THE BLOG

Scotland Decides - But Why Wasn't There a Third Way?

18/09/2014 07:37 BST | Updated 17/11/2014 10:59 GMT

Like it or not, tomorrow morning you're going to wake up to news which will make you react emotionally. You'll rub your eyes and try to resist it, but you won't be able to.

The Scottish referendum result will undoubtably draw an iron curtain of opinion across the British public.

This insanely polarising moment in British history has all the ingredients to get nasty, shouty and very, very troll-y. It's a day tailor-made for social media to explode into life with all the energy of a shaken can of Irn Bru. There'll be boasts from bad winners and loathing retaliation from bad losers.

Whatever the result, Britain will need to change beyond belief; new division lines will run through communities, new rivalries will develop and old rivalries will burn brighter. It's tediously predictable.

There'll be no prizes for those of us who want to celebrate (in a mature, measured way) a democratic process working as it should. Those sentiments won't be retweeted and shared, will they?

We all know that the Scots didn't really want to choose full independence, don't we? We know that really, deep down, an option for the third way was the best option, right? Whatever happened to devo max?

The old way of seeing the world in black or white, left or right, or on this case yes or no, is tired.

We've all been tricked into thinking about this as an ultimatum. We've all been played by politicians who tell us the future can only be how they see it. It's not. We need to resist the temptation to try and knock lumps out of each other and draw dividing lines between ourselves.

Only this week I witnessed the benefits of thinking beyond the old divisions when I watched HuffPost UK's political director Mehdi Hasan and the Guardian's executive editor Jonathan Freeland discuss Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Before the debate the pair told me they'd been urged on Twitter to 'smash' each other. What the tweeters didn't realise was it wasn't going to be a debate about which religion is right or wrong. It was a discussion about tolerance and how we can overcome hatred old and new.

As Mehdi and Jonathan discussed, there was no shouting. There was none of the expected adversary. What took place was a constructive, enjoyable debate. The 500-strong audience seemed gobsmacked this could happen.

Similarly, in this changing relationship between England and Scotland it's dangerous to take on the role of sore loser or proud winner. By doing that we're admitting the divisive politicians are right. I'm pretty sure they're not.

For weeks now my team and I have debated how we'll cover the #indyref result. It hasn't been at all easy. We kept falling into the trap of thinking in terms of winners and losers, of blame and ridicule.

But the best ideas have been those which recognise that, regardless of your own opinion, this is a time to celebrate. It's a time to be positive about democracy. It's not a time to do down and smear the opinion of others.

If we all accept that Britain will have changed forever, regardless of the result, then we can also accept there's an opportunity to shelve the old way, embrace change and work out the benefits it can bring.