Despite claims from the Naw camp that it’s in the bag for the Union, I’m not thinking about what I’ll do with myself if there’s a No vote. In no small part because it’s not in the bag for the Union at all – for reasons which were explained in yesterday’s blog post.
I don’t believe it’s in the bag for Yes either, which is not a bad thing – the worst thing any campaigner can do just now is to take a result for granted. But the Yes campaign is only just getting into gear. We haven’t really started yet. It’s all going to come down to the final straight, and that’s where Yes has the people on the ground.
The more senior members of the No campaign don’t believe they can take a No for granted either – they just want the rest of us to think that. It’s a tactic aimed at preventing a late surge for Yes like the late surge in support for the SNP which swept them to an absolute majority in the Scottish elections of 2011. By shouting from the rooftops of Pacific Quay that the Yes campaign has already lost, they seek to deter undecideds and weak No’s from moving over to a Yes vote and to pre-empt the Yes campaign’s grassroots strength.
From its launch the No campaign was founded in projection. One of the key components of negative campaigning is to accuse your opponents of your own sins. The instances of that from the No campaign are too numerous to detail. Their claim that the vote is already in the bag is another example. It’s an expression of their fear that Yes has already won. Because even though not a single vote has yet been cast, the No campaign has already lost in just about every other respect. They’ve lost any residual respect that Scotland had for Westminster. They’ve lost the power to mobilise – that must be a bitter pill for Labour, the self-described people’s party, to swallow. Labour called a campaign and the people didn’t come. Just look at the disparity between the enormous grassroots movement of the Yes campaign, an organic sprouting of enthusiasm, of positivity, of hope, and the studio and newspaper column campaign of No. Increasingly the No campaign is only talking to itself about a Scotland that no longer exists or never existed. The audience isn’t listening, they’re either cynical and disengaged, or engaging with the ideas of Yes.
Irrespective of how the vote in September goes, the Union is already dead. The independence campaign has forced Westminster to reveal just how they really view Scotland, the UK’s recalcitrant northern province. We’re a land which they don’t want to become foreign, but with every statement they make they reveal that Scotland is already foreign to them and always has been. The Scottish view of the Union – an equal partnership of kingdoms – is not Westminster’s view. Scotland compares itself with Denmark or Finland, other small northern European countries. Westminster compares Scotland with Yorkshire. Scotland’s view is a foreign view, one to be slapped down, patronised and dismissed.
Scotland has watched and learned. What we’ve learned will not be unlearned.
We’re told to be proud that a Parliament has the almighty arrogance to abrogate to itself the right to determine our personal identities. We’ve learned we should be proud that one of the world’s richest countries cannot ensure its citizens have the means to feed themselves, to heat their homes, or to work for a dignified wage. We are asked to be proud of foodbanks defended by nuclear missiles. We have the best zero hours contracts and should take pride in benefits sanctions which punch above their weight. We’re asked to be proud of a country with structural inequalities, a widening chasm between the rich and poor, and to be proud of the fact we have no means to remedy the situation but to throw ourselves upon the mercy of the farsighted political masters who have brought this sorry state about.
We’ve learned that the Unionist ProudScots™ are proud of a regional identity. For them Scottishness can only flourish when it is subordinate to a British identity. So they keep making a point of telling us how proud and patriotic they are. They’re proud of a shrivelled Scottish fruit on a sickly British tree, the ethnic kail in a Great British vegetable patch overrun by slugs. Proud Scots suffer the pride of over-compensation, the pride of the emotionally insecure. But when you’re secure in your identity you don’t need to tell people how proud you are of it. You just live it instead. When you act on your identity, there is no need to proclaim it because it’s self-evident.
Affirmations of identity are the obituary notices of the living, they’re monuments to an identity that is not lived except in the imagination. Rory the Tory (who’s Scottish you know) is building a big chambered cairn on the border as an affirmation of Scottishness as Britishness. A chambered cairn is a Neolithic grave, so he’s building a tomb as a monument to ProudScot identity in the Union. It’s more appropriate than Rory ever realised.
I’m not proud to be Scottish any more than I am proud to be left handed, or proud to be gay, or proud to be Glaswegian. I just am all those things and I act accordingly. The Proud Scots TM of the No campaign miss the identity point. When you are secure and confident in your identity your identity does not define you – you define your identity. And you define it by your deeds and your choices and how you live your life. Scottishness is what we make it, not what we are told it has to be. Identity is a living thing, not a faded photo of an ancestor in tartan. So let’s live Scottishness, not commemorate or celebrate it in a stone age grave.
I want to live Scottishness by helping to build a country which is inclusive and diverse, where politicians are held to account under a written constitution. I want to live Scottishness by having the choice to vote for a Scottish Labour party that is actually a Scottish Labour party. I want to live Scottishness by helping to build a country which can provide a dignified life for all its citizens. I want to live Scottishness with a political system that takes equality, justice and fairness as its starting point. I want to live Scottishness by getting rid of the obscenity of nuclear weapons of mass destruction. I want to live Scottishness with a media which truly reflects the diversity of opinions and views and experiences in this country. I want to live a Scottishness that does no harm.
I don’t want to be a Proud Scot, I want to live in a land where I can say “Scotland? It’s no bad.”