There was a vow on the front page of the Record yesterday. Britain isn’t just great, it’s superduper and comes with fruit preserves. Davie, Ed and Nick have promised Scotland jam, and marmalade, and curd if the uppity Caledonians get back into their tartan decorated shortbread tin. There will be massed choirs singing our praises when Scottish visitors get off the train at Euston where they will be bedecked with garlands of flowers and winning lottery tickets. Everyone is going to get devo-max, even Berwick. The BBC weather map is going to be redrawn so that north is at the bottom, and newspaper reporters will remember that Stirling doesn’t have an e in it. It’s going to be just lovely back in the shortbread tin, although you still can’t get the TV remote control. It’s a vow, a solemn pledge, a shiny pledge buffed with jam flavoured candy floss.
Vow is an interesting word. Like almost most words starting with v, vow is not natively inherited in the English language. Vow came into English in the Middle Ages, borrowed from the French vœu. Well I say borrowed, it’s not like we plan to give it back anytime. It’s not a borrowed word in French. French is a daughter language of Latin, and the Latin word from which vœu descends is votum – the same word which English borrowed directly as vote. So Davie and Ed and Nick are really telling us that if Scotland votes No, then Davie Ed and Nick will vote on our future for us. They’ll decide, not us. So they were telling the truth, just not the truth that they wanted us to hear.
The Delware Indians on Manhattan at least got some shiny beads, some blankets and mirrors, in return for the surrender of their sovereignty. Scotland gets a shiny vow made by shiny politicians promising nothings of substance.
That’s what you get if you vote No. No shiny beads, only a mirror in which to reflect on misery. You vow your vote to Davie, Ed, and Nick. You give a blank cheque to Westminster the home of the wizards of weasel words. You grant consent to thoughtlessness, you concede to powerlessness, you surrender responsibility and place yourself at the mercy of those who tell us Scotland is too helpless and hopeless to manage its own affairs.
Too wee too poor too stupid. Those words have never passed the lips of a No campaigner, they’ve never been uttered by a Unionist politician except to deny that a Unionist politician has ever uttered them. But that’s what all their arguments boil down to. Many in Scotland believe them – those who ask “Where is the money going to come from?” They can’t believe that the money is already here and has been here all along. It just gets siphoned away by a distant Parliament before anyone gets to see it. Our wealth is drained away with our confidence.
We’re told we’re too poor by the very same people who have created this Scotland that’s supposedly too too poor. If you vote No you place yourself at the mercy of those who created a Scotland which is too helpless and hopeless to manage its own affairs and who are intent on keeping it that way.
Vote No, think about the X-Factor, think about Royal Babies, think about cereal. Remember your place in the shortbread tin. Don’t dream that things can be better. Dreams are for romantics, hopes are for idealists. Vow No, and revel in apathetic cynicism.
Now they beg you that if you don’t know you must vote no. Don’t think. Thinking is dangerous, self-belief is heresy. You can sup your regrets as you eat your cereal. Ignore your heart, ignore your longings, forget that you can reason. Pretend that your head is supposed to tell your heart how to love and live. Live with regret and remorse in return for a vow with no heart or head. Going nowhere in the head cart before the heart horse. Shhhh. Don’t think. You might imagine a better Scotland.
Here we are. Poised on the brink. Breath bated. Nerves stretched. We got this far. You, me, the wummin alang the street, the guy with his wee boy in Rutherglen, the doctor in Skye, the grumpy auld git in Dumfries, the carer in Easterhouse, the mother with the autistic son, the student, the granny, the joiner, the polisman – we’ve turned into druids and bards, we’ve turned into voices that sing and laugh our way into a future that we write ourselves. We’ve turned into the power of a people in movement. We’ve taken on the British state. We scoff at the combined weight of almost the entire UK media. We challenge the privilege of the rich. We defy the corporate interests. We pull the plug on the warmongers. We change the world. We paint a picture of a future where other paths are possible. We’re doing that. Ourselves. With nothing more than our passion and our belief. Just think what we can do with a country. We are Scotland.
Our dreams will not be chained. Our aspirations will fly. Our hearts will tell our heads what we want to do and we’ll use logic and reason to get there. We can read and we can write and we have a guid Scots tongue in our heids. A tongue which will not be silenced. We look to the past and the struggles to defend and preserve what our grandparents fought to build. We dream of building. We aspire to creation.
I’m making my own vow. My heart and head sing as one. I am doing this. I will be the master of my own destiny.
I’m voting YES.