I’ve been thinking a lot about the poisoned dialogue directly after and since the EU referendum. ‘You lost. Get over it.’ springs to mind and does nothing to reach out to the 48% who voted against this silly catastrophe. In fact, it pushes us further into the margins of resentment and rage. Not the best way to move forward.
It’s an important lesson in how we move towards what looks like an inevitable new referendum on independence. It’s only fair to point out that, as a No voter in 2014, subsequent events – particularly the Brexit debacle – have made me a committed Indy supporter.
As heated as the debate around independence was, and sometimes continues to be, the after-effects of the 2014 vote were never as toxic to Scotland and our social and cultural life as Brexit has been to the UK. That may be because – apart from a few hardliners on either side – most Scots didn’t get entrenched in an ‘Us vs Them’ frame of mind.
That idea of winners and losers (‘You lost – get over it’) has struggled to gain a foothold in Scotland. As a former No voter, it was certainly never my approach when thinking about or talking to Yes voters. In fact, I went out of my way to reach out to them after the referendum because I knew they were unhappy and devastated. What kind of person would gloat in a situation like that?
As the Brexit debacle plays out and Boris Johnson enters No. 10, another vote on Scottish independence looks increasingly likely, and I believe Scotland will vote for it this time. We independence supporters need to understand the horribly-named concept of losers’ consent. It was missing after the Brexit vote and quickly turned toxic. We must ensure No voters are looked after in the event of independence because we will need their help and support to move forward.
Independence isn’t a zero-sum game. It’s a starting point for all citizens of Scotland to live better lives. Everyone will have different needs, so it’s important we all dig deep for tolerance and understanding. The poisonous divisions resulting from the Leave campaign’s ‘victory’ in the Brexit referendum should be a lesson to all of us.