I used to have an old Nat King Cole LP. If you have never heard of Nat King Cole or don’t know what LP stands for, then ask your Mum. On second thoughts, ask your Gran.
The old album came to mind while reading some Scottish election coverage.
The thing about that much-loved, well-worn piece of vinyl was that it would stick in the middle of a track called You’re Looking At Me, and right after the phrase, “might I repeat”, so that what you heard was “might I repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat…”
And Nat King Cole would go on singing “repeat” until you put him out of his misery and lifted the needle onto the next track.
The relevant election issue was Scotland’s post-Covid future, specifically the perceived need for a second independence referendum if there is a majority for pro-independence parties.
Westminster’s familiar, airy dismissal that it was settled in 2014 “for a generation” was the “repeat” stuck in the cracked groove.
The trouble with that interpretation of events is that events have since overwhelmed the interpretation, and now the case for a referendum is demonstrably more unsettled than it has ever been.
Scotland’s recovery from Covid-19 is but one of the events that has made the natives restless.
The case for independence, and therefore for a second referendum, strengthens with every passing day of a Westminster government in the process of a rare species of meltdown that would be funny if it wasn’t so alarming.
The principal reason for that new-found strength is staring the prime minister in the face every time he peers into a keekin’ glass.
His attitude towards Scotland (think fly-swatter and pesky flies), like his attitude towards Europe (think Trump and Mexico), translates north of the border as a species of contempt we tend to reserve exclusively for the inner workings of what we used to be able to call the Conservative Party’s Nigel Farage tendency. It seems the tendency lives on without him.
The independence issue is one the prime minister doesn’t care to face up to: his own puffed-upness sits awkwardly alongside a legacy of being the PM who presides over the break-up of the UK.
The horror movie currently playing out in Westminster, in which rich Tory chums scratch each other’s backs at your expense and mine, goes down with a lead balloonish thud in this neck of the woods
Right now he was two Scottish problems in particular. One is that Scottish Conservatism’s only recognisable policy is to rubbish Scottish Nationalism, and given that Scotland consistently returns a Scottish Nationalist government, it is a policy that effectively rubbishes the majority of the Scottish people too.
The other is that the horror movie currently playing out in Westminster in which rich Tory chums scratch each other’s backs at your expense and mine goes down with a lead balloonish thud in this neck of the woods.
This means any ambition the Scottish Conservatives harbour to make progress at Holyrood is further hampered by having to navigate around crash-landed lead balloons, while their erstwhile leader has just opted to abandon Scotland for the House of Lords.
Whichever way you look at all of that, it’s not a good look.
This is not a one-man party political broadcast on behalf of any political party, but rather an argument for fairness.
Prime Minister David Cameron said in 2014 that a No vote was our guarantee to stay in Europe. Scotland was then and is now very pro-Europe
It is fair to expect a Scotland that consistently elects a government diametrically opposed to the philosophy of the British Government to be taken seriously and treated differently.
It is fair to expect some kind of consideration to reflect the fact Prime Minister David Cameron said in 2014 that a No vote was our guarantee to stay in Europe. Scotland was then and is now very pro-Europe.
It is fair to expect to be listened to when we make the case for a Scottish nationalism that is outgoing, inclusive and internationalist, and seek to turn away from the current Westminster model of British nationalism which is insular, inward and unwelcoming by comparison.
And it is fair to be allowed to pursue our long-held opposition to nuclear weapons on Scottish soil.
Faith in fellow Scots
I was not quite old enough to vote when I decided that independence made sense to me, and in the intervening 50-something years I have seen no reason to change that decision, and many many reasons to affirm it.
But the main reason is that I have faith in my fellow Scots.
There’s also this: I remember Eric Mackay, then editor of the Scotsman newspaper, telling me about the 1979 referendum to create a Scottish Assembly.
His newspaper’s letters page became a forum for the debate. He said that in the run-up he was fielding phone calls day after day from leaders of business, science, arts, education and from all over the world, all of them Scots wanting to know what was happening and eager to return and be a part of it.
New generations of far-travelled Scots are out there, and there is every reason to believe that many would return to be part of an independent Scotland
He spoke of how heartening that wave of enthusiasm was. He also said that on the day after the result was declared, every one of them disappeared back into the woodwork.
But new generations of far-travelled Scots are out there, and there is every reason to believe that many would return to be part of an independent Scotland, and their knowledge would grace and inform our new internationalism.
At the very least, it’s a beautiful thought. Might I repeat, it’s a beautiful thought.