If one thing can sum up the difference in approach between the Yes and No camps it is in our respective visions of future relationships across these isles following an independent Scotland. Where we see independence as an opportunity to recalibrate our relationship and build upon our fantastic social ties with our best friends and neighbours they see nothing other than ‘foreigners’ and ‘border posts’. Like most of the No’s agenda it a self defeating, negative view that simply won’t work because the Scottish people don’t share their shallow, restrictive world view. For most Scots our ties across these islands are deep, multi-faceted and have absolutely nothing to do about how we are governed. But where it won’t work, this agenda can do untold long term damage to our future relationships, and I for one, just wish they would stop it.
Following the collapse of large parts of their campaign it looks like the Nos are upping this part of their agenda and painting an even more vivid and chilling world of future ‘foreigners’ with scary ‘families ripped apart’ rhetoric. Presenting an almost apocalyptic vision of a physical border skewering our island with border guard patrols. Just watch the Nos almost spit out the word ‘Foreigner’ like some sort of contorted Nigel Farage whose use and context of the word they almost seem to have exactly copied.
Out of all the divisions of Project Fear this then is possibly the most potentially destructive in the long term. The more they go on about ‘borders’ and foreigners’ the more the people of the rest of the United Kingdom will start to think about future relationships couched in such terms. Remember the rest of the UK are particularly sensitive to this debate just now with the closing down of large parts of the UK with the rise of UKIP and their poisonous debate about immigration. It is particularly unfortunate that the Nos resort to trying to enlist the people of the UK in their negative campaign against an independent Scotland. We see this when they pose questions such as ‘why would the rest of the UK share anything with Scotland when we’ve just ‘rejected’ them’? They suggest to the rest of the UK that this is all about us ‘leaving’ them, and if we are indeed ‘leaving’ then we take absolutely nothing with us. We see this starting to creep into the debate about shared UK institutions such as the currency and the BBC. It is singularly unpleasant and I think we in Yes can only apologise to the people of the rest of the UK for the way the Nos have tried to cynically engage them.
The simple fact is that we will not be leaving far less rejecting anybody and most people in the rest of the UK know that. We will instead be deciding that we want to govern ourselves pursuing the agenda decided by the people who live and work in Scotland. Our fantastic relationships with the people of these islands won’t be compromised by independence instead they will be enhanced as we approach our shared institutions from a perspective of equality and mutual respect. Our cultural bonds and shared history will remain a feature of exactly who we are on both sides of the border. They will inform and lay the foundations of the new institutions that we will create. We will still be best friends and neighbours only we won’t be sharing the same Prime Minister.
So can I ask the Nos to stick to the lovebombing and stay of the division building? By all means bring up Eddie Izzard, Fergie, Bowie, John Barrowman and the rest of them to tell us how much they love us and why we should work together. Leave the world of the ‘foreigner’ and otherliness to the likes of Farage and his ilk. The ‘lovebombing’ is perhaps one of the few things that is positive in the No campaign and maybe they can make the debate a bit more about this ‘love’ rather than the usual fear.
Maybe we can perhaps start our own lovebombing in return by telling the rest of the UK how much we similarly ‘love’ them with our family ties, shared history and fantastic joint British culture? That for us there will never be a border in our heart when it comes to our relationship with the rest of the people of these islands. Maybe this can counter the damage the Nos have thus far done with this unfortunate ‘foreigners’ agenda.
And at the end of all of this we can all be in a better place, working together in a new and innovative way, governing ourselves and looking forward to the next chapter in the story of these remarkable islands.