Gray’s distorted view of independence
There is much to empathise with in Iain Gray’s contribution (“Limited by Scottishness”, Perspective, 12 September).
It is indeed sometimes enervating to contemplate how much of our current cultural and political conversation is about the constitution. But wishing the debate away will not make it so.
By focusing on those writers who perhaps over-enthusiastically make the case for a highly defensive and inwardly-oriented approach to defending and promoting Scottish cultural identity, Mr Gray implies that those on the independence side of the constitutional debate are ignoring the wider concerns of the outside world.
This, however, comes perilously close to repeating the well-worn assertion that the constitutional debate is somehow unreal, the manufactured grievance of a tired symbiosis of politicians and journalists feeding off each other in some sort of conspiracy to draw the attention of Scots away from the outside world until we thrash each other to death over the minor matter of how we govern ourselves.
The reality is that the independence debate is not an artifice to distract the naive from the wide world view they ought to cultivate. Its very persistence and profile make that clear. Mr Gray helpfully reminds us of the need to keep our eyes focused beyond the horizon, but in doing so he implies that it is impossible for us to sensibly debate and decide on our constitutional future without shutting ourselves off from the concerns of the world.
The reality is that many, people on the pro-independence side of the debate believe firmly – and with good cause – that our ability to contribute meaningfully to alleviating global problems can only be enhanced if and when we are able to do so from the firm foundation of a constitutional settlement that allows a clear, independent Scottish projection of its values and ideas rather than one in which our contribution is swamped, indistinct and barely noticed.
Meanwhile, for the remaining months in which we debate the constitutional question, the vast majority of those who wish to see it end in independence will continue to focus both on how we get there and on how we contribute to making the world a better place both before and after we get there, and it would be sad to see that wider world view dismissed or belittled as somehow distorted by the prism of the constitutional debate.
Stripped of all extraneous background, Iain Gray’s article is no more than a desperate attempt to boost the Unionist cause against Scottish independence.
He would have us believe that had he been First Minister he would have seen Scotland’s currently better than UK performance on unemployment and economic activity as nothing to shout about: aye, right!
I am not in the least patriotic, being neither proud nor ashamed of being either Scottish or British, but I find the proposition that we would have more influence and success by being less Scottish in outlook preposterous.
David Cameron put it all into perspective outside No 10 after the Olympics, when he spoke of “the country” before declaring that 2012 will be like 1966, something “we” will talk about with “our” children and grandchildren, and will continue to delight “us” long after this time has passed.
Mr Gray longs for the day when Scottish politics is other than referendum-shaped: how about independence-shaped, then?
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