I don’t know yet, not on substance but on the issue of tone and institutions. I hesitate to even write this because I am afraid I will be shouted down, and my point, inadvertently proved.
What do I mean by institutions?
I am not a young person – and defy the often repeated idea that people get less radical in old age. I would like to live (and die) in a Scottish Republic. I aim to do so.
Why then should there be any hesitation I hear 1000 online activists scream?
There’s two reasons – the first I want us to really consider how we create a better democracy and this for me would have to include thinking about a timeline for abolishing the monarchy and putting into the constitution other checks and balances so that a whole system can be looked at. I’d like us to be discussing how long a president would sit, what second chamber (or other body) would be required. I’d like to see some more innovation about direct democracy (perhaps the Public Petitions Committee could be overhauled and beefed up?). I’d like to see local democracy revived and decentralised. I’d like to see the outline of a proper democracy.
I don’t see any of this yet.
Maybe this will come and I will be satisfied.
I can quite see how the independence vote is a stepping stone to a better democracy and a better society, but I do not want to step in the darkness like a latter day Davie Balfour at the House of Shaws.
What do I mean by tone?
Supporters of Yes – of all hues and political backgrounds need to understand that the vast swathe of people that need convincing are not going to be responsive to being shouted at with great certainty. That’s why Bellas’s efforts this week have been worthwhile, and why it’s been so good to hear new voices I’ve never read before.
I don’t need convincing of the main point that we’d be better to run our own affairs, and I can understand the frustration of those who have understood this a long tome ago. But the reality is that many do need convincing. It’s a serious step and very few of us are asked to make any serious decisions at all. At most elections we are asked – once every four or five years – to choose from politicians that it would be very difficult to separate in a line-up.
Secondly whilst the weekly news of corruption and scandal from Westminster will have passed very few people by, the phenomenon is in danger of tainting all politics. For the truly disengaged (surely a vast minority) this has the effect of turning them further off politics and politicians. So it’s very important that we create discussions and forums that excite and inspire people with something genuinely new.
This is one such forum but we need many more and more that operate outside the arena of the online activist and the already-committed Yes supporter. Sometimes the tone is too aggressive and this is off-putting. You might not like that, you might reject that, but that would seem to me to be a reality.
These new technologies have give us tools of communication that my generation never had access to. Let’s use them well.