Today is the first post in a week long series of guest contributions where seven writers will explore compelling and refreshing angles on the referendum. This is not the mainstream, this is a tributary and a tribute to all the fantastic soul searching of all of us at this time. Our first writer is a real coup, the one, the only, John Thomson. John was one of my journalism lecturers and he was a fantastic formative influence. He led classes with wit, insight and warmth. It is not too grand to say that he helped shape me as a writer, as a citizen and as a man. He blogs regularly at http://johnt850.wordpress.com and he is going to be abseiling down the Titan Crane on 14th September for Prostate Cancer UK! For more information head here.
Over to John to set the scene.
And so, exclusive to this blog, is the news that my first grand-daughter arrived in the World last week. She is, obviously lovely but if you don’t mind, I won’t tell you her name. Once upon a time, I might have done but social media terrifies me at the moment and it’s the independence referendum that’s doing it.
I’m used to political debate where occasionally you even agreed that your opponent had a good point there but…..and then seized upon a fact from Page 77 of the Party Manifesto to floor your opponent and then, whatever party got into power, it was always interesting to see the wheels moving within wheels to achieve some form of majority. Voting and the Scottish Parliament was meant to achieve consensus politics – coalitions were not to be unusual but the fact that the Scottish National (not Nationalist) Party had an overall majority changed the ball game. Suddenly Independence for Scotland was on the menu.
And a whole new range of people entered the fray; people with no political experience, who can only see black and white and not the grey that very often political compromise has to be. But this has not been recognised by the new political order in Scotland who use social media to throw vitriol and unfounded rumour and conspiracy at each other without seeing anyone else’s point.
But this has been recognised by the parties themselves. Let us examine the order of events. On 18th September we vote to answer one question. Whether the answer is Yes (as I hope) or No, we are then into uncharted territories where a period of transition will take place and it is only then that the parties can set out their stalls, knowing that there are major changes ahead.
The unionist parties can no longer exist in their present state and they will have to devolve or separate from their London bosses. Alistair Carmichael, the current Secretary of State for Scotland, has, I understand, already accepted that his current job will disappear but he has expressed willingness to sit on any cross-party committee to see through the changes and the necessary compromise.
I also (have reason to) believe that each party has people working on possible policies for Independence or not. You don’t just stop thinking and believing in Toryism for example, just because you are no longer joined at the hip to party HQ in London – you want to make it work in the new Scotland. You want to be prepared for the Scottish Elections of 2016 which will happen no matter what the result and that’s when we see the manifestos for events in Scotland.
There will be the period of transition when we decide whether we keep the pound; what happens with pensions; and the transition for the NHS to the Scottish NHS (which will take minutes since it’s already devolved and has been for centuries).
There will be the Scottish elections when we decide whether or not we like the transition and whether we vote for the SNP (or will they have disbanded after a Yes vote?) or another party; a new Government for a new Scotland – whatever the answer to the question is on 18th September.
For the sake of my grand-daughter, I hope we get it right.