No hero-worship, please, we are democrats

by Elias Blum


This is all getting a bit hero-worshippy for me.

I like Alex Salmond. He’s the first decent leader Scotland has had for more than three centuries. On the whole, he did a good job in running a moderately progressive devolved administration in tough financial times. He strengthened the country. He led us into a referendum that was quite narrowly lost, but which has nevertheless changed the terms of engagement.

For this he deserves credit. But it is credit as a fellow-citizen. He differs from us in function, in that is (was) First Minister, but not in status. He is not ‘the boss’. He’s not omnipotent, or irreplaceable, or infallible.

The picture above, circulated by a fan of Salmond on the day of his stepping down as First Minister, represents an anti-democratic and non-civic form of adulation. It is that hero-worship that leads to exactly the sort of top-down, closed, autocratic politics that we in the democratic movement for Scottish independence are trying to avoid.

So honour him, respect him, admire him – but do not put him on too high a pedestal. He has his flaws and his failings, like all of us. If we mean to enjoy not only independence, but also freedom, democracy, and a form of government that respects the common good (rather than one in which particular persons are elevated to a position of dominance) we should always remember that in a free country, where we enjoy a free and civic way of life, we are governed by our equals.

(That said, ‘High Protector’ is a much better title than ‘Governor-General’, and if we were to become independent, it’s not a bad way of describing a non-executive, symbolic, ceremonial Head of State – an office for which Salmond would be admirably suited.)