It's now less than a month before the people of Scotland will vote YES or NO to independence.
And some Canadian newspapers have been running stories, mostly comparing the campaign to the one during the last Quebec referendum.
But after spending a couple of weeks in Scotland recently, I have to say that while there are some strong similarities.
It's also very very different.
Starting with the fact that if you were a casual visitor to Scotland, and didn't know a referendum campaign was raging, you might never know one was going on, for there are almost no outward signs of the turmoil beneath...
Those were only one of a handful of posters I saw in people's windows in all my time there, shuttling between Glasgow, Edinburgh, and my family's home in the highlands.
I saw no NO signs, no billboards, no graffiti, no t-shirts. I heard no passionate arguments in the streets. I could hardly even get members of my own family to talk about it.
" I turn the radio and the television off when it comes on," my mother said. "We don't talk about it. It's just too horrible."
So I remember how grateful I was when after trying to get a big tough looking guy on a train to talk about the referendum, he finally rolled up his sleeve to show me the blue YES band on his wrist.
Only to venture the opinion that the whole thing was "fucked," and then lapse into taciturn silence in classic Scottish fashion.
While I stared out of the window at the beautiful countryside rushing by, feeling strangely disappointed...
Where was all the excitement? How come I seemed more excited than they were? And where was my YES t-shirt ? Dammit !#@!!!!
But of course there is a passionate debate raging, in newspapers, on television, in town hall meetings all over the country, especially on social media that wasn't around during the Quebec referendum campaign. And especially on Twitter sites like this one.
And as you can see, while the NO side is playing basically the same game it played in the Quebec campaign, warning that separation could lead to economic disaster. And no you can't keep the pound.
The YES side is offering up the vision of a very different country. A progressive country that rejects the Con values of the hideous Cameron government in London, and seeks to preserve the social safety net that they are destroying.
One that among other things rejects militarism, in favour of better services for children and seniors, and wants to strengthen medicare instead of privatizing it.
Which as Scotland's most distinguished historian pointed out the other day, is entirely consistent with that country's history.
"The Scottish parliament has demonstrated competent government and it represents a Scottish people who are wedded to a social democratic agenda and the kind of political values which sustained and were embedded in the welfare state of the late 1940s and 1950s.
"It is the Scots who have succeeded most in preserving the British idea of fairness and compassion in terms of state support and intervention. Ironically, it is England, since the 1980s, which has embarked on a separate journey."
And as the YES side proclaims, is a one in a lifetime opportunity too good to miss.
We have one opportunity 30 days from today – one opportunity to use our wealth to build a better, fairer and more prosperous Scotland. A Yes vote is not a magic wand – like any nation, Scotland faces its challenges and will not always get things right.
But when we cast our Yes vote on September 18, we can do so with confidence. We should have confidence that we are ready and well-equipped to be an independent nation. We should have confidence in our ability to make this talented and resourceful country a better place to live.
What the referendum campaign isn't however, is an appeal to Scotland's history and its long history of resistance, a so-called Braveheart campaign.
‘Yes Scotland’ champions have worked to distance themselves from tribalism, England-bashing and appeals to historic enmity. They are not interested in discussing Braveheart (described by the Times as one of “the 10 most historically inaccurate movies” of all time).
“Every time a journalist brings up Braveheart—the minute they bring it up—I know they have no idea what’s going on,” says Scottish National Party (SNP) MP Angus Robertson. “You don’t win votes about the next 700 years by talking about the last 700 years.”
Which I have to admit I believe is a mistake. Because while I think they are right about focusing on the future, and I share the YES side vision of a kinder, gentler Con free society.
And I can hardly be tribal when my Mum is English eh?
The struggle of the Scottish people to run their own affairs is a determining part of their history.
As this excerpt from a BBC documentary demonstrates, that history of resistance goes back far longer than even 700 years...
And the weight of that history still hangs over the country, like the monument to Braveheart (the patriot William Wallace not the hideous Mel Gibson) looms over the town of Stirling...
Which is not far from the site of the Battle of Bannockburn where Robert the Bruce beat the English nine years after they executed and dismembered Wallace. And the Scots for a while at least, were finally able to rule themselves.
Which is why Robert the Bruce and William Wallace stand guard at the entrance to Edinburgh Castle...
Are their country's greatest heroes, speak to my rebel heart like few others.
And why despite the narrowing but still unfavourable polls.
A NEW YouGov opinion poll for the Times has added to evidence that support for independence has risen with one month to go before the vote. The poll recorded the highest level of backing for a Yes vote in its polling on the referendum question, although No support maintained a 14-point lead.
Or the eventual referendum result.
I will always believe this:
As a Scottish Canadian I think saying that Scotland can't be independent is an insult to every Scot who ever lived. #indyref #ScotDecides
— Simon (@montrealsimon) August 5, 2014
So when I attend the military tattoo in the courtyard of Edinburgh Castle, in the shadow of those statues, my heart fills with pride at the history of the Scottish people.
At their achievements all over the world, including Canada, whose history they have also helped shape.
And I know they can do it, stand up to the Cons, and march confidently towards the nationhood they deserve, and the better world they want...
In my next post on the struggle for Scottish independence, I'll look at how the old Scotland has engaged the new one...
And how the campaign has managed to mobilize the young like never before. Like I want to engage them here.
For freedom knows no boundaries.
Here's to a Con-free Canada, and a Con-free world.
And of course Scotland FOREVER !!!!
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