The Butterfly Rebellion

soar-alba2

Soar Alba

By Robin McAlpine

The lairds came to warn us villagers to do as we were told. Then the lords came to warn us villagers to do as we were told. But we were in the fields building a rebellion.

We have now seen, on shaky mobile phone footage, the moment the British Empire finally ended. It ended with two guys on a rickshaw chasing 100 Labour MPs up Buchannan Street playing the Imperial March from Star Wars and informing bemused shoppers that their Imperial Masters Had Arrived. These imperial ‘masters’ have no guns. They rule through deference. Without it they look exactly like what they are; overpaid middle management on a team building away day. (“OK, to get the day started, an icebreaker. Let’s all try and walk up a normal street like we are normal people. No team, not like that. Like NORMAL people.”)

The Daily Record looks on, its panties wet with excitement. “It’s Gordon! It’s Ed! It’s John! It’s Harriet!’. Never in the field of all human endeavour has the Daily Record seen such wonder – a hundred Labour MPs here! How they must love us! How bright must be a future illuminated by their radiating glory! Don’t think, Scotland; gawp.

Down the street a little, a young woman and her pal see Ed, Douglas and Johann radiating away. Spontaneously, armed with a mobile phone an a pram they go for an interview. Douglas and Johann spout soundbites unrelated to the questions asked. Ed looks on blankly. Oh Britannia, once you conquered continents with your might. Now a lassie with a phone has you on the run.

The inky wing of the British Empire does not know what to do. Historians will psychoanalyse the columns of Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, monitoring their descent from pompous, self-certain swagger to incoherent, panicked meltdown. The Times, the Scotsman, the Mail, the Express, all peer out at Scotland from behind their barbed wire. “We’ve threatened the price of beans, we’ve threatened the cost of mortgages, we’ve told them they won’t have Strictly, we’ve told them they can’t have an NHS. That’s the sum total of their dreams and aspirations. So why won’t these fucking Scots STAY DOWN?”

In a room behind a locked door, behind a policeman, behind a gate, behind another policeman, a group of millionaires get together. One, an old Etonian, nominally runs the country. The others, the CEOs of big corporations, actually run the country. They decide on a strategy: terror. We. Will. Take. Your. THINGS. From. You. It’s a fair trade, of sorts – give up your chance of self-determination and in return we will give you the cheap things that you love. This is Britain.

In other news, if you look closely, Scotland has just seen the highest proportion of its population in its history registered to vote. Ninety-seven per cent. No-one ‘gave’ them that vote. The people new to the electoral register had to put themselves there. With the most almighty help from the Radical Independence Campaign and many more. A 72 year old man who has never voted before. A woman who ran out of her house in her pyjamas when she was told she wasn’t too late. Streets of working class people being told by Yes activists on the final day of registration that it was their last chance, them phoning their friends, going round to their neighbours doors to get them out too. Long queues outside the registration office. All barely reported. In fact, the arch-unionist political editor of the Herald managed to run a front-page story claiming none of this happened. When his story turned out to be the hopes of a British nationalist and not an accurate reflection of Scotland in 2014, the real story – highest number of people registered to vote in Scotland’s history – did not manage to make it onto the front page.

(The No campaign didn’t have a voter registration campaign.)

But at least your celebrities love us, though with a provincial love which requires no more than two brief paragraphs to explain. It is a love they express without feeling which they believe we should receive with gratitude. Every newspaper in Scotland told us how sincere David Cameron was when he spoke of his love of the Scottish people. In a speech given to a selected group of senior figures from the financial services sector.

And beneath all this, its cause – an official No campaign so incompetent at every level, so hopelessly out of touch with its nation that it brags about the size of its phone banks. Fifty thousand Scots a week on the streets knocking doors and handing out leaflets for Yes and they’ve got phone banks. What is this – 1997? What else have they got? Pagers? Spice Girls albums? It is not that these people are stupid. It is that they really, really believed we were. A Better Together ‘I’m voting No because…’ film is never more than 40 seconds long. They all consist of platitudes. Better together. Best of both worlds. Risk and volatility.

In their world it makes perfect sense to produce a short film targeting women which is predicated on a middle-class mother who is so disinterested in politics that she can’t even recall the name of the First Minister of Scotland. It explains the lobotomised Orwellian nature of a billboard campaign that says “I love my children so I’m voting NO”. Everything they touch falls apart. And then there is a desperate rescue attempt of some sort or another.

Send up Ed.

Get David to emote.

Ask the supermarkets to issue threats.

Beg the banks to relocate.

Just hope the Scots really are as stupid as we think. Because if they see through this shit they’ll realise we’re finished.

The scope and scale of the collapse of the No campaign is obscured only by the refusal of the print media wing of their campaign to report it.

BBC political editor Nick Robinson, a good establishment boy, had his chance to humiliate Salmond in front of the world’s media when he got to ask a pompous question about corporation tax. Unfortunately, he had completely misunderstood how corporation tax works. Salmond gave him a seven minute lesson which left him humiliated in front of the world’s media. In an undignified turn he starts heckling Salmond. At night in his news report he shows only his question (he’d clearly taken some time to prepare that humiliating blow…) and editorialises that Salmond refused to answer. Does he think we didn’t see? Is he unaware that social media exists?

This campaign has tested the British establishment. The more it loses this campaign, the greater the test. I am truly amazed at how weak it has been, how pathetic its response. Caught somewhere between mad hyperbole about independence being a bigger threat to the world than the Great Depression and the pointless mundanity of ‘your shopping bill may go up by literally pennies’, is this seriously all its got?

The BBC, the banks, the newspapers, the supermarkets, the Labour Party, the Tories, the generals, the civil servants. Between them they can’t muster up either a persuasive case for the union or a believable threat.

Us? We’re over 350 totally independent campaigns, each set up by activists, each self-funded, none centrally controlled. We don’t pay too much attention to the media but learn and research from the internet. We hold meetings (I’ve spoken at coming on for 250 public meetings in the last two years). We are the most informed citizens in the world right now. I left a meeting in Hamilton Miners’ Welfare and a retired labourer caught me on the stairs and quizzed me about what I thought the position would be with ten year bond yields in an independent Scotland. Kids can talk you through the details of the Shengen arrangement. Most of us can run you through the constitutional position of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Unit.

I love my family so I’m voting No? Fuck off. Fuck right off.

For those of you who aren’t in Scotland you may not be aware that almost the whole British establishment is now placing its hopes on Gordon Brown. ‘He gets them’ (they think). ‘They like him’ (they think). His tendency to believe that Scotland is just nascent Nazi Germany doesn’t phase them. It’s like the moment when the Labour Party thought that the most compelling person they had to buy a sausage roll from Greggs was Ed Balls. Which was only true because Ed Milliband was behind him in the queue.

And that has become what this campaign really is – Gordon Brown swinging his big, clunking fist at a thousand butterflies. All grunt, no connection.

Because that’s what we are – a thousand butterflies. None of us is strong. The guy with the mobile phone and an MP3 player terrorising the Parliamentary Labour Party with a Darth Vader gag. The young mother making the Labour leadership look like they can’t talk to real people. A hundred brilliant jokes about David Bowie. Wish trees. Hand-made posters. The RIC leaflets we paid for by a load of £5 contributions which much of working class Scotland has had through their letterbox telling them what they know already – Britain is for the rich, Scotland can be ours.

We are a campaign held together with sticky tape and goodwill. We’re all broke (we give all our money away). We’re all exhausted (we’ve haven’t rested in two years). None of us is scared. None of us needs anyone’s permission. And we never underestimate the people of Scotland.

This is like nothing I’ve ever seen. We have barely a single institution on our side, barely a newspaper, and damn few millionaires. And they are truly petrified of us.

A butterfly rebellion is coming close to winning Scotland away from the forces of the British state. I think we’ll do it, but either way, they can’t beat us. We are already half of Scotland and we keep growing. They are weak and we are strong. When the people of Britain see their titans defeated by a rebel army who used infographics and humour, what is there to stop them following? England needs its butterfly rebellion as well.

The lairds came to tell us what was good for us. The lords came to tell us what was good for us. In the fields, we already knew what was good for us. Not this. Not Britain. Our rebels grabbed whatever they had and did whatever they could.

You can’t beat a thousand butterflies with a gun. But you can beat a gun with a thousand butterflies.



Categories: Commentary

84 replies

  1. 12. (of 48)

    The caterpillar grows up

    Once upon a time, there was a little caterpillar. He was considered by a lot of the other animals to be a small, ugly little creature.

    “How I wish I was free and beautiful like you” he said one day to the butterflies. “Free to fly in the warm air currents, away from these bullying creatures who poke fun at my smallness and ugliness.”

    “You will, little caterpillar,” said one of the butterflies, giving a tinkling laugh. “You will, one day soar with us in the deep air oceans and we will welcome you as one of us. We’ll also look after you and love you as one of our own.”

    “Oh thank you, thank you” gushed the little caterpillar, who had never been loved or appreciated so much before in his life. “I certainly hope so.”

    “Believe in yourself,” said one of the wisest butterflies. “Believe in better.”

    Suddenly, a large, black shadow materialised in the sky. The butterflies fled in all directions all a-flutter.

    “Aha! What have we here?” cackled a big white bird.

    The caterpillar gulped.

    “By rights, I should eat you” said the big white bird. “But you’re far too small and far too ugly for my taste. Be gone with you – before I change my mind.”

    The caterpillar gulped again. “T-t-t-thank you” he stuttered.

    “Don’t mention it!” said the big white bird and flew off, cackling.

    Now the little caterpillar was a good little caterpillar. He ate all his greens – just like his Mummy caterpillar told him to. In fact, he ate so much that he felt very sleepy. So creeping inside his gold and black cocoon, he fell into a deep and contented sleep.

    He dreamt of the free butterflies and then dreamt – a nightmare – of the big white bird gobbling him up.

    In the morning, the caterpillar woke up inside his gold and black cocoon. Only he was not a caterpillar any more. He was a beautiful blue and white butterfly.

    The small, ug-…, sorry, the beautiful new blue and white butterfly spread his wings and joined the other butterflies in the sky.

    “Welcome!” said the wise butterfly who had told him to believe in himself the day before. “We told you you could do it!”

    “Yes! Yes! And thank you. Thank you, all” said the blue and white butterfly, smiling.

    It was such a joyous feeling – freedom and having the love and respect of the other butterflies, in the clear blue sky. He was free of all those nasty bullies too who had previously mocked him for his size and appearance.

    He had all those lovely, pretty flowers which he hadn’t seen before to visit too. Life was very good and the blue and white butterfly had found his place at last. He was very happy.

    ________

    (c) Parables for the New Politics on Facebook
    2012-2014
    All rights reserved

  2. For me, the RIC are the heroes of this amazing campaign. And yet I’ve only heard them mentioned once on the beeb.

  3. Just gotta say that this post has summed up the entire feeling of what is now happening so beautifully!
    Roll on Thursday!!

  4. Reblogged this on Bampots Utd and commented:
    What a great article a must say it may go down as the article of the campaign and great to see 1 of the posters from the competition inspire such poetic writing !

  5. Beautiful post and so true, thanks robin

  6. Robin. You sum it up beautifully.There’s non so blind as those who cannot see

  7. o/t
    More confirmation of why Westminster really doesn’t want us to have self-determination:

    See: http://www.neweconomics.org/blog/entry/scottish-independence-uk-dependency

    ‘Tucked away in the Financial Times’ report earlier in the week was the giveaway. “Currency investors” would apparently be “particularly concerned by the UK’s persistent current account deficit if this were no longer offset by North Sea oil revenues.”

    This is something of an understatement. The UK has run a deficit on its trade in goods every single year since 1983. We have imported more goods than we have exported every year for three decades. Including services and overseas earnings (the “current account”), the UK has run a deficit since the mid-1990s. Today, that deficit is close to record levels, at 4.4% of GDP.’

    • This exactly sums it up.

      Regarding the opening line; The lairds came to warn us villagers to do as we were told. My brother-law works for a land management company servicing several highland estates. He has been ‘instructed’ by his company to vote no, as have all his colleagues. The estate workers and factors he has had contact with have also been told by the lairds to vote no – remember that many are in tied cottages.

      He is voting yes but cannot engage with social media for fear he is found out.

      If this was unacceptable in the deep south of America, on the plantations, it is unacceptable in contemporary Scotland.

      • Bringing back memories to me of canvassing in Moray in the ’70s. ‘Farm servants’ in tied cottages often answered the question of how they would vote ‘och, ma quinie, ah’ll vote the way the lairdy tells me’. On polling day, the local lairdie’s wife and her friends (none of whom were sworn in) took people into the polling booths to show them who to vote for! Apparently they had always done this. We got them thrown out that day, and Winnie Ewing took the seat from the then Secretary of State for Scotland. As a Glaswegian, I had never seen anything like this before – naked feudalism in the 1970’s. So it is still going on. Just try to make sure they don’t get into the booths with the people, though in Moray they later told people they could identify votes! YES ALL THE WAY!

  8. Stuff the guns. Feed the butterflies.

  9. “The Butterfly Revolution” has a better ring to it. Rebellions can be quashed, but his is far bigger. We are just days away from being part of history and what’s more, we’re going to do it without a drop of blood being spilt.

  10. Brilliantly summed up.

    I hope that in the 2016 election we get some kind of representation from the different groups elected to Holyrood, they helped to win our independence and they should continue to have a voice and shape our future.

    • If RIC don’t run candidates for Holyrood in 2016, I will be shocked.

      • Um you do realise that RIC are an amalgam of Socialists, Greens and sundry hangers on? (I’m a sundry hanger on). After the referendum this will dissolve. The uneasy truce between the different socialists will end, the Greens will stand as Greens and the rest of us will decide where to put our votes. So there will be RIC parties to vote for, but not one RIC party.

        What may well happen is all those tribal Labour voters that will vote Yes will turn out to be socialists, not Labourites and Labour will have split at least two ways so the Socialists may well benefit, if they can get their shit together. Or maybe the Labour for Indy people will burst out of their cocoon and make themselves electable by stealing RIC’s ideas.

        Either way or some other way you will be able to vote for the sort of policies RIC espouses. You will have to read manifestos and think about it though. Welcome to democracy.

  11. Excellent post Robin.

    They never saw it coming. 🙂

  12. Robin.

    i have read and heard you many a time . You are one of our voices.

    Thank you for these words.

    You have left me speechless.

    Respect young sir.

  13. That’s me fired up!
    I get onshore just in time for the party. I hope I don’t cry – I’m serious 😀

  14. Please don’t assume all civil servants are defending the status quo. I’m embarrassed and horrified to be lumped in with the bunch of no-hopers above. Many of us have extremely high hopes for an independent Scotland but we’re restricted in what we can say publicly. Roll on the 19th when we can start nation building together.

  15. Last saturday I watched the film Ghandi. Hadn’t seen it in years. What struck me was that the rhetoric of the British establishment then, is much the same as today in Scotland, with our struggle for Independence.

    It tells me they’re finished!

    • Ghandi made the famous comment ‘First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they threaten you, then you win’. As you rightly highlight, our own experience of the move to independence is very much like India’s.

  16. Oh the irony of it. Out shopping in Morrisons in Inverness, I spotted the front page headline in the West Highland Free Press (Brian Wilson’s radical (?) paper).

    It said something to the effect that, ‘Clan chief urges people to vote no’ This was MacLeod of MacLeod offering his advice which the faux socialists were only too willing to promulgate.

    Between his business associate Ian (Vitol) Taylor and now clan chiefs what is the world of Brian Wilson coming to.

  17. A beautifully written and inspiring article. Superb.

  18. What to say? Great article! A most eloquent description of our campaign. ‘Shared’.

  19. Bravo Robin. This may be the first time a yes vote has been possible, but I also believe this is the last possible time a no vote can be won. The establishment has been fatally compromised.

  20. “The lairds came to tell us what was good for us. The lords came to tell us what was good for us. In the fields, we already knew what was good for us. Not this. Not Britain. Our rebels grabbed whatever they had and did whatever they could.

    You can’t beat a thousand butterflies with a gun. But you can beat a gun with a thousand butterflies.”

    Beating the “forces of the British state”. What are we beating and where are the guns and oppression? Scotland isn’t oppressed and hasn’t been for hundreds of years. And it’s rubbish to say you can beat a gun with a thousand butterflies. Hippy BS that.

  21. What a load of crap. A huge wave of sentimental, Braveheart bullshit and you still might just get only 51% of the votes all the time complaining of conspiracies and media unfairness. You might win thanks to the lunacy of giving 16 year olds the vote but you have divided your country completely down the middle. You will be worse off in 5 years’ time and so will the remainder of Britain. And when you are worse off your SNP politicians will busy blaming Britain/conspiracies/media…oh give me a break..feckin deluded the lot of you.

    • Let’s be quite clear about who is responsible for the current situation.
      Most Scots wanted Devo Max (in charge of ALL of our income) but David Cameron refused to allow that question on the ballot….I wonder why,OIL perhaps?
      That would have left the UK essentially intact but instead,we have been told that it is either what we have or independence.
      Brit nats were content with 16 year olds having the vote when they thought they would reject independence but now that it appears otherwise have decided that it is a “lunatic” idea.

    • ….in short stay together and on Scotland suffers.

      Better stable with the poverty gap growing than risk change?
      Better keeping WMD and Foodbanks than risk change?
      Better Payday lenders taking advantage of the poor than risk change.
      Better to keep our seat(influence) and the top table than take a bairn out of poverty. 4th highest Defence budget in the World and additional children being born into poverty every year.
      Our children having to leave their country of birth to move on in their skill.
      Zero hours contracts / minimum pay jobs

      All of the above and more is the “Better Together” World of today .

      More austerity cuts,more NHS privatisation leading to Barnett consequential cuts, tax spent on Trident replacement, HS2,3& 4 without any gain to Scotland. Westminster upgrade,House of Lords etc etc

      I agree. We will be much, much worse off in 5 years time IF we vote NO.

      • “In 2011/12, the proportion of pensioners living in poverty had fallen to 14 per cent, its lowest rate for almost 30 years. Child poverty has fallen to 27 per cent, its lowest rate for almost 25 years.” Sorry if these truths don’t fit in with your rhetoric..

    • You are winning, you keep getting the polls saying your winning,so why the sour remarks and faces, Is it something you are not telling, you know like the truth, well that has been absent from the NO campaign since the start.
      Have you also not noticed that on the most part only Better Together use bad language, oh I will admit to mine on this page but never have I seen anyone on YES reduced to the level which seems to come from the Happy No’ers.

  22. Robin your contribution to this effort has been quite incredible. Well done.

  23. I wish I had been involved earlier, it’s only these last few days that I’ve been out with the campaign. I’ve always been a convinced Yes, but I didn’t have sufficient faith we’d win. The campaign has been truly astonishing.

  24. Reblogged this on julie ann thomason and commented:
    Great Article and reflects what I can sense. I have been canvassed by nobody on either side but made my decision a long time ago.

  25. “Mighty Fine”.

  26. Thank you Robin and may I also say thank you to RIC who have done an immense amount of leg work among those who have been deserted by the Labour Party. Why you might ask has Labour given up on the poor, only wishing those “HARD WORKING FAMILIES” well Labour thanks to those you seem to idolise Margaret Thatcher, many of those you have deserted were actually Hard working Families until the Tories made them what they are in fact some of those hard working families are having to use foodbanks such is the level of poverty. T
    That Gordon Brown would admit he was happier with the Tory Coalition than an Independent Scotland says much about New Labour. His lowest point for me was comparing Alex Salmond to that North Korean Dictator. Funny Gordon, Alex stands for things, he may not always win but he will compete, you on the other hand need a safe seat and closed meetings so you feel safe. Sad man that you are,

    • Kinda underlines just how out of touch Westminster is though. I mean sending Broon because they felt he was respected in Scotland?

      Master stroke. 😀

      • Just caught this. I have managed not to look at that man’s bleeding face since the result. I wanted to punch it before, imagine how much I want to wipe his strange smile off his face now. Any way I have cursed him to the seventh generation in the good old Scots way. I hope I am as good as the Brahan Seer.

  27. This is a response to the Butterfly article – which I don’t expect to be printed. The scary nationalists bollocks rears its weird and wonderful head again – tomorrow belongs to you – chuck a few romantic cliches together – slag of people who disagree and then claim victory is yours – if we do get a Yes vote its because somebody somewhere managed stem the tide of this ugly nationalist rhetoric to the point where internationalists, greens and socialists felt able to vote Yes. The SNP are fully fledged members of the multi-nationalist capitalist fan club – yes, just like Gordon Brown – in public the SNP are promising to save the NHS while privately welcoming the TTIP which will force through the privatisation of the NHS (just watch the SNP hold up its hands and say theres nothing they can do about it). I’m voting YES because I romantically think that we’ll be able to hold a Scottish government to account by enshrining the NHS in our new constitution – which is an act of faith in itself.

  28. Pathetic pedant point, it’s SAOR Alba, not Soar! (You don’t get “oa” in Scottish Gaelic!)

  29. Just a note of caution, when we win on thursday it will not be the end of the struggle but the beguinning. There is no way Mother England is going to make it easy for us.Britannia is a vicious bitch when she is denied something she thinks is hers.And as she believes she owns the British Isles and everything around it she will use every dirty trick every stalling tactic to prevent us getting what is ours by right. This could get very dirty!

    • “Britannia is a vicious bitch”??? Just listen to yourself….so not over the top then……..

    • No, it’s your rather stupid personification of political forces. Its all so bloody Braveheart and emotional. Yes, like any divorce, there’s going to be an almighty row over who gets what but who suddenly made the Scots the “Good Guys”? You will want the best deal that you can get and so will Britain & NI. That is politics – so stop being so high and mighty about everything. I guarantee that your politicians are no better than ours. You should hear the Irish complain about theirs.

  30. Reblogged this on Invisible Mikey and commented:
    I’m fascinated by revolutions, new idea movements, paradigm shifts and innovative attempts to alter the course of history.

  31. Butterflies have always been a significant symbol in my life. Thanks for sharing. http://www.tealtomato.com

  32. Carpe diem Scotland !!

  33. We were at Pacific Quay on sunday and my daughter said she didnt want to be on television, I said if you dont want to be on tv the best place to be is here!

  34. I thought the picture showed Scotland being left way behind by its European cousins.

  35. More McAlpine, more more more. This Englishman says YES!!! Vote yes Scoland and kick those Wesminster bastards into history

  36. I think this is the best place for this: http://vimeo.com/32640763 Revolutionary poetry (video) from Tahrir Square, Egyptian Revolution (Warning contains nudity) Powerful stuff.

Trackbacks

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