A guest post by an anonymous sister
I’m going to preface this by saying that I’m probably not the type of person who usually posts on this blog. I’m what you might call a turkey who votes for Christmas – a working class Scottish right-winger. Not a right winger in the sense that the whole of Scotland seems to be pretending that Jim Murphy was, but a card-carrying member of the Tory party, whose politics make Murphy look like Castro, and who once bought a copy of the National for the express purpose of burning it (to be fair, I was drunk at the time, but still.)
I don’t say this in order to pick a fight or cause offence. I just wanted to offer some context for what I’m about to say.
A month or so ago, I came home from work to find my younger brother standing in the rain outside my flat. He’d been outed as gay by my other brother (his twin), leading to fight, which had lead to him leaving the house.
After letting him get settled in my flat, I called my parents to try and suss out what was going on. Our talk turned into a screaming match within about five minutes, but in that time I got some of the story from my mum, and the rest of it from my brother after slamming down the phone. He’d sent an email to some nationalist blogger asking for advice about how to come out to us. Somehow, his twin had ended up reading it, and the rest of my family had… let’s say… reacted badly.
I’m going to be honest, and say that my first reaction was one I’m not particularly proud of. Mixed in with pity, anger and confusion was a sense of righteous satisfaction that a nationalist had been the cause of all these problems.
Like I said, I’m not proud of that feeling, but based on the logic that formed a cornerstone of my thinking up until recently, it seemed perfectly reasonable. Nationalists were the enemy. The Yes campaign was the enemy. 45% of the Scottish population were the enemy. Yes badges, Bairns not Bombs signs, Stronger for Scotland stickers were a sign of nothing short of a subversive movement trying to destroy a country I loved, and anyone who displayed them was to be treated as such.
You can probably guess what the result was. I spent my life in a state of paranoid anger at the world. I didn’t quite have a panic attack watching the election coverage on the night of May the 7th, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if I had. If I hadn’t been able to take some small comfort from the fact that the SNP surge in Scotland was driving more and more English voters into the hands of the Tory Party.
So, naturally, I assumed whatever influence this Nat blogger had had on the whole situation had to be negative. After all, SNP = Bad. SNP supporters on the internet = Very Bad. Therefore, Pro-SNP blogger whose tagline is “Biting the hand of project fear” = Very Very Bad. I decided to look it up – maybe to send an abusive email, more likely just so I could roll my eyes in disgust. If my timing had been different, chances are that’s all I would have done. But when I happened to look up this blog, I found a piece written about my brother. If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you’ll probably have read it, so I won’t waste your time talking you though it – suffice to say it was mature, sensitive, compassionate – everything my brother needed at that point. He took even more strength from the comments below it – comments from people who, in any other situation, I’d have lazily categorised as cybernats – as the enemy.
So first of all, I need to apologise to you – apologise for forgetting that really we’re all on the same side, for doubting that you could respond like decent people to a situation like this. Secondly, I want to thank you – not only on behalf of my little brother for all your support and solidarity (He knows I’ve written this piece. I think he left a comment on the original piece, but it bears saying again), but also for reminding me how decent most people are, regardless of their political views.
Unfortunately, I think (know?) that there are people – a minority I grant you, but a loud one – on both sides of the independence debate who think like I used to, in terms of us and them. It’s wrong and it’s dangerous. It’s the kind of thinking that has divided Scotland in the past, between Catholic and Protestant. It’s the kind of thinking that stopped the rest of my family from accepting my brother. There’s good and bad in all people, and while we may have our differences, we also, at the end of the day, have the same concerns. Whether Scotland is an independent country or not, it will still have its problems that it’s the duty of all of us – Unionist and Nationalist – to come together to solve. We can’t do that if we’re at each other’s throats, and we certainly can’t do it with the same kind of thinking that used to motivate me.
Unfortunately, it’s looking like the future will hold elections and referendums that will leave us more divided as a country than ever. Maybe this time next year we’ll all be screaming at each other again. But if we are, just keep in mind one thing – somewhere in Scotland, there’s a proud Tory and staunch Unionist. She’ll never agree with many of your views, and she’ll certainly never vote with you.
But she’s grateful to you all the same.