David Aitchison: Forward


It’s now been over a week since Scotland chose one of two paths, and rejected the opportunity to become an independent country. If you ask anybody that knows me, it’s not been the best of weeks for me. Most things that could go wrong have done. Even the joy of seeing Hearts defeat Cowdenbeath 5-1 on Saturday afternoon was hit by the sad news that a fellow supporter at the game never returned home.

Despite this I’ve already refound a vigour and determination to go again in making this part of the world somewhere better for people to live. Articles by the excellent David Greig and Zara Kitson, blogs from friends across the world, speeches in Parliament and Facebook posts by friends have all contributed to lifting the mood of gloom that had pervaded for the past week.

We must remember what the referendum was about, which to my mind was providing a vehicle to make people’s lives more fulfilling across these islands. The majority spoke and have chosen to go down another path, hopefully with the same end goal of making this corner of the planet better.

The issues that we rallied around still exist (and this was put over more eloquently by David Greig than I ever could do), and despite not having the full powers to tackle these issues that I was hoping for, we must still do all we can to help alleviate them. Perhaps we have to do this with even more fervour than we would have after a Yes vote, given the limitations to finding solutions due to not having a fully sovereign Parliament that can be more easily held to account on matters from defence to child poverty. There is no time for moping, feeling sorry or waiting for something to happen for us.

The energy that existed within the Yes campaign, and from the people inside it, is still there. Yes, the people may be disheartened, but time does heal. Sure, for some quicker than others, but there is work to be done in improving this country. It’s been overwhelming to see the rising level in support towards all groups that were involved in the campaign – from the SNP, Greens and SSP dramatically increasing their membership, to RIC Edinburgh having to host a meeting outside because the room they’d booked was too small, and to the incredible wave of momentum behind National Collective, from new contributors to engagement on social media. The momentum and desire for change is still there.

As a society, we can’t stop our efforts now – politicians still need to be held to account on their promises (unsurprisingly thinking of one promise in particular). We may have voted against retaining power in Scotland, but we can never afford for our idealism to be crushed. Keep fighting for your ideals, whether that is in ensuring that every family can put food on the table, or to make sure that our society respects people equally no matter their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or disability.

Institutionalised fear may have overcome hope on this occasion, but there’s a funny thing about hope – it never vanishes completely. It can’t be defeated so long as we keep going, keep thinking, innovating and imagining better. We all know that this is not as good as things can get – No voters as well as Yes voters don’t want progress to a more equal society to stop here – and once we dust ourselves down, the establishment will know that the thorn in their side hasn’t gone away.

This has been a horrible week, but it’s over. My advice to anyone who is reading this is to keep the faith that you’ve displayed in being able to build a better society. Victory only comes for the establishment when they stop you from believing in change.

But if the Yes campaign taught me anything, it is that that will not happen. The hope in our hearts and minds didn’t end at 5am on the 19th September. It’s time to use it once more, and to keep striving for better. It’s time to move forward once again, and bring about the changes that we yearn for.


David Aitchison
National Collective

Image from Robb Mcrae


There are 4 comments

  1. katy hodgson

    i’ve argued elsewhere that the fact the referendum was lost doesn’t mean you don’t put into practise all the ideals that you were fighting for – equality, self-sufficiency, education, etc. fly saltires everywhere. play scottish music, eat scottish food, take holidays in scotland. treat the country as if it were an island. imagine life if the referendum had been won, and live it.

    1. Mark Janes

      What a great approach. I always thought the strongest argument for independence is that Scotland and rUK are on totally different trajectories, socio-economically and culturally. How to demonstrate that if not through the way we live our lives day-by-day.

  2. Lou McLoughlan

    Thanks for the article, David. I think Scotland is well on its way to becoming a very sophisticated democracy with vibrant think-tanks harnessing us (Women for Indy, Radical Indy, CommonWeal, Bella, NC) and political parties like the Greens,SNP, SSP listening and taking those ideas into parliament in a way Westminster can’t.

    People and politicians are joining up – and thats huge.

    Last week I felt like shit. This week I feel, on behalf of our country, blinded by the energy storm we’re stoking.

    Just look at the over-funding raised for an independent MSM channel, they actually received way too much and had to appeal to people to fund several others: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/broadcast-news-for-scotland

  3. Alexis P.

    Me as a foreigner, though a passionate observer and supporter of Yes, I see that despite the referendum was rejected, despite there are a lot, millions of heartbroken people (Scottish or not), the whole procedure has unleashed a chain of events that make me very happy and hopeful for what comes ahead…
    Always a rejection is painful, it hurts so much. But sometimes it can be the seed that will give birth to a new era of people wanting, claiming, asking and demanding the things lost because that rejection marked a certain “defeat” to the dream. The things to a better life, that are essential; a necessity.
    To my eyes this is what happened to Scotland. That rejection has awakened thousands of people to become active in the political scene. Participating and come forward from the, allow me to say, “political oblivion”. Nothing will be the same. All those people will never return to their previous state. They will carry with them many more, empowering the movement of participation.
    To my eyes, now that a week after I am healing, there is no defeat. I think, that the ones defeated are the ones who thought they can silence once and for all the people of Scotland, just because there was a no! How naive they were! There is no going back to the previous state, there is only going ahead, to a Scotland that will achieve all those ideals that were included to the Yes dream; and who knows what lies ahead as a bonus…

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