We didn’t want to be talking about this subject, but as it’s the last time for a while that we’ll be able to express ourselves without fear of prosecution, we thought we had to take the opportunity.
The Hate Crime Bill passes its final stage today in Holyrood and a new raft of potential offences gets introduced. We’re not sure how politics, journalism, comedy, theatre and every other form of critical expression is going to survive this legislation. It’s a rare piece of writing that can unite the police, the Law Society, the Catholic Church and the National Secular Society but that is what the HCB has done. And that’s before we even get onto how this is going to be used to silence people arguing against self ID. When all of this is taking place against a background of twitter pile ons, de-platforming of speakers at universities and prosecutions and threats against women, it’s hard to think that this legislation will be used in any other way. It won’t be used by the average polis in the street who have got bigger issues to grapple with, but it will be used by the white collar police on twitter to shut down anyone they deem as offensive. It’s frightening stuff.
And yet, this is not what is exercising us today. Our grievance goes far deeper than that. It is what is not being discussed today that is our concern.
The SNP and Greens together have had control over Holyrood for five years. During that time, we have had Brexit and we now stand on the edge of an economic cliff. The vote for Yes has been consistently 50% or above for the past 22 polls. And yet, in the dying days of parliament, when there is still an opportunity to call for a plebiscite, independence is not being discussed. Instead a deeply unpopular and flawed bill is being used to run down the parliamentary clock while cheeky chappies like ourselves are being upbraided for daring to suggest that the big parties might be putting their time to better use.
Those of us who were campaigning for independence in 2014 would have given our eye teeth to have 22 polls in a row for Yes, two months before the vote. It only happened once and then we got The Vow when Westminster panicked. Now we have the ball at our feet and a clear shot and yet we’re not kicking? Why?
As we said, we didn’t want to be talking about the HCB today. None of us envisaged either that we would be campaigning for women’s rights with the continual threat of cancel culture hanging over us. We are not sure how we got to this place by voting for parties that put independence forward as their main policy. But we do know this.
If the remainder of parliamentary time passes without declaration of a plebiscite, and if we do not get an indy super majority in May, then we can wave goodbye to an independence vote until 2026. You heard it here first. Don’t wait until 2026 to do something about it.