Monday, 31 March 2014

Week 13, Unlucky for some

Who would have known it? In just one week, Week 13 of 2014 (let's call it 13'14, that has a certain ring to it!), everything changed, the tide turned, a new order was born, and you can think of any other number of clichés to describe it. But basically in the course of the week the media in Scotland was dominated by a truth it couldn't avoid. That now the gap in the polls was narrowing and the alternative media and twitter's cybernats were finding a stronger voice, the Yes campaign was suddenly becoming a force to be taken seriously. And so it took only a few gaffes in the Better Together hierarchy and an underwhelming performance by Nick Clegg at the Lib Dems' Scottish conference to embarrass the Unionists to the point of admitting the Yes campaign could win this September.

The ball started to roll for the Unionist campaign a week ago on Sunday as new polling revealed the extent to which people were starting to turn away from No and give their backing to Yes. But that was only the beginning.

Nicola Sturgeon announced plans to draft up an interim constitution addressing an audience at Plaid Cymru's conference in Cardiff.

The Wings over Scotland blog put up a poster on the Glasgow Subway - only for it to be taken down. If this was a tactic by the City Council it backfired badly for the next day free paper the Metro gave over a whole page to Wings with a similar advertisement. The simple message being if you want the right information turn to the alternative media.

Alongside the alternative media, the so-called Cybernats are overwhelmingly dominating twitter as the recent Twitterendum proves. Notably we had a day devoted to the hashtag #indyrefreasons at the start of the week.

Not afraid to take a diverging view from the mainstream of the SNP, the more radical veteran of the party Jim Sillars has made a name for himself in recent months. On Tuesday he took on the controversial Labour party drop-out George Galloway and clearly won the debate with an outstanding performance. Then on Thursday he came to the Jewel Miners Club to speak at a Trade Unions for Independence event that I attended. I hope to be able to share a video when it appears on YouTube. Mr Sillars is definitely one to watch in the run-up to the big vote, if you want a strong socialist agenda for independence then you will get it off him and as he has pointed out, it is this message of hope of socialism that is slipping under the radar of the mainstream media and reaching thousands of people and families across Scotland.

On Saturday a new youth movement, Generation Yes launched in Glasgow and streets stalls all over the country were in full swing buoyed by the newfound momentum. There has also been a good week generally for Yes at debates

And then more new endorsements for a Yes vote, some from perhaps the most surprising of corners. Among them two Liberal Democrat veterans.

Former Lib Dem treasurer Andy Myles was key in the negotiations of the first Holyrood coalition and states that his reason for voting Yes is because it will bring power closer to the people. He explained, “As a liberal, I believe that sovereignty starts with the people and is passed upwards. Devolution is, on the other hand, about sovereignty being passed downwards, however benevolently."

Another of the negotiators from 1999, former treasurer of the party Denis Robertson Sullivan, gave his approval: "None of the UK parties are even talking about what I consider to be federalism. I have come to the conclusion that the best way forward is an independent Scotland within the EU.”

We then had the Dowager Duchess of Hamilton, Kay Carmichael who was raised in a tenement in Aberdeen coming out to say she will be voting Yes: "I do believe that people in Scotland have a very sharp sense of what is right and wrong, what is just and unjust and that we are, at heart, a caring and compassionate nation."

And finally with new endorsements was Joan Burnie Daily Record columnist since the late 70's leaving the paper with this parting note: "I voted for an Assembly then and I shall vote for independence this year. So it’s Groundhog Day for me hearing all the old arguments, for and against, being reheated and rehashed. If we voted No back then we were promised something better. It didn’t happen for another 20 years. If we voted Yes, Scotland would be an industrial desert with businesses decamping over the border – and, of course, the oil would be gone in a few years. The black gold’s still pumping but, largely thanks to Thatcher, Scotland did become an industrial desert."

But of course that's not us wrapped the week up yet. This last weekend Project Fear's complexion changed, their composure faltered. For somewhere within Whitehall one loose tongue set the cat amongst the pigeons. An anonymous minister claimed in a report that a currency union could be on the table post-Yes. Cue frantic denial by the Coalition but it was too late the weakness had been exposed, Downing Street's bluff called. And as a half-hearted Lib Dem conference concluded a miserable week for the No campaign Nick Clegg tried in vain to call on what was left of his brigade to make the case for the union "just as thrilling" kind of implying an admission that the case for independence was itself thrilling. They might as well have held their conference in a church hall, such was the lacklustre attendance. To cap it all, as Charles Kennedy warned against further negativity, Alistair Carmichael conceded a Yes vote was "not impossible".

So there we have it. 13'14. Yes, I know we don't want to revert to Bannockburn analogies but it seems fitting because this is the turning point, the period when we all stood up and fought back. And soon we will be winning. But let's not get too ahead of ourselves. We still have five and a half months left but at the present rate we will be level with the No vote in late June leaving us with a reasonable two and a half months to strengthen the lead. Keep going folks and lets read some inspirational voices, some of the few beacons of light in the mainstream media, Iain McWhirter, Lesley Riddoch and Kevin McKenna.

Generation Yes

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