Settling The Dust

So, September 18th was a MASSIVE day in British history. Scotland went to the polls to answer the question on whether we should be an independent country or not. Turnout was the highest ever recorded in Scottish electoral history, at close to 90%. It is the first time in my own personal electoral history that I have witness queues and votes being registered every 15 seconds at the polling station I attended. From a democratic point of view, it was simply glorious. I wish all elections and referendums in Britain were like this! It was something I will never forget.

In the evening, I attended another polling station to represent the No Thanks campaign. It was there that I encountered the dark side of politics, and specifically, of nationalism. In all my years of campaigning for the Labour Party, I have never once been verbally or physically abused, but that night, representing a cross-party campaign, all that changed. I received a large number of verbal abuses, from the laughably stupid to the highly offensive and racist kind.

Later on, that night, I was subjected to worse. I was surrounded by a group of young Yes Scotland (the pro-independence campaign) supporters, who not only attempted to intimidate me, but also physically attacked me, and then destroyed signage, which they threatened to injure me with. I stood my ground and refused to be intimidated. I did not fight back, but defended myself sufficiently to cause them to flee! The police were involved, but sadly, finding these young men has proved extremely difficult.

In the early hours of the following morning, the result was in: Scotland voted NO to independence.

What happens next? Well, somehow, the people of this great country have to figure out a way to heal a great rift within our people wrought by the last two years of referendum campaigning. We have to figure out what is right for us. 55% of us said NO to independence, which has proved to have come as a huge shock to the other 45%. That needs dealt with. We need to figure out the way forward for Scotland within the Union – the right place for us to be, in my opinion – and the way forward for the whole Union.

The United Kingdom has forever changed. It MUST modernise. Whether federalism is the answer or not, I am not completely certain of yet. We must settle the dust stirred up by the last two years. It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight. It will require the people of all four Home Nations, all political parties, all community groups, ALL of us,  working together for the future of our Great Union.

And……we must defeat nationalism. It is incompatible with the 21st Century, and it MUST be destroyed, and honest, humble patriotism – pride in our heritage, history, people and potential – must be restored.

Now that this referendum is over, normal service on this blog will resume as of next post!

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One thought on “Settling The Dust

  1. Jonny – I read your blog entry about the referendum even though I have different political opinions from you because I think of you as being a very fair-minded person and when you were part of the independence discussion at Nuala & Hayley’s birthday party I thought you made your points in a fair, calm and considered way which managed not to belittle anyone else’s opinion. I am also always interested in people’s reasons and motivations for their political decisions whether I agree with them it not. Therefore, I was keen to see what you had to say but I have to confess I was really disappointed. Some of your words were indeed very laudable – for example, I liked your praise of the turnout and the democratic process and I also thought that your suggestion of everyone in the home nations, all political parties, all community groups etc should work together to settle the dust caused by the referendum debate, was admirable. However, there were a couple of things that I found incompatible with your overall message. Your story of the way that you were treated by a group of mindless ‘missing link’ Yes voters was very shocking and is something that is deplorable and not to be tolerated…it’s terrible that this happened to you. But I think that it is a real shame that you did not take the opportunity to concede that such behaviour was carried out at various times by eejits on both sides of the debate. That is something that during the referendum debate I have found very hard to accept – the Yes campaign accepted that they had some eejits who overstepped the mark and were aggressive but pointed out that it happened on both sides but all I ever saw from the No campaign was finger pointing and a denial that they had matching eejits themselves. Yet there were as many, if not more, arrests of No campaigners as Yes during the campaign and arrests were very few overall. And let us not forget that on the night of the result, George Square in Glasgow was the scene of very ugly and violent behaviour from pro-Union, anti-independence Loyalists who along with the 15,000 members of the Orange Order who paraded through Edinburgh the Saturday before, displayed the most vicious, disgusting ‘nationalism’ I have personally witnessed….the former with their burning of Saltires as they sang ‘Rule F**king Britannia’ and chanted other offensive nationalistic and misogynistic words,…and the latter who held up banners some of which were anti-Catholic and pro-Ku Klux Klan! As well as violence the Friday night mob also turned to arson setting fire to the Sunday Herald building – the only newspaper to support the independence movement! If, when you said nationalism must be defeated, that it has no place in the 21st Century, you were talking about this sort of narrow-minded ethnic nationalism, then I am in full agreement with you, but I fear from the tone and slant of your blog piece that you were talking about Scottish nationalism and the independence movement specifically and therefore I can’t agree with you. And you know the sad thing Jonny is that when it comes to the pro-Unionist thugs in George Square and the Orange Order, at first most Yes voters very graciously agreed that these thugs were not representative of the No campaign, but I think it has slowly dawned on most of us that if it had been any group supportive of independence who had behaved in such a disgraceful way in George Square we would have been hung out to dry and lambasted for it!
    A final word on nationalism – there are several definitions of nationalism agreed by political theorists and philosophers – there is the type which is interchangeable with patriotism as you describe it in your blog and there are the political ideologies of ethnic and civic nationalism. The former is one which I described earlier displayed by the pro-Unionists in George Square and some other members of the No and Yes campaigns, and the latter is the one which is espoused by the SNP, the Scottish Green Party, the SSP and the majority of the Yes campaign. Unlike the exclusivity of ethnic nationalism, civic nationalism is inclusive and is based on the simple idea of a country or nation being able to self-govern and self-determine. Now you may not agree with that and that is fine – in the referendum you were asked to decide whether or not Scotland should be an independent country and I am sure that you would have voted for what you deemed to be best for Scotland and your family. So please do me the courtesy of accepting that I did the same by voting Yes as did many other Yes supporters that you call friends. I am really tired of, particularly the Labour Party and Labour supporters, sneeringly calling me a nationalist like it is a dirty word. The visceral hatred that the Labour Party in particular displays towards members of the SNP is astonishing and will be a real stumbling block to any sort of working together unless it is dealt with. For myself, I have to admit that although I hold no ill-will towards the majority of No voters – for many, many reasons, none of which I will go into here as they are not relevant to the points I was making about your blog – I feel a great deal of bitterness and distrust towards the political parties which supported No.

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