Politics - Scotland

2007 - 2021

Act local, think global, for a YES vote

How do we become an independent nation? A vote, on a glorious day, brings it about. But brings what about? Years of chaos, disruption, large powers threatening our viability and prosperity? Or the beginning of a process whereby Scots take full responsibility for their country – confident that they are basically capable, but ambitious that their lives can be bettered?

The rain of facts, counter-facts, legitimations and delegitimations in the indyref debate are all aimed at swaying the Scottish voter one way or another on their feelings about how an independent Scotland will affect their immediate lives.

From the Yes side, the incredulity is that the No side will be successful in convincing Scots that indep will be too much for us – too demanding an intellectual, civic and public task for us to cope with. But with a mainstream media – which directly impacts on political participation – that is either indifferent or hostile to independence, the No camp believe it is possible to roll back or dissipate that belief in Scots’ abilities to fully run their own affairs, built up through the years of devolution.

Yet might the cleverest thing for the Yes campaign to do is to encourage a negative discourse on Scottish capability from the No campaign? The crucial group is those Scots who could be convinced that if devolution has been pretty good, independence could be a real success. When will they snap, and decide that a discourse which highlights their inferiority and incapacity has to stop?

So what is important is for the Yes campaign to dig deep into the sense that being a small, independent nation is a normal & aspirational thing. Even the difficulties involved – currency, defence, diplomatic treaties – are on a spectrum of solvable problems. As Andrew Wilson says, can we imagine our children living in a future Scotland & how do we unite around that?

Yet it’s important to remember the sense of systemic “crisis” that’s enveloping us all in the West. How credible is it that Scotland can be some bubble of energy-driven prosperity amidst all that? All on its own, “sinn fein”? What’s needed is for debate about Scottish indy to be conducted as part of a bigger, more international discussion about how to address our general crisis.

We need to circumvent Westminster, and talk to friends in Scandinavia and other European countries, about the better model that Scotland is part of. Our vision of a more stable and sustainable path, a “prosperity” that is more about a variety of resources for hope rather than Osborne’s pitiless “global economic race”, has to be declared along with other European (perhaps even African and Asian) nations & voices.

The credibility of one career-politician or another – or to be more generous, the inevitable failings and flaws revealed by any political movement overly reliant on charismatic leaders – should be something that the Yes campaign can transcend. The beginnings of a grassroots campaign, where people feel and experience what a fully empowered civic life would be like, is encouraging.

But it may be, to ultimately win the argument, that we have “act local and think global” about our vision for independence. Anything to get our head out of the narrowing vice of a Westminster-defined national imagination.

For more visit Pat’s blog Thoughtland (www.thoughtland.info)


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  1. Macart says:

    Something the SG have been fairly adept at in recent times has been forming new overseas relationships in the name of inward investment. It would have been remiss of them, if in the course of these meetings in America, Europe, the Middle East and China if they hadn’t brought up the independence debate.

    Still on the Europe angle this may prove of interest;


  2. Stui says:

    I am a Scot living in Switzerland, there are a lot of good examples to follow here not least the strength of local democracy. E.g. I pay most taxes to Cantun, with a smaller amount to federal government. Education and health are top rate. Taxes are higher, but then I earn much more than i ever did in Scotland and I am happy to pay taxes for good services to a government which does not involve itself in foreign wars or nuclear weapons. I listened to that EU debate in the Scottish parliament yesterday, the hysterical fearmongering of Labour and fellow cons sounded unhinged – credit to the SNP speakers for keeping their cool and even a bit of humour. Switzerland is of course not in the EU, it is in the EFTA which also works well. Maybe the SG should say to EU give us clarity or we will assume we are out and apply for EFTA, I bet you that would concentrate minds in Brussels.. btw there are no manned border posts near where i live, next to the border with France.

  3. Mudfries says:

    A great article, I enjoyed reading that, “Think Local – Act Global” I like that, as individuals we should be able to have the opportunity to stand on our own two feet and at the same time interact with other individuals positively to achieve this for everyone, cooperation and mutual respect with the benfit for all. The first thing I offer another individual is the hand of friendship, now, if we can achieve something like that as a nation, I’d be happy.

  4. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

    Part of an island stuck on the fringes of Eurasia we cannot afford the indolent luxury of being provincial. The political close down to the world which began in the 17 century and our increased cultural obsession, servility and thraldom to England, her global interests and attitudes, all of which were out of step with the growth of the idea of nationhood in Europe demonstrate that unionism serves one master. We were duped big style and some are still being duped. YES has to expose the historical fallacy contained in the unionist case. The facts speak for themselves. Unionism was a gravy train for a minority only. The majority were simply dragged along by a system that cared nothing for them, their cultures, their identity and came close to destroying by grotesque caricature the authenticity of our sense of nationhood. London and England grew at our expense. The wealth of empire often created by Scots, exploiting rich colonial opportunities of course, largely made its way to the centre. Except by reflexion, status, standing, amour-propre etc passed us by. We were British, so we claimed, but the real world saw us as a species of quaint English serving an imperial design that really had next to nothing to do with our own national self-interest. We all know the story. The Union was and still is one of the biggest rip-offs in history. Smoke, mirrors, king’s new clothes fit type. It and its supporters deserve nothing but our contempt. We can do a lot better free of this psychological millstone.

    1. Good comment; succinct, true, and glaringly obvious.

      So why don’t we see this Westminster con for what it is?

  5. Iain Hill says:

    I have no doubts about our competence to go it alone. We must concentrate on getting through to the complacency of Scots about just how rotten the state of the Yookay is!

    Neoconservative belligerence, post imperial delusional baggage, authoritarianism, Aversion to any kind of redistribution, opportunities only for the elites, complicity in torture….. Need I go on?

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