The last two – no, four – years have been something of a rollercoaster for most folk I know. The febrile, venomous campaigning before IndyRef1 in 2014 raised for the first time the blatant deception we had often suspected by the media and political classes into plain sight. The Vow? The ‘equal partnership?’ The mist and sadness, the flatness of the morning afterwards reflected how everyone I knew felt. The sight, hours later, of Cameron standing in front of 10 Downing Street talking about “English Laws for English People” confirmed what we suspected. Within a day, my No-voting husband felt sickened he had fallen for the lies.
Two years later, we in Scotland saw the same tactics from the Leave teams. Never mind they were supposedly ‘separate’ campaigns – the ECL and parliamentary committee have confirmed that not only were funds illegally shared but their advertising broke standards. Allegedly (just in case, a bit of Wark-like butt covering). Our friends and family in England and Wales were now under the full onslaught of the disinformation campaigns we had seen in 2014 and it took a lot of self-control not to jump up and down shouting “We told you! Now do you believe us!” I did control myself though, because for once, I shared the view of David Cameron that there was no WAY the Leave side would win, even with the buffoonery of Gove, Johnson, Farage et al.
We all know what happened next.
Within 24 hours the markets had plunged (making several fund traders who know certain politicians millions of pounds. Allegedly) and we were on the road to the No-Deal Crash that Fox, Rees-Mogg, Patel and countless others seem to think is good for us. Well, good for them and stuff everyone else. No insulin or cancer-treating isotopes? Well you’ll just have to save up! Pull your socks up! Get on your bikes… Except we can’t. We can’t for hundreds of reasons: Low paid jobs, families, no savings, no jobs, poor health… There are as many reasons for not ‘sorting yourself out’ as there are people affected by this total calamity.
I want to be clear at this point that I am no EU apologist. Most of my friends are Greek and the way the Troika has behaved in that country since the crash is utterly despicable. Look at youth unemployment and poverty in countries like Spain, Portugal, and Greece and you will see what happens when you let neoliberal capitalism run amok. Likewise, they are no guarantors of representative democracy – we haven’t forgiven or forgotten Rajoy and his meddling in 2014 nor his and his government’s behaviour in Catalonia. Nobody with any sense will be able to say that the EU is 100% wonderful. More wonderful than Westminster and the cronyist, neoliberal carpet-baggers and Etonian blustering millionaires currently driving us off a cliff? Well…
Last week, things seemed to get distinctly worse. The feelings of doom reached new heights – the government admitted they think that stockpiling food and medicine in the event of No Deal will happen (i.e. YOU will have to do that because we have neither the intelligence, the capacity, nor the compassion to make it happen). There was a fresh outbreak of desperate scrambling to look for Irish relatives, to google ‘move to Europe,’ to find the least depressing “Prepper” sites. (Happy Preppers by the way) and that was only in my house. Should we move to a croft in the remoter parts of Scotland? What about self-sufficiency? Silver water purification tablets or chlorine? Generators or photovoltaic roof cells?
I don’t have any answers. I really wish I did. I am hiding as much of this from my autistic, highly anxious child as I can. I try to breathe and focus on my work, on what’s in front of me. I try to sleep, instead of lying awake with my stomach churning and brain hurtling through the possibilities.
Brothers and sisters, we are going to die (one way or another, sooner or later). What will happen in the next year sets the path for Scotland and its neighbours for at least the next twenty to thirty years. At the moment, I can see three main scenarios and I do not know which one is most likely.
Mad Max Beyond Eurodrome
The worst short-term and long-term situation would be what we are currently facing: No Deal, No Mates, No Backstop. Lorries will pile up at Dover or other ports, medicine will quickly run out (I’m sure Mrs May will find a solution as a Type 1 diabetic, maybe some honey in water?), the snow shortages of earlier this year start to look like a Jorvik Museum type drive-past experience and as things get nasty, the right will inexorably rise even more. Bannon is meeting Rees-Mogg, Johnson, and Gove right now, so anyone thinking that they will suddenly pull together with the nation and forget all their nasty divisive politics is sadly mistaken.
Worst case scenario? A coup. Best case scenario? The government falls and is replaced, although by whom I have no idea. Tories? Feart of Brexiteers. Labour? Eating itself, painfully and in public. Liberals? Who, those enablers? Greens and others just aren’t big enough in FPTP to make any difference.
I don’t want to even think what will happen if this actually happens so let’s move onto the second possibility.
Oh Wait we didn’t really mean it. Take Backsies?
Somehow, during her summer hols, Ms May will develop a spine or a conscience. She will be spoken to. She will announce a second referendum on the final Brexit deal. Perhaps the legislators, police and ‘powers that be’ (that phrase sounds so utterly hollow) will grow some teeth and manage to prevent the illegal manipulation of the vote that happened last time. Maybe someone will find out where Banks and Bannon and Nix all get their money from and they will be jailed. Maybe, just maybe, we will be able to pull back from the brink of shooting ourselves right in the foot. Both feet.
I have no doubt that other European countries would accept our change of mind, even if it has almost permanently damaged the view of Britain as any kind of stable democratic country. I mean, come on. I live here and even I will never again imagine that “people can’t possibly be that stupid, can they?”
This is a small possibility and one that – for unionists anyway – seems least likely to damage the union of nations. The hard border and disaster in Ireland will be narrowly averted, Scottish nationalists will be temporarily diverted (not for long though) and for a little while at least, the focus in England will be on actually working out how to restore some kind of peace and honest public discourse (I have less hope of that last one, given who seems to be running the media but you never know).
So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehn, Adieu
This is an option lots of Indy pals are in favour of: Indyref2, establishing Scotland as an independent EU nation and we dance off into the Nordic sunset with our neighbours in a Utopia of freedom from the worst excesses of Westminster. It’s what I’d like, too, ultimately. I won’t waste time arguing whether we can survive; just look at option one and consider – do you *really* want to be involved in stockpiling tins of spam and candles?
My concern is that the timetable is too tight. It’s less than nine months now until the Brexit date of 29 March 2019. There is no way on earth we can get a referendum up and running before then – at least not one that is decisively winnable – Yes-voting husband agreed when we discussed this today. The next IndyRef needs to be one that has a better than 50/50 chance. We need to decisively make the case that Scotland is better by itself or with our neighbours across the water, before we put it into motion. What chance is there of that? Well right now, the main channels of information for the majority of the population are still unionist. The BBC, the Johnston Press, the ‘national’ rags by Murdoch, Dacre and Co – all still resolutely “SNP Bad.”
Meanwhile, we have Labour in coalition (allegedly) with Tories in Scottish councils because you know, “anyone but SNP.” I still can’t believe things are so desperately wrong-headed in Scottish politics but I can’t argue with what they are actually doing, in public. We have the “Dark Money” scandal utterly unchallenged because cuddly Ruth is pregnant and rescuing a wet dog (who was no doubt trying to swim to France). We have Labour MSPs who cannot see that the real enemy of Scotland is not the SNP, they are so focussed on fighting those they perceive as having ‘robbed them’ of their rightful place… It’s utter tribalist nonsense and explains the death of the Labour movement north of the border, while the infighting down south renders them completely ineffective as an opposition.
What about UDI? Well, what about it? Does anyone think for a second that the English government will let us go with our oil and our water and our wave power and our almost unlimited potential and those estates owned by someone who visits once a year without a fight? Watching a programme about the Irish War of Independence, it struck me that it’s only 100 years. 1919, the Irish people rose up and said no more. There followed years of violence, repression, punishment and of course, martial law.
The reason we have to try and win a referendum isn’t because we will ever persuade anyone – it’s because the alternative is one which can be violently repressed (as it is still in Catalonia). By doggedly sticking to the letter of the legislation, by affirming our right in the Scottish Parliament to hold a referendum and affirming that we, the Scottish people are sovereign, Scotland cannot be accused of breaking the law and – one hopes – the EU will be unable to turn away from the ensuing mess by saying it was an illegal referendum (as they did in Catalonia).
Meanwhile, back in my head:
None of these are guaranteed – indeed, it seems possible that we are at this point along the path to chaos with no solution looking most likely. So what can we, ‘every day folk’ do?
It looks like we have three options. Let’s assume the worst case scenario happens – if it doesn’t we won’t be disappointed, right?
Do whatever you can to leave the country before March next year. Claim asylum or something. This is increasingly attractive, even with the multiple barriers we face as a family. Eire isn’t too far away, we speak the language, the climate isn’t too different and many of us have family there already. The problems of work, education and surviving seem to diminish as we hurtle towards the cliff edge.
Stay in this country and move
Almost impossible given the insane cost of property or renting here, let’s face it. If possible, find somewhere with a minimum of half an acre, some water nearby, space for some kind of generator and food storage. Get yourself a book on self sufficiency & plenty of seeds. This is impossible for most of us who would be most vulnerable to the Brexit damage in terms of economic power (money) and also health. If you have a chronic health condition, you can’t be hoiking bales of hay around on your croft.
Stay and fight | Try to stay sane
This is where I am right now and it is horrible. I hate feeling like this and I don’t mind admitting it. I am as politically active and informed as I can be. I do what I can to make a difference. It feels like I’m watching a train come off the rails with everyone I love on it, on top of one of those rickety viaducts. Sure, someone (who?) might come along and stop the train. Someone might save us. But here’s the thing:
Nobody is coming! We are all we have got.
The Butterfly Rebellion