....Research Topics and Speculation about Art and Public Space by Scottish Citizen and artist Matt Baker

Friday, 29 August 2014

Its Good to Talk

Being part of a community of people embracing the opportunity to think about their society, values and future is such a special moment in time. 'World Changing Craic!' as my fine friend Susan Pettie would say.

But, as more and more people are forming and reforming opinions I am beginning to notice a reluctance in people who are inclined to vote No to discuss their position. All this 'conviction and engagement' is new to many of us (certainly I have never actively engaged in politics before) - it seems that maybe some feel that by discussing their views others may be seeking to convert them to another position?

There is a place for 'active campaigning' but there is also a place for understanding and sharing. After the vote, whatever the result, there will be time when we all need to start refocusing on the things that unite us and work together as a community of people. We are a small country the links that join us to each other are legion and powerful - all of sudden we are suddenly finding out 'hey so and so is a Yes (or No)' etc, as with any bit of new information about someone we know it causes a re-configuring of who that person is. This is such a natural process and I see it as part of our society's journey to a more mature democracy - but it is unsettling at a personal level.

People listen to each other about all sorts of stuff without having to agree - why not about about the Referendum
Why I think it is crucial that we all keep telling each other what we are thinking in the Referendum Debate is because if we don't we risk losing the personal in this and we, as people just become flag carriers for the messages of the campaigns. I need to know to know why a friend is passionate about maintaining the political union in Britain - because if they do not tell me I start to wonder if they have some vested interest I don't know about or have fallen victim to campaign scaremongering.

It is good and natural to talk about what we believe, it helps us understand each other and frame conversations about what we all want to do together.

A great way to discuss the issues in a non-confrontational way is to use Scotland Loves Democracy's Wee Play game ...check it out here - thoroughly recommended!!!


Part of my reason for bringing this up now is very recent direct evidence of some of the scare tactics being used by actively campaigning Better Together folk. These include elderly people being told on their own doorsteps that their pension will stop on September 19th if there is a Yes vote.....and Better Together officials announcing in public meetings that time itself will stop with Independence because people in Scotland will no longer be allowed to use Greenwich Mean Time and British Summer Time. Only by people talking to each other can we keep this precious debate alive and avoid labeling each other with the stereotypes created by opposing campaigns.


  1. OK - here's some of my reasons for voting 'No': on both sides of my family in the last century we were economic migrants south of the border and some of us have now chosen to return to Scotland. I do not regard England or Wales as the enemy, I believe that the component parts of the UK have demonstrated complementary skills and strengths that have served us well. Establishing a formal border between us is a risk I do not think necessary or sensible

  2. Thanks Liz - much appreciated and genuinely respected.

    I have to admit the idea of borders and nation states in general is the biggest problem for me in advocating a Yes vote. I have weighed things up very carefully around my desire to see constitutional change and new mechanisms that support fairness and equal opportunity. In an ideal world I would have no borders and no nation states - my position here is close to that of Andy Wightman (see http://www.andywightman.com/?p=3843).

    I believe our taxation system is unfair in taxing income instead of wealth and that we should have increased devolved decision making (and tax raising) to communities and regions. It is not completely comfortable to me to have to vote for an independent country - but I believe this is the option that offers the best opportunity for the constitutional and organisational changes I want to see in society.

    Nation states are a relatively recent phenomenon - I would hope that in taking a step in this direction (voting for change) we begin a process that eventually moves towards the dissolution of borders as areas and communities enter global culture without needing to pass through a national gatekeeper.

    (You can see everything I have written about the debate and my reasoning by clicking the 'scotland' tab at the bottom of this post)

    I am interested in your attitude to devolution - in voting No are you hoping for more devolved power to Scotland (and other parts of the UK) - or would you rather see Holyrood removed and return to everything being fully centralised in London?

    all best, Matt