It ‘aint over ’til it’s over

“It ain’t over ‘til it’s over”. Yogi Berra said that about a baseball game, I use it as a postscript to the September 18th Scottish Independence referendum. Leaders on both side of the simple “yes” or “no” vote on whether Scotland should leave the United Kingdom of England, (northern) Ireland, Scotland and Wales or stay in the centuries old partnership, warned four million plus eligible voters the decision would probably be their last opportunity to vote “yes” to leave the UK or “no” to reject the siren call and stay with the old firm.
Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party, First Minister in the Scottish Parliament and emotional champion of the “yes” vote said if the “no” carried the day it would be at least a generation before another vote could be called and “maybe never.”
David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, Prime Minister in England’s parliament, echoed the theme. The vote would end the debate and settle the question for a long time “maybe for ever.”
Cameron, graduate of upper class Eton School and Oxford University can be forgiven for not knowing too much about the inhabitants of the country lying north of the Tweed River. Salmond, a Scot with a romantic view of Scotland’s destiny, should know that “never again” is not an option when Scotland’s future – to leave or stay with the United Kingdoms – is at stake.
If Cameron thinks his latest promise of more power to Scotland under his program of devolution will mute the cries of half the population who voted for independence on September 18, he is sadly mistaken. And if Salmond thinks the multi-thousands of fervent, dedicated but defeated Scots will regard the vote as the final say has forgotten his Scottish history.
Eight years ago the Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted an online poll to see if they could get a firm opinion on what hymn, song or piece of music should be adopted as the Scottish National Anthem. Five choices were offered: Flower of Scotland, Highland Cathedral, Scotland the Brave, Scots Wha Hae and Is There For Honest Poverty – better known as Robbie Burns’ A Man’s a Man For All That. All five had strong overtones of Scotland as an independent nation and the winner with 41 per cent of the vote was Flower of Scotland.
It is a new song composed as recently as 1965 with lyrics and music by Roy Williamson. It has never been declared as Scotland’s national anthem but it is the first choice when Scotland is on the international stage and an “anthem” is required. It has been the pre-game anthem for Scottish international rugby since the early 1970’s, is now played and sung at soccer games. It became a familiar refrain to millions when the Commonweal Games were held in Glasgow during high summer and each time a Scot won gold the band played Flower of Scotland and Scottish fans sang:
“O flower of Scotland/ When will we see/Your like again/That fought and died for/Your wee hill and glen/And stood against him/Proud Edward’s army/ And sent him homeward/ Tae think again.”
Proud Edward was Edward II of England whose army at Bannockburn in 1314 greatly outnumbered the Scots led by Robert the Bruce. The English fled the battlefield after losing heavy casualties and Bruce became and remains a legendary victorious figure in Scottish history.
Flower of Scotland has but three short verses. The first I have just quoted, the third should be read – or sung if you know the music – carefully:
“Those days are passed now/And in the past they must remain/But we can still rise now/And be the nation again/That stood against him/Proud Edward’s army/And sent him homeward/ Tae think again.”
On September 18 Scotland voted to remain in the United Kingdom family. A much more satisfactory way of settling a dispute than Bannockburn. But the battle for more independence from a government in far away London is far from over. We can just pray that as it continues to unfold the Scots will continue to vote with their heads and listen to their poet hero (he finished last in the national anthem poll) who wrote in A Man’s A Man For A‘That:
“Then let us pray that, come it may,
(As come it will for all that)
That Sense and Worth o’er all the earth
Shall take the prize and all that.
For all that and all that,
It’s coming yet, for all that,
That Man to Man the whole world o’er
Shall brothers be for all that.”
(Purists will note I have changed a word or two from Burn’s dialect to understandable English)

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