before her untimely death in April, the redoubtable Margo MacDonald noted a “palpable air of bitter antagonism” creeping into the debate about independence.
We can only imagine what she might have made of events since then as the debate has ratcheted up several notches. Would she have been “repelled by the name-calling and rancour” as Kirk Moderator the Right Reverend John Chalmers has said he has been in recent weeks? Or detected the same “aggressive, unpleasant, antagonistic” air as Scottish rugby legend David Sole? We will never know.
But there is a deep unease in many quarters about the divisions which an often divisive campaign has created.
Tomorrow, it will all be over, or at least the votes will have been cast and counted. We will know the result. But how easy will it be for us all to move on, without lingering doubts and resentments?
For some, it surely will be extremely hard. There are many nationalists who have made it their life’s work to make Scotland an independent nation, and, if they lose tomorrow, they will be bitterly disappointed.
There are also many unionists who will feel, if they end up on the losing side, that they have lost a central part of their identity, even that they have had it stolen from them.
The only way to move forward is to recognise our differences – and to respect them.
Then, we can start to move on. And we do need to move on. It is so very important.
Whatever the outcome, we will all need to work together to make a success of Scotland, either as a newly indpendent state or as a part of the UK preparing to acquire new powers. We cannot do that if we are plagued by divisions and recriminations.
The key as the Rt Rev Chalmers so rightly says is to refuse to be defined as nothing more than Yes or No. We must recognise that we – as Scots who all want the best for our families and our country – have more in common than divides us. We are after all “a’ Jock Tamson’s bairns”.
To put it another way, we must remember to behave in the Margo MacDonald way. To remember at all times that we are dealing with opponents, not enemies; human beings not ogres; and to rember once again how to disagree without malice.