Hey everyone. As someone who voted yes in last year’s independence referendum and is also a paid up member of the SNP I will state an opinion which I’m sure many of a similar hue may privately believe but won’t admit to. You see if I’m honest I have mixed emotions on pro independence website Wings Over Scotland.
On one hand I truly admire and respect the hard work and dedication of the Reverend Stuart Campbell who produces a very high quality analysis of the theatre which is Scottish political life. The Wee Blue Book he produced was a game changer for some people who beforehand had never even thought independence was possible. Without this invaluable resource these people most of whom were not politically aware let alone active, would never have dared to question the authority of certain sections of the printed news media such as that well known Voice of Scotland The Daily Record or that most impartial of cultural institutions aka the BBC.
That said however, there is another less pleasing side to Wings. This has less to do with the politics of the site, and more, and I mean a lot more, to do with social and cultural views expressed on other issues. For example I detest the transphobic language he uses to describe people such as Chelsea Manning.
As a transwoman myself I hate and I do mean hate anyone misgendering me or anyone else within the trans community. This is something which makes me unspeakablely angry and the phrase hell hath no fury takes on a whole new meaning when this happens. You see the way I see it is I cannot be guilty of double standards, so if I don’t let the general public away with such behaviour then I can’t and won’t excuse it just because someone was and still remains on the same side as me on this particular issue.
My view on independence is that it is not and cannot be a destination for our people to settle. To me the purpose of independence is that it is a starting point for a new journey to a better country. This is a country which is inclusive and has room for all our citizens, I do not nor will I ever believe in a country where to quote George Orwell ‘some are more equal than others’. depending on one particular aspect of their personality or genetic make up.
As far I’m concerned I want to live in a Scotland of fairness and that means fairness for everyone not just yes voters or SNP voters. You see when I say everyone, I mean everyone. This is the way it has to be and this fundamental principle is not and will never be negotiable. To paraphrase a comment made by my yes voting friend and fellow poet Jim Monaghan we should not forget that there are many people who voted no have been our allies in other struggles and will be again in battles to come.
This is something which should not be lost on us. Indeed we should treasure the fact and I for one value the support I have received from friends across the political divide such as former Liberal Democrat candidate for both Govan and Glasgow Central Chris Young. Also Chris’s fellow Lib Dems Caron Lindsay and Scotland’s greatest most loveable super heroine the force of nature that is Sophie Bridger. I also cherish the encouragement I received from my former colleague Pam Duncan who like Jim and Glasgow councillors Aileen Colleran, Marie Garrity, and Stephen Curran is a member of the Labour Party. And you know what even the Tories have their good guys and Glasgow councillor David Meikle is definitely one of them. Unlike some I don’t go in for all this SNP/ Yes, Good, Everyone Else Bad, kind of attitude. This is not the way I do politics nor will it ever be.
This may also be why although I write on political issues tartantights is run more in the style of a chatty but hopefully thought provoking magazine rather than being a totally political site. Well there are many different sides to me and I want to express them all. I am not just an SNP member, yes voter, or political activist, I am also a transwoman, a Celtic fan who loves rugby and gaelic football, Donegal are and always have been my team, I am a former graduate from a top Scottish university, I am a self identified disabled person I have both epilepsy and a balance condition who has worked as an equality trainer, and I am also a Christian who attends my local church of Scotland every week. I want to make sure that my readers get the full picture of my varied and interesting life rather than just a snapshot.
That could go a long way to explaining, why though I find Wings an interesting read on the odd occasion, I tended to steer undecided voters to sites such as Bella Caledonia, National Collective, Newsnet, and Wee Ginger Dug during the referendum. I also got people to read my own blog before recommending Wings to others.
One of the reasons why I took this action was the fact that I though I found it informative I just couldn’t forget the misgendering of Chelsea Manning. This deliberate act of transphobia is not only culturally wrong it also smacks of a social ignorance which tells me that once independence is achieved myself and the Reverend Campbell may want it to go in somewhat contrasting directions.
I also believe that Wings was more preaching to the converted rather than making the conversations until the publication of the Wee Blue Book. Whilst this is great news for people like myself who needed to shelter from the constant scaremongering of the unionist press this was not the place for those of faint hearted who are normally apathetic on the day to day political issues. These voters were the ones we needed to win and my fear is that Wings was far easier for opponents to demonise than say Bella or National Collective.
The fact that Wings writes from Bath rather than living in Scotland is something which leaves him open to criticism and I must admit I understand this to a certain degree. To me at least however, Wings supporting independence from outside Scotland is not the same as John Barrowman doing so. As far I am aware the Reverend Campbell is not a multi millionaire with easy access to press and media, so that tends to put that argument in to context in my opinion.
Truth be told I do read Wings sometimes and tend to think that it can a bit too be strident when compared to Bella, or even the Wee Ginger Dug. It did, and for that matter still does tend to dismiss the opinions of those yes voters who are not members or supporters of a pro independence party and it certainly doesn’t consider the opinions of what I would call soft unionists. Whilst this may not be intentional, ignoring those voters particularly second category is not the way to win friends and influence people, and it certainly won’t win gain us support for our cause. In fact it could go in the reverse direction and we may lose supporters it took years of hard work to convince. Let’s just say though we both share the same opinions on hard-line British unionists such as. Ian Davidson, and Margaret Curran I am far more likely to make common cause with those unionists that I believe may be prepared to meet us halfway such as Murphy’s deputy Kezia Dugdale, Cathy Jamieson, Katy Clark, and Malcolm Chisholm.
So though I will no doubt continue to occasionally dip in to Wings Over Scotland, it is not a site I will put on my recommended reading list and that is due to the kind of independence I believe in. It is for that reason that I have decided in the words of the Westlife song I’m flying without wings and believe me I’m happy to so.
Love And Best Wishes