What's this all about?
Since I can remember I've been shouting 'C'mon Scotland' at TV screens. Occasionally it was a cry of excitement (Scotland's free kick against England at Euro 1996, the 1990 Grand Slam). Sometimes it was a yelp of despair (Gary McAllister taking the penalty, almost every Six Nation game since). Mostly it was just the sound of someone who knew we were under-performing, someone trying to use Scottish mental telepathy to reach the players on the field and tell them 'you know you're better than this, we know you're better than this'.
In my day job I'm the Director of the Jimmy Reid Foundation. We're trying really hard to keep a position whereby after the referendum is over we can work with people across parties. Not only did I take great care when writing or blogging as JRF Director, I actually stopped when it became clear that some parts of Scottish politics aren't currently able to take calm, constructive criticism.
But I'm watching this independence referendum and I'm observing as an overt strategy of demoralisation is being pursued by one side. Explicitly, implicitly, in word and in deed, Scots are force-fed one story; that without London we're nothing.
It makes perfect sense. My professional background is in political strategy and if there's one rule to campaigning it's that scared, weak, demoralised, depressed and defeated people don't vote Yes. Because scared, weak, demoralised, depressed and defeated people accept almost anything that's done to them. If Scotland is left on its knees by this strategy, we'll be there for some time.
The crazy thing is that this strategy is being pursued so aggressively by the No campaign precisely because it isn't true. It is because of Scotland's resource-rich geostrategic position that the British State is so desperate to keep hold of us. From control of vital maritime territories to 40 years of financing British deficits with North Sea oil, it is because Scotland is in such a strong position that we must be battered relentlessly with tale after tale of our weakness, our inevitable failure and our inability to put up a decent fight.
But I know for sure we're better than that. I think that the 'hey kids, let's all be reasonable' approach taken by most of the Yes Campaign is in many ways admirable. But it is no longer sufficient. This campaign has been turned into a battlefield by those who support the British State and we can't just keep firing volleys of well-meaning accountants into enemy territory. If we want any kind of change in Scotland – any kind at all – we need to instil in people the certain knowledge that they are not weak, that they have not been defeated, that they need not be cowed out of raising themselves up to their full height.
That's all I want to do with this blog. I want to argue for the inherent strength of Scotland and its people. I want to dissect the 'misery lit' that passes for No campaign analysis and offer an alternative version in which we're not just shite. It'll be a little bit polemic but I'll try hard to keep everything well within the bounds of realistic and achievable. I just want Scotland to feel good about itself, to be able to think of its future with confidence. Whatever that future is.