Jim Sillars: New generation can sow seeds for future

Rich Edinburgh voted for itself, meeting the No result with unconfined glee. Those of us who saw the misery of poverty in Scotland wept for the poor.
Yes supporters were left disappointed after the referendum. Picture: Jane BarlowYes supporters were left disappointed after the referendum. Picture: Jane Barlow
Yes supporters were left disappointed after the referendum. Picture: Jane Barlow

They will now pay the price for Scotland stripping itself of political power.

However, the efforts of the Yes campaigners will prove not to have been in vain. When I entered politics in 1960, a wise man explained it is not an arena where there is always direct correlation between an idea and effective action following. Political ideas are like seeds cast upon the ground. Some might rise while others seem to lie dormant – then, later, they come alive, relevant and real to the people we seek to influence.

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As for Alex Salmond personally, he will be a hero to coming generations, remembered as the man who sought with every fibre of his being to bring birth to a new Scotland. He will be remembered when those who defeated him will be long forgotten or, when remembered, be in the same class as Toom Tabard.

As for me, I will give all the help I can to the younger generation in their effort to keep the independence idea in the front of political life. Johann Lamont’s belief, expressed on television, that the issue has gone away is foolish wishful thinking.

There is a generation out there in Scotland, which voted heavily Yes, which is well educated and has an abundance of energy allied to determination to refuse to take No for an answer.

Over the lengths of our political lives, Alex and I have sown seeds, and some – the very best ideas – have been taken on board during the recent campaign by that younger generation.

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If Alex is getting the same messages as me, we have succeeded in inspiring the new generation with belief in themselves, a belief that is now so deeply embedded in their character and collective personality that there is no chance of its intellectual superiority being eclipsed by the dull, stale, negative, insulting message of the No campaign, epitomised forever by the picture of Ms Lamont smirking outside Asda at the prospect of rising food prices for the poor. One for the SNP, and others, to lock away for the elections in the near future.

When the dust settles there will be a dawning realisation that Cameron and his Labour allies, in their panic, threw around hostages to fortune, and that what they said and promised will have been as dishonest as the one made by Alec Douglas Home in 1979.

Already, the backtracking from the “more powers” promise is under way. Gordon Brown’s speeches on changes to the British constitution, such as entrenching the Scottish Parliament, were more like the ravings of a man who had lost his marbles. At the root of the sovereignty of the Westminster parliament is the assertion that one parliament cannot bind another. There cannot, therefore, be any act by one parliament that entrenches the Scottish Parliament that cannot be undone by its successors. It is impossible to believe that a former prime minister did not know this, which means when he made his speech he knew he spoke the impossible.

There is, of course, the little local difficulty facing the Labour Party in Scotland.

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It told its supporters to vote No, because they will be getting a Labour Government next May. There was an unspoken sub-clause to that claim – that if they did not get elected Labour would, again, deliver them into the hands of a Tory one.

Even if Labour does win the Westminster election, there is the not inconsiderable fact that Ed Balls has promised to introduce the next period of austerity by slashing £25 billion off public services, just like the Tories will do if they get in. Many like me will be glad to have voted Yes.

One thing I think is clear – there will never be another referendum. But don’t breathe a sigh of relief if, as a No voter, you have come this far down the page. Westminster allowed it only because the elite thought it would be a walkover – like 70-30. The campaign gave them a fright, so never again will they risk it.

But we do not need a referendum, where a biased BBC and print media could set the agenda each day in favour of their side, with attacks on Alex Salmond that were vicious in the extreme.

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No, come the 2016 Holyrood election, all we shall need is a majority of the votes and seats won on a mandate for independence, and Scotland shall have it. As I leave this column for the last time, that is something someone else will write about one day, not so far away.