Is the debate getting too hot to handle? I thought it was cruising along nicely with the odd ludicrous assertion – Ian Murray’s Stickergate – and overblown nonsense you expect in a prolonged, passionate national discussion, until I read Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman. He thinks it’s turning so sour that after the vote we may have our own ‘Caledonian Krisallnacht’.
Achtung, baby! Why is it the very people who demand everybody calms down and gets reasonable are the same ones who leap to Nazi Germany for their metaphors? When Brian Wilson (also in the Scotsman) attacked me – for criticising BBC presenters – he alluded to Stormtroopers. Now I deliberately interpreted that as a Star Wars reference to save his embarrassment but I have little doubt he intended it to mean…yes, our Nazi friends again. (The last uniform I wore was the Boy Scouts, First Selkirk, Cheetah Platoon).
You see in the mind of the professional commentator used to handing down tablets of sagacity on stone to the nation, there is no room left on Mount Olympus, so we must dismiss the voice of the people, those poor souls who haven’t been adorned with official approval. They’re not playing the game, not using the approved language. They’re usurping Her Majesty’s Imperial Press – and they don’t like it.
Yesterday I wrote about… “the pious who nevertheless find space in their condemnation for the odd dismissive barb themselves.” I didn’t expect to be justified so soon.
To be fair to Bill, he is a fine Scot, an outstanding journalist and good bloke and he knows his market – Scotland’s business types who play such an important role in our country. But ‘fractious and ugly’, ‘anger and menace’? A Truth and Reconciliation Commission? ‘The biggest schism since the Reformation’? Really? It’s funny because the world I inhabit has never seemed so optimistic, inspired, communal and positive. There is creativity of a kind we’ve never experienced before, there is wit and satire, the bursting of pomposity balloons, a people-led assertion of rights, a shared sense of purpose, the generation of the most democratic, non-party grassroots movement from Yell to Yetholm and a grand national debate which has engulfed everybody from our school children to corporate bosses. What’s not to like? Where is this irrational fury?
Could it be that Bill, like others in the conventional media, doesn’t quite live in the same space? In other words, he talks to finance directors, investors and money-movers whose orbit is limited to investment risk and margin and who wouldn’t understand what ordinary people are talking about. This is the famed and self-styled Business Community who, like their big brothers in the City, imagine the world to revolve around them, mainly because down there it does. The government allows job seekers to work for companies literally for nothing but goes to war against Brussels to defend bankers bonuses.
Business is crucial to a functioning western democracy and I am passionate supporter of economic activity and believe, for example, that a totally new process for business start-ups should be introduced to eliminate the myriad restrictions of law and administration and initial cost that deter ordinary people with drive from opening their own business. Our system is predicated far too much on opening the world of business to those with the right education and qualifications rather than to everyman irrespective of social badge, accent or training and demands too much in observance of employment law, accountancy, bureaucracy and office costs. These barriers should be lowered to make initial entry easier and the full weight of legal liabilities and taxes introduced retrospectively – AFTER a company succeeds and is sustainable. We must take risk to earn success. (Time to take my anti-Tory tablets).
But there is a sense of entitlement about our friends in suits that I find objectionable, especially in the hallowed halls of finance. People who make a living from moving other peoples money around are hardly the bedrock of society and heaven knows, we’ve seen the catastrophe they wreaked on us all over the six or seven years. Undaunted, they sound grave warnings to the rest of us about our use of democracy even as they pocket another million pound bonus (Standard Life).
Which I think is one reason for ordinary Scots not taking seriously the grim-faced warnings from fat cats about the consequences of our own independence. I reckon most Scots look at the boss class and instinctively write off 90 per cent of what they say mainly because ‘they would say that, wouldn’t they?’ They know that the boss is never the one to suffer no matter what happens.
In my world hundreds of thousands of Scots who have never engaged directly in politics before are leaving their homes on dark nights to listen to speakers in public halls talk about a different way to run our country and about rediscovering our confidence as citizens and Scots. They are learning not to be afraid and not to be bullied. They learn not to trust what they are told just because that person wears a badge that reads MP, MSP or CBI (or SNP). They see this is their world, it doesn’t belong to those who are well connected and who move effortlessly from one gilded role to another. They are demanding a say. They are growing inwardly, fired by the debate about independence but aware too that, even if it isn’t achieved, their political maturity is and they wont be cowed again, won’t be told to trust those who operate the machine. They are, even without knowing it, taking control for themselves.
Bill, in his piece, bemoans the idea that the argument will go on after the vote in September and how the timid pound pushers in finance are fed up with it. That is the view one who is bored or blind to what is really happening. This will not stop on September 19, win or lose. It is driven by its own momentum and it is the most powerful mass movement of modern times. It may not deliver independence of government this time, but it has already delivered a more confident and determined people who can feel the power surge in their hands. If it feels too hot to handle, they like it.by