If Scotland votes ‘Yes’ all of us will have a part wrenched out that will never be replaced

Scottish FlagI am Cornish and am proud of this fact. If you ask me whether I see myself as English or British, I would agree to both putting English as that which I identify most strongly. But above both of those I would describe myself as Cornish. I may not live there anymore but each time I return it feels like I am coming home. Driving down narrow winding Cornish roads through villages with distinctive Cornish names is a unique experience in itself. The scenery is beautiful and you are never too far away from the sea. It would seem that everything Cornish has a distinct identity. The cars display the badge of St Piran and all of the best food is grown and produced locally. It is a part of the world like no other.

What is it that makes most of us attach ourselves emotionally so closely to a geographical place, whether it be our street, town, city or country? And why do we support our national football teams even though they deliver nothing but heartache and frustration?

It all comes down to relationship. We are not designed to be lone islands. This is what I see when I look at myself and those around me and it is the same when I pick up my Bible. God created Eve so that Adam would not be alone and both of them were made to be in relationship with God. I believe it goes beyond this though. We have a relationship with the Earth we live on – it is part of us and we are part of it. Our lives and our communities are located in physical places that define part of who we are. So many wars are fought over land because people and rulers in one way and another believe they have a connection to the land they are attempting to take control of. We need look no further than Ukraine to see that evidence right now.

So I suspect I have some understanding of what is going on in Scotland. It makes sense that the referendum has stirred up such strong passions and it is no surprise that the Yes campaign has captured the imagination of so many.

To support the Yes campaign is to celebrate all that is Scottish; to celebrate all that marks it out as distinct from the rest of the United Kingdom. It has become one big party and it’s as if those who are saying No have gatecrashed with the intention of wrecking it. Talking relentlessly of everything that will go wrong financially only further sours the festivities.

This is Scotland’s big moment – a chance to free itself from the ‘Effing Tories‘ and the Westminster bubble that gives the impression of having little interest in what goes on north of the border. The promise of a new start with a new constitution is almost intoxicating. It offers that chance to reject all that is broken with British politics and begin again looking to countries such as Norway – comparable in many ways – for inspiration.

Where the Better Together campaign has offered the prose of likely probabilities of financial hardship, the Yes campaign has spoken in poetry of imagination and freedom. It is a contrast of heads and hearts with the hearts singing loudly with joy. Even some church leaders have joined in the chorus despite the churches in Scotland wisely taking a neutral stance. A former Moderator of the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly, Andrew McLellan, and the leader of the Iona Community, Peter MacDonald, along with 32 other ministers have issued an open letter advocating independence.

Christians advocating the No cause have been less vocal and in contrast it is Douglas Alexander, the Shadow Foreign Secretary who has perhaps given the strongest Christian case for remaining in the Union. It would be so much easier if there if there was a clear-cut theological case for or against independence, but of course there is no such thing. Those I have read are unconvincing. Saying that Scotland will become a more just country if it stands alone is an appealing vision, but at this stage there are no guarantees, only dreams.

If there is anything that has spoken to me in the Bible regarding independence it is Israel’s demand for a king because it had rejected the sons of Samuel as its leaders. The people of Israel looked to the nations around them with envy wanting what others had. God granted Israel its kings, but ultimately they were no better off.

Westminster politicians may be waking up to the realisation of how little they are trusted in Scotland, but this resentment is not felt in Scotland alone. If the vote on Thursday comes down on the Yes side, it will not be a rejection of the Westminster crowd; in the process, it will be the rejection of everyone in Wales, England and Northern Ireland too. This will be no conscious uncoupling, it will be one member of the family walking out and leaving the rest of its kin behind. Divorce and separation always leave scars and the painful division of assets results in each side poorer, both financially and emotionally.

And some of those left behind will be Scots themselves who have moved to other parts. It is not surprising that every Scot I have spoken to living here in England is strongly in favour of staying together. An independent Scotland will break connections inside them. They will become aliens in a foreign land.

Has the rest of the Union offended Scotland so badly that there is no way back? My heart is firmly rooted in the beaches, cliffs and hills of Cornwall, but this does not stop me loving the rest of this country. I too long for a more just and fair society and I will do my bit to see that happen for Cornwall, Scotland and the rest of the UK. Let us celebrate our geographical identities, but not forget all that we have in common with each other that also adds to our identities. If Scotland votes to leave on Thursday, all of us will have a part wrenched from our hearts that will never be replaced.

Categories: Government, Parliament, Party politics

Tags: , , , , , , ,

23 replies

  1. Anything that puts an international border between myself and my mother in law, can only be a good thing lol !!!!

    • Matthew 28.19 says ‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: In other words Jesus is sanctioning the Nation State. Federalism and Union, Diversity, multiculturalism are alien to Christianity respect for diversity is not. Isn’t the Greatest goal of Islam to make the whole world under Allah?, Anyway, I don’t believe Scots voting for independence is a rejection of a Political Union per se, Deep down many want to reject the immorality of Westminster the modern sodom. It has lost all credibility and only perpetuates, greed, injustice and self serving. Everything Jesus was against. A vote for Independence therefore is a vote for moral values and an affirmation of Jesus and what he preached.

  2. I am not voting Yes because I want to leave England. I am voting yes because I want a Government that will care for the weak and the vulnerable; for those on the margins. A government that sees fairness and justice as more important than wealth. A small country able to govern its people, a people that can have the government it votes for. This has never been about Nationailsm. I, as a Christian, will be voting Yes because of my faith.
    Edith McEwan

    • Edith, that is an understandable view but how do you know that is what you will get? There are many “small countries” that have started life with promises of fainess to all but have ended up with worse tyranny than the United Kingdom is ever likely to see again. The fact is that sin warps all systems and tends to warp all those who hold power. I am far from satisfied with our present group of professional politicians but would it not be better to seek to address that in the context of the Union rather than break up into smaller parts in the hope of something better?

      Personally I regard myself as British as although I and my parents were born in England I have Scottish, Irish and Welsh Grandparents and feel most at home when I am visiting Scotland, the withdrawal of Scotland from the Union will cause me great personal sadness and I suspect that is an emotion that will be felt by many with Scots lineage and by non-scots by birth who now live in Scotland. I have always felt (with Gillan) that we are a family of nations and that is worth preserving.

      • God is a a God of new things and of hope! Obviously I could be wrong but this Government has not acted on behalf of the vulnerable for a very long time. There will be no physical border, you will still be able to holiday here! My vote is about the governance of a country for the future not about sentimental history. We will still be in relationship, this is more like a child leaving home than a divorce.

        • I think this is a really strong argument and I agree with the analogy.

          If you wanted to have some real fun you could say it is like the exodus of Israel from Egypt. ‘Let my people go’ and all that…

  3. Reblogged this on Richard's Watch and commented:
    Christians need to be carefully prayerful on this major issue and get back to first base > are Scottish nationalist leaders personally blessed by God, or the opposite? Whichever is the case it will rub off on our fellow Brits beyond the border. I understand Alex Salmond is on record as supporting the boycott against Israel, and more! According to Gen 12:3 that doesn’t bode well at all. Look what happened to the UK in 1967 within 6 months of the Wilson government preventing vital arms getting to Israel for its survival against armies amassed on all borders – Devaluation of the Pound. SO I suggest being very, very wary on this voting and that we stay together as a United Britain.

  4. Nicely put Gillan.

    But if the ‘spouse’ wants to be free then why not let her or him (although countries tend to all be female in both poetry and prose).

    The language used by the no campaign has veered from threat to bribe. The no campaign has also focused (in my opinion) almost entirely on money and material assets. Like a domineering spouse saying ‘But how will you live?!!’ and the bullied partner replying ‘I will survive’.

    The poetry of the campaign is bad poetry because it is the poetry of politicians and the prose of the results may not be much better.

    In this piece you use two metaphors – the dominant campaign metaphor of the couple ‘separating’. This has been the language chosen by most commentators. So Scotland can escape the bullying spouse – and England doesn’t look good (as usual).

    And here you also use the metaphor of the body to describe Britain. I think that this comes from the body metaphor of Church which is often used and sometimes extended to countries.

    But either way, the language is that of loss.

    I’m a quarter Scottish and think that the freedom which many Scottish people hope for has been channeled into a political sphere. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing.

    Although, for the English, we will look like the antagonist again. But some of us are used to this already – to being made to look bad.

    The bigger issues are issues of freedom and the level of importance which individuals place on money (not just on land). For the idealists I would have thought that a yes vote is a no brainer. I favour independence.

  5. I totally agree Gillan.

  6. If we are looking for a Christian Scot to argue the case for No, then go to the listen again box for the BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme. I cannot recall the name of the interviewee but he nailed it in my view. The tragedy is that this referendum has been framed by someone who had no real consideration for the issues that he felt would not in any case arise. It was a concession to Alex and a few supporters. This is not like the freeing of a dependent state, this is the breaking up of a union, and the consequences will affect all of us. To deny some level of choice or view to the English, Welsh and Irish was as wrong as it would be to make their views the deciding factor. Although it pains me to be on the same side as John Redwood I agree with him that what is needed is a freeing up of all four nations from a Westminster Government. Redwood wants there to an English Parliament in Westminster, with the same MPs. That for me is not acceptable. We either need a new Parliament in somewhere like Birmingham, or else regional Parliaments. The political architecture cannot end up with English MPs carrying out two jobs unless we ask the MSPs and Welsh & Irish to do the same. That would be very cumbersome. However at least a discussion can be had.

    If the Scots vote Aye, I will be sad, but no one could blame them. As Edith has expressed so well, the rejection is not of you and me Gillan, but of Dave and his chums, and indeed of all of the village. That is a vote I think many English residents would want too. However replacing Westminster will require a bit of thought.

  7. you never ever mix religion with politics you idiots, as far as this scots person is concerned its a big resounding yes and its been a long time coming

  8. And when the oil runs out and your economy crashes, no doubt it will be the ‘idiots’ south of the border funding your foodbanks!!!

  9. It’s very hard to see how Douglas Alexander’s speech can be called the strongest Christian case for remaining in the Union. It mainly consists of motherhood and apple statements about community-nothing wrong with that but it’s hard to say there’s any profound Christian argument in it that couldn’t equally have been expressed by a non-Christian.

  10. if you scotts think salmon is going to give you a better deal than what you have now there you are more stupid than you sound this man is in it for one reason self glory his own importance nothing else take not better the devil you know

  11. As an outsider looking in on this debate, I’m struck by the many ways in which it resembles the breakdown of a marriage.

    If you liken Scotland to a reluctant bride whose marriage to its bigger, brasher and more dominant neighbor was forced upon it by a combination of factors, many of which were beyond its control, it isn’t hard to understand the ill feeling that fuels this desire to break away.

    How many desperate women have found temporary respite from their financial woes by marrying a prosperous man they don’t particularly like? How many have suffered through years of unhappy and uneasy union with a husband so convinced of his own perfection that he can’t even imagine his wife could be dissatisfied with him?

    Look around you and you’ll see many such unions. Sometimes the woman is trapped by financial, psychological or religious constraints and cannot break free. Her circumstances just don’t permit it. But circumstances can change. And when they do, the speed of the woman’s departure will often take her complacent and self-satisfied husband entirely by surprise.

    What’s interesting about this case is the degree of surprise and hurt feelings the English are expressing. I’m neither English nor Scottish, but I’ve lived in both countries and I can attest to the condescending and contemptuous treatment the English routinely mete out to their so-called “beloved fellow countrymen”. If you’ve ever tried paying for your groceries in a London supermarket with Scottish banknotes, you’ll understand just how excluded and undervalued the Scots feel in what’s supposed to be their country too.

    In saying this, although I do sympathise most sincerely with the Scottish desire for change, if the Yes camp carries the day on Thursday, I will be very sorry. In spite of the unsatisfactory and unequal nature of the Union, it still counts for something in the world. The UK is still a major power. Scotland will manifestly not be. And England on its own, even with Wales and Northern Ireland if they choose to stay, will be diminished. A family united holds a position in the community that its constituent parts once separated can never hope to enjoy. Independence will make both Scotland and England smaller, in every sense of the word. And that will be a shame.

    Whatever happens, history will be made this Thursday. I hope it’s just another chapter in the continuing saga of Great Britain rather than a sad epilogue of decline and decay.

    • The unity of Britain has always been entirely manufactured anyway. We have never been in unity.

      And as an aside, it is said that it is even hard for even an individual to be in unity with themselves, because most actions are often accompanied by doubt.

      I don’t think that is necessarily treason to say that, it’s just the way things are. People will not be reconciled to other people they don’t like and any sense of unity tends to be transitory, ephemeral and often imagined. I don’t think Britain has a monopoly on this false unity.

      Anyway, it’s the politicians who need to maintain some image of unity. What matters is what is best for the people and for the people not to be misled. I don’t think that ‘a sad epilogue of decline and decay’ is necessarily something we are not used to in England.

      The only one who in theory could bring unity is Christ and I’m not convinced it is a priority for him. His priority is unity within his Church – it will happen one day, but at the moment we are all very far from that.

      That is Christ’s unanswered prayer.

  12. As a Scot in Spain, this is where the Lord called me out just 10 years ago now, I have the same sense in my spirit when Barak Obama was running for and won the Presidency, no good will come of it. Just as with Salmond he is taking Scotland down a road of no return, smacks of communism to come.

    As for social justice and a fairer society, I don’t think so! That is true Christianity working with a fair open ‘capitalist’ society, providing jobs for people allowing them to provide for their family. Also If that was the case then the yes people would not be so hostile to anyone who opposed them and as for Christianity there would be a tad more tolerance and acceptance, considering the Protestant Reformation is so prominent in Scottish history which brought about much good.

    Jesus did not support social justice as everything keeps going on about that was not his mission, the gospel was and still is. As our Lord stated, we will always have the poor to help. There will always be inequality for various reasons.

    God is giving people what they want and it is not Christ.

  13. I don’t understand why David Cameron and many commentators say that a ‘Yes’ vote will be ‘forever’. Is he a prophet as well as a leader?

    Couples sometimes return to each other (who are Wales and Northern Ireland in the couple metaphor by the way?) and children sometimes return to their parents. The whole ‘forever’ idea is entirely manufactured. Tell me that it is a legal and constitutional requirement for Scotland to remain independent and someone else will say that such requirements can be overturned.

    Which makes me feel sure that Mr Cameron must be a prophet of some kind…

  14. I think Cameron is saying “forever” simply because once a couple is divorced, it rarely gets back together. Or if it does, it doesn’t last long.

    But maybe you think that England and Scotland should play it like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton? I wonder what the money markets will make of that…

%d bloggers like this: