The greatest weapon in the independence arsenal lies within ourselves.
When Scotland voted No to independence on 18 September 2014, one would have expected a party atmosphere, cheering, laughing, singing and dancing in the streets. A time of celebration would have been the expected reaction to the result.
That indeed is what has happened. But that party atmosphere has not come from the No voters, but rather from the Yes camp. If aliens landed in Scotland today, they could be forgiven for being mistaken that the referendum had gone to Yes.
The amazing scenes in Glasgow’s George Square, more recently outside of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, and elsewhere in Scotland have shown a Yes movement which has taken a serious knock, who have picked themselves up and dusted themselves down. We are bloodied, but we are unbowed.
And where are the celebrations of the No camp? There have not been any. Not one No celebration has taken place, anywhere in Scotland, or the rest of the UK for that matter. There have not been Better Together singing and dancing on our cities streets, not one street party, not a hint of even one event to celebrate their win.
And I am not at all surprised. One of the major strengths of Yes, as a movement, was and continues to be our cheerfulness. We campaigned hard and tirelessly, we faced lies, scaremongering, false accusations, and abuse, and for the most part we walked away from it smiling. We confronted members of the public, told the truth, and did so in a kind and friendly manner. Whenever faced with Better Together sensationalism, we took it and made a joke out of it; we took the Better Together patronising woman and parodied her so much that “Eat your cereal” became a Yes war cry which is being used to this day (even a No voter I shouted it to burst out laughing when I did so). And where necessary, we even laughed at ourselves at times.
Compare that to the Better Together No campaign, which from the start was negative, full of scaremongering stories and downright and utter lies. Now I’m not for one moment saying they were all the same – there were a few cheery ones, but for the most part Better Together’s campaigners were dour, doom-laden, spiteful, arrogant, bitter, aggressive and angry. Where some tried to ask searching questions – even undecided voters – they were very quickly and loudly shouted down, or plain ignored. Of the few Better Together supporters I encountered, I can honestly say that the majority of them had the persona of a bulldog chewing a wasp.
And Better Together despised our cheerfulness, make no mistake about it. When you are faced with an enemy who replies your negativity with a smile, then that has to rankle. It is a weapon they are powerless against and have no reply to. Basically it is something they do not understand, and because they do not understand it, they fear it. But then, the entire No camp was based in fear, so no real surprise there. And no mistake that they fear us, for they should, for what we have over them is a very powerful weapon indeed.
So what then is this secret we in Yes seem to share? It can summed up in one word – confidence. It was our confidence which has kept us going in the most adverse circumstances. It is that confidence which helped us to walk away from abusive and aggressive people, take a deep breath, and move on the next person. It is confidence which drove every canvasser, leafleting team and stall holder. It is our shared confidence which picked individuals up when some were maybe not so confident, lifted them and brought them back into throng, to keep pushing for our shared vision.
It is the confidence which, once we had all retreated and licked our wounds, caused us individually and as a movement to bounce back, stronger for the experience and even more determined to see our country free. It is that confidence which caused broken hearts to heal, to sing, to dance and to party in one of the most amazing ways not just Scotland, not just the UK, but the entire world has witnessed.
It is that confidence which keeps us smiling, keeps us laughing, keeps us singing and dancing. It is that confidence which unites us as a group, and which shall one day see Scotland take her rightful place in the community of nations.
Keep smiling – for Scotland.