An interesting piece by Elaine C Smith, Convenor of the Scottish Independence Convention in the impressively re-designed (but oddly static?) online version of Red Pepper. For me the Convention is still too reactive (‘We are an umbrella grouping for supporters of Scottish independence – founded on St Andrews Day 2005 – asking the questions, discussing, debating; listening to the thinkers, the agitators, the believers, the sceptics’), but her input’s still fascinating for the ‘mythical bridge’ she describes :
….fear still looms large in the Scottish psyche. Three hundred years of being told that we’re not capable of running anything, even speaking of a genetic link to the failed Darien scheme or colony of New Caledonia on the Panama isthmus in the 1690s, does penetrate a nation’s sense of itself.
As psychologists will tell you, people prefer death to change, even when they know that change should be beneficial – there is something primal here perhaps. Given this, it amazes me that so many have held the belief in independence for so long and so passionately.
Support for independence did not come so easily to me. I was one of the non-believers, a lefty with a belief in internationalism and a deep-rooted fear of the small and the parochial, and a belief that real power and movement lay in big nations. But no longer.
For many of us the move started as the Labour Party lurched to the right. The Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) stepped in, winning thousands of votes in 1998 and attracting republicans and nationalists too, as they campaigned on a left position on independence. In 2003 the SSP won six seats in the Scottish Parliament and became an effective left influence on the Holyrood parliament. This was crucial to the development of the Scottish National Party (SNP) – once people were across the bridge to a belief in independence ,they wouldn’t go back.