I had contact recently from someone believing that I was saying independence was a question of choosing an identity and this could be used by the No side to imply that Yes was about a kind of football-style sectarianism. Bloody hell! Read the blog.
My argument about Generation X is not about which identity you chose to define yourself but which country represents you.
There is no escaping the fact that next September we are confronting a straight choice and we are obliged to decide for one or the other. Either it’s Yes, so you express your national belief in the internationally accepted way by voting for statehood. Or its No, in which case you vote for Scotland remaining as a subset of a larger nation which retains all of the powers over you, leaving Scotland in a subservient position.
Where the argument gets mixed up is when we consider the implication of that No vote. It means, undeniably I think, that you prefer Britain to be the country in control of your affairs. Therefore you’re preference is for Britain rather than Scotland…not in place of Scotland but in overarching authority over Scotland.
The uncomfortable aspect is in what that means about your belief in your country. If you actively don’t think you’re country should have its nationhood returned then it seems to me you have placed a limit on your belief in, and commitment to, Scotland. That is, you’re saying: I love Scotland and I’m a committed Scot up to the point where you ask me to choose and then I opt for Britain.
You can call yourself anything you like including a Martian but it wont change the very direct challenge to every Scot this question presents. I suppose voting Yes can fairly be said to be as obvious a statement as you can make that you are Scottish but within that you will still be Asian, English, American etc as well, if that’s who you choose to be.
Voting No doesn’t stop you being a Scot. (Obviously). But it does mean you impose a limit on the depth of your expression of Scottishness because you’ve rejected Scotland as your nation – as defined by the UN – in favour of a different country. This referendum for the first time separates out these two concepts –Scotland and Britain – and confronts us with the choice. I agree that part of that choice will be determined by our sense of ourselves, which touches on identity, but asking people to pick which of the options best represents them is a long way from pinning down their identity or telling them they can’t be a Scot. I’m not interested in that.
But I think this nit-picking and tactical maneouvering – don’t give the other side ammunition – is clouding the issue. I find the debate has become legalistic, technocratic and rhetorically bloodless. I mean I understand the different economic options and am personally attracted to Common Weal. Robin McAlpine has been the one truly innovative contributor so far. But do you really think people will be moved to give up what they have now for a vaguely-defined tax and welfare Scandinavian system?
Nobody votes for independence to get an economic model. They vote for independence because they love their country and deeply desire it to prosper. You vote for independence because Scotland courses through your veins and gives you feelings of belonging, solidarity, and collective purpose.
You vote for independence because it is the logical expression of nationhood. It is essentially an emotional act. But in voting Yes you are also saying that there is a national purpose and that you want fellow Scots to determine which road we will travel after the act of independence. Everything, from Common Weal to Trident removal, is utterly dependent on a Yes vote first. They are meaningless without it.
Unless we can rouse Scots to feel there is a noble national cause, there is no chance this will be won. The lack of national passion is the missing element from this debate. That suits No down to the ground. And too many on the Yes side are playing their technocratic game, focussing on detail that only has meaning AFTER and IF there’s a Yes vote.
No wonder Scots are saying: Give me £500 and I’ll vote yes. This debate has been brought down to the level of: What’s in it for me? People respond accordingly.
We need to get on track with JFK and start asking what we can do for our country.