As the dawn of last Friday brightened into a sunny spring morning, I took time out from the TV to revisit the blog I wrote in the midst of the abjecy misery of September 19th. Two numbers. Two dates. And what a world of difference.
September 19th 2014. May 8th 2015.
A journey from the darkness to the light.
A journey from abject despair to a quiet certainty of eventual victory.
A journey from 45 to 56.
My blog from the day when the 45 was born was written with images fresh in my mind of thugs wrapped in Union Flags offering Nazi salutes to the world’s media whilst two young girls valiantly hung onto their Saltire. A handful of words from George Orwell slid to the forefront of my mind.
“If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”
You can read the blog by following the link if you like.
I have known only two darker days than September 19th. There was 30 May 1985 , the day after 39 Juventus fans died in the Heysel Stadium. And of course there was the very worst of all of my days after the day before: 16 April 1989. Post Hillsborough, when I was still alive whist 96 of my fellow fans were zipped into body bags on the floor of a gymnasium in Sheffield.
The images of the wannabe Nazis running through their hate filled song book with leering, drunken faces seemed to fit the mood of the world. Hope had been murdered in its bed. The hideously smug forces of the Establishment had trampled over months and months of glorious optimism.
The future was empty and bleak. I felt like emigrating.
But it only took a matter of a few short weeks to realise that September 19th was in fact the Dunkirk moment for the 45% of us who voted ‘Yes’.
For a while the army of ‘Yes’ looked as beaten and bedraggled as the sunken eyed squaddies who disembarked from the armada of boats that evacuated the beaches over those extraordinary few days in the summer of 1940.
Two more dates. May 1940. November 1942.
30 months from the seemingly utter defeat of Dunkirk to the tide turning victory at El Alamein.
It is worth remembering Churchill’s reflections. “Before Alamein, we never had a victory. After Alamein, we never had a defeat.”
It think that for all of us who fought on the side of ‘Yes’, last Friday was our El Alamein moment.
On 19 September, Independence seemed as far as away as the defeat of Hitler must have seemed in the summer of 1940. Today Independence is all but inevitable. The road ahead is suddenly clear.
And there is no point in pretending that I didn’t enjoy every single minute of watching the world turn. Someone, I can’t remember who, said that what happened in Scotland last Friday is the nearest thing you will ever have to a Revolution in a modern democracy. The same faces that were so insufferably smug and mocking in the wake of the 'No' vote were suddenly fighting back tears. It was a long and utterly gratifying list of entitled arrogance. Seldom can the phrase ‘served them bloody well right’ have been so completely apt. What a roll call.
Jim Murphy, Douglas Alexander, Danny Alexander, Margaret Curran….
They thought they had squashed us like beetles with their tsunami of lies. They assumed that they were the masters of their universe. It was supposed to have been business as usual and reservedfirst class seats on the Westminster gravy train all the way to the House of Lords.
But it didn’t work out that way because from time to time democracy can be a thing of utter beauty. I can never remember an electorate delivering such a perfectly destructive blow. Scotland was Kinshasa. We were Mohamed Ali and they were George Foreman.
What a joy to see the utter horror on their chalk white faces. How could it be? How dare the gullible, cap doffing plebs do such a thing to us?
Well we dared. And we did.
And there ain’t no stopping us now.
On a baking hot evening last summer, I teamed up with a fellow ‘Yes’ traveler called Richard Arkless to debate our local Labour MP and MSP. It was all a bit tetchy and at times downright nasty. They were both clearly affronted at the idea that two ordinary Joes like Richard and I should have the gall to take them on.
On September 19th it seemed like they had had the last laugh.
Richard was one of those who signed on the dotted line for the SNP. And then he went further. He stepped out of his comfort zone to put his name forward to be a candidate. Well he isn’t a candidate any more.
Yet more numbers.
Richard Arkless – SNP – 24,000
Russell Brown – Labour – 14,000
Bloody hell Rich! It restores my faith in just about everything.
The road ahead has turned into an eight lane highway were all the traffic is thundering in one direction at a hundred miles an hour. How many will be willing to head out onto the streets to knock doors in the name of Labour, the Tories or the Lib Dems next year when the time comes to elect the Scottish Parliament? Not many. And what can they possibly say? A year further down the tracks and the picture becomes even starker when the time comes to elect local councilors. Not many people bother to vote in local elections. The last time such elections were held in Scotland back in 2012, turnout was 39%. Last Friday the 45% of us who voted ‘Yes’ turned out in overwhelming numbers to kick Better Together in the teeth. The 45 are right now in a mood to turn out and vote for just about anything so long as it puts them back in their box and keeps them there. By the summer of 2017 the Unionist armies will be little more than a shell shocked rabble.
Will the passing of time encourage the 45 to take our collective foot from their throats?
And all the while David Cameron will look at yellow coloured maps of Scotland and despair at what he is supposed to do about any of it. There will be lots and lots of huffing and puffing. Chests will be beaten and fingers will be wagged. They will threaten and they will plead. And none of it will make so much as a jot of difference. There is nothing any of them will ever be able to say that will make the 45 forget the way we felt on September 19th 2014. Nothing will ever erase the memories of the Nazi morons dancing their dance in George Square. Nothing will erase the memory of David Cameron’s smug Etonian face as he described his purring Queen.
We’re not about to forget any of it.
Because what goes around comes around.
There will be many more days like last Friday and with each successive humiliating defeat, their grip on their last colony will be weakened.
We have the million and a half strong army of the 45.
They have Jim Murphy.
And let’s face it, the last few weeks have conclusively proved that Jim ain’t no Field Marshall Erwin Rommel!