Scotland? It's A Family Affair

Like many English people, I'd been pretty ambivalent about it all, and very much of the "if they wanna go, let 'em go" school. But in Scotland, I changed my mind. And dramatically so.
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It was pissing down in Glasgow. Like February in May. My granny hailed from Belshill but I'd never visited before. I was there to meet with a pal and also to check out the as-yet-unburned School of Art.

Up until then, I'd not felt strongly about this whole independence thing. Like many English people, I'd been pretty ambivalent about it all, and very much of the "if they wanna go, let 'em go" school. (The irony of Alec Salmond being a potential beneficiary of such classically English tolerance and indifference is richer than Croesus. But that's another story.)

But in Scotland, I changed my mind.

And dramatically so.

Scotland is different. There is no getting away from that. Nor should we try to get away from it. From the granite cities to the endless lochs, the people and their culture, manifestly it ain't England. And as an Englishman or Englishwoman, you feel that.

But, at the same time, you also somehow feel at home.

And that's because, it dawned on me, the Scots are our cousins. That's really the relationship between the English and the Scots, and that's why it matters: we are cousins.

Like cousins, we might have a bit of a laugh about each other's funny accents and foibles. Like cousins, we've watched each other grow up, and seen some of the silly mistakes along the way. We've got drunk together at family events, and of course, we've had the odd row. But put us together and, like cousins, even when it's been years, we remember how much we love each other. And - big one this - we've all got the same granny.

The English owe so much to the Scots. Our nation would be so much poorer without them - from Adam Smith to Amy Pond, from James Watt to Jimmy Krankie, from the gruff orders barked by the tattooed Glaswegian NCOs who run the British Army to the suave burr of a Morningside lawyer, the Scots are integral; a vital part of what is, and should remain, an indivisible whole.

So here's the thing:

We cannot let the family break up on our watch.

It's as simple as that. We, the English, have to step up. We have to wake up from this dangerous, laissez-faire slumber. We have to avoid the catastrophe of a situation where the parts of our super-successful union would be significantly less than the sum.

And we have to do this not, as the scandalously flat 'No' campaign has done so far, by reeling off facts and figures, cold logic and rationality. The Scots are too canny to rely on any numbers provided by the English in any event.

No. We have to tell our cousins that we love them.

Aristotle said that, in any effective piece of communication, there were three 'appeals': ethos, logos and pathos.

The SNP does pathos by the bucket-load. Arguably, perhaps, that's all it's got. But where is the pathos in the 'No' campaign? It's all ethos and logos. No doubt well-intentioned, but boring as hell.

And unnecessarily so. The 'Yes' campaign is really one that is centered, somewhat paradoxically, on a negative emotion: "We don't need those bastards down South." The 'No' campaign, on the other hand, can and should be all about a positive emotion: "Stay: We love you." And nothing wins like positive emotion.

Because September's referendum isn't really about Alec Salmond or Alastair Darling or any other lickspittle politician who might raise his or her hand. It's much, much more important than that. It's about kinship and commonality; shared ties and heritage.

It's a family affair. It's about our cousins knowing that we care.

Which is why I'm tweeting out this article with the hashtag:#scotlandweloveyou Join me?

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