While there is a current lull in the Independence/Union referendum campaign with arguments raging about geeky uninteresting points of order, there has been a call for another referendum. This time on the thorny subject of “Gay Marriage”.
Making the call is Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who believes that because 80,000 people have been involved in the Scottish Government’s public consultation (versus around 26,000 in the relevant exercise relating to Independence) that this should be put to the public vote. That O’Brien is a key figure in opposing “Gay Marriage” may be another reason for this call as he is of the opinion that there is a large groundswell of opinion against this move. Obviously though he has never heard of the phrase “empty vessels make more noise”.
As you might have gathered, I’m not a fan of this move. Indeed I’m not a fan of O’Brien full stop. Not being someone who “does god”, I seem to be perennially offended by most of what O’Brein says and does – I think when he came out and attacked the government a couple of weeks ago I was staggered that he had done so. To return to the referendum idea though, I don’t think that this will be a good move for a country striving for independence and for a modern image.
For one thing, this is exactly the sort of issue that will be guaranteed to generate a hell of a lot of head and not nearly enough light. Both sides are already implacably fixed into their positions. For another, this is an argument where organised religion cannot fail to look at best out of touch with the last century let alone this one, and at worst like the fundamentalist wing of Christianity. Anyone who remembers the “Keep the Clause” campaign run by Brian Souter and fronted by O’Brein’s predecessor Cardinal Winning will be experiencing a chill running up their shoulder at the thought of a referendum over this issue. Yet it was Wendy Alexander’s removal of Section 2B which arguably got the Scottish Parliament off the ground in terms of credibility and gravitas.
There was an advertising campaign a couple of years back – “One Scotland, Many Culture’s”. If this became the subject of a referendum, it would broadcast to the world at large how petty and small minded we are that we would not be prepared to do the right thing because of not very reasoned arguments. In any case, I’m not sure the Scottish public would put up with the shenanigans over what the question should be.