I’ve got no idea what possessed Alistair Darling to attempt to scaremonger on the issue of culture but he has ended up quite rightly a laughing stock. Last night he said that “British music will no longer be our music” as legions of Scottish music fans turned to their music collection and bidded a long adieu to what will now apparently be “their” music, whoever “they” are.
When I recorded my nine albums with Runrig the last thing that was on my mind was borders and frontiers. Runrig currently have a Canadian singer, the keyboard player I replaced was English – even as one of the most quintessential of Scottish of bands we had an international dimension to our membership and quite rightly so. Music is universal, absolutely collaborative and the closest thing we have to an international language. This attempt to create borders around something so wonderfully free spirited is as clumsy as it is absolute nonsense. To even attempt to suggest that a nation has “possession” of music or even of a culture in a globalised, cross culturally connected world is almost absurd.
This is of course part of the general unionist campaign to scare the Scottish people out of voting for independence. To achieve this they must portray an independent Scotland as a totally “separate” country bereft of currency, EU membership, monarch and now apparently shared culture. In this latest instalment of scaremongering we are now to be stripped of our shared British identity as we are set off to drift in the North Atlantic.
They want to suggest that our shared history as part of being British is extinguished with independence and will be stripped from our collective consciousness. They then portray a future that has neighbors and friends as “foreigners” as they negotiate the newly installed “frontiers” assuming ownership of our shared culture.
British culture is in fact as much mine as the most battle hardened unionist from the southern shires. It is the sum of what we have shared together on these islands. It is everything from the industrial revolution, to standing together in the world wars, to the welfare state, and yes, to our fantastic rock and pop bands.
With independence it goes absolutely nowhere. In fact these connections and cultural ties may even be improved because we can put a new energy into building them from a position of equality and mutual respect.
Even though all of this latest scaremongering will backfire, and will be to our advantage, I hope we don’t see too much of it. It is cringeworthy and embarrassing and debases an important debate. I am also becoming just a bit alarmed by the language of “foreigners”, “colonialism” etc, and hope that the unionists will at least be careful in how they phrase this part of their “separatist” narrative.
But, ultimately, If this is the territory upon which the unionists want to fight the campaign, then I’m afraid, they’ll be fighting with themselves.