Professor John Davis: Scotland requires national unity from all of its politicians

Professor John Davis, who has carried out research and written on the concept of participatory leadership, examines the need for national unity and thoughtful, incisive and collaborative decision-making in response to the Brexit vote in England and Wales

SCOTLAND'S path forward from the EU referendum may look uncertain but we should not be daunted by the approaching Brexit. It is during such unstable times that leadership is required at all levels of our society. As citizens we can show leadership by pledging to set aside our indyref differences and undertaking to work together to secure our futures. 

As a nation we can show leadership by reaching out to our friends and relatives in other EU countries and asking them to urge their elected officials to support Scotland’s wish to remain in the EU. Political parties can show leadership by working tirelessly to deliver an agreement that does not remove Scotland from the EU.

This is a time when politicians should set aside their partisan instincts and be brought together in a parliament of national unity. This is a time for nimble footwork through a political mine field – every step forward may be loaded with danger but as a nation we can lift the weight off our politicians' steps by not burdening them with the need to maintain party political dogma.

This is a time when politicians should set aside their partisan instincts and be brought together in a parliament of national unity.

Every ounce of political nous will be required to negotiate the best possible outcome for Scotland and political lines of demarcation must be set aside to ensure that we have the finest and most astute negotiating team at the table. 

Ruth Davidson and Kezia Dugdale – this is not a time to think of your party, your ego or your image. This is a time to collaborate with other leaders for the sake of us all. This is a time to put all your efforts into ensuring the wishes of the electorate are fulfilled. Ruth and Kezia, if you are unable to offer national unity you should step aside and let others in your parties take the lead.

We could move to independence without a referendum. Think on this for a moment. If opinion polls showed overwhelming support and the political parties in Holyrood voted for it we could have a very peaceful move to independence. This is what happened in Czechoslovakia: from 17 November to 29 December 1989 there was a transition to two countries as a result of the collapse of the Warsaw pact and the demise of communism.

It appears that Davidson and Dugdale have ruled the velvet revolution option out but I would ask them to reconsider – why waste time and money on indyref2 if the outcome becomes inevitable? We do not want our politicians tied up with indyref2 when they need to be focusing on getting us out of the hole that David Cameron dug for us. 

If it is appropriate to hold referendums, they need to be on the specifics of the type of post-Brexit Scotland we want to live in.

This is a time to collaborate with other leaders for the sake of us all. This is a time to put all efforts into ensuring the wishes of the electorate are fulfilled.

The political parties need to sit down and engage with the huge questions that now face Scotland regarding EU membership, currency, passport control/free movement, Nato membership and defence. 

The politicians at Holyrood may come to the conclusion that the answers to these questions need to be put to the Scottish people in a series of referenda, including multi-option referenda. We, in response, will have to ensure that we are ready to answer the questions put tous and accept the wishes of the majority when the results are counted.

This is a time for collaborative, considered, intelligent and incisive thinking. For an example of how not to conduct ourselves, the population of Scotland need only look to the way the mainstream media is stoking up conflict in England and promoting post-vote blame cultures. 

We need to have no appetite for Brexit conflict; we need calm, thoughtful, participatory decision-making and we need to ensure that there is only one moment of agreed change in our political structures. There is no point in experiencing the shock of Brexit and then experiencing the dissolution of the UK at a later date. 

We have to ensure there is only one moment of structural upheaval and we have to ensure that this one, 'special', moment of change fulfils the wishes of those who live and work in Scotland – the clock is ticking.

Picture courtesy of Paula Funnell

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