So, here’s why I like The People’s Referendum: it’s not just about Scotland and, primarily, not just about the SNP. Geoghegan makes a conscious effort to look at other areas of the world battling for independence, he delves into history to talk about the present and future; he can give you fun facts (like the first copyright battle over an old manuscript) and a few paragraphs later talk about famous people and their alliances, like JK Rowling and Irvine Welsh.
It’s attempting to be all-encompassing, and I like it. It goes on these long winding roads and always comes back to Scotland. People aren’t just having their brief opinions voiced as a soundbite on a swift news bulletin – they’re given context, a setting, a history, so that their one or two sentences actually makes sense in terms of a person, not just a shouted opinion at a rally that could be from anyone.
I mean, I followed the referendum closely. It’s also why I gave up on most mainstream media. I was an avid news-watcher (I watched it every day, I’d have it on in the background) and I read the papers when I saw them at people’s houses (I now go for the crossword, if anything), so I quite liked seeing someone view snippets I hadn’t seen in the coverage, show both Yes and No sides and opinions, talk about bias but giving credit where it’s due on genuine limitations in press ability (like staff cuts in Scotland, for example).
What I liked most was his predictions of the future. This was published about a year ago where there are glimmers of thought that the passion of the country could die out. Most of all, he predicted that the SNP landslides in following elections were ‘unlikely’. The landslide happened, and that’s quite exciting in terms of the fact that someone who had tracked it all so closely thought the wave from the referendum wouldn’t be quite so high, but it was and still is. If he couldn’t have predicted it, then it’s quite an exciting time for politics in Scotland.
If you’re interested in the whole referendum deal, I think this is a good book. It’s a collection of essays that take you all over in the build up to September 18th, and a little bit beyond.