Frankly, it has taken me weeks to work through this. It began with a journey back home for family reasons, throughout September and October. During the time there I took the chance to catch up with old friends that I hadn't seen in almost seven years. This visit also gave me the opportunity meet and mix with supporters of independence. Many of whom I had become friends with through the medium of the internet or my music, in the intervening years I've been travelling overseas.
For me, my favourite experience and excitement came at the very beginning of the trip.
I attended the March and Rally for Independence on September the 22nd. It is one day of my life I won’t forget. My young brother was my companion (and chauffeur), and we were on a high from the outset. As we approached The Meadows (Niall chose to park as far away as possible while technically remaining in the same universe), I was overcome with a feeling of anxiety. What if my brother and me and ten other worthies were the only people to show up? What if all that stuff on Facebook and Twitter had been all so much bluster – "a’ talk and nae action"?
However, as we know, those fears were wholly unfounded, and the march was a complete success – although references to it in the media were sparse and underwhelming.
Meeting many contacts I’d only known as faces and names on the internet was for me, one of the highlights of the day.
Additionally, the fact that thousands turned out in peaceful family groups, walking their dogs and carrying picnics was the cherry on the icing of a wonderful cake. I listened to the speeches and cheered and waved my very large, extremely noticeable Scottish Naval Ensign. I was reeling with adrenalin, while at the same time mentally noting the numbers of younger parents with children who were attending.
Scotland’s future was rosy and in the bag.
The following week was filled mainly with family issues and making sure everything that required attention was being dealt with, and I had very little to do with independence matters.
The middle week of my expedition was spent in my old beloved stomping ground of East Lothian. This was a week full of gigs and music and radio interviews; one with my friend Madelaine Cave on East Coast FM – where I even managed to mention my partisanship in politics, as well as doing a live session. The other interview was with Stewart Lochhead at the North Berwick Sea-Life Centre for Three Men In A Blog . All in all, it was a fulfilling and fantastic time.
However, I think it highly likely I may have peaked too early.
By the end of the week I was beginning to get a weird feeling about the cause of independence. I had been speaking to many friends, and none of them are slouches when it comes to intellect, but there was a pattern emerging, and it wasn't pretty.
There were overtones varying from “if it ain't broke, don’t fix it” to “eh, independence, ach I haven’t thought about it!” to a few doses of “too poor” to outright and total antipathy. My cosy, rosy feelings from barely ten days previously were steadily evaporating in a cloud of doubt and confusion. My illusions were beginning to crumble down around my ears.
I eventually left Scotland in mid-October, filled with mixed emotions. The problem which had beset the family had been worked out satisfactorily and I was missing my husband and my pets. Yet I still carried this peculiar feeling within that all was not right in the independence garden.
Sure enough, since getting back, there seems to be nothing but increased amounts of negative feedback in the ever-unreliable mainstream media concerning the SNP and its goals. I can’t remember them all, but it began with the NATO vote at the conference. Then there was the “lying about legal advice” in respect to the European Union, to the apology just the other day by Salmond in Holyrood over inaccuracies in figures concerning education budgets.
Throughout this time I’d been throwing my hands in the air, despairing at what was going on, sinking further and further into an angry depression with regards to Scotland’s future. It was even causing a little “domestic dis-harmony” ... as my moods swung up and down with the “good-news/ bad-news” see-saw. And sure enough, it reached a bit of a crescendo this afternoon when my long-suffering husband eventually blew a small gasket.
When the harrumphing and grumbling had died down, and I’d returned from wandering the dog through his usual admiring crowds, a few thoughts had settled out and fallen into place.
There are two main problems as I see it.
One is the lack of support among women for independence. I'll come to that in a paragraph or two.
Meanwhile, although Unionists are still unable to come up with one single, solitary, sensible, non-patronising reason why we should remain part of this union of unequals, they are winning the Battle of Obfuscation and Confusion.
All they can continue to do is use the MSM to smear and malign and nit-pick at every little thing the Scottish Government does. Unionists are attempting the tactic called “death by a thousand cuts”. They repeatedly and frequently screach and scream foul; even when there isn't one; or take events and either invent negative stories around them, e.g. the Euro Legal Advice debacle, where it was shown Westminster would equally have not revealed any such information either; or they exaggerate erroneous or mistaken information to appear they are full-blown lies, spoken with the deliberate intent to deceive.
Moreover, their aim is to equate a post referendum independent Scotland with Alex Salmond and the SNP in power, in perpetuity; thus resulting in a sort of Shortbread Dictatorship, with no room for any democracy.
The problem here is, if you throw enough mud, it will eventually stick. Currently in the polls, Alex Salmond is considered trustworthy. However, there are two long years for the Unionist to lock and load barrow-loads of mire for firing in the general direction of Mr Salmond and the members of the government.
If a week is a long time in politics, two years must be verging on an eternity. I'm pretty sure the SNP are fully aware of this situation; what concerns me right now is they seem to have their guard lowered, and the jibes from the opposition are beginning to add up in column inches in the dreadful MSM. And whereas before, any taunt was easily shrugged off and explained as the bitter trumpeting of the opposition, seeds of doubt must now be being planted in heads across the country.
Lamont, Davidson, Rennie, Darling et al, may not be able to string a coherent argument together, but they don't have to when the MSM is constantly playing their nasty little sound-bites on a loop at the Scottish public.
My next question is about the lack of female support for independence.
I can only assume that these women are comfortable with the direction of their lives today and the thought of the Union maintaining this “status quo” after the referendum. The Unionist propaganda of negativity appears to have succeeded with these mothers, wives, sisters and aunts in regards to how uncertain life will become in an independent Scotland in November 2014. They are relaxed and confident in their Union rut, but afraid and unsure of the new independence road.
How on earth do we get the information across that post 2014 Jam isn't going to arrive; that if Whitehall really did intend giving extra and meaningful powers to Holyrood, they could and should do it now as a mark of respect and trust; that the perceived “status quo” will be nowhere near similar to what will be the reality; that the cuts that are ravaging the social services, health services, disabled benefits and child benefits etc., will also become a reality in Scotland, as will privatisation-by-stealth. You can’t expect to run and maintain the current level of living standards on an ever-decreasing house-keeping budget – see Barnett Consequential. In addition, all of the Unionist parties will indeed squander billions of pounds on renewing nuclear weapons just 30 miles from the Dear Green Place, instead of spending it on care for our elderly or educating our children or ensuring our disabled and vulnerable are maintained safe and well. And what of our Service personnel being dragged into future illegal conflicts?
How can we get our message over crystal clear and without the Unionists obsessive insinuations and, at times, out-right lies? Those lies that I now know were even getting me down; I was beginning to think “what’s the point?” I realise now they had been the root cause of my gloominess ever since I came back. They were starting to wear me down with the drip, drip, drip of negative propaganda.
So, what can we do?
As the independence camp has no real access to fair reporting anywhere in the UK, surely to goodness some cash has been set aside for buying advertising space in newspapers and billboards. If not, why not? How would we go about arranging this?
However, I expect it we will mostly have to do things the old-fashioned way. Each and every one of us will need to take some responsibility in delivering these important messages door to door, person to person, blog by blog.
Sometimes I wish I were there, walking with my pup, delivering leaflets, talking to people and knocking down barriers one myth at a time.