BEFORE September’s independence referendum there was some speculation regarding what position the author George Orwell would have taken in the debate.
Those who held him to be a secular saint, committed to Englishness, internationalism and democratic socialism, the product of public school and imperial service, who immersed himself in poverty and the Spanish Civil War to gain genuine knowledge of the other side of life, argued that he would have voted No.
Orwell (born Eric Arthur Blair) had shown his commitment by selecting a non-de-plume based on England’s patron saint along with the name of a quintessentially English river and did not publicise the fact that his mother was French, his father Scots.
Against this, many argued his analytical cast of mind came from such an ancestry and would have driven him by force of logic to support independence as the only route to reform. After all, he wrote his final book on the Isle of Jura. It was Nineteen Eighty-Four and showed that he would probably have not supported nuclear deterrence.
Since last September, however, there has been more time to reflect and consider. Orwell’s views are clearly stated in his own writings. These lines were written in 1941:
“One cannot see the modern world unless one recognises the overwhelming strength of patriotism – as a positive force there is nothing to set beside it.”
He also wrote in 1947: “Up to date the Scottish Nationalist movement seems to have gone almost unnoticed in England… It is true it is small but it could grow because there is a basis for it. Scotland has a case against England … in the past we have plundered Scotland shamefully. Scotland is almost an occupied country.”
Iain WD Forde
ON A stroll through my leafy north Edinburgh suburb recently I noticed several windows and cars festooned with Yes placards.
I found this rather sad, if not pathetic.
Clearly, many of those whose arguments were rejected comprehensively in the referendum last year remain in denial. Time appears to have stopped for some of them. They are surviving in a pre-referendum limbo; perhaps they think it is all a bad dream from which they will soon awaken.
It is often said of addicts that the first and crucial step in recovery is accepting there is a problem. Once that is accepted, then healing and a return to normality can begin. In a different sense, much the same theory applies to those in referendum denial.
New Cut Rigg