It was an all-night vigil born neither out of a sense of excitement, nor for that matter a desire to see history in the making. Instead it was akin to an insomnia driven by a sickening, all-consuming fear, an ominous feeling that one’s own concept of nationhood, of both personal and shared identity, was in mortal danger of being lost forever, never to be reclaimed. Sleep was not so much a luxury, but an unattainable state given the depths of our anxiety.
Our fears were allayed, as one by one, or in some cases two at a time, results came in from Scotland’s 32 local authority regions, confirming that Scotland had said no to independence and yes to a continuation of the Union. I suspect I was not alone amongst Unionists in that my first reaction was one of considerable relief rather than elation.
The political post mortem, so loved by political commentators and analysts, following the delivery of the results made for compulsive viewing. We had a very bitter Lesley Riddoch suggesting the No victory on the night was as a result of shock and awe scaremongering, whilst others suggested the opinion poll which indicated a Yes lead had galvanised both Unionist campaigners and voters into action. Conspicuous by its absence however one reason was which Yes Scotland have, thankfully, failed to both identify and understand throughout the entire course of this debate.
That we Scots are as eminently comfortable with our British identity as we are with our Scottish identity. Why choose one when we can have both? The coin which has heads on one side and tails on the other is nevertheless the same coin. The passion Scots showed for Team GB at the Olympics was every bit as fervent as that which we showed for Team Scotland at the Commonwealth Games. Is it really that difficult for them to understand? Thankfully yes.
I mentioned this recently in article during my review of Born Under a Union Flag: Rangers, the Union and Scottish Independence when I commented on the debate in chapter 7 between Alan Bissett and John DC Gow. Bissett fails to not only recognise a genuine sense of British identity within Unionist Scots, he at times treats such a notion with complete disdain by besmirching the very character of Britain and its history. For dual nationality Scots who look upon ourselves as every bit British as much as Scottish, this is in effect an attack on our nationhood, our history, values and beliefs. Britain is not just a chunk of rock to us, it is our country and its values and beliefs have as much to with defining who we are as a people every bit as much as Scotland does.
If Yes Scotland wish to produce evidence of negative campaigning during this debate they should look to their own failure to even recognise what, for many Scots consider, is not only a sense of British identity, but is at the very epicentre of the values we cherish.
Such a failure to recognise the importance of our British identity was as much a hammer blow to Yes’ aspirations as was currency or EU membership. It left us with a choice where there was only ever going to be one winner – did they really expect us to commit to a vote which would exterminate our sense of nationhood forever?
The silent majority have spoken. But we must continue to speak, and speak with a sense of passion and renewed confidence in what we truly believe in and seek to uphold. Let it now be the Unionist voice which protects our NHS, fights with unrelenting determination to establish social justice, as well as eradicate poverty and it’s manifestations from the shores of our United Kingdom.
Our voice is on the rise, we must by actions, not words or political sound bites, ensure our Union is defended, by attacking the root causes of social injustice and poverty within our society.
Britain expects – let’s be the generation who insist without compromise, that our politicians deliver.