It doesn’t have to be like this

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By Alex Robertson

I spent too much time in front of the TV this week, watching the House of Lords debating the Scotland Bill.  The debate was so depressing and negative – everyone wracking their brains to think up ways to ‘diss’ the SNP, and scheming to defeat any move to Scottish independence, not a positive thought in sight, mostly from peers whose political careers had been killed off by the SNP sometime earlier.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

This is the most exciting time to be alive and Scottish for three hundred years.  And somehow that mood has not won the day yet. In all our long history, there has never been a greater time than this to be Scottish.

We are, after all, on the verge of rebuilding our homeland, the way we want it, for a bright new future.  There are so many opportunities to make things better for our people in so many ways, from the rundown east end of Glasgow to the bleak former mining villages of Fife, Lothian and Lanark.  So many ways to unleash all the potential that lies just over the horizon.  Why, then talk up all the problems and difficulties?

In Winston Churchill’s old home of Chartwell, in Kent, in a far corner of his studio in the gardens, there is a framed letter from the months before D-Day.  It is a memo concerning the building of the Mulberry Harbours, the floating concrete caissons towed across the Channel to be joined together to make a vital supply harbour.

This was a fantastic idea which solved one of the most serious problems facing the success of the liberation of Europe.  In the margins of the typed letter, Churchill had added his usual handwritten scribbled notes and drawings of how the caissons could be linked on hinges so that they would float on the tides and waves.  He added at the foot a note to those who would read the letter. “Pray do not argue the difficulties – they will argue for themselves.”

In that one sentence you can sense his frustration with all the naysayers and prophets of doom and gloom who would emerge to provide a constant refrain of all the reasons why the idea wouldn’t work, instead of applying their minds to ways of overcoming any difficulties.  Maybe we are all falling prey to the same downcast eyes and negative thinking.  Of course independence will bring challenges, but it will bring far more benefits and opportunities.

The prize is truly great.  Why should we get bogged down in trying to think and make a meal of the challenges.  Better to focus all our attention, united together, instead of thinking up objections, to develop a common vision for a new and much better Scotland.