2007 - 2021

Only Begin

Justin Kenrick on the remarkable resilience of the pro-Yes vote and the need for local action, dialogue with undecided people and leadership from below. 

Independence isn’t the point.

The point is that achieving an outward facing independence against the odds, would empower us to insist on dealing with the real problems that assail us.

What would we be capable of, having faced down the fear of reclaiming our power to make a better world?

As Simon Brooke writes;

“Independence is not the key political issue of our age. Global warming is more important. Social justice is more important. Ecocide is more important. Peace is more important. Independence is important in as much as it helps towards those goals.

“But independence, like social justice, like an end to war, like a habitable planet, will not come if we wait. We must forge these things. This is no time for quietism. It is time for action.”

What is extraordinary is the strong persistence of the Yes vote at about 48% (and those wanting a referendum within 3 years at about 47%) even over months and years of endless mass media bias against self determination.

What was an extraordinary movement – a coming together of people against cynicism and for hope in the run up to September 2014 – has persisted below the radar.

But independence minded politicians can do nothing until we act.

The polls can’t move towards Yes until we act.

The context of Brexit chaos makes many of the Nos very soft Nos, who just need the face to face respectful conversations we engaged in on the doorsteps in the run up to 2014. Honouring them, welcoming them, buiding an alliance with them that moves deeper than identities that may have held them back is vital.

So many of those voting No who I met, were voting for a caring open-minded Britain, one that we knew was captured but which they hoped would persist. One which – even more honorably – they sought to help to persist through their No votes: their No to Independence, and their No to Brexit.

But things have not turned out as they had hoped. Brexit is not just about the EU, it is about the kind of country that is run by the cake and eat it brigade. Run by those who, when in the EU, demanded opt outs, and now want to be out of the EU, but demand opt ins. These are people who demand to be in control because they are incapable of relating as equals with the countries of Europe, Scotland included.

After the Brexit vote hate crimes soared in England but dropped in Scotland. The different votes signalling whether it was acceptable or unacceptable to hate.

But such No to Indy/ No to Brexit voters are due respect for trying, bearing in mind the massive efforts made to keep people fearful, and bearing in mind the emotional ties people feel to their identities.

For a movement of care to succeed it has to run so much deeper than identities and nationalities, however important those are to us, and whichever side of the identity feelings of 2014 we were on.

Such a movement of care has to run so much deeper than any notion of nationhood, whether its the “Scotland as a colonised nation that needs to throw off the yoke”, or its the “to be British is to be non-nationalist because it’s a multi-nation” variety.

A movement of care’s notion of nationhood is simply that we who live here, belong.

If we let ourselves act on that belonging, act on that care for each other in this place, then we also begin to reclaim the power and responsibility to care for our neighbors near and far.

To abdicate our ability to take responsibility helps no one, except those who want to take power and wealth from others, by claiming their nationalism is good, or even non-existent, and yours is bad.

Communities and nations arise from our deep connectedness with all others, and are ways to put in place more finite, more manageable, more located, and more accountable relations between those of a place.

At their best, they are ways to call on each other’s care, and make much more feasible our ability to respond to calls for help, communion and creativity with other gatherings of people as communities and as nations near and far.

Meanwhile, the independence-minded politicians can do nothing until we act.

The polls can’t move until we act.

We need to make the move.

So how?

So when?

So where?

What are the issues that matter to people where you are?

What is the stand you can take for a better society where you are?

Stand with others on an issue that fundamentally matters to you and to them. Doing so, it becomes clear that we can solve such problems only if we reclaim the power to do so, and we can’t if we don’t.

Don’t wait for the politicians,

Don’t wait for some movement to happen

Make the stand that is needed with others on the issues that matter. Simply by doing so the connection is made with the need to reclaim our power to make a better world.

Good in itself, and with the potential to help start a chain reaction movement

The Yes movement?

A Renew movement?

A movement renewed to renew a society that cares.

After years and months, the ground is so clearly shifting. The waiting is so clearly over. We are at the point where we begin again, but this time we know the score.


Comments (9)

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  1. Jim Bennett says:

    I liked this article but would be picky about one assertion:
    “So many of those voting No who I met, were voting for a caring open-minded Britain, one that we knew was captured but which they hoped would persist.”

    Not my experience; one or two maybe but the majority of “no” people were either a lumpen sack of social conservatism, smug middle class or people worried about their bank accounts. Very, very few of the caring open-minded Britain whereof you speak.

    1. Justin Kenrick says:

      Thanks Jim

      In terms of those I spoke with, they were a much more sizeable sizeable minority.

      But even if they were as few as 10% of No voters, would a switch of 5% of voters to Yes over the next campaign be even more significant than Yes rising from 25% to 45% between 2013 and 2014?

  2. Crubag says:

    This rather ignores the Yes/Leave cohort.

    1. Justin Kenrick says:

      It does indeed. That isn’t the subject of the piece. Any thoughts on that one?

      1. Jamie MacDonald says:

        May I suggest a referendum on this after we get Indy.. I feel we need one on monarchy too – then we really can carry out the will of the people.. And we should have the option to change our mind also..

      2. Crubag says:

        My thoughts are that the polls are too finely balanced for the SNP to move, and that’s without an attempt to guess how the Remain/Leave vote splits Yes/No. Your own piece illustrates this.

        I think any political move is post-Brexit, but now is not a bad time to be thinking about specific issues, such as economy or currency.

        At UK level the Lib Dems, to give them credit (and despite I think a third of their usual voters voting for exit – similar to SNP voters), have plugged away at EU membership expecting to convert some of the 48% – but they’re still polling in single figures.

  3. David Allan says:

    I’m frustrated by the hesitancy shown by the Leadership of SNP. They know Brexit will happen next March they know when next Scottish Elections are . Get on with it and set out the conditions which will trigger the necessary action to put in place a second referendum.

    Get the matter back into the Public domain so that proper scrutiny can begin on the merits of Independence versus a pro U.S. Union outside of the EU. An entirely different proposition from the choice in 2014.

    A timetable from the SNP now will focus peoples minds on the reality of what Brexit actually means. ( i.e. going thru the non-EU customs desks at EU holiday destinations .)


    If we fail a second time it’s over we will never have a better opportunity. Why the Hesitancy?
    Start the campaign before the Summer.

    1. Justin Kenrick says:

      Agreed, but I think it is clear that we can’t wait for them, which is why I say:

      “Don’t wait for the politicians. Don’t wait for some movement to happen. Make the stand that is needed with others on the issues that matter.”

      For me, those are issues in my community in Portobello where we are making use of the fantastic advances in policy and law made by Holyrood to be able to defend or restore community provision: showing what we gain from self-determination and what we stand to lose.

  4. John Burrows says:

    Might I suggest local Yes groups start putting up billboards in their local communities, on high traffic routes and near railway stations. Facts in simple straight forward terms. Facts and context suppressed by the Union media. Don’t wait for instructions from any political party. As a Yes group, you are autonomous and answerable to no one but yourselves.

    It is a simple and low cost option to beginning the discussion with the wider electorate. Update the billboards every two weeks. There is literally a mountain of memes now available. Be sure you get the proper permissions from authors and such.

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