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Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

Today we have a treat for our readers, an essay by a fellow Yesser Ian Brotherhood.  
Ian is the author of Bulletproof Suzy, Wee Ned’s day and other novels. He is also The National crossword compiler.
He is a fine artist and you can see some of his work here  http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCy554STwRLtPkgkjWRuBAfQ
I want to thank Ian for his contribution to the site and hope others will come forward with an article or two.
So enjoy and please share.


Nothing can stop Scottish independence – not even it’s most passionate supporters.

It’s not easy to say sorry if you really believe you were in the right. But sometimes it’s not clear who was right because the kaleidoscope has been shaken and the pieces have yet to settle.

So it is with the seemingly interminable arguments surrounding Scottish independence. Almost a decade after the SNP first attained a majority in the Holyrood parliament, thus laying the foundation for the first referendum, there have been many changes in the political landscape and powerful voices have emerged via social media: A Wilderness of Peace (Al Harron), Bella Caledonia (Mike Small), Scots Goes Pop (James Kelly), Wings Over Scotland (Stuart Campbell), Peter A. Bell, Wee Ginger Dug (Paul Kavanagh) – just some of the names whose opinions on the various matters surrounding independence have gradually entered mainstream discourse.

They do not speak as one voice. This isn’t the place to dissect the sometimes bewildering permutations of attitudes, analyses and interpersonal relationships, but to the average observer of this important debate it can often become overwhelming. What is the substantial difference of opinion between Bella Caledonia and Peter Bell when it comes to ‘exercising the mandate’? Why did Stuart Campbell drop Scot Goes Pop from his list of recommended indy-related websites? Why doesn’t anyone ever quote Gerry Hassan? Does Darren McGarvey support independence or not?
The questions go on and on, and by the time we feel close to establishing an answer to one, circumstances have changed, the focus of attention has shifted, and the pieces have been stirred again. There seems no fixed point at which a reliable, truthful, accurate snapshot of the ‘indy movement’ can be captured.

That’s why the imminent General Election is so important. Regardless of our personal stance on independence (and there must surely be more than 57 varieties if we try to accommodate all the recipes which have been suggested over the years), Monday December 16th will be the day on which we can view a completely fresh landscape and begin the tortuous process of reassessing everything yet again. But between now and December 12th, when the polls open on one of the shortest days of the year, we will be bombarded with non-stop appeals via mainstream media, and social media will provide scant respite.

Very few of us realised what was going on in the run-up to the EU referendum, but we are older and wiser now. Terms such as ‘search engine optimization’ and ‘sales funnels’ meant little, if anything, but the revelations surrounding Cambridge Analytica and the behaviour of a certain Dominic Cummings have forced such terminology into the consciousness of an electorate which has paid dearly for its ignorance, being subjected to years of mind-numbing shite masquerading as meaningful discussion as a direct result. We now know that the technology exists to create bespoke manifestos tailored to our individual needs *in real time*, and that the intelligence required to maximise the efficacy of such wizardy is increasingly in the virtual hands of intelligences which, impressive as they may be, remain essentially ‘artificial’.

There is not a solitary one of us, no matter how committed to the idea of Scottish independence, who perfectly embodies everything that the ‘Yes’ movement represents. It’s impossible. Just as no political party can ever hope to fully represent the myriad viewpoints of members. But the ‘magic’ of social media marketing strategies has made it possible for all parties (if they can afford it) to promise everything to everyone at all times, and whether they do it by distraction, omission or outright lying, the aim is the same – to catch our attention and keep it, by whatever means necessary. That’s more achievable if we’re being told what we want to hear.

But is this really ‘politics’? Are we being invited to exercise our critical faculties in weighing-up the offerings from parties and pressure groups? Is there any truly ‘democratic’ process at work here? As with much of modern food and music, we may convince ourselves that we ‘like’ this or that fast-food or such-and-such an album ‘dropped’ by the latest girl band, but we know, with some shame, that these are mere simulacra.
That’s why argument and division become refreshing, even welcome. They signify human presence, weakness, foibles – those qualities which may most annoy us about an adversary (especially if s/he is ostensibly ‘on the same side’) are conspicuously absent in robots and algorithms. No matter how ‘intelligent’ the robot may be, it cannot be arrogant, snidey, sarcastic, and it is not prone to drunken outbursts or fits of pique. No algorithm is going to harbour festering resentment over a comment you made about something it said five years ago, and it is not possible (yet) for robots to make arrangements to have a square-go in a car park.

The arguments are not, in themselves, of long-term importance, but it’s vital that they happen all the same. And it doesn’t really matter if Stuart Campbell and Mike Small and James Kelly have a big night-out where they all have a rare time and become lifelong buddies. It doesn’t matter if the SNP members currently slicing their membership cards into small pieces in frustration over the GRA ‘controversy’ ever rejoin the party or not. Will Gerry Hassan ever come off the fence? Is it of pressing importance that we find out who the spooks are within the Yes movement? Does David Mundell deserve any role in Scottish public life post-indy? If Kaye Adams came out as a Yesser’ would you believe her?
None of it matters.

All that’s important, right now, is that as many of us as possible vote for the SNP on December 12th and get the Tories out of Scotland once and for all. That’s what history will record and the generations to come will remember. And if that involves some of us eating a wee bit of humble pie and saying ‘sorry’ to people we’d normally cross the road to avoid? So be it.


Good read and well said Mr Brotherhood. 

It is vital to increase the number of SNP MPs as a show of defiance  to WM policies and as a platform to launch the independence campaign on a high note when it comes.

Get registered to vote if your not and use it.

PS:   Enjoy doing my X-word every day in The National.  🙂

D. R. Cunningham.

Well said, Ian. Most Scots seem to me to be admirably  thrawn and carnaptious (ten in a room : twelve viewpoints) so it's inevitable and healthy that the movement itself has a wide variety of opinion. Hugh MacDiarmid was a fine example of a man of such contradictions.It seems to me too that independence of mind will keep us right rather than the "hivemind" we've seen Unionist attribute to us Indy/SNP cultists.

Whatever our views on the party and its tactics, it is the only vehicle to Indy2 and we need every vote we can get next month. The electoral campaign, canvassing, leafleting and talking to the folk we meet at the bus stop should focus minds quickly and let's not forget we are up against some really dark forces which will be out to crush our dream of independence.

Well said, Ian. I think we sometimes forget that most voters are neither staunch Indy or staunch Yoon, and that most of our differences not only pass them by, but that they are not even aware of them. Let’s just get the indy supporting vote out this time!

Well said Ian and I agree , sometimes it is hard to realise that not all voters can see things as clearly as others , and very few voters have the time or inclination to search or investigate claims , this is where sites like this are so invaluable for information and knowledge

Thanks for this thought provoking article Ian. It sums up where I feel the campaign is at the moment. I will vote SNP because there is no other viable route to independence. That means suppressing some very great misgivings about some aspects of policy. Maybe the SNP is infiltrated by plants which are shooting up everywhere now. Perhaps the timing suggests the reason for their presence in key roles. Perhaps we can add the Alex Salmond trial into the web of deceit which aims to degrade support.

There is a determined media effort to divert attention from Scotland and the SNP and focus almost exclusively on England and the two "main" parties (well actually the two wings of the Tory party, every day on R4 is Festival of Tory Britain), which are conducting a bizarre Dutch auction offering voters bribes running into billions if only we will vote for them. The media are on their side. That leaves the streets and door knocking to us. We are thicker on the ground and more able to engage people directly. that, is our strength. We may get encouragement and support online but it ts the face to face effort which counts here.

More articles like this please!

That needed to be said Ian B.


ALL of us together isn't a serving suggestion. A population isn't just made up of folk all singing from the same hymn sheet on every single subject under the sun. We only need to be like minded on one thing...  🙂

Thanks for the responses. Much appreciated.


Ian Brotherhood

There's no doubt that the heat has been turned up and things are much much hotter this time around than they were pre 2014. The stakes are undoubtedly higher since the Independence movement is looking to be the likely winner in a second referendum so it's not surprising that disagreements and a certain amount of friction is being generated.

The people you mentioned have all been around for at least the past 6 years, this is tiring as well as being frustrating for many and we are seeing some of that online and on social media. We mustn't forget either that at least some of this can be directly attributed to opponents of Independence and their pet media. Two items are most prominent, the first of course was all about the timing of Indyref2 for close to or even more than 2 years now the media and our political opponents have been insisting that the SNP require another mandate and that has to come in the Holyrood election 2021. Absolute bullshit of course but people will take sides and splits are caused into those who want to believe that Indyref2 will be the Holyrood elections and those that are convinced the SNP has no intention at all of having the referendum unless we give them another mandate in 2021.

This is a media construct and was designed to do exactly what it has done and that is to cause division. The second major issue they have been printing and talking of is the Section 30 order, total confusion abounds as to whether this is permission from the UK government to hold a referendum or not? This has created divisions even within the SNP themselves with calls for a "Plan B" and maybe a plan C & D as well. With all this going on and being bombarded with it for years it's to the Independence movements credit that the splits aren't deeper. The powers that be will be very disappointed in how little they have managed to fracture us and will be totally dismayed when a good chunk of Scottish Unionist MP's are thrown out on the arse to be replaced by Independence supporting SNP MP's at the coming election.

I reiterate your message Ian, of all of us getting behind the SNP in December and let's get rid of not just the Tories but any MP who is a Unionist and replace them with true Independence supporters. If we are to be Independent then we need to be fully behind those most likely to provide the means to do so by providing another opportunity for the people of Scotland to have their say. That is the SNP.

Thank you Ian for a very thoughtful and insiteful article, it really needed to be said. Thank you also, to all of the good folks who have given a response to you. All of the above, and more, is how I feel at the moment.


I really have sort of flipped the off switch in my head, because all of the Brexit nonsense, all the shillyshalling about will there be an election or won't there has all become too much. For the sake of my own mental health, I have stepped away for a wee while. Like others, I am not at all happy with the SNP and  the GRA nonsense, but, there's always a but, this time I will have to hold my nose and vote SNP. That has never happened before, I can always vote for them quite happily. Strange times indeed. And while I'm at it, what the blue blazes do the greens think that their up to, why stand candidates in marginals, when they haven't a hope in hell of being elected and split the Indy vote. Sigh.

Ach well, a few more weeks and maybe the fog will have lifted. I can't wait to see what Nicola will do when the great blawhard says NO. Nice to see a few freindly faces together again here. Take care folks.

Hi Marie


Pretty much same here. And couldn't agree more with both Ian B and Thepnr. The one thing we hold onto? I'd say that's about who we want to be. Regardless of politics. Regardless of the political class in general.

People just want to be better. 🙂

It's on a bit of a roll, Michael Fry Conservative for YES and of Wealthy Nation fame (a great Indy Ref 1 resource):


is on it too:


"Michael Fry: After all I’ve said it’s still SNP for me this election"


Forum for discussion of Scottish independence and a second independence referendum.