Morning of September 19th, Scotland
If Yes wins:
Yes voters waking thinking the work is over and the world is going to be transformed will be disappointed.
Nothing, apart from one thing, will have changed and, for any chance of any transformation, the work will have only just begun.
If No wins:
No voters waking thinking the work is over and the world is going to stay the same will be disappointed.
Nothing, apart from one thing, will have not changed, everything else is changing fast, and for any chance of stopping those huge changes, the work will have only just begun.
The only thing that will definitely have changed on September 19th will be that now people in Scotland will have been the ones to make the decision that our sovereign parliament is at Holyrood or will be at Westminster. Whichever way it goes is less momentous than the fact that this time we are the ones who decide. And as for the question we’re being asked?
There is only one question:
Do we have a greater chance of shaping the world we need if sovereignty is at Westminster or Holyrood?
Everything else is irrelevant.
All the fear mongering and hope mongering, all the numbers pretending to price this or price that, all the talk that we won’t be welcome into some club, or that people will be desperate to have us – who knows?
The people telling us are just backing up their side of the argument; they’ve already made up their minds.
So all of that is irrelevant to the decision we need to make.
There is only one decision to make, and once you make it you’ll have to live with it.
If you decide Yes then it will be a Yes.
If you decide No then it will be a No.
That is the magic of democracy they don’t want you to know.
Why do you think the same governments that complain about voter apathy and low turnouts do nothing to change the system? It’s because democracy happens when people believe their vote will make a difference, and if enough people believe that they can make a difference then they are the ones in charge of the system, they are in power – whatever their decision.
When they believe their vote makes a difference, then those who hate the whole political game get out to vote – rather than just those desperate to believe it will work ‘this time’ or those fooled into thinking it works every time.
Look at the 1945 vote and Labour’s total, if temporary, transformation of the UK. Then in 1950 they went on to win the election by 1 and a half million votes, but it only gave them a majority of 5 seats. So they called the 1951 election, winning by a quarter of a million votes, getting more votes than any party has ever got in the UK until 1992, yet lost by 16 seats.
The belief we can make a difference, and the resulting huge numbers that turn out to vote, make democracy and democratic change happen.
Huge numbers voted in 1951 and 1952 but in a voting system that seems designed to frustrate and disillusion people, to gradually turn them apathetic, to make them gradually hand over their power.
However, a referendum (or at least one where 50% +1 vote wins) is very different. It is one where we know we can make a difference so we turn up and make a difference and democracy happens. It’s our decision, we have the power: over this one small but crucial thing.
Each of us deciding is part of a collective weighing up of the options, a collective plumping for one pathway or another. We are free to decide. However much one side or the other may think it owns the debate, it is up to us.
But it is also up to us on September the 19th and every day thereafter … and maybe that is how to decide which way to vote.
If you decide to vote Yes in the hope of making change happen, we will have only changed one thing. And it will be up to us to then work to try to make all the changes we hoped for happen. If we sit back on September 19th then everything that brought you to a Yes will be taken from you.
If you decide to vote No in the hope of stopping change happening, we will have only stopped one thing, and it will be up to us to then work to try to stop all the changes we fear happening from happening. If we sit back then everything that brought you to a No will be taken from you.
In the strange game of how we organise ourselves, the only level at which we the people seem to have any real say over how our world is run is by deciding the Government of our sovereign country – but what country?
We will wake up on September the 19th to find out whether we’ve chosen to be governed by Westminster’s system or Holyrood’s. The question is simply: which do we trust more …
- In terms of those things about our society that we love and that we have, (or loved and lost) – which do we trust will help keep or regain them?
- In terms of the things we find wrong and painful in our society – which do we trust will help resist those wrongs and heal those hurts?
In the end, or maybe in the beginning, on September 18th we the people will make a decision.
All the accusations and revelations, promises and threats, policies and identities, will count for nothing compared to the question of trust.
And it may not even be a question of “who do we trust more to run the place for us?” Maybe all those running Westminster and those running Holyrood believe that they know best, while we watch them hardly lift their eyes to the not-so-far-away horizon where species and societies and our children’s future is crumbling beneath their feet, and plunging into climate chaos.
Maybe it is not a question of trusting them, but of trusting ourselves. They may well not yet understand what we need to hold onto, and what we need to let go of. Few of us, or none of us, may understand that yet.
But which do we trust we can change when we need to? Making which choice is most likely to help us realise that it is up to us not up to them?
Paradoxically, and probably, it is not the threats and accusations, the policies and promises, the personalities and identities, that will resonate and decide this for us, but it is how politicians and people on either side of the argument behave.
And since this is an existential moment – a moment of decision on where power is to be decided from here on in, not a decision on which person or party is in power for a few years – it will not be how the media and powerful forces seek to portray how the politicians and people on one side or the other behave that will decide this, but how they actually behave. Where, really, is the integrity?
This does not need a TV debate nor celebrity endorsements. It does not need a knock out round or a Gordian knot of complications. It is being decided over time in the hearts and minds and guts of us all.
This is too important to be left to politicians or the ‘experts’. There are innumerable answers to any question we may like to put, and none is without its spin, none is to be trusted.
Yet trust is at the heart of this.
And trust is what people are returning to themselves through this process. However hard those with power moan about this being an interminable process, however much they’re desperate it is over and done with.
The process shows where real power lies, and it is not in lies.
Power does not lie in corporations, celebrities, economists or politicians. The power lies with us, whichever way we choose.
And it is worse than that for those who are in power (in power for as long as we don’t realise we are the ones who day after day give them our power).
Whatever way the vote goes, if we choose then we’ve won.
There may be bad depression on the losing side; there may be a tumult of triumphalism on the winning side.
But having tasted this process once, we will know full well that all it takes is acting on our power, and that acting on our power inevitably brings a torrent of twisted denial and deception by those wedded to controlling us. Whichever parliament we decide is sovereign, the people will have decided. So hereon in it is the people, not whichever parliament, that is sovereign.
Do we have a greater chance of shaping the world we need if sovereignty is at Westminster or Holyrood?
- Which do we trust we can better hold to account?
- Which can we more easily change when we lose trust in them?
- Voting which way is a greater expression of trust in ourselves?
The question is not really about them; it’s about us.
We’re told we to decide with our heads or hearts, but neuroscience tells us decisions are made in the whole body, in the common sense of our bodies.
Despite the wishes and the curses of those who are so entrapped in power they think they can entrap us all through their press and their accusations, their threats and their promises; this is a decision we don’t have to think our way into, or feel our way into – whichever way we decide it will in the end be decided in our common sense and through our common power.
Fossil fuel divestment campaign Gathers momentum
The world has a choice when dealing with climate change. One is to decide it’s a problem like any other, which can be dealt with slowly and over time. The other is to recognise it as a crisis, perhaps the unique crisis in human history, which will take rapid, urgent action to overcome.
Science is in the second, scared camp – that’s the meaning of the IPCC report issued last month, which showed that our planet is already undergoing climatic shifts far greater than any experienced in human civilisation, with far worse to come.
And those of us urging divestment from fossil fuel stocks are in the second camp too – we recognise that business as usual is quite simply impossible.
In fact, the most important feature of the IPCC report is probably that it adopted the analysis put forward by Carbon Tracker analysts in the UK and divestment activists who started their campaign a year ago in the US. The scientists’ report quite explicitly said that most of the coal and oil and gas that the fossil fuel industry has identified and plans to mine or drill must remain in the ground to avoid climate catastrophe.
That in turn is why the fossil fuel industry, when it isn’t in outright denial about climate change, falls into the first camp: slow, measured change would be nice. Because then we could pump up all the carbon we’ve told our shareholders and our banks about. Because then our stock prices will stay nice and high. Because then we won’t have to confront reality – otherwise known as physics – for a while longer.
The gulf between these two camps poses a huge question for those who might think of themselves on the sidelines. Those, say, who own shares in the fossil fuel industry. In the US, a number of colleges, churches, and universities have begun to divest those stocks, arguing that they can’t both simultaneously decry the wreckage of the climate and try to profit from it for a few more years.
The mayor of Seattle explained that his city was already spending millions building seawalls – what sense did it make to invest in the companies making that work necessary? The trustees of San Francisco State University recognised that it made no sense to have, on the one hand, a physics department understanding climate change and on the other hand, an endowment full of oil and gas stocks. The United Church of Christ, which traces its roots back to the Pilgrims, decided it couldn’t pay the pastor by investing in companies that are running Genesis backwards.
This same opportunity is becoming part of a worldwide debate. From Africa come some of the loudest voices demanding divestment: Desmond Tutu, who watched the effectiveness of the movement a generation ago when it was stock in apartheid-tainted companies that was at issue, has asked us to take up the same tool. “If you could see the drought and famine in Africa, you would understand why,” he says.
And it’s not just North America responding. The Uniting Church in Australia, Anglican dioceses in New Zealand, and now the UK’s Operation Noah have launched Bright Now – a church divestment campaign whose first success came earlier this month with the Quakers in Britain announcing they will disinvest from companies engaged in extracting fossil fuels making them the first UK Christian denomination to do so.
In addition, UK university students are increasingly engaged in divestment campaigns as evidenced by the work undertaken by People & Planet. To date there are 19 active divestment campaigns across the UK including universities with the largest endowments: Cambridge, Oxford and Edinburgh.
We’ll be looking to grow the campaign this month with the Fossil Free Europe tour, a divestment road show with stops in Berlin, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Birmingham and London.
Everyone involved in this campaign understands that divestment won’t in fact bankrupt Exxon or BP or Shell, but they also understand how important it is to politically bankrupt them. These are now rogue industries, committed to burning more carbon than any government on earth thinks would be safe to burn. Their irresponsibility belongs to their executives and boards of directors – but it also belongs to anyone who holds their shares. If you think that climate change is a true crisis, then the time has come to sever your ties.
Fossil Free Tour — Global 350 Comes to Scotland — 30th Oct 2013
By Mike Small
Many of us found inspiration from the work of Bill McKibben, the movements founder, an American writer who was one of the very first people to really understand what was happening with climate change. His seminal work ‘The End of Nature’ was published in 1989. Since then there’s been a slew of books from him including ‘Fight Global Warming Now: The Handbook for Taking Action in Your Community’ (2007) and ‘Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age’ (2003) and more recently ‘Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet’ - to name just three.
Now Bill and the 350 Movement are coming to Scotland with the message:
“If it’s wrong to wreck the climate, then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.”
This autumn, McKibben – will lead the Fossil Free Europe Tour. From Berlin to Amsterdam – then to Edinburgh on the 30th October. As with previous sell-out tours in the USA and Australia, he will make the case for how the core business model of the fossil fuel industry is destroying our climate, and poses the greatest threat humanity has ever faced.
This won’t be a typical lecture, but a multi-media experience that will help galvanise the movement. McKibben will bring together, on stage and on video, an impressive group of social movement leaders, organisers, climate scientists, and opinion leaders to make the case that divesting from fossil fuel companies is not just morally just, but ecologically and economically smart. He will do so in collaboration with local movement leaders and live musical performances from the ground-breaking artist Filastine.
Here’s Bill’s famous, brilliant and scarey Rolling Stone article ‘Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math’ from 2012 with 6577 comments – which shook America.
Thanks to Mike Small for this take on Bill McKibben and the Fossil Free Tour, first published on Fife Diet.
What is Holyrood 350?
Holyrood 350 was launched by people from across Scotland who are actively working to reduce their communities carbon footprint coming together to ask:
How can communities help the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood to tackle the fundamental drivers that are threatening all our futures, and how can we support them to enable communities to build their resilience and tackle these causes at the local level too?
We were responding to the message of top climate scientists that CO2 in the atmosphere must be reduced from what was then (when H350 formed in 2009) 390ppm to bring CO2 down to below 350, to avoid a rise of 2 degrees and catastrophic climate chaos.
As people from climate active communities the length and breadth of Scotland, we fully appreciated the ground breaking Climate Change Act brought in by the Scottish Government and passed by our Parliament. As people fully aware of the lack of progress in international negotiations - at Copenhagen, Cancun, Durban, etc. — we were clear that the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund is a globally unique, cutting-edge way of inspiring and helping local communities to demonstrate that reducing carbon emissions can increase community cohesion, infrastructure, energy security and well-being.
We see the Scottish Government as being in a unique position to continue taking the lead in the race out of carbon, not only through ensuring that all our energy needs are met through renewables, but by enabling all communities to make the transition to resilience through adopting a clear framework in which communities can flourish. By doing so Scotland can demonstrate to the world how rising to the challenge of climate change can enrich rather than impoverish us.
A sketch of the draft Resilience Strategy for Scotland we produced is here.
HOLYROOD 350is currently co-ordinated by Justin Kenrick of PEDAL Portobello. It was set up by him and by the following people who were at that time involved in the following community initiatives (most still are):
Andy Ross Glasgow CRAG, Mike Small Fife Diet, Lucy Conway Isle of Eigg, Eva Schonveld PEDAL Portobello, Rachel Nunn Going Carbon Neutral Stirling, Nick Wilding Falkland Transition, Jonathan Dawson Findhorn Ecovillage, Jane Grey Let’s Live Local, Abi Morden Urban Roots Glasgow, Alan Drever Sleat, Isle of Skye, Alan Brown Transition Linlithgow
We have spoken very clearly through different media at different times — e.g. through our excellent event in Parliament — but after a break of a year or two where local activities took over from pushing in this way at the national level, we are asking:
- Is Holyrood350/350 Scotland a crucial initiative to revive at this fluid time in Scottish politics? If not, fine — there’s plenty else to be doing! But if so
- What is the best way for communities to speak and effect change at the national level in Scotland today? and, more specifically,
- Should we redesign and relaunch this old old website as 350land, and reconvene (virtually &/or face to face)?
… let us know your thoughts!
justinkenrick (at) yahoo.co.uk