An apology to Scotland
Scotland I owe you a big apology.
My memories of politics in the 1980s, when I was not old enough to reach the dining table let alone vote, are hazy.
I remember Thatcher v Kinnock, blue v red and the confusion that was the Alliance Party which had two leaders. But the death of Ian Paisley last week also reminded me of the other characters that seeped into my consciousness.
There was the former DUP leader who I remembered chiefly for shouting and being thrown out of the House of Commons, then there were the two nationalists Dafydd Wigley of Wales’ Plaid Cymru - who happened to be MP for my dad’s home town of Caernarfon, and Alex Salmond the leader of the SNP.
Their cause seemed an odd one, “look at the funny nationalists trying to leave Britain” and to be honest, that line probably stayed with me well into adulthood.
I moved to Scotland a month after the 2007 election, the SNP had been ushered into government for the first time in its history – but lack of knowledge of the political landscape and the farce that was election night meaning long delays in announcing the result meant that driving up the M6 to my new home the significance of the result was lost on me.
With less than 24 hours left until polls open – and thousands having voted by post already – there are at least 50 per cent of the country who still believe that the idea of leaving Britain is an odd one, and there are certainly people who live outside Scotland (who are already saying they are bored of the referendum coverage) who can’t countenance the fact that things are about to change.
Whatever the result, the country has proved it is a force to be reckoned with. Even though the Yes campaign would say it isn’t enough, devolution has brought huge benefits and on many occasions the Scottish Parliament sets an example which perhaps its older sibling at Westminster could learn from.
My apology as an “inabootcomer” is of failing to take Scotland seriously.
The worst thing that could happen is that after the vote Scotland is ignored, be that as a “small” independent nation, or remaining a constituent part of the UK. It has much to offer on both counts.