When the referendum was kicking off a couple of years ago I wrote about my dislike of nationalism and how I thought Scotland wouldn’t go for independence. Despite all the rhetoric since and an apparent surge in favour this year I’m still pretty much of that mind.
I make that judgement based on personal experience i.e. finding Scottish people too conservative for the challenge. Faced with the smallest risk to their financial security they play safe. That is why so many of them work for government and corporations. They might be less than delighted about this but they slavishly follow the money just the same. Given the strong likelihood that independence would come with a price tag most Scots will be afraid of the uncertainty. Their tacky relationship with the lucre will be the determining factor, political adventurism posing too much of a threat.
That’s the majority view I think: expediency before patriotism. It’s a silent majority though and it has remained mostly mute. That’s because it’s not edifying to be a naysayer. Saying nay may well be the defining aspect of the Scottish character but it’s not one to be shouting about. I imagine there will be plenty such types in the supposed YES camp too, who when faced with the ballot paper will find themselves furtively ticking NO. I think the same goes for most undecideds.
I don’t care one way or another. I’m apolitical and believe that a country is not its politics. It’s much more than that - or less depending on your values. Subjectively, a nation can be whatever you want it to be from the piece of rock you just happen to live on with millions of other people to everything that matters to you. I tend to the former position. And anyway, living so far off the grid as I do, I’m not on the voters roll so won’t get to exercise my democratic privilege. If I did I would find it hard to be a NO as that naysaying thing is so repugnant. That aside, it would be a vote for future generations to make something of.
The biggest turn-off to YES is the cringe-making rhetoric that is the Nationalist’s stock in trade. Soon as Salmond and his people open their mouths you sense a collective groan from the silent majority as they recoil from the bluster, a form of oratory which owes more to the school of Ally McLeod than to anything that is actually persuasive.
In a way I hope I make a misjudgement here and that the body of the Scottish people proves to have more backbone than I think. But I doubt it and thus don't see political independence happening. The nays will have it. They will be able to sit back smugly and crow that at least they weren’t wrong. That’s the thing about naysaying: you’ll be right most of the time, especially in Scotland.
written 2014 when the gap in the opinion polls between YES and NO
for the Scottish independence referendum seemed to be narrowing
NAYSAYING FOR SCOTLAND
commentary • 10.02.14