I’ll never forget that feeling the morning after Indyref. I just felt sad, so fucking sad that so much positivity and promise had gone to waste. It feels different this time round. Today I’m angry. But the worst thing is, I’m not surprised. There seems to have been a horrible inevitability to the result of the EUref. It’s like watching a carcrash in slow motion.
Martin Weller has already written a really powerful personal response to the result that really chimes with my own feelings. I work in open education, and I believe passionately that as educators we have a moral responsibility to work together to improve opportunities for all, not just for a select few.
The Scottish Open Education Declaration says
“Open education can expand access to education, widen participation, create new opportunities for the next generation of teachers and learners and prepare them to become fully engaged digital citizens. In addition, open education can promote knowledge transfer while at the same time enhancing quality and sustainability, supporting social inclusion, and creating a culture of inter-institutional collaboration and sharing.”
I wrote that. Those aren’t just words. I actually believe all of that. That’s what I work for.
The thing that really struck me about Martin’s post was his reference to Primo Levi’s The Drowned and The Saved and Levi’s anger at those who try to absolve their guilt by claiming that they didn’t see the evil when in actual fact they chose to look away. It struck me because I’m reading The Drowned and The Saved right now and Levi’s anger has stayed with me since I read that passage in Paul Bailey’s masterful introduction.
So yeah, I’m angry. Angry that we’re sleepwalking over the edge. Angry that we’ll let the unthinkable happen because we don’t have the courage and the honesty to open our eyes and think, really think, about the consequences of our actions.
I don’t know how to end this post, because I really don’t know where to go from here. I guess if there’s one tiny glimmer of hope in all this, it’s that I’m so fucking proud of Scotland right now. That doesn’t make me any less angry though.
Aye, weel, it’s not the result I had hoped for, but I’m still hugely proud of what Scotland has achieved. The turn out and the level of engagement and positivity has been immense. I’m proud to have voted Yes, proud of all those who campaigned so hard, I’m proud of my adopted home city of Glasgow, and of the 1.6 million Scots who voted for independence.
I hope this has been a wake up call for politicians of all stripes and a welcome reminder to the people of Scotland that there is more to political engagement than Westminster and Holyrood party politics. Lets hope that we can maintain this level of positive action and political engagement and let’s make sure we all work towards to a more equitable, fair and democratic society.
If there’s one thing that rankles with me this morning though, it’s that I will continue living in a country that hosts nuclear weapons. Perhaps it’s time I renewed my membership of CND…
ETA I rejoined CND at the weekend. You can read their case against Trident here: No to Trident.
Earlier this evening I cast my vote in the Scottish referendum. To be honest, I’m not sure I ever thought this day would come. I felt slightly woozy when I stepped out of the front door to walk up to our polling station. The first step on a new journey perhaps?
I was ten years old at the time of the last referendum, two years older than my daughter is now. My memories of growing up in the Outer Hebrides and later in Glasgow in the 1970’s and 1980’s are a jumble of images and events; The Cheviot The Stag and the Black Black Oil, the oil boom years when Stornoway was filled with Norwegians gambling impossible sums at private poker parties, Scotland’s mortifying 1978 World Cup campaign, the bitter disappointment of the 1979 referendum, the Cold War and military build up in the Western Isles, the despair and disenfranchisement of the Thatcher years and the injustice of the poll tax.
But the thing I also remember is the glimmer of hope that never quite died, and the voices that still spoke out. I remember trespassing the NATO base, Monseigneur Bruce Kent speaking passionately for nuclear disarmament at a packed public meeting in Stornoway, I remember Peter Watkins filming our local CND meeting for his magnum opus Resan, and going to watch his banned film The War Game in a packed darkened room in the QMU at Glasgow University, I remember Dick Gaughan playing Songs for Scottish Miners at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow, I remember the poll tax riots, and the Glasgow Phoenix choir singing The Red Flag at The Big Day in Glasgow in 1990 and later, I remember the day that Thatcher finally went. I’m sure one of my colleagues in the Archaeology Department had a bottle of champagne at work that day. I also remember the day that Donald Dewar announced “There shall be a Scottish Parliament. I like that.”
Nelson Mandela’s quote “May your choices reflect your hopes not your fears” has been widely used by the Yes campaign, while the No campaign has been overwhelming in its negativity. For me that’s what it’s all about, having the courage to choose hope over fear. What has inspired me most about the referendum, is the passionate political engagement of the Scottish people and the myriad voices that have spoken up for their beliefs on both sides of the campaign. I hope that whatever result we wake up to tomorrow morning that engagement will continue and those voices will still be heard.
George Square, Glasgow, 17/09/2014