by Pat Kane
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)