2007 - 2021

Going Beyond Yes and No, Going Beyond Right and Wrong

10325374_842844915744161_1747748988925750116_nIn the last of our #noway series Yvonne Spence offers a different take on the referendum.

In the run-up to the referendum and beyond, caring people on both sides looked at information on various issues and came to different conclusions. I don’t mean that people read biased media from their own side (of course we all did) but that people can read the same piece of information and come to different conclusions. I know this because I have both yes and no voting friends and we shared information before the referendum. I also know it because of many posts I’ve seen presenting a fact as “proof” of one side’s rightness, with comments below claiming it does the opposite.

If even apparent facts are open to interpretation, maybe it’s time to look at this whole issue differently? Since the referendum, I’ve been doing just that with a small group of yes and no voters. The aim is not to persuade each other, but to listen with compassion and to develop understanding and empathy. I welcome Bella Caledonia’s #noway invitation for submissions from no voters, since it offers an opportunity to expand our vision to a wider audience.

Centuries ago, the Sufi poet Rumi wrote: Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

It’s not easy to live by those words, but it’s far, far easier than not doing so. Letting go of ideas of right and wrong enables us to listen with compassion, even when the person we are listening to (or reading) is attacking us.

People from both sides of the referendum divide have blasted the other as uncaring, selfish, and fearful. Several years ago, I read a book by psychologist John Bradshaw in which he explained that what we dislike in others is what we repress in ourselves. At first I wasn’t keen the idea, but I’ve come to see that it’s true. This is possibly more obvious in politics than anywhere else.

To protect our own image of being the caring side it’s necessary to ignore or deny anything that doesn’t fit, and to demonise the other side. At its most extreme, this kind of thinking leads to atrocities like the one we’ve just seen in France, or the one last year in which Taliban members murdered school children. Those men believed they were right.

If we try to create change through hatred, what we get is hatred. Hate has never yet created peace.

But how we move beyond right and wrong? How do we find compassion and bridge the yes-no divide? Or any political or cultural divide?
One way is by realising that all humans share basic needs. Apart from physical needs, we have many emotional needs – for example: to belong, to feel safe, to contribute and, of course, to give and receive love. When those needs aren’t met, we feel what are commonly known as negative emotions – anger, fear and so on. Every one of us develops strategies to try to get our needs met. Often we mistakenly think these strategies are our needs. For instance, for some, an independent Scotland might seem like a need, but it’s really a strategy to get a much deeper need met – possibly the need to feel safe. Likewise, remaining in the UK is a strategy – probably to meet the exact same need!

Another way to think about this is to notice that many of us share the same values. Blasting the “other” side as uncaring shows that caring for others matters to you – but it doesn’t mean the other side doesn’t care. They just have a different way of showing it. (Strategies again.) Almost all of us want to protect our children, to care for the sick, the elderly and the poor.

We all react to current events from the perspective of our pasts. For many people the referendum rekindled childhood memories of rejection or of fear. How people deal with that fear varies depending on individual life histories.

We also tend to view politicians as parental figures. When Gordon Brown got involved in the Better Together campaign you could almost sense some people thinking, “Dad’s here now. He’ll sort things out.” After Alex Salmond resigned, supporters tweeted: “You didn’t let us down; we let you down.” In other words: “Sorry Dad.”

Arthur J Deikman writes about leaders as parental figures in his book: Them and Us. Although he mainly focuses on religious cults, but he says that we all share cult-like thinking to some degree – characterised by defensiveness and accusation. This occurs in politics and in corporations as well as in smaller groups. Deikman says the “longing for parents persists into adulthood and results in cult behaviour that pervades normal society.” This longing is even present in our leaders, and Deikman sees it as more problematic than the desire for power. Of course, many of us also want to rebel against our parents, and this shows up in our reactions to leaders of the “opposite” side.

Recently, a (yes voting) friend asked how it could be possible to practice compassionate listening towards George Osborne and his ilk, in the face of deeper and deeper cuts. At first, I had no clue. Then, as I considered her question, I realised that many Conservative ministers were once boys sent to boarding school at a young age, probably feeling fear and loneliness. Maybe their need for connection has never been met? Maybe growing up away from parents they feel the longing Deikman writes about but have no clue how to deal with it so they behave as they did years ago at school, trying to be top-dog and blaming others so that they wouldn’t be blamed. We all experience some damage in childhood, whether the damage comes from poverty of money or poverty of love. That answer made sense to my friend.

As I write this, I feel wary of the reception those last few sentences will get. However, recognising that even government ministers suffer doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stop them. It doesn’t mean we stop looking for solutions to Scotland’s problems.

Scotland has many problems, including one of the highest rates of alcoholism in the world. Glasgow Shettleston, the UK’s most poverty-stricken constituency, also has the highest rate of alcohol-related deaths. The Scottish government estimates that excessive alcohol consumption cost Scots £3.6 billion each year. The connection between poverty and alcohol consumption is complex but it needs to be addressed. Claiming poverty is entirely Westminster’s fault doesn’t actually help those who are alcohol-dependent and in poverty. Independence, on its own, would not have solved this; nothing short of a radical change in attitude will create the change required. Blaming Westminster (or anyone) reveals the same attitude that blaming the poor does.

The trouble with blaming others is that it leaves us feeling like victims, reliant on someone else. This is the conundrum at the heart of wanting independence while blaming someone else. When we take responsibility (which is not the same as blame) for our part in a situation, no matter how small that part may be, it actually makes us stronger, not weaker. It makes us happier. That’s true on a personal level, and it’s true on a national level.

In inviting submissions, Bella Caledonia suggested no voters might want to aplogise or that perhaps we feel vindicated. Neither is true for me. Like many of my friends, I made a decision based on a mix of information gathering and gut instinct. In ending, I am tempted to explain why I voted no. But that would go against every point I’ve been making in this post, so I won’t. Some of you will have understood the points I’ve made; some of you won’t. That’s okay. Perhaps you aren’t ready to meet in that field Rumi wrote about. When you are, I’ll meet you there.

Comments (138)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. bellacaledonia says:

    Thanks Yvonne for your article which we are glad to publish. The problem I have with it is not the message of forgiveness, or the deep insights into the human condition it offers. The problem is that it pretends that power doesn’t exist in our society. Relativism has limits – especially when a specific part of society is trying to re-shape the economy and the system of welfare in a way that will be profoundly damaging, in those circumstances conflict not Confucius is needed.

    Second, I’m really confused about your use of responsibility. “When we take responsibility (which is not the same as blame) for our part in a situation, no matter how small that part may be, it actually makes us stronger” sounds like an argument for independence.

    It’s a good thought provoking and articulate read. In return I’d like to ask you to reflect on what social conditions influenced you – in the past and in the last two years that made you make your political choice. I’d like you also to take responsibility for that choice and its potential impact.

    Thanks for sharing your views.

    1. Erasmus says:

      I have to agree with Bella – I don’t think there is a sociologist in the world who would disagree with the assertion that – those who voted Yes and those who voted No were driven by the same motivational force (which they hide both from others AND themselves) – self-interest.
      As Bourdieu says, the priest will always tell you that there’s no salvation outside of the church, yes of course he does, because his job (that is, his whole reason for being) depends on it (and he believes what he says).

      The thing about self-interest (which is what makes sociology so interesting) is that it is always masked, obfuscated and presented as something else. Read Machiavelli as a starting point.

      In any given situation – (in sociology we call them fields – think club, organisation, group society, country etc) there are people who want to maintain the structures of that field (they tend to think they occupy good positions within the field) and people who want to transform the structures of the field (who tend to think they could do better out of the settlement). Apply this principle to the Indy Ref and patterns begin to emerge.

      Ask yourself some questions
      • Why was the No campaign almost exclusively based on economic arguments? (currency, the economy, the volatility of oil prices, pensions, etc)
      • Why was the Yes campaign almost exclusively based on moral arguments (foodbanks, bairns not bombs, illegal wars etc)
      • Why did the Yes campaign have an almost complete monopoly on creative and artistic types?
      • Why was the established order (banks, retailers, mainstream media) almost exclusively in favour of the status quo?

      I really believe that only Sociology (not psychology) can explain all the nuances of the referendum.

      1. Heather says:

        Erasmus, what you say is far far from the truth. I watched many lectures, speeches and talks given by the YES side, from all walks of life, on many different levels, There was Business for Scotland, who made good sound economic sense for an independent Scotland, based on facts. Nicola Sturgeon, A Salmond, Stewart Hosie and others, gave very good informative talks at universities, in halls up and down the country. The unionists relied on scaremongering, (project fear) lies, hearsay, and propaganda was their game with a compliant media at their beck and call, unquestioned when outright lies were aired to the whole country. I saw no positive economic or otherwise argument from the unionists at all, they marched up to Scotland,only when they saw that YES were ahead with a real chance of changing Scotland for the better and ditching the westminster masters after 300 years of colonialism. The YES movement was huge, it was open with facts and info, answering questions when asked, whereas the unionists fudged, fuddled and fiddled with the facts, attacking the SNP, and low as they were prepared to be, even personalising the debate to stifle and stall any intelligent, democratic debate. The two sides were very different in their style, the tactics of the unionists was disgraceful, undermining the Scottish people, and Scotland in full view of the international political climate. It hasn’t taken long for folk to forget just how the whole process was far from democratic, the unionists made sure of that, its what is known as mind manipulation, not fact, not reality. Short of bumping off A Salmond as a back up plan, they played it as things went along, aided and abetted by the media of the uk, and further afield as well. I now see how deluded I was, to ever think we would regain our independence by peaceful, democratic means, it was never going to happen.

      2. Shaun Steuart says:

        You are absolutely correct regarding self-interest ultimately being the motivation of each individual. Self-interested goals are sometimes served best through altruistic means and as part of a group. In our species in particular. Rather than Machiavelli, Richard Dawkin’s ‘The Selfish Gene’ gives a fundamental explanation into the origin, function and basis of self-interest.

      3. proteros says:

        Taking your argument further, it’s likely that people rationalised their existing positions with economic and moral arguments. Distinctions between moral and economic arguments aren’t always clear. Many No voters – and this certainly applied to myself – had a real moral issue in voting for more unemployment and poverty in an independent Scotland, even though other pro-independence arguments appealed to us. I discussed this a lot with Yes voters, who virtually without exception thought there would be no increase in unemployment. Our moral positions are the same. It’s how we evaluate the outcomes that is different. These evaluations are no doubt influenced by our original starting points.

    2. Bibbit says:

      Proteros – how’s that eradication of poverty & unemployment in Scotland forevermore by voting ‘NO,’ working out for you?

  2. Brian Powell says:

    Given that the No vote allowed minimal ‘powers’ to be packaged up as more powers, even though even that is only proposals, and not happening until 2017, if at all, I wondered what your No voting friends are going to do now?

    1. I think it would be a mistake to think that those who voted No intend to do anything now. One of the key characteristics of those opposed to independence is their passivity.

      1. Bernicia says:

        I think you need to read the part about projecting and defensiveness again.

  3. jimnarlene says:

    I thought the whole point, of independence, was we took responsibility for ourselves. Nothing more, nothing less. Then we could have met in the field, instead of being on the outside looking in via Westminster.

  4. Gordie McRobert says:


  5. Catriona MacKenzie says:

    I don’t really know what to say, other than I wasn’t entitled to have my say other than on Social media. I’m still regarded as an immigrant in the eyes of the British customs and immigration mob at the airport, anyways, regardless of where my Scots parents decided to birth me, the fact of the matter is, the author didn’t even get an honest vote of no.
    Just like my family didn’t get an honest vote of Yes.
    Westminster was NEVER going to allow Scotland and her people to be independent.
    That little thing of the black gold, made damn sure of that.
    They rigged and rorted and stole my fellow Scots lives and livelihood, again.
    Being the wife of an oil field consultant, I was advised weeks and months before our indyref, that it was a lost cause, everything was falsified.
    And until Scots people unite themselves, both yes and no camps…
    no one will be able to take on the corrupt power that is Westminster.
    Your vote of No, was not your own, it was commandeer ‘d by others, that’s not something to be skiting about, ever.

    1. ian says:

      My wife who is English awakened me to the whole independence issue. I had long given up on it as a lost cause after the farce in the 70s.I was agian engaged and enthused but she warned me that no was Westminister going to let us go and was she right.

      1. IAB says:

        They won one part of a longer campaign. I suspect they thought it would be like the National Covenant but the Yes voters did not give up and the movement is stronger. It’s no longer if but when and they tried all the dirty tricks last year and exposed their tactics. I am heartened that we have a younger Yes generation and embarrassed to be in the older No group. It’s coming and I will embrace it.

  6. Yvonne says:

    Thank you for publishing my article and for your respectful response. I’m intrigued that you see it as pretending that power doesn’t exist in our society. Could you expand on how you see the article as doing that? It certainly wasn’t my intention to suggest that. I am not in agreement that conflict is needed to create change.

    Your second point, regarding responsibility is a good example of how we can read the same things and come to different conclusions. For me, the blaming and lack of willingness to take responsibility was a major reason why I finally decided to vote against independence. If Westminster is blamed today, tomorrow it will be Holyrood. Letting go of blame needs to happen first. And I do include myself in that.

    Thank you for requesting that I reflect on the social conditions that influenced me and take responsibility for my choice. You may be pleased to hear I already do. Having chosen to vote no, I think it is imperative that I do all I can to support Scotland and her people right now.I see writing this post is part of that, and I am working on another project that I hope will be of benefit to many one day.

    Thanks again for publishing my post.

    1. Bernicia says:


      Thanks for the article, a great insightful ‘stop and reflect’ moment. And for what it’s worth, the psychology is great, but I’m also torn by Bella’s point about power never being given away but taken away, as it has historical validity (although method, which you allude to, is the pertinent point – I’m thinking Ghandi/ Mandela/ Rosa Parks and civil disobedience verus storming the barricades or chopping off the ancient regimes heads).

      My motivation for voting No, was that I think real change is best on a wider forum. A Yes vote (IMO) would have replicated the current situation or have possibly entrenched the prevailing power structures further as they exist beyond the boundaries of state control – it’s not just about Westminster or Holyrood but much deeper and problematic – a vote for independence would make no difference to the status quo if you like, at least any better than reform on a UK level. (it was a quantative and qualitative assessment). Independence was the wrong tool for the job.

      But you hot the nail on the head. I think there is/ was such a binary division between people who voted in different ways as the right or wrong of motivation was not really at issue. The method was (for most people). As there was no single position that could claim absolute moral righteousness (as you said all/ most want to irradicate poverty, look after the old, have feelings of belonging, identity, inclusion, and were influenced by related fears the indy ref threw up, one side or the other.) both fought to claim it. Despite some of the high blown rhetoric, the indyref Yes/ No was not fundamentally an ethical equation in the way Apartheid, or Jim Crow laws or Solidarity in Poland or in other ethically bankrupt systems were for example.

      The tussle bwtween British/ Scottish identity vs Scottish identity is mostly neutral, excpet when taken as subjective. Smae for all the other issues. This was why the debate was so all consuming. The answer wasn’t at all clear, but a weighing of more or less equal potentialities. And this is why the prosaic (the econ, the currency) became definitive.

      As therein lies my frustration. If there had been a Yes vote, I would have got on board and accepted it and got on with things and hoped to be proven wrong. For some however it seems dogma has set like cooling lava – on both sides. But on a more optomistic note, I think they are in the minority, and most, now that passions have cooled slightly, can see that neither Yes nor No could claim the moral high ground. (although I’m sure there are many on this site who will disagree.)

  7. Urban XII says:

    THIS John Bradshaw? (http://www.johnbradshaw.com/) Are you actually serious?

    Only YOUR truths are applicable? What a lot of whiny, petulant, self-obsessed…I’m sorry, you’re probably a very nice person.

  8. Big Jock says:

    Yvonne you don’t have to ask or explain to us why you voted no. That’s a question only you can answer. I get the sense that you feel guilty and remorseful about your decision. I get that sense from your need to justify the decision. You are seeking acknowledgement that it was an intelligent,caring and justified decision from the people who voted yes. This is not something we can provide, as we fundamentally disagree with your reasoning and logic. Whilst we cannot forgive what you voted for . We can forgive you and move on. The important thing is not to go over the same old ground. Its more important to move on accept where we are ,and look to correct the mistake.

    We can still get independence, but no voters must accept that Westminster cannot be trusted with our sovereignty. If we devolve our nation to a third party, then we leave everything to chance and goodwill. The real world does not operate on a gentleman’s agreement and Westminster is not a gentleman!

  9. dereklouden says:

    Thank you for a very thoughtful article, aimed at making us think – what this series is supposed to be about. I do feel you may be on to something regarding the seemingly de-sensitized nature of some members of the Cabinet toiling through an absence of the capacity for empathy. For me targeting people with disabilities for the heaviest of the cuts is where my problem with the status quo lies. Any society should be judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable citizens. I’m sure we’d both agree on that. The bedroom tax and welfare reforms are clearly not aiming to make things better for such people. Whether it was a policy produced in Westminster or in Holyrood shouldn’t determine our reaction. It would be wrong whatever its origin.
    I wanted to see a change in 2014 as for me waiting for an increase in sensitivity in London wasn’t going to be a matter of life and death. Sadly, for increasing numbers of people it is. It may be that reform of Westminster is possible after next May’s election, who knows? I hope, whatever the result, that the cruelty shown in the current parliament will not worsen in the next.

  10. MBC says:

    I really would have liked to know why you voted No Yvonne. Your article really doesn’t tell me. So I’m left to conclude that you didn’t care enough about Scotland, because our chances were fair, and when the evidence is inconclusive, we go with our deeper instincts and yours were clearly British/English rather than Scottish. I’m cool with that, BTW, – we all feel identity differently and there’s nothing wrong with being British or English at the end of the day.

    It just annoys me that you can’t admit honestly that was your real reason – your lack of Scottish identity. You voted for Britain, you voted for George Osborne, because that’s your country and that’s your tribe.

    There was a fundamental issue of democracy here. What we vote for in Scotland, we never get. Why is it OK that we don’t have democracy? Only if you think there is not a ‘we’ that requires and asks for it.

    As for your comments about Osborne… what can I say? When is he ever going to level with the likes of us? When is he ever going to show any human vulnerability? There is an arrogance of power there, a hardness of heart, a pridefullness, that will never come down to our level unless we pull it down.

  11. Juan P says:

    Why would explaining why you voted no go against all the points you’ve made in your post?

    I would genuinely like to know, not to blame or hate, but as you have mentioned in your post simply to try and understand.

  12. You voted No Yvonne, you do not need to explain to us the reasons why. Perhaps in the future for your children or grandchildren you may have too. Why did 55% vote No. In my mind it came down to one thing Fear, what would England do to us. To destroy a people first destroy their language, then their culture, then their confidence. This has been an ongoing project from Westminster for hundreds of years, to think we got 45% to stand up and be counted was wonderful. You could say we took them by suprise next time will not be so easy. Hopefully Yvonne will look at the road this Country is travelling and say No Thanks to Trident to Bankers ripping the dinner money from childrens hand and to young soldiers dying in a foreign land to keep some despot in power.

  13. sean mcgee says:

    Beyond rigour and measure there is unquantifiable waffle, the field of psycho babble and I won’t meet you there.

  14. IAB says:

    The boarding school boys chummed up and made their own sub-group which was very exclusive, had many rituals and connections and looked down on the ordinary folk. When they left, they continued to preferred universities, had their clubs and made their connections in the workplace. More recently, Westminster has become a combined club/workplace. They still look down at ordinary folk.

  15. macart763 says:

    Basically what Bella said above.

    Understanding that we’re all human, fallible, flawed, with needs and wants and that we should attempt to understand or empathise is a noble and desirable aim.

    At what point though does understanding become apathy? People have and are still suffering from the decisions made by our system of government, the societal structure they manipulate and control, the geo politics they pratice.

    I wonder at what point do you say enough is enough?

    1. IAB says:

      Hopefully at the next General Election

  16. Lawrence says:

    I`ve read some god awful rubbish in my time but “Some of you will have understood the points I’ve made; some of you won’t. That’s okay. Perhaps you aren’t ready to meet in that field Rumi wrote about. When you are, I’ll meet you there” is probably the most arrogant and patronising BS I`ve come across and the worst thing is, that you actual believe it.

    I could spend a great deal of time explaining everything that is wrong with your respond here, but one day you might realise that field your in isn’t Rumi`s but one filled with your own dellusions.

  17. JBS says:


    To the sickos who murdered 12 staff at Charlie Hebdo, to those who think that loving God means killing human beings:

    Allez vous faire foutre.

  18. kate says:

    is there a spiritual meeting place with rapacious capitalism if you and your children are its designated prey?

    1. Bernicia says:

      What did the indy ref have do with subverting rapacious capitalism?

      1. Brian Fleming says:

        Everything. It’s just a crying shame so many seemingly intelligent people didn’t realise that.

  19. Peter says:

    Compassion: n. a feeling of of distress and pity for the suffering or misfortune of another often including the desire to alleviate it (Collins English dictionary).

    It is worth pondering what compassion might mean in the context of the referendum and its aftermath?

  20. bjsalba says:

    I’ve read your article three times now and I can’t see what reason you had for voting no except fear.

    Now you want all those looking for a better Scotland to go away. It will not happen.

  21. Legerwood says:

    The author ignores the fact that the Scottish Government has taken steps to address the alcohol problem in Scotland. For example, minimum pricing of alcohol. This was steered through Holyrood and into law but is now tied up in the courts because of a legal challenge from the whisky industry. A foretaste of what is to come if TTIP comes into being particularly in relation to the NHS.

    All of the Unionist parties have toyed at various times with plans to tackle alcohol consumption and have dropped them each and every time. The SNP is the only party to see it through.

    As to the comment about the conundrum of wanting Independence but still blame someone else for our troubles that is just plain wrong. We wanted Independence because we wanted to take responsibility for our own futures and actions and not to blame anyone else for the outcomes.

  22. Clootie says:

    The article was well written. However it is a soft deflection with well meaning ideals.
    Tell this story of insirational quotes to someone waiting for the foodbank to open.

  23. Peter A Bell says:

    I read this article and see only another No voter essaying a post hoc rationalisation of their choice while insisting that nobody has a right to question that choice and no responsibility for the consequences should attach to the individual who made it. Burying all that in psycho-social waffle and obscure quotes does nothing to conceal the shallowness of the thinking that lies behind this carefully crafted piece of self-serving cant.

    There is always a tell in this type of article. Always some snippet which, for all the high-minded pretence of informed rationality, reveals the fact that the writer has actually succumbed to the dishonest blandishments of British nationalist propaganda. In this case, it’s the moronically simplistic claptrap about “blaming Westminster for everything” that is taken straight from the Project Fear’s Big Book of Lies.

    The whole article is little more than an attempt to dress up credulousness as thoughtfulness. And what there is besides is a pernicious urging to disengage from realpolitik To eschew effective action for ineffectual posturing. It is an invitation to a world where the guilty are never held to account. A world where the only offence is throwing a spotlight on what is wrong. A world where worthy aspiration is cast as an unseemly lust for power, while the powerful are assigned to a separate sphere where they act with impunity because to challenge them is to be the same as them.

    That is not the new politics that I seek for Scotland. It is an intellectually and morally bankrupt abdication of the legacy of the Yes campaign.

    1. M4rkyboy says:

      Well said Peter,i agree 100%.

    2. Ken Waldron says:

      “The whole article is little more than an attempt to dress up credulousness as thoughtfulness. And what there is besides is a pernicious urging to disengage from realpolitik To eschew effective action for ineffectual posturing….”

      Well worth repeating. Many thanks Peter.

  24. Big jock says:

    In conclusion it’s like a confession where the priest is all of us in yes Scotland camp. Forgive me father for I have signed, No! You voted no to maintain Westminster, the elite, class division, the BBC, the city of London establishment , the corrupt monarchy , the Tories , UKIP , cash for questions , ilegal wars, Trident missiles , The Union Flag , London rule of Scotland …The list could go on forever…What’s not to forgive…LOL

  25. Darien says:

    Experiencing the past several decades of this UK union all I am reminded of are: short economic booms interspersed by long economic busts; unemployment; worsening poverty; rich getting richer, poor getting poorer; UK ‘national’ debt always increasing; frequent warmongering and dubious foreign policy; Scotland being used as USA’s/Trident defence shield; collapsing infrastructure; propaganda – i.e. mostly British this and that; being taught British/English history at school, not Scottish; Scots language subjugation; MP’s and senior ‘public servants’ ending up on boards of this and that, and House of Lords; snobbery and class system still riddles our society, from schools, uni’s to the courts; a continuous democratic deficit in Scotland (government by Tory panda); Scotland treated like a province/colony, not as equal partner in the UK (e.g. being thrown the ‘bone’ of a wee pretendy parliament is surely all a revolting colony can expect); unionists controlling Scotland’s meritocracy; etc etc etc

    So these are a major part of the reason I voted Yes – because the UK is clearly a failed and corrupt state with zero respect for Scotland or the Scots. But the main reason I voted Yes is that independence is priceless – no country/people turns its independence down. So to intentionally thwart ones own nationhood (assuming you are Scots) is surely deserving of extensive psycho-analysis. I rather think you and your fellow No voters may find themselves alone in that field. Alone with their thoughts….and fears……and trepidations for the future. Yes voters are out of the box now.

    1. Bernicia says:

      ‘But the main reason I voted Yes is that independence is priceless – no country/people turns its independence down.’

      Interesting point to analyse. Why did Scotland?

      Maybe the reason Scotland is so unique in not wantng full indy is because the British state isn’t nearly as repressive as you claim but quite adaptable (historically speaking) and has also been empowering? Or that the differences in language, culture and sense of community is so binary and distinct as in other cases of independence? Why Benedict Anderson and constructivism in culture is so oft mentioned in the ‘Scottish/ English case’ Of course this depends more on the part of Scotland you come from and is not to deny Scotland has differences and uniqueness.

  26. ELAINE FRASER says:


    Thanks for your contribution and I am really glad to hear that you have friends who voted Yes and No who are still friends and able to continue the discussion. I envy you that because nearly all of my friends voted No and I was unable to have any meaningful discussions before ,during or after the vote. It is very difficult to move on and find common ground again when you find yourself in my position . For them ,as far as I know, there is nothing to discuss now but I feel it would help me a lot if I knew their motivations. I have a feeling minds were made up very early on and little research was done to look at the other side. Would you say that was true of your No voting friends? I am also not convinced that many No voters now regret their decision but rather will use any bad news (e.g. oil price) to reinforce their view that they were right to vote No. Similarly I feel because any new powers might only result in a reduction in the Barnett formula No voters will blame future problems on Scottish government and say we should have left well enough alone. I am also thinking that while we tell ourselves folk voted No because they felt’ Im alright Jack’ actually the reality might be that many even relatively well off folk feel their own situation very precarious, job wise, debt wise , but rather than admit to feeling/being only a few pay packets away from disaster and therefore risk-averse , its better to blame no plan B or currency etc than your own personal situation. Were any particular policies in folks minds like the bedroom tax or was it more individual /personal/emotional type stuff?

  27. Angus Skinner says:

    Thank you Yvonne for this beautifully crafted article. Amongst much else of value it was good to see Rumi quoted. Like you I voted No and have never felt any need to apologise, nor expect to. I have read the responses. I do not feel or consider myself at all passive. I had myself thought of writing but the whole tone of the ‘invitation’ put me off (‘would I like to apologise’). The tone of several of the responses confirms the lack of openness. Well done Yvonne, and thank you.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Thanks for your comment Angus. Thankfully dozens of No voters took up the invitation, as you would have been welcome to, without censorsship or hindrance. Not sure how this marks a ‘lack of openness’?

      1. Bernicia says:

        ‘Maybe you’d like to apologise..’ My girlfriend is less passive agressive when it’s the time of the month! (sorry for the sexist joke ladies, couldn’t resist).

    2. Darien says:

      Well Angus, why did you vote to suppress Scotland’s right to nationhood? Do let us ken.

  28. Big jock says:

    Elaine. You are spot on. The no side were so anti yes that they made it very difficult to even have a civilised discussion about the future of our nation. They put up barriers and mainly insulted the yes side. I never heard a yes voter in my work debasing, or crassly talking about Cameron or no voters. On a daily basis I had to listen to personal insults, and anti Scottish propaganda (From Scottish people) at my work.

    We are now operating on two completely separate spectrums. What they wanted and what we still want are poles apart. There cannot be a coming together on their terms. I expect thats what they want us to do. Just walk away from all our hopes, dreams and ambitions.Then say uch well ce la vie! So everything is on the no sides terms. Nearly 50% of Scotland wanted something better , and we are supposed to just forget about it.

    The fundamental issue is right and wrong. The UK system is wrong and corrupt. By default the no side are wrong, and accept the corruption and greed and want to maintain it! We can’t ever agree on these terms so we are not going to stop campagning to end establishment rule over us.

    1. IAB says:

      They definitely did their best with ‘the settled will of the Scottish people’ but to no avail. The determined No voters have to be put aside and we need to work with the undecided voters who chose the status quo and the people that Project Fear affected. The phrase ‘Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.’ is meaningless in this context, we need to do right for Scotland.

  29. Big jock says:

    There is another point IAB. They treated some of us like dirt during the campaign. Spiteful and venemous in their attacks. Now we are supposed to forget about the mistreatment and bullying and move on. Not on your life. You are correct. Hard line unionists will have no part in my life. I will work on the soft noes.

    1. Shaun says:

      And No voters were called traitors, quislings and worse by some on the Yes side. Now we’re supposed to forget about all of that and vote SNP in May…

      1. Bernicia says:

        I know many people who were genuinely fearful to openly question the ‘collective thinking’ cult of Yes. Why they remained the silent majority and made themselves heard discretely. It didn’t seem there was the same concern and compulsion in reverse.

      2. Darien says:

        How would you describe the act of voting to prevent Scotland’s right to nationhood?

  30. Luigi says:

    I find the old argument that huge numbers of people were duped into voting NO rather tiresome. People believed what they wanted to believe, regardless of any inconvenient facts (truths) that got in the way. The information was out there. Scotland voted NO because Scotland is not yet ready for independence. Not quite, and not yet. The Daily Record Vow and vague promises of devomax just made it a bit easier to say no. I would say that something fundamental has changed in the country since 2007, however. To many people, “no” did not mean “never”, it just meant “no, not yet”. I don’t know how many people are starting to regret voting NO, against their own country, but I do know that many people did not feel good about it and are now desperate to forget it.

    1. MBC says:

      I think you are right that a lot of No voters meant, ‘No, not the now’ and not, ‘No, not ever’. No voters I canvassed said that they trusted in the Scottish Parliament to continue to work for Scotland from within the Union and gradually enlarge on its powers. They genuinely believed you could have the best of both worlds. I tried to persuade them that no, you couldn’t; devolution didn’t give enough enough scope and was subject to Westminster holding all the strings; but they were convinced it was a good middle way. My point being, thry thought it could be enlarged, and wanted greater powers but gradually.

      I have to say I felt that position was a bit like not joining a trade union but expecting the trade union to work for your rights regardless. But some folk are like that.

  31. Doon the A701 says:

    You are asking why people voted NO. As one of those contemptible people I’ll attempt to explain why I did so. I don’t know much about Psychology or Sociology and while I accept there might be unknown influences acting in my head, I believe I made my mind up in a logical manner. I’ll also give you a brief profile in case you want to pigeon-hole me: Just entered the pension decade; brought up in a (then) sink estate in Dundee where I lived half my life; found opportunity (but not oil) in Aberdeen; started a couple of businesses and have had highs & lows but on balance moderately successful; lived in the Borders region for last decade; and as a semi-old fart have a 16 y/o eligible to vote in the referendum.

    To be perfectly honest I didn’t pay much attention at the time of the Edinburgh Agreement. I kind-of thought it was pointless since polls were indicating 30% or thereabouts, and I considered myself as a default NO voter. I started following the debate on social & on-line media and from memory much of it was initially about 300 years ago and IMO anti-English, a real turn-off for me. I started taking a real interest around the 100-day mark. I didn’t pay the slightest bit of attention to the BT campaign, since my opinion was (and still is) that it was up to the YES campaign to win my vote, to convince me to move from the status quo. I went to a number of YES campaign meetings & rallies, and I followed Business for Scotland, Wings and the like. Great fun at times and lots of committed people. However, I felt that I was not getting the answers I needed to hear. I totally agree that we should be ashamed of the inequalities in our society, our NHS needs protecting, the Westminster set-up is wrong and we should get rid of Trident. TBH, I’m not sure about the EU and might actually be a bit of a kipper in that regard. All I was hearing was problems and blame but no solutions apart from self-determination, which was not enough for me.

    We all know that running a family budget is about balancing income & expenditure. Running a business is much the same but more complicated. Running a country is like running a business but infinitely more complicated. A country relies on business for a strong economy otherwise those who are the most vulnerable in society will suffer. So most of my time from the 100-day mark was spent on figuring out whether I believed an independent Scotland could have a strong sustainable economy so we could have that fairer society we all agree on. There was so much information & debate: GDP comparisons, GERS, Economists opinions, Oil industry reviews, reviews of this, reviews of that, etc. By this time I was reaching information over-load and had decided in my own head not to believe either side that we would be £n better or worse off, and just go with the average of £0. All I wanted as a convincer was a rational business plan for Scotland plc that I could buy into, warts and all.

    The White Paper. IMO what a complete and utter waste of paper. Full of white space and everything I’d heard before. The only important bit to me was the financials – woefully lacking and entirely optimistic. I would have preferred a lot more detail and I would have respected from/to estimates even though the lower figures might have pointed towards potential challenges. I wouldn’t have had any problem at all with a challenge being pointed out. In fact it might have potentially made me rally to the cause. But no, it was just oh yes we will, oh no you won’t. The TV debates were much the same – pure pantomime with both sides making complete twonks of themselves.

    The currency debate could have been handled better. The NO campaign played a blinder with their announcement 6 months before, knowing how knee-jerk Scots can be. The SNP wasted those 6 months in not coming up with convincing alternatives. The YES campaign stance of “why should we reveal our hand before getting to the negotiating table” just didn’t wash with me.

    Then there was the time when businesses large and small declared their hands. Do I stay or do I go now? Was there going to be an exodus of business & capital, job losses, plunging property values, etc. Did it matter? Was Scotland going to off-set this with new businesses & new jobs. The only evidence was a proposed 17% CT rate, which would have helped .. but there wasn’t much talk / evidence of how Scotland would regenerate itself in the event of any losses. On a personal note, running a service business employing 20 people with 70% turnover in England, it was a serious concern for me. I spoke with clients in England. While generally disinterested in our referendum, they did warn me that they would only continue to use our services if we remained competitive and easy to deal with. So was I afraid – not exactly, but concerned.

    Anyway, that’s the logical explanation of why I voted NO. I did not believe that the case for Scotland plc was thought out well enough and that Independence would result in Scotland becoming a poorer country where the most vulnerable would suffer the most. I’ll also admit self-interest. There were also a few illogical reasons. Mr A Salmond was one of them – a marmite man if there ever was one and I detest marmite. My next point will get your backs up– many YES supporters were simply too aggressive, certainly where I live. You might call it passion but I call it borderline abuse. My wife is of Welsh/English descent. She and her family have lived in Scotland for decades but she still has a mild Brummie accent. I’ll say no more on that other than those rabid anti-English Scots do our country no good whatsoever.

    Politics – you all grind on about the corrupt and broken Westminster. I kind-of agree but have not seen or heard any thoughts on a better way. With Independence, Holyrood would just be a smaller version of the same model unless there is some kind of radical shake up in how politics are defined and executed. Did I miss that in the Independence proposition? I would certainly like to hear people talk about how Scotland would or could do democracy better.

    Finally, all this stuff about project fear, media bias, vote rigging, scuppered by pensioners, etc is just plain nonsense. Excuses, excuses, excuses. You will have a hard job turning NO voters, me included, if you keep banging on and whingeing. The past is behind us, show me a brighter future.

    Pax vobiscum.

    1. Mr T says:

      Great post and interestingly very similar to the 5 points that convinced me to vote No.

      1. Flaky benefits – probably the least important.

      2. Amazingly no evidence of a plan about how to get from Sept 19th to Independence. 24th March 2016? How?! I’m still not sure if Yes took a calculated view to avoid talking about complicated stuff to avoid scaring people off, or whether they just thought that things like tax systems appeared by magic. Note to posters. We have tax offices and staff. We do not have a computer system, which sits South of the border.

      3. When it came to the big risks there was no evidence of big answers or even big thinking. You mention currency – a CU was never going to be accepted by the rUK, so where was the plan to show a transitional process and protection for the rUK? Financial services, the elephant in the room that meant Edinburgh’s No vote was enough to have won the Referendum on its own.

      4. Anti-English. I’m half English & half Scots and was truly pissed off by people (inc. Bella posters) telling me that I shouldn’t have a vote.

      5. I could see the early days of Scottish politics being a race between the SNP and Scottish Labour to see who could be more left wing, without any checks and balances to reign them in.

      Sort out #2 & 3 and there’s a chance that I could be persuaded, but I’m not about to vote for a political action that has never been done before (cutting out a geographically attached country within a 1st world nation with 300 yrs of cross border shared governance and trade) on the basis of vote Yes & we’ll figure it out afterwards.

      1. Shaun says:

        Regarding points two and three, the reason is simple: nationalism. The primary goal was the division of British society, the break-up of the Union for the sake of homogeneity. Issues such as the divorce settlement and the economy thereafter were never a large part of the independence campaign because it was a campaign ran by and for nationalists. They didn’t really know the answers, nor did they particularly care about them.

    2. “With Independence, Holyrood would just be a smaller version of the same model unless there is some kind of radical shake up in how politics are defined and executed. Did I miss that in the Independence proposition?”

      Sorry Doon – how can you assert that when we didn’t even get the chance to try? The Independence proposition was that all of us voting Yes (and many who voted No) wanted to do things differently and certainly didn’t see the devolution of power (and responsibility) stopping at Holyrood.

      Maybe things would have been different and better, maybe not. But the reality is that because 55% voted No we will never know.

    3. Your post should be a ‘crib-sheet’ kept by every ‘Yes’ activist. You were not interested in what Better Together, or ‘No’ politicians, it is down to what ‘Yes’ offers. The focus cannot, must not be on the past but must be about how Scotland can be made a better place for all to live; as you wrote: “I would certainly like to hear people talk about how Scotland would or could do democracy better.” That is where the battle should be fought, and won. I think Yes, Scotland did well because 45% voted Yes; I thought that was extraordinary. Four local authority areas voted in the majority for Yes, including Glasgow; extraordinary. Now we must learn from that campaign, and move forward forward to persuade the thoughtful, open-minded ‘No’ voters; like our commenter here.

      Pax vobiscum. Thank you for sharing your views; and may we hope to see you back here? This is the kind of debate we need, not a dialogue of the deaf.

    4. Fearchar says:

      For almost all of my half-century or so I’ve lived in a country with clear signs of a ceaseless capital haemorrhage that undermines not just businesses but lives – most obviously to me, not in our cities, but in (various parts of) rural Scotland. (That’s without taking the McCrone Report into account.) If you cannot or will not see that, I really don’t know how you can be persuaded of any economic case one way or the other. Like the No campaign itself, it seems that your decision wasn’t taken on economic grounds.

      Citizens of similarly-sized countries such as Norway, Switzerland and Finland look on, perplexed at the spectacle of a small country refusing to vote – not even having to fight – for its own presence in the world. When it’s one like ours, replete with resources (not least our highly educated population), according to the most authoritative international organisations, such as the OECD, then it truly shows a staggering lack of confidence. It seems likely that will only be overturned by a thorough campaign of decolonisation, just as in much less favoured parts of the globe. This is what rule from a larger southern neighbour, nominally an equal partner, has reduced us to – to the part of the surly domestic who’s gradually awakening to the idea that working all the hours for your meagre meals and your bed in the ingle neuk isn’t the natural order of things.

      My children will doubtless blossom in an independent Scotland that doesn’t need to send its best and brightest abroad to prosper, but sadly I have to accept that you, sir, and your likes, may well have removed such prospects from my generation. Am I bitter? Hell, yes! Maybe I’m not enough of a politician, but it hardly seems necessary to pander or persuade where so many able younger people already show the determination to attain independence: it’s a bit like growing up – it will happen anyway, even if it’s held back and even if you don’t like it. You can be assured that your son will have the prospects of an independent Scotland or the alternative to the south – or even both – but he won’t be able to say that his father helped to build the self-respect or even wealth that will be evident here. What a sad legacy to leave him!

      1. Catriona MacKenzie says:

        That made me cry…
        How awfully sad and true.

      2. florian albert says:

        ‘My children will doubtless prosper in an independent Scotland’

        It is the word ‘doubtless’ that concerns me. Right now, children of Greece, Spain and Portugal – all proud historic nations – are not prospering. The Spanish, like the Poles, are exporting their unemployed young people to Scotland.
        Scotland could prosper as an independent country but it is not a given; it could stagnate, as the Irish Free State and India did for 40 years after independence. It could regress as Spain and Greece have done in the last five years.
        It would depend on us making a success of our independence. Like other people who have posted here, I am quite happy with the idea of an independent Scotland. I voted NO because those urging us to vote YES (principally, but not exclusively the SNP) did not seem to have a credible and coherent vision of a prosperous, independent Scotland. The currency issue was the most obvious, but not the only, manifestation of this failure.
        Three and a half months on, the most disappointing thing to me is the lack of eagerness of so many – not all – on the YES side to take on board why they lost.

      3. MBC says:

        Scotland is not India or Ireland Florian! The reasons they did not prosper was manifold but principally because they collapsed into civil war and because the transition was rushed on account of the outbreak of violence.

    5. To DOON and Mr T; Still feels like FEAR as opposed to HOPE .Those problems in your eyes can be slowly solved. Currency and Borders have been admitted as not being a problem.Marmite has got nothing to do with statistics which were massaged by the NO’s.Not aggression but passion as opposed to the majority of NO’s passivity and fear of change.

      1. Lawrence says:

        I agree with Connor, rather than work and build a better country all the NO voters I`ve spoken to or heard from wanted a guaranteed successful country delivered on a plate to them.

    6. Darien says:

      Comprehensive, perhaps, but….

      For my part I cannot comprehend why any Scot would vote to prevent Scotland’s right to nationhood. Nationhood is priceless.

      On economic matters (forgetting for a moment the UK’s astronomical debt), Scotland has a highly positive trade balance, whereas England has a chronic trade imbalance. Think oil & gas, whisky, tourism, energy, agriculture, fisheries, plus mfg. As a business person, you should know that a strong trading position is necessary for economic growth. As a business person myself, I can see that the UK joint venture state constrains Scotland due primarily to England’s weak trade position.

    7. Bernicia says:

      Great post Doon. Sums up my thinking on the ref and why I voted no also. I began pretty open minded also, but that passive aggressive condecention,’that tone’ drove me nuts, especially when directed at people who were very well informed, fair and considered.

      On the point of Anti- Englishness, I was pretty horrified at the glib dissmissal of it. There was a very ugly undercurrent of intolerance (dressed up in coded language/ sometimes explicit), to those who consider Scotland their home, have grown up in Scotland or moved here for whatever reason. Any reference to it and the reaction was even more hostile. ‘This is CIVIC NATIONALISM’ ‘What about BRITISH NATIONALISM’ or ‘what about FARAGE’ or an ‘England for indy’ would be quite patronisingly trotted out – all of which rather missed the point.

      My breaking point came when a friend/ mates girlfreind came up from London – she’s working class from Essex (Romford), very enamoured with Scotland usually and happy to slag off London and England. But everywhere the hostilty to her accent was papable. One night sitting in a well know pub in the West end of Glasgow, there was a group of Yes people at the next table. They knew they could be heard loud and clear and that two of our four group were English with distinct accents and began banging on about English foreign wars/ sending Scots to die abroad for their Empire, snarling words like Westminister establishment, and ‘the dead English left’ and ‘true Scots’ ‘English Torries’ and ‘Scottish values’ ‘compassion and community’ …. All of them were middle class Scots (admittedly young/ twenties), but embarrasingly affected to sound like they were from the working class by thickening accents (hilariously). I challenged them on the English wars thing and told them to keep it down and my freinds girlfriend almost trembling with indignation told them that her older brother was left partially deaf and with PTSD after serving in Helmand. Then the mask slipped and the real abuse started. Fuck off back to England if you don’t like it etc etc. Then the ‘patronising passive agressive tone’ by anothers…’no let’s listen to what they’ve got to say’

      Needless to say she won’t be comming back to Scotland in the near future. Never been so ashamed of being Scottish in my life.

      1. Juan P says:

        Was this the reason you voted no?

        If you had been visiting your friend in Romford and some English people nearby were saying derogatory things about Scotland and Scottish people would you have voted Yes?

        Did the No supporters giving Nazi salutes not make you feel more ashamed than the students in the pub?

        It’s disappointing that you felt inclined to vote not because you loved the union but because you disliked the tone and behaviour of some no marks in a pub.

      2. Bernicia says:

        The Nazi salutes and the union jacks in george square weren’t ordinary no supporters they were loyalists/ rangers fans 9another reason I voted no incidently was the clear sectarian division between Yes and No that was being established + Northern Ireland….these people in the pub were middle class students, supposedly educated and quite probably not in any way pejoritative normally. And again it’s not the point if there are tossers in England, there are many ‘oi oi sweaty socks, your football’s crap and you all live in slums’ types – I know! The point is that where ever there is an intolerance for what people are rather than who people are it then it is troubling. I’m certainly not saying all Yes people were guilty, far from it, but there was a worrying hightened sense of aggression and unpleasantness towards certain people. In particular the English. Especially ‘Settlers’.

      3. Geography Police says:

        Romford is in London, not Essex.
        In the London Borough of Havering in east London.
        Since 1965.

    8. MBC says:

      These are all really good points Doon. Very clear. You voted No out of uncertainty about the outcome.

      And also because some Yessers pissed off your wife. I am sorry about the latter. If it’s any consolation those zealous types pissed me off too, and I am Scottish and voted Yes in 79 and 97. ‘Less is more’ in many areas of life and there was a case in point.

      But as to the former – whilst I take your point that there were many unknowns – can’t you be fair here, and acknowledge that this was because pre-negotiation on those sorts of details just wasn’t possible? Yes, there were risks that the transition might be bumpy in the short term. But why do you think we would get the worst of it? Why would it be in England’s interest to set things up so that Scotland was economically crippled? Because if Scotland didn’t have other than a ‘fair go’ (and that’s all we’d ask for) then it would have a negative impact on England if Scotland’s economy went down the swanney and hordes of Scots began descending on England. And what about the half a million English born Scots like your wife who might well do the same? It simply wasn’t in England’s interests to be other than fair and rational. And to ensure areas of economic co-operation continued.

      Cameron said he would not pre-negotiate. And this was entirely correct, because how could he? He is not a Tudor monarch. He doesn’t even know if he will be in power next September. He would have to consult parliament. Draw up a team of negotiators.

      So details like cross-border trade – whether it would be made more difficult – were simply unknowable. But suffice it to say that trade works across many borders in Europe quite adequately. Between Northern Ireland, which uses the £, and the Republic, which uses the euro. Denmark (a similar size of country to Scotland) uses the Danish kroner, Sweden uses the Swedish kroner, Norway uses the Norwegian kroner (and isn’t in the EU but is part of EFTA) and Germany uses the euro. Yet Danish businesses manage cross-border trade with all these countries quite adequately.

      As for the timetable, agreed, I always thought March 2016 was optimistic. But that didn’t bother me. When you have waited 307 years for your freedom, what is it if you wait a couple of years more? I just envisaged an orderly phased transition.

      I hear what you say about the uncertainty of the immediate outcome. And the difficulty of establishing the details in advance. But I don’t buy that was the real reason. Because these things could be resolved. I think the real reason was because some Yessers pissed off your wife, and you didn’t see the point in democracy. Maybe you like Tory governments voted for by England? Maybe you thought Scotland would become Greece?

      We pay our taxes in Scotland. There is financial probity. Scotland is not perfect, but it is a low corruption country which is conservative (with a small ‘c’) but with radical pretensions. What that works out as is a socially progressive, highly stable, and business-friendly country that would go for modest improvements in welfare and in enterprise.

      Why couldn’t you give it a go? A whole world of potential had been squandered. I hope you think austerity Britain was worth voting for.

      1. Catriona MacKenzie says:

        My son works as a scaffolder in Sydney, he’s just become mates with a Scouser, who’s mum is a Glaswegian, he told my son, had Scotland won her Indy, the majority of Scousers wanted the border lowered, to include them….says it right there really…
        and as for hating the English, I think that’s a crock.
        I had to attend a school in Ascot, 3rd grade I think, it was one of the worst years…racism against me was paramount!
        On a daily basis I was subjected to Anti- Scottish taunts (students and staff)
        And being Australian too…tartan convict was the name thrown around.
        They hated anything Scottish, poor stinky jocks we were classed as….nothing more nothing less…

    9. bowanarrow says:

      I don’t care if I hurt your feelings…..YOU ARE NOTHING BUT A TROLL…. so climb back under your rock and just stay confused, I dread to imagine what your business meetings with YOUR bank manager are like…OH MY GOD…! SCOTLAND CAN AND WILL BE A THRIVING BUSINESS WHEN WE ARE INDEPENDENT.

    10. Curious to know how you feel about being lied to re currency union, Mr Carney having revealed that the plans were in place to have one, in the event of a yes vote? Marmite Man was stating the truth. A currency union made sense for both nations.

  32. Big jock says:

    Yes Luigi you don’t see a lot of smiling happy no voters ,other than arch unionists fundamentalist nutcases. I think they want to forget about because they feel they have been conned,fleeced taken for mugs and ultimately betrayed Scotland. It’s sometimes easier not to talk about your mistakes. That’s why there is a need for some no people to blank it out.

    When Cameron stood on those steps and pronounced England had triumphed. He might not have said that but that’s how it felt. The soft no voters realised how big a mistake they made. They let us all down and the Smith fudge hammered home the message that London rules Scotland.

  33. Justin Fayre says:

    Interesting post and obviously well meant.
    Unfortunately I prefer the equally profound saying
    ‘Evil flourishes when good men do nothing’

    1. bowanarrow says:

      I wish I had thought of that…… 🙂

  34. Davie says:

    Yvonne, I appreciate that you have taken time to write a piece that is probably meant to be conciliatory in nature. And as such I apologise for the negativity of my response. But this reads like a whiny heap of mumbo jumbo horseshit (and I do understand your premise).

    If I was to guess I expect that you are doing very nicely in life and wished to protect that. And you are on some level ashamed of your decision. As you should be. I am doing fairly well myself and a YES or NO was not going to be overly impactful on my life beyond self-respect. However I am aware professionally and voluntarily of the raw deal that many of our citizens receive and how that it can only get worse within the Union. And will. Soon. Independence was no panacea but WOULD have improved things.

    Scotland’s no voters made a decision based being selfish, stupid or scared. No end of discussion with friends and colleagues who voted no, or lengthy horseshit NO explanations on Bella, has made me deviate from that conclusion no matter how open minded I attempt to be.

  35. FF42 says:

    I can see where you want to go with this, Yvonne. Yes and No voters seem to talk past each other.

    I suspect most Unionists see the referendum as a false choice, while Nationalists tend to reject the actual choice that was made. Both sides are unhappy without even getting to the merits of the arguments. There is no consensus in Scotland for independence, nor the Union either. That’s a problem for our country. It’s not clear how we are going to make it work, whatever “it” is.

    1. ‘There is no consensus in Scotland for independence, nor the Union either. That’s a problem for our country’.

      You sum it up nicely.

  36. Clive B Scott says:

    Always interesting to gain insight into the workings of the mind of a No voter. For me, some No voters felt themselves to be British and belong to one country and that was the beginning and end of it. Others were fearful that any change in the way Scotland would be managed would be to their detriment. Yet others just could not see what all the fuss was about and would rather just leave things as they are thank you very much. Throughout the campaign I was constantly surprised how difficult it was to get a No voter to articulate a positive case for the Union. Their glass was always half empty, opening a door was something to be feared, decisions best left to others far away, and anyway Alex Salmond was this, that or the next uncomplimentary thing. Minds seemed firmly shut and not a moments consideration given to an alternative structuring of Scotland to benefit the whole of society rather than just those already at the top of the pile. Whilst at a Yes stand in Falkirk a month before the referendum a No voter started yelling we had “ruined the country”. Whilst leafleting in a smarter part of town an elderly gent sprang from his house literally foaming at the mouth in rage that a Yes magazine had been put through his letterbox. After putting up Yes posters at my house two windows were broken. My experience of No voters leads me to incomprehension and bewilderment as to why they cannot see that the best decisions for Scotland will only be made by the people who live, work and make their lives here.

    1. MBC says:

      Those are excellent examples of what Gramsci called hegemony – where the colonised are indoctrinated to accept submission, to the point here, that they will actually fiercely defend their right to exist in bondage.

    2. bowanarrow says:

      You have my sympathy for your dreadful experience. My family have been attack and threaten and had their car badly damaged. I must say I have great admiration for people who are willing to make a stand. It seems it takes more courage than I thought was necessary in this mother of democracy.

  37. John Souter says:

    Why bring hate into the equation? I saw little evidence of that during the campaign except when directed at institutions who by design and definition are devoid of conscience and therefore unaffected by it.

    1. Steve Asaneilean says:

      Hi John – try “bayonet” (Davidson), “virus” (Lamont), “dictator” (Darling, Sarwar, Starkey), “fundamentalist” (Wilson), “insurgents” (Jowell).
      (Not to mention children attending a Yes event being portrayed as Hitler Youth and a Yes shop in Newington having swastikas painted on its door)
      These are members of the establishment, not some back alley eejits.
      Are we really being asked to excuse that?

  38. Doon the A701, Spoken like a pure gent, You detest marmite how very grown up of you. Just answer me one Question can you put integrity and the Edinburgh agreement in the same sentence?. For the last two weeks of the referendum myself and my family were shellshocked by the negative press we received in the media, well done establishment trebles all round.

  39. Clootie says:

    I still find it interesting that the NO voters stress their complex objections.We even have the anit-English claim being raised again – A false claim often made made by die hard unionists.

    In summary they are saying we need someone to manage our affairs. What that lack of ambition no nation would ever gain it’s independence.

  40. Alastair McIntosh says:

    I think some of us Yes voters are missing Yvonne Spence’s point. She unwittingly sets herself up for that problem because, as various people have pointed out, she psychologises but fails to sociologise about politics as the exercise of power. As such, there’s a touch of the blindness of possible privilege in her piece.

    At the same time, she’s a No voter who has had the courage to come onto a Yes website and share her thoughts and feelings. She deserves more respect and appreciation than she’s had in some of the comments here. How are we to build bridges and persuade people if we let our buttons be pushed so easily? If we’re not more willing to listen to our adversaries, and try to see things through their eyes as well as stating our own positions?

    Her fundamental point is that there’s a place beyond dichotomies where we can meet one another as human beings. Depending on your ontology of what a human being is, that’s not psychobabble: it’s a spiritual truth. It’s the basis of all deep peace-building as well as the basis of tolerant non-homogeneous communities. If we’re willing to seek out that place then we can, from the trust and respect it builds, work back through the values, then the psychology, then the sociology, and finally to the politics with which all in a fully-functioning and partly-participative democracy need to engage. If we’re not willing or able to do that, what are we left with? Fighting?

    Lastly, I was fascinated that Spence draws on the late Arthur Deikman’s work, one of the founders of transpersonal (i.e. spiritual) psychology. I’ve been working with his material for many years, but think her use of his studies of cults is out of kilter.

    Deikman was a psychiatrist, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, who made pioneering studies of mystic perception (his “blue vase” experiment with meditation) and who saw cults as responding to two fundamental human needs. 1) That of spiritual meaning in life, and 2) The need for a parent figure. It is the combination of higher search for meaning with unresolved early childhood dynamics, typically arising out of bad or absent parenting, that makes for cultic vulnerability. Equally, it gives certain approaches to religion – especially those that privilege and insist upon an authoritarian divine patriarchy – their “icky” feel and totalitarian consequences (as in Paris this week).

    Deikman’s life’s work was about how, out of all our human brokenness and un-formedness, an authentic spiritual life and full humanisation can grow. That’s very relevant to politics because a healthy politics will create a psychospiritually healthy society. But to apply it to the Referendum is to stretch a point, and to pathologise a healthy political process. The Yes campaing was not, for the great majority of us, an Alex Salmond cult, with Nicola taking over as Mum now that Dad’s gone back off to the Westminster wars again.
    The No campaign’s obsession with Alex Salmond mis-characterised and sought to infantilise our legitimate and constitutional political expression. At the same time, we see authoritarian politics (i.e. cultic politics) breaking out all over Europe just now, and while most of us in the Yes campaign were reacting against that, Spence has a point that we must be careful of the beam that might be in our own eye. Perhaps let her point be taken, but not hook, line and sinker.

    Incidentally, Deikman’s work has now been drawn together in a recently published volume, “Meditations on a Blue Vase – and the foundations of transpersonal psychology.” Some key papers, including those on cult psychology, can be found on his website, http://www.deikman.com/.

    1. fearnach says:

      Surely it’s simpler than that! The obsession with Alex Salmond is the projection of deep-seated fears on to the “other”. You see, the whole idea of independence was just the vanity project of one flawed individual. (Aye, right!) That’s what virtually the panoply of the loyalist press is trying to convince everyone, including themselves. It helps to cover up the truly infantile need for a semi-divine figure blessed with inherited largesse, or the pumped-up hysteria about media creations like Farage.

    2. ELAINE FRASER says:

      Great post and helpful to me as I am genuinely still trying to figure out how to move forward in particular with close friends who voted No. It feels like I read this great book (s) with loads of interesting fresh ideas ( rough around the edges in parts but really made me think) and I offer it to my friends and they say No I haven’t read it , don’t want to borrow your copy but everything you say about it I don’t believe ,sounds like rubbish , not for me etc. Or like I went to an amazing party ( actually lots of Yes events did have a party /get together feel ) where I met loads of new people and listened to interesting talks and my friends say well good for you but I don’t want to hear about it . I’m gradually realising that I am actually more upset that they couldn’t bring themselves to share any of this with me than with their No vote. I felt ( feel ) hurt and dismissed by them. I like to think I’d be less angry if they had been willing to attend events etc with me as friends even if in the end we had reached different conclusions.Im not sure they will ever understand me when they refused to come along even just for the ride. Im not suggesting that all No voters behaved like this or that many didn’t look at all the issues but this was my experience . So thanks to Bella for creating this much needed space allowing thoughts and experiences to be shared hopefully with tolerance and mutual respect.

      1. Alastair McIntosh says:

        Fearnach, I agree, but the flame of our our own side (Yes) does not burn sufficiently clean to be too forceful in putting it like that to the other camp. We’ll only get a clean burn all round if we see the puff and smoke in the other, but show equal enthusiasm for hearing about the same in ourselves. We should be having debates in which the Yes voters have to put the No case, and vice versa, then we’ll be able to talk once we show we understand the other’s view as they see it, and not just as projected through our own haze.

        And Elaine, you put your finger on how I find it precisely. I find myself edging around with No voting friends, almost asking permission to raise the topic of the Referendum because it’s the elephant in the room, and at the same time, wondering why it has to be so. Why the need to tread so softly softly so as not to alienate? I sense something deeply psychological. Something along the lines that the Yes campaign, as some No voters feel it, violated their sense of home and safe space. It pulled up their roots and exposed them to a harsh light. As an English RAF officer, a good friend who feels unsettled by the bombing he did from his Tornado in Kuwait told me during a vexed discussion about the Referendum at a staff college last year: “If you vote Yes, don’t expect there won’t be consequences. You can’t go around breaking up the happy family and not have consequences. We’ll be angry. You’ll have broken up the home. You don’t need to be doing that to us.”

        Ironically, the 4 No-voting friends with whom I am most comfortable are those who, in a fearless and forthright way, put their case. Mainly, it is that we’d never have made it on our own, and why should we have wanted to when the Union is our family). With these folks you can mutually crack jokes. My No-voting window cleaner, for example, was up his ladder the other day and started shouting through to me sitting at my computer: “And what’s the price of oil reached now?”

        “Touching $50,” I shouted back, “And I don’t care – I’ve got the solar panels!”

      2. Brian Fleming says:

        Actually, Elaine, I lost what I had thought was a good friend because he couldn’t cope with my pro-Independence views. I’d naively thought we could talk out all the issues and still remain friends even if we disagreed. But his views were all caricature Better Together/BBC propaganda. When I found it impossible to simply swallow this and pointed out how the propaganda in the case in point had been fabricated, he went wild, called me a “scary fanatic” and said he never wanted to hear from me again. As I have few friends left in Scotland (I live in Finland and was over to attend the march and rally to/on Calton Hill), this was a serious shock for me. But what can you do? I’ve still not worked out where he was coming from. But the experience makes me less than receptive to Yvonne’s article, or at least I don’t agree with her psychologising approach. I still cannot understand any thinking Scot who would vote NO, even one like my erstwhile friend who felt himself to be British, not Scottish. The referendum to me was about democracy and power, above all else.

      3. MBC says:

        Elaine, sometimes the painful truth is that we outgrow people and eventually we find we have to leave them behind because we are on different paths in life. Maybe that’s the case with this group of friends? Personally I have found my view of No voters covers a spectrum just as they cover a spectrum. If I liked and respected somebody before they voted No, I find I can like and respect them afterwards. I have always accepted there were three perfectly sound reasons for voting No. If you’re British, if you like Tory governments, and if you’re feart. OK, so fearfulness isn’t exactly a virtue but some people had their vulnerabilities and I can accept with compassion that fear could have got the better of them.

        But it’s tough if they can’t share their reasons as that suggests, quite honestly, that they really didn’t care about it that much and their reasons are pretty shallow. And that’s a big gulf between you and them.

      4. MBC says:

        That’s very interesting about the English RAF officer Alistair. He may not appreciate it, but it is not a happy familiy. It never has been. It’s an indifferent one. He is like the domineering husband who has never seen the crushed wife who at last finds the courage to answer back. The husband who is conning himself about the reality.

        There was very strong fellowship during two world wars, but not in peacetime. I have never felt any fellowship with the English in my life, and I’ve never sensed any fellowship towards me coming from them either. That’s not to say I feel the opposite. Don’t get me wrong. Or that there aren’t individuals of that nation with whom I feel I chime and like very much. I feel in general, simply neutral. I no more feel fellowship with the English than I do the Irish or the Aussies. Or the Americans, or the French. I do feel some sort of fellowship with Geordies, funnily enough. But when I return to the UK from abroad I never feel that I am ‘home’ until I am in Scotland.

        You know, every nation has its foundation day, its foundation myths. France, it’s Bastille Day, America it’s July 4th. Britain’s ought to be May 1st. For in 1707, that’s when the UK was born as an Anglo-Scottish state.

        Isn’t it odd that in 307 years of Union, we have never celebrated our wedding day?

  41. Nick Duffell says:

    Hmm…. lots of interesting starting points here, but some bizarre conclusions.
    Much as I love Rumi I’d be surprised he would go along with such a post-modernistic interpretation of his verse: Rumi was above all passionate not relativistic. I am sure he wasn’t talking about voting either. And, for my money, wanting to make a difference in the world for the sake of future generations and a fairer society has to do with the passionate application of values. Even if politics is a slow and imperfect medium, it is all we have.
    And as one of those who has been trying to expose the woundedness of our current leaders I am all for a compassionate approach to them – the moment they acknowledge their problems. Until then, I suggest we inform ourselves more about the psychological genesis of such normalised duplicity and vote accordingly. I think future generations would want us to.

  42. Gary says:

    One of the reasons many people I know voted no was because of a socialist belief in the unity of the British working class. I thought this was deluded and belonged to another age but the belief seemed genuine enough and many could not get past the narrative that yes was ‘nationalistic’. The ‘national’ in the SNP has always been problematic for many. I think Salmond wanted to replace ‘national’ with ‘independence’ some twenty years ago. Perhaps the SNP should have listened to him.

    The rise of progressive civic nationalism in Scotland is in part a response to the historical failure of the British working class to change or reform the institutions of the British state. It is a response to the historical defeat of socialism, something I mourn hence the reason I didn’t get too caught up in the yes/no debate.

    Yes for me was the more progressive option but it would have been very difficult for an independent Scotland to have reversed three decades of neo-liberalism. I think we sometimes forget the extent to which neo-liberal ideas are embedded in Scottish society including the SNP which I often think is just New Labour but with a kilt on – a line I heard a socialist speaker say at a public meeting during the campaign. When I saw SNP councillors vote to shut my community centre, to slash funding to the voluntary sector, to charge the elderly for tele-care services, I couldn’t help but agree.

    No voters are also accused of being ‘self interested’. The older I get I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing. I definitely tend to worry more about my family and children than I do Trident or Foodbanks, even though Foodbanks are a sign of society that is not working.

    I sense from some of the yessers that I have spoken to that we are finally moving on from the referendum. I welcome that. The challenge now is to try and develop socialistic/social democratic policies within the existing powers of the Scottish Parliament.

    1. Bibbit says:

      Gary – wrap it up for Christmas all you like, you were FEART. End of. You belong to them now; they know it, you do too.

      1. Brian Fleming says:

        How do you know Gary voted NO? I infer from his comment that he voted YES.

      2. Gary says:

        Excuse me but I voted yes in the referendum. And devoted the best past of last year to campaigning for a yes vote. So I wasn’t ‘feart’ as you put it.

  43. Darien says:

    I still don’t see a serious view or explanation here as to why No voters actively sought to prevent Scotland’s right to nationhood – which is essentially what the No voters accomplished. Don’t they have any passion for Scotland? Don’t they believe in a Scottish nation? If they did believe in a Scottish nation, they would surely have made Scotland a real, recognised nation (again). It is quite an undertaking or act, to actively seek to prevent our nation’s right to nationhood. I remain perplexed as to why any Scot would actually vote to prevent their own nation’s nationhood. I can understand folk who think of themselves as primarily English/British not having much of a passion for Scottish nationhood. But for Scots to do this? We seem to be the only people in the modern world to have done this. And for what? To be ruled over by these awfully nice posh Eton/Oxbridge cheps and their mates in the financial and armaments sectors?

    1. Shaun says:

      This is the kind of nationalist drivel that Scotland voted against. For most of us, whether it’s politicians who sit in a building in London or politicians who sit in a building in Edinburgh who hold power isn’t of great importance.

      And that line at the end was a nice touch too; in fact I struggle to see how you could have included more cliches in your post if you tried! But I’m sure you’ll give it a go if you reply to this. Maybe call me a traitor or something?

      1. bowanarrow says:

        They don’t need to say it I will…..TRAITOR!!!!

      2. Darien says:

        Shaun – the question is quite simple really. Why did you vote to prevent Scotland’s nationhood?

      3. Davie says:

        “We seem to be the only people in the modern world to have done this. And for what? To be ruled over by these awfully nice posh Eton/Oxbridge cheps and their mates in the financial and armaments sectors?”

        Call it cliche all you like Shaun but do you deny it?

    2. Bernicia says:


      I think you’re confusing nationhood with statehood. Just saying.

      1. Darien says:

        So tell me a country or supranational government entity that recognises Scotland’s nationhood? Even the UK thinks Scotland – the nation – does not exist. We are merely a region, a province – only such an entity would be thrown the bone of a wee pretendy parliament. I am confusing nothing. You are satisfied that Scotland remains a region/province, or more accurately perhaps, a sub-nation. Not something to be proud of, is it?

    3. Gary says:

      I think that for many no voters Scotland is a ‘nation’, but a nation within a partnership of other nations. And that notion of partnership and the psychology that goes with it was one of the reasons why many found it difficult to vote yes. This is nothing to do with ‘self interest’ and everything to do with psychology.

      As for me I couldn’t give too hoots about the Scottish ‘nation’, even though Scotland is clearly a nation. I’m still enough of a socialist to look at the world through the prism of class, power, vested interests, etc than the idea of a ‘Scottish nation’.

      Had the yes campaign won a crack would have emerged between what the people of Scotland were expecting and what Scotland’s political elites especially the SNP, could have delivered.

      Within those cracks lay the very real potential to rebuild a radical politics in Scotland. Just a pity it didn’t work out that way.

  44. Bibbit says:

    This reeks of guilt. And as for your thoughts on Osborne… the man would howl (quite rightly) with laughter, reading your ‘poor-little-rich-kid-all-he-ever-wanted-was-to-be-loved-but-the playing-fields-of-Eton-crushed-all-the-love-out-of-him’ phoney baloney. Away back to your happy-clappy field, dear, and stick yer heid in the sand, with your fingers in yer lugs for good measure. Just admit it, for God’s sake, No voters, yiz wur feartit. End of. Meanwhile back on planet earth, the fight for control of our country’s future goes on.

  45. Ann says:

    Apologies for length

    I used to like that Rumi quote too, but it can also be used to blame and silence. It can be saying “you’re caught in blame culture and I’m not. I’m good/right/better than you because I know how we get beyond ideas of right and wrong, if you talk the way I say you should, you can become a good/right person like me.” It’s easy for it and NVC to get used in that circular way that becomes quietism, silencing and enabling further harm.

    Lots of us get it that the public school system functions to produce men so damaged that they are capable of running a country for the 1%. It’s a reasonable hope that in an independent Scotland, this cruelty to children, and to the rest of us caught in the cascade of harm it can cause, could be ended. I don’t think that will happen in the UK or rUK in the next few decades.

    Dehumanising, othering, scapegoating, blaming, whatever we call it, is necessary for maintaining economic inequality. I’m one of the “designated prey” (thanks Kate), of the 1% that the UK is being run into the ground for. Westminster plus MSM nearly have English voters persuaded that the poorest are subhuman, caused the crash, and must be destroyed for prosperity to return to the good. Lots of us here voted Yes to leave this bizarre scapegoating culture behind us. Others were conned and headbattered into believing a No vote for devo Max was the fastest way to escape it.

    Yvonne says a Yes voter and a No voter may both have been motivated by a similar need to feel safe. Some voted No from fear that in an independent Scotland they might become less able to hold their status and manage their emotions by devaluing and harming others. I never met anyone who didn’t do a bit of this. People completely caught up in this way of coping are damaged by it, but in different ways from those they devalue. The safety motivation for voting is not all about managing our feelings from childhood, and not all safety needs are equal.

    Young ones in my town are pressured into prostitution by benefits sanctions. And so then into addictions. This will continue in Scotland because people voted to stay in scapegoating UK. Is there another way to interpret the facts here? Have I failed to accept personal responsibility to prevent this? Are we trying to manage old feelings from our less than perfect childhoods by using a highly emotive tale to pin some blame on Daddy Cameron and Uncle Osborne? Or is it just happening.

    Will these young men and women show up to Yvonne’s Rumi’s field meetings? Are the folk at her meetings able or willing to imagine themselves living this life? And then can they imagine 55% of your country voting for governance that will put their younger siblings and cousins at the same risk? Is it aggressive and victimising for No voters to be asked to accept the fact that, whatever their motives, this avoidable harm will be an outcome of their vote?

    If words like right and wrong are banned in Rumi’s field, are we “allowed” to talk about harm and prevention of harm?

    It doesn’t so feel helpful to have “blame” culture explained to me and be asked to meet up in Rumi’s field by a No voter who isn’t acknowledging that

    1) Endlessly playing on and stoking up the human potential for blame, dehumanising, othering, scapegoating, and the conservative side of just world belief, (whatever we want to call it) – is central to Westminster politics, to British nationalism, Better together, the MSM, the manufacture of consent for the union and to the perpetuation of inequality.
    2) The evidence is that the media was overwhelmingly biased and involved in perpetuating scapegoating. (is there another way to explain John Robertson’s work?).
    3) And that central to the independence movement is that independence is the means to increasing democracy, undoing the scapegoating, blaming culture and nurturing equality. (I know Yes voters don’t have this blame and scapegoating stuff all sorted out. Everyday’s a schoolday for all of us. But undoing the scapegoating culture of the UK in an independent scotland is what a lot of us less than perfect beings voted for.)

    Out in Rumi’s field beyond ideas of right and wrong, are we “allowed” to talk about the realities of the ongoing harm to us resulting from No voters voting for what they knew would be more of the same – a continuation of scapegoating culture. Are we allowed to ask them why they felt they needed that? Or if they had some caring reasons for voting No, ask why they were able to feel it was a price worth, (others), paying? Or is that too much like blame talk, and ideas of right and wrong? Are we allowed to know what we know and feel what we feel about our divided country and express that? Or is that childish bad behaviour? A need to victimise? A refusal to accept responsibility for ourselves?

    It’s good to look for any ways to connect and communicate without in turn victimising those who have benefited by involvement in scapegoating or bystanding. I just don’t think NVC is it. The people who I know who work on challenging scapegoating do use the understanding that we all scapegoat, and that there’s always reasons for the harmful things that people do, to work in a way that increase connection and reduce the sense of blame and threat. But to be effective at unravelling scapegoating culture you also have to keeping on calling it, and keeping on describing the realities of the harm caused, however uncomfortable that is for those involved in scapegoating and bystanding, however threatened and blamed people feel. There’s lots of groups in Scotland have good experience of making this work. I don’t fear that middle class No voters will lose their voice in response to being asked to look at the facts of the harmful consequences to others of staying in the union.

    Twenty years back when the zero tolerance against domestic violence posters went up, some male friends and colleagues were angry. They said they shouldn’t have to walk past aggressive posters telling them that quite a few men are violent to their female partners, because that was saying there was something wrong with men. They said the women behind the campaign must have psychological problems. They were shocked to have to see a few facts on a poster. They felt attacked by the campaign and by me when I couldn’t agree with them that they were being blamed.

    I heard similar responses to the “get over it” anti homophobia posters about five years back.

    And then in 2014, some of the middle class No voters I know were shocked and frightened and angry by having to hear working class people for the first time in their lives last year. They saw independence supporters as savages. 2014 shone a wee bit more light on class hate and how english-scottish prejudice is involved. The referendum said that a lot of us have had enough of that. “Non violent communication” can sometimes just perpetuate the same class and other scapegoating shit, the same silencing. This can stay invisible to some participants, because using NVC makes some feel they must be “good” sorted out people, better people than those who don’t find it so constructive and honest a way to connect – it’s the same circular problem as in Rumi’s field.

    Lesley Riddoch’s book Blossom is useful and lovely on how the hell the people of Scotland came to live in these separate bubbles, and what could be done.

    1. ELAINE FRASER says:


      Don’t apologise for length of such brilliant piece .

      Before the vote I asked a book loving friend (who declared herself a No from the start) if she had read ‘Blossom’ she replied ‘No’ I said it was very interesting and would she like to borrow my copy she replied ‘No’. I don’t know why but she seemed afraid it changed her mind ?or exposed her to ideas she ‘d rather not think about? I find this really strange because when someone says to me ‘you must read this book’ Im usually at least a wee bit curious. I felt like saying ‘its not going to bite you its just a book!’ In fact I could write a book about some of the reactions I had at the slightest mention of a talk, book, event , idea. Without going into too much of the psychology of it all I also sensed a kind of annoyance that I had gained knowledge / experiences of the independence campaign that they lacked ( for whatever reason) missing out on either through lack of awareness or refusal to engage in. A kind of middle class competitiveness almost as if I was showing off and so should be silenced / ignored.

      Well I believe ‘Another Scotland is possible ‘ and ‘Our lives begin to end when we stay silent about things that matter’ ( Martin Luther King )

      So keep up the excellent writing Ann much appreciated

      1. Ann says:

        Cheers Elaine

        That’s really interesting about the competitiveness, I’ve seen something like that but hadn’t found the words for it.

      2. Juan P says:

        Thanks for this post.

        This was one of the strangest reactions I was met with when discussing independence with no voters.

        Very happy to spout their opinions loudly at my work but could not stand to engage in debate in defence of those views.

        I just couldn’t get my head round how you could have such staunch views on a subject but not be able to put forward an objective argument as to why you thought that way….well except for saying Alex Salmond was fat and smug looking but I don’t think that counts.

    2. leavergirl says:

      Hey Bella, reading such excellent comments as Ann’s makes me wish for an upvote button, so I don’t have to blather about my views when someone so ably expressed them already. Hoping that may be in Bella’s future sometime soon. Thank you!

  46. joseph O Luain says:

    What a thoroughly entertaining thread.
    I always suspected that Scotland was polarised between those people who had bought into the hegemonic dominance of the British state, and those of us who had somehow managed to slough it off. It is a huge boon in these post-indyref days, that for the first time ever, people like myself now have the benefit of being able to clearly identify the enemy.

  47. Iain Hill says:

    A very welcome piece. The enthusiasm and energy of people taking political action for the first time is wondrous to behold, but it does seem hard for them to enter any kind of reconciliation, and this may harm us in the loger term. We need tools to encourage reconciliation, and to get these out into the arena for discussion.

    One thing I cannot handle is the persistence of the “subsidy junkie” myth, a deliberate and effective government tactic. Reference to official figures shows it to be false, and yet the public now has internalised this as a belief, and will not be moved. How is it that a belief disproven over and over again has such resonance?

    1. Brian Fleming says:

      Why, Iain? Because creatures like John (“Scotland is a mendicant nation”) McTernan keep repeating it and are not pulled up by the media. All the evidence in the world just sounds like excuses once people have already bought into the lie, a lie constantly reinforced by the likes of McTernan and the ‘respectable’ mass media.

  48. Thanks Yvonne for the time and effort you took to articulate your thoughts on the future of where we go now. Like you, I once thought ‘Almost all of us want to protect our children, to care for the sick, the elderly and the poor.’

    Sadly, I’ve rummaged around and found a lot of evidence to the contrary. Atos – fit to work tests. Pregnant women who can’t afford to buy clothes for their unborn children. Billions spent on Trident because we need a status symbol ‘stick’ to shake at the world.

    Self interest does abound but the most wonderful thing about the referendum was the waking up of so many who banded together for a common cause. That is the true potential of a nation. Its people. Creative, entrepreneurial and passionate about equality.

    I’d like to live in a United Kingdom that flourishes with trade and opportunities for all – not a vacuum where everything is sucked into a financial market that deals in ‘futures’ and makes money out of toxic chemicals and armaments.

    Sadly I don’t think that’s possible. I believe Scotland can benefit Wales and those parts of England that are used (abused?) by Westminster. 1. Showing you can do things differently. 2. Opening up business opportunities.

    Yes it was impossible to predict some things – that’s what two years of negotiating were for. Yes, if we’d won independence, the political pigs would have swarmed to get their noses in a Scottish trough. However, we at long last have a population who are awake to political issues – driven by desire for social equality. Some of them are young. We have social media that exposes the lies of the establishment. For example, are you aware of those MPs and those in the House of Lords who have interests in private health care?

    Politicians come and go – the good and the bad. The institutions they set up are a lot harder to change. Looking at the level of debate in Scotland, (minus the trolls) we have a good chance in the future of setting up a nation that we can be proud of. That doesn’t make me feel like a victim.

  49. magnusjim says:

    My wife and I sat and cried at the bells, she said the difference between what is and what might have been can be so cruel. I reminded her of a fantastic year, of all the people we had met in and around Glasgow the impromtu singing , the raw emotion the diversity of the crowd young ,old, all hopeful of a brighter future. I never once heard a disparaging remark against English people I stood beside and sang with a lot of English people and not a harsh word was spoken. We spoke of the legacy we have, to go out and keep up the involvement in politics, show the world we will not go away. One day we will stand at the bells and cry tears of joy, come on everyone make it happen for all of us.

    1. MBC says:

      What could have been… your wife put it so well. I think that’s why I’ve felt so sad since Hogmanay

  50. Johnny come lately says:

    No disrespect. But what a load of guff and gobbeldedouk. Christ try calling a spade a spade.
    The cowards of Scotland betrayed their country, countrymen/women, blasted a gaping hole in their children and grandchildren’s futures and shamed us internationally. Not a bad day’s work for the hard of thinking.

    Many I’ve spoken to when based overseas just can’t understand why a country could vote against itself. I do. Because our country is inhabited by a majority of cowards, self servers, closet Tories, and 2 faced bastards who can’t see further than the end of their own driveway or nose.

    I’m actually embarrassed to say I’m Scottish now, when based overseas. What country in the world would say no to making its own decisions, to standing on its own 2 feet, to taking its place as an equal nation amongst the world’s nations?

    As for no voters. Please ignore them, turn away from them, try to forget about them, and yes if it helps curse them. But please, please please- don’t make excuses for them, or try to psychoanalyze them, or attempt to give them any politically correct escape hole.

    What they did can’t be forgiven by anyone with a heart. I remember my elderly aunt relating a conversation she had with a no voting friend before the referendum. My aunt had argued that a no vote would have a negative effect on both welfare and pensions, to which her friend replied that I didn’t matter for her, because she had 2 pensions. That sums up the majority thinking in Scotland!

    1. Catriona MacKenzie says:

      Actually, thankyou for having the baws to say it how it is…
      Because, you just nailed it in one.

      1. Anton says:

        “Our country is inhabited by a majority of cowards, self servers, closet Tories, and 2 faced bastards who can’t see further than the end of their own driveway or nose.” I don’t understand. Are you then arguing against independence on the basis that most Scots are “2 faced bastards” (etc) who can’t be trusted with their own future?

  51. barakabe says:

    Rumi was a Sufi so all I can reply to this nonsense with is a brief Sufi parable from Attar, Rumi’s main inspiration:

    A man cut down a tree one day.
    A Dervish who saw this taking place said:
    “look at this fresh branch which is full of sap, happy because it does not yet know that it has been cut off.”
    Attar replied: “Ignorant of the damage which it has suffered it may be- but it will know in due time- meanwhile you cannot reason with it.”

    The Tree Unaware of it’s own State: this severance, this ignorance, this is the state of the author.

    1. Darien says:

      “The Tree Unaware of it’s own State: this severance, this ignorance, this is the state of the author.”

      This seems an accurate description of most No voters.

  52. barakabe says:

    self justification is worse than the original sin

  53. Catriona MacKenzie says:

    May I ask a question, sort of relevant?

    There’s stirrings of a new campaign afoot,

    England for Independence

    my question is to the No voters, and what if the good people of an honest hard working England, achieve Independence for their own country, not of the Union.
    What then next for the die hard unionists?

    Because I guarantee the Yes supporters residing south of the border, who like me, had no say, will gladly vote in an Indy…
    unless of course, that’s hijacked by Wastemonster too!

  54. johnny come lately says:

    No I ‘m not implying anything! I’m saying it straight out! This silent majority who betrayed their country. Who can forget their silence during the campaign? When they refused to discuss or debate, but kept silent to the end in order that they could betray their country in the secrecy of the ballot box. Who can forget how so many of them avoided the gaze of yes people outside the polling stations, whilst giving a sly wink to the servile traitors working against their country, countrymen and the interests of their own offspring.
    What I’m saying is that a large section of our society are spineless, self serving bastards who betrayed their country, countrymen and women and sacrificed the futures of their own children and grandchildren.
    It’s called treason in every other country in the world, and people who commit treason are traitors. I don’t feel any need whatsoever to spare the feelings of traitors.

  55. johnny come lately says:

    Thanks! I expected to be slaughtered for that rant, but I’m so sick of this namby pamby, try to be nice and understand them drivel, which has been the norm during and after the referendum. I’m beginning to feel that we have not been debating, discussing or analyzing the referendum result anywhere since the result.
    Instead we have been taking part in a hand wringing exercise, whilst at the same time indulging in telling no voters exactly what they want to hear in order to make the poor dears feel better about betraying their country.
    I remember shortly after the result a winger had related how his grandmother couldn’t wait to inform him that she had voted no as soon as he came in the door a few days after the result. He had asked her, why she had voted no, and she had replied that pensioners had never had it as good as they have it now. Sold their children and grandchildren’s future and betrayed their country for the price of a couple of extra teacakes and scones every week.
    I’ve never felt as despondent about my country and countrymen and women as I do now. I meant what I said in my last post. I actually feel a mixture of shame and embarrassment when based overseas. What friggen country in the world would vote against their own nation? In any other country in the world if you voted against your country, gave away your sovereignty to another nation and betrayed your own offspring as well as countrymen you would be called a traitor. It would be treason. I really wish others would start speaking their minds.

  56. arthur thomson says:

    Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this. I feel I can only be an observer but it warms me to see that Scotland truly lives and fills me with hope that Scotland will extricate itself from an abusive union that has destroyed the lives of so many ordinary, decent people over a period of 300 years.

  57. fromaweaver says:

    right, ye respectable AND putting the YES movement to shame readily ranting to yerselves whatsits: have ye sold out to the monstrous dehumanising powers that are working behind and through every government in our mainly fairly-unfairly non-democratic world?

    Dont you realise that you totally playing into the hands of the really rightwingers (or who knows are ye hired by them?) as you continue here using abusive contemptuous language, labelings that betray the very free spirit of Scotland I have voted yes for?

    Don’t you realise that, IF you have any interest at all and love and passion for true democracy that your own ‘drivel’ (hey, how does that feel to have your words named ‘drivel’? Does it make you feel better? Or good, because it is the kind of language that feels familiar and comfy to you?) here makes it more and more easy for all hardskinned no voters to feel triumphant and confirmed about the ‘rightness’ of their vote? And all softskiinned and maybe sold out to confusing facts and feeling no voters will just do that what you want them to do: hide from here and from being targeted by your non-communication.

    argh, sigh: there are good insightful comments here on this blog, from both sides of the viciously created divide of fake democracy subjecting the citizen of a nation to having to choose between two traps: ‘yes’ – ‘no’ to either ‘Independence’ or ‘Union’. Bullshit both in terms of politics for people who are free spirits. Why? Well, very simply because by nature both notions are IMPOSSIBLE to manifest in political governance per se, and especially in the current ailing forms of democracy. Politically all that is possible ever is various forms of contracts off INTERDEPENDENCE, based on the basic fricking as well as fabulous facts of living on planet earth as fallible and fabulous human beings.

    Contracts based on sound values if conduct, results of respectful and full picture considering negotiations – that will come to pass. Whether you like it or not. We have no choice but to learn, and to learn fast how to do this.

    There is a need to get together and birth an inspiring constitution. And there is a call to do that birthing magnificently with words worthy of the best in our human nature.

    I would like to continue to learn, face to face with people of all voting choices (yes/no/none), as long as I know, eye to eye, that we have shared values (respect and care for people and planet) and courage and commitment to hear each other truly, beyond different language patterns acquired by class, race, health, or whatever. I KNOW that here in Scotland right now, as the horrendous Council cuts bite, because there is a corporate culture sold out to debt based money creation, a culture that wants to cull all heart based hearing and healing, WE ALL are required to work together with the BEST of our collective intelligence to work out TRULY democratic structures because we HAVE learned the skills, across the WHOLE spectrum of our local and national communities. WE WILL then reforest and rewild the hills and create homesteads the world and we can be proud of. We WILL learn this because we have learned to hear beyond what appears to be imperfect phrases and faces, and to speak with wonder-full words full of passion that is put into workable practise. And there WILL be the field where all classes will build together with hands-on fun the homes and the gardens and woods and boats that will make Scotland and our children and children’s children proud again, wild and free. Free from limiting beliefs and identifications.

    There is only one time and one place we have: here and now. I am here. I would like to sit in Council with Yvonne and anyone who stands tall and free on the ancient roots of this land, that show us the interconnectedness of all life. And I know that every free thought, every truly free thought, free from fear and fury, will teach us the song we need to sing so to truly win and make for real dignity in all aspects of society. Yes, the world is watching us. Yes to Unity in Diversity and the stillness in the eye of the storm and in between two waves of the sea.

    Sireadh thall!

    1. Said with feeling and well said.

  58. Verene Nicolas says:

    I am a Nonviolent Communication (NVC) trainer, based in Glasgow. Let me first refer to a piece of research to highlight the relevance of NVC and Yvonne Spence’s piece in this debate.

    Scott Sherman, an American researcher, looked at hundreds of social change initiatives for his PhD, broke their actions and strategies down into hundreds of factors, and examined which factors contributed to change, and which didn’t.

    He found that neither legal, political nor science-based strategies work. (Read an introductory piece: http://utenportugal.org/wp-content/uploads/sherman-2011-changing-the-world.pdf)

    Real effective social change, he says, needs only 3 elements: 1) Exposing Injustice 2) Social Aikido and 3) Building alternatives.

    I believe that the Yes campaign has been very good at exposing injustice and at highlighting the hundreds of grassroots-led initiatives to challenge injustice and create better lives in Scotland.

    What Yvonne is saying and what many posts here reflect is that ‘social aikido’ is not yet the strength of the yes movement. Sherman defines it as: “Just like the martial art of aikido, where you can turn the strength of your opponent into your advantage, social aikido is about transforming enemies into allies and hatred into goodwill.” This is important because “transformative action is about:

    … “speaking the truth to power.” But it does not seek to demonize anyone; it’s not about embarrassing, humiliating, or treating people like enemies who need to be destroyed. Instead it’s about overcoming the problems of society, while uplifting all people.

    Nonviolent Communication belongs to this sphere. It’s a practice that helps embody nonviolence in actions, words and thoughts. It helps be in integrity with the kind of world we want to live in. It is particularly useful to dialogue with people with whose views we differ, to find common ground on things we care about, and to seek solutions that work for everyone. However, like anything that has power, NVC can be misused (as reflected in Ann’s post), especially when the language is not aligned with a deeper shift of consciousness.

    This is a debate that is current within the NVC teaching community; one that is enriched by discussions such as this, which highlight the importance of dialoguing across differences whilst not forgetting the social aspects of politics such as the role of power and privilege in society.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Thanks Verene. I suppose a key element to discuss here is about the role of struggle and conflict in effective social change movements. Aikido is a martial art.

      Bella is an attempt to create alternatives and by publishing and listening to No voices practising some ‘social aikido’. But there is also an issue here about how you confront power when it is as naked and brutal as the austerity union currently is. This is where I have divergence with Yvonne whilst welcoming her voice to these pages.

    2. Darien says:

      Imperial Britain (and what is left of it) is a violent entity, and always has been. It has experience of hundreds of conflicts over territory, in Britain and numerous places across the globe. It sells arms to anyone with the cash. Imperial Britain, we might say, has ‘previous’. The comments said to be given by the RAF officer above reflect this mindset, when it comes to Imperial Britain and loss of territory. Ditto the wealthy public schoolboys who run Imperial Britain, with their scolding of the unwashed plebs. Remember Darling (Loretto’s finest) ‘losing it’ in the second debate with Salmond (a big boy took ma ba awa)? And remember the hundreds of scowling warnings and threats from Better Together. And the snarling faces, jeers and taunts of MP’s during every Scottish Questions. And the snarling faces, jeers and taunts of SLAB and other unionists at Holyrood during FMQ’s. All vested interests, of course, in Imperial Britain. And the faces and violence of unionist thugs in George Square. And then there were our friends – the No voters we know – many refusing, often angrily, to debate with us. Most of whom ignored the real evidence, and succumbed to the threats and spin from an Imperial Britain, with ‘previous’.

      And remember, if you will, in contrast, all the smiling, happy faces on the Yes side. The hope. The aspirations. The camaraderie. The party atmosphere. The young, the infirm, and the not so young. The ‘thinkers’. The radicals. The compassionate. Their inspired writings. Their impassioned speeches. The many open, transparent events. The real People.

      So that leaves us with a question to ponder: which side might be most in need of nonviolent communication training?

      1. Ann says:

        NVC says party politics doesn’t work. I used to not vote. But there’s harm, like what I talked about above, that we know stops with Independence. that will keep me voting.

        The problems I talked about above that I feel are in “Non Violent Communication” aren’t as Verene said, about the potential for it’s misuse. I disagree with Rosenberg on basics of what a person is, and what violence, language and communication are. My understanding of NVC is that aggression and dishonesty are built into it.

        Rosenberg’s use of “non violent” concerns me. NVC is presented as if his rules and judgements on how to think, speak, feel and behave and only these rules and judgements are a) non violent and b) the sole route to constructive change.

        NVC is marketed as if people outside of NVC don’t know that working on understanding ourselves and each other, connection, trust and trying to live the change we want to see, is part of constructive change.

        It’s for talking about difference. But then difference can only be usefully talked about by using NVC. If you take on the NVC mindset and follow the rules, then your difference will be heard and valued.

        Thoughts and feelings aren’t made neutral by believing that words can be used like arithmetic. And this way of operating stimulates and creates a lot of room for passive aggression.

        NVC pathologises anger. Anger is not aggression, violence or crazyness. Anger isn’t inherently destructive. It isn’t always misplaced or really about our childhoods. It doesn’t have to increase fear, alienation and distrust. It can do the opposite. My experience is that where anger in response to harm isn’t pathologised, but is valued and acted on to stop further harm, over time there’ll come to be less confused or misdirected anger, less need to use anger to demonsise, less anger turned into violence and passive aggression, controlling behaviours and all kinds of self harm.

        It’s painful hearing other’s open honest anger in response to harm I’ve caused or been complicit in. I’m not that good at it. But i think it’s needed. It can strengthen trust. It’s magic getting freed up from another bit of unthinking, habitual fuckwittery by someone’s valid, direct anger. takes a weight off. For me, valuing anger is living what I want to see, and as if we’re already in that better world.

      2. leavergirl says:

        Ann, well said. I also appreciate what Verene said about “social aikido.” Except for the part that says “social aikido is about transforming enemies into allies and hatred into goodwill.” Well, no. Enemies transform at their own pace, at their own will, not mine. There is too much in NVC that rides the wave of “if only I use the right formula, rapists will turn away from rape and the Ted Bundys will repent and usher in the peaceable kingdom.” Ugh.

        I think NVC is profound and very useful with many many people. I have found it counterproductive with over-aggressive, overambitious folks who have trouble with empathy, who have damaged conscience, and who neither wish to listen to other people’s feelings and needs nor to share their own. Whether they do so because they “suffer” from past wounds, or whether they do so because they gain advantage by yanking other people’s chain, is an interesting question. Neither option should be prematurely foreclosed upon.

        In my world, social aikido is (also) about drawing effective boundaries regarding harm.

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.