Scotland, for the first time since the Jacobite Rising of 1745, is having a formative role in the direction of London politics. Right across England the prospect of Westminster’s so-called Union coming to an end is of more concern to the average voter than all the fear that has been conjured up over the Brexit. In no small part this was due to another ’45, our referendum. Yet, despite the first round of Project Fear – which is now being deployed against the English – and the ruthless and unrelenting media campaign against independence in 2014, something else has contributed to London’s present anxiety over us, that we have established and held on to a beachhead that is moving our nation closer to freedom.
Reading that Scottish Labour has “overtaken the Scottish Conservatives” in the polls is a testament to the power of the desire for change that has radicalised and transformed Scotland. Given that the Tories are and have always been a non-entity north of the border, this is what we have done to our once proud Labour voice. In turning its back on us, we have not only defeated it; we have utterly obliterated it.
At Westminster now we are represented overwhelmingly by a unified voice for separation, and, all going well, much the same picture will be painted in the Scottish Parliament. With every passing day their prospect of the Union’s demise is becoming an inevitability. So we have to ask: Why isn’t there a second referendum on the table in this election? Over 52% of Scots are now of the opinion that we should be an independent country. This is true, but – as we well know – 2% is a fickle and fragile majority. Another referendum would be a gamble, and losing it might prove the undoing of a social trajectory that is always subject to change.
We at the Butterfly Rebellion want another crack at the referendum whip; in fact we are pretty much in favour of anything that will hasten the inevitable. All the same, there is a whole nation to consider and so some caution is required.
Tom Devine, Emeritus Professor of History at Edinburgh, takes a moderate and interesting position. He too is of the opinion that independence is now a certainty, especially in consideration of the definite identity we have and have continued to forge against the attempt to impose upon us a fictitious Britishness. Devine is of the opinion that this move to national autonomy is progressing in time as we continue to make the argument for Scotland:
There is no quick fix. (For independence to happen) it has to be a steady demonstration of convincing argument over time.
– Professor Tom Devine
We have to be wary – obviously – when disagreeing on history with such an eminent historian, but then we’re not only talking about the past here. We are talking about the future. One hundred years ago in Dublin a revolt against the British Empire failed, but less than a month later – after the rebels had been screamed at and spat on by Dubliners after their surrender – the whole of Ireland had risen in a cause that would lead to the Republic of Ireland. History, as Devine surely knows, offers no guarantees as to what will happen next.
Undoubtedly we must make the argument for Scotland, and to a remarkable degree that argument has been made. All that is happening now is that this argument is percolating through the fibre of the Scottish collective, and there are no guarantees as to how this will play out. It is possibly better to think of this social and political change over time as a tipping point game, at some point – maybe next week – the coins will fall and a cascade will occur.
Even the most entrenched Scottish unionists are wired into this national mood, and they – like us – will eventually realise that, even without noticing when and where it happened exactly, we have become a nation completely distinct from the country to the south. All that is clear to us right now is that we have our foot in the door and that we are all moving in the right direction. At some point, and it can’t be far away, that exit door will swing open and we will walk through it.
The Butterfly Rebellion