When I was growing up, the SNP would march right past our doorstep every year on their way to the Battle of Bannockburn site for a rally. As children we would all go out and wave at them as they passed, the marchers, the pipers, drummers and presumably all the VIPs of the SNP. We sometimes followed them up to the Bannockburn site and mingled among all the people, absorbing all the calls for an Independent Scotland. I sometimes wonder if that is the reason why I believe so strongly in Scottish Independence today.
Having visited many other parts of the world, but having always lived in Scotland, I have come to believe that the Scottish psyche is wounded. It is not that we are too wee, too poor, or too stupid to look after ourselves, it’s just that we have a wounded psyche, resulting in a lack of respect for ourselves and a lack of self-confidence. I don’t know how far back in time this damaged spirit goes, but I believe there are 5 main reasons for this and most of them stem from our political situation.
First of all in Scotland we have this strange situation where the most major political decisions are made outwith the country and with another country’s wellbeing as a priority. At Westminster, Scots and Scotland are considered far less important that the English and England. Scotland has less citizens therefore less voting power, is further away from the power base and decision making, and is altogether considered to be rather remote, unpopulated and unimportant from the viewpoint of London. That is just the way it is, and it has been like this for my whole lifetime and beyond. Thankfully our Scottish Parliament has arrived and changed the power balance slightly, but it’s not enough. Westminster still holds the strings, particularly to our economic wellbeing and growth. The subliminal messages sent to Scotland through this situation are ‘you are too stupid to be given full control of yourselves’ and ‘you are actually not very important’.
Secondly, we are continually told by our media and by our politicians that Scotland is economically unviable by itself, that we do not pay our way and without being part of the union we would be nothing. Strange to find out that the opposite is true. The McCrone report written in the 70s states that with Independence Scotland would be one of the richest nations in Europe, because of her oil. The report was quietly filed away and has only recently emerged because of the FOI Act. Scotland still has oil and now has huge potential from the renewables industry on top of that. Economically Scotland will be extremely wealthy on her own, and extremely poor staying in the Union. However, the lies about Scotland’s financial situation are still being perpetuated. Subliminal message, ‘Scotland is too poor to look after itself’.
Thirdly, Britain has a huge celebrity culture which has been imported wholeheartedly from the USA. We know that this culture is all about money making, selling magazines, music, videos etc. however the vast majority of us fall for it hook, line and sinker. The problem with celebrity culture is that normal citizens start to feel unimportant, so local community projects become uninteresting and unimportant because they are only local, and not studded with stars and this particularly affects the teenage to young adult age group, the very group who are vital in creating strong communities through sport and youth activities and so on. Celebrity culture therefore contributes to the breakdown of communities. Again the subliminal message to each of us because of celebrity culture is ‘you are actually not very important compared with the rich and powerful people’.
Fourthly, add to this, the displacement of Scottish culture. By this, I am talking about the Arts, about sport (everything other than football), about our history, about our people, our traditions, even our politics. All of this is considered less important than British (therefore, by implication, English) culture, by most of our newspapers and our television and radio. The exception is BBC Alba and Gaelic television in general. Watch that for a few days and then you start to realise what is missing in our mainstream broadcasting. The reason for this lack of support could be a completely biased, unionist viewpoint by our media but it could also be the result of our wounded psyche which has absorbed all the subliminal messages and now considers everything that happens south of the border to be far more important than everything happening north of the border, even by our own citizens. To be proud of Scotland and Scottish culture has been considered to be slightly parochial and old-fashioned, and perhaps even worthy of some embarrassment. The wounded psyche therefore perpetuates the lack of support of Scottish culture and so it becomes a vicious circle. Subliminal message ‘Scottish issues and culture are unimportant’.
Finally, I feel Britain does not put its’ citizens first. Following the example of the US, Labour as our ruling party for the last number of years, put corporate interests ahead of the interests of British citizens and the end result was lots of unhappy individuals living within the endless rules and regulations imposed on us supposedly for our own good, but really just to make the people at the top richer. We no longer (did we ever?) feel that the state is here to smooth things out and make life better, but instead we are merely pawns in a game for the rich to make money. In all of Europe I doubt very much that there is another country which has embraced this corporate greed like Britain has. The subliminal message here ‘ordinary citizens rights are not very important compared with corporate interests’.
With all these layers of negative subliminal messages sent to us day in day out, it is not surprising to find that as a people, Scots have been up till now rather lacking in self-respect, unsure of their abilities and generally a little bit pessimistic. I put it all down to a collective wounded psyche which manifests itself in many different ways and through many different people and situations all the time.
The good news is, that despite all of this, things are changing. Our country is beginning to thrive in many ways, our self-esteem is on the rise, our appreciation of all the things that are unique to Scotland is growing and the truth is starting to come out about what has been happening to us politically these last 40 years or so and what our true economic situation is. Individuals are starting to live to their full potential without having to leave Scotland, our education system is improving, and Scottish music and song is becoming very popular especially among the young. Our economic prospects actually look excellent in an Independent Scotland with the oil industry continuing to prosper and our potential for green energy looking huge. Under Alex Salmond our country has started to develop international relationships and has started to look outwards to new possibilities. Our Scottish Parliament has shown that it is possible to be governed in such a way that the citizens are put first rather that big business and I believe that during these last few years we have all started to feel a little differently about ourselves.
So, let’s finish the job, let’s shake off the last remnants of Empire, restore our collective psyche, and take our place in the world as equal citizens with our neighbours, appreciating our proud traditions and our beautiful country. We have much to be grateful for, huge untapped resources both in the land and in our people. We just need to take ourselves forward now, take on the responsibility of running our own country and start to think collectively in a new way. Let’s find out how far we can go.
Bringing Independence to Scotland is only the first step.