Andrew Wilson: A letter to the referendum ‘losers’

This is a letter from me to the “losers’ in the referendum. It is written with either outcome equally in mind and written to be read by all.
Win or lose, we must remain united. Picture: TSPLWin or lose, we must remain united. Picture: TSPL
Win or lose, we must remain united. Picture: TSPL

This is a letter from me to the “losers’ in the referendum. It is written with either outcome equally in mind and written to be read by all.

Dear friends,

And so it is done. The long campaign concluded and we crossed the Rubicon together. It hurts I know it does. But you will get over that. You know you will. Breathe.

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Morning has broken as it always has. It will break again tomorrow. But we will never be the same again. Something has changed utterly even though so much has stayed the same.

The big question was put to the “48th Generation” since Scotland was born in 843AD. And a big answer was given in reply. The fact that some of our number were to be so disappointed by the choice was inevitable. That it had to be you and yours is hard. I am sorry. But it is done now.

What matters now is the future. And we make that good by our conduct in the moment. Today; that must be our focus now.

I am blessed and bedeviled with a generous heart. I struggle to access anger and hate. It is just the way I am wired.

But I utterly deprecate the tiny minority that tried to subvert our historic choice. Boiling invective and abuse was an unwelcome sideshow. The spirit of crushing opponents is no way to build a future.

But we will evolve them into history. Neanderthals and Human Kind co-existed for longer than we thought, we learned recently. And so it goes on, apparently.

What does matter is that the country of the argument argued in peace. What matters is that the people of shooting estate and the shooting gallery had the same power to choose.

What matters is that choice counted. What matters is that the choice itself took so much time and thought.

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It is written into the story of every lucky child’s life: there comes a moment where the baton is passed to them and mum and dad need them more than they need mum and dad. It is both daunting and life affirming. And it lifts us beyond our immediate into the current of the inevitability of Nature’s course. Now is that moment for our generation.

You will come to realise that you exist through eras not years. Civilisation comes from stepping out of the noise and the waves of the moment and making peace with time’s tide. While Generation 48 never made the choice you wished, be assured that what matters more is the conduct in the era that follows. The choice was the wave, the conduct is what makes the tide of history.

The challenge for any civilising democracy is in how the minority view is respected, accommodated and legitimised. Just as losers have to accept the outcome, so must the winners behave with grace, generosity of spirit and an open heart and mind. But your conduct matters more than the winners in a way. Their magnanimity is welcome but easy, in a sense. You must work your spirit twice as hard as them to make this work, for all our sakes.

If you stand back and wish for the country to fail, you fail the generation to come, and yourself. These are big times and it is going to take big people. You must embrace the irony of your ability to prove yourself wrong. Do that and history will celebrate you.

You have real power now, more power than the victors in this sense: You can walk across the divide and put your shoulder to the wheel with your opponents in striving to make the country all it can be. The moral force of this will be immense and unifying.

“Told you so,” is for the playground. “Strive with you,” is where true success lies.

So now we stand together, all of us. With all of the power at our disposal we have to strain every sinew to better the lives of us all, and almost more importantly, the inheritance of the 49th generation that follows.

The issue that divided our country is determined. Now we can open our minds to the reality that symbols rather than substance divides too many, when what unites us is by far the greatest part.

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This moment was the day our country lifted its chin at last and gazed the future in the eye, with a true sense of itself for the first time. No bravado. Just truth. We became ourselves. At last. Because we asked the question of ourselves “who are we?” for the first time. And now we have the answer.

There is something unique in us. We are from a small corner of a big world you and I. So many privations amid so much vain glory. So much to boast about, more still to cower for. We are an odd bunch, no mistake.

But there is something in our spirit that trusts, endures, believes, perseveres, hopes, and never gives up. Something that attracts, despite ourselves. Something that loves and laughs.

Today is a new day. We have a limited number to look forward to. So let’s work together as we walk through this country of ours we love. We must make it one we can be happy to live in and proud to pass on. «

• Twitter: @AndrewWilsonAJW