Friday, 11 April 2014

A wall across the living-room

Imagine a large family in a large house. A kitchen, various bedrooms and living-rooms where parents and children, aunts, uncles and cousins share all the facilities. As in any family there are disputes. A child wails at an imagined insult from a sibling. An aunt complains that the cake she left out for her tea has been eaten. There are occasional queues for the bathroom. But although tempers may flare, there is no real hostility within the family; they have lived together all their lives and know each other well.

Things begin to change when some family members claim they are not respected enough by the others. They don't like being told what shopping they should buy with the weekly budget. They want to decorate the house their way. They want to watch different television programmes. And here's another list of complaints they have.

The rest of the family point out that the complainers actually have a lot of control over their own lives. They have their own budget already, so why don't they spend it the way they want? They can decorate their room however they like. There are several televisions in the house so they can watch what they like. As for the other complaints, well, the rest of the family suggests, let's work together and sort them out.

Work together, the complainers say? No, thanks. We're not interested in what you want. We want things done our way. So we're going to build a wall right through the house. It'll cut across the hall and the living-room and divide the stairs. We'll let you into our part of the house as long as you do things our way. And of course we insist on coming over to your side any time we want. As for money, you're going to have to let us have as much as we want.

I assume you get the point. The true impact of Scottish independence would not be to rebuild Hadrian's Wall - this time to keep the uncivilised Southern tribes out - but to build a psychological wall across this United nation. Even before the referendum, Scottish separatists have built this wall in their minds, cutting themselves off from the rest of the British family. Their nationalism is inward-looking, a vision of the world that blames all Scotland's woes, imaginary and real, on England and Westminster. Separatists take the benefits of three hundred years of Union and refuse responsibility for its defects. Like sulking children and moody teenagers, they want the game played their way and if the rest of the family doesn't do what they want, they're going to stamp their feet and walk away.

I haven't yet met a Scot with a broader vision of the world who doesn't believe that separatism is a mistake. We Scots do not need the trappings of a seat at the United Nations and an embassy in Beijing, our own Defence Force and central bank to have pride in our nation. Those of us who have a deep sense of our history, culture and place in the world can look back with pride at the achievements of last three hundred years (and yes, there are many, and yes I will cover them in future posts) and we recognise that those achievements were made possible by Union. We are not Little Scotlanders with a deep-rooted inferiority complex who need to lash out at the rest of the UK to prove to ourselves that we can stand on our own two feet. We have a broader vision than separatism. We know that we can be both Scottish and British; we know that there is strength in union and weakness in division; we know that two identities are better than one.

Wise Scots will not build a wall through our shared home. This United Kingdom is too valuable to all of us who live here.

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