The IndyRef Shuffle

It’s September, and so the regular Central Belt Shuffle starts once more. The leaves on this fine early Autumn day are turning golden, and gently crunch under my bike wheels.

The morning commute, flask in hand, is joined by my colleague Dr A. We discuss the possibilities not of Scottish Independence, but Scottish Renaissance Studies, or rather, Renaissance Studies in Scotland. I cast my mind to Rona Munro’s James Plays, the third of which – with its triumphant casting of Sofie Grabol (aka The Killing’s Sarah Lund) as James III’s Danish wife – I’d seen in August during the festival shuffle period. The play included a direct address to the audience (as well as her court and country) from Grabol. ‘Who,’ she asks, ‘would want the job of ruling Scotland?’ And, even more provocatively, ‘You know the problem with you lot? You’ve got fuck-all except attitude.’ As Michael Billington put it in his review, ‘Even Alistair Darling wouldn’t dare to go that far.’

And as tomorrow the three leaders of the Westminster parties shuffle northwards in one last ditch attempt to woo us, at last fully cognisant that not only might there be something to lose, but that it is (as the polls are telling us) a real possibility, I look out the window on the shuffle home for signs of the debate. I don’t see any large Yes or Nos emblazoned on the landscape (though there is at least one hillside near Stirling showing its political affiliations), and my fellow travellers seem much the same as ever – reading, staring into space, sleeping, yawning, wishing there were a drinks trolley on the train, chatting. But change is coming, very fast, whichever way the vote goes – as this, perhaps one of the most perceptive (and chilling, in its grasp of realpolitik) of the pieces I’ve yet read on the referendum and its aftermath – lays out.

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