2007 - 2021

Reconciliation, and Truth

Today the Church of Scotland has come out with what’s being called a reconciliation service after the referendum. The Rev John Chalmers, soon to be installed as the moderator of the Church of Scotland, is quoted as saying “In the coming months there is a danger the referendum will set people against each other, in their own community, their own street-even their own family.”

Scary stuff.

Almost sounds like Unionist propaganda, really. Maybe that’s for another day-feels like a Separatist would’ve spoken of extending olive branches whatever the outcome rather than ramping up fears of unpleasantness over the next few months. We need to remember that we’re doing this right-politically, non-violently. The Church of Scotland seems to be adding weight to the sense that even discussing things calmly might be too much for some.
What’s striking about it is the idea that we’ll need reconciliation after the referendum.

Nobody, at least nobody I’ve heard, is talking about violence breaking out before or after the vote. It’s one of the proud hallmarks of this process: we’re managing hegemony’s funeral arrangements in a way that keeps our dignity and means we can all go to the wake knowing there won’t be a punch-up.

And, still, there are those of us on the left wondering if a referendum is a revolution. It’s easy to think of revolutions as being a bit more than the sum of their glitzy, violent parts; the Sierra Maestra, Petrograd, Derry. It’s not the case, though. It’s a lot easier to think this way in the midst of the material comfort afforded us by our developed world status, even if Westminster’s austerity programmes are putting peoples’ lives in legitimate danger. Revolutions live in peoples’ hearts and minds. Episodes of violence are just flashpoints for that, and they’re more readily assimilated into our histories and identities than the civil determination of non-violent debate and discussion.

There is a revolution happening in Scotland at the moment. Day by day we see more and more of the citizenry challenging, in their own minds and with their compatriots (of all backgrounds), the legitimacy of the Union’s status. We wonder not just what security the Union affords us but whether it’s a security we would even want. We ask ourselves if we can remember any time in our lives when there was such optimism for the future, and find ways to channel the energy of our newfound enthusiasm. We question the extent to which pride in what we have is just fear of whether or not what we really want is achievable.

These are the questions people are asking. Even Unionists. Nobody is implacable in this debate-being a separatist means you have the future as a canvass on which to expand on your imagination. Being a Unionist means going to bed at night hoping that people across the country buy into your fear so you can keep your future as narrow as it is now. It isn’t malice, it’s terror. The grassroots No campaigners are people I’ll hope to sit down with after independence and talk about how we can build a new country. Nobody who’s out on the streets in weather like we have, talking about their ideas, lacks drive. They might not know it yet but they’re as invested as the rest of us, even if they aren’t quite as imaginative.

We’ve already had conversations where people have been sceptical about independence, to varying degrees. Sometimes they’re people we expected more of. Realising people you care about are unconvinced of their ability to rule themselves is confounding and sometimes frustrating. But most of those people seem to be coming around. Yet there are others who legitimately don’t have the wherewithal to see past the Union to something better. It’s saddening and frustrating, and it becomes hard to see how people of such narrow, limited worldviews could play much of a role in running anything in the future-even if they have done up until now.

None of this is to discredit them as human beings. Hegemony makes fools of us all, and some people will take some getting used to. Don’t think so much about the Scotland of October this year but the Scotland of 2024, 2064, 2114. They’re the countries which will have people looking back without anger at what Scotland has become. Hopefully they’ll be mindful of our history, and that at one point we were part of a much larger, much more malevolent political and social force. But they’ll live their day-to-day affairs with the intention of putting that right, domestically and internationally-supporting humanity in the struggle against its baser, capitalistic impulses.

We’ll remember the political forces which Independence put paid to. People whose fear was either so consumptive that it gave rise to a shameful, resentment-laden aggression (Lamont). Whose lack of imagination, social vision or instinct led them to their own downfall against the rejuvenated optimism of a people who asked questions without demanding answers (Rennie). Whose paymaster status ultimately exposed them as exploiters and abusers, vainly declaring any opposition to their malfeasance an attempt to stoke up the barbaric impulses of their idiotic countrymen (You can guess.)

Reconciliation shouldn’t be necessary in our new Scotland. People who legitimately, if misguidedly, believed they were doing the right thing or who were enticed by their (often state-backed) fear should be welcomed with open arms, so long as they are prepared to work for the benefit of the wider population. But there should be no room for the people who looked only to maintain their comfort and luxury through exploiting and belittling the people they share this space with. We shouldn’t want to reconcile with them-their expulsion from our public and political life should be as thorough and declarative as every Yes vote struck in September. While revolutions don’t have to be violent they do have to be transformative, and we can’t do that if we offer amnesty to those whose interest was our subservience.

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  1. Boorach says:

    The Church would be far truer to it’s preachings if it’s Ministers were instructed to use their sermons to rage against the actions of Westminster.

    Why is the Church not being seen to be supporting the disabled/long term ill, the aged, the unemployed or the poorly paid?

    More Holy than Christian methinks!

    1. The following is part of a sermon I preached this morning:

      By the Lord Jesus Christ, we have life, everlasting life. That means that we are called to be agents of life in our communities. How do we support the lives of those in our communities whose benefits are cut or who are in a moribund state for some other reason. How do we give life-giving support to those in our communities whose lives are being moved closer to death by Government policies which favour the wealthy and reduce the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable people to subsistence level?

      The Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, Convener of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council recently said, “Although we are saddened and appalled at the inequality that leads so many families to struggle to get enough to eat we are proud to be working across Scotland with colleagues from many faiths in running food banks where people can get the essentials for life.”

      Contributing to food banks is life-giving. But we need to engage in the life affirming action of challenging our Governments to address inequality of wealth and income through legislation that favours poor and vulnerable people.

      Jesus is the Good Shepherd who gives is life for the sheep. He gives His life so that we may have life, and take action for life in our society.

    2. setondene says:

      I have heard ministers of the Church of Scotland preaching, raging, against the actions of Westminster. In particular I remember the late George Charlton preaching against ‘moneygrubbers and thieves’ – meaning Tories – towards the end of the Thatcher era. In the Old High Church, Inverness. I’ve no reason to doubt there are plenty more like George on the Church’s books. There are many socialists who quite plainly hate the Church for reasons of their own. Few of them in my experience have ever been inside a church.

  2. ayeman says:

    Can anyone explain why anything I try and print from Bella comes out as goggledygook with random letters and underscores.

  3. Morag says:

    You know, there’s no such person or post as the “moderator of the Church of Scotland”.

    Presumably the writer means the moderator of the General Assembly?

    1. Shame-Faced Writer says:

      You’re quite right-he does mean the moderator of the General Assembly-sincere apologies!


  4. yerkitbreeks says:

    I was up in Glasgow this weekend ( from the Borders ) visiting my daughter and there were some pretty offensive lads on the train out to Hyndland. Other passengers looked away or smiled embarrassingly in order not to draw the attentions of the louts.

    This morning she took me to her local church in Partick which was filled with friendly people, clearly from all walks of life and none of whom were there for anything other than friendly companionship and a bit of spiritualism. I took an envelope for Christain Aid giving.

    Sorry, Boorach, but the minister there is not the type to ” rage ” and if he and colleagues did, there would be an even greater need for reconciliation. The only vaguely friendly thing I’ve seen from Labour so far was a slight reduction in the negative body language at Margo’s commemorative service and remember they’re the role models.

    And by the way, when were you last in a church – if you’re like most you’ll only turn up to hear the minister try to say something kind about someone getting married or buried, even though they’ve probably not been in the place except to sing Christmas carols once a year !

  5. Albalha says:

    Mmm. So we have those of ‘faith’and ‘no faith’ wading into the debate this week. Seculars say Yes, Free Church seems rather more against cos they’re not terribly keen on the seculars and the C of S, well fighting to stay relevant perhaps?

    Does any of this really matter at the end of the day on 18/09, all seems rather tired and worn out frankly.

  6. As an atheist,I am surprised at the comments,from church goers,seems to me not a lot of charitable thoughts among the congregation.Some may say the wrong title of a position,and maybe err,but do they need chastised?Aye some cant wait to correct a mistake! One has an opinion about how those nice “Christian people” should behave and which side they should take,its possible to say you support a different opinion without being “sorry”,just thinking out loud “tap tap tap of the keys” Is there any so good as those that cry out how good they are?

  7. Iain says:

    I wish this ‘faith’ word had never caught on when the Labour government started going on about ‘faith schools’. ‘Faith’ is nice and cuddly, bringing to mind a 7 year old, eyes bright in the faith that Santa will bring him a bike for Xmas. I have faith in the celestial chocolate teapot in its orbit around Mercury. What’s in question here is not faith – it’s religion.

  8. Douglas says:

    Some of my best friends are Unionists, and if YES wins I will be thinking of them, and if NO wins I’m sure they’ll be thinking of me. Like most people I am sure, I won’t need to be reconciled.

    I agree with most of what you say Simon, but not the very end of it. I don’t think we need or want any kind of witch-hunt if YES wins. It would be just as unacceptable as a witch-hunt if NO wins.

    No, whatever the result, we need a clean slate in September, a new start…

    1. Robert Graham says:

      sorry douglas your well intentioned but the tricks-lies-from people in public office and indeed our national broadcaster needs to be addressed its one thing having a difference of opinion and a debate its entirely a whole new ball game when lies deceit and indeed openly plotting against your own nation for your advancement and material gain thats treason and fraud and needs to addressed

      1. Douglas says:

        No civilized society should have any truck with revenge or anything like revenge, a totally Neanderthal instinct. All of the great teachers and wise men in human history have argued against revenge, from Jesus, to the Buddha, to non religious thinkers like Socrates and the Stoics.

        Besides, there are too many bright people on the other side who we need to build a new country. And most Labour Party voters are not so different to indie voters on the Left. We need to build bridges with them, not denounce them. My first thought after YES wins will be with my friends who voted NO.

        Fortunately, I don´t think that Salmond and Sturgeon have any instinct for revenge at all, they are far too smart for that, and they will probably draft in some leading Unionists into Team Scotland. That would be the smart move. There are probably lots of Unionists who have a certain sympathy for indie and a lot of respect for Salmond, just not enough to switch sides. We need them, they have a role to play. But in any case, people crying “treason” is unlikely to sway over any doubters.

        As for the comparison offered above between the situation of Scotland and the Truth and Reconciliation process in South Africa, it is as well intentioned as it is wrong headed. There has been nothing as traumatic as apartheid in Scotland, no Soweto massacre, no armed campaign for indie, no institutionalised racism against Scots..

        There is no comparison between the two cases, they are entirely different situations, and any comparison which is drawn in those terms is liable to confuse outsiders about the situation in Scotland.

        There is no violence and no tension here. There is a lot of heated debate, but that is normal and healthy. And the non-whites in South Africa suffered discrimination which nobody in Scotland has ever suffered, and to compare the two cases is frankly bizarre…..

      2. Heather says:

        The thing is, it will indeed be a new start even if it is a no vote. That however is where the positive meaning of new start ends.
        It will be a terrible and vicious new start where the people of Scotland will just not know what has hit them when the fracking starts, the countryside is used as a massive underground nuclear dump and when free prescriptions, free care and free bus passes for the elderly (by the way, in England your free bus pass is only handed to you at age 62. 1/2. My bro, now 60 and exhausted from a life of toil, has to wait until he is over 62, that is if the lack of meds, due to not being able to afford them all these years, hasn’t wrecked his chances of living till he is 62) all end.

        Services in Scotland, transport etc is pretty good compared to down in parts of England, that will be seriously threatened if it a no vote. The Barnett formula will definitely go, and the block grant will be a pittance even more than it is now, while our oil revenue and other revenues that westminster enjoys from Scotland, continues to be siphoned off.
        It hardly bares thinking about actually, the damage and abuse will come form westminster, not individuals, brrrrr….

      3. Illy says:

        Westminster is made up of individuals.

        If you start thinking it isn’t, then you’ll start treating it as a force of nature. If there’s a No vote (heaven forbid) then we’ll have to do something about those individuals.

  9. bringiton says:

    Democracy as an idea has been around for a very long time but little understood by hegemonies around the world.
    Our referendum is about bringing true democracy to Scotland for the first time and is being resisted by vested interests and ignorance.
    Why anyone would want to bring reconciliation to people who have just seen their democratic rights trashed is beyond me.
    There is no sitting on the fence with this issue and organisations like the church are going to have to decide which side they are on,vested interests or democracy.
    If the church pretends to be a fair referee in this debate,then they have lost any moral high ground they seek to hold.

  10. Don’t read more into the Moderator Designate’s service of reconciliation than is there. Margo MacDonald was concerned about the need for reconciliation. I also am concerned. Perhaps the Moderator Designate came up with the idea on his own. Perhaps he took up my idea. I don’t know. I wrote to the Moderator suggesting the some work for reconciliation be done.I wrote the following to the Moderator and sent a copy to the First Minister:

    “I wonder if the leaders of the Church have considered invoking the post-Reformation practice of a day of Public Prayer and Fasting for the Nation, in momentous times. The Referendum, seems to me to be a momentous time for Scotland and the United Kingdom. Is it too late to ask the General Assembly to lead the other denominations and religions in Scotland to observe such a day on the 17th of September?”

    I also wrote:

    “I think that there may be a great deal of bitterness after the Referendum, no matter which side wins, because of the way the campaign has been carried out. The YES campaigners are not squeaky clean. But they have presented facts and figures from reports of the Governments and independent, well reputed bodies. The lies and deceptions of the Westminster Government’s Ministers, and the NO campaign, in particular, are causing a lot of anger and hurt. I wonder if there could be something like a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, such as was put in place in South Africa, and also in Canada regarding the treatment of the First Nations.

    For reconciliation we must have truth. Otherwise we will simply put an Elastoplast on a melanoma, and bitterness will carry on for decades. The Church of Scotland is The Church by Law Established. It could give some leadership in involving other Christian denominations, and other religions, including Hebrew congregations, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Humanists and Secularists etc., in preparing a plan and strategy for reconciliation after the Referendum, and in carrying out the task.”

    I wrote the following to the First Minister:

    ” I wonder if the Government could join with the Churches and other religious bodies in a Day of Prayer and Fasting for our nation on the 17th of September? I also wonder if the Government of Scotland could join with those same bodies in establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission after the Referendum? I give my reasons in the letter given below.

  11. macgilleleabhar says:

    As a person who’s forebeares were evicted from Suisinish I find anything the Church of Scotland says as regards freedom from the evil of Westminster as inconsequential.
    I strongly advocate an Independent Scotland to be a secular nation and that ” The Church of Scotland ” be made to rename itself as something relating to ingratiating knee benders.
    Religion has no part in the government of a modern nation.

  12. Dr Ew says:

    I can’t see any requirement for reconciliation in the event of a Yes vote. There will be work to be done and – as we’re constantly reminded by Johann, Alistair, Douglas, et al – this is a referdendum not an election and there’s no going back; they will have no recourse to the canards of their campaign tropes. Any of those who want to be involved in the negotiations to estabish the New Scotland will require a party mandate and a public declaration of their position. I can forsee no retribution towards No campaigners – rather an extended hand to forge our new nation together – but their current leaders’ credibility will be less than zero.

    If there is a No vote, expect widespread crowing, calls for Salmond to resign, and an attempt by Scottish Labour to take the initiative but attempt to “bayonet the wounded” would be counterproductive. There will be erosion of Salmond’s authority and, possibly, a split within the SNP; Salmond may decide he has no stomache for the crowing of Johann and Willie and the rest and pave the way for Nicola to take over. Ed Miliband, however, will gain no kudos from a negative decision whereas Cameron could ride into the UK General Election as saviour of the Union. A Tory majority, or a Tory-UKIP or (less likely) another ConDem coalition will see policies swing even further to the right and that’s where we’d beome vulnerable. Post-2015 would see a renewed assault on the NHS, the Welfare State and anything that stands as a possible rallying point for opposition – like the Scottish Parliament – is unlikely to find itself with more powers coming its way. After all, we’ll have shot our bolt and they won’t let us forget it, not for a second. “First we boast, then we cower…” as the Proclaimers sang. They might even be at number 1 on the day of the vote.

    The Kirk is making noises it thinks approriate to its position. While there’s a radical strand in their histroy, this will be – as Father Jack might have it – “an ecumenical matter”. The larger traditions of the Roman, Episcopalian and Presbyterian churches are deeply conservative where compassion for the poor seldom extends to genuine or concerted action for political change.

    Expect platitudes and prayers, Unless, perhaps, Kenyon Wright is the one conducting the service…

    1. Flower of Scotland says:

      Well said ! You beat me to it and said it better than I could have! I am surrounded by NOs but we are family and friends and laugh and love one another. There will be terrible disappointment on one side but we are supposed to be mature and I for one having spent a large time of my life involved in the Church of Scotland, don’t think that they should be wading into this debate about reconciliation! This is about democracy! I too hope that an Independent Scotland will become Secular!

  13. Catherine says:

    The use of the words National Reconciliation are pretty inflammatory I feel. This is the context they are usually used in: http://www.restorativejustice.org/university-classroom/02world/africa3/truthandrec

    They are trying to stir the pot while appearing ever so reasonable…

  14. Alex Buchan says:

    I used to think that there would be a lot of crowing after a no vote and that reconciliation might be a good thing, but now I’m not so sure. I suspect Cameron is likely to be conciliatory in his approach because, after all, he’s got what he wants, and the gutter press and SLAB can be counted on to go on the attack anyway. I don’t think Salmond’s position will be under attack within the SNP, unless the yes vote is below 35%, but I might be wrong on that. Now what I feel is that reconciliation, in the event of a no vote, will cover over all the underhand tactics of the No side and deflate the energy that has built up over the campaign with an acceptance of the status quo and of handing all initiative back at Westminster. So what I feel is important is to maintain the sense of purpose on the Yes side by planning for the future by, for instance, arranging a conference of groups like RIC to plan how to take things forward.

  15. brawday says:

    Churches are made up of people. The people within hold differing political views. I don’t think it is correct to say any church leans for or against independence.

  16. manandboy says:

    Actually, I have a higher opinion of the Scottish Electorate than the Moderator Designate.

    I’m sure many others have also.

    I would suggest that someone of his standing should have too.

    It would have been better had he said nothing at this stage.

    Perhaps he should reconsider his position.


  17. G. P. Walrus says:

    The Church of Scotland is not the only voice pointing out some of the hurt being caused by the referendum debate. Some of that hurt relates to truth emerging of past betrayals – for example the suppression of the McCrone report. Other hurts, such as those caused by the Thatcher government or the decimation of Scottish youth in armed conflicts (with British military history a focus for Better Together) have never been properly addressed. What about the suppression of Scots history? The role of the British state, and the church, in the Highland Clearances also still causes hurt as evidenced in a post above.

    Truth and reconciliation is itself a painful thing and I can understand the reluctance of some to contemplate it. We could just sweep it all under the rug and start again but we will continue to be burdened with unexamined resentment for generations.

    Post a YES vote, there will be a tremendous euphoria and energy in the nation – it is already growing – but our future relationship with rUK will need to be nurtured. Truth and reconciliation, as part of the post-independence process, would help that future relationship to be based on a sound footing and heal some of the hurt caused over the years. It doesn’t stop us getting on with building the new country and it could help.

    I understand some of the worry of secularists about the process being led by religious organisations. I am a secularist and a Christian myself. I do not support organised religion being part of government, but I have a Christian faith and worship regularly. However, any truth and reconciliation process is an offer, not an imposition. In the end, the process has to be something all parties agree to, or there is no truth and reconciliation. If not the churches to initiate this then who? The unions? Political parties? The press? The BBC? The Secularist Society? The answer is “All of the above.”

  18. Andy Nimmo says:

    They did a survey in USA re Death Penalty
    75% of Church Going Christians were in favour
    80% of Non Church Going Atheists/Agnostics were against

    Probably a uniquely American phenomenen but draw your own conclusions

    1. Illy says:

      Nowhere near uniquely American.

      Look up the Crusades, or the Spanish Inquisition, or…

      1. Pàdraig says:

        Stalin? Mao? Hitler? (cheers, Godwin) – without excusing the Church for a minute, that’s surely proof enough that atheists won’t be outdone when it comes to attocities. Good religion is the struggle against our lower human instincts which all too often win in or out of the pew. Without God, I believe there is too little to restrain us in the long term.
        As a “Yesser Christian”, I would not go as far as to surmise that Jesus would be out campaigning for an independent Scotland, but I am sure on the basis of His Word that He would be campaigning for many of the concerns as those in the Yes movement.

  19. Clootie says:

    Unfortunately it does feel like a “headline grabber”. It also undermines what has been a very democratic process (with the exception of the media participation).

    The intent may have been genuine but I can think of many, many more things that could be done by the church BEFORE the 19th.
    Far too often in my view does the church seek to sit on the fence. They crave an input into politics as once was their right. Perhaps if they considered was was best for society as a whole I would respect their intervention.

    1. Illy says:

      “Perhaps if they considered was was best for society as a whole I would respect their intervention.”

      You know, that’s true of the government as well.

    2. setondene says:

      Clootie, you’re right about the Church of Scotland sitting on the fence with this and other tricky issues. Probably a reflection of the varied views within the Church. I attended the General Assembly last year and was surprised that the issue of the Referendum was glossed over. I thing they should have at least conducted an opening debate at that point. However, they are trying to be helpful as the national Church and I guess you have to ask yourself whether their suggestion is actually going to cause any harm. It isn’t, in my opinion, and it might do some good. Atheists don’t have to attend if they don’t want to. They can have their own service under a humanist ‘minister’ or a Marxist demagogue.

      1. Illy says:

        “They can have their own service under a humanist ‘minister’ or a Marxist demagogue.”

        You have a wierd idea of athiest.

  20. mikeinkwazi says:

    Reblogged this on mikeinkwazi and commented:
    Remember, a YES vote is not a vote for the SNP

  21. Ceartas says:

    Attacking the Church Of Scotland for highlighting the need for reconciliation ? Wow new low for you guys.

    1. HI Ceartas,

      Is that how you interpret the article? I understood it differently.

      Reconciliation without truth is not reconciliation (as we all know from our personal lives, where one of us says sorry but doesn’t want to look at what really happened, and then the same dynamic blows up again). In contrast, reconciliation that is based on being willing to look at the truth is difficult but is real.

      So reconciliation is not some future event, it is being willing to look at the truth about what is happening now. And in the Indy process, the truth about what is happening now seems to be that one side is not being democratic, in that they are not entering into debate in town halls or on television, they are not wanting open democratic discussion, whilst controlling how the newspapers and television and radio present the issues.

      If anyone wants to help with reconciliation after the vote, then they will have credibility if they point to the truth about what is happening now, and are willing to stand up to power and say: be democratic now, not pious about an imaginary future that is only (in Douglas Alexander’s case, judging by his performance on GMS this morning) willing to imagine Yes reconciling with No’s victory, but never No reconciling with Yes’s.

      1. scotsgeoff says:

        Couldn’t put it better myself.

        There is no end of proof that the media (esp BBC) is biased and that
        Better Together are intent on stifling debate & scaremongering (often
        just lying) but those in positions of power (& I include the Church) are
        happy to just let it go.

        Truth & reconciliation after the event may well
        lead to more hurt especially when people vote
        a certain way only to find out they have been lied to.

        Can you imagine voting No and there is a Yes win only to find out that ‘not being able to
        use the pound’, border controls, wobbly pensions, businesses leaving en-masse
        was all just a rouse to get your vote?

  22. Craig P says:

    If my own parents’ church is anything to go by, there will be a lot of stunned old unionists after a yes vote, convinced the world is about to end. Provided the Scottish government act with dignity and positivity, we should all be able to follow their lead and things will work out OK after a period of unionist adjustment.

    After a no vote, these same people are likely to want to forget all about the referendum as quickly as possible. But I don’t think this will be an option: I imagine there will be concrete manifestations of pro-independence sentiment, something like the Scottish Assembly vigil that sprung up outside St Andrew’s House after the 1992 general election, that will serve as focal points to nationalist discontent. After a Conservative win in 2015, the split between the government and their Scottish governed will become irreconcilable, and I would include many current unionists in that.

    1. Alex Buchan says:

      I wish this were likely but the Scottish Assembly vigil had a clear aim which a majority of Scots had been cheated out of in 1979. After a defeat in the indy referendum nothing would be clear at all.

      The majority of Scots this time will have voted for remaining British, so how could agitation then be for independence, it would need to be for something else, and, if for something else, how could that be articulated into a simple demand that the public could understand. Devo max might fit the bill, but the British and Scottish unionist establishment could just ignore it, and there is little that we could do to make them take notice, unless people keep voting for independence majorities at Holyrood.

      I suspect that the SNP will lose their overall majority in 2016 and there is a good case for arguing that there needs to be a new Scottish Labour party which champions the values of the Labour party before Blair and committed to independence. Such a party could take on the Labour Party in West Central Scotland maybe this would come out of the disappointment of a no vote for those on the left.

      1. Illy says:

        I’ve got different expectations depending on which way the vote goes:

        If it’s a “No”, I’d expect another landslide for the SNP, in both Holyrood *and* Westminster, maybe not 2015/2016, but give Westminster enough time to finish dismantling Social Security (they’re calling thsi “austersity” for some reason), and we’ll see it again.

        If it’s a “Yes”, I have no clue what will happen in Hollyrood in 2016, but I’d still expect a strong showing for the SNP in Westminster, since giving them the numbers gives us a stronger negotiating stance, and I expect they’ll play that up as well.

      2. Alex Buchan says:

        I hope that it’s as straightforward, but, having lived through a few ups and downs in Scottish politics, I don’t share your optimism. Alex Salmond is likely to retire soon. The media, both print and broadcast, will be heavily pushing the idea that its time to move on from the constitutional question and that the matter has been settled (both of these are a certainty) There be less coverage of Scottish politics and greater emphasis UK issues. Labour might win in 2015 (yet there is something about Miliband that makes the idea of him winning difficult to believe).

        Basically there are lots of different permutations, but a Scottish public that has just voted against independence will be thrawn and not want to admit that it got it wrong. What you suggest is some kind of revolution in the air and I’m just not picking that up, and, anyway, it would need on-going political activism by groups like RIC etc to maintain that momentum outside of the usual SNP strongholds.

      3. Alex Buchan says:

        Plus the whole point of Calman was to redesign the devolution settlement so that the Scottish Government could not blame Westminster for having to cut budgets, as it will have to set Scotland’s own tax level. So Scottish politics will become more engrossed in bread and butter issues and who knows, maybe even the Scottish Tories might start to pick up at Holyrood on a low tax election manifesto. But the momentum towards independence, even inside the SNP might ebb away.

      4. Illy says:

        “Plus the whole point of Calman was to redesign the devolution settlement so that the Scottish Government could not blame Westminster for having to cut budgets”

        No, the point of Calman was to set things up so that the Scottish Electorate blame the Scottish Parliment for tax increaces, when they’re forced moves caused by Westminster.

        “Labour might win in 2015”

        And pigs might fly. I’d bet on the pigs before I bet on Labour.

      5. Alex Buchan says:

        As if by magic the answer came immediately. The Tories are in the lead by two points in two polls yesterday for the first time in two years, and in another two they were leading by only one point, Miliband now has the lowest satisfaction rating of all the leaders, lower even than Glegg, and Labour’s vote share in the euro elections seems to have plummeted as Labour voters move towards UKIP.

      6. Illy says:

        Alex, I have a question for you: Do you consider the Red Tories as a Labour party? (I know that’s what they call themselves, but the invasion of Iraq was claimed to be about capturing WMDs that Blair knew they didn’t have, so names don’t mean a lot)

      7. Alex Buchan says:

        I’m not sure why you are asking me that question. I’ve never maid any comments about the Labour Party. My initial comment was to the effect that after a no vote we will not be back in the 1992 situation where there was an uncomplicated sense of grievance at the Tory party under Major ignoring the very obvious majority support for a Scottish Assembly. I suppose at the end of the day there isn’t much point in trying to work out what the situation would be. All that can be said is that the stakes are high and that there are a lot of unknown dangers in a post no vote situation.

        My comment about the need for an independence supporting mainstream party of the left is because this referendum has shown that it is because the campaign has not been associated purely with the SNP that it has grown to the extent it has. I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve been at meetings where people start by saying “I’m not a nationalist but….”

        If Scottish politics and the Scottish mindset is to escape from the UK dominated mindset, then there has to be a genuinely distinctive Scottish politics. The existence of a range of independent Scottish based parties like the Greens and the SNP is what irks the unionist establishment who want to portray it purely as about one party; the SNP and one politician; Alex Salmond. Deepening and broadening that until the parties that are Scottish based and pro-independence start to outnumber and replace the parties that are London branch outfits will have the effect of creating a range of pro-independence supporters across the political spectrum.

        I’m only saying this to explore what the options are, but maybe you’re right and the SNP will sweep all before it, but the problem with that is that all parties’ fortunes wax and wane and the SNP has done well and then done less well in the past and there is no reason to think that will change.

  23. Brian Powell says:

    If there were a No vote there will be very little dialogue with real meaning involving the pro-Independence groups.

    There will be approaches to the Scottish Government, but why would a Conservative Government be in any hurry to talk, and Labour in Westminster will be talking to Labour in Holyrood, all making sure there is no mechanism available for this to happen again.

    Douglas Alexander has been mentioning a constitutional discussion ten years long. into the future.
    Any bets on how that ‘discussion’ will survive?

    2015 will see the two Westminster parties attacking each other. Both will be claiming victory in Scotland, and the most important voice will be the Conservatives, because they will be playing to their natural support in the South and West Midlands.

    Labour n Scotland will be looking to 2015 and 2016, they have no reason to talk.

    Anyone thinking otherwise is being beyond foolish and hasn’t really grasped what has been happening over the last seven years.

  24. YESGUY says:

    Keep the church oot i say..

    Where are the voices of the church with food banks , bedroom tax and child poverty . They can offer reconciliation not bread aye right. The silence is deafening .

    And atheists dont worship marx or whatever. they worship nothing and see religion at the center of most wars. cant say if they have done anything of note here other than offer so they can take my refusal any way they choose.

    The bloody Orange order want to march before the referendum too . Bigots in bowlers the lot. UVF asking Ulster to stay out of Scottish affairs , What next -The Pope giving oot flyers for the Union.

    This is Scotland 2014 Yes means we can start anew NO means more cuts no NHS bedroom tax the lot.. And the church willing to help out if were a little angry..after the votes are counted. People will be angry but it wont turn us into Ulster . Idiots fan the flames before the result.
    Why dont they complain to the media about the lies , scares s, smears thrown at Scots daily. Or even better…… Get a chat with the BT and find out ONE reason we should stay in this broken union . Now that would be a bloody miracle

    1. Heather says:

      Well said, the thought of a no vote based on ignorance and lack of info and mis info on the actual facts and figures is very depressing, the process is anything but democratic, no questions asked in the media which many people read, watch and take for gospel will actually be unforgivable and the reality will take time to filter through to those who choose to vote no. The church should be shouting from the pulpits about the total lack of fairness, total smearing of the yes side and utter lies being touted day in day out by the westminster led no camp. Why are the church not up in arms about food banks etc? Its a disgrace and the immorality of this coalition led attack on the poor, sick and disabled should be ringing massive bells for anyone that cares about their fellow human beings. Not so it seems.

  25. YESGUY says:

    just found this piece by Lesley Riddoch sums up things nicely


    Interesting read . Common sense over yet another scare tactic (CofSc shame on you ??)

    1. Alex Buchan says:

      More than just common sense. She puts her finger on the real issue which is the fear of Scots becoming empowered and engaged. Better Together don’t want to supply speakers because Better Together don’t want to validate in any way this grass roots involvement of ordinary people because it is in their interests for people to be apathetic. So we need to be wary of this whole reconciliation rhetoric because effectively it is about drawing a line on September 19th and saying to everyone the shows over go back to Britain’s Got Talent, leave politics to the professionals. As Lesley Ridoch says this is being seen internationally as a model in tolerance and democracy, so why are we buying into the “violent cybernat” hyperbole of the no campaign.

  26. Over three hundred years of Scots choosing the ballot box and NOT the bullet or the bomb, and we are asked to offer empathy to somebody who has sleepless nights thinking we might, what if, there’s a chance, could beat each other’s throats after the plebiscite?

    Is he joking?

  27. tartanfever says:

    Why don’t the church do something useful and write to all the press and tv media companies and ask them to stop fuelling any bitterness ?

    Reasonable public debate and enquiry is mostly viewed on TV, these are the organisations that have a responsibility to deliver ‘reason’, not tabloid scare stories as they are.

    Then again, when did the church ever go to the route of the problem to avoid a situation rather than deal with the consequences.

    1. Clootie says:

      I agree the church should be on the side of building a fairer society.

      They changed to support the union in 1707 when their position and land was guaranteed. I wonder if they held reconciliation services then?
      Does history not deserve to be reviewed in this context?

      1. Douglas says:

        Totally agree Clootie, and let’s not forget the church stood behind the landlords during the Clearances, give or take some exceptions, just as the Catholic Church in Europe was complicit in the Holocaust, not to mention best mates with Franco in Spain, give or take some exceptions, notably the priests in the Basque Country..

        Now The Church of Scotland announces that it wants to save us from ourselves with a day’s prayer post referendum….

        A sanctimonious, manipulative, passive-aggressive attempt to put itself centre stage is what it looks like to me, and all this talk of Truth and Reconciliation is the most ridiculous thing I have heard since Lord Robertson’s forces of darkness intervention, and just what the London media is wanting to hear by the way.

        Truth and Reconciliation processes only occur in places where there has been violence.

        Utter nonsense by the Church of Scotland.

  28. Gary says:

    On reconciliation, I do not feel any rancour toward unionism or unionists. Personally I want all the facts put before the people to ensure an informed decision is made by the electorate. What I do see is bitterness and hate coming from a vociferous minority in the unionist camp, they have been allowed their platform by a campaign desperate for support and taking it from ANY quarter. Their unmoderated trollings litter Facebook pages supposedly open to debate and “organised” by an AstroTurf “Better Together” campaign.

  29. Ian Garvie says:

    “I wonder if the leaders of the Church have considered invoking the post-Reformation practice of a day of Public Prayer and Fasting for the Nation”

    And just what is this supposed to achieve? What has prayer ever achieved? And are you seriously asking for some of our people who are already living close to the edge to fast???? Oh I can see that this is going to be very effective and will change not just the face of Scotland, but by its very nature the world.
    It is time we assigned the churches to the bylines of past history. Let those that believe continue to do so, but keep your religion out of our politics. The history of the Christian churches in politics is not a reputable one.

  30. manandboy says:

    A Unionist, Establishment, Church of Scotland organising a service of reconciliation 3 days after a Yes vote ?

    The Indy party may well still be in full swing.

    While the Unionists will be very depressed.

    It will be fascinating to discover who turns up.

    If the service is not cancelled that is.

    Good Luck to the Moderator Designate.

  31. YESGUY says:

    Ian Garvie , i have just spat my tea over the screen of my pc. Well spotted about fasting . You have hit the nail so hard I nearly choked. (all better now )

    IRONY – Many of our own people are fasting every day through westmiddens attacks on the poor. Children , the very life-blood of any nation STARVING not fasting.

    Oh Ian I missed that on my first read , and in all honesty when the church start talking i bugger off. Sanctimonious sods should be screaming from the pulpits but no … they offer reconciliation . It beggers belief .

    I know there are good people out there who will see this as a positive move but they should ask themselves , where is the anger and trouble they forecast.> Does this help Scotlands name when our own church starts scares of trouble. More bloody ammo for the rUk. to chuck at us. Read GROUSEBEATERS comments as he says it all. the CoSc should have shut their mouths . I see this as a negative and i am not alone. CoSC and Westmidden should have no say in an inde Scotland. Out of touch , out of ideas and out of bloody time.

    Rant over …

  32. “Yet there are others who legitimately don’t have the wherewithal to see past the Union to something better. It’s saddening and frustrating, and it becomes hard to see how people of such narrow, limited worldviews could play much of a role in running anything in the future-even if they have done up until now.”

    Arguably, that could be viewed as having a “narrow, limited worldview” of anyone who wants to reimagine the UK as something better.

  33. nickwilding says:

    I came on to read Justin’s post and found this one below it…

    Thought it might be helpful at this point in re-posting GP Walrus’ point:

    “Post a YES vote, there will be a tremendous euphoria and energy in the nation – it is already growing – but our future relationship with rUK will need to be nurtured. Truth and reconciliation, as part of the post-independence process, would help that future relationship to be based on a sound footing and heal some of the hurt caused over the years. It doesn’t stop us getting on with building the new country and it could help.”

    I think most of the discussion above is missing a core point that this paragraph points to. The question is, truth and reconciliation to what? and about what?

    I think the Church’s position gets this wrong and the original article rightly points this out – it’s not reconciliation between yes and no voters. That’s too simplistic, and ‘fanning the flames’ as Lesley wrote in the Scotsman.

    And I see Justin is onto something in his comment about the quality of the debate now being the best assurance of those flames being transformed into collaborative, transformative action post a yes vote.

    But to somehow say, as the original article does in a way that sounds too neat to me … that there will be no need for reconciliation and truth seems naive. It will matter how an injured English psyche reacts post a Yes vote. It will matter how people in Labour’s old heartlands across Glasgow experience justive afresh – or just new versions of old ways of being marginalised Raised expectations are very powerful. They can also be crushing. Look at South Africa; Soweto. The depth processes of truth and reconciliation processes – like those touched on in South Africa – might actually offer some way through. Let’s not through the baby out with the bath water.

    We need, both now, through and after the vote, not just a debate and willingness to take power and responsibility – but to do so with heart – and compassion – for the historic wounds that are and will continue to be triggered as one world dissolves and another takes its place. It’s easy for an articulate group on this chat site to take positions on whether or not truth and reconciliation will be needed. The actual work is much nearer to our day to day relationships in our families, streets. It’s in the quality of the relationships, the ‘right speech’ we embody; the holding back from personalising attacks and the wisdom to decontruct and become conscius of how systems of power and oppression are coded deep into all of us – and how we are all capable of taking the shoes of oppressors; and that right now we are living in a moment of euphoria and then… the work to see ourselves anew once this has worn off.

    This is the real, long term work.How many of us have really any idea how to embody practices of compassion, nonviolent communication, transformative community building? A great place to start might be in – rather than dismissing learning from the core process of truth and reconciliation as irrelevant – to be more inquiring: in what way might this be relevant? And if it’s not to be led by the church – how am I/we to step in and continue the rhetoric of independence into the actions – day after day, week after week, year adn year – that a genuine transformation of society will require?

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