Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The Independence Diet

Like many people in Scotland, I'm overweight.  Like most overweight people, I'm trying to do something about it.  It's not easy though.

Firstly, you need an incentive to go on a diet.  Maybe you decided not to go and see a movie with your friends because the cinema is on the first floor and you couldn't manage the stairs.  Maybe you saw the most gorgeous outfit, but you couldn't have it because they don't make it in a large enough size.  Maybe you've developed some medical issues.  Whatever it is, there will be a trigger.

So you tell your friends that you've decided to lose the weight.  Some will be supportive, but some will tell you that you're fine, that a little extra weight suits you, so why bother?  Nevertheless, you're determined that this is it, you're going to be that skinny person.

Maybe you go along to a diet club, where they tell you how to manage your calories. Maybe you go to a gym, where they give you a weight reduction exercise programme.  In both cases they lie to you.  The diet club tells you that you can eat what you want, never have to be hungry and still lose weight as long as you stick to their programme.  The gym tells you you will lose weight without sore muscles or having to spend loads of time in the gym. 

Eventually you run out of steam.  The diet is too restrictive or the gym takes up too much of your time.  Your friends persuade you that a chocolate biscuit or a cake or a curry won't do you any harm, and you succumb, thinking that you can always go back on the diet on Monday.  Your own brain subverts your efforts, because brains like to stick with what they know. 

To lose weight successfully, you have to accept that you will be hungry at times, or that you will have to spend more time than you'd like at the gym.  You also have to accept that it's not a time-limited thing, that's it's a permanent lifestyle change.

What has this to do with independence? The parallels are quite striking.

First of all, we need an incentive.  This time around there really wasn't a strong incentive for most people, the ones who haven't really thought about independence or who don't see anything wrong with the status quo.  The next referendum therefore really needs some strong reason to trigger it.  Maybe a Tory-UKIP coalition wreaking havoc with their policies, or England voting to leave Europe while Scotland votes to stay in.  Something on which people will have strong opinions.

Next we need to be realistic.  This time around the No campaign painted the blackest picture possible, while the Yes campaign erred a bit too much on the sunny side.  We need to tell people that in the short term after they vote for independence, there will possibly be pain. There will be negotiations to be had, and they won't all go our way.  We will need to develop relationships with other countries, not all of which will be supportive.  We need to reassure people that short-term pain will be long-term gain.

Finally we need to show them the picture of Scotland at the end of the process.  It needs to be a realistic picture though.  A Scotland which is a successful, prosperous nation, but not one that is without problems.  To show otherwise would be like me thinking I can look like a supermodel once I reach my target weight.  Lovely dream, but it's not going to happen!

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