It’s the eve of the Scottish Independence Referendum September 2014. I want to write down everything I am feeling and thinking right now. This is a historic moment in world history and I am part of it! Never have I been so proud to be a Scot. I have spent months researching and educating people on social media about how important this referendum is to the future of our country.
This afternoon I went along to George Square. Despite what newspaper propaganda would have you believe, there were thousands of people. We filled the entire square, spilling out onto the pavements and across the other sides of each surrounding road.
I’m usually a bit uncomfortable in crowds, but after a few minutes of walking round, taking pictures and talking to a friend I happened to bump into, the electrified atmosphere drew me in like a moth to a flame. I had to get closer.
We sang Flower of Scotland, Caledonia, The Braes O’ Killiecrankie, The Wild Mountain Thyme and 500 Miles together. I felt more and more proud of my heritage. The people of Glasgow were a force to be reckoned with today, but as is the Glaswegian personality – indeed, the Scottish personality – they were a jovial, peaceful force. In between chants of “Singing aye, aye, we’re all voting aye!” (to the tune of “Oh ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus!”) and the orgasmic screams of “YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!”, there were speeches from people who had spent their life waiting for this moment.
For me, the one speaker who stood out was Tommy Sheridan. A dynamic and charismatic speaker, Sheridan is always an absolute joy to hear, regardless of your opinion about the man or his politics. He began: “Brothers and sisters!” and the crowd roared and cheered with pleasure. He pointed out we were “…on the cusp of a democratic, peaceful revolution”. We screamed some more. Names such as Bob Geldof, Michelle Mone, George Foulkes and Simon Cowell got severely booed. The crowd went crazy when Tommy cried, “This referendum tomorrow is not about the millionaires. It’s about the millions!” We, again, began an ecstatic chant of “YES! YES! YES!” He quoted Nelson Mandela, a hero to Glasgow, “May your life choices be informed by hope not fear.” We cried out in unison, “Hope not fear! Hope not fear!” We screamed in delight when he said, “Scotland may only have forty years of oil left. Westminster only has forty hours left!”
Sheridan appealed to us that we waken up on Friday morning and know that we did everything we could. My eyes stung with tears as I thought about the amount of energy I’d used posting on social media and engaging people in discussion. I’m not a politician. In fact, I’ve never been very interested in politics, or very good at expressing my political opinions. Nevertheless, to have witnessed and experienced the injustice in Scotland, to know of the poverty where families have arrived at food banks malnourished after having not eaten for four days, how can you not become political? I watched a video earlier, now removed from YouTube, where a Scottish food bank worker tells the heartbreaking story of one mother who couldn’t wait to get food home, but began eating beans out the tin with her fingers because she was so hungry. Scotland is not a third world country! The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has said that Scottish assets are worth over a trillion sterling. That’s one trillion pounds. Yet, we have families starving, having to choose between heating and eating.
We have a high amount of unemployment amongst our university graduates. Our most vulnerable and poor are suffering and starving so that the Westminster MPs can have their wage rise taking them up to £70k, on top of their subsidised food, energy bills and rent (for their 1st and 2nd houses). Whilst that malnourished mother eats cold beans with her fingers, the Westminster elite are enjoying champagne and caviar on their expenses. Our nurses can’t remember the last time they had a wage rise, let alone a proper living wage. Our poor are not just those on benefits, our poor are our workers.
The NHS, which belongs to the people, is being privatised. Soon you will have to pay to visit your GP! The rich politicians don’t care about that, though. It wouldn’t surprise me if they managed to get subsidised health care along the way as part of their work’s package. I could joke that we’re all in the wrong job, but David Cameron, George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith et al have all sold their souls to the devil. I’d rather be on the side of the angels.
Scotland has long been demonstrating against illegal wars and the nuclear base at Faslane. We don’t want Trident. Get it to fuck. The government has no right to talk about any other country having weapons of mass destruction when we are sitting with enough nuclear bombs to blow up Hiroshima 350 times right there on our back door, 30 miles away from Glasgow.
Something is very very wrong with this country. The Westminster government has a very black heart to have treated us, and those in other parts of the UK, so appallingly. We know there are parts of England suffering, and I hope we can pave the way for them to break free from the Westminster oppression too.
Sheridan finished by telling us that there is a song in his heart that keeps him going and he hopes it will keep us going too. Something Inside So Strong. He ended as he started, “Brothers and Sisters,” he spoke, “When they insist we’re just not good enough. When we know better, just look them in the eyes and say.” My hand rolled into a fist, with tears blinding me I punched the air and cried out loud, forgetting myself and with complete abandon, “We’re gonna do it anyway!” and the crowds exploded with passion.
Tommy Sheridan’s Speech, George Square, Glasgow, 17th September 2014
Some nice tunes for you.