It wasn’t just any wet Saturday, for it was round 3 of the Scottish Junior Cup. Meadow were at home to Talbot, and much more importantly Pollok were taking the road and the miles to Dundee, hosted by the local Violet. Nervous days, cup days. But we weren’t going, and those days are even more nervous when you’re not there, don’t know what’s happening. Instead I had the hottest ticket in town.
The Hydro in Glasgow has had some big events since opening earlier in the year. There have been Commonwealth Games medals, and a few singers. But Saturday was different, and the tickets went quicker than Kylie’s, or Beyonce’s. For this was Nicola’s day, at the end of Nicola’s week, and the start of our next chapter.
On the way out a wag was heard commenting that the only way Cameron could draw a crowd like that was if he was being hanged. On a Glasgow Saturday afternoon 12,000 people gathered to listen to speeches, to engage in politics. 12,000 people; politics. Have you ever heard the like before?
Eddi Reader and Lou Hickey set the mood – I love No voters, said Eddi, I’d love to give them a country. The it was ramped up big style. A ten-man ensemble took to the stage, unusual beat combo. Lead and base guitars, keyboards and drums, then the brass section, trumpet, ‘bone and sax. But centre stage, the big noise, was reserved for…. three pipers. These were the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, and live, in the Hydro, with 12,000 gathered, they are pretty immense.
They sent the warm-up on next, a chap called Salmond, you may have heard of him; you will again. Standing ovation, just for being there. Then he spoke, roused the rabble. It was a real privilege to witness the address of a colossus. The new Deputy Leader, Stewart Hosie, proved to me I was right to give him my first preference.
Then The Boss arrived. To ensure we sat down again she had to threaten to sing. Engaging politics, in Glasgow, on a wet Saturday, that crowd. Our country has changed. Even as we gathered, trending no. 2 on twitter, worldwide, the party membership surged again – more than 2,000 new members since the bunfight started. Over 92,000 now. The previous week, the party conference weekend, it was a mere 85,000. The movement continues. You don’t have to vote labour to save Scotland from the tories, she said, we’ll do that for you. Besides the voting labour route has been tried and failed time and time again. Never again.
And Scotland looks forward, like never before, to a Westminster election in a few short months. The SNP will back non-member candidates. The Leader is talking of alliances beyond, with Plaid Cymru and England’s Greens, all incidentally, led by girlies and all opposed to Trident. All too excluded from TV debates, at the moment. There is a real likelihood of a hung parliament, as UKIP takes votes from The Establishment; and Scotland says goodbye, and good riddance, to Labour, forgetting not their alliance with their Tory comrades. I fancy a minority government, having to fight for votes on an issue by issue basis from the minor parties, can only be good for the four nations, all of them.
Even the BBC gave mention of the gathering. One of the most important short addresses of the day came from the floor, from Richard Walker, editor of the Sunday Herald. From Monday his team will bring us a daily paper, The National, with the same pro-independence slant. But, and there is a very big but, he has consent only for a five day pilot. Five Days. At 50p per day, and 30p download subscription, [text aye and email address to 80360] we need to make sure his 50,000 print run sells out. We know from experience the value of the press, and the damage of the propaganda. Then there’s pur broadcasters, but one step at a time.
So having been in the Hydro, part of the crowd; having listened to those speeches, I’m utterly convinced that our nation has changed for the better, with no going back. Westminster next May will change too.
And we had Dougie MacLean with his Caledonia, bringing the house down as the whole cast gathered, and as the audience sang. An impromptu Flower of Scotland sent all homewards, hearts lifted, eyes misted, full of hope; no fear.
And over in Dundee it was a 5-0 away win. Round 4 beckons, the winning run and the shut-outs continue. Boy Urchin’s team had won in the morning, before he saw the Scottish rugby team win too, at his first international thanks to Favourite Uncle. So a good day was had by all. And a nation goes forward. Don’t forget your copy of The National every day this week.