I was able to attend the Radical Independence Conference in Glasgow and I welcome news of a Peebles meeting in January to help in the local organisation of the Yes campaign for the 2014 referendum.
The conference was a remarkable coming together of some 900 people from all over Scotland, and of every age group and background, united in a sense of the historic opportunity we all have for the forging of a new and better future for our country.
Events since then have made that awareness ever sharper. I would cite three.
First, much-discussed elections in Catalonia failed to deliver a majority for the right to hold no more than a consultative referendum, when we already have achieved a guaranteed referendum on our country’s constitutional future – thus highlighting the scale of our opportunity in 2014.
Secondly, the contrast between the unrealistic declarations of Manuel Barroso, which have no legal status, with the measured discussion of European aspects of the debate on Newsnight and in the Deputy First Minister’s statement to the Scottish Parliament. This shows the contradictions between our real potential in Europe and the scare stories to which No campaigners cling.
Third, the rude arrogance displayed by unelected peers in their treatment of the elected Scottish Government’s finance minister and the Westminster Parliament’s contemptuous dismissal (299 to 14) of an amendment to the Pensions Bill which would have allowed public-sector pensions in Scotland to have their retirement age set in Scotland. Both events shine a light on the depths from which the No campaigners do not wish us to escape.
Let us hope that some of the enthusiasm of the Glasgow conference and the recent Galashiels meeting can be brought to Peebles from January on – the most positive start possible to a New Year.