My Celtic identity has long caused me to admire the SNP and their desire for a Scottish state, as much as in my youth I admired and supported Plaid Cymru and desired an independent Welsh state (preferably socialist, even better cooperatively run). Billy Bragg has written an excellent piece in today’s Guardian which sums up quite a lot of why I have hitherto held that London is unfit to govern Scotland (or Wales), particularly the London we see today. He also helpfully reinforces the nature of Scottish nationalism, which is as different from the imperial British nationalism of the Conservative party as it is possible to imagine.
But a chance comment from the writings of Wendell Berry have made me think again – that unless we act in love, then what we have wrought is of little worth and eternal value. The Yes campaign is becoming more and more virulent against those who want to preserve the union, and whilst I have to admire the doughty Alex Salmond as possibly the best political street fighter this side of Vladimir Putin, I am tending to side with those who clearly love the union and all it has created. Yes, the guys in London are plain awful and yes, everything they have done has been cynical and too late, but, but. They somehow have managed to convey the deep desire to create and live together, and if they are half honest about their famous pledge, then Scotland will be freer on Thursday than it is today. I don’t believe it of course, but to be honest in politics, it seems you have to love your enemies before you can reject their views. It took a lifetime, but this is what Ian Paisley seems to have discovered before his death last week.
I don’t have a vote. If I had a vote as a British person, I would vote Yes for Scottish independence, loving their nation and wishing them well. And then I would go and live there and try and help them make it work. If I were a Scot and had a vote on Thursday, I would probably vote no, as there seems to be less love on the Yes side, more willingness to destroy for its own sake, and less capacity to heal a nation that has struggled with itself in huge honesty and engagement, and whose people have hurt brothers and sisters in the process.