Here we go, here we go, here we go
Okay, so we lost the first round. We're not even at the group stages yet. I think we should wait and see before anybody gets too triumphalist and the hubris too loud. On behalf of my fellow skulking neo-Jacobites, it obviously needs spelled out to Westminster and its cronies that they can forget about this being anything like over.
Union sympathisers can save energy and pack in the righteous indignation right now. Get real. We haven't forgotten Culloden for goodness sake. What on earth did they expect? Let's see how Westminster gets on with its Vow, if and when it gets permission from its corporate backers and other vested interests, who will naturally need reassured over £50K dinners at Chequers with the P.M., Chancellor, Home Secretary and quite possibly Lucifer himself that their interests will be safely fortressed against tiresome angry Picts ranting about democracy.
If I want to campaign for the repeal of the licensing laws and abolition of excise duty I am entitled to do so. I reckon it would be a vote winner, certainly in my manor. Which would you rather? I'd go for both, naturally, but 50 pence a pint and all day pubs would mean that I could just forget about defeat anyway, so it's no odds really – and perfectly traditional in Scotland.
In any case, winning at anything hasn't exactly been characteristic of Scots in recent decades, if ever, certainly not in politics or team sports. Politically, Scotland is only an idea, not a fully fledged polity, a notion rather than a nation. The few instances of Scots excelling on the sports field have stood out precisely because of the sheer number of bitter disappointments and their unerring, depressingly predictable frequency. There aren't even many nearlys these days, the only palliative here being the knowledge that our Anglo-Saxon neighbours are yet again learning from us and are fast catching up in the perennial losers steeplechase.
In what was possibly a first since Mesolithic times, many Scots, even this one, actually ceased hostilities and openly and shamelessly supported England in this summer's World Cup. I like to think it was this shock that took the wind out of their players' sails and caused them to play like concussion victims. They certainly bought the dummy there. You now what they say, never trust a Jock.
As a boy in the 60s and 70s, I looked forward to rugby tournaments with reasonable grounds for optimism and hope. Over the years, this has faded to the point where a last minute drop-goal saved our skin against Italy and a desperate last gasp and only victory in five felt like winning the World Cup. I now look forward to rugby games in dread at the almost certain defeat if not outright humiliation. But we still show up for the next game. It's never over.
Apart from the result, I thoroughly enjoyed the referendum. Perhaps in testament to our famed Caledonian stubbornness, I am already gleaning a kind of perverse joy in these early days of the aftermath. Demanding that we all just crawl back under our stones and forget about it is no more legitimate that asking the Tories to disappear back to their castles in Transylvania or bankers and brutal neo-conservative economics to reign in their excesses and greed of their own accord. The one thing politicians must never be allowed to legislate on is the nature of law abiding political causes. There is no law that can declare a peaceful political issue finished. If you fancy that kind of thing, try China or Saudi Arabia. To summarise, don't tell me to shut up. The Yes campaign instigated the debate; at no time did they tell Westminster to be quiet.
In any case, all early evidence quite clearly points to the desperate Vow being steadily rendered neuter through the endless muddy compromises and political pay-offs that were well flagged up but somehow overlooked by people who had essentially been terrified into voting no, convinced that uniquely amongst ancient established nations, Scotland was incapable of standing on its own two feet. It'll get lost in the whirlwind of an election in which every party is promising to punish the poor, immigrants, the disabled while promising more for less and keeping the City and the media sweet. Scotland will be forgotten about again if we don't make our presence felt. This momentum can only go in one direction.
It's not just that we have a right to continue arguing for an independent Scotland, the sheer contempt shown by David Cameron a matter of days after the vote compels us to do so. The Prime Minister, a co-signatory to the Edinburgh agreement, reneged on his slice of the Vow immediately knowing full well that he'd have to concede to the right of his own party and their demands for an end to Scottish MPs voting on entirely English issues. Backbencher Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling have disappeared from sight, realising belatedly that they are in no position to promise anything and that like their near identical cousins across the House, they need to appeal to the less complicated souls who look like voting to cut all our throats by sticking two fingers up at all those nasty foreign types on the continent and beyond. Then there's the Lib Dems and their ersatz federalism which few can describe and even fewer care about.
The harmony the three parties displayed throughout the campaign was never going to last, if it ever actually existed. With an election looming and UKIP, the ultimate political poseurs, confusing everyone as they have no idea what they are doing themselves, they can not afford to offer the same blueprint for Devo Max – which sounds like a brand of glue to me and very probably is – as each has plans which exclude the interests or desires of the others. Scots make good tablet. Westminster specialises in fudge.
This is not going away. The fact that it hasn't done so in a thousand years must surely count for something. As mere “cultures” go, this is some doing. Let's keep an eye on that spider.