CommonSpace columnist Fraser Stewart says independence supporters must reach out to No voters in light of the UK vote for Brexit
SO it happened. In an historic decision, the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union. On which side of history this decision will fall remains to be seen.
With the pound already imploding, and the odious, dog-whistle Leave campaign winning the day, many of us are rightfully distraught. We have seen our international principles sacrificed in the name of Great Britishness; instead of leading the international community, we have turned our backs upon it. Such is the warped vision of British national identity.
To the world we are now shirkers, more interested in what we were yesterday than how we can shape the world tomorrow. Some will bemoan a lack of effort dedicated to winning over the disaffected British working classes; some will discuss "where next?" for British politics as a whole.
With the pound already imploding, and the odious, dog-whistle Leave campaign winning the day, many of us are rightfully distraught.
Personally, I’m not sure I want to know anymore. I’ve never felt less British in all my life – and I very much doubt I’m alone. Many suggested that the #EUref saga would 'hold a mirror up' to the British public and the differences in how we, as a nation, view ourselves. It absolutely did. But for many of us, that same mirror has only brutally exposed how far apart this 'family of nations' has grown.
In the weeks and months leading up to the Scottish referendum campaign, it felt like something big was happening. It was exciting. We in Scotland were at the forefront of this thing we call democracy and we found deep appreciation for the gravitas thereof.
The European referendum felt different from the off. There was no excitement, no mass awakening or political storm. Since day one, this campaign felt like it was happening to us. It was never ours, and it never could be.
This was a campaign for 'Great Britain' – a country I no longer recognise. I do not feel 'British'; I do not share in the Conservative 'British' values that dominated the dialogue of this referendum. This entire episode feels like an alien invasion; a result beamed in from a faraway land, contested on foreign ideals and issues.
Since day one, this campaign felt like it was happening to us. It was never ours, and it never could be.
The stark contrast in the Scottish result thus comes as no great surprise. We’re different beasts entirely. For two UK-wide elections in a row the colours on the map have been telling and that cannot be ignored. This United Kingdom does not belong to us anymore, and it hasn’t for some time.
This is a United Kingdom firmly in the hands of others – of the conservative British and their superiority complex. This is a United Kingdom I no longer feel nor wish to be a part of.
All eyes now necessarily shift to Bute House, but the matter at hand is a delicate one and that cannot be stressed enough. I would run up and down every close in Glasgow tomorrow if so called upon, but it’s important for those of us who favour independence to maintain perspective.
A second referendum is inevitable. We know this. But a second referendum lost is directly tantamount to the death of the question. We thus have to be sensible moving forward. Moreover, we have to patient.
The issue of democratic mandate is a cloudy one at best. We must exercise caution in moving forward and work together as closely as possible to ensure a positive outcome this time around. That means working across the chamber: that means having conversations with those we thought we might never be stood beside in a political contest so long as we lived.
A second referendum is inevitable. We know this. But a second referendum lost is directly tantamount to the death of the question. We thus have to be sensible moving forward.
That means dialogue with Scottish Labour supporters, many of whom would undoubtedly prefer an independent Scotland in Europe than a United Kingdom out. It also means a reunification of all those groups who worked so tirelessly together during the Yes campaign, but have had their differences since.
As strong as the SNP is, it cannot do it alone. In order to move forward as a thriving, outward-looking Scotland, we must hence bring together those ties that bind us beyond the political bubble: to re-join our friends in the progressive world, and finally move on from a United Kingdom that’s never felt so far from home.
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