The purpose of the heart

We’re told the independence campaign is a battle between head and heart, at least a lot of folk in the papers and on telly seem to think so. Usually, it has to be said, it’s those of a Nawish persuasion who see themselves on a self appointed mission to blind the bravehearts with a facsimile of logic. Yes supporters counter with logic of their own, and before you know it the debate has descended into an exchange of sterile spreadsheets and legal papers rolling back and forwards in front of the glassy eyes of a population who’ve lost interest and have gone off to have a laugh at Rory the Tory’s – did you know he’s Scottish? – attempt to build a big pile of stones on the Border as a symbol of unity. Even though I’m a supporter of independence, I’d be quite happy to donate a big heavy rock to Rory’s wee project, just as soon as I get the Freepost address.

But madcap rockery schemes aside, for people who are not versed in EU law or the intricacies of currency unions, which is to say just about everyone, the usual media driven debates have as much meaning and significance as an argument over the carrying capacity of a pinhead of dancing angels. They’re not going to help you make your mind up how to vote in September. Logic is a useful tool, but unless it’s grounded in a recognisable reality and people without degrees in constitutional law or currency regulation can follow the links, the chain of logic leads straight to the door of an angel disco whose bouncers refuse you entrance.

A chain of logic is only as good as its weakest link, and the No campaign’s links rusted through long before an anti-independence argument was suspended from it like a shiny disco ball. This weekend the European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker yanked on Westminster’s eurochain and their glittery disco ball of lies came crashing down onto the angelic dancefloor. Which was a lot more entertaining than Strictly.

In case you missed it, Scots are the special ones, according to the EU. JosΓ© Mourinho eat yer heart out. Speaking to the Scotland on Sunday newspaper, officials from Juncker’s office have confirmed that an independent Scotland’s application for EU membership would not be put at the bottom on the pile below Serbia, Moldova and Turkey. Juncker’s office have said that Scotland would be a “special and separate case” and would not have to go through an application process which is designed to ensure that new member states are in compliance with a raft of EU legislation and provisions which Scotland has been in full compliance with for the past 40 years. Juncker’s spokesperson went even further, adding that the EC president was “sympathetic” to Scottish membership. It’s payback time for Davie Cameron’s opposition to Juncker’s presidency.

This is what Yes supporters have been arguing for quite some time. There’s a point to an EU application process, and the point is to ensure that new member states are in compliance with the foundation treaties of the EU and conditions of membership. Scotland’s already doing all that. We are in full compliance with EU rules and have already passed our EU driving test. Scotland has been successfully motoring down the euroroutes for decades. We don’t need to sit the test again just because we’ve ditched Westminster’s gas guzzling rust bucket for a compact and more environmentally friendly model, and it ought to be fully established by now – at least to everyone outside the Unionist parties and their pals in the media – that it is against EU law to expel Scotland for having an independence vote. On the shiny disco ball in Yes Scotland’s dance, open to all, Scotland will be applying for EU membership in its own right from within the EU. The No campaign’s threats of vetos or delays are irrelevant.

The No campaign has a big problem, as there is little in the way of emotional support for the Westminster system in Scotland. Those aspects of “Britishness” which appeal to most in Scotland are cultural and personal, and include Ireland and the Irish as much as England or Wales. For Scotland, support for the Union has always been conditional, it depends upon the Union being seen to be better than the alternative. It’s difficult to make a positive case for a Union which can’t offer its citizens anything better than workfare and wonga loans, so the Unionists must base their emotional appeal upon fear. Fear can be generated by bombarding the voters with “facts” and chains of logic whose weak links are buried under a mountain of irrelevancies and appeals to authorities which on closer inspection turn out not to be so authoritative after all.

Although political campaigns claim to be based on logic and reason, humans are not logical beings and our actions are not driven by logic. We are intensely emotional beings who are capable of logic. That’s not the same as being logical. The purpose of human logic is not to determine our goals. Logic serves to determine the course, not the destination. The destination is where the heart lies. As Hugh MacDiarmid pointed out in the poem Twilight, one of the heart’s main functions is to power the brain. Do what your heart tells you, then everything else becomes a practical problem. Practical problems have practical solutions, and that’s the point where logic comes into it.

The Unionist argument has it the wrong way round, it seeks to confuse and frighten the brain into ignoring the heart. But a No vote based on fear is not a vote for the Union. It’s a vote for independence, just not yet. The Union died the day that the No campaign decided to base its strategy on scaring Scotland into submission.

The Yes campaign has it the right way round. It seeks to assuage fears by showing that there are practical solutions to the practical problems thrown up by the challenge of independence. That’s why even many No supporters acknowledge that the Yes campaign is better presented and more effective.

So listen to your heart, use all your senses. What does Scotland feel like? What is the taste of Union, is it bitter or is it sweet? Whose music is discordant, whose is melodic? Your heart isn’t wrong. Once you’ve listened to the beat of your heart, you know what your emotions tell you, then and only then can you engage your powers of logic in order to work out how to get from where we are now to where your heart tells you you want to be. Many Scots like the idea of independence, it feels right, it tastes good, it sings to them in catchy tunes, but they’re still confused and bewildered by the barrage of misinformation emanating from the No campaign and its supporters.

The key to independence lies in the heart. The logic of the brain tells us how to unlock the door and overcome the barriers. So when you engage in conversation with your undecided family and friends about the independence debate, start with the feeling, and once you’ve established the fears and uncertainties, then you bring logic into it. Logic allows you to identify practical solutions to the problems of fear and make them practically vanish.

The purpose of the heart is to power the brain.



48 comments on “The purpose of the heart

  1. […] We're told the independence campaign is a battle between head and heart, at least a lot of folk in the papers and on telly seem to think so. Usually, it has to be said, it's those of a Nawish persu…  […]

  2. Sashadistel says:

    Oh I like that Paul, do what your heart tells you , then everything else becomes a practical problem.

  3. JimnArlene says:

    Heart not ruling, but leading the head. I think that’s how, most, people come to the conclusion that independence; is the only way forward.

  4. My heart is bursting with pride for the new Scotland that is also about to burst onto the world stage refreshed after a long sleep.

    Great writing, Paul, and heartfelt.

  5. maybolebuddie says:

    Another great post Paul! how’s Andy?

  6. Cameron knew what Junker was going to say. I don’t think he’s finished yet, unless the Tories shut up.
    You say logic’s a useful tool Paul.
    Fancy a look at Westminster’s New Tool?
    If you’re sqeamish I’d suggest you don’t….!

  7. Capella says:

    “The key to independence lies in the heart.” There’s so much wisdom packed into this post. I always thought the Unionists were wrong in trying to dismiss Independence as a foolish romantic notion. It is our highest aspiration and the practical details can be sorted out. It feels right to me. Nobody can argue with your feelings whereas, as you say, the wrangling over reasons can go on and on.
    Good to see you back at the keyboard!

  8. lastchancetoshine says:

    But But… what if your heart tells you it dosn’t like Alex Salmond while your brain is telling it that’s irrelevent, solve that and we’ve cracked it.

    • weegingerdug says:

      Oh that’s easy. Hating Alicsammin hasn’t got anything to do with whether you vote yes or no. That’s just more Unionist distraction to confuse the brain. It’s about your feelings about Scotland’s future, not your feelings about one individual. What you DON’T do is to try and persuade the person that their dislike of Alicsammin is unfounded. That’s a waste of time.

      I usually tell Alicsammin-hating people who are leaning to yes that the point of independence is to make sure we get a written constitution which ensures our political masters are kept in check. So if you really hate Alicsammin, then vote yes so you can have a political system that will allow you to control him and the rest of the political class, and to kick them in the bum when they annoy you. We can’t do that with the Westminster political system. Politicians need to be kept close – no further away than the distance between your foot and their arses. And there are few things in this life more emotionally satisfying than a good metaphorical arse-kicking.

      • JGedd says:

        Actually I used a variant of that today while canvassing with an undecided/ No voter. In answer to the often heard ” but they’re all the same ” – meaning that an independent Scotland would just have the same sort of politicians as we have now, I pointed out that after independence we could well be invited to become involved in our new constitutional set-up. i suggested that, for instance, people might wish to have a provision for recall of unsatisfactory MPs and also that perhaps there were other ways voters might decide on to limit the powers of MPs so that we don’t end up with the Westminster system.

        I’m not saying that I had an instant convert but I could see that the thought had gone home. A possibility that had never occurred before was now there in her mind. It’s exactly possibilities like that which have never even been considered before, of actually having power to be consulted, which can bear fruit. People are so used to feeling powerless that this might be the key to open up new vistas for those who are not, so far, inspired to vote yes.

        • lastchancetoshine says:

          Personally , on the “we can hold them to account better” point I’d like to see us do away with general elections altogether where it’s all change every five years and a year of competition where all policies are based on what will get votes regardless as to what’s the best thing to do.

          Instead I’d like to see a rolling programme where elections to one or two constituencies are held every month (or at a reasonable fixed period) so that the public is constantly judging on the performance of their representatives and the balance of power shifts more slowly dependant on our approval of the way things are being run.

      • hektorsmum says:

        That Paul is one of the best arguments for ridding ourselves of the Union, the main body was good but this bit, for me is the essence. Politicians are only to be trusted when you can give them a good kick in the backside. I may be a member of the SNP but oor Alicsammin is as flawed as all the rest, he just has a better heart for his country.

      • ‘Politicians need to be kept close – no further away than the distance between your foot and their arses.’
        Paul, I like that!

    • rabthecab says:

      That’s easier than you think. I have, to quote the late Hector Nicol’s line from Just a Boy’s Game, “nivir been foand ae” wee Eck. I have, though, been in favour of Scottish Independence, ever since I was old enough to understand what it meant.

      All people have to realise is that a vote for Yes *isn’t* a vote for Salmond, hell it isn’t even a vote for the SNP. It is, plain and simple, a vote for a Scotland where the views of the people will actually carry some weight, starting right from the written Constitution.

  9. alex mckechnie says:

    we need to vote yes because when the vote is counted and we can start again to build a better Scotland than we have now more equal without the food banks and nonsense from exclusion, bedroom tax and other crap lets move forward

  10. […] The purpose of the heart […]

  11. Judging by the way the No campaign has been run, the campaign team’s brains have suffered from a lack of power, perhaps even a number of serious power outages. Hmmm, wonder what that says about their hearts then. Not functioning, or perhaps not even there.

  12. Mosstrooper says:

    The heart’s aye the part aye that maks it richt or wrang.

  13. Another great post Paul. I wrote a wee piece on my friend’s blog about voting with my heart.

  14. Eilean says:

    It is not just in your heart it is also in your genes. I admire a lot of what Professor Richard Dawkins says. He talks a lot of the altruistic gene. This gene he says is what makes us respond in a certain way when our family, clan or tribe call it what you will is under threat. It is why some individuals make a sacrifice sometimes the ultimate sacrifice for the common good. It is why people ran towards the Clutha pub when a police helicopter crashed into it. It is why we get angry when we watch a video of the Maryhill foodbank. It is why we give to charity. Did our forebears rush in their thousands to sign up for WWI & WWII to fight for patriotic reasons? No they signed up so as to defend their own from an very aggressive and violent neighbour. Like Prof Dawkins pointed out “If human beings were not altruistic then we as a species would not have survived the first ice age.” We are genetically predisposed to band together to help each other.

    Now I for one see precious little altruism in the No campaign. It is about “clouting people” and “punching above our weight” it is about scaring people into voting against their own self interest. It is about demonising the poor and less fortunate amongst us so that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. It is about removing social care for the vulnerable and sick and old. It is about division despite the “unionist” and “Better Together” tag. Even their name is a lie.

    Despite what Johann Lamont says Scots are genetically programed and we are genetically programed to vote Yes! In evolutionary terms it is time that the two tribes split and go their separate ways. the larger tribe to the south have developed a different culture than us they worship power and money they scramble for riches and devil take the hindmost. If thats the way that they want to run their country then fine but it just doesn’t suit our way of thinking and we think that we can do better, a lot better thanks!

    Professor Richard Dawkins DSc, FRS, FRSL is an Ethologist, Evolutionary Biologist and writer.

    • macart763 says:

      I can’t wear genes anymore. My arse went south around 42 or 45 and kept going. Every time I get ‘that’ itch, I wind up scratching my ankles. πŸ˜‰

      But communal and personal altruism? Absolutely. Its something that’s had a hard time since the eighties as our current system has done its damndest to smother the instinct.

  15. Nan Rattray says:

    Our hearts tell us to vote yes, but if our heads are not convinced just think if Scotland is the basket case the no voters would have us believe, why is Westminster so keen to hold on to us?

  16. Jan Cowan says:

    Excellent post. Wise words, Paul.

  17. macart763 says:

    Great post Paul and that’s from the heart. πŸ™‚

    My heart told me long and long ago that personal choice was the most important of motivators. That the freedom to choose, make the best you can of yourself and your talents and opportunities, take responsibility for your actions was the most basic and essential of human rights. This can be applied personally or communally with those of like mind, as in say, oh a body politic or a country. A common or communal psyche kinda thing. But independence is indeed choice, dependence on the other hand…

    “The key to independence lies in the heart. The logic of the brain tells us how to unlock the door and overcome the barriers.” Never a truer word wuz writ. πŸ™‚

    As politicians go I do like Alicsammin. I’ve certainly not seen a dictator of any sort in the fella and a good deal to respect and admire in his dedication to the electorate and his more than obvious love and optimism for Scotland. Would I trust any politician as far as I could throw them? Probably not, but in all the demonisation the press and politicians throw at him I simply and logically don’t see the monster they attempt to portray. Its as much simple logic and common sense as anything else. He’s a bit too much of businessman for me and does like the corporate types, but I reckon his heart is in the right place. I don’t trust corporate suits and spray paint smiles just as a rule. Kneejerk I know, but we all have our phobias. Some folk its spiders, some its an irrational fear of begonias (see Labour in Falkirk), me its corporations and llamas (they spit and eat scarves). πŸ˜€

    The man is week in week out portrayed as a dictator and compared to historical figures with the vilest of reputations. I mean seriously genocidal maniacs, brutal dictators, oppressive regimes who really and I mean really know how to put a cap ‘O’ in oppress. We’re talking about the type of regimes which deal in ethnic cleansing, work camps, mass graves, pogroms, disappearing in the night from secret police visits kind of regime comparisons and they make no apology for the inferences they draw either. They call this politics in this country apparently. Use any tool for the job, no sewer too low kind of slander and keep it up for years or as long as it takes till it becomes ingrained in the communal psyche. Just the business of politics as usual.

    Hopefully we’re going to have a more direct say in that whole ‘how to conduct your politics thing’ just shortly. πŸ™‚

    • sair fecht says:

      Well said, Macart. Well, I would say that because it concurs with my view of Alicsammin. There’s a lot to be admired in the man, if not the politician. He’s not perfect, who is? – but he falls less short of the definition than many other politicians.

      I can’t fault his reasons, but mibbee sometimes I can fault his methods. But, he appears to me, at least, to have the best interests of the people of Scotland at heart, and more to the point, and against all the odds, he and his party have negotiated this real opportunity to gain independence for our country. I intend to grab it with both hands – who’s with me?

      • macart763 says:

        “who’s with me?”

        Goes without saying. πŸ™‚

        What I’ve found utterly distasteful from the other parliamentary parties is their willingness to bandy about comparisons of dictatorship and xenophobia, or accusations of lies and deceit. This from parties of government steeped in the sewer of Westminster politics and foreign adventure. They have neither the moral high ground or the right to lecture others on their conduct or policies on social justice. By comparison Alicsammin is wearing a white hat and for a politician that’s no mean feat in my book.

        He’s held up his end so far and in offering and trusting the electorate with this opportunity, this responsibility, which no other party dared entrust to the people, I reckon he and his party have earned some major brownie points.

  18. Hugh Wallace says:

    Reblogged this on Are We Really Better Together? and commented:
    I’ve long said that the head argument for Scotland becoming independent has long been won; anyone who says we can’t afford it is lying (though, to be fair, anyone who says we will be amazingly better off any time soon is also deficient in the facts department) so we certainly know we could go it alone. So it really boils down to whether or not we should. It is an easy one for me but I appreciate it might not be quite so easy for other people but I would say, follow your heart people!

  19. McTim says:

    Sorry for going offtopic Paul, hope you won’t mind: I have 9 videos from the Labour for Independence panel in Edinburgh listed below. Hope you find it interesting and useful. If you do, please share with undecided family and friends, especially Labour voters. Labour voters are going to be crucial in winning the Yes vote!

    Labour for Indy’s Gary Wilson (former Better Together organiser):

    Labour for Indy’s Debbie Figures (Unite the Union organiser)

    Labour for Indy’s Pat Kane former STUC president

    Labour for Indy’s Tommy Sheppard (former Deputy General Secretary of the Labour Party)

    Labour for Indy Q&A 1 Labour after a Yes vote

    Labour for Indy Q&A Set up Cost of an independent Scotland

    Labour for Indy Q&A3 how to best reach Labour members and can we trust Scottish Labour

    Labour for Indy Q&A4

    Labour for Indy Q&A5 What would Independence change for women

  20. Red Squirrel says:

    My heart is filled with hope of a better and fairer Scotland. My head works out how we’re going to achieve that. We can do this together if we believe in ourselves enough to say yes.

  21. Luigi says:

    If anyone says he/she is voting NO because “I hate Alex Salmond”.

    Just reply politely:

    “This is not about Alex Salmond”

    (in other words, have you really thought about what you just said?)


    • gerry parker says:

      I usually ask” When did you meet him?”


      Starts off some interesting conversations.

      • Gordon Benton says:

        As one of the few honest and worthy politicians on the UK firmament two years ago, he was too obvious a target for the dirty tricks brigade. They will now be working overtime – you haven’t seen the end of it yet.

      • lastchancetoshine says:

        Of course part of the point is that in a smaller country it will be very much easier to do just that, and voice your opinions directly.

  22. bringiton says:

    After the outbreak of Brit Nat comments on Bella over the weekend,I started wondering why they are so afraid of Scottish independence.
    I think one aspect of it is that many (especially those of a Tory persuasion) regard Westminster as their greatest defence against social democracy emerging in Scotland (in fact any sort of real democracy).
    The break up of a political and cultural system which favours and serves an elite is not in their interest (and that goes for British Labour too).
    I hope working people are not taken in by the spin and lies which,if successful,will keep many of our fellow Scots in penury as a British underclass.
    Thatcher was determined to bring Britain back to Victorian values and boy has she succeeded.
    This is the Britain the No hopers want to preserve and enhance and make sure that Scotland isn’t allowed to get off message.

    • Eilean says:

      Good article Macart. Perhaps to make up for the rubbishing of Stu Campbell in the Sunday Herald. Doubt it! 😦

      I had a good laugh at the comments. OBE gallantly defending the union and getting nowhere.

      • macart763 says:

        Well he deserves it. That fella has expounded long and loud on the subject of the EU, but what goes round… πŸ˜€

        • hektorsmum says:

          Read somewhere that Mr Juncker is getting back at Cameron for not supporting his Presidency. Good on him.

          • macart763 says:

            Oh I think he’s making a loud and clear statement here, no question.

            • Eilean says:

              You don’t get to the top of the EU without taking very careful notes on who is and who is not your friend. This could come in handy when we negotiate our terms from within the EU. I dont think that Mr. Juncker will be overly sympathetic to the views of the fUK.

  23. Steve Asaneilean says:

    I am going to go a bit nerdy here so bear with me…

    What differentiates humans from the other higher mammals is that whilst they and we all have consciousness only humans, as far as we know, have self-consciousness – that ability to “see” that we have a history, a future, wants, needs, responsibilities and so on.

    Rather than “heart and head” it’s to do with the unique level of “lateralising” of the human brain – two distinct halves, left and right, doing different things but working closely together in tandem.

    The right side is the “thinker” side – it looks at the background and deals with more nebulous concepts such as emotion and predicting what the future might hold.

    The left side is the “doer” side – as Paul puts it, it’s the side that cut to the chase to find the practical solutions. This left side, when faced with any challenge, will always work hard to come up with an answer and in doing so our brain changes and develops and learns and we are stronger and more able as a consequence.

    It seem to me that, metaphorically speaking, the No campaign has a brain in which there is a right-left disconnect and that as a consequence both sides are being held back from doing the job they have evolved to do.

    Fundamentally, the true No person is simply resistant to change and that reflects, perhaps, a lack of imagination.

    And yet this resistance to change is so common. Frankly I find that sad because change is what makes people and societies better.

    In the end of the day the only side wanting and willing to make significant change is the Yes side and, as the old Apple advert said, the people thought mad enough to want change are the ones who ultimately bring it about.

    So the BT?NT crew can call 2 million people “blood and soil”; they can compare their children attending Yes rallies to Hitler Youth; they can call one of their prominent members a dictator; they can threaten to “bayonet” them after a No vote; or they can simply refer to all of them as “Nazis” but the box has been opened and these 2 million people want change and they are not going anywhere.

    As Barack Obama used to believe β€œChange will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek… Change is brought about because ordinary people do extraordinary things…The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”

    • macart763 says:

      Its the one thing I have found most disturbing about this campaign and that is BT/Westminster’s willingness to demonise and alienate the independence voter. They well understand the difference between civic nationalism, the Common Weal and ethnic nationalism yet have played the ethnic difference card with calculation and deliberation. They set about doing this to their own electorate and for what? Its sad indictment of their system that they cared more for power than the social cohesion of those in their care.

      I’d have thought a defence of the current system of governance would have been comparisons on policy, viability or mechanics, even a future vision of how the partnership could evolve, but no apparently its about turning one half of your electorate into monsters. To compare them with ethnic cleansing or totalitarian xenophobic regimes and all because we believe we have the ability to make decisions for ourselves in a more democratic, accountable and conscientious fashion.

      If you can’t practice care for all of your electorate, then you are fit to care for none. A lesson all political parties should take to heart.

      • hektorsmum says:

        I think they are so caught up in the moment and are particularly stupid, and some definitely are, that they cannot see what they are doing. How many could be even considered by the electorate in event of a YES vote, and I still am sure they will get their comeuppance in event of a NO vote where again like the feeble fifty they will be completely powerless. Even with the rigged polling there is at the very least around the 40% of the population that they are demonising.

        • macart763 says:

          Very much agree. Yes or no they lose regardless.

          Its an old saying now, but the genie is well and truly out of the bottle and those parties defending Westminster governance would be under scrutiny as never before. People are in engaged in politics now and their attention is well and truly focussed like I haven’t seen for the longest time. The behaviour toward their own electorate during this campaign has been nothing short of reckless and dangerous.

    • hektorsmum says:

      Always said that change doesn’t come gradually either, it is like the fall of the Soviet Union, nobody could have predicted it nor the destruction of East Germany and the Wall. Sometimes it just has to happen, I am hoping that it is our time to change, I feel it is.

  24. K1 says:

    I think for the first time people feel connected to one another in a way that has never been seen or felt before. I also think that the referendum process has become a means for our shared humanity to be voiced in the face of overwhelming negativity, lies and obsfucation. We have risen above the rhetoric and found ourselves collectively in a space of open democratic exchange. It’s been wonderful in my opinion to witness this, a tremendous renewal of faith in ourselves and a re emergence of what we would have considered in the past as a sociallly based value system; where of course we have to take care of one another, and of course we have to have a fully developed social conscience in the minds and hearts of those we elect. It’s long past time that we take full responsibility for our own destiny as a country and as a people. The current situation has to end, because it has failed to consider that compassion is an absolute essential component of democracy.

    When I read your wrting Paul, I feel that connectedness, and btl merely provides further evidence of that quality of compassion in full beautiful expression. Thank you all.

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