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.