Sunday, 7 September 2014

A Better Land

A Better Land
As a committed ‘Yes’ voter in the upcoming historic Referendum on Scottish independence, it was a little disappointing to see some Celtic stars of the past publicly back the ‘No’ campaign. The likes of Pat Crerand, Davie Provan, Billy McNeil, Bertie Auld, Frank McAvennie and Murdo McLeod  signed up to a rather clunky statement which was clearly drafted by less than gifted Better Together Campaign politico. It stated…

"We are proud Scots who have been proud to represent our country around the world. When Scotland calls, we answer. We are proud that Scotland has always stood on its own two feet but we also believe that Scotland stands taller because we are part of the United Kingdom. We urge every patriotic Scot to help maintain Scotland's place in the United Kingdom which has served Scotland so well."

Personally, rather than standing taller, I think Scotland is invisible when the UK struts the international stage still posturing as it did in the long gone days of Empire. As for the Union ‘Serving Scotland Well,’  do I really have to point out the destruction of Scottish manufacturing industry, illegal wars, health and wealth inequalities, food banks, trident nuclear missiles 25 miles from Glasgow, the democratic deficit which sees Scotland more often than not having a Government it didn’t vote for, etc. I could go on but you get the point. I disagree with the statement the various footballing personalities signed up to on many levels but I do feel it is important to respect their right to hold an opinion even if it is divergent from my own. That is one of the pillars of a decent democracy.  As Voltaire said…

I don’t agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.’

That is not to say that we stand quietly aside while some of the more extreme or racist parties try to use our open democracy to spout their bile. They should be out argued, out thought and their idiotic beliefs ridiculed for the tosh they are. The fact that such parties are allowed to exist is an aspect of democracy which some have difficulty accepting. However, as Churchill once said, ‘Democracy is the worst form of government apart from everything else which has been tried.’ It isn’t perfect but we accept that and continue to use our right to challenge things we disagree with.

The campaign has taken a more bitter turn in recent weeks and some Celtic fans even commented that Billy McNeil and his fellow Celtic players of the past were diminished in their eyes for supporting the no campaign. Like many, I was disappointed by their stance but if the new Scotland so many of us want to create is to live up to our hopes then it must start by respecting differences of opinion. Argue and disagree by all means but within the bounds of acceptable behaviour. The feelings of those voting no are in many cases based on genuine reasons and not some will to thwart the advancement of the Scottish people. Of course there are unthinking types who will vote no based on a knee jerk, uncritical support for Unionism but there are others who will do so for more thoughtful, honest reasons. What Billy McNeil and his fellow no voters are doing is simply exercising their democratic right and much as some of us disagree with their conclusions, we shouldn’t think for a moment that they want to see Scots struggling or relying on food banks because they don’t.

Whatever result we wake up to on September 19th, there has to be healing in Scotland. There has to be a coming together of the country to respond to the new challenges that are ahead. If, as I dearly hope, we wake up to a landslide in favour of independence I would like to see a Government of national unity brought together to negotiate the terms of Scotland’s independence. As Alex Salmond said when his party won a majority at Scottish Parliament in 2011…

I welcome the declarations from the opposition parties about constructive opposition because, although the SNP has a majority of the seats, we don't have a monopoly of wisdom.’

That is the spirit the new Scotland will need as we set out on the road to creating a better society. If we do become a nation once again, free to plot our own direction in the world then there must be a place for all Scots whether they voted yes or not. The Scotland I want to see should echo an old song popular with our Irish cousins… ‘North men, South men comrades all.’  This referendum isn’t about Alex Salmond or political parties despite the Better Together campaign trying to make it so. Rather it is about the will of the Scottish people. In that victory speech at Hollyrood in 2011 Alex Salmond said…

‘We are not fixed on the past in all its great colour – our eyes are on the future and the dreams that can be realised. I will govern for all of the ambitions of Scotland and all the people who imagine we can live in a better land.’

Let’s do this and let’s do it together as a united nation.
Let’s build a better land.



1 comment:

  1. Excellent piece...times are changing and we need to be as one after this vote..I believe it will be ayes. Go Scotlsnd