It’s one hundred days to go until the neverendum. The Yes Scotland and Better Together campaigns each had TV coverage today with their drives to sway the remaining undecided voters.
As the arguments have played out, there seems to have been an unfortunate change in tone – not from the campaigns themselves, but from those commenting on related posts on social media.
I felt before that there was a genuine search for answers to questions about what would be best for those who live in Scotland; now there seems to be an air of accusation and mutual cynicism.
Both sides accuse each other of scaremongering; the views of each others’ experts are immediately disregarded – perhaps this is to be expected as people become more settled on their opinion on the issue.
But presumably, both sides have a common goal – to secure the best future for Scotland.
A friend shared an interesting Orwell quote on facebook this week which puts very well the conflict at the heart of the matter:
“By “patriotism” I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.”
There’s a very fine line that Orwell draws here. I suppose, for the voter, it depends where each one has sunk their own individuality. If it is in Scotland as a discrete entity, the instinct is to feed and nurture that country so that it can grow as the people there wish. Certainly, being denied power in the structures of government that we have is frustrating for many.
This lack of power, however, doesn’t have any bearing on patriotism. It is possible to have “devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world” without craving more power. I could be described as stereotypically Scottish, in many respects. I play the fiddle, love Scots poetry and eat haggis when it isn’t Burns night – and I would seek to defend my Scottishness and my Scotticisms.
But this Scottishness doesn’t lead me to nationalism, just to patriotism – and my patriotism can be maintained within the United Kingdom, flawed as the constitutional relationship is.
The politics of Europe seem to have taken a potentially sinister turn, with extremists gaining footholds. I think the term “Nationalism” is an unfortunate association that people say when they refer to the SNP, as the Nationalism they suggest is nothing like other European ‘nationalist’ parties and movements. They want simply to “be a nation again” – which is a fair enough ambition. It’s just not an ambition I share.
And I don’t feel that that is unpatriotic.