Last week, we were visiting family in England. I was struck by how much I loved it all. The soft warmness of the air. The way that people really take advantage of the summer. Rows of beach huts packed full of leisure stuff. Beer gardens. Behind all this, the memory and feeling of other good times in England. Behind that, the broad backdrop of culture and landscape.
A conscious awareness of loving England was new for me. I have often felt a bit on edge, an outsider, waiting for the ‘jokes’. And also bringing in my own history and upbringing, where the English were viewed as a dominating force, to be resented.
What has changed? I think that the long independence conversation, over the past couple of years, has helped me – and maybe many of us – to clarify a few things. First, it is not about England and the English. An independent Scotland is not a rejection of England (or Wales or Northern Ireland). It is a rejection of a failed UK political system, allied to a positive hope and intention to build something better. Second, I realise that at some level I already live in an independent Scotland. I can go to England in the same way that I can visit any other country. I can enjoy and learn from their way of life. But I am not responsible for their way of life. And they are not responsible for our way of life.