Most people don’t know about the bloody and gruesome story of St. Valentine. That doesn’t mean it’s inappropriate to celebrate a martyr who was beaten and beheaded for the crime of practising Christanity by sharing cards or chocolates – far from it, because Valentinus died for love. Love of his fellow human being, love of his faith, love of God, all that stuff.
So here’s my Valentine’s Day message. See everyone who voted Yes? I love youse. All of youse. All you politicians who backed a Yes vote? I love youse too. Those internationalists from other nations who supported the cause of independence? I love youse all! All the bloggers who nagged politicians and put professional journalists to shame – I love youse tae bits! All the businesses, celebrities, writers, artists, who stuck their necks out and pinned their colours to the mast – I love youse and all!
But see thon No voters? See all those who took their sovereignty and handed it back to Westminster? See all those who thought we were too wee, too poor, and too stupid to function as an independent country? See everyone who felt they were British, loved being British, and didn’t want to stop being British? Those 2 million?
… I love youse too. Really, I do. Yes, I’m still deeply hurt at the result of the referendum. Yes, I’m still angry, and I don’t think I can forgive you for voting no even if you now regret it. But I still love you, because you are my people. I voted Yes for everyone in Scotland, and that included you. I voted Yes for everyone in Wales, England and Northern Ireland, too, because you lot deserve to know there’s another way. I voted Yes for all the countries in the world gripped in the Old Ways of politics, to show that redrawing the map doesn’t have to be painful and acrimonious – that the assertion of nationhood does not have to mean xenophobia or exceptionalism.
And I’m voting SNP in the 2015 General Election for the exact same reasons. I love the people of Scotland, I love the people of the rest of the UK, I love the people of the world. It is because I love them that I want to see an end to austerity, and Trident, and the House of Lords, and all the ills and inequalities which we have become so normalised to that we simply cannot imagine it being any different. Why would I vote SNP if I hate the English, when the SNP will stand up for the rights and aspirations of the English people far better than the tyrants of the established parties? Why would I vote SNP if I hate New Labour, if the possibility of a new kind of politics based on cooperation rather than competition could affect even the most entrenched red rosette bearer? Why would I want to change the world out of hate, when I could change the world out of love?
Absolutely, I want Ronnie Cowan to represent the people of Inverclyde under the banner of the SNP at Westminster. This is because I love the people of Inverclyde, and Scotland, and the UK, and I know that Ronnie Cowan feels the same. We vote out of a love for democracy, a love for opportunity, a love for hope. “The politics of grievance?” No, the politics of action.
I’ve spent all my adult life despising politics – despising politicians, despising the people who vote for the pseudologues and the vice-enablers and the charlatans. I don’t want to poison my life with hate. So I’m not going to go down that corridor, the politics of hate and fear and grievance. I’m voting for love. It shouldn’t be that strange.
Just like St. Valentine, martyrs die for love – love of what they believe in. The Radical Martyrs, Margaret Wilson, the Martyrs of the Reformation, William Wallace. We don’t have to die for what we love anymore.
We just have to vote.