I HAD a teacher at school and when he got really cross he would say “By Jingo!” The phrase could be interpreted as a positive, confirming the truth, or importance of something, however, from the tone in my teacher’s voice it was obviously an expression of his anger about some misdemeanour or another.

When I saw the front page of The National on Tuesday night, before I went to bed, “BY JINGO!” is what flooded my head. I lay awake trying to remember how many times I have marched through Perth, Inverness, Oban, Campeltown, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dumfries. How much effort it took me to get to these places, how much money it cost in fares, and overnight stays. I tried, in my head, to calculate how many donations I have made to various parts of the Yes movement, and the SNP. How many letters I have written to The National. How many times people have disagreed, and agreed, with me in articles on social media. How many people I have spoken to who have not been persuaded by my logic, emotion, or enthusiasm. I thought of many of my companions, I ran through their faces in my head, and knew that they wanted was the same as that which I want, an independent Scotland.

I know that they, as I, have that one dream in mind. So to see the old chestnut of devo-max splashed all over The National’s front page – worse still, Chris Hanlon reminding people of it, for goodness sake, words fail me, and I find myself shaking and pulsating. I would probably be assigned to an anger management programme if anyone could see me right now.

We are all surely aware that “The Vow” meant absolutely nothing. Surely people who are reading this can see how the current Westminster government undermine our Holyrood parliament with their “internal market” legislation. Chris Hanlon suggesting that Boris Johnson would be more amenable to a Section 30 if this was part of deal makes me feel like crying.

Just recently – OK, I know the pandemic gave it a lift – Yes polled at more than 60%. We know how Tommy Sheppard has fought to gain access to the results of secret polling carried out by the UK Government on independence, and how, despite courts telling Gove that the information should be made public, Johnson and his ministers are terrified to publish.

We still live in a democracy, so I have to live, now, in this strange thing called the United Kingdom. I look to Holyrood and admire the pioneering legislation. The Scottish Child Payment, for example, and the Baby Box.

I see the Westminster Parliament over-riding legislation which was to incorporate the United Nations laws on the rights of children into Scots Law. We hear of desperate conditions that refugees are forced to endure, and even the deaths of some, whilst in the care of the UK Government. I read a press release which notes that, on average, Scottish people pay £840 fewer pounds in taxes and statutory charges than do people in England. Whilst one million Scottish pensioners will have £2600 less to spend over the next five years because the triple lock on pensions has been scraped by the UK Government. UK pensions are already very low, by the standards of many other countries. We see the UK Government increase the stockpile of useless nuclear weapons, as they commission the building of a new royal yacht, whilst swimming in a sea of corruption.

We still live in a democracy, but for how much longer? Who knows? A quick glance at some history books, or even a look at some films on the subjects of communism or fascism is enough to scare me when I look around the world, and to the south of our Scottish Border.

Here in Scotland the majority have voted SNP, time and time again, and that is the message that needs to be heard, and so we must be louder, obviously, for we still need to make it plain. Not to sully the conversation with third options, which will only confuse the many who take little interest in all of this, the very people we need to vote to make Scotland independent. One clear dream: independence, nothing less. “By Jingo!”

Cher Bonfis
via email