We can all understand the emotional pull for an independent Scotland, even if the nation’s ‘branding’ was largely created in the nineteenth century. It’s more difficult to understand the logical intellectual reasons; the drive to independence seems more based on not being British ie not governed from Westminster, dominated by a London-centric economy and the current coalition than obvious positives. It hasn’t occurred to the Scots that people in Cornwall, Birmingham and Newcastle feel the same way? But I must confess to feeling surprisingly hurt by the discovery that so many people north of the border feel they don’t like the rest of the nation; here is a people I have greatly admired, been proud to call part of us, deciding that they want to divorce after a three hundred year marriage which has seen us become one of the most successful unions in the world. Ridiculously perhaps, when I went into my local town Harleston in Norfolk to buy raspberries yesterday there were only Scottish raspberries, with a saltire stamped on the label. I felt so irritated I didn’t buy any…..petty and idiotic of course but right now its how I feel.
In the long run if the Scots were to go, the impact on the UK would be greater than when the Irish Free State was established in 1922, although that event split my Irish in-laws’ family in a profound and difficult way, but not much greater. And Ireland was in violent turmoil for 50 years after the split. The forming of a nation is not easy; difficulties would emerge in Scotland too. But whatever happens today the genie is out of the bottle, hatreds have been stirred up by this referendum which won’t be easily squashed back down. I’m reminded that psychiatrists used to believe that ‘catharsis’, or ‘letting it all hang out’ was a positive, now we know that catharsis generates emotions which were not there before and are surprisingly difficult to deal with afterwards. The Scots have their catharsis today, whichever way the vote, the Union is damaged, but I profoundly hope only temporarily.