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Saturday, 13 September 2014

Another day closer to the dreaded referendum.  Feeling stressed out and depressed as hell we decided to 'plunge in' to the maelstrom and went to the Usher Hall in Edinburgh to see George Galloway and others.  On the trip down we kept a look-out for signs indicating support or otherwise for either side of the campaign.  Where we are, every window and garden seems to have a Yes sign, but on the way south and right into Edinburgh there were only a few of each.  Considering that nearly 90% of the population has registered to vote and that the polls are neck and neck I find this surprising.  In a general election you usually see a fair number of posters.
I hadn't been to a political event since the 1980s and early 90s, when I was an enthusiastic member of COHSE, the health service union and attended conferences and various protests in support of the miners and against health service cuts.  The only major politician I can remember seeing speak live was the late Robin Cook.  So, it was interesting to see George Galloway.  He's an excellent speaker and I agree with pretty much everything he has to say on this subject.  Brian Wilson also spoke. I was not a fan of his when he was a Labour minister, really, but I've always been interested in him and had an admiration for him because he set up the West Highland Free Press on Skye, and, curiously, I believe he may have had a cottage across the glen from my aunt's, in the late 1970s.
I feel very old.
I also feel very detached from my - what is the word? Compatriots?  Countrymen?  Citizens?  Even from the country itself - the land. I'm seeing it all through a new lens, as I said the other day.  I feel, in a way, in a definite sense, actually, that it is being taken from me.  By force. I took some photos of Edinburgh - beloved to me - knowing that it may be the last time I see it as wholly 'my' city.
We arrived at the right time to avoid parking charges and we brought our usual flask and some muffins to fuel ourselves cheaply for the evening.  I went along more from curiosity than anything else, because I was already sure of my views and what I heard only confirmed them.  Moment of the night for me was when a very old ex-miner got up and made a very moving short statement about his experiences during two strikes and the support he received from union members across the UK.  I remember that time very well, myself, and I cried a little because he spoke from his heart and I felt his pain, and because I too would hate to lose that sense of solidarity with the rest of the country. It would be like erasing a memory and losing part of my own personal history.  I don't think many people share that view though - possibly because it all happened a Long Time Ago, and the Unions have been decimated and nobody feels that way at the moment.  I think that if the Labour movement appeared more effective, so that people felt it and knew that it worked, nationalism would not have stood a chance.  However, sadly, that is not where we are.  So, History in terms of co-operation and supportiveness between the four countries of the UK doesn't seem to be part of this particular equation.  It seems that we all must move on.
I am even more depressed.
Gordon Brown spoke at the end.  I think he spoke well. I am glad he may stand for the Scottish Parliament.
But I remain absolutely completely and utterly depressed.  As two friends said to me yesterday, we should not even be IN this position.  We do not want to have to choose.

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