I was delighted to be asked to "write something visionary about independence" for The Sunday Mail, Scotland's biggest tabloid Sunday newspaper. Not sure if I pulled it off - I think Robin McAlpine did it better in the same slot - but see what you think.
Voting yes in the independence referendum will let Scotland's creative talents flourish
THE Hue And Cry star says this is our chance to determine our own destiny and have a radically more equal country.
By Pat Kane, for The Sunday Mail, 22 Sept 2013
WHEN I was a kid, around about the mid-70s, there was a favourite dream I used to have.
It was one of those delicious, comforting dreams when the terrible, awful stresses of being a much-loved eight-year-old Coatbridge boy need to be wiped away.
It was to do with Scotland – or, more exactly, a Scotland in the future. There might have been flying cars; there were certainly tall gleaming towers, everything humming with energy.
And lots of happy people around. Maybe in zip-up jumpsuits. C’mon, it was the 70s.
I know where this dream came from. Across the same duvet would often be spread sci-fi classic novels by Isaac Asimov and Brian Aldiss.
But downstairs, the nightly TV news would be talking about “Scotland’s oil” and “Scotland’s assembly”.
Adults in big ties were having strong disagreements. Who should benefit from the new riches from the North Sea? Shouldn’t Scotland benefit most as a country?
So I mixed it all up in my head. And for a while, I snoozed off every other night, exploring the early days of a better nation.
People have been asking me, as a Yes Scotland person, where are the big visions in the debate around the independence referendum?
Is there anything that’s inspiring about all this, as the harsh factoids pelt down from each camp?
I turn back to that wee boy again. Now he’s a grown-up, nudging 50. What kind of Scotland does he dream of today – now that the tools to realise his visions are within his grasp?
Wee boys want things to be fair. So do big boys.
One result of a year of campaigning is that all sides now accept Scotland is overall a hugely wealthy country, by world standards.
So why don’t we feel that way? It’s because our extremes of wealth are also world-class.
The difference between different postcodes in Glasgow, in terms of life expectancy, is morally disgusting. (Almost as disgusting as spending money that could lessen those divides on Trident missiles).
These extremes cheapen the quality of everyone’s life in Scotland – not just those with less.
So one of my visions for independence is that we have a radically more equal country. Not to make everyone the same – but to give more Scots than ever before a higher platform from which to fly.
We have so many good ideas on how to get there. But too many of those who would take them forward are currently fighting each other, behind party lines.
I want independence to allow the centre-left majority in Scotland to come together and inspire the world with our solutions to inequality.
Tousle-headed space cadets also love their technology, their new ideas.
One of my visions for a future independent Scotland is that we allow our native creativity to blossom beyond even our current imaginings. You’ve got the tea-towel, I’m sure – all the things we’ve invented and keep inventing, the tidal wave of culture that just doesn’t seem to stop.
And we’ve made a start on unleashing that in every Scot. Our Curriculum For Excellence is admired the world over for the way it taps into our kids’ creative urges.
We not only make free the costs of access to universities – those unis are also often world-class.
But we have such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with independence to take our national creativity to a higher and broader level. The Finns like to think of their nation’s people as “the world’s problem-solvers”. Cheek, that’s us! Voting yes to an independent state will put Scotland’s genius – whether it’s figuring out sustainable energy, creating amazing video games or cracking the secrets of DNA – on the world stage where it belongs.
If we dig into the equality issue properly, over time independence will generate a tidal wave of talent, coming from all the corners of Scotland.
We can put some new substance behind the good stories that the world still has about us. (Star Trek’s Scotty isn’t Scottish for nothing, you know).
That truly “creative” Scotland – creative in everything from hard science to our community life, our machine-making to our peace-making – will guarantee our future prosperity and happiness. And perhaps much more reliably, in a complex future world hungry for solutions, than even the black gold beneath the seas.
I could go on. I’ve no shortage of visions for an independent Scotland. But I bet, if you find a rare bit of blue sky and gaze into it for long enough, that you have those visions too.
Slightly crinkled and careworn, I’m still that wee kid with an unquenchable optimism about the Scotland he lives in and its future possibilities. Are you?