In a recent discussion with a unionist family member two things were put to me. The first was that he was dismayed to discover that there were people in Scotland who would have voted Yes in the referendum regardless of the arguments to the contrary put to them. The second was that he was frustrated that the National Party was not prepared to accept the democratic decision of the people. Considering this from the point of view of the unionist, both of these issues may indeed be annoying, but, and as I pointed out, they are not rational problems. Our discussion did however get me thinking about my own position on these points.
Without a doubt there were voters who voted for independence, and would have done no matter what the unionist Better Together campaign said to the favour of staying with the United Kingdom. He didn’t seem quite able to concede the possibility that there were unionists who we every bit as prepared to vote against Scotland according to the same principle. Such fanaticism is an element of the democratic make-up that we all simply have to accept. There will always be those who will vote one way on a given issue, those who will always vote the other way, and everyone else in between. What became a problem for me was considering, in light of this discussion, where exactly in this population spectrum I stood. We have been well conditioned to fear this word ‘fanatic,’ and no one – not even the fanatics – appreciate being thought one.
Is the fanaticism of opinion always wrong? Would you defend a loved one against a violent assault no matter what? Well, the obvious answer to this is an unequivocal yes. Yes, I would defend someone I love from a violent assault no matter what the situation, and no matter what the fine arguments to the contrary were. Do I place this conception of Scotland as a nation – my nation and my homeland – in the category of the things in life that I love? Yes, yes I do. Do I consider that this nation, my home, is subject to what amounts to a violent assault by another nation? A continual merry-go-round of wars, costing Scottish lives and tax money, which the international community have condemned as illegal; nuclear weapons; fracking; hungry children; the sale of our resources through foreign ports; the shifting of our territorial borders – abuse and theft. Without reservation or moral equivocation I believe that Scotland is the subject of Westminster violence. It stands to reason then that I too would be prepared to vote for independence no matter what – just as I would defend a loved one from violence. So, yes, I am a fanatic, and as a fanatic I have thought this one through.
It isn’t quite the case that the SNP refuse to accept the decision of the Scottish people. Actually, it seems as though they have accepted it hook, line and sinker. The SNP has accepted the validity and legality of the result of the referendum, and it has accepted the will of the Scottish people. In accord with this acceptance it has entered into negotiations to argue for as much of what Scotland has been promised as it can get. A completely absurd position to be in!
What he meant though, I suspect, is exactly what David Cameron means when he demands that we accept the result as an irrevocable and somehow eternal decision. Well it is this position that is the real lunacy. The same party that made him leader has largely changed its mind on him, the English public are switching their affections to UKIP, the Scottish people have forgotten even what the Labour Party is, and everything is still in a state of change. Nothing is certain but death and taxes. Where are the unionists getting this idea that any decision in politics is final?
Reality is change, and the sooner people realise this, the better. Yes, the people of Scotland did go to the polls and they did vote to remain with the union – or so we are led to believe. The SNP have accepted this, and therefore so must we. Time has moved on, and in the days and weeks and months after the referendum more and more of the people of Scotland came to see the true nature of the beast that threatened them and deceived them. At no point did the SNP, the Scottish Greens or the SSP force people to join their parties, and yet they did – in staggering numbers. Reality here is that the will of the people is being shown daily, and it is changing. Sixty percent of Scots want another referendum, and no one is making them want this. This is simply the will of Scotland.