It is only right that this retrospective on Scotland since September 2014 begins with words of sorrow and encouragement to our Muslim friends and neighbours. News of the firebombing of Edinburgh’s Central Mosque is shocking, but comes as a painful reminder of the dangerous undercurrents that have been seeping into our society. Scottishness isn’t a religion or a genetic type. The community that was victimised this morning is a Scottish community, and so, in part, this despicable hate crime was an assault against Scotland. Today, while celebrating the second anniversary of the first independence referendum, we stand proudly with Scottish Muslims against the forces of bitterness, hatred, and intolerance. Perhaps Angry Salmond would say: “In an independent Scotland Islamophobia and all forms of racism will not exist.”
It is two years already from the summer of independence. This is hard to believe. It seems like only yesterday we were going to the polls tanked full of the joy and excitement of those remarkable and special days. For the first time in our lives we had the complete sovereignty of our nation in our hands, and – in the end – we handed that back to Westminster and the British establishment. Cameron’s great gamble had paid off, and he was able to sleep again knowing that Scotland was safe in his back pocket. Yet today we were all back out reliving and remembering our glory days, celebrating a defeat. An outsider would be forgiven for thinking that we were all soft in the head.
We went out to the Green this afternoon in top form because deep down we all know that two years ago we were very far from beaten. Now even the BBC is beginning to admit that Scotland was cheated. If indeed the referendum itself wasn’t actually rigged, the ground had been prepared in such a way that winning was all but impossible. Wall to wall news coverage shouted the cause of the union, lies were told as though they were going out of fashion, and the very worst kind of vicious bully tactics were employed against us. Yes, on paper, we lost – but only just.
In every respect the Yes movement was an absolute triumph. It forced Westminster to call in every favour it could. We watched the rich and the powerful sweat. We watched as its temper broke. We knew that we had them. In the end, even to the morning of the referendum – if all things were fair, the vote, like Brexit, could have gone either way. 45 percent of the vote is certainly no decisive victory. All that this managed was to buy Westminster and the unionists a little more time, and today we can all feel it in our bones that that time is running out.
Holding onto Scotland is now an exercise in wishful thinking. Support for independence has grown, and the need of the unionists to quote polls that indicate we are still only just on 50 percent in favour of independence underlines their unspoken desperation. Whether it is in 2018 or 2028 the next referendum can do nothing but deliver independence. The balance has shifted, and the demographics of a changing Scotland indicate that there is no turning this tide. If Westminster was absolutely convinced by its own spin of our defeat there would be no talk of partitioning Scotland. Above all else the bureaucratic state is a pragmatic institution, and it is London’s pragmatism that is now betraying the real opinion of Westminster. Scotland is about to go, and they are working overtime to feather their nests.
Yet these past two years have polarised Scotland. Thankfully not to the point of “widespread outbreaks of violence,” but things have changed. The thought that Britain will look after Scotland is a delusion. The best indication of future behaviour is Britain’s historical record, and that has been astonishingly poor when it comes to the care of Scotland and Scottish people. There is nothing to suggest that this will ever change, and the current panic in London over Brexit merely means that Scotland will be pushed further and further from the mind of government. We should feel sorry then for our own poor, deluded unionists. The joke is on them. It has always been on them. Britain will wash its hands of its Scottish loyalists when the game is finally up, and time – as we have said – is running out.
The Butterfly Rebellion