We Did This

Mhairi Black will know how this feels…you wake up with a mouthful of sand, the Orange Order big drum is pounding, your stomach thinks you’ve eaten anchovy ice cream and you wonder if you’ve already died. After a moment or two, you wish you had. Aargh! The hangover. That’s what I get when I remember we have five years of a Tory government ahead– zealotry unplugged.


So why can’t I suppress a feeling of optimism and release, a kind of heady excitement about where we now are and about the future? Everybody I meet says something along the lines of unbelievable result, but a Tory government…urgh, sentiments I share 100 per cent, except in my case the balance tips in favour of buoyancy. I guess I take all the questions and doubts, the what ifs and worries, ball them up and throw them in the bin. I do so because our country has changed. It doesn’t matter how you view it or which side you’re on, the amazing thing is that the Scots are different today from two years ago. A transformation that social anthropologists would identify as group change has occurred, altering our view of ourselves, the world around us and our direction of travel. It’s the realisation that we are united, sure and defiant. We stand for something. Isn’t there a hint of rebellion in those smiles of the MPs taking ownership of Westminster, a look of insubordination, of nonconformity? There is a touch of daring, a cockiness we admire and which formed the basis of the young Alex Salmond’s appeal. I see in their faces beamed back to Scotland the collective thrill of knowing we did it. Look. Here we are. This is where you sent us. We made it. I saw one tweet describing how some of them stopped on the way home to show respect at the William Wallace Memorial in Smithfield. It said Tommy Sheppard wept. I hope that’s true. The battles of the past belong there but we are all connected with our ancestors and take inspiration from them. And in that moment they seem to say: this is who we are. I’ve spent my life hating the cringe that tells us we somehow need approval to be ourselves – our vernacular culture, the way we talk – as if there was a higher being judging us. It is the very basis of the inferiority complex that stains our national character and leaves an opening to acceptance of failure as if second best was all we deserved. If you let them, others will judge you and for me my nationalism is a response to that. I went from blaming others to realising this is my life and my country and my decision. I choose Scotland.



They said it couldn’t be done, the Scots would collapse when their bluff was called on  independence and in the end they were right but did they get a fright? Did they end up panicking and promising the world to save their skins? Oh yes, I think so. And now an election where even I thought it was beyond us, we did it again – rocked them back on their heels with a ground shaking result that still hasn’t been truly quantified for its long-term implications. We wiped the floor with them…all of them. Gordon Brown. Darling, Davidson, ‘my-family-will-be-foreigners’ Curran, McDougall, Murphy, the Alexanders, the Daily Mail, the Express, Cochrane, the online Union Nutters and every Brian Wilson-Michael Kelly Establishment apologist…can you hear me? You took one hell of a beating.


And was it based on identity? Well, all national politics is. That’s why we have a Welsh Senned, Stormont and a Proud-to-British Prime Minister. It’s why Labour are now wondering why working people don’t identify with them. The important thing is that identity isn’t the sole purpose of your politics but a frame within you make politics work. That’s what we have been doing – framing a politics that suits us, the Scots, developing positions that broadly suit the people who live here and defining what kind of country we want to be. That’s precisely what Labour should have been doing instead of trimming to meet the aspirations of people who live elsewhere with different needs. I read that leadership candidate Yvette Cooper described our amazing result as based on ‘anger, fear and division’…what an ill-informed, arrogant and bigoted woman. I fear with that kind of dismissive ignorance of progressive politics, Labour will never again win Scotland. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/15/labour-history-leadership?CMP=share_btn_tw

Labour are making mistake after mistake in England and in Scotland – where I suspect a fudge will mean a list placing for Murphy (the best place to be next May, not a constituency) before he agrees to move aside. This is about Jim’s career, not Labour, and never about Scotland or democracy.

The Tories in seven days have unleashed the dogs of war which may provoke a reaction in the North and will certainly increase SNP support bringing forward the constitutional schism that sets Scotland free.


I was in touch for the first time in 20 years this week with someone who has devoted his life to the cause and we expressed the elation of change brought about by people educating themselves, others joining up, door-knocking, arguing, some blogging but all believing…believing that only cowards are scared of change and that they will always tremble before the naysayers…believing that there is nothing – including huge majorities – that can’t be overcome if you work hard enough. That belief frightens the Unionists because to them it is irrational. But it is no more irrational than their belief in Britain, it’s ‘values’, its planned poverty, its nuclear weapons and its Tory class war. That’s their belief system.

The real triumph today is looking at the greatest election win in our history and knowing that enough of us came together, believed and would not be deterred – exactly the spirit we will need to make independence work. It is our preparation. Look at the electoral map from coast to coast and let it sink in…this is our country. We did this.

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53 thoughts on “We Did This

  1. Yes we did and you are all welcome xx

  2. Brilliant piece Derek, keep up the sterling work

  3. Well written, as ever, Derek.

  4. More power to your nib! If I could buy you a drink, I would.

  5. “We wiped the floor with them…all of them”

    Oh, yes we did!

  6. Enjoyed that Derek. Well written and so true.

  7. Bugger (the Panda)

    I cannot disagree with any sentiment here. I tear in my een.

  8. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant

  9. Scottish self determination was always a battle between the people of Scotland and the Westminster establishment but so long as we kept sending British Labour representatives en masse to London,Westminster could claim that most Scots were content with the status quo.
    Well…no longer.
    As you say Derek,Scotland has spoken loudly and clearly and despite what Cameron and friends may think,We are going to decide our future not the English elected government in Westminster.
    People didn’t vote No in the referendum,at least the majority,to save the UK but many out of financial concerns and that is what we have to work on from now on.
    Thanks Derek.

  10. Loved all the selfies of them in the HoC Chamber and elsewhere to the tune of snide remarks from Tories that such behaviour wasn’t allowed, and smacked fingers for daring to clap when the correct Westminster, Mother of Parliaments response was a boules-in-mouth, ‘Here, here!’

    Long may they continue to ignore and flout such conventions. Westminster should not be a closed old boys’ club, with doors locked to those who voted. We are part of this and we want to know what goes on, and for centuries old cobwebs to be flicked away and binned. Long past time for a good spring clean.

    • They can always start some new parliamentary conventions, like clapping when they hear something they agree with. I’m sure there are more too they can “amend” to suit, like calling for the “hat” or sitting where they want. I liked the photie of Mhairi on the terrace eating a piece and chips! Well done hen.

  11. jacquescoleman

    They really did piss you off in the last few weeks didn’t they? Never mind they did the same to me. But whereas in the past I would have been fuming at the insults by Labour, the Tories and their fellow travellers in the English and Scottish media, this time I just got mad and retaliated on Twitter and LAUGHED at them because I could see that we, Scots, were actually controlling the shots and that they were inneffective…and best of all, they knew that I knew that they were inneffective. Their ‘subsidy junkie’ insult no longer carries any weight because EVERYONE in Scotland and rUK who is of normal intelligence now knows that to be untrue so only ignorant fools still use it.

  12. Derek,
    Nicely worded piece and a week on it is still hard to believe such a stunning result. I was on duty as a polling station agent in Falkirk between 7.00 and 9.00am. Never having done this before I did not know what to expect. No agent from any of the other parties appeared whilst I was there. There was a decent crowd waiting outside before the station opened, all smiles and good humour. Over the next couple of hours I got lots of thumbs up, smiling faces and even people wanting their photograph taken with me! So, by the time I handed over at 9.00 I was pretty sure something special was happening and I said to my wife I think we might get over 40 elected. My goodness, to get 56 is amazing. The job now is to persuade 1 in 4 of the 49.8% who did not vote SNP to change their mind in time for Holyrood 2016 and to convince the 50.2% who did vote SNP to stand firm. In that scenario that would give 62.6% to SNP which surely would qualify as a change of circumstance that would bring Indy#2 back on to the agenda. It is sickening that the Tories are back in for 5 years. You have to hand it to them that they have played a blinder to decapitate Labour, Lib Dems and UKIP. Parliamentary arithmetic means there is little our 56 can do to overturn Tory priorities but what they can be is grit in the parliamentary wheels until they fall off and they can constantly expose the absurdities of Westminster. I do hope they make a point of ridiculing all the idiotic conventions of the place at every opportunity and always have in mind they are there to settle up, not settle in.

  13. jacquescoleman

    “A transformation that social anthropologists would identify as group change has occurred, altering our view of ourselves, the world around us and our direction of travel”

    Hear, hear, to that. Personally I was always a proud Scot but I had some doubts about my fellow countrymen during those last fraught few weeks. I needn’t have worried. They stood up strongly against the nasty insulting pressure to give us a resounding victory. (I would have said ‘stunning victory’ except that English TV presenters are now using that phrase sarcastically in TV interviews to display their bitter sour grapes at the result.)

  14. My husband and I have been members of the SNP for 47 years. Nothing the Westminster Establishment do can shock us any more. Labour or Tory in Westminster, it’s all the same. Vicious in their intent to do down the Scottish aspirations, and save individual careers. It’s been a hard and slow road, but now we have a chance to finally get the respect the Scottish people deserve, and we will NOT be ignored anymore. So proud of our 56.

  15. Great article Derek, cheers me up for the weekend. A new beginning. We can do this.

  16. Your best article yet. Enjoyed it so much that I read it twice. Thank you.

  17. If Yvette Cooper gets the Labour leadership and continues to hold those views on Scotland then Labour will only maybe revive in Scotland if their Scottish members assert themselves and declare UDI for the Scottish branch. I’m not holding my breath 🙂

  18. Excellent Derek. We were mob handed in Stonehaven, my first “campaign” after 54 years on this planet. Such a rush watching the results come in, whooping at the TV.

  19. Katrine Paterson

    Good to see you so chirpy Derek after all the doubts have been washed away with the yellow tide. I’m looking forward to our proud 56 showing the ‘rest’ how to behave in a civilised manner during debates. They are more than ready to deal with the ‘old boy’ brigade. It’s about time they all grew up and started behaving like adults instead of shouting at each other across the dispatch box.

  20. Heidstaethefire

    The last time I was on the winning side in a general election was in 1974. God, it feels GOOOOOOD!!!!

  21. Well said, that man. We should all be proud of our new ’56’ and support them any way we can.
    The photo of Mhairi with her chips was just beautiful – says it all! Get stuck into that olde worlde club and show them who you are.
    A sleeping giant may have been disturbed.

  22. You put into words the thoughts and feelings I found so hard to articulate to many people as to why its was so important to vote YES in the Indy ref . And now those same people are dazed!, not just because the SNP achieved such a stunning result at the GE, but because THEY were the very people who PUT them in Westminster and you know what? They loved it, are loving it! We created change! WE decided and it happened! We are Scotland and we have come to the party… And we always bring a Kerry Oot!!! Slàinte!

  23. Steve Asaneilean

    Brilliant piece Derek – and so evocative.
    I will do a bigger piece tomorrow as I want to share Brian Wilson’s latest spite, venom and pish from the WHFP that most of your good readers won’t have the pleasure of seeing otherwise.
    But you are right about Cooper and the rest of them. (Not) Labour in Scotland actively pursued a negative campaign because ultimately their view of politics is negative -” you don’t agree with us or do what we tell you then you are bad”.
    They assume we did what we did for negative reasons when nothing could be further from the truth.
    We voted for hope, choice, trust, equality,honesty, change. (Not) Labour offered none of that in Scotland and that road is the road to their demise, perhaps permanently if nothing changes.

    • Oh God,not the Highland Wee Free Press again!
      Wilson needs to be put out of our misery as well as his.

  24. Norman Martin

    I’ve been involved with every GE since 1970 and this is the time my candidate won. Whew, that took a while!

  25. dennis mclaughlin

    I enjoyed your article too Derek,I was on night shift as the results came in but had ma lugs pinned go my radio!.
    Our current broadcasting setup in Scotland will need a severe overhaul before we countenance Indie Ref 2….

  26. Karen H Marshall

    ‘ this is who we are. I’ve spent my life hating the cringe that tells us we somehow need approval to be ourselves – our vernacular culture, the way we talk – as if there was a higher being judging us. It is the very basis of the inferiority complex that stains our national character and leaves an opening to acceptance of failure as if second best was all we deserved. If you let them, others will judge you and for me my nationalism is a response to that. I went from blaming others to realising this is my life and my country and my decision. I choose Scotland’

    I always enjoy your writing Derek but you have truly struck a chord with this piece.The country has changed because the people have changed. I, like many others, was raised to respect my ‘betters’ and bow to the belief that we ordinary Scots are inferior. It was not a deliberate approach adopted by my widowed mother but somehow we were imbued with a feeling of Scottish inferiority and that we should aspire to be more like the polite, authoritative, clever southerners. BBC spoken English was the defining feature of being ‘better’, more refined, more acceptable. Worst of all, we not only saw ourselves as inferior but we also saw each other as inferior, second class citizens. No wonder we had low self esteem as a nation. On the up side we developed a sense of humour and an ability to laugh at ourselves. Our Tartan Army of football fans is testament to our ability to enjoy the journey regardless of the outcome. Since the referendum, what I see reflected back at me is a nation of people to be utterly proud of, warts and all. We may not be perfect but we have become unified through a new found self respect and mutual respect. We like what we see in each other and, as you say, we now choose Scotland – rather than just accepting our fate of being Scottish. This is in huge part down to the excellent writers that have emerged in Scotland who are capable of articulating the viewpoint of the Scottish people and reflecting back to us a positive image of ourselves, and you are foremost in my mind when i say this. You channel the nations emotions and act as a conduit for new ways of being and catalysts for change.This nation was neither educated enough, brave enough or confident enough to embrace independence last September; I cannot believe we are still that nation. Thanks to people like you, we have come of age and will not be fooled twice. Independence is now a moral imperative..

  27. Steve Asaneilean

    Okay – couldn’t hold back till tomorrow. So here’s the world according to Brian.

    “Sound and fury about powers will not yield a single tangible benefit”

    “Perhaps even the least gracious can now acknowledge that on issues from fuel discount through broadband funding to the Crown Estate Danny Alexander did not forget where he came from” (forgetting that DA blocked full devolution of Crown Estate income, that 60% of the cost of every litre of petrol went directly to DA’s beloved Treasury and that rural broadband is utterly pish for most of us).

    “One MP in office is much more useful than dozens in opposition”

    “It’s a pity that Charles Kennedy was swept away” (no it wasn’t)

    “Miliband’s problem was the straight forward perception that he did not cut it as a potential PM”

    “John Smith was firmly of the Right of the party; Tony Blair won three elections by appealing to the centre ground; Harold Wilson won by coming from the Left but governing from the centre”

    “Scottish politics is now defined by the constitutional question…the only dividing line that matters and all issues affecting families and communities are wholly secondary”

    “Once the novelty of a one-party statelet has worn off there might again be an appetite for the politics of making a difference. I will not hold my breath”

    So there you have it. SNP bad. The 50% of Scots who voted for them (not a feat Not Labour can ever claim) are eejits. All we care about is the constitutional question – not about trying to create a better, fairer, more equal, more tolerant, more honest society. No, according to Brian these are all just after thoughts for us 50% ers.

    Oh and we now live in a one party statelet. So tell us Brian what was it when (Not) Labour were in charge of Westminster, Holyrood, and most of the big Scottish councils all at the same time?

    • Anne Galloway

      Brian sounds a bitter and angry wee man.

      • They say he used to be a left winger. When we lived in Lochalsh we used to buy the WHFP (just for local news you understand). Every other week Brian would pen some piece of vitriol about Alec Salmond that stretched logic beyond credibility. I thought at the time this guy needs help.

  28. Bravo Derek

    We won YES.. and it;s a start. Next the SE 2016 and then off we go for Ref2. No matter how we vote the English always get the govt they want. My sympathy is wearing thin as they have condemned their poor , unemployed and disabled to 5 more years of a brutal and cruel austerity package that has driven folk to death.

    We now know what we have to do . people are prepared and buzzing with the results . No voters are seeing the value of the union everyday in the MSM and WM . They deride us Scots but we’re laughing at the bitter losers.

    Cheered me up big time reading this Derek.

    More of the same please 🙂

  29. Derek you just keep giving me inspiration. We will be free some day but it could take a while.

  30. Good article

  31. Telt ye. 😀

    Like I said, keep bangin’ that tambourine Derek.

    Superb post.

  32. Am I the only person to think that the Tory victory is just part of the stars aligning in favour of Independence?

    The choices now are

    Tory, austerity, neoliberal; xenophobia and UK


    An opportunity for something better.

    Former Labour supporters now have the clearest of clear choice -take the risks and uncertainties of independence, or the certainties of Tory.

    Project Fear has imploded in on itself – and the choice is Which Fear is the lesser?

    No more pretend Labour ‘representatives’ to hold their hand and reassure the fearties will be all right if the just vote Labour.

    It occurred to me tonight – where are those guys who descended on George Sq after the referendum with their Nazi salutes and violence now????

    Not celeberating are they?

    • Andrea, in 2007 after the first SNP victory, I said ‘It’s written in the stars’ no idea how prophetic this would be!

  33. Yvonne Russell

    Your article embodied all that I have been feeling this last week. We took a few days off and drove from South Lanarkshire all the way up to Nairn, and then back down via the west coast and Oban. So up and down the length and breadth of our country. And do you know what? It was a wonderful feeling to drive knowing that everywhere we went, we were in an area that had voted SNP. It just gave us such a feeling of hope and optimism, especially after the disappointment of last year. Hope that with 56 representatives, our nation will come out from the shadows, and optimism that as a country we came together to do this, and that we can work together to allow Scotland to flourish into the nation that we should be.

  34. Elaine McDougall

    A great piece, yet again. Derek you are up there with Bell and MCWhirter in my view. Thank you and keep it up.

  35. Stephen Coyle

    Great post. 300 years of cultural imperialism and consequent inferiority complex is really starting to unravel.

  36. Yes we did! 🙂

  37. Congratulations on another inspirational piece of journalism. Truly, you are commenting on history in the making.

    On my journey to work I pass two or three SNP constituency MSP or MP offices. George Kerevan is my MP, and I have met him. I got to speak directly with the First Minister. I went to see Alan Bissett’s play during the festival, met him and Elaine C Smith, then went to see David Hayman’s play and asked him a question too. Alex Salmond visited my workplace. I saw Leslie Riddoch and my wife got her copy of Blossom signed.

    All within the last year. The point is, we are a small nation and the connections between us are very close. Our great and good aren’t six degrees of separation away, they are one or two. And that gives us great strength.

    Nicola Sturgeon walks down the street and crowds gather to support her, Cameron has to be surrounded by armed cops.

    That is a profound difference.

    • Steve Asaneilean

      Absolutely Peri – when I had reason to express concerns last year to my local MSP about the future of health services in my part of the world he passed them to the then health secretary Alex Neil who then phoned me at home to discuss!

      Can’t imagine Jeremy Hunt doing something like that this side of infinite impossibility.

  38. Liked that Derek – thanks!
    I note your reference to the two ‘sides’ of the argument. I’ve been slightly astounded at the apparent shift in attitude amongst some of those I know, from a strong no, to a range of views that include the Ruth Davidson approach of ‘ well if it happens, we will just get on with life’ to the unexpected ‘when the next referendum comes, we will be ready for the change’
    I’m thinking that the very existence of ‘different sides’ is morphing into ‘different viewpoints’ and that that in itself helps to promote and lubricate discussion. Hell, even being able to offer folk at work a read of the ‘National’ is a huge step in that discussion.

  39. Heidstaethefire

    In essence, we are now independent. It just needs the politics to catch up.

  40. Fabulous piece

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