BILL JAMIESON NOVEMBER 15 2016
Nothing more helps in business and in life generally than the power of positive thinking. The open mind. The can-do attitude. The readiness to adapt. Making the most of things.
It’s what we Scots were good at. Once. But consider our default position now. Is there any new development to which we are not angrily opposed? Any change we’re minded not to greet with scowl and scorn? Anything at all?
Making the most of Brexit? Not a chance. Boosting the economy with fracking? We’re dead opposed. Cutting taxes to help small firms? Get a life.
We say ‘No’ to Trident. ‘No’ to fracking. ‘No’ to nuclear. ‘No’ to health reform. ‘No’ to academy schools. ‘No’ to lower taxes. Scotland has become The Land of No.
It’s as if we want nothing to do with an era that is changing before our eyes. Stop the world – Scotland wants off.
We prided ourselves once on our engagement with the world. Now, we can’t abide the changed mood in America and don’t want anything to do with Donald Trump.
We sent a Scottish diaspora round the world. Australia, Canada, New Zealand and America have large numbers of Scots descendants. But today the very idea of more global trade with countries beyond Europe finds Scotland’s leaders bitterly opposed.
We said we loved democracy and pluralism. But anything we don’t like – and there’s a lot we don’t like – is branded as xenophobic, racist, sexist and bigoted.
Any voice different from the establishment view? Up goes the chant: ‘No platform for racists!’
We said we liked referendums – until we started losing them.
We can’t abide narrow nationalism – but exalt our own. We don’t like border walls. But we’ll defend our own to the death – and raise it if we can.
Fireballs of ban and anathema worthy of the fulminations of John Knox are hurled down from the Bute House pulpit. We sit, trembling in the pews, heads bent as we absorb the latest imprecations from the new Mrs Knox.
There’s readings from the Wee Small Book of What We’re Allowed to Believe. And then there’s the blistering sermons drawn from the tottering pile of volumes of Views Loathsome and Unacceptable.
Might you have allowed yourself a fleeting moment of agreement with Daniel Hannan? Might you have even read a Gerald Warner article right to the end? Eternal damnation to you!
And on the way out the granite-faced Elders rattle the collection trays with the stern admonition: “Ye’ll no be wantin’ to fritter away yer money on your house and family!”
It’s a parody, of course. There’s much in Scotland to be positive about. But that space is narrowing with every nudge downward in our economy and the widening rift between growth rates in Scotland and the rest of the UK.
There’s deep structural reasons for this, requiring time, commitment – and a positive mindset – to tackle. But politics in Scotland has first to be about something more than a constant, wholesale ‘No’ to everything and anything from Westminster: a ‘whingerama’ as Boris Johnson might put it.
We’re bigger than this, surely. And we have better things to do.
We need more from Bute House than constant denunciation of foreign leaders we happen not to like. What now unfolds should France follow the voter insurrection in America and opt for Marie Le Pen? Or the Netherlands follows suit? Or there is a swing to the centre Right in Germany? Are they all to be denounced as “loathsome”?
There’s more to leadership than dog-whistling and virtue-signalling to supporters. And there’s more to our dealings with the UK government than constant negativity. Who is to say a policy of engagement and co-operation might not yield a more positive outcome than the “nul points”result so far?
It’s a wonder that the First Minister has not already lodged a legal challenge to Scotland’s 3-0 defeat against England at Wembley last week. The result was too close to be decisive! The players didn’t understand the game! The stands were full of xenophobes and bigots! A replay must be ordered!
Now there’s much about the voter insurrections of 2016 that gives cause for apprehension. And there’s much about Donald Trump that’s offensive and we certainly don’t share. But we have to work with what is, secure a trade and investment policy that’s best for Scotland’s interests and change or modify the excesses of Trump where we can.
Yet we’re not far off a blanket rejection of everything. Is ‘Just Say No!’ to be Scotland’s default position? If we are to have a future at home or internationally, here’s a tip before we’re totally sealed off: Just Say ‘No’ to constant ‘No’.