Friday, 14 November 2014

#ThanksAlex

I remember when I first became really aware of my nationality.  Back in antediluvian times I was about to sit my O grades, and we had to fill in a form.  We were made to sit in a lecture hall while the teachers walked us through the process of filling in the required information.  We came to 'Nationality'.  I was about to fill it in as 'Scottish', but was stopped by a teacher and informed that 'Scottish' was not a nationality, and that I must put 'British'.  I was puzzled.  I was born and lived in a country called Scotland, therefore my nationality was Scottish.  British made no sense to me.

Three years later there was the first referendum on Scottish Devolution. I was very new to the voting process at that point, but I read about the issues and voted Yes.  As history shows, the result of the referendum was a Yes, but due to last minute shenanigans it was disregarded after the implementation of the notorious 40% rule.  It was my introduction to the duplicity of politicians and was something of an eye opener.

In 1997 we got another referendum on whether we should have a Scottish parliament.  Again I voted Yes.  Again we won, but this time the result was accepted and the Holyrood parliament came into being.

Up till that point I had been a Labour voter, in the tradition of my family.  However, politics for me was something that went on in the background and I wasn't a member of any political party or really politically active.

I first really became aware of Alex Salmond as anything other than a name when I saw a party political broadcast from the SNP some time after this.  It consisted of Mr Salmond talking to a group of people.  I don't remember the content of what he was saying, but I remember being struck by how natural he was in talking to people, how he avoided the usual cliches heard from politicians of every stripe.  He impressed me far more than any of the other politicians of the time.

As Holyrood developed, I began to lean more towards the SNP and began to vote for them in all of the elections, local, Scottish and national.  Still, however, I wasn't quite ready to make the move into actual political activism.  The game-changer was, of course, the recent referendum on Independence.

I'd like to thank Alex Salmond for making the referendum possible.  It was unfortunate that Yes didn't win, but I suspect that, in terms of the grand plan, the majority in Holyrood was unexpectedly early.  Had the majority not been won until 2016, I suspect we would have won a subsequent referendum.

I'd also like to thank Alex Salmond for leaving a legacy of politically aware and, in many cases, active ordinary people.  No longer is politics seen in Scotland as an esoteric pastime only enjoyed by a few anoraks.  Instead thousands of people are getting out and trying to make a difference.  Even those who are not active are far more aware of politics and are less likely to simply follow the old traditions.

I hope we haven't seen the last of Mr Salmond.  He's not perfect by any manner of means, but he is head and shoulders above the current crop of party leaders.  Indeed, if rumours are true and he stands for Westminster again, he could be a thorn in the side of Westminster for sometime to come, standing up for the interests of Scotland.  Won't that be a sight to see.

#Thanks Alex


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