Scotnitive dissonance: Scotland’s other pandemic – Think Scotland

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IN To A Louse, Robert Burns laments “O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us, To see oursels as ithers see us!”, which, roughly translated, means that it is a shame that we can’t see ourselves as other people do, faults and all.

Given that, thankfully, in the last 334 years both farming technology and poetry have come a long way, this presents the opportunity for Scotland to update this charming little maxim because it’s needed now more than ever before.

In fact, rather than seeing ourselves as other people do, we should settle for the slightly less lofty goal of seeing ourselves as we actually are because there is a huge gap in our arrogant perception of ourselves versus the uncomfortable, destructive, and harmful reality of modern Scotland.

Scotland is in the grip of a condition I’ve come to call, Scotnitive Dissonance… and it’s hurting us.

You will have heard the claim before, surely? It first came to my attention during the debates, speaking engagements, and other such events I took part in during the 2014 independence referendum. Representing, it will come as no surprise, the NO side, I often heard about how much more “progressive” Scotland is compared with the rest of the United Kingdom and that, my interlocutors would insist, was grounds for Scotland to go it alone.

Those claims have, from what I can tell, gotten louder since 2014. Their 2021 updated versions usually comes accompanied by pointing to the electoral success of the SNP, an essay on whose ‘talk’ versus ‘act’ difference could also be another 1000 words or so, and their new ‘not a coalition’ partners in the Scottish Greens. Proponents of the ‘Scotland’s just more progressive’ line also regularly point out that Scotland overwhelmingly voted to stay in the European Union which, I hasten to point out, is a crass over-simplification given the strength of the left-wing, Tony Benn school, of Euroscepticism. It’s a simple failure of reasoning that takes no notice of things in practice.

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