Scotland Rising

head shot of Alec Ross

I’m really enjoying Gerry Hassan’s book. And it’s really lit a fire.

The guy in the Hemingway novel “The Sun Also Rises” is asked how he became bankrupt.

“Gradually”, he says. “Then suddenly”.

Yep. In terms of Scotland’s journey, today feels like the end of gradually. The suddenly? Aye. Yessir. Bring it on.

As with the response to the pandemic, there are the usual calls for Scotland to meekly follow the route of Westminster. As well as the usual rich folk saying they’ll leave if they have to pay a few pounds that they can clearly well afford, especially when they’re not having to pay for the bus or prescription fees or college tuition. Frankly? See you later big man. Cheerio. Slainte. Remember to write.

Not only is that a terrible idea and morally indefensible, but what is the point of devolution if we simply follow the dubious logic and direction of a party we haven’t voted for since 1955? A party that even its members now dislike? Must we forever boast, then cower? And beg for a piece of what’s already ours? Is that seriously as good as it gets? Really?

Robert Burns once wrote: “I have often said to myself what are the boasted advantages which my country reaps from a certain Union that counterbalance the annihilation of her Independence, and even her very name!”

But there’s another line from Burns – from that extraordinary, brilliant, wilfully misunderstood anti-war song “Ye Jacobites by Name” – that dominated my thoughts as I drove back from England recently after spending time with people who I love, regardless of how they vote. These guys don’t have a choice. We do. Let’s get it done. What if we never bothered about past failures and thought only of future opportunities? As Bill Shankly once said – we’d conquer the bloody world. We’d fly to the moon.

And here’s the line.

“Lay your schemes alone / adore the rising sun / and leave a man alone to his fate”.

We can’t spend our precious time and energy on this planet trying to save another country from itself. Westminster has made its choice. Let’s, for once, launch a lifeboat of our own. A ship called dignity, perhaps. Because ultimately independence is not about your passport or your currency or about whether you get to watch Strictly. It’s about how you see yourself, who you are. It’s about self-respect, respect of others. Particularly those who don’t have the lottery winning life chances that I have. Be kind, people. Always be kind.

Jesus, I talk to my weans all the time – about agency, responsibly, decision making, ownership. And yet a country shouldn’t? Christ, what even is that? It’s the ultimate cognitive dissonance. It’s peak cringe. We are so much better. So much.

So let Scotland be Scotland.

Because here’s the thing.

It’s later than you think.

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