In all our sanctuaries we sit at risk

The Night Before


I wonder when the point of exhaustion is reached, north of the border. By now, most people know what they will vote tomorrow and many have anyway already voted, casting their die. But some there will be who even now don’t know and may be agonising tonight. They may be the best of all the participants, refusing simplification, exploring all aspects. living the quandary. “The best lack all conviction.” I wish I could sit with them.

I began by enjoying the intensity and vigour of the arguments. I end by suspecting this whole business is a con, a terrible irrelevance and red herring, a diversion and waste of good energy.

We are faced as a race with terrible predicaments, brought on not just by our flawed nature but by our genius. But we don’t know what we do in making the world we have made. We don’t know what to do with us or it, with the future that threatens us, with the Earth we threaten. We are desperate for the answers. We grope around for them.

And yes, the line the “effing Tories” take is a pathological disaster, the obvious response to difficult conditions, but the worst. Compete in preference to co-operate, measure your worth by the size or quantity of your possessions compared to those of your neighbour, cut back on government, cut back on tax, cut back on community, on libraries, on Legal Aid,  on quality, cut back on truth-telling, screw the poor, punish the vulnerable, fear the foreigner. Hooligan and useless answers to our predicaments. A pathological and to a degree an infantile response to things as they are. Things as they are demand the best of our humanity, not this wicked nineteenth century old hat from the southern shires. Things as they are demand co-operation, creativity and adulthood such as humanity has never shown before.

So small wonder a good half of the Scots want clear of the English, who persist in succumbing to these puerile, oppressive, anti-social philosophies and practices.

But will a re-building of Hadrian’s Wall secure their escape ?  It will not. It is just another distraction, as useless as the Tories’ own pernicious pie-in-the-sky. “Independence” secures nothing. It merely absorbs great energy, far better used for real solutions.

I believe this whole and evermore fractious debate has been a huge – and merely destructive – misuse and diversion of generous energy. Whatever the decision, the main result will be a nation split. Tomorrow Scotland may have split from England. But tonight, Scotland itself is split in half, dismantled, distracted.

And, in consequence, further than ever from finding real solutions to the real questions facing all of us – how to shape and harness, nurture and restrain human nature, so that we as a race can live in the world without destroying it and us. Tonight, we on these small islands, on the northwestern edge of Europe, discussing ever greater fragmentation, are surely further than ever from the answers.