642 Things to write about #6
I am not looking forward to 2013. Let me qualify that. I am looking forward to lots of things in 2013. Spending time with my grandchildren. Working in Malawi. Hopefully enjoying the Greek sunshine with my husband. Planting more lavender bushes. The occasional rummage round TK Maxx. Suppers with friends.
There are a lot to things to look forward to, not least more bars of Green and Blacks Milk Chocolate with Sea Salt. Try it, it is sublime.
What I am dreading is the increasingly strident debate about Scotland’s place in the UK as we stumble towards the 2014 referendum.
Let me put my cards firmly on the table. I love being part of the UK family, this muddle of people from across the world and across the water that makes up Britain. It is the greatest country in the world. I may yearn to live in New York, or Malawi, or in a flat with a view of the Parthenon, but at heart I am happiest in the UK.
Like most Brits I am a mongrel. My grandfathers were both Irish. My grandmothers Scottish. I am married to an Englishman whose family rarely strayed from outside the north Midlands until the Second World War.
I also love a good argument, more than most people, which is probably why I have been involved in politics in one guise or another for most of my adult life.
But while I relish fighting for social and economic justice, I really don’t want to engage in a destructive argument about whether or not Scotland should be independent.
I have no doubt Scotland could be independent. There are many small countries of five million people or less who manage, some better than others.
However, I am already a citizen of a great country – the United Kingdom – and I don’t see why I should have to fight for my right to remain British just because a minority of Scots want to separate.
The recent intervention by the writer Alasdair Gray who attacks English “colonists” who come to Scotland to “advance their career” fills me with dread.
As the economic arguments against independence start to mount up, I worry that more supporters of separation, in their desperation to win the referendum, will, like Gray, resort to the politics of national identity.
That would truly be a recipe for disaster and could scar our nation, our still united nation, for a very long time to come.