I was in two minds whether to publish this email or not. On balance I decided to do so because I, and I am sure many of you, have asked yourselves at times is all the effort we have put in over the years been worthwhile? Winning Independence is not a fast business. It takes huge efforts by many people, all working together over an extended period and success is not a frequent visitor. Setbacks and disappointments also interrupt the journey. so when Ashley’s email arrived last week it served to remind me of just how long I have been at this, just like many thousands of others. It’s also my birthday today so I hope I can be forgiven a bit of reminiscing.
I make no secret of my concern at the current lack of direction visible at this time and it is all too easy to lose hope. Ashley’s email lifted my spirits immensely to discover my campaigning had encouraged Ashley to join the fight for Independence and that his commitment was still there some 33 years later. That fills me with great pleasure and pride. Ashley was lucky, his first campaign in Govan in 1988 resulted in one of the most stunning victories ever recorded in elections in Scotland and he must have also been ecstatic with the creation of the Scottish Parliament at the turn of the century. The phrase I hope people will take from his email is that the SNP were a “fringe party” at the time. No longer after that night. It is my hope I can contribute to Alba experiencing the same success in the near future.
Message: Hi Iain
Just wanted to drop you a wee note by way of a thank you – I have and am thoroughly enjoying reading your blog and watching Through a Scottish Prism – thanks for all your output and analysis in the past year. I also just wanted to thank you for your contributions to Scottish politics and the SNP/ independence cause.
I joined the SNP at Govan in 1988 at the tender age of 16 – there were a few “firebrands” like yourself, Jim Sillars, Kenny Mackaskill, who really put fire into the movement and inspired many young folk like myself into politics. You had such amazing campaigning panache, putting the SNP, which was then still almost fringe, into the heart of the action with incredible campaigns such as “Say No to the Poll Tax”, “Send Nirex Packing” and “Save Scottish Steel” campaigns. It really was a few great campaigners like yourself who laid the ground work for the successes in the later 1990s, which built to IndyRef1 – I always thought it was a great shame and loss for the movement you didn’t enter the Scottish parliament then and remain more central to the SNP leadership. ( Editors note: two years previously I had invested my life savings into creating a new business in Estonia and for my young family’s sake that had to be my priority).
I joined you and Jim Sillars on a few of the “snappy bus” campaign tours for Scottish steel, i think in 1990 ? – trips to Clydebank, Vale of Leven, Ayr, Paisley etc with a team of activists on the wee van. I recall on one occasion the “snappy bus” being pulled over by the police as it had no seating on the back where some of us were standing while traversing the M8 – I think you had to get Gil Paterson to come out and fit a bench! I also vividly recall you with a plastic collection bucket in Clydebank shopping centre, so successfully you declared the campaign had become self financing! I joined the 3 day sit-in (sit-out?) and fast outside old St Andrews House which you and Jim led, and the torchlight procession from Calton Hill is a great memory. What a night in a sleeping bag on the wee strip of lawn outside St Andrews House, with the likes of Barbara Mullin, Alison Hunter, Jim Sillars and yourself. As young man of 17 / 18 it was great to be involved in these and your campaigning flair made these feel really exciting – your barnstorming oratory at conferences is still vivid in my memory. As are your musical comedy performances at the conference night party! ( editors note: they were certainly comedy!}
I’d also just like to thank you, somewhat belatedly, for being a really nice, warm and caring guy, a true gentleman – every day we were out on the snappy bus you always bought the wee team of mostly very young activists lunch and you were always such great fun and great company – you and Jim always went out of your way to make time for and engage with the younger activists – a real inspiration, a role model and a genuine catalyst for the rise of the SNP in 2000s. Wishing you all the best and looking forward to your coming outputs.
Yours for Scotland, Ashley
It has been a good week for compliments. I returned from Greece to find my copy of Jim Sillars memoirs book and I have now read it. It reminds me of what a fascinating history many of us ”old timers” in the Independence Movement share. How the SNP grew from fringe to being central to Scotland’s political future. Jim and I are close friends, we don’t agree on everything but it would surprise people just how often we do share identical views. As Jim states in the book it is important that people can disagree but still respect each other’s viewpoint and remain friends. That ability to keep everyone onside is not a strength of the current SNP leadership. Anyway he is far too generous to me in his comments as like Ashley’s comments about me I have, while not entirely agreeing 100% always been an admirer and respected Jim’s ability, and his confidence to be his ”own man” and stand on his principles. We could do with a lot more people like him amongst MP’s and MSP’s in Scottish politics today! We would not be in this mess! People like Jim would never tolerate the Government of Sturgeon the Timid. Neither do I.
I am, as always
YOURS FOR SCOTLAND
BEAT THE CENSORS
Unfortunately a number of pro Indy sites have turned out to be merely pro SNP sites and have blocked a number of bloggers, including myself. We have managed to frustrate these efforts to close us down through our readers sharing our articles and building our audience. In addition many have taken out free direct subscriptions. I very much appreciate this support.
Are available on the Home and Blog pages of this website. By taking out a subscription you will receive notification of all future posts. You will be most welcome.
A Difference of Opinion by Jim Sillars
Was published on the 2nd September and is a must read by those of us who have been engaged in the Independence battle in the last five decades. It is available from Amazon and many other outlets.