In 2014, Scotland faced its most momentous political decision in centuries.

 

We were confronted with a choice of two paths: what then seemed like the safer decision, to opt for economic stability and the maintenance of political union with the rest of the United Kingdom; or alternatively to forge our own path as an independent nation.

It was a conversation that the country had with itself, and for the most part it was conducted with a remarkable degree of decency and mutual respect. Friendships were lost and there was undoubtedly bitterness; but given the existential nature of the question we were wrangling with, we should be surprised that there wasn’t more hostility.

If the intervening years have told us anything, it is that this conversation is far from over. Scottish separatism is not going away: nationalism has retained, and indeed strengthened its position of electoral dominance over Scottish politics since it supposedly ‘lost’ that referendum. The upheaval of Brexit has lent new urgency and relevance to this question.

Rattlerood exists to provide a space for free, fair and open debate of the issues facing Scotland. We believe firmly that the ethos of open and respectful debate is something which must be nurtured if it is to survive. We live in an age of polarising extremes: economic hardship and the (ironically) isolating effects of social media have made us all much more angry and unwilling to listen to each other.

Rattlerood’s sympathies lie very firmly with the creed of liberalism: here defined as tolerance of opposing views. We are all susceptible to the temptation to view our political opponents as not just misguided but evil; as obstructions to be swept away rather than fellow citizens to be accommodated.

Liberalism’s survival requires us all to do our very best to restrain this urge.

The legacy and ethos of the Caledonian Enlightenment is one of the most valuable parts of our heritage. Scotland’s survival as an independent nation is often debated in terms of its economic potential, and rightly so. Even more significant however, is the question of whether it is capable of sustaining this ethos of toleration. If we are to go it alone, will that rupture disrupt our ability to live together, and to talk to each other peacefully?

We are a country with the makings of a national political institution, but we lack a properly developed space for national debate. Our public sphere is embryonic, and often lop-sided. Nationalism has electoral dominance in this country, but it commands the allegiance of only one newspaper. Why is this?

Holyrood is an institution with insufficient media scrutiny. This isn’t for lack of openness: the architects of devolution should be given credit for creating an institution which does its best to avoid the opacity and corridor-intrigue of Westminster. The problem is a lack of public interest. Holyrood often feels like a glorified local council; but it has significant powers to affect the lives of Scots. It’s modelled on the aspiration for a more consensual, European style of politics. Unfortunately, this can often make it seem just a little…boring. There is certainly cut and thrust: but for better or worse, it lacks the theatricality of Westminster.

Rattlerood will seek to develop the tradition of parliamentary sketch writing for a Holyrood context. We want to lead an investigation into the culture of the institution; to make its workings and practices more clear to the public it serves.

Like our sibling publication, The Rattlecap, we are committed to promoting accessibility. But unlike The Rattlecap, our editorial stance will remain politically uncommitted. Our only commitment is to good writing, and free and open debate. We welcome quality writing from all sides of the political spectrum, in the hope of fostering an informative and productive exchange of views.

All submissions, queries and complaints should be sent to editor@rattlerood.com.

 

Scotland will not survive unless it can become again what it once was: a republic of letters.

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