Born without imagination – James Robertson on Independence

Novelist James Robertson exhorts both sides of the Scottish Independence argument to greater vision in this essay published by the Scotsman (and taken from the book, Unstated: Writers on Scottish Independence, available from Word Power Books).

He’s right, of course.  Both sides of the argument have so far fought pitifully small-minded campaigns.  Unionists have taken the (oh so) easy route of sowing Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.  Nationalists feign (surely, or else they are more inept than seems credible) surprise and outrage at each successive suggestion that: Scotland would need to apply for membership of the EU, would not retain UK opt-outs, would not have control of monetary policy, would not enjoy UK-level influence in NATO or with the US.

For a decision that will affect the whole of the UK for generations to come – which could spark a vibrant new Scottish Enlightenment or condemn 5 million people to economic failure in a benighted backwater on the edge of the world – there is pitifully little vision.

Roberston quotes the Scottish National Party’s first president, Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham, from 1930:

“The enemies of Scottish nationalism are not the English, for they were ever a great and generous folk, quick to respond when justice calls. Our real enemies are among us, born without imagination.”

As things stand today, I suspect the referendum will find in favour of the union rather than independence.  It would be a tragedy though, if that conclusion were reached because those who have fought for independence for 80 (or 300) years were unable to either demonstrate the necessary competence or articulate the necessary vision to deliver a truly informed decision.


About Andrew Munro

An independent business consultant, interim manager and writer, Andrew operates through his company, Burning Pine Ltd (
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