About Me

My photo
LONDON, United Kingdom
All the stuff I work on around the digital world

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Scotland's referendum - an education in politics

This is written at the end of the referendum day, when we don't know the outcome. So it's about the process, not the result.

I've had a political education over the past few weeks, deciding at the last minute that I had to be up here and do something with the Yes Campaign. Sat up all night on the night train. Not just because Scotland matters to me although it does (Scottish parents, childhood memories, businesses, frequent visits). More because something really big is happening here.

On the streets of the South Edinburgh ward I (and my son, 19) trudged, clipboard in hand, to ensure that the known likely "Yes" voters were on track, it was clear this was a class campaign.

A languid middle aged man in a dressing-gown clad  (it was midday...) sneeringly peered down from the high step to his plush stone villa. "You tried hard. But I'm not going for you chaps. Tough luck". Slam of a heavy door. These were the houses of people who had done well by the status quo.

On the roads, a different story. The big cars don't react, but the smaller, battered, cheaper vehicles, the vans, the buses, invariably toot a supporting horn at us when they see a saltire or a Yes rosette. If in traffic, the drivers wind down the window and yell, "yes, for a better Scotland, let's win it". The determination to change the entire basis of politics and government is lit up and won't be easy to quell if the "No" vote predominates.

Sentimental ? Maybe. But working the streets, in every conversation, the contrast with the world of England I'd left the day before is acute. The Scots simply are different. Their sense of community, their passion for justice,  their wish to bring something different to the world - not wars, weapons and neo-liberalism. They cannot bring this to the world if they are an eccentric variety within a nation that wants domination and profit at the top of its wish list.

The 16-17 year olds who had been on a TV debate I had seen last week also showed that through their superior education, the youth was able to rise to the responsibility of the vote. They had used the process to educate themselves. Sure, some ill-informed opinions or lunacies, but that's everywhere, and by and large these were thoughtful and considered views.

Each person you speak to about the vote and the issue shows deeply held personal private feeling.