Christian Allard, upon entering the Scottish Parliament after another MSP resigned in 2013, was sworn in to the Parliament in both English and French.
Joanna, Polish in Scotland -"I feel like a patient on the operating table…and Scotland is holding my hand saying everything's gonna be OK" pic.twitter.com/NQUqtFd4iO
— Leo Mikłasz (@leomiklasz) March 14, 2017
Today a Polish student feels that, while Brexit feels like a rejection, Scotland is holding her hand.
Nicola Sturgeon making it clear that EU citizens are not bargaining chips, and that they are welcome in Scotland.
The determination to make Scotland a normal northern European country, and that it is Britain that is the odd one.
These are the sorts of things that make me more and more sympathetic to the cause of Scottish independence, or radical and profound decentralisation if you like. For I am not a nationalist. I am not even Scottish, and I have set foot in Scotland just twice in my life.
All of the things I highlight above ought to be able to be achieved across the UK, without Scotland needing to become independent. It’d be great if swearing into a parliament could be conducted in all sorts of languages, but it’d create an awful stink in the tabloid press were it to happen in Westminster. Students like Joanna ought to be welcome in the whole of the UK. The House of Commons could have sent a signal that EU citizens were welcome, but did the opposite. And a more just and fair economy ought to be possible for the whole of Britain. But faced with a UK government hell bent on Brexit – against the wishes of Scotland and Northern Ireland – and with Scotland seeing its own future as necessarily within the EU, it strikes me the case for independence is now more compelling than ever. In the absence of a federal UK and a radically reformed politics in London it’s now the obvious choice for Scotland it seems to me.
I’m not naive about all of this. The path towards independence is a rocky one, not least economically. There were unpleasant elements of Scottish nationalism that reared up during the 2014 referendum, and I fear those will come to the fore once more. The harder the Brexit, the potentially more severe the economic consequences of Scotland leaving the UK on Scotland itself.
But – unlike pretty much everything else in UK politics now – there is hope in Scottish politics as well. Of a fairer, more welcoming, more just and open way of doing politics. Where belonging is determined more by wanting to belong than by defining oneself as against others. Sure, it’s not perfect, but what place is? And, personified by Nicola Sturgeon and her determination, sense and dignity, it has the only politician talking any sense in the UK just now.
So, as I said on Twitter, to Scottish friends of mine, to anyone resident in Scotland, I wish you the very best. And when you have a date for your referendum I will come and campaign with you for independence – because you’d welcome that, the very opposite of how Cameron rejected anyone not British daring to open their mouth about Brexit. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.