19 year-old Haniya Khalid looks back at the campaign and the way ahead, on Cameron’s stomach ulcers, the Queen’s new look, Labour and toast, and the Butterfly Rebellion.
I’ve been rather guilty of lashing out at those of my friends who voted No to Scottish Independence in the last week. I know for a fact that I am not alone in this infantile behaviour. Grief speaks in strange ways to each of us, and sometimes we are unable to channel that negative energy into something pragmatic and constructive, no matter how optimistic our disposition.
However, I’m no fool, although weeping about the loss of what I perceived to be the last chance at self-determination that Scotland had before it became engulfed indefinitely by Westminster’s Blairite convulsions, may seem foolish to many of those apathetic to the Yes campaign’s two year trajectory. And that includes both of my closest, and No voter, friends, a fact that I won’t deny hurt almost as much as losing Independence.
But you can’t suddenly lose something you haven’t had for 307 years, right?
Correct. And that’s what prompts me to say, as I wipe my eyes and get on my feet as per Robin McAlpine’s advice, that here lies the beauty in this tragic affair.
As many of us are beginning to realise, Scotland has gained far more than it has lost-and in fact it has lost nothing and gained more than perhaps even independence would have brought in such a short space of time.
1. We’ve got the mainstream press clutching at straws. That in itself is an achievement to be proud of.
Whether it was the Scotsman’s embarrassing story in the last few days before the referendum asserting that Scottish Independence was, according to nameless intelligence analysts, an ISIS plot to weaken the British state by using former hostage situation of aid-worker David Haines to secure a Yes vote, or the general media’s attempts to dilute the reality of the unionist riots in George Square last Friday by framing them as ‘light banter’ (Sky News), or the bullying of ‘pro-unionist skinheads by Hundreds of Yes supporters who booed them out” (The Evening Times) or, according to the Independent, Unionists burning Saltires, giving Nazi and Red hand of Ulster salutes and committing acts of violence, and as the Sunday Herald covers extensively, homophobia and racism, was nowhere near as consequential as the fact that, as it asserted in its headline, “’Dishonest’ social media users accused of fuelling panic with pictures from London riots.”
Of course, on the last assertion, anyone who visits the Twitter account of the only user that BBC journalist Andrew Neil leveled said accusation towards, and which the Independent and various other outlets reported on, will indeed see this:
And then this…
And also this…
And most recently, this…
If this doesn’t cry out troll to an established journalist like Andrew Neil, then the future of journalism is bleak indeed. That or they’ve run out of ideas for believable spin. (It’s important/hilarious to note that user @potbellyman123 seems to reside in Australia.)
And after the arrest of eleven unionists by Police Scotland for ‘various offences including disorder, breach of peace and vandalism” (As reported in the Sunday Herald) on September the 19th, as well as the appearance of many in court for charges of assault, vandalism and abusive behaviour, the emerging videos of unionists burning Saltires or ripping them out of girl’s hands and the homophobic abuse leveled at a young counselor, it’s probably time to remove the inverted commas around “riots”.
On top of senseless churnalism, we have shoddy sub-editing.
In an interview with Channel 4 last Sunday, outgoing first minister Alex Salmond said: ‘There’s a huge difference between being a public service broadcaster, and being a state broadcaster and I’m not certain that the BBC understand that difference.”
And it is highly important that any new alternative media that is born out of this whole debacle via the collective efforts of any pro-independence groups also take heed of these words.
2. We’ve got Jack Straw clutching at straws
In his piece for the Times, former justice secretary Jack Straw, now Mp for Blackburn, suggests that “We should follow the example of stable federated countries (the US and India, for example) and say: “This Union is now indissoluble.’”
If only Straw, the political beast he is, would mention the difference between these two countries and the United Kingdom. The size and structure, and political ideologies, of the ‘states’ in this country as opposed to that of both the former nations have something to do with how federalism will play out here. It’s something that will indeed eventually happen, say the experts, now that the catalyst has begun its cycle, thanks to that desperate, last-minute vow published in a tabloid, of all things.
According to Professor Tom Devine at Sunday Herald’s Bloody Scotland conference on Saturday, “The future is either federalism or another referendum – either way, the UK state is dead.”
So you heard it, it’s the old, now they’ve done it, and scared us shitless, let us make sure we never have to take laxatives again. After all, that motion promised in the vow courtesy of the Daily Record for the 19th of September was a day late.
3. We’ve got the Welsh and the Irish wanting more straws
As Iain McWhirter writes in the latest edition of the Sunday Herald: “Voters here were handed a gun to shoot themselves with it. But the gun backfired. It turned a crisis for Scotland into a crisis for the UK state. The entire UK is now in a condition of constitutional ferment, with regions and nations demanding autonomy.”
The Welsh first minister telling the Labour conference to extend home rule to Wales and Northern Ireland, Cameron’s talk of “English votes for English laws” stirring up a hornets nest left, right and centre, and Lib/Lab/Con put under pressure to deliver both the Scottish promise and grant similar pledges across the board as a matter of principle, with Nigel Farage smugly shaking his head at the whole motley crew whilst rubbing his hands with glee from the sidelines , there doesn’t seem to be much hope for this stable, secure, all-encompassing Union.
4. We gave David Cameron stomach ulcers, for which he plans to sue.
In the famous video where Cameron divulges his latest conversation with the Queen, A.K.A Catwoman’s granny, involving a surprising amount of feline behaviour from an 88-year-old monarch (or maybe that’s just what Dave thinks of her), the prime minister of Britain also reveals his gripe with the polling companies: “I’ve said I want to find these polling companies and I want to sue them for my stomach ulcers because of what they’ve put me through. It was very nervous moments.”
5. We also helped David Cameron reveal his true feelings concerning his Queen.
No comment. Most of us are still trying to get over this little sweetheart.
6. Labour is toast. Jam, anyone?
Labour MP for Aberdeen South, Dame Anne Begg, No-campaigning with Dave McDonald, leader of the National Front for Scotland.
7. After picking the short straw, things are starting to look up for Scotland. To incredible lengths. You may be surprised.
And so the biggest asset won in the aftermath of this bloodless battle, something that no amount of oil or whiskey or nuclear arms deals could ever hope to counter; the Scots themselves.
That cheeky one-liner from Edward Longshanks in the film Braveheart ironically sums up Scotland’s situation-and Westminster’s predicament.
Yes. Real live Scots. Our former political apathy went to the winds, as 97% of Scottish citizens registered to vote in the referendum, and over 80% of us actually did it. Which effectively constitutes the biggest voter turnout in the whole of British history.
To those of you still disillusioned with the whole debacle, think about what that means for a minute. Reflect on exactly which kind of fearless, northerly, Irn-Bru fuelled force this referendum has galvanised.
It means we are the problem for Westminster and the solution to it.
It means that the 37,228 new members that the SNP has gained in the last five days, and the 3000 that the Green party has, are all numbers that do not smack of those who have easily accepted defeat and now pledge to be subservient to a stagnant system which just over more than half of their countrymen and women chose to vote for.
It means that the genie is out of the bottle, to quote the phrase most widely used to describe the sudden and magnanimous surge in political involvement in Scotland in the last few days, a positive and radical continuation of the pre-referendum landscape, and though we have come to accept the outcome of a democratic vote, we will not go quietly into the night.
This much is clear, in both in the grassroots pro-independence groups such as National Collective and Generation Yes among others, and the pro-independence parties, SSP, SNP and the Green party. Whether its talk between the parties of forming an alliance and run collectively in the next general election or the creation emergence of a new alternative media by pro Indy groups, the will of the Scots, and that includes the will of the people who invested every sinew of their being for the last two years and more into campaigning for Scotland’s self rule, will not stay unheeded, it will not go to waste, and we shall not be swayed by the rhetoric of Darling, straw, Lamont, Cameron and their ilk.
And thus, these are the things we have gained and the things that are now set in motion.
These are the things that should lift the weight from our hearts, and heal the bruises on our butterfly-winged souls, because the butterfly rebellion was never more significant and relevant than it is now. We are still here. We are still breathing, our minds whirring, our hearts beating, our wings ready to launch us up into awesome heights. The kind of heights that those in Whitehall couldn’t possibly be expected to imagine – it was never in the job description.
And perhaps it can be said with almost certainty that in persuading/scaring many Scots into voting No, especially the senior citizens, Westminster and its cronies in the established media started something they cannot hope to finish without facing immense opposition from those it dared to wrong.
Perhaps we can then say, with open hearts, and open minds, that Westminster has just orchestrated the demise of its own beloved “union”, as Peter Arnott so wittily points out: “And, as it looks to me this Sunday night, they might be doing a better demolition job on this blessed Union of Nations than we ever dreamed of. And doing it even faster than we had in mind.”
And now we must come to the negative aspect.
As columnist Iain McWhirter writes in last Sunday’s issue of the Sunday Herald, “The challenge for Scotland after the Independence referendum is to realise what they have won, which is more difficult.”
There are problems with the new self-styled “the45” movement/hashtag/group, which has come to the fore on social media, representing the 45% of Scots who voted Yes to independence.
It strikes of prolonged mourning, the inability of someone to let go of their dead relative’s corpse. And though I understand absolutely why it came into being, and that there must be a time for grieving just as there is a time for rejoicing, I cannot help but think that it has gone on long enough.
And it only became more ridiculous and pitiful after the announcement that all those corporations and businesses that expressed their allegiance to Better Together and its ideology in some form or another were to be ‘punished’ in the form of boycotts by the 45% that voted Yes.
I will explain exactly why it is unrealistic, ridiculous, and morbid.
Among the many things listed as targets for boycott on social media, are various media outlets like the Daily Record and the BBC.
A. If we stop consuming all the media that we perceive as being biased, then one might as well never read or watch any source of news again-all outlets are biased, that includes the Sunday Herald-it is just biased in our favour. In other words, this kind of thinking does not strike at the root of the problem.
The problem was never that the BBC was biased, a fact that anyone who has watched and understood the mainstream long enough can see. It was that too many fell for it, and continue to fall for it. That it was trusted, and still is by many, and mainstream media in general, as a source of veracity. It’s almost laughable in the 21st century if it wasn’t so painfully true for the majority of the citizenry of the developed world.
What one needs is to consume all media even what is touted as the “British Biased Corporation”, as well as alternative media, to gain a broader-and fairer, more concise-understanding of world affairs. News literacy is the key issue that many of those, in their blind anger and disgust at the BBC, something I understand and sympathise with completely, are failing to recognise
This time it was us who felt the punch, but we must take care to remember that there are people all over the world, whether in Asia, The Middle East, Eastern Europe and elsewhere that are stripped down daily by the monolithic, war mongering, elite pandering establishment that is the fifth estate, in front of our eyes, as the news of their lives are reduced to statistics, or unambiguous actors in the Good vs Evil paradigm.
Towards this kind of media mischaracterisation, we don’t bat an eyelid. We don’t flinch or think what effect it must have for so many to be dehumanised for so long and with such zeal. All that needs to change, of course.
B. Boycotts are not an end, or the aim. They are the means to an end-which as yet, seems undefined.
As far as boycotts and movements who adopt this kind of tactic are concerned, it takes an awful long time for something, if anything to happen-and that’s only if one sticks to it for a certain period of time.
Do you want people to change their bank accounts? Take a possibly longer and more expensive route to work everyday?
This is ineffective precisely because it will peter eventually – it is impossible to uphold something that requires effort without specifying exactly what you are fighting for. Because beside the vague statement that these institutions, big business and corporations will be “punished” for their unethical behaviour during the campaign, by such tactics, that remains unspecified.
And it’s unfair. Remember, we are a first world nation that still requires food banks. A country where a fifth of our people live below the poverty line, 47% of children in Glasgow, and one in five children throughout Scotland. Not everyone can financially afford such ‘resolve’ for a cause that remains a mystery. What exactly will a few thousand or hundred people boycotting M&S achieve?
C. If you want to boycott something, do something that will make a difference-in other words, something that will achieve a specific aim constructive to what an Independent Scotland meant for many.
And an independent Scotland was about a fairer, more equal society, that embraced the diversity and talent of the people , and looked after its weary, its old and its poor. A society that took a clean break from the capitalism-on-steroids that has become the rest of the UK’s favorite fix, and strived for something more conscious and healthy for the betterment of society. And that doesn’t necessarily imply socialism, but a reform of the current system.
So boycott Labour, the party that threw their traditional values of equality and care of the vulnerable straight out of the window and joined with the Conservatives (and the National Front, and UKIP) in their campaign of fear and deception.
Because doing that truly will make a difference, as a member of the electorate. You know that yourself, if you voted in the referendum. Join the 37,228 people who have joined the SNP in the last week alone-many of them hailing from traditional Labour families, a tradition that stops right here-putting it at a strong 62,870 and making this Scotland based party the third biggest party UK wide, its members comprising 1% of Scotland, and one in ninety Scots.
Boycott ignorance and become literate in the way the media works, instead of closing one’s eyes to that which does not appeal to your philosophy.
Boycott bigotry and the lack of critical thinking. Boycott hate and bile and hearsay and embrace love and understanding and documented primary source data.
So who am I to say any of this? Why should anyone listen to me?
There’s no reason.
I am 19 years old. I am a student, at college, of journalism. I was a first time voter in the referendum. I was born in England and spent just under half of my life there, the rest of it in Scotland, and I am neither ethnically Anglo or Celtic or any kind of white European, something that may cause a few to retort that I have no legitimate voice in this debate.
But I voted Yes. I am a citizen of this country. My greatest desire is to be known as Scottish. And I love this land. I would die for it. And I refuse to be demonised-as those of my ethnicity often are -by the mainstream media, once again but from a new angle; as a rabid ‘fascist’ nationalist.
I only speak for myself when I say I was completely heartbroken when the verdict was clear as the results tumbled in, the margin widening and hope crumbling before my very eyes. The crack increased as I wondered into George Square the morning after the results, eyes still sore from complete lack of sleep and numbing tears, and witnessed the taut faces and downcast mien of every person that I passed in Glasgow’s city centre, through Buchanan street and beyond, coming to rest in a small, funeral like gathering in what was to be Independence square.
The heavy dullness as the sky wept with Glasgow and Dundee and West Dunbartonshire and North Lanarkshire – four out of the six poorest regions of Scotland, the four that all yelled aye, we want change, and we need it the most – was all the more magnified as a lone bagpiper began a melancholy rendition of Flower of Scotland in the middle of Buchanan street, the tears that it prompted to sparkle in the eyes of many who had gathered there a reflection of the joy that could have been in an alternate reality.
But that was and is our reality.
And we’ve wept. And we’ve screamed. And we’ve been childish.
And now it’s time to grow up and make it better, and ourselves better, and this country better, without compromising on our principles.
So, I refuse to be a victim, while at the same time refuse to bow down to Darling and his grey-suited, tie-clad brethren, and I refuse to indulge in the corpse of what could have been.
And I refuse to stay cushioned inside this suffocating cocoon of boycotts and Yes badges and the 45% – a small number, a mean number and a number that outweighs everything that already has been and will be-with our sweat and tears- achieved. And let us not sit back and let the SNP or Nicola Sturgeon or the already established pro-independence organisations, whether affiliated with political parties or not, do the talking. Because for every word they talk, we should be doing.
So, on a lighter note, what do you say folks? Perhaps it is time we spread our wings, and our imagination, our skills, our intellect, our knowledge, our talent, over the whole of Scotland.
Perhaps it’s time for the Butterfly Rebellion: Take Two.