Book review: “The dream shall never die”

“The dream shall never die” by Alex Salmond (2015), non fiction

This book was purchased while mooching around the bookshops of Wigtown in Galloway. My parents and I had been enjoying afternoon refreshments in the cafe of Beltie Books and were on our way out of the shop when a pile of books attracted my dad’s attention. He picked one up and splashed out the required £12.99. It’s a signed copy, which is a nice little bonus.

"The dream shall never die" by Alex Salmond
“The dream shall never die” by Alex Salmond

For several days after our holiday my dad was often to be found sitting quietly on a sofa deep in the pages of this book. At mealtimes he regaled us with amusing snippets from it. When he’d finished it he urged me to read it myself, and I gladly accepted the offer.

After a brief prologue and an introduction of around 30 pages, the meat of the book begins. It was as I started reading this part of the book that I discovered how engaging Alex Salmond’s writing could be.

On 18 September 2014, the people of Scotland went to the polls to vote on the issue of Scottish independence. The question we had to answer was: Should Scotland be an independent country? The only possible answers were ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

In the run up to the referendum Alex Salmond, as First Minister of Scotland and leader of the SNP (Scottish National Party), was campaigning enthusiastically on behalf of what was known as ‘Yes Scotland’, the main organisation in favour of independence. The opposition group, campaigning for Scotland to remain a part of the UK, was known as ‘Better Together’.

‘The dream shall never die’ is written as a kind of diary of events covering Yes Scotland’s 100 day campaign to persuade Scots to vote for independence. During this period there was a great deal of campaign coverage in the media, and constant speculation about which side was ahead in the polls and who was doing a better job of persuading voters.

One of the things about the run up to the referendum that stands out in my memory is how positive the Yes Scotland campaigners were compared with the Better Together lot. As Alex Salmond points out in the book, it’s far easier to be upbeat when campaigning for a positive outcome than when backing a negative.

This book benefits not only from the unique perspective gained by one of the campaign’s leaders, but from the entertaining way in which that perspective is conveyed. Alex Salmond’s sense of humour is evident throughout the diary-type entries. Far from being a dry and plodding read, as has been the case with some political observations I’ve read, I found it surprisingly fresh and engaging.

In the end, the people of Scotland voted against independence (the result was 55% against and 45% in favour of independence), and Alex Salmond took the decision to resign as First Minister for Scotland. The final sentence of his resignation speech was: “For me as leader my time is nearly over. But for Scotland the campaign continues and the dream shall never die.” A rousing note to end on and an optimistic title for his subsequent book.

Earlier this year the SNP won a third term in government, now under the leadership of Nicola Sturgeon. Next month the whole of the UK will vote in another referendum, this time on whether to remain in the European Union (EU) or leave. The question is worded so that there isn’t a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ option. Instead, we’ll be asked: Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?

A recent opinion poll, published in The Scotsman newspaper yesterday, indicates that more people in Scotland want to remain in the EU than leave. This does not seem to be the case in England. If the UK votes to leave the EU, but Scotland wants to stay in, a second Scottish independence referendum will surely be inevitable. If that happens, Alex Salmond’s dream might well come true in his lifetime.

Advertisements

6 Comments

  1. I must admit that I would never have picked this book up, because I tend to avoid politics of all kinds, but I think I would have been drawn in too, if it is engaging and readable. Always a surprise and a revelation to find someone’s writing ‘voice’, especially when they have been in the public eye for so long. Aggghhh, as for the referendum, goodness knows! Interesting to hear that Scotland favours staying in the EU more than England, maybe in part because of the long history of connection. Scots remember the Auld Alliance, the English remember Agincourt! 🙂 It will be interesting to see what happens, but I deliberately avoid most of the media hype/scare-mongering that surrounds it. Thanks for the interesting review, Lorna! 🙂

    Like

    1. Good point, it can indeed be a revelation to come across the voice of someone you think you know through the media. I wouldn’t have guessed Alex Salmond had such a sense of fun. It’s probably quite wise to avoid all the hype and scaremongering, but I tend to get scooped up by it and enjoy the cut and thrust. Mind you, I will be glad when we finally get to vote on this issue, it’s been a long time coming. My mum would agree with you about Scotland and the Auld Alliance, she reckons that’s why Scots are more in favour of staying in the EU.

      Liked by 1 person

Have your say

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s