2014 AND ALL THAT!

Four years!  Four years since 1,617,989 of us plighted our troth to a new, confident, independent nation.  Doesn't really seem like yesterday, but it does seem another world from the one we inhabit now. A world where, according to this morning's polling, the don't knows have a comfortable lead over Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn when asked who would make the best Prime Minister. A world where we are hurtling towards the economic catastophe of a Brexit for which 62 per cent of us didn't vote, urged on by some of the richest most duplicitous voices in the London parliament. The world of 2018 is truly a different planet.

What becomes clearer day by day is that the voices of the Scottish Government's negotiating team have been distanced from the sharp end of Brexit negotiations.  We must respect  the democratic will of the people, it seems, only when it doing so helps keep the warring factions of the Tory party under one roof.  Frankly there are not enough bandages in the country to bind that particular wound. The Tory party has been squabbling over Europe for many decades now - the difference this time is that they have no compunction about the nations and regions of the UK becoming collateral damage in their internecine warfare.

Looking back to those heady days of the Indpendence campaign I am still at a loss as to why some people - oddly from the winning side - continue to characterise the period as hotile and divisive. Compared with some of the mud being slung currently by the two main parties at Westminster at their own compatriots, 2014 and all that was a model of discretion and good humour.  And, actually, it was. Almost entirely. 

Many of us took our convictions on the road - my Yesmobile took the doughty Jean Urquhart and myself round many airts and pairts where we were met with bonhomie by the Yessers and courtesy by the dissenters.  There were scores of musical events, town hall hustings, rallies and marches. It was exhilirating, it was energising, it was exciting.  I don't think Jim Murphy being the target of an egg whilst travelling by soap box constitutes civil war.  Though for myself I prefer robust debate to wasting good food.

The energy and commitment from those heady days has not been lost.  Immediately after the poll many organisations set aside their profound disappointment to hold fresh rallies where young and old continued to stand up and be counted all over again.  They knew that independence was not a passport to peace, prosperity and social justice, but they knew too that without independence none of these laudable ambitions was likely to be on offer.

And here were are four years to the day.  Round Scotland Yes groups have re-grouped.  There have been massive turnouts at All Under One Banner marches from Glasgow and Dundee to Dumfries. There is another huge  one scheduled for Edinburgh on the eve of the SNP party conference. Meanwhile the Scottish Independence Convention has just announced the launch of a new campaign which will encompass Independence enthusiasts across all parties and movements. They know, as do we all, that in order not to be blown off course a second time by lies and negative propaganda we must harness all our resources and speak with one clear voice.

I'm proud to be a Yes campaigner.  But I'm no spring chicken.  I want to live in an indpendent Scotland before I fall off my perch.  I want to join the league of small indpendent nations who value their freedom.  What these pesky brexiteers might call taking back control! 

And how badly we need to do this. How badly we need immigration to be in our own hands so that we can attract the brightest and best rather than deport them. How badly  we need to be able to pursue our enviable record on renewables without having fledgling industries sabotaged. How badly we need a voice for our fishing and farming which recognises the indigenous priorities. How badly we need to operate our own economic levers to grow and nourish those industries like biotechnology at which we already excel.   

Four years. And I believe that if we haven't quite shed the Scottish cringe, we at least understand the destructive impact on national confidence it can have.  2014 was not an end but a punctuation point.  I've seen many of them since the day I watched a procession of legislators sign the Scottish Claim of Right.  I was proud that day.  I was proud on September the 18th 2014.  And on independence day I expect to be fair bursting with pride.