We each need to think about how we will act if our preferred option is defeated in September’s referendum. Whatever the outcome we will all need to work hard in common cause to help our nation to thrive.
What happens after the referendum will be conditioned of course by what happens before it. How we all behave now, the tone we set, the language we use, the respect we pay to other points of view, the extent to which we really listen to the arguments, the attitude we display towards those who apparently disagree with us and our willingness to engage in civilised dialogue will not only impact on the outcome itself but determine how we move forward afterwards. If we behave with civility now, and look constructively at the ways in which we handle differences of view and difficult questions, we will prepare ourselves for the aftermath.
If we display less tolerance and more adversarialism now, we set the scene for a polarised post-referendum hangover, with scores to be settled, hurts to be nursed and reputations to protect or renew. If we push each other antagonistically now, it will be much harder, then, to engage those who feel disillusioned or disappointed and much less likely that we will achieve a truly common purpose. That this is so within Scotland seems fairly obvious but, of course, the same could also be said about the reaction of the English, Welsh and Northern Irish. We will all still have to live together in the same geographic space as before.
The behaviour and tone of the campaigns is hugely influential. To show the world that Scotland can conduct a civil, civilised and thorough examination of the issues that leaves a legacy for building a constructive future, whatever the outcome, would surely be a worthy ambition for us all.
John Sturrock is the founder and chief executive of Core Solutions Group