The Kirk has announced it’s to hold a service of healing and reconciliation after 18th September. The move has been broadly welcomed by a Scottish media which sees it as a Sign from God supporting their contention that independence supporters are unrepentant sinners who have rent the country in twain. We stand on the brink of lasting social chasms, other than those caused by the economic policies of Westminster governments. The War of Alicsammin is manifesting itself in foul new weapons hitherto unimaginable and shortly to be banned by the Geneva Convention. Scotland is a house divided.
George Robertson and Jim Murphy have been collecting the proof. They have found evidence of door chapping in Largs, people talking to their mates in Broughty Ferry, and ordinary people voicing political opinions in Penicuik. There was even a rumour that someone in Glasgow told a joke. Evil separatists promiscuously spreading the virus of nationalism with public meetings and human contact. It’s a biological weapon. People have been infected with hope. It’s contagious.
And we quite like it. Hope is a novel experience for people in Scotland, we’ve had precious little of it. For a land so blessed with natural and human resources it’s been in remarkably short supply for as long as anyone can seem to remember. Many of us thought that we were genetically programmed not to have any. This was the land of no gods and the precious few heroes who are all deid. But recently we’ve made the remarkable discovery that we don’t actually need any heroes, because we’re all heroes in our own way. We no longer need to hope that a hero will come and deliver us. The only deliverance is the one we create for ourselves. Hope is home made.
I’ve spoken to more people than I can count about Scottish independence within Scotland and outwith it, it comes with being lippy and opinionated. With a tiny handful of exceptions of an orangey persuasion – or if not orange some other member of the citrus family like soor lemon – none of those I’ve spoken to within Scotland oppose the idea of independence in principle. None have any emotional attachment to the Westminster Parliament. What they are attached to are vague and ill defined connections of culture, family and experience, connections which don’t depend upon any Parliament to validate their existence, and which are not confined to the borders of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Union’s roots are shallow, which is one reason why they’ve had to be covered with the artificial grass of the ironically titled Vote No Borders – set up in defence of the most isolationist state in Europe, one whose politics outside of Scotland are dominated by calls for more stringent border controls. Did that PR company really think this through?
Those who oppose independence overwhelmingly do so because they are misinformed about Scotland’s potential, are fearful of the unknown, or because they still think of independence in party political terms. They are the ones who still have no hope. The task of independence supporters is to inform, reassure, and show how hope of something better is possible. We’re doing that by talking, by discussing, by sharing information, creating music, making art, by engaging with people. Who knew independence campaigns could be such a good laugh.
We’re having a independence campaign, and not only is it all entirely peaceful and democratic, it’s overwhelmingly good natured and characterised by wit and good humour. This is not usual for an independence campaign. There is no civil unrest. There are no ethnic tensions, the yes campaign is resolute that Scottishness is a state of mind which can be acquired by anyone who chooses to live here. It’s not about ethnicity or nationality. It’s not about where you’re from, it’s about where we’re going. People who are not Scottish by birth are equally represented in both sides of the debate. No one is getting shot. No one is being hauled away in the middle of the night by masked gunmen. There are no internment camps. No tortured bodies have been found in roadside ditches. No bombs have blasted shoppers in high streets. We should be celebrating that fact, screaming it from rooftops, because it is a testament to the immense maturity of Scottish democracy. Our media should be hailing Scotland as an example to the world of how the most politically sensitive of topics can be handled in a peaceful and democratic manner. This is praise not just for supporters of independence, but also for the overwhelming majority of supporters of Union. All of us, whatever our stance on independence, deserve great credit for this.
Instead we get carping in the media from Unionist politicians who are upset that someone called them a rude name on Twitter while blind to the rampant name calling from their own side. Calling people rude names is what Twitter is for. What do you expect when you’re restricted to 140 characters, contextual analysis, subtlety, tact, and nuance? Disagreements on Twitter are bound by their format to be curt. So here’s a Twitteresque suggestion – get a fucking grip and grow up.
If Westminster does manage to pull some fearful rabbit out of its hat, and scrapes home to a No vote, who is to be reconciled to whom? It will just be Westminster being reconciled with itself. When you’ve got two faces you can do that. It will be return to business as usual, without Caledonian distractions, a politics dominated by the struggle between the Tories and their bastard Thatcherite offspring in UKIP. They will hope that Scotland will return to its previous alienation, while they get on with the important business of widening social divisions and inequality as they seek to turn the UK into a mini-me Republican USA.
Meanwhile independence supporters will reconcile themselves to the fact that they’ve learned how to hope, and once learned that knowledge will never be forgotten. We’ll continue to spread the message, only starting from a higher baseline. Home made hope can’t be stamped out from on high. Nothing about the Yes campaign is an exercise in alienation and the creation of divisions, it’s the opposite.
If there is a yes vote our task will be to show those who voted no that hope does not exclude them. And we can even reconcile ourselves to those politicians who spread lies and whipped up fear – although whether we’re likely to vote for them again is a different matter entirely. There is no need for revenge, except by building a better, more prosperous, and more socially just society in an independent Scotland to show them that they were wrong.
The independence campaign is itself a healing process. It’s healing the wounds of the past and teaching a nation how to hope again. That’s worth celebrating.
And talking of hope. Last night I noticed that page views were going through the roof. You’ve taken it upon yourselves to tweet and share details of that house I’m so desperate to sell. I’m truly grateful, and deeply humbled. You made a cynical auld git cry, you bastards. But it was crying in a good way.