Democracy isn’t something that happens every four years. It isn’t something that begins at the start of the election campaign, and ends when the votes are counted. Or at least, it doesn’t have to be.
I was emotionally crushed by the outcome of Thursday’s referendum. Many of us were. It felt like there was this beautiful idea, that we had this one chance to go out and build a better, fairer country. To be denied that opportunity felt like a bereavement.
But it wasn’t our only chance. The referendum may have have returned a “No”, but the 45% who voted “Yes” are still there. The independence movement isn’t going away. It’s just retargeting its energy, and looking for another outlet. In the five days since Thursday, both the SNP and the Scottish Green Party have more than doubled their memberships. I don’t think that an 84% turnout means that everything has changed in Scottish politics, any more than a massive worldwide turnout for the 2003 anti-war protest caused Western governments to rethink their policies towards the Middle-East. But something is different.
I’m still sad about the outcome, but I can talk about it without crying now. I’m not yet ready to say “we need to do this” about any plan or set of measures to keep independence on the table, nor am I willing to let go of the idea of full independence because it’s a “settled issue” (it isn’t) and commit solely to building a better country by other means. Right now, I’m just listening and thinking.
Robin McAlpine in Bella Caledonia: Wipe your eyes. On your feet.
You don’t win by wallowing, feeling sorry for yourself, blaming the world or putting your efforts into conspiracy thinking. And you don’t change things if you don’t win. I played rugby for Biggar. We were good but always the underdogs. We lost games we needed to win. When I was a young player an older teammate taught me much about victory and loss. I remember winning a crucial game that got us promoted, against a team that should have hammered us. Us youngsters jumped about like we’d won the lottery. My teammate clipped us around the ear and told us ‘you ALWAYS walk on a pitch like you think you’re going to win and you ALWAYS walk off a pitch like you knew you were going to.’ But the advice is even more important for the loser. You ALWAYS walk off a pitch with pride, determination and dignity. Because that’s what you’re going to need the next time you walk on it.
Irvine Welsh in the Guardian: This glorious failure could yet be Scotland’s finest hour
The yes movement hit such heights because the UK state was seen as failed; antiquated, hierarchical, centralist, discriminatory, out of touch and acting against the people. This election will have done nothing to diminish that impression. Against this shabbiness the Scots struck a blow for democracy, with an unprecedented 97% voter registration for an election the establishment wearily declared nobody wanted. It turns out that it was the only one people wanted.
Jenny Lindsay in Bella Caledonia: Organise
Because of the reactionary nature of the campaign, which required quick decisions to be made in the face of serious opposition, many issues were swept to the side “for the sake of the campaign.” That excuse goes away now. There is time. There is. So let us pause. Let’s have a look at who is claiming authorship and ownership of this movement. Let us ask of them what their authority is for this. Ask how boards and appointments are being made in our progressive groups, whether that is in our political parties, in newly forming platforms, or in the grassroots movement.
Laura Eaton Lewis in Bella Caledonia: What we need now is Evolution, not Revolution
We can rewrite what politics looks like. Instill personal accountability, collective action for mutual benefit, and diverse representation that reflects the many complex and overlapping identities within our society. We have the potential, we have the means, we just need to remember our power and do it.