Declan Welsh: The Fight Doesn’t End Here


The fight continues. My friends, comrades, brothers and sisters on either side of the referendum, we have decided to stay in the union. While that was never my preference, democracy has spoken, and we must respect it and carry on. Many of you are heartbroken, and so am I, but there is still a fight to be fought, one that is even more important than independence from the rest of the UK, and it needs us all to stand even a chance of succeeding.

The fight to build a peaceful, fair society. That is what this was about. It wasn’t ever really about a “free Scotland”. At least not for me and the vast majority of people I know who voted and campaigned for Yes. Nationalism, indeed, was a dirty word among these circles. This was a pragmatic choice, which weighed up the likelihood of either choice creating the possibility for fundamental changes to the political system – and came down on the side of Yes. Of course, Flower of Scotland and Caledonia were sung, but can you blame an individual for seeing the chance for a better deal for the workers and downtrodden in the place where they either were born or have decided to live, and feeling that they have to grasp it with both hands? I wouldn’t describe this type of Yes voting as nationalism, but as pragmatism. Whether you agree with it or not is entirely your prerogative, but I, and many others that campaigned, looked at Westminster and thought – I can’t change this from the inside. We looked at the Labour Party; our natural allies; and saw careerist politicians pandering to a political conversation set by UKIP. They were going to be tough on immigration, tough with austerity, support further wars. They were not the Labour Party anymore. The Lib Dems had lost all credibility, UKIP were lowest common denominator, scapegoat politics, and the Tories were, well, the Tories. It seemed an impossible fight. Independence was our chance to shake that system up. To do things our own way, and show our brothers and sisters in the rUK that it could be done another way. We would still stand with them. We would still march with them. And we still will.

The most important thing to do, whether you are a despondent Yes voter, or a No voter who wants social change just as much as this, is to put aside all previous differences. Yes voters: stop demanding a revote. Stop talking about “the 45”. Stop telling people they should be ashamed of voting a certain way. Stop being defeated. Because you are not defeated. The things that you want can be achieved. They can be achieved with the rest of the UK. It might take longer, it might be a harder fight, but it’s the same fight we fought before the referendum, and we have to ensure that political engagement and grassroots activism – the Yes movement’s biggest gifts to Scotland – do not go away. Get involved in politics all over again. Join the CND, Unity, The People’s Assembly, a trade union, a political party, anything you want but make sure you shout, and you shout loud, that the status quo is not acceptable. Stand with No voters, because a great, great number of them want the exact same things as you, they just didn’t see a Yes vote as the answer. That’s ok. If anything, now that it’s over, we can at the very least take comfort in the fact that there is no need for us to be divided.

No voters; don’t gloat. The majority of people I know who voted No do not see this as a victory. They see it as a potential pitfall avoided. Everyone should ignore those who see a No vote as some sort of petty victory over the SNP, or Salmond, or their Yes voting contemporaries. These people celebrate the status quo. The status quo is not good enough.

Labour voters who voted No, hold your party to account on the promises they made. I will never vote Labour as long as I live, because I feel they have betrayed working people too often and with too much indifference to ever deserve to be known as a genuine labour movement. But Labour voters are not Labour politicians. They are people who want social justice. Be more active in your party, because while I will never place my faith in the hands of Labour politicians again, I don’t think I am as apprehensive about the desires of Labour voters. Make your party great again, and we’ll all benefit.

I am certain that “the Vow”, despite being written on top of a serious looking bit of parchment on the front page of a daily tabloid newspaper, will be broken. We may see a federal Britain, and if we do I will be pleasantly surprised. Local democracy across the UK would be a great thing, and would go some way to offsetting the neoliberal consensus we see before us. But I don’t see it happening. Already there have been admissions that the timetable will not be met, and Tory backbenchers have made their own Vow to vote down any proposed legislation which appears to give the Scots everything and the rUK nothing. Which is fair enough, to be honest. The thing that angers me about “the Vow” is not that the rest of the UK think it’s unfair for Scotland to get disproportionately more powers that other regions of the UK; it’s that it was a lie. A lie made to convince people to vote a certain way. It was a skewing of democracy by a political institution who put aside what little differences they had left and promised something they could never deliver to a nation which very nearly decided to reject an entire political system in favour of independence.

But we must not be disheartened by this forthcoming defeat. Or the defeat which is so raw right now. Our movement is a movement against the establishment. It is one which wants to take the power from the powerful and give it back to the normal citizen. Thus, we face the might of the business, media, banking and political elite. We face headlines in the papers saying that banks will take our money to a different country, that businesses will be forced to make “difficult decisions”, that the poor and the ostracised are to blame. We will face many defeats. But we must keep fighting. The fight will never be won until every man, woman and child looks at these systems and sees them for what they are; instruments of oppression. When we, not as a country, not as a union, but as workers, wake up to the fact that the odds are stacked against us from the moment we are born; then we will start to be able to win this fight.

Trust not corporations, politicians, banks or newspapers; but trust in each other. Yes or No, Scottish, Welsh, English or Irish, we all, more than ever, must come together and stand against the oppressors. Together, we can still win this fight.

I voted Yes because I saw a greater chance of achieving social justice and peace in an independent Scotland. The No vote might shift the goalposts but the goal is still the same. And it is a goal too immense, too important, for any of us to even consider not dusting ourselves down, picking up a different banner, and getting on with it.

Declan Welsh
National Collective

Image from Alex Aitchison


About Declan Welsh

Declan is a singer-songwriter based in Glasgow. He performed for National Collective as part of Yestival, National Collective Presents... and the #YesLive event at the Alhambra Theatre in Dunfermline.

There are 10 comments

    1. Aileen Mitchell Stewart

      Can we post something on YouTube so that those used only to milliseconds of newsbites rather than the greater depth that serious newspaper coverage can give might finally understand that those of us who are over 55 are not all alike, any more than any other age group? Maybe a series of short clips (to match the goldfish-like under-55 attention span) that allows them to grab on to bits of statistics and accept simplistic notions without any depth of analysis? I’m sick of people blaming one particular age group for the No vote win. I’m particularly fed up of people assuming that people over retirement age have anything in common. There is as much difference between me, at 63, and someone of 83 as there is between some 23-year-old and his 43-year-old boss.
      So here’s the deal: I’ll stop assuming the under-30s, say, never read any serious journalism and can’t think any deeper than a puddle if you’ll stop assuming that the over-55s are all beige cardigan-wearing, Zimmer-frame pushing decrepits who think social media is too complicated for our shrivelled brains to understand. I might even refrain from pointing out that it’s a guy from my age group who invented the web way back when I was only able to join ‘chat rooms’ as they were called back then by manually setting my modem each time I went online to get speeds of up to 14k.

      1. Campbell Morrison

        I’m not blaming anyone. I’m just thinking of my grand parents who are 85 and don’t have access to Facebook Twitter national collective etc. They do read press and journal where they probably wouldn’t see a blog like this. I was just thinking if people posted to mainstream media or if there was a dedicated page for old people to read about what the mainstream don’t normally report on then they might get a more open liberal view on life.

        1. andreaross1

          Absolutely sure that if the media access were more balanced then the majority of over 70’s would be part of the Independence movement. If I can criticise anything at all from the yes movement it is this An ageist outlook which fails to care enough about the effects of long term dependence on the state and a growing lack of physical and social freedom has on elderly people,,, they are all but invisible to the YES generation……and yet it is those people in Scotland who have borne the brunt of the Westminster system for the longest…..Voting with your Heart has a lot going for it at this age.!! The sense i have is that this age demographic needs more reassurance than any other group that their income, aged care services and social services needs to be clarly enunciated..

  1. Stuart Pryde

    Thank you for this Declan. I voted Yes and I haven’t given up on the idea of Scotland being an Independent nation one day but that doesn’t mean I have to wallow in despair, self-loathing and conspiracy theories. I can stand with all those who want some form of progressive change and push for as much as we can get. Who knows, maybe we will win some things and things will be better for it, and maybe we will lose some things and people will become clearer about what needs to be done to make things better. Getting involved and building bridges is a win/win situation. Let’s go for it.

  2. Tom Platt

    Although I agree with most of this article by Declan Welsh some of the details surely need to be challeneged without detracting from the main message of continuing the positive momentum built up by “Yes” into the “Yes Alliance”. This will help cement the progress that “Yes” undoubtedly has made…all made possible by the work of the SNP over the last few years.

    Let us not pretend though that all is well with BBC Scotland
    or most of the rest of the Scottish media. Some of us still feel the need to
    work at trying to change at least some of that. Certainly, if Scots are to continue to be
    hounded as criminals for non-payment of licence fees then Scots deserve a
    national, Scottish, broadcaster. A Westminster directed broadcaster is just not sufficient when there is so obviously a difference between Westminster direction and Holyrood aspirations.

    Furthermore, the voting procedures and observance of the Edinburgh Agreement have been widely held up as being deficient. At the very least these deficiencies need to
    be properly addressed before May 2015. Progressing concerns to the Court of
    Session seems sensible.

    These concerns over voting, Westminster interference in what should have been a Scottish conversation and media quality can be addressed by those of us with the energy and appetite. 45%, even if the figure is accurate and not arrived at by MI5 interference, is a lot of people and a few can surely be allowed and spared, without controversy, to follow through on issues that really need to be pursued, no matter whether Scotland is governed from London or Edinburgh. The main thrust of “Yes Alliance” and SNP effort will be, as Declan has indicated, to build for Indy. The Westminster elections of May 2015 and, if necessary, the Holyrood elections of 2016 are the main chances of this, assuming that the Court of Session does not order a re-run of the Referendum or
    another vote.

  3. fergus macerc

    i have been voting for indy since 1974. i was disappointed at the recent result, but unsurprised. i was verbally abused by Orange bigots for wearing a Yes badge but i still wear it with pride and defiance. i am still optimistic about Scotland gaining independence within the next 5 years and think it’s a real possibility. Saor Alba!

  4. Juteman

    I’m very wary of anyone that promotes a ‘we should all come together to fight the Tories now’, message. That is what this article reads like.
    The British Labour party are trying to subvert the Yes movement, and turn it away from its true purpose. They (Labour/British State) are trying to turn it into a UK wide movement, and dilute its energy. We all need to be aware of this, for the State is afraid of the Yes movement.

  5. Patricia Munro

    Read halfway through. Absolute nonsense, away you go & hang your head. Ppl are starving & we’re part of the Union. Selfish!!!

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