“I see you’ve got a Yes sticker on your car”

car_2

by R Ritchie

“I see you’ve got a Yes sticker on your car” came the slightly accusatory comment from a casual acquaintance I bumped into on a recent trip to the supermarket. 

“Yes I have”, I replied.

“You know you’ll lose your free prescriptions if Scotland goes independent?” was the next comment. Oh here we go, I thought to myself, but I gently asked instead,

“And where did the free prescriptions come from in the first place?”

My acquaintance, a gentleman of very mature years, went slightly flushed, ignored my question and replied in a louder voice,

“Scotland’s fourteen billion pounds in debt!”

“I don’t think that’s entirely true; it depends on-” I started but was interrupted.

 “Dae you no watch the bloody news wummin?”, his voice now notably raised, as no doubt his blood pressure was too, “We cannae survive!” He seemed to suddenly check himself to the milder person I’m used to passing pleasantries with, continuing in a more conciliatory tone, “but you’re entitled to your own opinion.”

“Yes indeed”, I agreed, “and we’ll see what happens in the future”. Then with a farewell wave of mixed concern and disbelief, and some unintelligible muttering, he was off.

Why do I recount this brief and dull moment of ordinary life? Several reasons, all of which I believe independence supporters must understand and find ways to tackle.

Firstly, he was undoubtedly one of those who voted No, genuinely fearing loss of his pension. Knowing him during his former employment, I’d suggest he wasn’t a social band A or B, and I know I’m guilty of making sweeping generalisations, but he probably didn’t read as widely into the case for independence as others. He’s also showing the signs of being a devout and unquestioning follower of the Hallowed BBC and printed press. I’d be pretty sure that the internet and social media are something he considers unnecessary and dangerous. 

He’s a pleasant, kind man who has clearly worked hard all his life and just wants a secure and peaceful retirement, so of course he fears the horror of a future which the main stream media portray would exist in independent Scotland. 

This brief conversation in a supermarket car park, gave me a renewed glimpse through the eyes of people who haven’t had access to the extensive information we have online. I think we sometimes forget how scary the thought of independence can be, to those who know only what the MSM tells them. I hope that the fact he brought up the topic of my Yes sticker, and the realisation I still pursue independence, will maybe lay an ember of doubt within him.

Meanwhile, we can post pro independence material online and feel we’re doing something positive, but until we reach the people who aren’t accessing the alternative information, they will remain unionist by default. Brief conversations in the car parks of life, may be a place to start. Five million copies of an updated Wee Blue Book would be helpful too! 

More than anything, this conversation made me realise that it is up to us, every one of us, to make the case in real life, to real people, every chance we can. Of course some won’t listen, but there are plenty of people who still don’t know anything other than what they are fed by the mass media. They need us to talk to them, to open their horizons, to share other points of view and sources of information. 

Persuading the public to choose a better future for our country isn’t someone else’s job, it’s mine and yours, and it’s time we got started again.

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New Thoughts

by C.C.Hamilton

A country divided

 

The really good thing about travelling around the Shires of England is getting a feel for the people and leaving the “Scotland is shit” media behind. I love England, it’s people, it’s scenery and it’s rich history. I love how, for the most part,they have this great belief in the country’s ability to overcome any odds. There is no way, for example, if England had entered a Union with France 300 years and had the parliament moved to Paris, they would, 300 years later be still agonising over whether they were good enough to be independent. Long before now the English people would have TAKEN their country back. I like that. This last wee while is different though.I sensed division this time, division I had never really sensed before. And 3 way  too. There are those who want a really hard BREXIT,who seem to dispise the EU, those desperate to stay in the EU and those, like most Scots, I suppose, just shrugging their shoulders and burying their heads, dismayed by politics in general. We all hear about Scotland being divided, my goodness, Kezia is never done goingon about it. But lets be clear, there are divisions in all countries between left and right, religion, yes and no….. But we manage these divisions and particularly in Scotland we are managing these divisions better than ever I think. We mustn’t take our eye off the ball of course.

Speaking to people down South I’ve never heard such polar views. Some had a real deep distaste for the EU, usually around the issue of Immigration and others just felt helpless. Some of those I spoke to, voted for Jeremy Corbyn on the basis that he “was different” but already had become dismayed by the fact that 1. he lost and they got a Tory Government anyway (we know the feeling!) and 2. were now of the opinion that Corbyn’s Labour party are after much the same “hard” Brexit that the Tories are.  What was also startling was the positive attitude to some of our Politicians, Nicola Sturgeon, Mhairi Black and Angus Robertson being particularly highly regarded. Funnily enough, friends in England seem to have seen through Ruth Davidson much quicker than us Scots, one guy referred to her as a “Posh Ned!” which I thought was funny. Too much Still Game for him I think! What I think has become clear is that people in England are much more aware of the other countries in the UK (possibly brought in to focus by the Tory-DUP deal) and are paying more attention to our politics.  Becoming frustrated by the performance of their NHS for example compared to Scotland.  Anyway that’s just a snapshot of recent travels in England.  I don’t know where Brexit will take the UK, it’s a mess and I think we all know it. Can we make the best of it? I am not sure but many people around these islands feel exactly the same.

 

The problem with Labour

 

It’s been interesting over the last few weeks to read two of my favourite Pro-Indy writers Cat Boyd and Alan Bissitt wrestle with voting Labour in the recent General Election. As I have said here before, I don’t really care how anyone else votes, indeed it’s none of my business but you have to own that vote. Be aware of what you are voting for, who you are voting for and if elected what you will get from your candidate and if the party forms the Government what you will get from them. For me in the General Election the choice was easy. My SNP MP has been superb for our area. Worked harder than his predessor and deserved, in my view, to remain in place and he did albeit with a reduced majority.  Our Labour candidate was a mess and despite my being encouraged by the prospect of Jeremy as PM, it was just as important to me that the person representing us at Westminster was competent.  The Labour candidate certainly was not that. The Lib Dem was the previous MP and was largely anonymous and the Tory was, well a Tory!

My problems with Labour as a leftie remain.  It is the insulting way they dismissed the YES campaign and continue to dismiss and denigrate those who favour self determintion.  I like Jeremy Corbyn and think he is a decent man, but the party he leads would still keep nuclear weapons on the Clyde.  The Labour mayor of London made bizarre claims about theYES movement being racist. They seem to favour a hard brexit, albeit committed to more concilliatory talks with the EU, and interestingly several of their pledges made during the campaign seem to melt away the closer they get to Government.  Indeed we hear senior members of the Party suggesting that the “radical” manifesto they proposed was based on the fact that they didn’t think they would be elected and admitting that it couldn’t have been implemented.  We also have Jeremy sacking ministers for rebelling, when he himself has been a serial rebel in the party for years. Very much do as I say not as I do.  It’s all so disappointing.  My issue, with the party, here in Scotland is also that the level of candidate just isn’t very good and when I listen to people like Jackie Baillie, Anas Sarwar and James Kelly I don’t hear people who represent what the Labour Party was to me in my younger years or my parents generation or indeed the Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn. For me Alan Bisset hit the nail on the head, recently, when he said he thought about it, voting for a Labour party with a socialist agenda again, but just couldn’t.  Too much damage has been done. I can’t vote for a party that includes those who openly dispise and denigrate the peaceful democratic YES movement it is such a joy to be a part of. I hope to be able to vote Labour in an Independent Scotland until then it’s SNP/Green/SSP for me.  I want a radical,socialist Scotland. And while we are in the UK I want a radical, socialist UK. Sorry Cat, but even under Jeremy Corbyn Labour is not even close to that.  I am not saying the SNP are radical either by the way, but in the UK we need MP’s whose first and only concern is Scotland and are not lobby fodder for Labour or the Tories.  I can’t forget my own family’s  80’s experience of  local industry being wrecked by the Tories while the Labour MP’s and Labour councils stood idly by and did nothing for the people they represented.

 

Calling Agent  Gilruth

 

I never think the personal lives of Politicians is anyones business and I certainly don’t think it constitutes news but I had a giggle this week when I read about the relationship between SNP MSP Jenny Gilruth and Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale. Both are very capable Politicians and strong characters so I can imagine the discussions over dinner some nights!  Of course, we all know Kezia would love to come over from the “dark side” and back independence for her country and I am sure through time Jenny will be able to persuade her of the merits of that. Kezia Dugdale as the Labour FM in a Independent Scotland? I would take that. On a more serious note, good luck to them both.

 

Space Cringe

 

Not content with saying the Scotland is currently shit, I see our pals in the Unionist media and Tory Party were back to telling us what we couldn’t do as a future Independent country at the weekend.  The National ran a front page at the weekend on the ambitious idea floated by Common Weal that an Independent Scotland could have a thriving space programme.  Despite the fact it was another of those cartoony front pages from the National that I hate.  It was an enjoyable piece, ideal for lighter weekend reading and was indicitive of what the Pro-Indy movement is all about: dreaming big, thinking out of the box, being creative, doing thing differently and trusting ourselves to make those aspirations a reality.  Of course all the big guns piled on, Deerin, Tomkins (yes he of the WATP, Queens 11 tweets), Murial Gray. Most of the Cringers in one place.  How dare Scotland think big?  How dare Scotland think forward?  Quite mad for Scotland to even contemplate such an idea. Of course, many thousands in Scotland are already employed in the space industry and efforts are afoot to bring the UK spaceport to either Prestwick or Campbeltown. We build more satellites in Glasgow than any other European City.  None of that suits the “Scotland is Shit” brigade who currently populate our media and political spaces. It’s a shame really because wee countries with big ideas and big dreams seem to do OK. Never mind.  While they moan from the sidelines we will continue to dream big, reach out and drive forward because that’s what proper country’s do.

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Your Political Silence Is Consent

by Howling Mad Maverick

Before you start reading I’ll let you know now that I am not a ‘name brand’ academic or anything like that. I’m just a person who lives here and who is sick to the point of insanity at how things are.

 

A lot of people out there now know the facts, I’d even dare say that most people out there know the essentials.

 

Workers are being broken, disabled people are being culled, and the Etonions are swilling even more luxuries from their troughs, while the best people out there starve away to nothing.

 

But complaining changes nothing.

“Boo Tories! Boo DUP! Boo RFC!” shows your opinion in the same way that livestock crying “Baa! Moo! Cluck!” before going on the chopping board shows their opinion.

 

What we, the people, need is a movement again.

The Yes campaign was a monumental revival of humanity in our home, people came together peacefully, sharing their hopes and dreams for the benefit for all, and for the first time in my life I was able to smile at a stranger.

Now many Yes organisations have become the political groups from the film Life of Brian “Let’s have a meeting! (and talk to no one outside our group)”, which leaves us with only the SNP and Scottish Green Party in the ‘limelight’.

We can’t expect any political party at Westminster to continue the fight for our dreams on our behalf (just look at the party Keir Hardie founded).

We need to take to the streets again (and let me be crystal-sparkling clear, I am not inciting riots. What makes our movement so special is that we are so peaceful, no Brit can ever say the same).

We need to be seen, not just at one of demonstration that has been planned and paid for months in advanced (and boycotted or distorted by the British media). We need to show the British that we have a presence that reaches further and stronger than their propaganda. We have the advantage because we actually live here.

Be like the Icelandic women on October 24th 1975. They went on strike for a day, JUST ONE DAY!, to demand equality, and they got it.

Workers unite! And remember “if you tolerate this then your children will be next”.

That’s enough of my rant. I have been writing a wee story that will most likely never be finished, but with the revival of drugs in the community (especially amongst young people), and with the POVERTY-SUPER-MAX that we ARE in for thanks to the political climate, I figured I might as well share a wee bit of it here:

 

What’s The Point?

(A snippet of what life was like in 2004 for me)

 

“Wee-man!”

 

Everything was grey, the pavement, the buildings, the sky.

It was raining.

Dave was rushing down the street, he didn’t run, but he did move as fast as he could while maintaining his calmest facade. The streets were not safe, at least not to Dave.

The fact that Dave had lived here his entire life meant nothing, you’re either one of them or you’re not, and without knowing it, Dave had chosen a different path to the rest of them a long time ago.

Dave believed this was due to his way of thinking, ‘was it a magic gift?’, he could never understand why people were addicted to tv and alcohol when so much more is possible in this life.

They would rant and rave about how bad corruption had gotten, how dangerous times had become, but they stood ready to attack the person who stood up for them, against the things they lived to complain about.

Dave never understood double-speak, why would anyone focus on what they hated, then defend what they hated the minute someone came along to make things better?

 

“Here wee-man! Mate!!!” a junky called over to Dave from across the street.

Dave never gave anything away, he never showed any emotion, especially when he was outside.

Dave kept on walking, not looking at the junky, but not looking away either, like a government agent avoiding questions from reporters, in a Hollywood film.

All the same Dave kept his head down. He always kept his head down. Dave felt claustrophobic from the CCTV that spread through his home town like a virus, and looking down from the cameras made him feel a bit safer. Keeping his head down also limited the chance of a probable “Whit you looking at!” from a passer-by, and it came in handy to avoid stepping on whatever lay on the ground.

“MATE! ! !” the junky shrieked at the top of his voice, making Dave look over.

Once he had Dave’s attention, the junky shouted “Tell yer maw she was good stuff last night!” making an offensive gesture toward Dave.

The junky proceeded to puff out his chest and spread his arms, inviting Dave to a fight.

A full grown adult on drugs, in a place where people know him, against a school aged boy out on his own…As if’

Dave walked on, still showing no emotion. To show emotion, any emotion, was a sign of weakness in these streets.

Dave hated the world he lived in, everyone was addicted to needless drama. They would even purposely create problems if there was no drama to keep them amused.

And ‘God forbid’ you showed any kindness. If you showed any sign of compassion, you had truly declared ‘open season’ on yourself to all of them.

Things were bad for Dave because he didn’t fight these pointless fights that the drug addicts often challenged him to, but at least they had one slight hint of fear of him, which was not being able to tell what Dave was thinking, courtesy of the “mask” that he wore.

 

Dave could see the newly built flats as he reached a further part of the street.

A forest used to be where the flats where situated. It was the last forest Dave had ever seen.

People had overpaid stupid amounts of money, to some ‘fat-cat’, so that they could live in a house that was essentially made out of papier-mâché, in a horrible area. Was it worth the loss of the last green area that Dave had ever known?

What’s the point?’ Dave lamented.               

Dave’s world was covered in cement, to him the Earth was a large sphere of concrete. It was full of rules that only applied when preventing good people from making a stand.

Snitches get stitches!” the so called “hard men” would chant, but they were always the first ones to run and “snitch” whenever things didn’t go their way.

Dave considered how he would not be living in terror, if the worst people were not encouraged and protected by the establishment.

Head’s they win, tail’s you lose… there’s no survival of the fittest anymore’ Dave thought to himself.

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Reset

FLAG_LITTLE

by C.C Hamilton

I liked the tone of the speech from the First Minister today. I agreed with much of what she said. Indeed, as someone committed to the idea of Independence even I am exhausted, not so much by the campaigning but more by the grinding down of the movement by the media. I also can’t really afford it the now. It feels like everwhere I turn another pro indy blogger/project is looking for money. All great projects by the way but exhausting all the same. I have long since felt that it is time for the SNP to step back and let the movement grow organically, in much the same way it did in 2014. I would like to see a figurehead emerge for the movement and some resources from the party to pay a couple of media savvy salaries and a premises for a couple of years but only to sit on top of it and to help it NOT own it. The Independence movement has to belong to the people. These guys and girls though, should be energetic, patient and committed. This should be a Labour of Love, there should be no huge expense accounts or anything like that and it should all be totally transparent. It will be attacked. It needs to be squeaky clean and value for money. And it needs to work with the existing registry’s/groups already out there. Bringing everything together but not taking over. If anything today the FM gave us the chance to draw breath and reset the Yes Movement.

I am delighted to read that the Scottish Government will outline a bold, radical agenda in the new Parliamentary term. Sure battle on with Brexit thing but try to do things differently in Scotland. Leave Westminster to its backward looking, insular approach. Lets see the SNP and the Greens work together to really make Holyrood bold, outward looking and a Parliament fit for purpose.

In the meantime there are a few things we could do to reset the movement…

Big voices

I would like to see someone brave enough to bring together our prominent pro indy voices to discuss a joined up media approach. Leave the ego’s at the door and get the likes of Paul Kavanagh, James Kelly, Stuart Campbell, Mike Small together with the likes of Derek Bateman, Neil MacKay, Tom Morton and throw ideas around. We have to form a concilliatory, grown up plan going forward. Throwing shit around on Social media just isn’t going to cut it. We are not going to agree on everything but we can surely agree to disagree in an adult manner and be less grumpy! We are trying to engage people but there is a huge danger we are just arguing amongst ourselves. I include myself in that. I write this wee blog and in the grand scheme of things it matters not a lot but I could do better to understand other points of view in the movement and outside of it.

Get creative

Is there theopportunity to bring our creatives together? There is such a huge range of artists receptive to the idea of independence. Can we look again at the National Collective idea? Such potential in an ideas based environment for what we want an Independent Scotland should look like. I remember away back we had a group called Artists for an Independent Scotland but it didnt really go anywhere. While we are resetting the movement let’s look at that. Can we put together gigs, shows, artwork to encourage poeple to have a fresh look at independence but in a less strained, more comfortable environment. Not forced on from above but affordable or free events where all of Scotland is encouraged to come along and see where we want to go.

Sort out the dull stuff

I am really looking forward to reading further work from Common Weal and the Independence Convention which I think is due later in the year. We should all get behind that if we can. These think tanks should produce the economic arguements for an Independent Scotland (the boring stuff!) but we should get involved and have our say on currency, taxation etc. We know next time around where the attacks will be focused. These guys can give our movement the tools to answer clearly and with confidence. We know we have the people and the resources to be a successful independent nation. But the attacks will be relentless. We need to be ready and these guys are vital.

Fresh faces

We need a few fresh faces at the front of the movement. Could that be Mhairi Black along with someone like Angela Haggerty? Or some of the Journey to Yes folks that PhantomPower has uncovered in the last few months. I’m just throwing names about but we need a freshness.

Smile

And we need to lighten up. The last year has felt like a war of attritian and it has had to be but people also want to have fun and enjoy themselves. Let them. My God,  Life can be shit sometimes but our movement is such a positive thing. Celebrate it. Have fun. Leave Westminster to their shambles. Let’s party…albeit on the edge of a fucking volcano but if we are going to hit the reset button lets go the whole hog. Lets laugh at ourselves and be different. Westminster is boring, Tories are boring. Let’s at least be interesting. Make people want to come over and see what all the fuss is about.

Fly yer flag if you want

And do you know what, lets get the fucking Saltires out if we want. Lets be proud of our achievements as a country in the past, be proud on the inclusiveness of our movement and come together whenever we can to have fun, trade ideas and work towards a brighter future for everyone. To borrow from Hawaiian culture “Ohana” the Yes movement is a family. Let’s reach out to everyone. Lets build a Scotland where no one gets left behind or forgotten. If we do this now and build belief in the country we will win the Referendum whenever it is.

 

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Chaos, Independence & Governments

by C.C. Hamilton

Hampden

I am going to say something really unfashionable in Scotland these days. I LOVE SCOTLAND.

Thats better, glad I got that off my chest.

I was at Hampden on Saturday and it was brilliant. The atmosphere, the banter, the camaraderie, the rollercoaster ride, the post mortem amongst us as we trudged away after another hard luck story. It is unique to us. Not better than anyone else but definately unique and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We have our problems in Scotland, like every country does but when we come together like we did on Saturday it is a thing of beauty. Sure some people booed the National Anthems and one or two songs were a bit near the knuckle but it was never poisonous in any way. It was a rivalry and a good one. A wee country trying to get one over on a much bigger neighbour. All credit to our English friends too for adding to the atmosphere. I really hope they go unbeaten the rest of the campaign. For us we just keep on keeping on but there is a wee bit of gallus returning I would love to see that replicated throughout the country and not just at Hampden and Murrayfield for big matches.

 

Tory Chaos

As always when we get yet another Tory Government we didnt vote for I look on at the chaos that ensues and shake my head. The Tories are bad for Scotland we know that, bad for the UK too, but particularly bad for Scotland. Of course this time we were brave enough, not stupid, but on their record in Scotland you have to be brave  to send 13 of them to Westminster but such is the shambles down there that they are already trying to distance themselves from the UK party and pretend to be independent. Oh the irony!  The lack of scrutiny on Ruth Davidson and her party in the Scottish press is actually quite frightening but if I had voted Tory in Scotland and looking at the mess I have voted for I would be thinking twice about trusting Ruth Davidson with my vote again any time soon. Interesting that she now wants an “Open Brexit!” whatever that means, but I am pretty sure there are many,many people who voted Tory in Scotland on the basis of the hard Brexit, she herself, seemed to have signed up to during the Election Campaign. I dont believe there were many in Scotland voted for a Tory Government, propped up by a party like the DUP (and all their baggage that goes along with that,) ditching most of their manifasto, no coherant Brexit plan and a lame duck PM being savaged from all sides including her own party. It’s not for me to tell the rest of the UK how to vote, but we know from bitter tears that if we vote Tory in Scotland we get chaos. The Tories are spinning hard up here because they know the UK is a shambles of their making and that at some stage the Scots who voted for them, and they are not stupid, will catch up and see them for what they are. The party of self interest. Scotland and in particular the fine people of the Borders and the North East deserve better than that.

 

Independence

Independence is gone for now, there is no real stomach for the fight in Scotland. Part of the problem with the yes movement is that we try to solve all Scotlands problems overnight with indy. We can’t. Independence is about choice. And who makes those choices. Once we are Independent from the UK we choose what kind of country we want to live in and elect Government to meet that demand. If they don’t deliver we vote them out. We can never do that at UK level, even if we had all voted Labour, Corbyn would still have been short of a majority. And that is the core point and always has been. It is a democratic deficit. If you believe Scotland is a country, it should elect its own Government with all the levers available to influence our economy, way of life and public services. No one wants to fall out with the rest of the UK. A negotiated settlement so we take responsibilty for our wee bit of the world. Who knows what path our country would take but it would be our path and if it was a shambles (it wouldn’t be) it would be ours, we would own it and we would take the required steps to sort it. Compare that to the mess of the UK at the moment. There cant be anyone out there who thinks we couldnt do a better job ourselves of managing a country than this mess forced on us my May, Davidson et al. Is anyone amongst THEM brave enough to take ownership of it? Nope, lurching from one disaster to another. We have a lifeboat, we just need to trust ourselves, but are we brave enough to use it? Not yet.

 

Tale of 2 Governments

 

Today the Scottish Government quietly announced a funding package for the Borders and a bill for further powers and protections for our island communities. Getting on with the day job in the face of the most hostile press anywhere in the UK (you wont read about it in the papers because its not SNPBAD). Compare that to the actual state of the UK Government over the last few years. A UK Government set to take us back in time, doing deals with the crazies from across the water against and outward looking, inclusive Scottish Government. Of course, we have challenges here and devolution actually makes some of those challenges greater with a fixed budget and limited tax powers but I would much rather have a left of centre social democratic party running Scotland, with all our challenges than what we have at UK level right now. In any other year we would be screaming to get out of this Union and build a fairer, just society in Scotland and support similar parties of Social Justice in the rest of the UK. But the GE has shaken us. After 10 years of competency we have become complacent. The SNP are not perfect by any means, but they are a lot better than anything else out there at the moment. Never forget that Davidson and Dugdale led us here. They don’t think we can do any better and we need this shamolic UK Government. In their desperation to crush the SNP they have made us believe we just need to suck it up. We don’t but we do need to be good neighbours. And after independence we will be good neighbours, best friends working together in the best interests of all of the British Isles. It will be brilliant.

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Artworks 2016

Couple for Independence (cartoon version) drawing on Corel Draw
Couple for Independence (cartoon version) drawing on Corel Draw
Young Woman for Independence (cartoon version) drawing on Corel Draw
Young Woman for Independence (cartoon version) drawing on Corel Draw

forindy_glasgow

forindy_ver2

Cartoon Girl (chibi) for  Independence drawing created on Corel Draw
Cartoon Girl (chibi) for Independence drawing created on Corel Draw
Cartoon Pink Girl with Cats (chibi) for  Independence drawing created on Corel Draw
Cartoon Pink Girl with Cats (chibi) for Independence drawing created on Corel Draw
Red Girl with tartan and Nessie (chibi) for  Independence drawing created on Corel Draw
Red Girl with tartan and Nessie (chibi) for Independence drawing created on Corel Draw
StillYes Robot. Drawn by @ARTofPatt and coloured by @defiaye
StillYes Robot. Drawn by @ARTofPatt and coloured by @defiaye
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