The Scottish Referendum. Words for thought (2): “solidarity”

Red, white and blue bangles

First of all, a warning to readers.

I normally try to keep this blog a-political and to focus mainly on language issues. However, I feel very passionately about the Scottish Referendum debate and its outcome. As this blog is my main platform for expressing my beliefs, this post, and maybe one other in the next few days, will have a political slant. Not party-political, but political in the sense of deeply-held convictions. If you’re not particularly interested in the referendum, don’t worry: the language element will come first, so you can easily ignore the political stuff if you prefer. 

The language bit: “solidarity”

One word I wish we’d heard more of in the Scottish Independence Referendum debate is “solidarity”. I’d always thought this was a directly Latinate word, but apparently it was coined during the French Revolution:

Online Etymology Dictionary:

solidarity (n.)
1829, from French solidarité “communion of interests and responsibilities, mutual responsibility,” a coinage of the “Encyclopédie” (1765), from solidaire “interdependent, complete, entire,” from solide. With a capital S-, the name of an independent trade union movement in Poland, formed September 1980, from Polish Solidarność.

Oxford Dictionaries online:

mid 19th century: from French solidarité, from solidaire “solidary”.

Unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group

The political bit

One plank of the Yes-voters’ (those in favour of Scottish independence) campaign is that an independent Scotland will be better able to fight social ills such as child poverty and youth unemployment.

Like the Yes-voters, I deplore child poverty and youth unemployment. But I don’t think that turning our backs on poor households and unemployed people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, while seeking to resolve those social problems here in Scotland, is the right solution. I believe we can tackle poverty and unemployment better if we stick together and pool our resources.

I also think we should give our politicians – all of them – a great big kick in the bahookie while we’re at it, to let them know we want change, and we mean it.

By the way: the photo features my key accessories for Referendum week.

Other posts you might like:

Bangles, jangles… and keyboards?


Simple words but in an intelligent way

The Scottish Referendum: words for thought (1)

By Marian Dougan


4 Responses

  1. Good point Marian.

    What’s uncomfortable with this referendum campaign is that it forces people to pick a side that is more that just political.

    Debating what we have in common, i.e. the “common wealth” or more literally the “res publica”, is important, but every time I’ve listened to campaigners (on both sides), their discourse sounded like « you’re either with us or against us ».

    It seems to me that the result of this campaign will be the exact opposite of solidarity – a divided Scotland (never mind the UK, or EU).

    1. I know, Pierre. The sad things is, people on both sides want, or say they want, similar things. And on the news tonight, on the subject of the Barnett formula, there was a hostile tone to some of the comments from politicians in England and Wales. Less division, not more, is what we need.

  2. If Scotland goes, then to all intents and purposes, Great Britain and the Union Jack (with all the heritage, history and shared values associated with them) will cease to exist, and I think that would be a great shame.
    Just a few hours now till we find out…

    1. Thank you Oliver – like you, I think it would be a terrible shame for all of us. My neighbours (husband Scottish, wife American) said they’d be distraught if Scotland left the UK. I would too – I find it unthinkable. I’ll be setting the alarm clock for 6 am, and hoping to wake up to learn that Scotland has opted to stay.

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