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Thinking Outside the Union: A Parable of Yes and No

08/09/2014 11:20 BST | Updated 06/11/2014 10:59 GMT

Let's be honest, at this stage in the game it is not about facts anymore: the McCrone Report, the Wee Blue Book or the shady (and very temporary) Scottish House Buying Clause, all have been shared extensively. The information is out there if you want it but you are likely to only consume and believe literature that supports your existing beliefs.

With less than two weeks to go, the difference between those voting Yes and those voting No, is now down to their existing beliefs systems. Belief is strong stuff and underpins our sense of self and our world view. For those completely outside of the Referendum discussion, I put it to you as a wee parable to help illustrate.

Once upon a time, all the people of Scotland shared a block of flats, and as in life, some of the folk had a positive experience but large sections of the residents of the flats did not. For years they all sat up discussing the issues together, contacting the landlord, negotiating the lease, the rent and the terms of the deposit. Some of the tenants were in direct contact with the landlord and even travelled to see him: those few negotiators generally felt that all was going well with their tenancy agreement. Yes there were issues, a fair few even cropped up year after year and never quite seemed to get resolved, but hey the negotiators were doing OK.

And so, after several years of trying to improve their situation from within the landlord relationship, several of the tenants got fed up. They didn't even want to be renters any more. They tried as best they could for as long as they could to argue their case for a better deal. Their frustration grew and grew, not just for themselves but for those that couldn't even get into a flat or were threatened to be tossed out of one and were now struggling to keep a roof over their heads. Additionally, they didn't want the landlords' bombs in their garden and even though they paid their rent on time, basic maintenance was never attended to, to the point of neglect. Worst yet, those that were struggling - even temporarily - were called lazy scroungers, even when upholding their end of the deal.

So, one by one they moved out. The just let go of the existing situation and started to believe they could do a better job by investing in themselves. Very quickly, more and more former renters joined and a whole new community was born. The negotiators were furious. "Who told you could move out and start over?" they fumed, to which the former renters replied "Come and join us it's going to be a really exciting opportunity!"

"But how will I know if I will get a better deal and how much is the phone bill, the heating bill and the insurance payment?" the negotiators shouted.

"We are working on that, but for now we are just drawing up the mission statement for how this new community is going to work", the former renters replied.

"Why should we join you nutters, when you can't even tell me what the rent will be? How will it work, who will set the rent?"

"Listen you negotiators; we former renters are doing something completely different. We have a lot of people, a lot of expertise, plenty of water, food and resources. We are going to use what we already have to get set up, and then move to a greener more sustainable way to support ourselves. We aren't talking about rent anymore" came the reply.

"Well, who can join you in your new community, what is the requirement, who is restricted?"

"Nobody's restricted, whoever wants to come join us and work hard to make the new community work is welcome".

"Ah, so this is about identity is it?"

"No, our efforts have nothing to do with identity, everything to do with self-government."

"But you had plenty of representation with the landlord. We talked to them once every few years you know we did. Some of us negotiators even got to become landlords ourselves."

"Not good enough. It hasn't worked for far too many of us and we are onto something new. Don't you know that the definition of insanity is doing to the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome?"

"It's too risky, get back here right now and we will go talk to the landlord again. Maybe we just need a new landlord. That is how we have always done things, and that is how we are going to continue to do things. Now stop what you are doing as you look foolish, and you're going to make us look foolish too! This has all been very disruptive, now stop all this right now as all this uncertainty that you are creating has made us very cross."

Sadly, there was no reply. The music and the laughter and the raucous party that had erupted in the new community drowned out the endless list of nervous concerns.

So as we head into the last few days of this referendum, we are not faced with a community fighting each other, regardless of what the landlords and the media would have you believe. The Yes and No Voters aren't even having the same conversation. Yes has been thinking, feeling, dreaming and creating a new world totally outside the confines of the Union.

The only question for the No Voters now is, do you want to join the party and embrace the new opportunity, or are you still thinking inside the Union?