Scottish independence: Prospect of nation based on social democratic values not 'winner takes all' gives Yes movement real hope – Iain Bruce

If we’re to believe the late Czech author, dissident and president Vaclav Havel, “Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”

The Yes movement currently has the hope that the Supreme Court will find in favour of the Lord Advocate and agree that Indyref2 is indeed in the bailiwick of Holyrood, but given their denial of the right to incorporate the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law, we’re certainly not optimistic.

But the movement needs to sustain that hope beyond the Supreme Court hearing in October to believe that, whatever a plebiscite election is, it can deliver the independence result we desperately need given the serious threat to our very survival as a devolved nation.

With the imminent prospects of a political landscape of neo-Thatcherism, devolution will be dead and we will be corralled once again as North Britons in a political landscape, so far removed from the ‘One Nation’ Conservatism of Alec Douglas-Home and Harold Macmillan.

That was the last time the Tories won a general election in Scotland. That was a time when the welfare state was a constituent part of a mixed economy, not the economy of gangster capitalism, when the NHS operated in service of the people rather than of health company shareholders, and when there was a notion that members of society have obligations towards each other, or as it’s known in Scotland, the common weal, with the Disraelian theory that society should be allowed to develop in an organic way rather than being engineered.

When, in the past few weeks, have we heard any of that from the diminishing number of opportunists, preening on the Tory political catwalk where no thought has been given to the common weal outwith the confines of the calculating, self-interested, self-serving interests of middle England.

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In a new Scotland, I hope to have political choices that have meaning, with compassionate governance and a social contract between the nation and its people.

Being part of a faded imperial power is not in Scotland's interests, says Iain Bruce (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

I hope that social democratic values will inform our government with workers’ rights and consensus politics, and an end to ‘winner takes all’.

I hope to live in a country where nuclear convoys no longer transit our largest city in the night. I hope to be part of a society with a collaborative approach to tackling wars and displacement and which makes the protection of the environment a priority.

In pursuit of my hopes, I can be optimistic that article one of chapter one of the UN Charter of Human Rights is for real, that the right of peoples to self-determination is real. And it is no longer a hope, it has become that well-known oxymoron, a Johnsonian Truth, as he recently acknowledged in his fulsome support of the rights of the people of Ukraine and the Falklands Islands to self-determination, although obviously, this was not for viewers in Scotland, as they sometimes say on the BBC.

I can also be optimistic given a judgement of the International Court of Justice about Kosovo, that compliance with the law of the predecessor state is not a condition for a declaration of independence to be recognised by third-party states, if other conditions for recognition are fulfilled.

As the pressures of the Brexit reality are continually ignored by the Tory party’s answer to Tweedledum and Tweedledee, we need to be biased in our own collective self-interests and our pursuit of independence, as time and again the Rule Britannia brigade have demonstrated they have nothing but contempt for their neighbours in North Britain.

When others, even the ‘hear-no-evil, see-no-evil, speak-no-socialism-evil’, Union Jack Labour party are looking out for their own interests, we need to seize opportunities to get on the front foot.

Now that the pursuit of a mythical gold-standard Section 30 order from Westminster has surely run it’s course, let’s waste no more time as it appears an even bigger nightmare than Johnson’s legacy is coming down the pipe.

If the Supreme Court won’t grant my grandchildren the benefit of rights advocated by the United Nations, I can hope, but I’m not holding my breath, that they’ll ride over the horizon to rescue Scottish democracy.

Circumstances change constantly. There is no such thing as frozen time. Every generation thinks that their crisis in the world is different from and worse than those experienced by their forefathers. Without doubt, post-Brexit global economics is very different from the hegemony of our imperial past. We need both the hope and ability to respond to the circumstances of our own time.

I'm not anti-English, but I am vehemently against the undemocratic British establishment, their increasingly anti-democratic ways and their vandalism of a democracy for which the youth of preceding generations was sacrificed in two world wars.

To deal with our 21st-century circumstances, we must have hope and articulate the issues for ourselves. We can’t sit back and let others articulate their views on our behalf. Being part of a faded imperial power is definitely not in our interests. The opportunity to make decisions that reflect our hopes and values is all we want.

I hope Scotland says enough is enough, I hope our time is now, so let’s pull together and get this done.

On the other side of the coin, however, our opponents are optimistic that Scotland is too wee, too poor and too stupid to have faith in the certainty that independence makes sense. The Yes campaign’s simple task is to disabuse them of that notion.

Dr Iain Bruce is a retired architect and an active participant in the Yes Highlands & Islands network of 25 pro-independence groups stretching from Yes Shetland to Yes Cowal and Western Ayes in the west to Yes Elgin/Moray in the east.

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