Reflections of the failed No voter. Why it’s likely to be Yes.

I thought I’d write a few wee blog posts on the IndyRef. I write with only a few days to go before I-Day, and I write, just so you know, as a No voter who is pretty sure it will be a Yes. Yes have won the twitter-war, they’ve won the fundraising, the campaigning, and the political momentum, and hearts and minds both.

I know a lot of Yes voters – they’re my friends, they’re normal people. Well, they’re no more abnormal than they were before they decided to vote yes.  I love my friends dearly – my job is loving people, and it takes more than a referendum, certaily more than a difference of opinion, to change that.  I loved them before they voted yes and will love them after the result. I don’t blame them for voting differently from me, even though I think this is the most important vote ever, and naturally I think they’re making a mistake both they and I will regret.

The point of writing is not really to persuade, but that I feel frustrated; deeply frustrated about the “Better Together”, campaign which claimed but failed to represent my views, and frustrated with the Yes campaign, whose “positive” campaign was a veneer of hope, followed up by a hatred of tories.

I hope for the future, even when the vote will go in a way which I cannot agree with. I have hope for the future, because I know what Scotland is capable of.

I came to Scotland over twenty years ago now – I have lived longer in Scotland than I have anywhere else, and I won’t leave. I fell in love with the country. I fell in love with Edinburgh first (a friend of mine calls Edinburgh “his other woman”) and with Scotland thereafter, travelling through glens and towns and cities, drinking in posh hotels and rough pubs, and finding people everywhere with a spark, whatever their education, their background, their life story. The Scots have a drive, an energy, similar to my chippy Northern background. There’s a sense of discontent with how things are, and the desire to make them better. Crucially, the Scots have the concentration span to actually do it.

I came to Scotland thinking of Scots people like that, the country that gave the world the Enlightenment, scientific innovation and crucially for me, socialist leaders who were canny and clever enough to bring the UK into a new reality of democracy and prosperity. Id’ read up about them, about Scotland, before I came to University. I was excited about living in this world. The only Non-Scot who successfully lead the Labour party was from my neck of the woods, Harold Wilson, and he shared in the inheritance of MacDonald, Hardie and Henderson, and the other Scottish founders of Labour – who, presented with a tyrannical and barely democratic government, completely unrepresentative of Scotland, didn’t try and secede and run away from it – their sense of kin with their fellow workers in the rest of the UK would not permit them to – they decided to do the only decent thing – take it over. And so they did.

What upsets me so about the arguments being put forward in the Yes campaign, is that somehow they think Scotland is small. It’s being bullied by Westminster, by those horrible Tories. They treat all of Scotland’s problems as outsourced to “down south” as though Westminster is a ruling oligarchy.

It paints Scotland as a cowering cur, ready to be the worm that turned. And that’s not the Scotland I fell in love with. No cur, no worm.

Scotland has always led the UK for the better. Scotland has always been ingenuous, and inventive, and resilient. Scotland has always had a reach far far above the expectation of the rest of the world, and has often taken people by surprise.

So much of the “positive” campaign for Yes has been about oppression by Westminster, but it’s not just Westminster. It’s politics – both in the Scottish Parliament, and in the UK one. The whole of that needs to change, and Scotland can change it, as it has done in the past, as long as Scotland doesn’t think of itself and its ambition as so small. A Yes vote, which I feel is certainly coming, diminishes the good Scotland can do, both for itself and for the world.

So why do I think it will be Yes? Because Yes is a good idea – just not this way. More autonomy is a process which the whole of the UK needs to move towards, but not a cliff we ought to jump off. But it will mainly be Yes because it’s easier to persuade people they are an oppressed minority, than it is to persuade them they are powerful, strong, resourceful, generous.

“the person that goeth about trying to persuade a multitude that they are not as well governed as they ought to be, will never want for an attentive and favourable audience.” Richard Hooker 1554-1600


About frpip

Priest, Dad, A long way away. You can call me Father Father Father.
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7 Responses to Reflections of the failed No voter. Why it’s likely to be Yes.

  1. Thank you for this – I’ve been too angry in my dialogue on this issue, with the result that I’ve ended up being rude to my friends. Your calming words are much needed. I was depressed the other day to hear of someone who plans to vote Yes only because they are scared of what their local Yes camp will do if they lose – the worst possible reason to accede, and if there are more Yes voters of that ilk, I genuinely fear for our future.

    • frpip says:

      I’ve struggled not to be too passionate about this – at the risk (I hope not result) of losing friends over it. I worry people are voting blind, but I suppose that’s democracy for you – and also I suppose that’s the way I think about it. Whatever the result on the 19th I think the leaders of the campaigns have to do make a common statement for unity.

  2. That is one brilliant blog: thank you. just what is most admired about Scotland, and the sad saga of the Yes campaign – which is deplorable, and run by and for power-hungry politicos

  3. Rachel Holmes says:

    I’ve been an active part of the Yes campaign and I’ve found it anything but sad. It’s been positive – showing how we might be able to do things better and/or differently if we can decide for ourselves how to use our assets and wealth. The people who live here in Scotland, in my view are best placed to decide how our wealth is used for the benefit of the people who create it. An example, and one I’m particularly keen on, is the spend the UK makes on nuclear weapons. As a Christian, I find WMD incompatible with my faith. I want that money to be used for health, education and welfare.

    I’m not a power hungry politico – never have been. Those politicians you see who have argued for the chance for Scotland to be a normal country like any other, never had any chance of power for years and until relatively recently. They could all have been elected easily in Scotland years before they were, if they’d stood for Labour – so I disagree with you on that.

    I disagree that the ‘federal’ option is likely if Scotland votes No. England voted against it quite recently. More powers could have been an option on the referendum ballot paper, but David Cameron took it off. Jumping off a cliff, as you term it Pip, is alarmist. We are not. We are moving into a position where the Scottish Parliament, with its proportional structure, makes the decisions about welfare, tax and the economy rather than these decisions being made in London. It’s that simple. Yes, it will take time to move slowly towards that but it will start. With a no vote we are back to square one. If the parties in London wanted further devolution they’d have insisted it was on the ballot paper and they’d also have produced a document, at least the size of the white paper, laying out their offering. They’ve produced nothing but fear and alarm. I have faith and confidence in all who live in Scotland that we already make a fair and just contribution. We need the powers to decide for the people who live here, how that contribution is best used.

    • frpip says:

      Rachel, I agree, there has been something wonderful and truly blessed about this referendum, and I would have to disagree, Lavender, in describing the whole process as sad. I know that you, Rachel, and people of great integrity, including many clergy, will be voting Yes for good, authentic and moral reasons. My blog here is not trying to be presuasive, it’s more bourn out of frustrations that the Better Together campaign has so singularly failed to put accross how I and many others feel about the country I fell in love with.

      I’m with you about WMD, and for me that issue is not “I want to be free of being a part of a country which does this”, which is perfectly valid – it’s a question of how we stop it happening. I don’t think any fewer people are going to be killed by Scotland becoming independent.

      I’m not going to talk about “what will happen if it’s a no” because I’m really pretty sure it will be a Yes. I to ohave faith and confidence in the people of Scotland to make as good a fist of independence as it is possible to do, but I feel the white paper is so lacking in any sort of vision that they will be disappointed.

      • ah, my comment ‘sad’ was a reference to the sadness of finding division, when we have lived united for so long: and the wonderful creativity of the Scots has become so important a part of our mutual lives.

  4. Craig Lambert says:

    Are you aware there is no verifiable evidence of God? That, in fact, God does not exist. That even if God did exist, it’s no more likely to be the one you believe in or the one the equally deluded Muslims, Jews, etc., etc, believe in. That religion is poison, that you don’t know the difference between a referendum and a general election. That telling me what you NEED me to do in 2020, or today, tomorrow or ever; is a grave insult to my intelligence.

    P.S. Why didn’t your imaginary friend tell you that you that the ‘twitter-war’ is no more relevant to warfare than the Bible is to reason, history and logic? I do know the answer by the way… If you need a clue, seeing as you’re clearly a bit dim, look up the word ‘imaginary’.

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