Alan Bissett (Novelist, Playwright & Performer): Let’s Make Scotland Great

National Collective has today welcomed Alan Bissett, the award winning Scottish novelist, playwright and performer. He joins a growing list of internationally renowned and respected creatives that are expressing their support of independence for Scotland.

In 2011 Alan was named Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Writer of the Year and his play Turbo Folk was shortlisted for Best New Play at the Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland in 2010. His novels include Boyracers (2001), The Incredible Adam Spark (2005), and Death of a Ladies’ Man (2009), which was shortlisted for a Scottish Arts Council Fiction of the Year prize. His most recent book, Pack Men (2011) was called a “landmark in Scottish fiction” by Irvine Welsh. Alan also wrote and performed his own ‘one-woman show’, The Moira Monologues, which toured Scotland to great acclaim and is now in development with the BBC. The short film which he wrote and narrated, The Shutdown, has won awards at several major international film festivals and was shortlisted for a Scottish BAFTA.

Alan has joined National Collective and revealed his support for Scottish independence, saying “past generations could only dream of it; future generations will be jealous to have missed it.”

He said:

I’ve joined National Collective as it’s a great place for artists to come together and talk about the benefits (and possibly even some of the drawbacks!) of independence.  Scotland is an incredibly creative country, which punches well above its weight in music, literature, theatre, the visual arts and fashion, and I want to be part of the exciting, new country to which these forces will contribute. National Collective is the focal point for that, helping transform Scotland with the power of imagination.

“As someone who works in the creative sector I experience the power of the Scottish imagination in action every day. Not only do I write about the country that I grew up in, using its rich, indigenous language, but I perform my work to teenage audiences every week who are surprised to discover that their own country is actually worth reading about. Remember that thrill when you first watched Gregory’s Girl or The Steamie, or read Trainspotting, or when you found out that Braveheart had won Best Picture at the Oscars? You realised that Scottish stories actually mattered. For too long we’ve believed we’re the poor man of Europe, second-rate, also-rans, glorious losers .  I can’t think how often I’ve heard people say, ‘I’d like independence but it’ll never happen’ or ‘independence won’t  change a thing’. We’ve been so used to being frustrated, for so long, that pessimism has become our default setting.  If we don’t believe things can change then they won’t, it’s as simple as that. It’s this cringe, this ‘we’re no good’ attitude, which is the most toxic by-product of the Union and which we’d shed like an old skin with full independence.

“Scotland has no idea what it is, or what it could be. This is our one chance to find out. Aren’t you dying to experience that? We would be the generation that finally restored Scotland’s battered statehood, ended that long, long march through history.  Past generations could only dream of it; future generations will be jealous to have missed it. ‘Imagine what it must’ve been like!’ they’ll say. They’ll be baffled why we clung on, terrified, for so long. And there’s the chance our generation could vote against it! And for what? A decayed, run-down Union that Scotland didn’t even want in the first place?

“While no-one can promise that we’ll ever win the World Cup, there are enormous untapped resources in this country, a dormant potential energy which full independence could unleash. When we set our mind to it, our people can – and have – been world class in science, engineering, the arts and education. Too often, though, we’ve simply lacked belief. That’s what Unionists are counting on, so they can keep us under lock and key.

“I’ve traveled the globe representing my country at international festivals – to Australia, the USA, Canada, China, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Holland – and I find that, far from us being nobodies, the world is fascinated by our nation’s language and culture. There’s a curiosity about the ways in which we differ from our larger neighbour. I can assure you that the 2014 referendum has captured the imagination of the rest of the world, meaning that independence would be the biggest advert for Scotland the globe has ever seen. We’d be in every newspaper and on every television channel on Earth, free marketing for Scottish industry, tourism and exports that would cost billions otherwise. London certainly won’t be bankrolling that any time soon.

“The most frequent response I’ve been given from international audiences, in places which are themselves free, is: ‘Of course. Why wouldn’t you want to run your own nation?’ Having our destiny decided by another country strikes them as hare-brained. What we forget  is that to the rest of the world the United Kingdom is a strange, unwieldy creation, in which three small countries surrender key decisions to a larger, dominant one. For no good reason. What other country works like that? It’s actually weird. I can assure you that the word from the rest of Planet Earth is: go for it! If we don’t vote Yes in 2014, it will not look like prudence to them, it will look like cowardice and stupidity.

“Ironically, it’s only in Scotland that we can’t see the wood for the trees. Fear is, of course, a powerful emotion, and Unionists are doing their best to prey upon that. But no other nation in the world which has won independence has ever regretted it. And we can do this without a single shot being fired or drop of blood being spilled. The 2014 referendum is a unique historical opportunity. It would be self-sabotage to pass it up.

“The Union, clearly, doesn’t work for Scotland. We can hardly say that during this time of high unemployment and economic crisis Britain is a beacon of stability and progress. Scotland finds itself unable to control its own finances and make decisions that will help us weather the storm. Instead we depend on Westminster’s brutal cuts and morally-repugnant ‘benefits system’ for the rich. Which we pay for. The vast oil revenue could have been ours, but Westminster never gave us that option. There is still, despite Unionist propaganda, plenty of oil left, which we can exploit and use to fund the green energy which we (and the whole world) will need when the oil does run out.  We could opt out of costly and bloodthirsty foreign wars which have nothing to do with Scotland.

“Most importantly of all, we would actually get the governments we vote for. Time and time again Scotland has said no to the Tories, only to find ourselves ruled by them for years on end. Even Labour, who Scots once felt a natural affinity with, remodelled themselves under Tony Blair to appeal to wealthy English voters. This continues under a different guise with Ed Milliband. The Lib Dems, of course, have sold themselves to the Tories. None of these parties has the best interests of Scotland at heart, otherwise why would they be fighting tooth and nail to stop us from gaining more power!

“We have the chance to build the political and economic climate we want here. Even if you do not like Alex Salmond, we don’t have to select him as our leader after independence. But for now, he’s the only way to bring it about. The sort of Scotland I want to live in takes care of its elderly and most vulnerable members, provides accessible, affordable education, housing and transport for all, free healthcare, good employment for our young people, and does not embark on reckless wars in support of America. We can easily afford this. It was the sort of country which Britain was supposed to be after the horrors of World War II, but that was all torn apart by Thatcher’s me-me-me politics. A truly progressive Scotland is impossible to achieve while we remain part of the UK. We’ll be in Westminster’s pocket forever, otherwise. And they’ll know it.

“This is our one chance to vote for something better than the depressing, careerist, London-first politicians we’ve grown used to. Imagine the euphoria the day after we vote Yes to independence. Think of all that we’ve been denied.  What a fresh new start! We’d have our own successes to be proud of and our own mistakes to take responsibility for. If we vote No to independence we are killing our children’s generation, shackling them to the Tories again and again. On the other hand, we could have a fully-realised country, a chance denied us for centuries, and now within our grasp.

“Vote Yes to independence. Vote as though you live in the early days of a better nation. Let’s make Scotland great.”