link on this page, either at the top of the screen or somewhere near the bottom, depending on what device you’re viewing this article on. Every one will count, and every one will help us along the way.

This project won’t work without you. I thank you in advance.

We’re aiming for an April release for Issue 2, so we can tie it into the election campaign.

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6 comments to “Breaking The Silence”
  1. I have followed you for a while now and always enjoyedand, been informed by your artciles. I have downloaded the magazine and look forward to reading it tomorrow when I have a little more time. I will also make a donation, may not be much but I hope it helps a little. I would also be interested in maybe submitting an article for your April issue. I am just an ordinary punter, used to be in the SNP twenty years ago and then let my membership lapse. I have been well and truly reinvigorated by the referendum and would never have dreamt post referendum politics would be this much fun! I post regularly on Facebook, mostly sharing articles, but do enjoy posting my own rants sometimes and I am quite keen to maybe take this a step further. Let me know what you think. Cheers : )

  2. Got to page 54 and had to come up for air. Brilliant!

    Have to disagree with Steve, maybe not many articles but length and depth more than makes up for it.

    Enjoyed your blog after seeing one of your comments on WoS and greatly enjoy your writing.

    Only a couple of typos so pretty darn good I say!

    Erudite, informative and entertaining – lots to think about, especially from Matt Lygate.

    Overall, very impressed and will be back for more. Deep breath now back for the rest!


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