HISTORY and the heart are inextricable. It’s the particular weave between them that often underpins our surface debates and politics. It’s about the grand narratives we choose, and the deep emotions they answer.

This struck me strongly when reading Andrew Wilson’s column earlier this week. Andrew specified those Scots voters born in the remainder of the UK (or rUK), who value their British identity, as a crucial constituency to win over in any coming democratic event (in 2014, out of nearly half a million of this type in total, 72% of them voted No).

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As is Andrew’s comms-driven way, his article is graced with bridge-building terms. To speak to such a constituency, he suggests, campaigners should not present indy as “a rejection of 300 years of shared endeavour… we are not walking away from 300 years of history”.

The National:

The “perspective” of British identity “needs tended to and addressed authentically and over time… we need a crystal-clear vision of how we will approach our ongoing relationship with all of the people of the rest of the UK”.

There’s a poll stat from the Scottish Referendum Survey of 2015 which Andrew omits, and may seem to back up his case even more. The most popular stated reason for voting No was “because I feel British and believe in the Union”. For voting Yes, it was “so that Scotland always gets the governments it votes for”.

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The second reason is political and democratic – but the first is about identity and culture, “feelings” and “belief” – much more ingrained and difficult to shift.

As he says in the piece, Andrew has been thinking about this logjam all his political life as a Scottish nationalist – and it’s caused him enough fuss.

He’s proclaimed his support for England in the World Cup, declaimed “Britishness” as one of his identities… and now, in the Sustainable Growth Commission, he’s suggesting an “Annual Solidarity Payment” post-indy. One that could honour “our inherited responsibilities” to Britain, as well as “secure the interests and mutual advantage of both ourselves and the citizens of the rest of the UK”.

The National:

Hard to know where to begin in examining this latticework. But let’s start with history. What exactly is the nature of this “shared endeavour”? It seems an excessively polite phrase to cover a shuddering series of events.

A set of early-modern elites striking a deal to relinquish Scottish sovereignty, in order to access the growing markets of England’s empire. An industrialising process, serving that empire, that was more rapid and convulsive in Scotland than anywhere else in the world.

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A joint responsibility for running a blood-soaked global colonialism, for which both parties should at some point stand willing to pay reparations. Scotland as Britain’s locus of hard power – hydrocarbons and nuclear weapons – yet unable to express enough political will of its own to shape these mega-forces in any significant way.

The phrase “shared endeavour” risks derision, in the face of all this complexity, complicity and more. What’s more correct is that both Scotland and England can’t “walk away” from three centuries of history.

Yet between us, we have barely begun to reckon with – never mind “address authentically” – the legacy, both productive and destructive, of our joint impact on the modern world.

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In our coming era, climate breakdown will force hundreds of angry millions to be on the move, demanding answers from a West which bears the historical blame for the problem. The nations who acknowledge this reckoning earliest can be the thought-leaders and exemplars who can present the best solutions for this tumultuous world.

The National:

I could imagine that vision coming from governments led by Nicola Sturgeon or Jeremy Corbyn: I see the very opposite in the “Empire 2.0” meanness and arrogance of Tory Brexiteers.

However, all that’s up in the air. We simply don’t know how the Parliament of Westminster will pan out electorally: and as the UK Supreme Court has informed us over the past few years, Westminster is still the ultimate determinant over Scottish life.

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This is, of course, the classic self-governing argument for indy (and the most popular survey reason, as noted above).

Andrew mildly acknowledges the generosity of spirit required from indy supporters. They are asked to assume “mutual interest” will prevail between Scotland and the rUK, when it’s always possible the governments they choose will be – again, his words are polite – a “misfortune”.

Wasn’t that exactly our “misfortune” when George Osborne simply shut the door on ScotGov’s desire for a “sterling zone” in 2014? Won’t it be our “misfortune” if Corbyn and May both take us out of Europe, for their own reasons?

Or what about the “misfortune” of a hard-right populist majority government, composed of Tories and Faragists, loosening regulations and standards in economy and society even further?

So who, exactly, would we be expressing “solidarity” with in these payments? An rUK electorate that regularly installs a majority of representatives who do their best to subvert those voters’ own best interests? That really is a tough ask.

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The deepest and most historical question to put is not “should an indy campaign respect British identity?”, but “should we strike for indy so that we – and England – can both escape British identity?”.

Over these last six months, I’ve been deeply reading, and talking with, Scotland’s greatest living political intellectual: Tom Nairn. His prophetic 1977 masterpiece, The Break-up Of Britain, is very much worth investigating today.

But Nairn’s core point is that contemporary England suffers from having been “God’s first-born” modern state: forged in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and to some degree still stuck there.

The National:

The “patrician” ruling class that fomented this upheaval (an alliance of the merchants and the aristocracy, in order to manage the peasants and workers) persists to this day.

It has shifted from industrialism to Empire to finance capital, but this patriciate essentially remains in control. Note the tiny numbers of owners of vast tracts of English land reported this week (Scotland’s proportion is even worse). And casually cast your eye over the last decade of Westminster Cabinets.

How are the peoples of England – and they are plural, both regional and local – to be free of this lot? One route might be through a passion and a movement for English regionalism and federalism.

YORKSHIRE and the Humber is abuzz with regionalist parties and networks like The Yorkshire Party or We Are The Same Skies. They look at their population and their GDP – roughly comparable with Scotland – and ask themselves: we have as strong an identity as Scotland and the economics to match. Where are our powers?

England is an enormous, diverse country – and even if the case for breaking up the centralisation of power in the metropolis was rationally justified, the sheer historic fact of English variety and localism should compel it.

There are also strong arguments that when people feel power is closer to them, they are less susceptible to the psychodramas that big-nation politics can orchestrate. A more internally devolved and federalised England may well be the calmer and better neighbour that Andrew Wilson, and the rest of us, fervently seeks.

But we’ve been waiting for it to happen for so long. And not only shouldn’t Scotland hang on yet again for some magical confluence of constitutionally literate Westminster parties. We should also maybe recognise our historic role in bringing the phase-shift about – through a confidently pursued independence. That confidence would mean orienting ourselves towards Europe, the Nordic and Arctic zone, and to that wider world we have such a complex, often troubled heritage with.

The rUK will be part of that engagement – but not the pre-eminent, over-determining part that Andrew proposes. Indeed, I would suggest that part of the “shock” of a Scotland seeking sovereignty, in order to turn its face beyond the gaze of the rUK, is what will accelerate the needed, post-imperial changes in the majority part of these islands.

For Scotland, the question is how many Scots can indy campaigners inspire, no matter their roots or routes, by our vision of a good country. Is that best pursued by trimming our whole campaign to the parameters of a “Britain” which is in deep crisis?

Who should we focus our passions on? And who should we just leave to themselves, their hearts and history?