Peace of Mind

imagesEarlier this week the Moderator Designate of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland announced that there would be a reconciliation service held in St Giles Cathedral three days after the referendum vote takes place. The purpose, he said, would be to heal any rifts, but added “I hope that … expressing our commitment to working together for the future of Scotland will be the biggest part of it”. He went on to express a desire for politicians to keep the debate civil, even-tempered and free of emotive language now to help prevent unnecessary rifts being formed in the first place. However, while we may all be aware of real and often heated debates taking place even within our own families and friendships, it seems certain that much of the recent talk about reconciliation is being pushed to deliberately stir up trouble and anxiety.

To my mind, it’s pretty simple. If people, over the course of the final four months leading up to the vote, act in a way that they can reconcile with their own moral code, there will be no need for further ‘reconciliation’. For me, and I hope the majority, this means treating other people with respect, and walking away if they are unable or unwilling to reciprocate. It means being honest, being open to believing other people may genuinely think there is a different path to a better Scotland, and continuing to read, think and learn. It’s worth remembering that in the not-very-distant future we will be looking back on the decision we collectively take, and reflecting on whether we personally did the right thing. On September 19th, and in the days, weeks and years afterwards, I know that I will feel at peace with what will frankly be the huge step of voting Yes. I know this because I have taken the time to examine and weigh up the likely outcomes of both options.

There is no doubt that the rUK has a rocky road ahead – with continued bottom-up austerity promised from both the major parties, and worse from their likely bedfellows. A No vote would not change this, but it would signal to Westminster that they can get away with pretty much whatever they want, it would effectively end any prospect of genuine democracy for Scotland and it could dishearten new rUK groups and their supporters fighting against Westminster’s constant shift towards the far right. A Yes vote will have a completely different, far-reaching and positive effect. Quite apart from the opportunities laid open to Scotland by assuming fiscal responsibility over our own affairs, it will demonstrate to the electorate in the rUK that change is possible and that it is worth the struggle.

At a meeting in Kilmarnock this week Jim Sillars put forward the persuasive argument that we need to start thinking about politics without pre-conceptions; to approach problems like Health Boards crippled by PFI debt with fresh eyes. While I won’t comment on particular policies here, I am very attracted to the idea of building policy without being constrained by habit, tradition and deference to the uber-rich. Hopefully voters will apply the same philosophy to making their decision, thinking about both options and their likely consequences with eyes wide open to the real situation facing the UK, and the possibilities of a Yes vote. If voters currently intend to vote No because they genuinely want a better rUK for everyone (and especially the vulnerable), which I believe many of them do, they have to ask themselves how is that best achievable? If there are to be significant changes through Westminster they firstly need to actually be on offer, and then they must be sold to the rUK electorate with the kind of energy and passion evident in the grassroots Yes campaign. Crushing the Yes vote with constant scaremongering, intangible promises and threats of a society torn apart may well also crush any future progressive movement in the rUK for a long time.

What about those who are simply not interested in a better Scotland and have only their own interests at heart, or who are just completely indifferent? It will be for them to make peace with their decision after the vote, or perhaps never give it a second thought…

But the final group – the spinners and stirrers, the snipers from the side-lines, the name-callers and the hate-spreaders; some of these people are acting with full knowledge of the harm they are doing – and they are beyond needing to make peace with what they have done. Others, including many in the media, should stop and consider their actions, and ask themselves how they will feel looking back at having been caught up in anger and deception, or complicit in misleading the electorate.

They must ask themselves if they will be able to look back and reconcile themselves with what they have done.

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  1. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

    While those who vote yes are in the main aiming for something better, however notional, I am not convinced that the noes are voting for anything other than the preservation of the humdrum status quo. Judging by the Better Togetherers an improved version of the UK doesn’t seem to figure in the equation. Even if it did would we actually be tempted? We have been shown the “promised land”, for many staying put just ain’t sexy. Reconciliation? inevitably there will be some bad losers. Do Moderators carry tazers?

    1. Flora says:

      While I agree that the majority of the Yes vote will be down to voters wanting a better future for either just Scotland or (as in my case) for the rUK too, I don’t agree that all No voters will be doing it out of a lazy satisfaction that the status quo is the best there is on offer… We have to make a leap of faith and believe that some of the folk claiming their No is out of solidarity with the left in rUk are being genuine, and discuss both the options from that starting point, so that we can reassure them the Yes vote will not be a barrier to a better rUK, but could (will) be an aid. Unfortunately those making this argument already are being drowned out by the media and, especially, the self-preservation-society of seat-happy ‘Scottish’ Labour party politicians.

      1. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

        I am rather less concerned about the future of the Westminster state than you Flora. The left has had opportunities a plenty to sort things. We as a people have been, in our way, quite patient, even indulgent of the ideological step dance played out in London. The realisation that we might dance to different steps and to a different tune has at last occurred. The growth of a gung-ho English nationalism has rather queered the pitch for any rapprochement with the current system, even were that to offer us gold-plated guarantees regarding significant increase in national sovereignty. The British state is on a particular trajectory that owes more to the survival-of-the-fittest unstructured polity of the 18th century to that of a modern democracy. Our quitting the union will be catalytic. In Scotland it ought to herald the growth of a new species of politics, proportional, representative, and intellectually dynamic. In England, unless the Labour party radically changes its habits, it may well hasten the regression to the socially divisive, aggressively libertarian default mode of the privateering “glory days”. The news that the Turkish mining company responsible for the Soma disaster operates a UK based shell company for tax avoidance purposes imparts the flavour of thing.

  2. steven luby says:

    I’m so heartened to read an article that simply hits the nail on the head. Thank you!

  3. xsticks says:

    Very good and thought provoking article Flora.

    I do wonder about the consciences of those who are doing what they are doing in full knowledge of the damage they are causing. The ‘clever’ Better Together ‘campaigners’ who are trying to stir up the uneducated and frighten the vulnerable are beyond the pale.

    The media is our biggest enemy, but we can outflank them on the ground as long as we all get out there and convince the people of Scotland of our case. There are a lot of undecided folk out there and we can win them over. We have no need of bile and obfuscation. Stay civil and positive. We can do this. Truth will win.

  4. manandboy says:

    Reconciliation to the Unionists is what the environment is to a fracking company.

  5. MBC says:

    I think Dominic Lawson has a point about the ‘shy No voters’ who will snurk out at half and hour to the closing of the polls on September 18 to deliver their ‘X’ to the No box and consign their compatriots to doom and hell. Not out of any conviction or love for the Union. But just because this debate has finally stirred them up enough out of their perpetual apolitical torpor to worry them about their pensions and the possible disturbance to their dull and utterly pointless existence.

    We all know who these folk are. We need to work on them now to save the day.

    1. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

      Dominic’s shy put upon,Tories, shrinking violets apparently, will swing it for the noes when the nasty, ruthless cybernats stop being so awful and let them out for a carton of milk. His knowledge of Scotland is rather limited, never mind his obvious ignorance of our particular political culture. He claims the Scottish border isn’t a real border! No soldiers with guns and things just like EU frontiers.

  6. Important points. It seems to me, however, that some sort of reconciling work will need to be done; not a church service, but ongoing counselling. This is probably necessary whether YES or NO carries the vote because of the anger and hurt caused by the lies, misinformation, partial truths intended to deceive, secret manipulation, by the UK Government, which has been exposed, personalisation and smearing by the anti-independist campaigns. Bernard Ponsonby was right when he said that that reconciling work needs to begin now by the anti-independentists repenting, apologising to the Scottish people, and conducting an honest campaign from now until the reerendum.

  7. Gordon says:

    I live in a flatted development and casual discussions with neighbours has revealed a reaction amongst the NO brigade that says: “If there is a YES to independence, I would move to England (in some cases back to England). My own reaction to a NO vote would be to quit the country and live in a warmer clime (maybe Spain). The pent-up rage I would feel at my country being referred to as ‘England’ and the continued pillorying of defenceless minorities in the tabloid press would fuel my pent-up rage to bursting point and I would not survive many more years.
    Watching the wealth of the whole nation being diverted to London and an already financially obese part of this island get even fatter; Seeing more of the industries that we have poured our taxes into over many years sold off cheaply to those who can afford to buy them; Witnessing the highly paid sinecures where obscene money is to be made without creating any wealth; Watching billionaires amassing more wealth than they can possibly spend in 10 lifetimes hoarding their cash offshore like the fabled misers of yore while the honest toilers who add real value to the economy need to resort to food banks and have their wages topped up; Seeing the youth of my country quitting these shores, leaving a nation of grey-heads to struggle on. This would shorten my life. The injustice of it all is too much to bear.
    All this may be a bit exaggerated, but you get the picture.

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