Friday, September 12, 2014

The Union on Our Minds

What a difference one short week is making.  Alarmed by the advantage of the 'yes' vote in polls at the end of the last week, the English have finally been showing an interest in the northern country of their joint kingdom, while the Scots too have been on the receiving end of an at-last invigorated 'No' campaign.

The most recent polls are too close to call in real electoral terms, but the fact that the 'No' vote is coming back may add some crumbs of comfort to those north and south of the Tweed who would prefer to see the Union maintained.

Spectator editor Fraser Nelson, a Highland Scot now working and living in London, has put a perceptive and useful post up on the Spectator's blog.  Analysing the return of the 'No' vote, he also comments quite personally on his own perspective as a UK Scot living and then working in radically different parts of the kingdom where he can nonetheless feel equally at home.  It is all his country after all.  I feel a little similar in reverse, though only for brief periods admittedly as I don't work in Scotland, but on our regular CCF visits to the Cairngorms it still feels good to consider that remarkable area of the country a part of our joint home.  Our journey from Aviemore to a rafting centre just near Forres is one of the finest you can travel, and it is a journey we take in our own united kingdom.  Emotionalism such as this should have an equal - if opposite - impact upon unionists as it does on nationalists.

Nelson also notes the alarming rise of the 'dark side' of nationalism, which he acknowledges Alex Salmond has sought to carefully avoid in his own leadership of the 'Yes' campaign.  But nationalism will always have a dark side, and it rears its head every time this most febrile of ideologies drives an agenda.  It isn't just in Scotland.  The current debate on Scottish independence, with Westminster politicians promising the earth to Scotland if it will only stay in the Union, is seriously in danger of promoting a more fervent form of English nationalism that can only rebound to the detriment of both countries.  The vote on Thursday might just be able to head this darker side of the debate off before it gains too much headway.


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