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Alan Bissett and the « Yes » Campaign in the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum

Morag J. Munro-Landi
p. 183-203

Résumé

Among the many writers and artists involved in the « Yes » campaign for the Scottish Independence Referendum in September 2014, the author and performer Alan Bissett stands out. His fervent commitment, as part of National Collective, involved speechmaking at rallies, public debating, poetry recitals on- and off-line, and the creation of referendum-themed poetry, plays and essays. His international(ist) socialism is paradoxically combined with a firm belief in the necessity for an independent republic, as opposed to the Scottish National Party vision of an independent state in which the current monarchy and establishment ethos still have a place. At the same time, he recognises the vital role played by the Scottish National Party and Alex Salmond in triggering the popular will for independence. Popularising key issues through his cultural productions, in varying registers and tones, he confirmed the need for an alternative way of doing politics. His commitment continues today for the upcoming Holyrood elections in May 2016. As a politically committed creative, he will be involved in the brand new party RISE (Respect, Independence, Socialism, Environmentalism) Scotland’s Left Alliance.

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Introduction

  • 1 Macwhirter, I., Disunited Kingdom: How Westminster Won a Referendum But Lost Scotland, Glasgow: Car (...)

There were far-left people involved, especially in the Radical Independence Campaign, but they never dominated it. […] and there was no sign of class war or any of the anarchist groups who turn up at meetings to counsel confrontation. Instead, there were plays, poems, songs, wish trees and people talking about dreams of a better nation.1

  • 2 Bissett, A., “How Scottish Theatre Predicted the Referendum”, Bella Caledonia, accessed on 04/04/20 (...)

Theatre is the most immediate way to see social changes reflected in art. […] A play can not only be written and rehearsed in a matter of weeks, and can develop a narrative over at least an hour, but takes place live, creating a circuit between actors and audience which intensifies emotions, heightens political consciousness and, most importantly, stresses the communal experience.2

  • 3 Alan Bissett, extract from our e-mail exchange with Alan Bissett based on a set of questions the au (...)

1An activist who has arguably emerged as one of the most striking figures within the creatives’ Scottish Independence campaign “one of the most significant historical events my country has ever seen”3, is the Falkirk-born poet, novelist, playwright and performer Alan Bissett. This paper proposes to examine manifestations of his active commitment to the cause of Scottish Independence.

  • 4 MacLennan, D., Introduction to Bissett, A., Collected Plays 2009-2014, Glasgow: Freight Books, 2015 (...)
  • 5 1948-2014, actor, writer, producer ; brother-in law of John McGrath and member of the 7.84 troupe; (...)
  • 6 Òran Mór, opened in 2004, is a major Scottish lunchtime theatre venue, which collaborates nationall (...)
  • 7 The Ching Room, Alan Bissett Collected Plays 2009-2014, Glasgow: Freight Books, 2015, pp. 1-48.
  • 8 David MacLennan, ibid, 2015. The travelling theatre company 7.84 Scotland was created by John McGra (...)
  • 9 Bissett, A., 26/08/2015.
  • 10 The Moira Monologues (2009), Collected Plays, pp. 145-204, “which toured Scotland to great acclaim” (...)

2Alan Bissett, a literary figure in his own right, (Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Writer, 2011), who has been described as the “leading edge” of the wave of new Scottish playwrights4, has a number of novels and plays to his credit, among other things: for example his narrative for The Shutdown (2009), a prize-winning short film documentary that focuses on the Grangemouth Oil Refinery and an accident there in which his father was seriously injured, in 1986. Bissett’s early career included teaching creative writing – at Bretton Hall College, now part of Leeds University and in the M.Litt. Creative Writing course beside Janice Galloway and Tom Leonard, at Glasgow University, as well as doing readings and workshops in Scottish primary and secondary schools. He is still much sought after by schools to encourage reading, among boys especially. From 2007, he became a professional writer and started to write plays in 2009. He was encouraged at the outset by the late David MacLennan5 to write a play for A Play, a Pie and a Pint, lunchtime theatre produced at Òran Mór, the pub in a converted church in the West End of Glasgow.6 His first play was The Ching Room:7 “It shares with all his work a zest for language, a sure feel for character and a strong moral purpose. It came as no surprise to me that Alan had admired the work of 7:84 and Wildcat and he is one of the younger playwrights in whose capable hands that tradition is thriving. Alan is the complete theatre man.8 Bissett was/is indeed inspired by John McGrath, as he says: “Hugely. McGrath was a creative artist, who understood the relationship between theatre and social change, in that the arts are always an integral part of a people’s struggle for self determination.”9 His performances include international festival venues from New York to Melbourne and Beijing, and his own The Moira Monologues one-woman show10 which toured Scotlandwide.

  • 11 The Pure the Dead and the Brilliant, Jock or Scotland on Trial (2014), Collected Plays, pp 108-144 (...)
  • 12 Bissett, A. and McKillop, A. (eds.), Born Under A Union Flag: Rangers, Britain & Scottish Independe (...)
  • 13 See <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-znkbMzi4A>.
  • 14 This poem was first recited at the Yes in the Park event in Glasgow on 07/06/2014. See <https://www (...)

3The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant and Jock: Scotland on Trial, both 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival plays in which “you can very easily see [McGrath’s] approach”,11 are particularly relevant to our discussion here, as is a 2014 collection of essays Born Under a Union Flag: Rangers, Britain and Scottish Independence.12 Of his referendum-themed poetry, we shall be referring to “Vote Britain” (2012)13 and “Vote Scotland” (2014)14.

  • 15 Bissett, A., 26/08/2015.

4Situating Alan Bissett further for readers unfamiliar with him, he featured on the now well-identified “Aye! Have a dream!” National Collective list of independence supporters among artists and “creatives”, and thenceforth took on a whole new dimension through his public expression of his political sentiment towards, and through his ever-valiant promotion of, the “Yes” campaign: “Yes” to independence; “Yes” to Scotland making all the important decisions not only about currently devolved matters, but also those “reserved” to Westminster. Bissett, who self-avowedly got involved rather “by accident”, not being a member of any party but being galvanised by the prospect of a new Scotland, is pro-independence, yet he does not see himself as a nationalist; indeed, he is an internationalist socialist. Nor does he see himself in any media-defined extreme left position: “socialism is about collective responsibility not ‘radicalism’.”15 He wishes, however, to see a new independent Scottish state, and, what is more, a socialist republic. At one of the rallies, archived on Aye Right Radio, he explains his complex and what some perplexed politicians/activists on the UK left might call, paradoxical, standpoint :

  • 16 Aye Right Radio; the extract is from a speech dating back to 30/04 2014 that is representative of B (...)

I am not a nationalist. I’m not even sure I know what the term means, to be honest wi you, because it’s one that is bandied about quite a lot, usually by the other side to denigrate and make toxic the movement for Scottish independence. So when people use it they say “you’re nothing but a nationalist”, and I have to say “well what do you mean by that?” If by that you think that after independence I want to round up every English person in Scotland and shoot them, naw. If by that, I think Scottish decisions should be made in Scotland, that Scottish people should be able to control their own economy, their own political decisions, their own defence decisions, their own foreign policy, their own welfare, then, aye!16

  • 17 This refers back to a remark made by Joyce Hendry about the politically committed writer Neil M. Gu (...)

5Not content with pen-pushing17, very keen to “create a circuit” between artists and voters, “heighten political awareness” and create a “communal experience”, with what appears as a “strong moral purpose”, Bissett was out there for all to see, and hear, and read. His natural conviction of how vital the speaker-hearer relationship is for passing on ideas served him throughout. In no way, then, is he an “ivory tower” author writing for a select huis clos literary elite.

6Having said all this, in this paper we shall endeavour to focus on three main areas. Firstly, we shall examine the ways in which Alan Bissett has imposed himself and his culture onto the debate, striving to convey his message both in person and virtually. Following on from there, we shall consider Bissett’s separatist ideology in the light of the umbrella “Yes Scotland” campaign movement’s line of thought. Does he identify at all with it, the façade of “Yes Scotland” seeming unavoidably to be that of Alex Salmond and the SNP, despite the inclusive advisory committee which “Yes Scotland” appointed ?

  • 18 Camp-Pietrain, E., L’Écosse et la tentation de l’indépendance, Villeneuve d’Ascq : Presses Universi (...)

At it’s head is Dennis Canavan, a former Labour MP in Westminster and MSP in Holyrood; he is helped by well-known figures stemming from various backgrounds: […] Elaine [C.]Smith, actress, […] Pat Kane (singer of Hue and Cry), Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh (a former member of the Conservative Party), Sarah-Jane Walls (a company head), and Colin Fox (Scottish Socialist Party) as well as Patrick Harvie [Scottish Green Party].18

  • 19 Wilson, R., Foreword, Bisset, A. and McKillop, A., (eds.), op. cit., p 15. This sentiment seems to (...)

7Finally, we will turn to questions of discourse, that is, not only the content of his various interventions so much as the resonance of images and campaign themes throughout his writings, as culture and politics merge. We shall see how his political discourse is launched directly at his listeners, or on the contrary, inserted into discussions of what might seem a rather unexpected domain for political debate, for example, the world of football, in particular that of Rangers Football Club. Perhaps in Scotland this is not as untoward as all that. According to Richard Wilson, “Football is, beautifully, both a simple and a complex sport. It is part of our everyday existence and so overlaps, enhances and contributes to every other aspect of our lives. We must embrace that.”19 Discourse also involves matters of tone and register: in the pragmatics of Bissett’s approach to his implied or real viewers/spectators/listeners/readers, what are his varying strategies?

Getting the message across

  • 20 Bissett, A., “Vote Scotland”, 2014, line 10 (our transcription).
  • 21 Bissett, A., 26/08/2015.
  • 22 Bissett, A., 26/08/2015.

8Which means of expression did Alan Bissett use to convey his political message for the Yes to independence? His public commitment led him to take himself and his art into the arena of political and social life, taking a brave stand for independence; all this despite bad weather: “We walked the streets on cold, wet nights hands tight and numb”20 and right-wing scorn of “politicised artists as luvvie air-kissers”21. “I was ferociously attacked by the British press, but regularly experienced goodwill in the street from people I’d never met before.”22 The extent of his conviction made itself felt within the re-emergent participative democratic process of public debate in Scotland. His own sentiment fired up that of the already captivated attendees at the various independence rally venues, time and time again :

  • 23 Bissett, A., 30/04/2014.

Myself, Caroline, Mike – we’re doin this kind of stuff almost every night of the week all over the country. This might or might not be the first event like this that you’ve attended. I don’t know. But in every single Scottish town, community centres and town halls are packed with people thirsty for politics who are debatin all these ideas about where Scotland could go, about what Scotland’s relationship to the British state is. Every night of the week.23

  • 24 Bissett, A., “Vote Scotland”, 2014, lines 11-12.
  • 25 Bissett, A., 26/08/2015.
  • 26 Bissett, A., The Pure, The Dead and the Brilliant, Bissett, A., Collected Plays 2009-2014, Glasgow: (...)
  • 27 “The ‘Radical Independence Campaign’ launched in Glasgow in November 2012 gathered trade unionists, (...)
  • 28 More precisely, YouTube has a “straight” version of the address, the RIC archive leaving in the hum (...)

9As well as this viva voce participation, he embarked with others from National Collective on door-to-door canvassing: “We knocked on doors – were drummed away from some/But others met us with a smile.”24 Just like a ‘real’ political candidate: “we all became, for the first time, real actors in Scottish politics!”25 The transformative nature of such political involvement for artists and creatives is mirrored in that of the fairy characters in The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant who become real after a majority of the audience shows the Yes side of the sheet given when they came into the theatre, the fairies thus losing their magical powers but gaining others. As Bogle says “We can actually be involved noo. We would rather have this power. The power to change Scotland.”26 Post-referendum, Bissett’s was the voice to be chosen by the Radical Independence Campaign, RIC,27 to deliver the 2014 convention public address “The People’s Vow”, archived, as many of his interventions are, on more than one website.28

  • 29 4 sessions, broadcast on the Internet from Shawlands, Glasgow, on 22/01/2014, Bissett featured in s (...)
  • 30 Bissett, A., 26/08/2015. He goes on “I wanted it to feel like a bucket of water in the face, waking (...)

10Expectedly, in such an Internet- and social network-conscious campaign, Alan Bissett’s impact was enhanced by the possibilities offered for his virtual presence: the Internet was a vehicle and an important relay for his own “Yes” campaign, wherever he spoke, and not least on the pages of the National Collective website, but also on the online press outlet Bella Caledonia, whose prime aim was to counter the conventional media bias in favour of the Better Together campaign, specifically asserted in relation to the BBC by John Robertson of the University of the West of Scotland. It is referred to by Alan Bissett himself in public in January 2014 at the Glad Café Event “Economic Facts and a Vision for Scotland”.29 Online, Bissett could potentially reach many more than in the rallies, especially to convey the message of his now well-known, ironic and iconic – rather perversely so, might we venture to say –, poem “Vote Britain”, “an attack piece, a polemic”30, proclaimed on YouTube in 2012. This was followed in 2014 with the much plainer speaking, however poetical, “Vote Scotland”, written, we have felt, to reassure any would-be “Yes” voters who had perchance misunderstood the ironic stance of the first poem. He introduces “Vote Scotland” at Yes in the Park thus: “I wrote a poem called ‘Vote Britain’ Has anybody heard it? Aye, it got around. Eh…but I’ve written a sequel, just for us: ‘Vote Scotland’.”

Bissett’s Vision for Independence

11A fellow National Collective speaker, Amy Shipway, provides us with an interesting opener in our consideration of Alan Bissett’s political vision for a new Scottish independent state :

  • 31 <http:/national collective.com/2013/03/14/amy-shipway-independence-will-provide-local-solutions-for-local-problems/#sthash.20DR416N.dpuf>, accessed on 30 July 2015.

I hear many people say that they would not vote for Scottish independence because they do not like the SNP or Alex Salmond. The good news for them is a vote for independence is neither a vote for the SNP nor for Alex Salmond. It is a vote for democracy. If the Scottish electorate wish to vote for independence, we may later choose to elect a Labour, Liberal or even Conservative government. That is what democracy is.31

  • 32 Bambery, C., A People’s History of Scotland, London: Verso, 2014, p. 324.

12Chris Bambery, the media figure, founding member of the International Socialist Group, and author of A People’s History of Scotland, gives a clear picture of an SNP-style independent Scotland: “The SNP government’s vision for Scotland is one complete with the Queen, NATO, the pound and neo-liberalism – which makes it imperative that there has to be a radical vision of what Scotland could be.”32 In keeping with these two remarks, where does Bissett fit in? Can his separatist ideology be seen to match that of the Yes campaign in general and that of the broadchurch “Yes Scotland” campaign in particular? Does his position remain so radically different? We are aware that keeping “creatives” in line has not always been an easy task for the SNP: think only of Alasdair Gray’s Settlers and Colonists and the din raised by it, while all he was suggesting was that national cultural bodies in Scotland be run by Scots, or at least by people who understand Scottish culture. Though his, what Bissett calls, “colonial discourse” may well be questionable, the fundamental idea may not be far off the mark in the best of worlds for Scotland. Returning to Bissett’s own “Yes” campaign, it becomes clear that it is non-aligned, to the SNP, that is.

13If we run through the various issues even in a rather schematic way, we come up with the following. Bissett speaks out in favour of independence, for the removal of Trident, for subsidiarity – Scottish control of what are currently matters reserved to the UK government as mentioned in our introduction (employment, welfare, nuclear policy, foreign policy, …); he supports the creation of a specific place/space for Scotland as an independent country within the EU and the wider world; he embraces the inclusive multicultural policies as he does the notion of equal opportunities. Where he moves away from the SNP in its vision for an independent state of Scotland is over the persistence of what he and others in a new Scottish left movement/project see as the trappings of the UK Establishment with its elitist ethos, its fuelling of privilege, the monarchical state and its unelected House of Lords. In Bissett’s view, Scotland must become an independent democratic republic with a single, elected chamber for a parliament. The RIC “The People’s Vow”, expresses this anti-monarchism/establishmentarianism in no uncertain terms :

  • 33 The term “purred” here refers to Queen Elizabeth’s reaction to the victory of the “No” in the refer (...)

We vow to establish a republic. The monarchy is an affront to modern democracy. A feudal relic. How can we call ourselves free when we pay fealty to one family, a family which owns vast tracts of our land, which rubber stamps our laws, to whom we must ask permission to form a government, and whose head purred when she discovered that our freedom had been denied.33

  • 34 Bissett, A., 30/04/2014.

14Finally, how does he position himself in relation to Alex Salmond specifically, and the SNP? Is he an outright opponent? In more than one public appearance, Bissett makes it clear that Alex Salmond and the SNP were the necessary catalysts that set in motion the independence-seeking process: “Who cares what Alex Salmond says? […] The SNP are a mechanism for unleashing the aspirations ay the Scottish people. Now I don’t think that Alex Salmond’s the enemy, but he isn’t the be-all and the end-all.” As for what might happen as a result of independence in 2016, an echo comes through of what Amy Shipway says above, but that is not all: “So whatever government is ruling Scotland after 2016, whether it is SNP or Labour or whatever, if they start to mimic the policies that we’ve rejected, they’ll be gone. Cos we’ll no stand for it! None of us are doin all of this just so we can write a blank cheque to the SNP.”34 What could be clearer?

Intertext and Campaign Pragmatics

  • 35 Gifford, D., Dunnigan, S., MacGillivray, A., (eds.), Scottish Literature, Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ (...)

Among the most significant features of the popular and variety theatre is the stage craft of the performer, and the particular relationship between the performer and the spectator; an engagement that goes beyond immediacy to encompass collusion with the audience and to embody a range of performance techniques predicated on a dramaturgy – direct address, audience participation, topical referencing – which cannot permit a fourth wall. […] One might argue that a Scottish dramaturgy is a popular one and […] this tradition can easily and effectively slip into another of Scottish theatre’s favoured aspects, a political discourse.35

  • 36 The expression is borrowed from Stevenson, R., « Scottish Theatre 1950-1980” in C. Craig (ed.) The (...)
  • 37 Pack Men, op. cit.; this novel is relevant as it relates the terrible events of the 2008 UEFA final (...)

15Bissett presents his argumentation directly, through his speeches and recitals delivered in a deliberate participation in democratic debate, as we have seen, but also, rather differently, through the more formal literary genres of poetry, fiction, theatre, and non-fiction essays, inviting the public to adhere to him or his theatre, to partake of a presentation of the issues in a different mode altogether. The referendum-themed productions range from the satirical, even sardonic (“Vote Britain”), to the serious, sincere and even dramatic (“Vote Scotland”, Jock: Scotland on Trial), and tone and register vary accordingly. The range is extensive, going from the formal debate on Rangers and Scottish independence in the already mentioned “Two Rangers Fans Debate National Identity – Alan Bissett and John C. Gow”, to the informal “hard-worded stairhied naturalism”36 of dialogue, be it in Pack Men37 or The Pure the Dead and the Brilliant, from the cynical, sarcastic vein of “Vote Britain”, to the hilarious send up of “Project Fear” and the “No” campaign (among other things) again in The Pure the Dead and the Brilliant. The same is true of the choice of register or accent, which, like for many Scots, will depend on the implied spectator/listener. Again there is a shift from formal written English in the essays to informal Scottish class- or social- or indeed area-related dialect, which, as we have mentioned, is deliberately paraphonetically inscribed into novels or plays and appears gradually (but almost systematically) in campaign speeches when Bissett’s fighting spirit is roused. And this is the case even in an intervention such as his presence at the Glad Café sessions.

  • 38 Bissett, A., op. cit., pp. 143-144.
  • 39 Martin, G. R. R., A Game of Thrones, London: Voyager, 1996 (set in Minion by Palimpsest Book Produc (...)
  • 40 See 30/04 2014 speech reference to David Bowie’s asking Scotland to stay in the union, otherwise: “ (...)
  • 41 Bissett, A., op. cit., p. 124; the capitals are Bissett’s.
  • 42 Bissett, A., op. cit., p. 143.

16What will emerge all the same is a unity of discourse from the point view of the “topical referencing” and content, through the spilling over of politics into these multifarious manifestations of culture (or the “dramaturgy slipping into political discourse” ) and vice-versa, as well as obvious and carefully calculated self-borrowing, the use of intertext and echo, as Bissett’s stance on the campaign and the debate and on what is actually at stake resonates throughout, conveyed at times by actual self-quotation, one example being the adaptation parts of a passage from the end of The Pure the Dead and the Brilliant38 into parts (most) of “Vote Scotland”, involving a shift from the informal generic collective shifter “you” in the play to the more formal and inclusive collective speaker and hearer-oriented shifter “we” (Bissett and the public/Scottish people) in the poem. There is also the reiterated reference to a select set of topical or cultural images and political issues. One of the images regularly featured, designed undoubtedly to catch the attention of the general public, it would seem, is the Game of Thrones39 hundred-foot wall of ice that will not, according to Bissett, appear between Scotland and the rest of the UK after independence, despite “No” campaign threats to the contrary40 re-expressed by Big Donald (the Scottish “No” campaigner): “Think about those relatives in England. […] You’d certainly never see them because there would be a ONE HUNDRED FOOT WALL OF ICE ON THE BORDER LIKE IN GAME OF THRONES.”41 Another (with the same intent), from the world of football, refers to Scotland’s supposed incapacity to score a goal (read: be successful, once independent). Big Donald again: “Scotland, when faced with an open goal, has a habit of kicking it over the bar. So we’ll see. You all think I’m the bad guy, the panto villain. But maybe I’ll be proven correct, and this is the biggest mistake Scotland will ever make.”42 Bissett even refers to it at a rally :

  • 43 Bissett, A., 30/04/2014.

So we have to think about what is going to happen if we vote “No”. This exciting, powerful uprising will be gone, snuffed oot for a generation, and I dinnay want this to be another glorious Scottish defeat. We’ve seen too many ay them. I dinnay want another Ally McLeod’s 1978 World Cup campaign. I mean we’ve got an open goal. Dinnay skyve it ower the bar! Pop it in. That’s all we need tay dae.43

17As far as topical campaign content is concerned, Unionist identity, Scottish identity, criticism of the UK/the 1603 and 1707 unions, the British Empire, campaign issues (North Sea oil, security, currency, …) as well as the sending up of the Better Together/UK Establishment Project Fear campaign find their place across the board in Bissett’s provocative writings, most particularly in “Vote Britain”, Jock: Scotland on Trial and The Pure the Dead and the Brilliant. The figure of the English ape George, who becomes the interrogator of the Scottish ape, Jock (the embodiment of Scotland), and that of Black Donald, respectively, are vehicles for this parody of Unionism/UK policy/the “No” campaign…

  • 44 Bissett A., The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant, p. 144 and “Vote Scotland”, line 9, respectively.
  • 45 Bissett, A., Alan Bissett Collected Plays 2009-2014, Glasgow: Freight Books, 2015, pp. 49-107.
  • 46 Bissett, A. and Gow, J. C., “Two Rangers Fans Debate National Identity – Alan Bissett and John C. G (...)
  • 47 “My belief is that a Scottish government making Scottish decisions will be better for all of us, in (...)
  • 48 Bissett, A., “Vote Britain”, 2012, line 24, (our transcription).
  • 49 Bissett A., The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant, p. 125.
  • 50 Bissett, A., “Vote Britain”, lines 31-32.
  • 51 Bissett, A., The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant, p. 124 (the capitals are Bissett’s).
  • 52 Bissett, A., Jock: Scotland On Trial, in Alan Bissett Collected Plays 2009-2014, Glasgow: Freight B (...)

18To broach the first point, while Unionist identity is related simplistically (though not necessarily altogether wrongly) to lying, and that of separatists to telling the truth: “You told the truth. You did not cheat” and again, “We told the truth, we did not cheat”,44 Scottish identity is shown in the 2010 play Turbo Folk45 as being assimilated in recent war-marked areas of the world in which the British Army has been present, to British identity; the identity of Rangers FC is seen as marked by “their unionism, their loyalty to the British State”46, which, according to Bissett, has augmented, whereas, paradoxically, the UK did nothing to soften the club’s financial difficulties and relegation.”47 The mainstream, Better Together/Unionist vision of Scotland represented includes, first of all, Scotland’s parochialism: “Vote for enjoying your own culture being soooooooo parochial”48; secondly, its future incapacity to run an independent state with Black Donald speaking out against Bogle’s case for independence: “Now repeat after me. ‘Too wee, too poor, too stupid’ (Gets audience chanting) ‘Too wee, too poor, too stupid’, ‘Too wee, too poor, too stupid.’ You see how easy it is? We’ve got this won”49; “Vote for being told you’re the only country in the world that could not possibly survive and that without us [England/rUK] you’d fall to pieces like children abandoned in the wild, caked in faeces”50; and finally, the accusations of the nationalist movement as being fascist: “[…] to fulfill Alex Salmond’s dream of being Scotland’s first ever dictator, cos it’s all about him, you know that, right? I mean there’s only one person in Scotland who actually wants independence and he’s JUST A BIGOT WHO HATES THE ENGLISH”, […] “You just want to round the English up into Gulags and force them to eat kilts […] every single day, don’t you?”51; “You call me chippy. Parochial. Resentful. Perennial seeker of victim status […] A bigot. Sectarian. […] Seller-outer, shouter, schemer, fascist. […] A twisted nationalist, nasty, never content to let things lie.”52

  • 53 Bissett, A. and Gow, J. C., “Two Rangers Fans Debate National Identity – Alan Bissett and John C. G (...)
  • 54 Bissett, A., Jock: Scotland On Trial, p. 281 and pp. 285-286; The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant, (...)
  • 55 Bissett, A., Jock: Scotland On Trial, pp. 282-284; The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant, p. 128.
  • 56 Bissett, A., Jock: Scotland On Trial, pp. 282; The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant, ibid.
  • 57 Op. cit., p. 277.
  • 58 Bissett, A., The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant, pp. 123-124. The reference made in the play here (...)
  • 59 Bissett, A., The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant, p. 124.
  • 60 Bissett, A. and McKillop, A., op. cit., p. 17.
  • 61 Bissett, A., op. cit., p. 129.
  • 62 Bissett, A., op. cit., p. 283 (the punctuation is Bissett’s).
  • 63 Russell, B. and Kelbie, P., The Independent, 09/02/2005, <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this (...)

19There is equally much negative reference to current and previous UK government action in general,53 to the Union of the Crowns,54 the Union of parliaments55 as well as to the Darien Scheme,56 but to be noted is the fact that there is also a clear acknowledgment of the active Scottish role in the British Empire in particular in Jock: Scotland on Trial.57 As for referendum campaign issues, the security question and Theresa May’s attempts at striking fear into the heart of voters in the referendum comes through: “[…] and as for defence against terrorism surely you would be a target for every two-bit bandit in the world without the strength of the Great British security services to defend you. […] And of course you’d need a passport to get into England, […].”58 The currency question arises, for example, in the words of Black Donald: “And what currency will you have, oh Sterling is it? Yeah if we let you.”59 but also in those of Bissett and McKillop: “Chancellor George Osborne, for example, intervened recently to warn Scotland that the remainder of the UK would not be entering into a currency agreement, post-independence.”60 A key iconic issue is of course North Sea oil, the question of reserves, but also that of the UK’s management of it since the nineteen seventies. (The “Its’ Scotland’s Oil” campaign started in 1972-1973). The suggestion that the Scots have been constantly cheated, cheated, that is, out of oil revenues by the UK government is uppermost in the mind of Bissett in almost all of the plays and poems we have mentioned so far. Black Donald and Selkie in The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant refer to this: “The lies we’ve told them about the oil!”/“And they don’t even know…”/“Because we buried the report!”61 In Jock: Scotland on Trial, Jock asks George: “Never read the McCrone Report, 1974?” and gets the answer “Never heard of it.” Jock insists: “A wee file yese’ve got on me that ye never expected me tay read. It concluded that were I to take control of my own oil reserves I would be one of the richest countries in the world. But you. Woudnay. Let me.”62 The allusion here is to Gavin McCrone’s report commissioned by Edward Heath in 1974, a document which, after presentation to the cabinet in 1975, was “subsequently buried in a Westminster vault for thirty years” only brought into the light of day in 2005 in compliance with the Freedom of Information rules; “It revealed how North Sea Oil could have made an independent Scotland as prosperous as Switzerland.”63 Oil comes up in the ironic Vote Britain, too: “Vote for oil revenue, which we ensure flows directly from us into you.”

20The overall impression we deliberately give here is one of repetition, concentration and accumulation, the piling up of his campaign arguments and criticism of the UK mainstream parties’ not-altogether glorious handling of Scotland in the past and of the 2012-2014 anti-independence campaign effort. Might this not have seemed an all-too systematic hammering out of ideas to some voters? Perhaps, but considering the sheer determination expressed time and time again in all these various ways, we are brought to realize how incredibly sincere Bissett has been in his desire to make people see that complete independence is the only answer for the Scotland of the future.

Conclusion 

  • 64 Bissett, A., 26/08/2015.

21While for over two years Alan Bissett’s art and politics aimed at talking others into getting involved, aimed at waking people up to the reality of what was at stake and taking part in defending the cause by voting “Yes”, he also welcomed debate and was willing to publicly argue the issues, and not just preach to the converted. His published exchange with John C. Gow showed his readiness to have his views publicly countered, to allow him to retaliate. All through the campaign, it was his constant wish to persuade undecideds to knowingly opt for independence, and reject what he and many saw as unionist propaganda. He was in the public eye as never before “[…] the political work I did during the campaign was seen by far, far more people than anything I had ever done before. My life has been completely changed by it all.”64 Yet, in the end of the day, as we know, however strongly Bissett, along with other artists and creatives in the “Yes” campaign, believed in and imagined independence, and however insistently Bissett inscribed his argumentation into his every intervention, deliberately writing pieces for the purpose of the campaign, bringing poetry into politics and vice-versa, he and others seem to have failed to convince the middle classes, women and seniors, among others. In spite of the huge turnout, this seems to definitely have been a vote that split the population along political, gender and generational lines. The challenge for him now is how to reach them in the years to come.

  • 65 Stewart, S., in Stratagem, 24/09/2014, quoted in Macwhirter, I., op.cit., p. 67.
  • 66 Macwhirter, I., op.cit., p. 67.
  • 67 Quoted in Macwhirter, I., op.cit., p. 67.
  • 68 Quoted in Macwhirter, I., op.cit., p. 55.

22While Alex Salmond was seen to court writers campaigning for independence, some what Macwhirter calls “conventionally minded” SNP politicians doubted in the general effectiveness of the creatives’ efforts; “Yes” campaign cadre Susan Stewart was skeptical specifically about their “digital and social media campaign” which, for example, had insufficient impact on “undecided or No-leaning women”.65 Some non-National Collective voters considered that the creatives were too busy performing to convince the missing five percent: “There us an argument that if the Yes Campaign had spend less time dreaming and more canvassing, it might actually have won over that lost 5% that made the difference between 45% and independence.”66 Better Together head Blair McDougall had said “you don’t win elections by sitting on beanbags reciting poetry.”67 Unionist David Torrance “the bemused press commentator”, according to Macwhirter, “dismissed independence creatives as amateurish, agitprop, simplistic or ill-informed.”68 Leaving such unfounded, derogatory comments to one side, no one can deny that Scotland witnessed the creation of an alternative democratic mode of doing politics, in which artists and writers were not just symbolically up front, and which will leave its mark on the country for the future. Theirs, the artists’ and writers’, was, and may well remain, a strong new political counter-culture for the 21st century :

  • 69 Bissett, A., 26/08/2015.

On the 18th of September 2014 Scots had sovereign power for the first time in over 300 years. For that one day, we witnessed Scotland being independent. Everyone was changed by that, especially Yes voters, because they participated in a mass movement, a defiant stand against the corrupt British elite. That is transformative. All of us could suddenly see, clearly, what the structure of power in Britain looks like. And we shook its pillars. They were afraid of us. We learned that we have that agency.69

23There is more to come, with the Holyrood elections in May 2016. Although Alan Bissett, the man and the writer will not be leaving out politics altogether, rather “coming at it more obliquely”, he is now moving along with his literary career.70 Nevertheless, in 2014 he pledged his constant commitment to the People’s Vow. He could well be moving back into the wings, so to speak, yet we are given to understand his realization of the necessity, and his support, for the newly-launched party RISE (Respect, Independence, Socialism and Environmentalism) Scotland’s Left Alliance71 preparing the campaign ground for the Holyrood elections in May 2016 as an alternative to Scottish Labour and the SNP, putting up candidates in all of the 8 regional lists.72 Indeed, he was one of the speakers at the opening plenary of the launch, intent on claiming Scotland’s rights once again.

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Bibliographie

Primary Reading : Alan Bissett

Fiction

Boyracers, Edinburgh: Polygon, 2001.

Pack Men, London: Hachette Scotland, 2011; paperback, 2012.

Theatre

The Ching Room (2009), Alan Bissett Collected Plays 2009-2014, Glasgow: Freight Books, 2015, pp. 1-48.

Turbo Folk (2010), Alan Bissett Collected Plays 2009-2014, Glasgow: Freight Books, 2015, pp. 49-107.

The Moira Monologues (2010), Alan Bissett Collected Plays 2009-2014, Glasgow: Freight Books, 2015, pp. 145-204.

Jock: Scotland on Trial (2014), Alan Bissett Collected Plays 2009-2014, Glasgow: Freight Books, 2015, pp. 265-289.

The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant (2014), Alan Bissett Collected Plays 2009-2014, Glasgow: Freight Books, 2015, pp. 108-144.

Non Fiction

Bissett, A., and McKillop, A. (eds.), Born Under a Union Flag: Rangers, Britain and Scottish Independence, Edinburgh: Luath Press, 2014.

Bissett A., and Gow, J. C., “Two Rangers Fans Debate National Identity - Alan Bissett and John C. Gow”, in A. Bissett and A. McKillop (eds.), Born Under a Union Flag: Rangers, Britain and Scottish Independence, Edinburgh: Luath Press, 2014, pp. 85-103.

Secondary Reading

Works

Camp-Pietrain, E., L’Écosse et la tentation de l’indépendance, Villeneuve d’Ascq : Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 2014.

Gray, A., Independence: An Argument For Home Rule, Edinburgh: Canongate Books, 2014.

Hassan G., Mitchell, J. (eds.), After Independence, Edinburgh: Luath Press, 2013.

Macwhirter, I., Disunited Kingdom: How Westminster Won a Referendum but Lost Scotland, Glasgow: Cargo Publishing, 2014.

Schoene, B. (ed.), The Edinburgh Companion to Contemporary Scottish Literature, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007.

Torrance, D., The Battle for Britain, London: Biteback Publishing, 2013.

Articles

Civardi, C., « Loisirs et Militantisme des ouvriers écossais au début du XXe siècle », in J. Berton (ed.), Le Loisir en Écosse, actes du colloque de la Société Française d’Études Écossaises du 24-25 octobre 2003, Université Jean Monnet Saint Etienne, 2004, pp. 146-155.

Hassan, G., “Who Speaks for Scotland? Entitlement, Exclusion, the Power of Voice and Social Change”, in G. Hassan, J. Mitchell (eds.), After Independence, Edinburgh: Luath Press, 2013, pp. 297-310.

Lambert, M., “Grasping the Fizzle: Culture, Identity and Independence”, in G. Hassan, J. Mitchell (eds.), After Independence, Edinburgh: Luath Press, 2013, pp. 283-296.

Leydier, G., “ ‘The Old Firm’ : Une institution culturelle écossaise entre tradition et modernité”, in J. Berton (ed.), Le Loisir en Écosse, actes du colloque de la Société Française d’Études Écossaises du 24-25 octobre 2003, Université Jean Monnet Saint Etienne, 2004, pp. 101-119.

Schlesinger, P., “Cultural Policy and the Constitutional Question”, in G. Hassan, J. Mitchell (eds.), After Independence, Edinburgh: Luath Press, 2013, pp. 272-282.

Simard, J-P., « Autour de l’autonomie, la part du théâtre écossais » in Études Écossaises n° 5, Une Écosse autonome ?/ Towards Scottish Autonomy ?, Grenoble : Université Stendhal Grenoble 3, 1998, pp 99-110.

–, « 1973-2003 : spectacle et interventionnisme culturel, les représentations du loisir en Écosse », in J. Berton (ed.), Le Loisir en Écosse, actes du colloque de la Société Française d’Études Écossaises du 24-25 octobre 2003, Université Jean Monnet Saint Etienne, 2004, pp. 58-71.

Stevenson, R., “Scottish Theatre 1950-1980”, in C. Craig (ed.), The History of Scottish Literature, Volume 4 The Twentieth Century, Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, (1987), 1989, Chapter 23, pp. 349-366.

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Notes

1 Macwhirter, I., Disunited Kingdom: How Westminster Won a Referendum But Lost Scotland, Glasgow: Cargo Publishing, 2014, p. 70.

2 Bissett, A., “How Scottish Theatre Predicted the Referendum”, Bella Caledonia, accessed on 04/04/2015.

3 Alan Bissett, extract from our e-mail exchange with Alan Bissett based on a set of questions the author answered on 26/08/2015. We are very grateful to him for taking the time to reply.

4 MacLennan, D., Introduction to Bissett, A., Collected Plays 2009-2014, Glasgow: Freight Books, 2015, p. vi; David MacLennan died in June 2014.

5 1948-2014, actor, writer, producer ; brother-in law of John McGrath and member of the 7.84 troupe; co-founder of the Wildcat troupe which “kept theatre jocular and political”, with Scottish actor and musician David Anderson, in 1978, thanks to a Scottish Arts Council Grant. It was operational for 20 years, but MacLennan resigned in 1998, as funding was stopped.

6 Òran Mór, opened in 2004, is a major Scottish lunchtime theatre venue, which collaborates nationally with Aberdeen Performing Arts and the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, as well as with Sherman Cymru in Cardiff and the Tobacco Factory in Bristol. It hosts Scottish plays but also others from around the world. See playpiepint.com.

7 The Ching Room, Alan Bissett Collected Plays 2009-2014, Glasgow: Freight Books, 2015, pp. 1-48.

8 David MacLennan, ibid, 2015. The travelling theatre company 7.84 Scotland was created by John McGrath to meet the Scottish people in village halls and social clubs. His flagship play in Marxist mode is The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil (1973): “This historical tableau retraces the history of Scotland from 1814 to this day, going from the clearing of Highland populations to make way for the much more profitable Cheviot race of sheep, to North Sea Oil.” Our translation of Simard, J.-P., « 1973-2003 : spectacle et interventionnisme culturel, les représentations du loisir en Écosse », in J. Berton (ed.), Le Loisir en Écosse, actes du colloque de la Société Française d’Études Écossaises du 24-25 octobre 2003, Université Jean Monnet Saint Etienne, 2004, pp. 59-71 ; p. 60 « Cette fresque historique retrace l’histoire de l’Écosse de 1814 à nos jours, de l’éviction des populations des Highlands pour faire place au mouton Cheviot plus rentable, jusqu’au pétrole de la mer du nord. » See also by Simard « Autour de l’autonomie, la part du théâtre écossais », in Études Écossaises, n° 5, Une Écosse Autonome ?/Towards Scottish Autonomy? Grenoble : Université Stendhal, Grenoble 3, 1998, pp. 99-110.

9 Bissett, A., 26/08/2015.

10 The Moira Monologues (2009), Collected Plays, pp. 145-204, “which toured Scotland to great acclaim” in 2010, Foreword to Bissett, A., Pack Men, London: Hachette Scotland, 2011.

11 The Pure the Dead and the Brilliant, Jock or Scotland on Trial (2014), Collected Plays, pp 108-144 and pp. 265-289, respectively. See Bissett, A., 26/08/2015.

12 Bissett, A. and McKillop, A. (eds.), Born Under A Union Flag: Rangers, Britain & Scottish Independence, Edinburgh: Luath Press, 2014. See in particular for Bissett’s campaign argumentation “Two Rangers Fans Debate National Identity – Alan Bissett and John C. Gow”, pp. 85-103.

13 See <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-znkbMzi4A>.

14 This poem was first recited at the Yes in the Park event in Glasgow on 07/06/2014. See <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylv_kyS3T9E>.

15 Bissett, A., 26/08/2015.

16 Aye Right Radio; the extract is from a speech dating back to 30/04 2014 that is representative of Bissett’s regular interventions, at <https://ayerightradio.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/alan-bisset-i-am-not-a-nationalist/>; our transcriptions all follow the spelling used by Bissett in the Falkirk dialect/accent used in dialogue in Boyracers, Edinburgh: Polygon, 2001, and its sequel Pack Men, London: Hachette Scotland, 2011 (working edition: 2012, paperback).

17 This refers back to a remark made by Joyce Hendry about the politically committed writer Neil M. Gunn and his covert negotiating towards the fusion that produced the Scottish National Party in the late nineteen twenties and early thirties, quoted in Munro-Landi, M., “Negotiating Nationalism: Neil M. Gunn’s Political Sentiment” in B. Sellin, A. Thiec, P. Carboni, (eds.), Écosse : l’identité nationale en question/Scotland: Questioning National Identity, Nantes: CRINI, 2009, pp. 177-191.

18 Camp-Pietrain, E., L’Écosse et la tentation de l’indépendance, Villeneuve d’Ascq : Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 2014 ; our translation/adaptation of  «  À la tête de celui-ci se trouve Dennis Canavan, ancien député travailliste à Westminster et à Holyrood. Il est entouré de personnalités venant d’horizons divers : Andrew Fairlie (chef cuisinier, fils d’un ancien membre du parti, Jim), Elaine [C.] Smith (actrice), Dan McDonald, Pat Kane (chanteur de Hue&Cry), Tasmina Ahmed Sheik (ancien membre du parti conservateur), Sarah Jane Walls (chef d’entreprise) et Colin Fox (SSP), ainsi que Patrick Harvie. », p. 78.

19 Wilson, R., Foreword, Bisset, A. and McKillop, A., (eds.), op. cit., p 15. This sentiment seems to echo the late Bill Shankly’s remark “Football is life, the rest is mere detail”, quoted in the first lines of an article specifically explaining the status of football in Scottish life and society: Leydier, G., “ ‘The Old Firm’ : Une institution culturelle écossaise entre traditions et modernité”, in J. Berton (ed.), Le Loisir en Écosse, actes du colloque de la Société Française d’Études Écossaises du 24-25 octobre 2003, Université Jean Monnet Saint Etienne, 2004, p. 101.

20 Bissett, A., “Vote Scotland”, 2014, line 10 (our transcription).

21 Bissett, A., 26/08/2015.

22 Bissett, A., 26/08/2015.

23 Bissett, A., 30/04/2014.

24 Bissett, A., “Vote Scotland”, 2014, lines 11-12.

25 Bissett, A., 26/08/2015.

26 Bissett, A., The Pure, The Dead and the Brilliant, Bissett, A., Collected Plays 2009-2014, Glasgow: Freight Books, 2015, pp. 140-141.

27 “The ‘Radical Independence Campaign’ launched in Glasgow in November 2012 gathered trade unionists, socialists, environmentalists and anti-poverty campaigners, whose objective was to promote a radical, progressive vision of Scotland”, Thiec, A., “‘Yes Scotland’: More than a Party Political Campaign, a National Movement Fostering a New Active Citizenship”, in N. Duclos (ed.), Revue Française de Civilisation Britannique, Vol XX, n° 2 (PDF online), 2015, p. 7; see https://rfcb.revues.org/, last accessed on 23 July 2015. See “The People’s Vow” text was read by Bissett at the RI Convention in November 2014.

28 More precisely, YouTube has a “straight” version of the address, the RIC archive leaving in the humorous introductory aside on the capacity for the Scottish left to unite… see <http://radicalindependence.org/2014/11/23/the-peoples-vow/>.

29 4 sessions, broadcast on the Internet from Shawlands, Glasgow, on 22/01/2014, Bissett featured in session 3 out of the 4 and in the questions session. See <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5F8ERrVB1S0>.

30 Bissett, A., 26/08/2015. He goes on “I wanted it to feel like a bucket of water in the face, waking Scots up to the reality of our situation within the UK. But you can’t just keep striking that tone, so I released ’Vote Scotland’ and my play The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant late in the campaign as something more positive and constructive, to rally and motivate.”

31 <http:/national collective.com/2013/03/14/amy-shipway-independence-will-provide-local-solutions-for-local-problems/#sthash.20DR416N.dpuf>, accessed on 30 July 2015.

32 Bambery, C., A People’s History of Scotland, London: Verso, 2014, p. 324.

33 The term “purred” here refers to Queen Elizabeth’s reaction to the victory of the “No” in the referendum, as relayed publicly by David Cameron on the 19th September 2014.

34 Bissett, A., 30/04/2014.

35 Gifford, D., Dunnigan, S., MacGillivray, A., (eds.), Scottish Literature, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2002, p. 802. The reference here is once gain to McGrath’s The Cheviot… .

36 The expression is borrowed from Stevenson, R., « Scottish Theatre 1950-1980” in C. Craig (ed.) The History of Scottish LiteratureVolume 4 The Twentieth Century, Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1987 (working edition 1989) Chapter 23, pp. 349-366 (in particular 361-366).

37 Pack Men, op. cit.; this novel is relevant as it relates the terrible events of the 2008 UEFA final between Rangers FC (suggested as the British establishment-supporting team in Scotland) and Zenit St Petersburg, in Manchester, seen through the eyes of a small group of Rangers fans from Falkirk.

38 Bissett, A., op. cit., pp. 143-144.

39 Martin, G. R. R., A Game of Thrones, London: Voyager, 1996 (set in Minion by Palimpsest Book Production Limited, Falkirk, Stirlingshire), better known to the public through the television adaptation made by Martin and produced by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, from 2012 onwards.

40 See 30/04 2014 speech reference to David Bowie’s asking Scotland to stay in the union, otherwise: “there’s gonna be like in Game of Thrones a giant wall of ice between Scotland and England that you cannot penetrate after independence. It’ll still take you exactly the same time to get on a train and travel between Glasgow and Liverpool after independence as it does now.”

41 Bissett, A., op. cit., p. 124; the capitals are Bissett’s.

42 Bissett, A., op. cit., p. 143.

43 Bissett, A., 30/04/2014.

44 Bissett A., The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant, p. 144 and “Vote Scotland”, line 9, respectively.

45 Bissett, A., Alan Bissett Collected Plays 2009-2014, Glasgow: Freight Books, 2015, pp. 49-107.

46 Bissett, A. and Gow, J. C., “Two Rangers Fans Debate National Identity – Alan Bissett and John C. Gow”, in A. Bissett, A. and A. McKillop (eds), Born Under a Union Flag, p. 85.

47 “My belief is that a Scottish government making Scottish decisions will be better for all of us, including Rangers fans. It is Westminster, after all, not Holyrood, which is currently holding a gun to the Govan shipyards in order to win the referendum (how many of those workers are Bears?) and it was Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs which hounded Rangers to the point of liquidation”, in Bissett. A, and Gow, J. C., op. cit., p. 97.

48 Bissett, A., “Vote Britain”, 2012, line 24, (our transcription).

49 Bissett A., The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant, p. 125.

50 Bissett, A., “Vote Britain”, lines 31-32.

51 Bissett, A., The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant, p. 124 (the capitals are Bissett’s).

52 Bissett, A., Jock: Scotland On Trial, in Alan Bissett Collected Plays 2009-2014, Glasgow: Freight Books, 2015, p. 271.

53 Bissett, A. and Gow, J. C., “Two Rangers Fans Debate National Identity – Alan Bissett and John C. Gow”, in A. Bissett and A. McKillop (eds), Born Under a Union Flag, p.99.

54 Bissett, A., Jock: Scotland On Trial, p. 281 and pp. 285-286; The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant, p. 127.

55 Bissett, A., Jock: Scotland On Trial, pp. 282-284; The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant, p. 128.

56 Bissett, A., Jock: Scotland On Trial, pp. 282; The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant, ibid.

57 Op. cit., p. 277.

58 Bissett, A., The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant, pp. 123-124. The reference made in the play here is to Scotland Analysis Borders and Citizenship, published by the UK government in January 2014 (the 10th UK government Scotland Analysis “informational” document), the linguistic pragmatics and argumentative discourse of which were, as we see it, clearly designed to frighten voters, or future immigrants to an independent Scotland. See https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/scotland-analysis-borders-and-citizenship>.

59 Bissett, A., The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant, p. 124.

60 Bissett, A. and McKillop, A., op. cit., p. 17.

61 Bissett, A., op. cit., p. 129.

62 Bissett, A., op. cit., p. 283 (the punctuation is Bissett’s).

63 Russell, B. and Kelbie, P., The Independent, 09/02/2005, <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/how-black-gold-was-hijacked-north-sea-oil-and-the-betrayal-of-scotland-518697.html>, last accessed on 30 August 2015.

64 Bissett, A., 26/08/2015.

65 Stewart, S., in Stratagem, 24/09/2014, quoted in Macwhirter, I., op.cit., p. 67.

66 Macwhirter, I., op.cit., p. 67.

67 Quoted in Macwhirter, I., op.cit., p. 67.

68 Quoted in Macwhirter, I., op.cit., p. 55.

69 Bissett, A., 26/08/2015.

70 “For example my show which toured my hometown of Falkirk earlier this year, What the F**kirk?, was consciously about community rather than nation. I have in progress plays about a famous football manager, a dead rock star and a couple in crisis. None of these are ‘political’, yet you can’t stop your worldview burbling out from below.” Bissett, A., 26/08/2015.

71 This new party, a Left Project Scotland initiative, was launched on 29th August 2015 in Glasgow, the speakers including Colin Fox, co-convener of the Scottish Socialist Party, Jean Urquhart, the independent Highlands and Islands MSP, and Cat Boyd, the trade unionist and Radical Independence activist, Mike Small, editor of Bella Caledonia and occasional writer in the Guardian. See http://www.leftlaunch2016.scot/, accessed on 30/08/2015.

72 See http://www.leftlaunch2016.scot/news/2015/8/13/alan-bissett-to-speak-at-left-project-launch.

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Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Morag J. Munro-Landi, « Alan Bissett and the « Yes » Campaign in the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum  », Observatoire de la société britannique, 18 | 2016, 183-203.

Référence électronique

Morag J. Munro-Landi, « Alan Bissett and the « Yes » Campaign in the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum  », Observatoire de la société britannique [En ligne], 18 | 2016, mis en ligne le 01 octobre 2016, consulté le 28 mai 2017. URL : http://osb.revues.org/1868 ; DOI : 10.4000/osb.1868

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Auteur

Morag J. Munro-Landi

Maître de conférences en civilisation et littérature écossaises et britannique à l’Université de Pau et des pays de l’Adour.

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Droits d’auteur

Observatoire de la société britannique

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