The last few months, and in particular the last ten days leading up to the Scottish Referendum, have been – well – dramatic. I’ve never experienced anything like it, in terms of saturation and involvement. Perhaps the nearest, for me, was 1968 and the student unrest of that year. I was slightly too young to be part of that one.
For many people outside Scotland there has probably been a little bemusement at events here. I’m aware that some of the Scottish people, and people with Scottish connections, I know who are currently living outside Scotland (Alison, Helen, JD, Rob, etc) have picked up well on the issues and their importance, but many others probably haven’t.
Now, we have a majority of people in Scotland who probably feel relief rather than anything else at the Referendum result, and slightly less in the minority who voted ‘Yes’ to independence, who feel disappointment. But it would appear that one thing that both lots agree on is that things should not, and will not, be the same again. Perhaps there is even a new Zeitgeist within Scotland, and it may well spread to other parts.
During the recent and varied discussions, some in the ‘Yes’ camp started to talk about a butterfly revolution. Well, it may be that that is still on the cards, but in a slightly different form than the Yessies perhaps originally wanted.
For my own part, I voted for the first time in my life. Having previously said that “I’ve never voted in a national or local election. I never will” after much thought, I decided that that statement referred to general and local (representative) elections, rather than referendums, and I still stand by it.
We saw an immense amount of Referendum activity over the past few weeks within various social media, which must have bewildered some people elsewhere. Brian Kelly aptly summed this up yesterday by saying, with his usual great awareness and humour, “What was Facebook used for before the Scottish referendum?”
Gordon Brown’s speech was the most passionate one I’ve watched. There were some excellent speeches and appeals by others, on both sides. This past week we had some friends from down south staying with us for a few days. They were not expecting what they saw in our normally rather apolitical household – exclamations such as, “Have you seen what Gordy said!” and “Did you see Eck’s response today!” and “Tommy’s a nutter!”
Many other things are ongoing elsewhere in the world, and many of them unfortunately currently involve violence. In Scotland, we seem to have shown that it is possible to work towards a resolution of very opposing issues in a peaceful way. Look at the way these two chaps, Canavan and Boyle, shake hands at the end of their discussion, for example. Let’s hope that that sort of thing continues, as there are still many things to sort out.
I have started to read World Order, by Henry Kissinger.
He is not someone I would normally read, or expect to agree with, but I was impressed with his historical analysis of the current situation in the Middle East. It is heavy going, and I’m not entirely convinced with his perspective towards European history, and I don’t expect to agree with his proposed solutions for continued world order, but there are many insights, such as: “The Westphalian concept took multiplicity as its starting point and drew a variety of multiple societies, each accepted as a reality, into a common search for order. By the mid-twentieth century, this international system was in place on every continent; it remains the scaffolding of international order such as it now exists.” This order is, of course, currently under threat by entirely new concepts in the Middle East, but I’ve still to read what he says about that.