I guess when I stumbled upon and read a Scottish history book thirty five years ago and became a supporter of Scottish Independence I didn’t in my heart of hearts dream that I would be given an opportunity to see it happen. When you read the history of your country for the first time as a schoolboy and realise that in the classrooms you have been getting taught somebody else’s you conclude that something is amiss.
Things have been amiss for me ever since. The North Sea oil con, the flawed 1979 devolution referendum, Poll Tax, Trident, Iraq, I never again trusted a government that taught me their own history and not mine, or their submissive media mouthpieces which constantly told me Scotland was too wee and too poor. With age I found far from diminishing, the reasons just started stacking up.
One vote for Labour in a General election to help their promise of outing the Tories aside (it never happened by the way, I voted Labour, so did the rest of Scotland in huge numbers, they lost) I have always been a single issue voter. Independence. Party politics has just been a means to an end. In that time I helped out at elections and even stood in a council election. It has shaped who I am and the friends I made.
In my mid-thirties I in a sense bound myself to the pre-reformation history of our ancient nation by converting to the Catholic faith. There was nothing of this in my reasoning at the time but It was a great delight to later discover more about Scotland’s Catholic history and the likes of St Margaret of Scotland, Cardinal Beaton, some famous Jacobites by name and many converts like myself in St John Ogilvie and more recently Sir Compton Mackenzie who became a Scottish Nationalist too.
So here we are Scotland!
It seems that the very same Westminster of which I became so suspicious as a young lad has this past few months proven my case to hundreds of thousands of other Scots who had never seen it that way before. That seems to be what has put this referendum on a knife-edge. There is a certain delicious irony that it is their attempt to create fear and awe, that has at last awakened the nation to the fact this was no union of equals and it never will be, and that you can’t trust a word they say about Scotland.
I have seen my fellow Catholics try to reconcile their voting intentions to their religious beliefs and I know Catholics are voting in different ways for different reasons. Some still feel let down badly by the Scottish Government in Holyrood on homosexual marriage. Others seek more social justice in what they see as a grossly unequal society. Witness todays advert in the Herald supporting Yes by a “cross-section of the Catholic community”.
Me? I’m just a Scottish nationalist who happens by the grace of God to be Catholic. The two are not related in any other sense than the history of our nation at times in varying degrees and also for me the story of my wonderful and blessed life.
Maybe if I realise on Friday morning that my fellow countrymen living and working in Scotland have voted Yes I will inadvertently drop to my knees in thanks, and maybe if it is No I will do sackcloth and ashes. I don’t know. God willing I will go to Mass on Thursday Morning and the days following and that is as religious as the referendum will get for me.