Ash Burnett and Bissie Anderson of the EU Citizens for an Independent Scotland group say EU nationals are finding their political voice in Scotland and organising in support for indy
EU Citizens for an Independent Scotland have been active in the campaign for Scottish independence since 2013.
Initially started as a community Facebook page, our group was founded by a French national, Sylvie, who wanted to form a Yes group to bring her fellow non-UK EU citizens into the debate, presenting the positive case for independence in a way that encouraged EU nationals to participate.
As you would likely find with many foreign nationals, the idea of a country not governing itself, but instead being governed by a neighbouring country, has always seemed quite peculiar to us as ‘non-natives’.
We’re happy to say the reluctance of EU nationals to get behind the independence movement is changing.
So, while the media and unionist politicians stoked the indyref debate with bitter notions of ethnic nationalism, EU Citizens for an Independent Scotland sought to present a more pragmatic, logical case, based on our knowledge and experiences as citizens of other independent nations, as outsiders looking in, so to speak.
It was this wider perspective, seeing Scotland’s place in the EU and the wider world, which gave the community a key focus to rally around. The crowdsourcing dynamic of the group gave a platform to non-UK EU nationals in Scotland to share articles and media from across their home nations, and beyond, on subjects not just directly related to Scottish independence, but on wider things, such as other national elections in our countries of origin, EU Commission and Parliament activities, and other international political events.
Our activity during indyref was mostly social media based, though our members did also participate in other Yes groups and pro-independence activism.
Ultimately, it seems that EU nationals were a difficult group to persuade in 2014. However, given the insistence of the No campaign and mainstream media that Scotland would find itself outside of the EU, and EU nationals would find themselves being deported, with no rights and no pensions, along with all sorts of other sensationalist, fear-based propaganda, it is not difficult to see how reluctance to participate, and reluctance to vote Yes, won out among our communities.
With a little Stockholm Syndrome-like conditioning, many non-UK EU nationals, feeling like ‘guests’ in this country and just grateful to even be here (rather than the positive contributors we are), were kept out of the debate and did not vote, or voted No, in line with our ‘benevolent hosts’ – the national (UK) government’s wishes.
WATCH LIVE FROM 7PM: Siobhan Tolland interviews members of EU Citizens for an Independent Scotland on Independence Live
We’re happy to say the reluctance of EU nationals to get behind the independence movement is changing. Of course, Brexit has a lot to do with it. The assurances our community were given that voting No would secure our continued EU membership went up in flames on 23 June last year.
EU nationals in Scotland, the rest of the UK and across Europe, as well as Scots living in EU member countries, have flocked to our group post-Brexit, looking for information on what will happen to EU nationals now; what our rights are, and what we can do to stand up against Brexit.
With new evidence that EU nationals in the UK are net contributors finally reaching the light of the media, and with the support extended to our immigrant communities by the Scottish Government and the public in general, we have begun to stop seeing ourselves as mere guests.
The clarity of the Remain vote in Scotland, reassuring our communities that we are wanted and valued here, seems to be inspiring a similar energy and engagement among our EU national communities as indyref did for thousands of Scots who previously felt excluded from participating in the democratic process of this country.
Suddenly, Scottish independence seems to be the light at the end of the tunnel for many who had previously done their best not to get involved, and this group, EU Citizens for an Independent Scotland, has become a forum through which they can discuss, share and grow a movement.
We have already attracted a wide and varied team of techs, creatives and editors, mainly consisting of non-UK EU citizens, but also including some Scots, English, Irish and other non-EU Scottish residents.
This influx of activity is why we have begun to step out from the social media bubble and get more directly involved. The EU is fast becoming one of the biggest issues as we approach the real possibility of a new independence referendum, and we feel we are in a unique position.
We, as EU nationals, are able to widen the narrative out of the limited scope of debate that unionist politicians, media and anti-independence campaigners in general continue to attempt to draw us into.
We, as proud citizens of the world, can help take the blinkers off and help Scotland see itself as others, outside of the UK, see it.
And as we now become a key demographic, we can make sure we not only reach this group that unionists have so far shown no consideration for, despite the potential severity of impact Brexit will directly have on us, but also we can empower EU nationals to further challenge unionist lies and manipulations that will likely be plentiful in the campaign ahead.
While we are currently in the process of developing our own website/blog/news resource, focusing on the wider, more international views in the ScotRef debate, we are continually welcoming members and volunteers of all nationalities and origins to join us.
We also have dozens of contributing volunteers, both in Scotland and elsewhere across the EU, ready to start feeding into our media activity with articles, analyses and translations.
We have already attracted a wide and varied team of techs, creatives, and editors, mainly consisting of non-UK EU citizens, but also including some Scots, English, Irish and other non-EU Scottish residents, who are looking to do their bit in sharing our vision of why we should, and how we can, build a better future as an independent nation.
Awaiting the full launch of our website, we also have dozens of contributing volunteers, both in Scotland and elsewhere across the EU, ready to start feeding into our media activity with articles, analyses and translations, as well as other volunteers looking to be involved in public engagement events.
With our constitution waiting to be ratified at our upcoming inaugural meeting, we hope to begin making an impact on the pro-independence campaign trail very soon.
Working alongside other pro-independence groups, as well as under our own banner, we will stand up, speak up, and play our part, as is our right, in the political future of this country.
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