I don’t know what it is about me (honestly, I don’t try it) but I seem to be perpetually swimming against the tide. Just when everyone seems to be leaning, swaying and swinging towards a yes vote I am becoming less and less convinced.
I was so looking forward to this debate, but it has been such a dreadful disappointment. I hate the slick TV commercials, I hate the promise of Nirvana that no one can believe in. I hate the dreadful warnings and the threats. I hate the celebrity endorsements. Really, we don’t need to know how musicians, TV cooks and dancers chose to vote. We can make up our own minds. But what we do need is leadership and of a kind that we have, so far, not seen.
Somehow I naively believed that out of it all would come some clear leadership, some visionary, some prophet, someone who would grab the attention of the people and fire their imagination, someone who would point a way beyond petty kale yard parochialism to a hitherto unseen horizon, a Vaclav Havel, a Jomo Kenyatta, a Mahatma Ghandi a Nelson Mandela an Aung San Suu Kyi. But no one we have, comes anywhere near the stature of these people. Inevitably it has become little more than a playground scrap following the same old predictable lines and no one seems to be able to rise above it. Some like Jim Sillars and Gordon Brown make an effort and hint at what could be, but others have let it slide into a grubby political game promising a paradise, issuing threats and knocking chunks off each other. When people like Nicola Sturgeon says “we have everything to play for” we know it is as a game. The scary thing is that it is not a game.
So, while they are unlikely to listen, this is what I have to say.
To the Yes side: “Forget about politics and economics, monetary policy security, child care, the just and fair society that we all want etc etc. You know and we know that it might not be possible to deliver on any of these. There are no guarantees. You might not be in power to do it. Focus on nationhood, inspire us, make us believe in it, and don’t promise anything, other than that it’s going to be hard. That was what Wallace (aka Mel) and Churchill did. Whatever you do, don’t give us sweeteners. We are not fools and we see through all of that as we have done before. Promises of a better world, simply by putting a cross in the right place never convinced anyone. But if I heard a speech that said “it’s going to be pretty tough, the economy might not go well for some time, it will takes us several years to sort all the things out and get it right, we may have difficulty working out who are our friends, It will take a lot of patience, you might find yourself worse off for some years and frustrated with us because we can’t do it all at once but… but, and here’s the thing, it will be worth it.” Then I just might just be convinced.
To the no side: “Don’t say anything. Everything you have said, so far, has backfired spectacularly. You don’t have to argue for the status quo. People know what it is. The other side need to do the explaining. It’s not perfect, it’s not all good, there are lots of flaws but it works, don’t fix it.