Cat Boyd: I’m a socialist and I believe in independence

I was born in March 1985 when the miners’ strike met its brutal and tragic end. I mention this because, now that I work in the trade union movement, I face the daily task of rebuilding the collective power of working people.

Coming from an Irish Catholic background and growing up in Lanarkshire, my experience of life is not particularly unique to the west of Scotland. My grandparents were miners and domestic workers, but my parents benefited from free education, good housing and post-war social mobility. Like many others from the same background, they worked in the public sector, were members of the Labor Party and read the Herald every day.

Like any good teenager, I have railed against this new breed of Scottish middle class. I was politicized by the illegal invasion of the war in Iraq. Days after my 18th birthday, Baghdad lit up orange with “Shock and Awe.” So my memory of that Blair government was very different from that of my parents’ generation.

CONTINUE READING: Pro-independence advocates need to be honest about the cost of radical change

Less wage guarantees and decentralization, more war crimes and the murderous complicity of the centre-left. I joined the Stop the War Coalition, an organization I still support and defend to this day.

When it became clear that independence would be an important part of Scottish life following the SNP victory in 2011, I founded the Radical Independence campaign with other members of the anti-war movement.

Our arguments for a Scotland liberated from NATO, the monarchy and the current economic system that dominates the globalized West were not particularly popular at the time. But in 2014, the RIC claimed that independence was a matter of social class and that the wealthiest voted “no”.

After 2014, I and a minority of Socialists recognized that the SNP would now be consolidating working-class votes and, like its New Labor predecessors, would rely on those voters and take them for granted. This threatened to destroy the positive energy of the independence movement. I ran for an outsider party, a newly formed left-wing party: once again, popularity wasn’t our forte.

But honestly, politics was never my all-encompassing passion. I’m also studying Creative Writing at Glasgow University, mainly writing poetry and making films and art. It’s my sanctuary from an activist life, which I’m not really cut out for.

Since 2016, my perceptions of the world have changed on both a political and personal level, particularly in relation to things like identity politics. But I’m still a socialist and I still believe in independence, just not the version of it that our current government holds.

What is the point of being independent when NATO controls your foreign policy, the European Union controls social policy and the Bank of England makes economic decisions? That’s not independence at all. I no longer belong to any left-wing group and can express myself freely as I wish.

My daughter was born at the trough of the 2022 strike wave and she forced me to face the political landscape with hope again. Nick Cave once described hope as “being optimistic with a broken heart”: It’s perhaps the smartest motto I’ve ever heard.

Sometimes I’m not really sure what I’m thinking. I refuse to be part of the Outrage-Industrial Complex. Hopefully you will find a sense of intellectual curiosity rather than ideological certainty in my columns. Too much is lost when everyone feels they always have to be right.

A few years ago I had a weekly column in another newspaper and each article was charged with a genuine anger that I just can’t afford today. Anger is an important energy, but not at the expense of reason or tenderness.

Today, I am a much gentler person because of experiences, losses, and psychological pain, but also because I’ve learned that true, meaningful connections like solidarity are made when I let my guard down a little, show humility, be confident. Doubt, forgive others, and try to believe that people I disagree with really believe they are trying to do the right thing, no matter how difficult it may be. I write everything in good faith and hope you can read it as well.


Grace Reader

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