Anyhoo, enough about my father.
The truth is that Scottish nationalism finds itself less popular among the grey and blue-haired denizens of our fine country. For whatever reason, older Scots are less likely to be nationalists, whether it’s from fear of losing their pensions (oh, the irony), fear of change, in-grained voting habits, dislike of Alex Salmond’s smirk, or simply because they have internalized the ‘news’ they have read in Scotland’s fine and stalwart, free and independent press as fact.
So how to make people like my father change their minds?
The problem with Labour voters in Scotland is that discussing the issues with them quite simply does not work. Most, like my father, stopped thinking years ago.
Then I got to thinking about the power celebrities wield. But the problem with many famous Scots in entertainment and media is that they depend on favourable press in England, and as Al Gore quoted in An Inconvenient Truth, (and I paraphrase) “no amount of persuasion will convince a man of something if his wages depend on him not understanding it.” *
So I thought about the famous Scots my auld faither and I both admire, the ones who are Unionists: Billy Connolly, Andrew O’Hagan, Niall Ferguson. O’Hagan is one man in particular who, with his love of Burns and his socialist West Coast upbringing, has a very similar background to both my father and me. Quite honestly, I’ve never heard anyone read Rabbie better. He would be an articulate advocate for Scottish nationalism.
Then I read recently that Unionist and former Scottish nationalist Muriel Gray had come out as a floating voter. Her thoughtful piece explained how she had come to realise that whatever the problems the UK has today, Labour is not the answer. She’s not a reborn nationalist yet, but give her time.
Then I remembered the abuse she’s had from cybernats online over the past few years. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s not nursing a little resentment. I would. I’d be thinking that I’m disillusioned with Labour, but it’ll be cold day in hell before I vote for those nationalist bastards. I hope she realises that the morons who slag her off do not speak for all Scottish nationalists. Nor do I.
So I suppose this is a message to other Scottish nationalists out there who occasionally like to throw a punch at Unionist celebrities:
Nationalism is sometimes compared to other ideologies, but there is one important difference: ideologies like communism, fascism, capitalism, socialism, etc., can spread far and wide, infiltrating other political systems like a virus, spreading through many countries. Each country’s nationalism (however you define it) is limited by its homeland and its diaspora: Norwegians are unlikely to recruit Swedes around the world to the cause of Norwegian nationalism, and vice versa.
Your only option is to make those of your countrymen who disagree with you agree with you.
I’ve always seen it like being on a jury: if you’re the lone voice of reason, calling the other eleven jury members ill-informed morons will not win them over to your way of thinking. No one has ever been convinced of anything by being called names.
That’s why I’d like to call a halt on nationalists’ abuse of Unionist celebrities.
Maybe getting people like Andrew O’Hagan or Billy Connolly to see the socialist good sense that lies at the heart of Scottish nationalism is what we need to get people like my dad over the line. OK, for the sake of these celebrities’ UK careers, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to come out in favour of Scottish nationalism outright, but following Muriel Gray’s line in expressing doubts about Labour's competency is a good place to start.
If any can be persuaded, it might be enough to sway men like my father, which will at least save me buying a new phone every month.
* Quoting Upton Sinclair