I have been critical of the “Let’s Stay Together” campaign led by English celebrities which has made an “emotional case” to Scots to stay in the union. Even David Cameron has threatened to make an emotional case so there is a trend here. My objections have been on the humdrum basis that many Scots, for some reason, appear to be including some sort of intellectual assessment of the cases for and against the union when they vote.
For my part, south of the border, I have also gone to some effort to understand the intellectual bases of the arguments for both sides. And so I am clearly aggrieved that a group of upstart celebrity “sentiment merchants” have cut across my hard work with an almost effortless “emotional case”.
But maybe I have missed a trick here. Maybe it should be all about emotion, because making an emotional case does actually have a successful track record. In school playgrounds, nurseries and even in homes, up and down the land, emotional cases are being won and lost on a daily basis. “I want my Lego truck”. “I won’t eat my peas”. “Stop him being so horrible to me”. On numerous occasions, well-meaning but ultimately spineless parents, teachers and other children buckle under the weight of the emotional case being put to them. There may be an intellectual case to argue, but let’s face it, it’s not worth it most of the time. It’s better to give them what they want or something else to placate them. It’s not honourable but it’s effective.
So let’s flesh out a little the emotional case for the union. It could be expressed as something like:
“I want my United Kingdom and I’m not going to let you horrible Scottish people take it away from me.” (Cue much stamping of feet and crocodile tears)
This obviously will have a powerful impact and will need a delicate response. I think there could be a compromise here. Rather than forcing English celebrities into a corner with sophistry and maturity, inevitably followed by tears, the better solution is to find out what they really want – a technique that all parents know.
Please don’t tell anyone but I am going to give some quiet advice to the Scots. When faced with the apparently overwhelming emotional case for the union, my recommendation is for Scots to assure English celebrities that they can carry on using the Union Jack on their boxer shorts – or wherever they like – and that Scots will never take this away from them. Then they will be happy and Scotland will forever have a place in their hearts.