Saturday 24 March 2018

On HOOP, and hope.

Ok, let's talk about Hands Off Our Parliament, and the lessons to be learned. Firstly, huge congratulations to the organisers!

Secondly, we can pull out a big crowd in Edinburgh at short notice on a weekday afternoon. That shows there's a huge appetite to get the Yes movement rolling again.

Thirdly, the average age was about 60. That's not surprising - it was in working hours, many folk with day jobs couldn't be there. But it proves that the idea the old aren't keen on independence is havers.

Fourthly, folk came a long way. I left Auchencairn at 8:00; the friends I met at #HOOP were from Ayrshire, Galloway, Lanarkshire and highland Perthshire. I heard a bunch of folk had come down from Orkney, although I didn't meet them. Folk were very committed: the weather turned out good, but the weather forecast wasn't primising and I left home in condensing fog.

Fifthly, the leadership of the Yes movement won't lead. The only SNP figure I saw was Tommy Sheppard (who did speak); I didn't see any of the leadership of the Independence Convention and I know for a fact Robin McAlpine of Common Weal wasn't there. Full disclosure, when Tommy Sheppard was announced, because sound wasn't good in the wind, I thought they'd said Tommy Sheridan and was actually walking out before I realised I was wrong! My apologies, comrade Sheppard.

Of course there may have been people there I didn't see. It was a big event, and in my current state of very frail mental health I'm not good at recognising people. But if the folk who should be leading this movement really were notable only by their absence, this isn't good.

Worse still, as far as I can see, no significant figure from the SNP, the Greens, the Independence Convention or even Radical Independence has commented on or tweeted about the event either yesterday while it was happening, or this morning in retrospect. No solidarity, no congratulations, no encouragement. Not even criticism. And I think we need to be saying this to our leadership: shit, or get off the pot.

Sixthly, if we're going to do this again on a weekday, a day when Holyrood is in session would be better. We need to be able to lobby our MSPs; we need to show the strength of our support to MSPs; and we need to make it easier for MSPs to join in.

Seventhly, I am certain that it is vital that things like this are not allowed to become party political. Tribalism will kill us. If the Independence Convention won't lead, we need something similar that will.

China Central TV conducting an interview at HOOP
Eighth, we cannot rely on the mainstream media to get our message out to the public. Neither of Scotland's broadcasters seem to have reported the event at all. The National, of course, had good coverage, and the Scotsman had reasonable coverage, but the Herald and Daily Record both played down the event reporting the turnout as 'hundreds'. The Herald in particular focussed on 'noisy' Yes Bikers and alleged anti-BBC chanting. China Central Television apparently gave us coverage, but I doubt much of the Scottish electorate watches that!

Ninth, it was great to see Welsh dragons and Catalan esteladas among the cloud of saltires; I also saw a Palestinian flag. I didn't see anyone else with an EU flag, although I had one; but many people had EU stars on their saltires. I would personally have liked to have seen a Kurdish flag (although I don't know what one even looks like), and it would be good to build solidarity with other small European nations. It's important to make it clear to onlookers and to the media that we're an internationalist, and not a narrowly nationalist, movement.

But dae a wheen o Saltires no luik braw?

Tenth, many folk had dressed for the occasion, which really helped make it feel like a carnival. My gratitude to all of you who did! Indeed, all the news outlets which reported the event at all did use good pictures, showing that the effort of those who dressed up or brought good placards and flags was not wasted. If we cannot get our message across in the words that journalists write, we can still influence through the pictured they use.

Eleventh, yes, of course there was no trouble. That's not who we are. #Yes is positive, #Yes is creative, Yes can turn anything into a party. Let's be proud of that and stay that way!

Finally, thanks again to the organisers. We needed this. We need to be spontaneous. We need to push our self-appointed leaders to lead or get out of the way.

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