I was at the #Allunderonebanner march in Inverness yesterday (Saturday 28th July 2018). I haven’t done much marching since the referendum, I don’t think they change people’s minds and I am not sure if they actually put people off. But this was in my hometown, I was asked to speak at the rally and I was in need of cheering up and an Indy shot in the arm after the misery that the last few weeks of #brexitbollocks have caused.
So off I went. And I had a great time. It was such fun and I gave so many people sweaty hugs that I stopped caring that I looked like I had been in the shower. Like I said I had been asked to speak and I thought hard about what I wanted to say. Some of you will know that I’m doing quite a bit of anti poverty work and work which strives to improve rights services and treatment of people with lived experience of mental illness but I thought there would be loads of people speaking about that and I was right – they were great. I’m a bit of a policy geek too but with Maree Todd and John Finnie there I knew that would also be well covered.
As it turned out I didn’t get to speak and quite a large part of me was relieved – so many people! The poor organisers were run ragged and as the speakers were so far behind time I had to leave before they were finished. Karate Camp called I’m afraid and like many other people I’m trying to be politically active and keep my children happy at the same time. Compromises have to be made. But I did promise those that were looking forward to hearing me speak (there were a few – honest – I do have some VERY kind friends) that I would Blog my speech so they could read it.
As an English voice in the Independence movement and a Women for Indy National Executive member I wanted to talk about inclusivity. So I did – Here it is.
Wow look at you guys!
What a sight for sore eyes you are – eyes that are bleeding at the nonsense they read in the papers and see on the television. Eyes crying for the refugees, the wind rush generation and those subjected to the appalling and discriminatory policies of a WM government pandering to the lowest right wing denominators in the party and the country, eyes which look aghast as the Tory politicians supposed to be negotiating a seamless and positive Brexit can’t even agree amongst themselves whilst the Labour Party tear themselves apart over how to address anti semitism rather than be what they are supposed to be – the opposition.
There is much rubbish spoken about anti English sentiment in the Independence movement but Ive looked around here as I’ve mingled today with friends and strangers alike I have heard many English accents – I nearly poked the eye out of of an English Guy stood behind me with my flag but I was quick to reassure him that wasn’t because of the England shirt he was wearing. I’ve also heard many other accents, Caithness, Doric, Hebridean and Canadian, Polish, French, Spanish and of course several people speaking Gaelic which always makes me a tiny bit jealous with only my Lancashire accent to keep me company. All sharing a positive vision for an Inclusive Scotland. A Scotland where our voices, whatever accents they carry are heard, where living here is enough to make you Scottish, where the governments that are elected are governments which we have chosen for ourselves, Governments which reflect the hopes and aspirations of those of us born here AND those of us who have made Scotland our home from wherever we arrive from and Governments which we empower with these voices and their symphony of accents.
My sore aching eyes look out and see so many WOMEN! Women who have been empowered and engaged by the political discourse here in Scotland. We are a country striving for gender balance, a country where we know how important it is for women to take their rightful place at the heart of debate, policy making and we are demanding that women’s voices are heard in the debates taking place across Scotland. A country where we are working to reduce the burden of Westminster austerity policies. Policies which – make no mistake – target women through design and not accident – women remain the hardest hit by the neoliberal policies imposed on Scotland by Westminster and we spent 400 million pounds mitigating these – the rape clause is one of the worst examples.
And yet there are still many people who don’t believe that Independence is the right way for Scotland, don’t believe that we can do better. It’s hard to understand why something which makes so much sense to each of us here is not recognised by others. It’s tempting to shake our heads and mutter “Hell mend them then” And yet we must do the opposite. We need and MUST listen to them, we must get our heads out from twitter and Facebook and listen to real people who are telling us they are not convinced yet. Your mum, your colleagues, your neighbours, in the garage in the hairdressers, in the supermarket queue or the gym. Listen to their reasons – some will make you roll your eyes and some will make you angry but we are Engaged and Educated, We are EMPOWERED and that’s what will change minds . The facts – some of which we have heard already- delivered in a supportive and helpful way to people will change votes, we are seeing it happen already – it’s not won yet but it’s there for the taking.
So the Indy march in Inverness brings us together in the spirit of inclusivity. Together we can offer something more to people who feel left behind by Westminster, who are poorly treated or who are baffled and confused by the chaos of the rhetoric coming out the Westminster politicians. Together we can reach out to people and bring them with us, we can offer a chance for something better whatever your political allegiances, something fairer, something which we desperately need – a Government voted for by the people of Scotland, delivering policies decided on by the people of Scotland, Standing up for the people of Scotland and delivering an outward looking, inclusive, economically sound INDEPENDENT Scotland.
It’s coming and we are ready so Bring it on.