IndyRef one year on

This time last year I was in Glasgow marvelling at the duplicitous predictability of the British establishment.

Today the people of Scotland read ‘The Vow’.

The Vow


It was, of course, pish conjured up by Westminster’s shills in the media.

The Westminster elite and their minions have been dis-informing lesser breeds for centuries.

It is cheaper than sending in the battalions.

However, we in Ireland know that the Tribe on the Thames will not baulk at that if they have to.

This is no point of ancient Irish history as it is only twenty years ago that the British state was running death squads in another part of the United Kingdom.

Disclaimer: I view the machinations of the British state in such matters through the worldview of an Irish Republican.

Twelve months ago I was in Scotland covering an aspect of the ‘IndyRef’ campaign for the Irish politics blog Slugger O’Toole.

Mick Fealty wanted me to look at the alternative media that had organically emerged from the YES campaign.

I doing so I made the acquaintance of the eminently likeable Robin McAlpline of the Common Weal think tank.

Robin McAlpine and an old Fenian

I put the scenario to him that YES would lose, but would get 45% of the vote.

Of course, he didn’t answer me then, but in the week after the NO victory I reminded him that I had put that possible result to him on each of the three occasions when we had met.

Had he entertained my scenario then I would have sketched out how it would then be necessary to take that 45% and find within them the basis of movement.

During those final weeks, the atmosphere around George Square in Glasgow was infectious.

Independence Square

However, it was YES activists socialising with other YES activists.

Although Glasgow would vote for Independence, the sad reality is that the throughout Scotland, there were many people who were quietly feart.

No doubt some of them go to Scottish soccer matches and sing about sending Proud Edward homeward to think again.

However, there was a moment when it was the ruling tribe that shat it.

One morning I bumped into Garry Gibbon of Channel 4 News at Queen Street station.

He needed directions to the steps at the top of Buchanan Street and it turned out we were both heading there to meet up with Alex Thomson.

One the way up to where Donald Dewar stands on a plinth I asked him about the mood among the political class in London.

Had told me that he had never seen such panic in the ranks of the Westminster elite as they reacted to the YouGov Poll, which had put the YES side on 51%.

As it turned out it the poll was not a portent for a vote for independence.

The poll was wrong and all the other polls were correct.

The week before I had, by chance, found myself on the airport bus with Celtic Director and ex-Labour MP Brian Wilson.

He asked me how I thought the vote would go.

I told him that I thought that it would be a narrow victory for NO.

I said that the narrowness of the victory would determine when the question would be revisited.

He did not demur.

As it turned out it was a narrow NO victory, but in the end it was more comfortable than I had thought.

However, only 200,000 voters changing their votes out of 3,619,915 would have delivered a narrow YES victory.

On the day itself I was at the count centre in Ingliston all through the night in the Lowland Hall.

Slugger Indy Ref

When I arrived there, and not knowing the form, I almost caused an international incident between Donegal and the People’s Republic of China.

However, I think I got away with it.

The venue itself is cavernous and it was freezing all night.

A member of staff told me that it was usually used for agricultural shows.

The hacks were all herded in and we waited until the results started to spill out thick and fast around 4.00 am.

My old friend Robbie Dinwoodie of the Herald came out at strategically important intervals from the Highland Hall where the count was actually going on.

At one point early that morning it was clear to him that the baw was burst and it was not the re-start of an Auld Sang.

He told me that he had just witnessed senior Labour people embracing Tory grandees in a victory hug.

I remember then thinking that there would be payback for that down the road.

Just as Prime Minister David Cameron gave his victory speech at Downing Street, I was writing this for Slugger.

My prediction that:

“Scotland remains within the United Kingdom for now, but the details of the deal with Westminster are about to be altered by realpolitik.”

Was rather on the money I think.

The collateral damage of the NO victory was certainly the standing of the Labour Party in the eyes of many of their previously loyal supporters in Scotland.

The sight of many stalwarts of the ‘People’s Party’ standing shoulder to shoulder with Tories was just too much.

Politics makes for strange bedfellows and George Galloway appeared on a stage with Ruth Davidson.

He wore a big black hat and spoke of standing alone in the dark days of 1940.

Bizarre didn’t do it justice and if you don’t believe me then scroll to 53.50.

The party that George Galloway was reared in was the last bulwark of political unionism in Scotland.

IndyRef was their suicide note to the people of Scotland and it was written on a Union Jack.

The Better Together play book was dubbed ‘Project Fear’.

Apparently this had started as an office joke among the people tasked with delivering an NO vote.

If it was ‘win at all costs’, then part of the price was the electoral standing of the Labour Party.

A year on I think there was a sea change in Scotland last year despite the NO victory.

I also believe that IndyRef has started a process where the Westminster elite is now recalibrating how they view Alba within the United Kingdom.

In the end, fear triumphed over hope.

Enough people were scared to stick with what they had.

What they ‘have’ is that they are ruled by the Bullingdon boys.

The redistributive measures that improved the lives the immediate post-war generation in Scotland are all but gone.

The remnants of the Welfare State are now on death row at the Treasury and all that Jeremy Corbyn can do is to visit the condemned like a kindly padre and offer words of comfort.

Indeed, anyone walking Ian Duncan Smith’s Green Mile would be likely to be passed Fit for Work after the execution had taken place.

Twelve months ago the people of Scotland had a chance to extricate themselves from the United Kingdom.

They chose to remain and the unelected head of state purred down the phone to Prime Minister David William Donald Cameron, a direct descendant of King William IV.

The British establishment, after a frightful scare, had pulled out the stops and they had prevailed.

However, the political happenings since then suggest to me that Westminster’s Scottish problems are not over.

I’m sure enough to take a vow on that.

Discover Phil’s dramatic play Rebellion