Saturday, 17 September 2016

One More Munro

We have one more hill to climb. It's a Munro, old and craggy, with boggy burns blocking our path, impossible cliffs and dangerous scree slopes.

This Munro is right in the middle of Glasgow and Edinburgh, Stirling, Inverness and Perth. It's all over the Fife and Ayrshire coasts, and it's out in Gullane and St Andrews.

It is the Munro of the older Scots. The population over 55 who appear to be voting as much as 80:20 against independence.

We can stand at the bottom of the hill and rant and rage at it, shouting at the people on the top that they are not thinking about the bairns, about their grandchildren and the future. But that's not going to get us up there.

We have to study this mountain, listen to it, look for the climbing line that will get us there.

The SNP's listening project is a good start, but we will have to do more. Think about the concerns of the 75 year old who voted 'No' two years ago, her fears for her home, her pension. But also the image she has of a Great Britain that survived the threat of invasion and fascism, of the  people in her and her parent's generation who rebuilt Britain.  That pride in a unified British response to threat. And years of postwar Westminster governments that genuinely tried to bring the white heat of technology to every corner of the British Isles.

When she was young and interested in politics - like you are now - Britain under Labour and Tories felt like a fairer place. By the time the real unfairness arrived, as neoliberalism took hold of both main parties at Westminster, she had lost interest.

Her views haven't shifted much in the last thirty years. For her, today, independence means breaking up a place she still thinks of as 'Great'. Great enough to stand alone outside Europe - yes, she voted Leave in the EU Referendum.

She is the mountain. How do we help her to understand that the country she remembers has been ravaged by Westminster? How do we show her that she, and the weans, will be better off in an independent Scotland?

We start by listening to the mountain. Her concerns and her prejudices,
in the positive and negative sense of that word. Then we try to give her an answer; help her understand that the Westminster that provided for her when she was young has lost interest in Scotland, that it has lost interest in anyone who is poor or dispossessed, and that Holyrood has taken on that mantle. That Scotland has been caught in another war, a hidden war, a battle of the classes in which, inevitably, the wealthy of South East England won. Now we have to rebuild Scotland, just like she and her sisters did after WWII. We need her help to do that.

One more mountain. From the top, I can see freedom.

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