Má Vlast (Or My Homeland)
When I was a kid my parents did something that was, in my view, quite smart. They noticed that things were turning a bit bigoted around them and they decided that my brother and sister and I would be brought up with as broad an education as possible, at least when it came to religion.
They managed to keep their own views about it out of things, well, at least until my brother died and then suddenly religion was IN, and in quite a big way.
They did not manage to keep political views out of things though. Both of them were fierce in their support of Scottish independence. It doesn’t take much for this to be driven home when your house if full of fluro yellow pennants and a weird kite shaped emblem. All the windows that faced out on to the cul de sac we lived in had them in them when it came to election time.
When I was 7 we moved to a small market town just outside of Oxford. It’s a pretty little place, the nicest thing I’ve seen said about it is “it has the nicest council estate I’ve ever seen” - Bill Bryson, Notes From a Small Island on his walk to the graveyard where George Orwell is buried.
Moving to England when you are that young, your sense of the world is weird, and of course back then the internet was a dream. I remember being asked by other kids who’d surrounded us on our first walk around the new area what our surname was. We told them.. “that’s a funny name!” came the response. “How?” we asked, “MacBishop is just weird!” was the answer that still makes me laugh now.
For various reasons I yo-yo’d between Scotland and England, as a kid, a high schooler and again as a young and then not quite so young adult.
If I’m asked by anyone - I’m always Scottish. Proud of my national identity, my nation, it’s achievements and I’m just like everyone else, embarrassed by the low lights of our humanity.
I cannot remember a time when I’ve been able to vote that I’d ever consider voting anything other than Scottish National Party (SNP). I actually met the leader of the party one night, he had a warmth and passion about him, considering it was bloody freezing and it was 2am in the morning and the poor sod was on his way home and had stopped to buy petrol.
I have friends back home that were brought up in strictly Labour homes, where the family would help the local candidate put up posters and placards etc - The local MP was something of a smart cookie, a guy called Robin Cook. When we were kids Labour had no chance of being the winning party, and SNP even less so. Yet my friend and I had many heated discussions (ok, they were arguments, I spoke with honesty and knowledge, he ranted like a madman. Of course, it’s quite possible he’d say the exact opposite)
The last time I was home he’d changed his mind. So had his family. SNP was now the go. They weren’t too keen on Independence, but they were loving devolution. That was a few years ago now, and I’d bet that if I was to ask they would now be hanging out for a vote to break away from the Union.
My last Scottish MP was, quite possibly the smartest of the smart when it came to Independence, a guy who posed the trickiest of questions that still hasn’t been answered! Tam Dalyell (Formally, he’s actually Sir Thomas Dalyell Loch, 11th Baronet). He’s so famous that his “seat” in the house is the name of the question. The West Lothian Question. It’s a tricky bastard.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Lothian_question
Get your head around that, and you get part way to understanding why Tam was so keen to get things sorted out sooner rather than later.
He knew then, back in 1977, that if devolution came about it would lead to Independence, give people a little power and they will want more.
Scotland is perhaps on the verge of taking that next step. Personally, I wouldn’t rush into it. I understand the reasons behind wanting to rush into it - Oil. The revenues from the black gold under Scottish waters would make Scotland one of the richest nations per capita. And right now it’s as poor as a church mouse (or today of all days, a wee sleekit cow’rin tim’rous beastie!).
The leader of the SNP, Alex Salmond, was an energy economist, in Scotland this means two things... Oil & Gas. He is probably more aware than most that Scotland needs to reclaim her rights to this if she’s to dig her way out of the hole that The Milk Snatcher left the country in. My problem is that if it’s rushed then people will not tolerate mistakes - it has to be done when things are probably as bad as they ever could get. People need to understand that it’s not going to fix things overnight. Scotland and her people need to agree that there are countries that know how to treat the natural resource as best they possibly can - They just need to look a little to the north and a bit to the east at many of her inhabitants ancestors, the Norwegians. She is the gold star example of where Scotland can take herself.
But it needs to be done with a strong positive push. The vote needs to be clear. (And the vote needs to be done fairly, the last time there was a referendum on Independence it turned out that the recently dead voted no, that was back in the 70’s I think.)
My dad celebrates his birthday tomorrow, Australia Day. He lives and breathes Scotland. I know for him he’s going to be so excited about what’s happening.
Scotland has all the bits that are required to make a nation, it was part of the union that it would remain in place. She has banks and a healthy banking system, she has a legal system that is unique, and her laws are still different from those south of the border. There is no trespass law in Scotland, only criminal damage can be prosecuted.
So - why would I like to see my country be a country again? Even just writing that line has made the hair on my arms stand on end! Scotland and England have always been at each others throats, and the “partnership” has always helped England more than Scotland, I think it’s time things got turned around finally. Maybe it’s time to be a Nation again.
What do you think? Have any questions for me? Fire away.