First Minister Nicola Sturgeon loves a good read, and I am sure she will recognise this Burns quote: “O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!” Or in plain English: Oh, would some Power give us the gift, to see ourselves as others see us!
As Ms Sturgeon would no doubt delight in telling us, the line is from To a Louse, and Burns is describing how we should see ourselves through others’ eyes, and not just from our own narrow perspective. If only the First Minister would heed the Bard’s advice. Speaking at the annual STUC conference a few days ago, she had the gall to hit out at the enmity that scars UK politics today.
“Scotland wants no part of Theresa May’s despicable, hostile environment. We reject utterly the dog whistle xenophobia that is too prevalent in political discourse…” she thundered.
Oh, Nicola. Have you forgotten the long, hot summer of 2014? When people like me, who wanted to stay part of the United Kingdom, were screamed at in the street and denounced on social media as “quislings”, traitors” and “red Tory scum”.
Standing at a polling station on 18th September, I saw older women in tears, fearful for their future, and kilt-wearing blokes warning that we “yooninists” were “for it”. It was despicable, and hostile.
Nationalism divides people into warring tribes, whether it is the Scottish clan that wants to end a social and political union that has flourished for more than 300 years, or the British gang that wants to “take back control” from the European Union.
A second independence referendum would split Scotland, probably forever. And for Nicola Sturgeon to pretend otherwise is breathtakingly hypocritical.