Well, we all knew it was coming sooner or later, but now the starting gun has been fired and the Scottish Independence Race has already shot out of the traps and sprouted wings.
The very second Nicola Sturgeon said the words, our social media feeds suddenly exploded as the long-dormant keyboard warriors on both sides shook dust off and picked up their chosen weapons once more.
Within a few minutes, it was like we’d suddenly been whisked back to 2014, all that hope and dread colliding to drown your all-important cat videos and Game of Thrones memes. Yep, it’s like we never left.
But whichever side you were/are on, you have to admit; when it came to our turn in the international spotlight, we showed the world how to embrace political ideals.
I was immensely proud of Scots on both sides in the run up to the last Indyref. Why was that? Well, lets make a quick comparison.
In the last few months before the 2014 vote, Scotland changed – undeniably for the better.
Suddenly people began to ask questions of both sides. Undecided or otherwise, you heard it everywhere. In shops, cafes, pubs, and livingrooms up and down the country, people for whom politics had previously been invisible suddenly came alive – they talked, they questioned, they answered, but most of all, they thought about the future of the country and the direction they might like to take. ‘What would we use for currency?’, ‘Why does Scotland store nuclear weapons?’, ‘should we have control over our own economy?’. The questions went back and forth, and even when some seemed too tough to answer, it didn’t matter. The Scottish electorate were suddenly awake and hungry for knowledge about our situation.
Scots from across the broad political spectrum suddenly engaged one another in such a positive way that it almost made the vote itself irrelevant.
Compare that wave of positivity, then, to the EU referendum campaign; which was just two months of opportunistic politicians shouting down any intelligent debate by screaming ‘IMMIGRATION’ at the top of their voices.
Whatever side you fell on in the Brexit vote, you can’t deny that the electorate were let down badly by their politicians, and indeed the media.
So, as the campaign cars warm up for another lap it may feel familiar, but that this time it has the potential to get much worse.
Yes voters will be keen to point out that the promises that were made after the last Indyref have been largely unfulfilled, the pledges melting away the very next morning. And the No voters will just as swiftly remind their counterparts that the 2014 vote was billed as a once-in-a-lifetime event, and that ‘the people have spoken – we can’t keep going back’.
So let’s remember the spirit of debate that served us so well before. Because in the grand scheme of things no amount of facts, evidence, or rage will change the mind of someone who just loves their country – whichever one that may be.