I’m mostly going to be writing this as stream of consciousness – as I recall it happening, and my thoughts around the time.
Straight into April!
None of the April Fools were funny. The Scottish Greens came closest – A sneaky wee press-release on their website, entitled. “Independence is our opportunity to protect outer space.” They clearly had spies in Philip Hammond’s office from his announcement later in the year.
The Scottish Socialist Party’s workplace organiser, Richie Venton took part in an independence debate with GMB union organiser Richard Leonard. A landslide Yes victory. An aside: whenever you read anything written by Venton, you’re going to hear his thick, soft but uncompromising Northern Ireland voice in his writing; the combination of his common usage of syntax, punctuation and diction.
The Royal Mail was privatised to rich capitalist fucks. And there was nothing we could do about it. Radical Independence and the SSP fumed in horror. The message for a few days was, “Scotland opposed, Westminster imposed. Vote Yes, and bring it back to public ownership.”
I’m still upset about this.
The independent-minded nationalist Margo MacDonald died on the 4th April.
Tributes flooded in. Her funeral service was a modest healing, with her husband, Jim Sillars did a masterful job of bringing together a warm memorial of an unforgettable people’s politician.
Elaine C Smith told a few stories, including one from our vastly oversubscribed Yes Edinburgh North & Leith undecideds public meeting on 3rd October 2013. Margo insisted we ask the “already Yes” to leave. Practical to the end.
The Edinburgh Super Saturdays kept getting bigger, Drylaw, Gorgie and Wester Hailes! 90, 150 and then 200 people. Street stalls, canvassing, leafleting – a ton of work done in the South West of Edinburgh.
Despite the Yes campaign being the largest democratic grassroots campaign in Scottish history – and also the most peaceful self-determination movement, some are seriously threatened by it.
This is a mirror of a recording that the upset person made themselves, the original went missing. God only knows how the Yes peeps there and then kept a cool head.
Lord Robertson’s folly
Unlike the independence movement, Lord Robertson did a fine job killing sane argument stone dead – Scottish independence would be “cataclysmic” for the world, and the “forces of darkness” would love it.
A new nuke-free peaceful country with an internationalist outlook will destabilise the world? I don’t think so.
Owen Jones gets him telt, Robertson has a video interview on Scotland Tonight:
Andrew Redmond Barr succinctly dismisses Robertson:
Ye see yon birkie ca’d a lord, Wha struts, an’ stares, an’ a’ that; Tho’ hundreds worship at his word, He’s but a coof for a’ that. #IndyRef
— Andrew Redmond Barr (@AndrewRBarr) April 8, 2014
“The man o’ independent mind, He looks an’ laughs at a’ that!”
Zara Gladman – aka Lady Alba – playfully satirises his nonsense.
National Collective keeps up the spirited positivity
“We are the present architects of our own change, and that the process of architecture is happening around us now.”
National Collective kept up their Sessions, schemed about their upcoming Yestival, and still found time for remarkably well-written polemics like this. Whenever I read haughty, but idealistic and optimistic pieces – I tend to read it as an interior monologue with The West Wing’s President Bartlett.
New Leither and journalist, Simon Barrow, wrote “This Referendum Is A Moment Of Real Political Hope“.
Writer, performer and theatre-organiser Kieran Hurley wrote some of the best 25 reasons for supporting Scottish independence, from a socialist, internationalist and angry democratic perspective. Spunk, vim and passion.
From an outsider’s perspective, the SNP conference was interesting purely from a direct courting of the Labour vote and how the Nats have been positioning themselves. And in particular how skilfully Nicola Sturgeon has parked her tanks on Labour heartlands lawns. Straight-up post-Yes campaign pledges. Check. An emphasis on women. Check. It’s stunning me as to how Labour allowed the SNP to become the party of the NHS, nuclear disarmament and free education, while they themselves are now the party of the benefits cap, even more cruel and illiberal immigration controls and weapons of mass destruction.
Alex Salmond decides to use conference to end the speculation: a “cast-iron guarantee” that Trident will go. “A Yes vote in September is a vote to remove weapons of mass destruction from Scotland once and for all!” He also decried the anti-independence campaign as “the most miserable, negative and depressing” political movement in modern history
YENL Canvassing and campaigning
Thus far there has been a hell of a lot of organisation and planning involved. Mostly by the enormously experienced and willing folks of the Leith SNP. Donating their garages and cars and whatever spare time can be mustered.
It was agreed at a meeting that we should look for a campaign headquarters – a locus by which we can organise, prepare and do the necessary data entry, packing, packaging and storage of campaign tools for our rapidly expanding volunteer organisation.
The canvassing and campaigning training ramped right up. The Yes Ambassador work from Redbraes Place was quietly abandoned, in its place – Marjorie Farquharson began phone canvass training. 12th April: The No campaign took the Kirkgate – we had already decided to get stuck into canvassing near Pilrig.
Best canvassing note from that session – “I want people with power close enough so my foot can reach their arses.”
Something genuinely odd happened about this time – most of the early campaign work was a mostly self-financed venture. With six months to go, something seemed to light a fire under people’s generosity. People approaching stalls were filling our collection buckets and pressing fivers, pound coins and whatever change they had in their purse into our hands. A not-insubstantial amount of pocket cash started pouring in – hundreds of pounds a week. Olive Morrison, YENL’s treasurer kept impeccable books, but the slush funds kept getting used on day to day consumables. String, tape, posters, paper.
This was a rebellion made from the simplest stuff – ideas, talk, imagination, fold-down tables, saltires and do-it-yourself leaflets. Yes Edinburgh North & Leith took a guest role in a music video. I ended up canvassing Springfield along with Hamish Allan – and on the way back, saw them filming this wee beauty:
Next week, during campaigning at the Kirkgate – the Scotland on Sunday photographers get stuck in. The result? Gold.
Meanwhile, Better Together are courting wealthy celebrities. The grassroots aren’t impressed.
25 years on, Richie Venton wrote on the Hillsborough disaster.
Philip Hammond, writing in the Daily Mail, speaks on the threats from outer space. Quite a bit of fun was had.
The Kippers sent everyone a leaflet for the Euro elections. Bastards. Encouraged people to send them back.
If UKIP send you their bigoted filth, you can return the leaflets at *their* expense.
— Scott Macdonald (@scott_eff) April 24, 2014
Freepost RLSU-HZBG-UBBG, UKIP, Unit 1 King Charles Business Park, Old Newton Road, Heathfield, Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ12 6UT
— Scott Macdonald (@scott_eff) April 24, 2014
And maybe stick a roofing slate or two in the envelope, too. Some people ended up sending blood, shit and piss through the post at them. Idiots.
25th April: A bomb scare in Leith. Bloody hellfire.
27th April: I finally joined Scottish CND. It had to be done.
I assembled a very large collection of independence materials and re-shared it on my Dropbox.