Labour campaign poster.
Where to start?
“Ok so”, as my friends in Ireland would say. And they should know.
Normality. Pride. Friends not foes. Neighbours not rulers. Equals. Governments we vote for, rather than the one we’ve rejected since 1955. A people comfortable in its own skin but that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The right to boot out a government that screws up – as they will. All governments do. A return to the close relationship with Europe denied us by a xenophobic Westminster. A chance to navigate our way out of the pandemic at our own pace, on our own terms. An opportunity to distance ourselves from a foreign government that outsources its immigration policy to Rwanda. An opportunity to boast, not cower. To be the inclusive, proudly mongrel people we’ve always told the world we are.
What’s stopping us? I don’t want to be part of that generation that told my weans: “well, I did have a chance to right an old wrong, but actually I couldn’t be bothered. I was a bit scared”.
Here’s what I think – and apologies, I may have said this before.
Like Pierre Trudeau’s description of Canada, Scotland remains to this day in bed with an elephant, and perhaps we still aren’t yet confident to define ourselves without reference to our neighbours down south, even though the elephant is having nightmares.
But what I do know that making a better nation is more than just your pension and your water rates, your fear about a currency and whether or not you’ll be able to get watch Strictly.
A country isn’t just for life, it’s for all the lives to come, and the final lesson from history is not actually from Scotland, but from a place just a short trip from Cairnryan away.
Historically, Ireland had a far more fraught and aggressive struggle for normality. They did not have oil and they don’t even have a fishing fleet, their whiskey is pish. Their currency was shackled to the pound. There was civil war. There was a depression.
The new republic had no goodwill from London and little from Europe.
This year, it celebrates its hundredth birthday, and I truly believe if at any point in that century London had said: “Look lads, you’ve had a century of this, wouldn’t you rather come back?” there would not have been a single vote to return.
Because, whatever happens, it is always better to be yourself.
In short, let Scotland be Scotland.
Bring it on.
Because it’s later than you think.
I’ll meet you further on up the road.