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