Owing to an unfortunate mixup and some communications delays we were due to get a speaker (myself) on at the Hope over Fear rally in Glasgow today but it didn’t happen;
Since I wrote a speech though, it seems a shame to go to waste, so it is presented here.
I’m Math Campbell-Sturgess…and if the double-barrelled name didn’t give the game away, or the accent, I’m English…and I’m one of the founders of English Scots for YES…
For those of who who haven’t heard of us yet, we’re the pro-indy group for English people here in Scotland
Our job for the last 3 and a half years has been to persuade other English people are to vote yes, but almost as importantly, reassure the nation that there is no anti-englishness in the YES movement; as our motto put it, because it’s not about where you were born, but where we are going together, as a country.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for that other referendum.
The xenophobic attitudes we’ve seen from a minority since the Brexit vote has been sickening to behold and has made me just a wee bit ashamed of the land of my birth.
We’ve seen people intimidated and attacked in the street. Communities split. We’ve seen the tory government in Westminster have it’s goons in the Home Office send “friendly” letters to Europeans, telling them to get out. Oh, but those were just accidental, honest!
Truly, it’s been a tale of two referendums.
One joyous, civic, hopeful, outwards looking at our place in the world, hoping to make Scotland a better place for everyone regardless of origin.
The other a dark, Orwellian dystopia, where foreigners are despised, alliances broken, bridges burned & money seems to be the only thing thats matters to them.
Friends, we need to tell Westminster that here in Scotland, we don’t burn bridges.
We build them!
In the last week, we’ve seen the UK’s weakest ever Prime Minister stage an audacious power-grab. Her EU legislation has only one purpose – to keep her in power, and allow her Cabinet to enact legislation they couldn’t hope to pass through parliament.
And “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition” have shown they are loyal only to Westminster, as Jeremy and his Corbynistas have came to Scotland to tell us to stick with them, as the Blairites & Thatcherites did before him.
It is, coin a phrase, Mayhem!
This dystopian nightmare sadly isn’t limited to our own shores either. As we speak, armed police are raiding printing shops, shutting down television stations & newspapers, and arresting public servants in Barcelona.
Today, we stand with our brothers and sisters in Catalonia, as they resist. As they were with us 3 years ago, so we are with them now, as darkness looks set to cover their land. Our government must convey our disquiet over Spain’s completely unwarranted actions. Rajoy’s armed police CAN stop the people voting. They can steal the ballot papers. They can shutdown the media. But they cannot stop the people believing in Independence.
And here in Scotland, we still believe. And despite the growing darkness here and elsewhere, there are opportunities for us.
Brexit seems destined to do the one thing we did not manage those sunny days in this very square three years ago. Deliver us from the darkness, and into the light of an independent, free Scotland. The chance is there, ready for us, if we are but bold enough to take it.
Over the last few weeks, Westminster has sought, as they have since last year’s Brexit vote, to completely ignore the wishes and needs of the Scottish people.
By grabbing powers that are rightfully ours, by circumventing committees, and dodging votes to ensure their disastrous vision of a hard brexit comes to pass.
A nightmare given form.
We face being dragged out of the European Union, marched out of the single market, and the protections of the European Court of Human Rights, oft times the last bulwark against the vile machinations of the UK government against its own citizenry, stripped from us, leaving us defenceless and alone…
We must say NO! No more.
The line must be drawn here. This far, and no further.
We cannot, and I say to you today, we WILL NOT accept the future of our nation being decided in Westminster.
We must retain hope. It is our only defence against the tidal wave of despair.
We did not seek, nor did we provoke this division with our European neighbours.
We did not expect, nor did we invite the confrontation we now face with London, where they seek to undermine our democratic institutions.
Yet the true measure of a people’s strength is how they rise to master that moment when it does arrive. We shall together build anew this nation of ours. We shall strive to fight against the darkness, no matter the cost. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great.
Engraved upon the walls of our Parliament, are the words of Alasdair Grey. “Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation.”