Andrew Wilson: This nation is our responsibility

Yes and No - we hold this nation's future in our hands. Picture: Robert Perry
Yes and No - we hold this nation's future in our hands. Picture: Robert Perry
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ENERGY cannot be destroyed it can only be channelled or stored. Now the electrical state of our small nation is palpable. Long latent in the quiet of our hearts, it has burst into the open and like lightening is darting through the air looking for where to strike.

Desperate to have its power channelled to earth, can we ensure that pulse is creative and not destructive?

These are quite remarkable times, and big times call for big people. Substantial in thought, generous of heart, calm in storm-times, purposeful in peace. Above all anchored in the perspective of time immemorial.

Big people think in era not year and see the choices we make in life as part of the tide of history not just the wave of the minute. We need all of that wisdom now in our corner of the globe. And grace, lots of it, urgently.

Tempting though it is to cast a cold eye on our leaders, demanding answers, the lesson of the referendum is that people now own their own hope. The privilege of leadership is carried by us all.

We have to work through the rawness of where we found ourselves on that foggy Friday morning. For some, life goes on with an admirable immediacy. For others letting go of that rawness is altogether more difficult. No matter which side you stood on, for all our sakes a healthy equilibrium needs to be found. We only know what we won’t be like, we don’t yet know what we will.

Creating what we will be like is no easy task. If we keep talking as we did, thinking as we did, and acting as we did, then what is likely to change? The answer is, well, nothing. No matter how you voted, that cannot stand.

Face off won’t work. Just over half our population facing just under half across a deepening divide, based on yesterday’s choice, will succeed only in diminishing us all. There is a continent of common ground to be found on which our new home together can be built.

Timing, in life, is everything and the election of Nicola Sturgeon to lead the Scottish National Party looks timed to near perfection. I have known her for nearly three decades – which is quite a frightening thought. She seems to me completely ready for the moment, even if in her own heart she secretly nurtures some self-doubt. That only makes her better suited to lead, in these times and at this point in our journey without end. I have watched her grow every single year getting stronger, better and fitter to lead with each and every turn of the world. She is naturally quite shy but with that comes a substance and reality that burns with a genuine glow. She is clever and knows her own mind. But she is the opposite of bombastic and has an ear for the quiet voice in the room that just might carry the truth. She gets the best from her civil servants because she knows what she wants and articulates it clearly. Our skilled public servants ask only that from politicians.

And, I hope this comes across as I mean it, this country needs a woman leader now, it really does. No leader is ever perfect and all need to learn on the job. But I don’t think we have ever had someone better placed, prepared and timed for the challenges we face right now. It is a beautiful thing.

The way we do business has to change. The conversation needs to alter if progress is to be found. So many roadblocks are cast in our path and the biggest is the closed mind of too many. If we accept that a majority voted to stay within the UK but a greater majority wants Scottish Home Rule properly empowered within it, how do we progress?

When Donald Dewar led the legislation to create the Scottish Parliament his frame was that the Scottish people were sovereign. All power rests with them save that which we define as reserved to Westminster. That should be our starting point again.

If we can follow on the principle Donald Dewar founded then there can be the beginnings of a new way ahead. Scotland should be the pole from which the power emanates. We should then choose what to share and buy back from the UK centre, not the other way around. Rather than pleading for occasional scraps of power from under the master’s table, what if the powerful had to bid for legitimacy from us, the people? That would completely change the conversation without ending it one way or another. The powerful should remain on their toes, always, on our behalf.

This would mean that we take proper responsibility for the country we want to shape, albeit within an enduring UK. We pay for defence, foreign affairs and any other central services we share. The cohesion payment that secures the joint welfare of all is clear and explicit whichever way it flows.

Samuel Johnson wrote that “the pleasures of sudden wonder are soon exhausted, and the mind can only repose on the stability of truth”. Too often our politics have lit up with the firework of a passing joy. I have had my fill. Time now for us to rest and live in enduring truth at last. «

• Twitter: @AndrewWilsonAJW