The Confidence Trick

Every parent knows the value of building self esteem in a child; it creates self belief, encourages communication and by extension investigation and prepares that child for a world which is wonderful but often seems harsh and unfair. The armour of self confidence allows hope and ambition to flourish, lack of it can create an insular personality, fearful, full of self loathing and doubt.
Scots as individuals generally don’t lack confidence but as a nation we are the kid who was always told they’re a bit, well, crap.
We are drunken belligerent subsidy junkies, we are racist English hating bigots, we are parochial tartan-clad
bumpkins who can’t be trusted to hold the national bank card. We are morose and maudlin. We accuse ambitious Scots of rising above their station. We make good soldiers but poor officers. We don’t have the intelligence, organisation or skill to operate without the benevolent hand of our guardian to lead the way.

Unfortunately most of us have believed some, if not all of this, at some point in our lives so it should come as no surprise that many in Scotland have not embraced the risky, danger filled path of independence.

This negative view that many of our countrymen hold of their nation has not occurred by accident, it has been a calculated and cynical design by the British ruling classes to maintain a subservient and compliant Scottish population and it has been until now an overwhelming success.
A nations history is important in engendering a sense of self, it can offer clues to who we are and what we might become. I was never taught about the Darien Scheme and the Act of Union at school. The Jacobite Rebellion, the role of Scots in the slave trade; zilch. I was taught about Corn Laws, Rotten Boroughs and the Industrial Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Middle Ages all from an English/British perspective but nothing of my own countries past. It was as if we had no history, or at least none worth investigating, none of any value.
Throughout the decades the portrayal of Scots by the media has been predictably negative. We are the Jocks ( I read recently, possibly Derek Bateman that if we are supposed to hate the English so much, why don’t we have a nickname for them? We are quite imaginative when it comes abusive terms but I’ve racked my brains and can’t think of any bar the mild ‘sassenach’). It seemed for several years during the 1980s that every London drunk on TV was Scottish. We know that is not who we are but we care that others might think so and that has a subtle influence on how we see ourselves.
The secrecy of the McCrone Report, the destruction of our mining, steel and shipbuilding industries and the vilification by Labour of the SNP, the only political party solely concerned with Scotland’s welfare have all contributed to the belief that we have nothing and we are worth nothing as a nation.

Until now.

Something strange has happened in this debate; people in Scotland have decided collectively and en masse that we are worth something and ironically it may be the No campaign and the British establishment that have inspired that self belief. Over the top estimates of costs, denial of currency, denial of EU and NATO membership, threats to security, pensions and mortgages have all inspired people to ask the most important question of all: why are they trying so hard to keep us?.
This has been answered by every Yes organisation, website and blogger; we are a wealthy nation, more than capable of looking after our own affairs and the British establishment stand to lose more than simply a piece of land, they lose status, prestige and cold hard cash. Healthy finances do not buy happiness but they do provide a degree of stability that breeds confidence in the future and confidence is the cornerstone of this debate.
My first indication that a Scottish government could provide a country that I wanted to live in was the freeing on compassionate grounds of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. That took guts and a morality which was directly opposed to Westminsters US-led revenge doctrine. To make a decision which they knew would be widely condemned took courage and confidence and they have continued through policy and attitude to demonstrate to the Scottish people what is possible.

Every time I visit an independence thread on Facebook, Wings, Bella and countless other sources I see a nation that is waking to the possibilities. I don’t recognise this Scotland but it is a welcome sight. Positivity and hope abound as information is sought, found and shared. Many will not be swayed, the insidious nature of their conditioning is hard to counter but confidence is bred by strength in numbers, by visibility, by strong role models and above all by information.

So spread the word and show your colours; others need to see that they are not alone and that their belief is your belief.

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