The National:

This is from a newsletter from Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, called Reinventing Scotland. It explores the wellbeing economySign up here to receive it every Tuesday at 7pm. 

LAST week, I painted Scotland as a half-nation living a half-life, afraid of its own (Jungian) shadow.

Scotland’s national psyche is so damaged by its incomplete identity and diminished sense of self that it is still not emotionally ready to become an independent nation. Those fully committed to independence often fail to understand the complexity of this situation and are often unknowingly also affected by it.

In a Jungian sense, your shadow is your potential. People don't achieve their potential because they would rather think about what might be than do the hard work required to make that shadow personality whole in the real world.

Many of us in the independence movement have found it easier to discuss detailed policy, to surround ourselves with fellow travellers on the long winding road to independence. Talking to one another in the echo chambers of social media and not doing the hard work to find a quicker route, reaching out to the undecided and having real world conversations. It's always easier to dream than it is to shape Scotland’s future.

The economy is people, stupid!

I stress that as people's understanding of economics deepens, so does their understanding of the human element of economics. The rank stupidity of Western political leaders in their comprehending the economy in terms of GDP, stock prices and financialised services has fundamentally damaged the current global cycle. The age of austerity will be looked at by historians as the dark ages of socio-economic thought – an age of reverse enlightenment. So I make no apologies for linking wellbeing economics to mental wellbeing and by extension Scottish independence.

The National: All Under One Banner march for independence, Paisley.

Photograph by Colin Mearns
5 March 2022

Denmark: The State of Happiness

Believe in Scotland recently sold out two showings of Lesley Riddoch's new film Denmark: The State of Happiness. It's a must watch – not just because you can see the economic benefit of living in an independent nation that ranks fourth in the world on the Scotianomics Wellbeing Index but because the mental wellbeing benefits are hugely visible as well. "Happiness" as a quantifiable measure can be a little woolly but it makes up part of the larger puzzle of community wellbeing.

The National: Believe In Scotland and Yes For EU rally for an independent Scotland, Edinburgh. Lesley Riddoch speaking...  Photograph by Colin Mearns.2 September 2023.

The first time I watched the film, I felt depressed seeing the differences between Scotland and Denmark. Our nations are so similar in population size, geographic location and historical culture but Denmark is performing remarkably better, being able to determine its own future and develop a much healthier culture and sense of self.

Svengali-like behaviour

The opposite of love is not hate – those emotions seem quite similar to me. The opposite of love is seeking control over another with undue care for their wellbeing. In relationship terms, this is known as a "svengali relationship", which can be highly emotionally and psychologically damaging for the victim. The behaviour is often subtle but never admitted to. The "svengali" always says (never truly believing) they are acting in the best interests of their victim.

Some may say it's unhelpful to compare Scotland's relationship to the UK in this way but as long as we use our understanding to highlight the damage it’s doing to Scotland and as motivation and tactical insight on how to end that relationship, then the comparison serves a purpose.

This is how it hurts

Victims of an uncaring relationship experience:

  • Loss of autonomy: This can lead to feelings of helplessness and a diminished sense of self
  • Isolation: Those in control often seek to isolate their partners from friends, family and support networks (Brexit anyone?)
  • Gaslighting: Distorting the reality of Scotland’s nation status and economic potential causes people to question their own perceptions and faith in themselves
  • Depression: The cumulative effects of manipulation and control can lead to depression
  • Low self-esteem: People begin to doubt themselves and their self worth, creating feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.

All of this can cause problems in trusting others: Making us always turn on ourselves rather than unite to solve the greater problems.

So how do we help free Scotland?

First we need a national conversation – a true engagement process not a consultation on what supporters of independence want but a journey of true discovery.

I can see no better way to lay the foundations for a successful Convention on Scottish Independence than engaging the people to fully understand the emotional state of the nation. We need to ask people for their hopes, dreams and aspirations for Scotland and then devise a mechanism to deliver those dreams. First though, we must help free their minds from the severely limiting control of British nationalism.

The National: A Saltire flag and a Union flag flying above Whitehall in Westminster, London

We must listen to the nation, providing a safe space for people to express their feelings and hopes without judgement. We need to empower people to accept and enhance their civic Scottish identity – which is based on values not genetics or place of birth. We must help people focus on how to improve Scotland’s wellbeing and question why that isn't a concern of Westminster.

The state of the economy is directly linked to the mental wellbeing of the people because the people are the economy. A wellbeing economy simply recognises that health, happiness, fairness, equality and environment are all more important to mental and social wellbeing than GDP growth. This is because good/sustainable growth cannot exist without that link to a positive national psychological wellbeing that we are currently denied.

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp is the CEO of Business for Scotland, the chief economist at the wellbeing economics think tank Scotianomics, the founder of the Believe in Scotland campaign and the author of Scotland the Brief.