One Year On


Scotland is the only nation paralysed at the thought of full democracy.

A heavy melancholy swamped the cold cobbled dawn on the Friday we failed to accept the gift of liberty. The silence was palpable. Streets were empty of bustle from traffic and office workers on their way to their open plan pews; no children chattered. We shivered.

The hush was burdened with sadness. It was difficult to think of the day’s chores as anything but a waste of time, meaningless. I dragged myself into my car and sat staring blankly out the windscreen. It felt the sudden death of a loved one had just occurred.

If there was a greater Being watching over us, that Deity was surely shaking his head in sorrow and  bewilderment. Why would a Scot not want to see their country prosper by its own efforts? Would an Italian vote for France because it’s bigger and wealthier?

A handshake on Friday is worthless on Monday

My first thought was how people can scare so easily, toss away their rights and sovereignty as if the freedom offered was worthless, or too good to be true. We did not even trouble to protect the existence of our parliament. No one with half a brain could believe in the Vow, a nebulous promise made in panic. But some did, and some because they believed the threats from doddery earls and badass Labour bruisers warning us over and over again Scotland would be punished for its ambition.

At the earliest, give and take discussions and rearrangements for transferring power, formal independence was sure to take two years or more to come into effect. (Self-confidence would be immediate.) So why the angst? Scotland’s administration asked the electorate for a mandate to negotiate. If anyone disliked the thought of a return to an independent nation but wanted more powers they had to vote Yes. It transpired a good number of voters did want that compromise. But they voted No.

Whomsoever was sent to negotiate the transfer of powers was legally bound to return to the Scottish Parliament with proposals they felt they could support, lay them before Holyrood, debate them, and let the population decide what was good and what was bad. That mandate refused, Westminster emboldened, peanuts was all we got, all we were going to get. The Vow? A handshake on Friday is worthless on Monday without a signed contract.

Is a watered-down ‘commission’ merely a ‘con’?

The Smith Commission proposals were diluted until useless except to Westminster’s government keen to destabilise Scotland’s economy. The process of punishment had begun. A ferociously unremitting neo-Thatcher battalion did what came naturally, block substantive powers, aided and abetted by a Labour party choking on its own vomit at the sight of Scotland’s government not in their grasp.

They maligned a nation because they felt safe suckling the teat of the British establishment. Powers promised for Scotland were watered again by the weak and spiteful Secretary of State, the befuddled muddler, lone Tory Mundell, and further urinated upon by his boss, David Cameron.

A nation in passionate debate about its democratic structures and institutions, hungry for change, found Westminster treating it with brazen contempt.

A time of exhilarating debate was not about Scotland’s democracy at all. The only change was to be that England got exclusive powers. The Referendum was really about English votes for English laws.

We were promised Home Rule. We were given Home Confinement.

For those who expressed loyalty to a corrupt and broken UK they got English votes for English laws.

We owned Scotland for one whole day and sold it for a false promise.

Scotland is a wealthy nation. A Tory university academic calculated that if we had been independent since 1981 Scotland would be in surplus to the tune of over £60 billion, and that’s before any oil revenue. With oil it would rise to over £100 billion.

We pay the UK Treasury our earnings and it gives us an annual allowance in return. Scotland is England’s cash cow. And we rent our own country. A Highland one. BBC Scotland makes it all plain; it takes many millions in licence fees yet devotes a miniscule amount to purely Scots driven programmes, rarely promoting any internationally. The coffers are in London, and that’s where they will stay.

Trading freedoms for a false flag

We had the opportunity to use reason and weigh enough  evidence to reject hypocrisy and blatant falsehoods. Instead we assumed England holds us in great affection. It does not, and it never did, at least, not its government of any hue

Westminster dislikes entanglements. Entanglements are too European, too ménage á trois, too Johnny Foreigner. The only kind of affection England entertains is one in which nations are subordinate to it, in admiration of it.

The English definition of civilisation is a good game of cricket.

Then came witness to the dark character of British nationalism, the very heart of its motivation – dejected Scottish supporters attacked in George Square, Glasgow, beaten, kicked, spat upon, flags torn from their grasp. Exalted Unionists stuck their arms in the air Nazi-style in gleeful derision.

Humiliation by Scots on Scots. We were reminded of how close to fascism English nationalism can be, and how cosy it got to fascists last century.


Unionist supporters give a comforting gesture to the losers

From the belly of the beast came forth honey

Hope crushed turned into anger, and anger into resolve. We argued we were not like our national football team – plucky but not quite good enough. And not for the first time, the alternative media, social chat sites devoted to independence and democracy, showed how powerful they can be by sharing truth, questioning authority, and keeping everybody better informed.

We began helping each other up to face the right direction. It was a remarkable transformation.

To travel endlessly is never to arrive

What I did not foresee, no one did, was how we had changed out of all recognition.

Realising we had been cheated, our gorge rose and our fury exploded. In double-quick time Scotland sent fifty-six of its potential fifty-nine MPs to Westminster, all members of the Scottish National Party. The people of Scotland rejected austerity, rejected enforced poverty and subservience.

We watch Westminster with mounting distaste.

We ask ourselves how Scottish we feel if not in two minds about being British? We know the enemies of democracy are scared – on the next plebiscite they will not have the luxury of two years to mount and sustain a fear campaign, or repeat the same slogans with the same power. Slowly, against our disbelief, imperceptibly, the vote for independence gains the last yards of winning. With a quiet certainty, we know a second attempt is inevitable.

The walls are breached.

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23 Responses to One Year On

  1. Ian Brotherhood says:

    Cheers GB – this is a hard few days for many of us.
    It’s not easy to disguise the hurt generated by these memories, but great to see such defiant optimism even as our faces are being rubbed in them by the usual shameless characters.
    More power to ye, as ever. 🙂

  2. Grouse Beater says:


  3. ronruth2013 says:


    Yes T-shirt, badges and wristband on for the rest of today.

    Out and about –

    I’m still Yes!

  4. Grouse Beater says:


  5. Archie McMillan says:

    Excellent piece more committed than ever.

  6. PQsCPRteam says:

    Oh Grousebeater just as the Tories should always be introduced as ‘ the right wing Tory Govt ‘ Labour should forever be known as ‘ badass Labour’.

    Thanks for this, I was out at a Yes event ( for want of a better description) last night and you could actually hear the sadness in people’s voices when talking about the anniversary but the over riding feeling is hope.

    Hope and determination . Perhaps we are all wee bit weary by having our eyes opened and seeing Politics in action especially over the last few years but the hope is still there !

  7. Nana Smith says:

    Grouse Beater.
    First few lines have me crying. My husband came back from the count in the early hours and we could not even speak to one another. The look on my oldest son’s face when he woke up is one I will never forget, he shook his head and said “what the hell”. My youngest boy said nothing at all.

    ‘Hush burdened with sadness’ describes the day exactly. Thank you

  8. Tinto Chiel says:

    ” We owned Scotland for one whole day and sold it for a false promise.”

    Yes, and it breaks the heart.

    And this morning I have to listen to an obvious plant on Radio Scotland telling us he voted Yes but is now a No.

    The BBC is still our main enemy. The Catalans got 1.4 million on the streets last week because they control their TV broadcasting.

  9. Grouse Beater says:

    The current anti-Scotland campaign is centred on convincing us the Referendum, far from being a renaissance in political awareness envied by other countries, was in fact deathly divisive. Aye, that’ll be right.

  10. Beautiful.

    In a goosebump coincidence I was watching Shawshank Redemption yesterday afternoon. Like Andy, we’re on the side of right, crawling through 500 yards of foul smelling shit to get free of our Shawshank prison.

    And on that day, we’ll own Scotland forever.

  11. hektorsmum says:

    We woke up to the news and we both were I think the word distraught would be the right one. I spent that day looking for a house out of Scotland you can tell we did not find one.

    We both became that day Stateless and will remain that way probably till we are independent or dead, hopefully the former. I may be forced to use the Passport I have but I have never acknowledged that I am ” British”.

    You are quite correct, the English are not our friends, we may have friends who were born in England, that is different. Whenever we meet English people and did so this year on holiday we face snide remarks, or outright hostility.

    This year I was told I would not drink English Breakfast Tea, (eh?) I said I seldom drink tea, I was told I would probably not be up to drink tea, an allusion to be a complete waster methinks. I replied I am generally up early. Englishman said then you must be a nurse or a teacher, I smiled, I have been retired for 8 years. I said no, I just have a dog who needs walking. Now this may seem a very innocuous conversation but it was said in a way that it was intended to provoke.

    I do try to stay away from them, had quite enough thank you very much.

  12. Grouse Beater says:

    I have a feeling things are going to get much more confrontational before Westminster relents and cuts its losses.

    As for Cameron’s offer of a permanent Scottish parliament – he’s still to get Westminster approval for the crappy Smith Commission flummery, never mind a making Holyrood a fixture.

  13. Probably best to stay away from southerners then. You get a few oafish ones in Cumberland but mercifully most I know are fine.
    The worst snideness, condescension and arrogance invariably come from that shower in the smug, exceptionalist southern counties.
    I haven’t travelled further south than Crewe in eight years and intend to keep it that way…

  14. Grouse Beater says:


  15. says:

    Reblogged this on Bampots Utd.

  16. TheItalianJob says:

    Good read and well written as always GB.

    Such a pity. A year on although changes it could have been so different.

    Definitely duped about many things including the oil.

    Ah well maybe next time if enough people see the light. I’m not too hopeful though.

  17. hektorsmum says:

    I was on a Rhine Cruise so difficult, I do try but then they hear the accent and boy do they try your patience., will say mostly Southerners I get on fine with the Northerners.

  18. Scott Borthwick says:

    Many thanks for this fantastic piece. I have one question. You wrote ‘In double-quick time Scotland sent fifty-six of its potential fifty-eight MPs to Westminster, all members of the Scottish National Party.’ Am I missing something, or do you reckon one of the seats is not really Scottish or not really winnable?

  19. Grouse Beater says:

    Ha ha. My arithmetic wobbly – amended. 🙂

  20. Scott Borthwick says:

    Ah, and here was me looking forward to some clever analysis that none of us had thought of before. Although Edinburgh South probably was unwinnable in the end.

  21. Grouse Beater says:

    For all the gentle lampooning of Morningside as Edinburgh’s lawyer-stockbroker-accountant-blue rinse constituency, they voted Labour.

  22. diabloandco says:

    I don’t know why I put myself through this essay again – tears and rage for my country- Damn! It all floods back and I want to wring some necks!

  23. Grouse Beater says:

    I dare not read it for the same reason.

    A few days before the vote I called to my house a Velux technician to add a blind to the roof window. He was Scots, a Fifer, and a confirmed No supporter. He made plain to me he was determined to vote No.

    His main argument was that we are too poor a country to go it alone. No matter how I gently corrected the McDougall clichés he regurgitated one after the other, he would not budge an inch. After ten minutes or so of chat as he worked I could see he was getting heated, and keen to have the window fixed not left faulty, I pulled back and changed the subject.

    I console myself wit the thought he might have been one of those who helped sweep the SNP to power … as a way of redeeming his conscience having sold his country for a promised pound. On the other hand, he might have been laid off, orders for Velux windows in Scotland fallen away in these days of England’s neo-con punishment of the masses – austerity.

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