My reflective mood is still like a runaway train as far as the recent Scottish independence referendum is concerned. One issue that I regret wasn’t raised more often was national identity. Whilst the Yes campaign should be credited with the positives in talking about how to solve the problems and issues that exist within our country and how to make Scotland a better country, I felt that the overall issue of national identity was almost seen as a secondary concern.
I have no doubt that some may choose to challenge me on the last point I made, but I don’t know if it’s just my own personal opinion or preference in terms of seeing what issues I would have ideally seen discussed and how often. I also don’t doubt for a second that nearly every Scottish person living in this wonderful nation and beyond is fiercely proud of their national identity. We’ve brought a lot to the world and the world has been generally kind to us.
But something struck a chord when I read some words from The Herald online from the former leader of the Scottish National Party Gordon Wilson – he stated that convincing the electorate over the whole issue of Scottish national identity was key in ensuring a victory for the Yes side in the referendum. And he also said that countries that won their independence did so because of identity. Whilst I didn’t quite agree with every last word of his analysis, I think he certainly isn’t wrong about bringing the whole issue of Scottish nationhood to the forefront of the debate. Whilst the Yes Scotland campaign did very well in persisting with the vision of a can do attitude as far as taking Scotland forward is concerned, it did not make enough noise over the issue of national identity.
And let’s be fair, I think one of the Better Together campaign’s biggest faults was not making enough noise about national identity either, but in their case coming from a British perspective. Even some commentators dubbed their campaign as anti-independence rather than pro-union. Whilst being pro-independence, I would never dare sneer at a unionist who was genuinely proud of being a citizen of the United Kingdom. Nor would I ever cast any doubt on any other person who felt passionate and proud of being a patriot of the nation of their origin. Patriotism is a personal and special thing to human beings and they have an absolute human right to feel that way about their country. And I would unambiguously defend anybody’s right to feel patriotic.
The issue of national identity is a very personal and special thing to me. When I left Scotland late in 2011 for south of the border, never did I ever dare think that I would come back around a year later with a different mindset as far as my Scottish identity was concerned. Something inside me woke up and the genie truly escaped out of the bottle as far as my Scottish identity was concerned. The vast majority of people recognised me down south as the Scottish bloke or the guy with the Scottish accent – that was special. I even made one person’s jaw crash to the ground when I opened my mouth. People tend to look at someone like me at first and, predictably (although I could well be wrong), could end up forming stereotypical opinions.
Since returning home, the saltire has waved proudly whether it’s flying a flag at home or even something as small as buying a mobile phone case with a saltire coated all over it. I feel more happier and secure with myself then ever before. And I’m also unapologetic for putting myself forward in the way that I do. If anyone was to come up to me and criticise me because of how I assert myself as far as my identity is concerned, then I will comfortably and politely take their words with a pinch of salt.
Put it this way, you take away my Scottish patriotism, you kill off a major part of my personality. And if there’s anything that makes me genuinely very angry it’s when people demonise my attitude as either cringeworthy or corny. I frankly find that offensive, because it’s almost like saying to me that feeling patriotic isn’t acceptable in society. It’s also almost like saying that I should be forced to change to adapt to so called “normality” – as if that even exists!
We are all individuals in this world and thank goodness that is the case. If we were all the same as each other then there would be absolutely no point in living on this planet. In a world which is becoming ever more globalised, we have a right to remember our roots, identities and who we are as individual human beings.
Finally, on Tuesday night this week I had the honour of being a member of the audience at the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow when before me emerged one of Scotland’s greatest musical acts of all time – Deacon Blue. I will quote a couple of their famous lines from one of their finest songs of all time, Fergus Sings The Blues: “All things are possible. But happen less and less. This is my country. These are my reasons.”
Alba gu bràth.