Referendum

The oil? Who cares. It does not matter. In a mere 100 years, Scotland would still be independent and the oil would be long-gone.

I’ve stayed out of the debate as much as I could bear. To potentially polarise my already diminishing demographic? My publishers would be appalled. My single foray into the promotion of the mostly-incompetent Better Together campaign involved nothing more than approval of a few bland words of support (http://www.bettertogether.net/blog/entry/we-knead-your-help). This smallest of gestures resulted in mountains of social media manure from some of the more dubious (and universally male) Yes supporters. The nastiness was such that I was put off getting involved again.

But now the vote is coming. Now I’m scared.

Now I feel I’ve got to do something. Anything I can. Now I feel compelled to plead. To you who still could be convinced either way and to you, who haven’t decided if you’re going to vote or not.

You might see leaving the United Kingdom as thrusting off the rusty shackles of the Tories to form a new Social-Democratic utopia where health and economic equality is the norm. A phoenix emerging from the ashes of a failed state, so to speak. If this is you, you probably admit to some clear risks, but see them as worth it.

But it doesn’t take much to see Independence a different way. A less panglossian way. I see Independence as a people running away from the problems that plague their country. I see Reporting Scotland as our national news and I shudder with shame. I see the idea of creating a new state for ideological, ethnic, religious or any reason other than to escape persecution, as inherently ridiculous.

We, as a world, are heading towards a more inclusive, integrated and borderless society and this is a wonderful thing. Imagine, for a moment, that lots of states decided to split whenever a certain ethnic or geographical portion of the population disagreed with the central government. The world would be a cesspool of international bickering at best and military conflict on questionable grounds at worst.

We share more with the people of the cities of England than we do with any other people in the world, genetically and ideologically. And we should be proud of sharing one thing most of all: our tolerance. Our multicultural population in the UK is probably the best example of international integration in the world. We welcome those in need and we are happy to pay our taxes to support them. My problem with Yes campaigners (not necessarily Yes voters) is their absoluteness. Their lack of doubt and their lack of tolerance for anything anti-Yes. There is no debate, there is only Yes. This is where trouble likely lies. Real trouble. Whichever way the vote goes, ask any of your English friends if they’d be comfortable walking the streets of Glasgow on Friday night.

Despite what the more fervent nationalists will say, it is clear that there would be no question of a Yes if the vote was held when a Labour Government was in power. The choice has been elegantly pitched, by those same nationalists, as The Left (Scotland) vs. The Right (England). Given that choice, it’s a wonder the polls didn’t narrow sooner. But of course, that isn’t the true choice. Just the same as there’s a significant political divide in England, there is too here in Scotland. As is obvious, we don’t all agree with one another up here:

The fact that Scotland’s vote hasn’t been the deciding factor in 14 of the last 18 general elections is often lauded by Yes as justification for leaving like-minded Britons to their own devices. But our vote has swung left and right, just like in the rest of the islands. Moreover, our vote has decided 22% of those last 18 elections, despite our population being a mere 8.3% of the UK. We already have disproportionate influence.

And imagine what that influence could do if we were all as politically riled as this great debate has made us. Just imagine what influence we could have on an international scale if we were as driven as we are now. United. Together we would stand a much better chance at doing good internationally, our voices channelled and amplified through the imposing halls of London. It’s a far better choice than running away into our wee Edinburgh hole, oblivious to the troubles beyond Unst or Dumfries.

 

Whilst Big Ali D might make the cringeworthy mistake of pitching the debate as Labour vs. Salmond and the SNP, nearly every news story similarly focuses on fairly inconsequential issues. The permanence of this vote doesn’t seem to have been grasped. The oil? Who cares. It doesn’t matter. In a mere 100 years, Scotland would still be independent and the oil would be long-gone. The pound? Might still be around, who knows. The SNP’s plan to turn Scotland into a tax haven operated out of Trump Tower? No, that doesn’t matter either. All we’re hung up on is our own interests, when we should be thinking about the outnumbering generations to come.

The problem we face is that we just don’t know what problems our children will face. We know that there are plenty of risks involved in going it alone, but we do not know the doubtless risks that have yet to be revealed. The poverty and obesity crises in Scotland are already huge elephants in the room as we refuse to talk about our own clear deficiencies as a state.

Alongside my own romantic nationalism, it is the presence of these risks to our nation and our wealth that decided it early on for me. Not without some doubt and regular re-examination of my position. Then, when the evidence for the maybe-benefits of an independent Scotland are so easily unpicked with minimal research, there can only be one way to vote. I’ll see you there. Tomorrow.

19 thoughts on “Referendum

  1. I totally agree. Everyone is taking such a short-sighted view on this vote. It is scary and well done for speaking your mind. It’s tough, I just don’t know how best to help but at this point it’s probably too late.
    The difficult thing to argue is that the Yes campaign is on the surface positive and full of hope. If anyone is unhappy about anything in the country they can imagine a perfect world in the future which simply won’t happen. Never could because of the very nature of a democracy – compromise.
    Fingers crossed.

  2. Well said. It is scary to think that we may wake up to an independent Scotland on Friday. I have a few friends who are undecided and I’m trying to persuade them to vote NO – as I said to them we can’t go back if Scotland does become independent. Fingers and everything else crossed for the right result!

  3. Looks like our votes will be cancelling each other out then as I am voting Yes ……. also for the future, like you, not my future but those of future generations. I too have done a lot of research but in contrast to what you so very eloquently say, I see this as not running away from our problems but facing up to them ourselves instead of blaming Westminster. I am so proud of the way people have engaged with the debate and that gives me confidence that, no matter the result, we can work together to harness the energy and enthusiasm for a better future which has it has created.

  4. I remember the feeling of excitement and empowerment ahead of an election — things would be different, we were on the UP! A palpable sense of change was in the air, it was OUR turn, step aside, staid establishment! Um. 2 May 1997. How wrong and betrayed we proved to be, what tears of powerless rage we subsequently shed

  5. Sorry James but I disagree. My Yes vote is for and end to the obscenity that is Trident, to tell business it is none of their business to dictate how we vote and to end the contempt that Westminster shows to the majority of people in the United Kingdom.

  6. Scotland’s vote does have a high representation in parliament based on our population, however, in Scotland we are fairly homogenous as a left-leaning country and the inevitable influence of England with its much higher population means we still live under right-wing governments who do not speak for what we (generally) believe in. It is true that parts of England, i.e. the North struggle with this too- but Scotland cannot be expected to prop them up. The only hope for the Yorkshire, Cumbria, Lancashire etc is devolved and decentralised government- which will only happen in reaction to Scottish independence (I speak as someone born and brought up in Lancashire with all my family now living in Cumbria)

    It is truly unthinkable that we are still being ruled by etonians, big banks and big business and this has to change! An independent Scotland can be a peaceful nation, with no nuclear weapons and high investment in welfare and renewable energy. We will have the power to vote in the people who can deliver these things, whether thats the SNP, the greens or the countless new parties that will be formed in our new state.

    To say this is not possible as a young person is, to me, truly a sad state of affairs.

    Here’s a quote from Aldous Huxley’s introduction to a Brave New World, hypocritical I know to quote an old etonian, but interesting to see how relevant his thoughts are today

    ‘The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is the truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about the truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects, by lowering what Mr Churchill calls an ‘iron curtain’ between the masses and such facts or arguments as the local political bosses regard as undesirable, totalitarian propagandists have influences opinion much more effectively than they could have done by the most eloquent denunciations, the most compelling of logical rebuttals. But silence is not enough. If persecution, liquidation, and other symptoms of social friction are to be avoided, the positive sides of propaganda must be made as effective as the negative. The most important Manhattan Projects of the future will be vast government-sponsored inquiries into what the politicians and participating scientists will call ‘the problem of happiness’- in other words, the problem of making people love their servitude’

    Our ‘British’ traits of keep calm and carry on, being happy with your lot, the preference for voting in the x factor over a general election- it’s all their to keep us happy in our servitude and make us feel that change is not possible! Have you never wondered why you were never taught basic contemporary politics at secondary school? Knowledge is power!

    VOTE YES!

  7. Well said. I hope and prey that common sense over blind selfish optimism wins the day. It’s amazing that 2 million votes are going to affect and impact the lives of 60 million people, most of whom are watching, helpless to do anything but hope.

  8. “We share more with the people of the cities of England than we do with any other people in the world,”

    Except that’s not actually true. As a scot I find that nordic people for example have a LOT more in common with me than londoners or even folk from the north of England. I also find I have a lot more in common with the Irish, and the French.

    I say this as someone who has lived in those countries for years as well as in various parts of the UK. I find it strange that so many other people who told me ‘scotland has no closer neighbour than England’ don’t seem not to have spent much time with their other neighbours; it’s often the argument from ignorance.

    I happen to agree about the world evolving into a less borderless place, and the thing that has been pushing it is the connection of many smaller countries together e.g. in Europe. And britain is an obstacle to that. When I cross borders in the rest of europe there is no problem as there is here!

    The same people running the ‘better together’ campaign are running the ‘better apart’ campaign with Europe. It seems the natural ‘borderless world’ for them starts and ends at london.

    Yes, a borderless bigger whole is good – but to get there we have to get past the indigestable lump that is currently London based government.

    If England is truly our best neighbour, it will be so regardless of where voting lines and legal systems are drawn. If it is not, then it is time to take our place in the real borderless map that is Europe outside the UK.

  9. James, I disagree with what you say, but celebrate your right to say it.
    Whatever happens today, I would like to believe I will wake up tomorrow in a country “where the many won’t pay for the obscene bonuses grasped by the few; where the man-made poverty can be unmade” and where peace, love and equality have a higher priority than our weapons.

  10. Yesterday I rewatched the finale of the Bake-off. Rather oetic that you made a cake about the unity of the countries in that episode.

    Maybe time for another celebratory bake?

  11. My Husbands baking wonderful breads and cakes thanks to your no nonsense easy to follow recipes in your book. Only thing he’s having difficulty with is his dour dough starter. 2 attempts have resulted in bread which resembled flying saucers and if thrown would take out several men. Short of you popping round to ours for a 1-2-1 demo (beers supplied) please can you give a wee bit of advice. The Good Wife.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *