And we are off. Another 15 months of independence referendum campaigning ahead, or possibly longer if the Supreme Court rules against the Scottish Government and they use the next General Election to campaign on this single issue.
Everyone will remember how bruising the last referendum campaign was, friends and families divided over what was a heated and passionate debate. Politics should be passionate, we should fight for things that we believe in, we should care and argue for what we believe to be the right way of doing things in our society. There is no issue with that. But we have to do it in a respectful, dignified and constructive way.
The last campaign was none of these things, it was hateful, disrespectful, angry, abusive and led to many people being disillusioned with politics and politicians. Personally I knew of families and friendships broken over the rhetoric that surrounded the campaigning. It was tribal, with those on one side right and the other wrong, neither side could see or appreciate the point of view of the other or accept that perhaps in some things there was a valid argument.
This tribalism has carried on in the years following that campaign with those standing for elected office suffering untold abuse and threats for being on the other side of the constitutional debate. Everything in Scotland politics is now marred by the constitutional question, it supersedes every debate on every other thing. On one side independence is the answer to every question, on the other we are better together. Whether that be NHS policy, drug deaths, poverty, food banks, climate change or trade policy, the constitutional question overrides them all.
Over the next year Scotland will again be forced to examine who we are, and what we want our future to be, that sense of identity will once again be in question. Are you Scottish and Scottish only, or Scottish and British, what does that mean, what does that feel like? Questions of identity will once again be at the forefront of the minds of the voters.
Logos Scotland was established to provide a place to debate these big questions of identity, what is the place of nationalism and nations in the Christian world, what does it mean to be made in the image of God and be part of his community? What does the answer to those questions say about nationhood and the place of Scotland in the world?
I passionately pray that the coming years will allow us to have that debate in a grown up and respectful way, I fear that we won’t. I pray that this campaign will not lead to the division and hatred of the last, I fear that it won’t. I pray that the tribalism and division will take a back seat to debate and reasoned argument, I fear that it won’t. Logos Scotland will always provide a place for such conversations to take place and I look forward to working out how we do this with other organisations who have similar goals.
We are entering yet another time of turmoil in Scottish society, after what has been a tumultuous couple of years. Lets pray that throughout this campaign we can work together, listen to eachother, respect eachother and have a meaningful debate in a way that is honouring to God and eachother.