My View on Scottish Independence

“…and that didn’t stop them blowing up Glasgow Airport!” 

So went a conversation overheard outside Hillhead Subway on Byres Road, Glasgow, between a volunteer leafleting for the No campaign and a proud Yes voting member of the public.  As I stood there in disbelief, a very heated discussion moved quickly on to talk of “rebellions against fascist coups in Ukraine”.  As the confrontation between these two obviously intensely devoted, ideologically different but similarly misguided individuals moved from one farcical comment to the next, I began to take a more apathetic view of the conversation and took my cue to leave.  There is no sense in explaining which of the two individuals made either one of these comments – in any case, I think most people, with their prejudiced opinions of the “model” Yes and No supporter, would be hard pressed to guess correctly.  This scenario made one aspect of the Scottish Independence saga clear – there has been no end to the untruths, misinformation and absence of education from all fronts throughout the considerable length of this campaign.  The losers are each and every one of us.

It would be naïve of me to suggest that there can be entirely unbiased opinion thrown into a political divide of this kind.  We are all human beings and we all have beliefs – no one directly impacted by the prospect of Scottish Independence can be totally impartial.  I won’t sit here and write this and expect you to believe that I don’t have an agenda.  I am voting no, and because that is my desired outcome, I want everyone else to vote no too.  But it is hard to feel good about even my own beliefs when there is so much wrong with everything that has gone down here recently, with so many people commenting on the character of individuals because they sway in favour of either yes or no to Scottish Independence. I want to get a few things off my chest (everyone else seems to be doing so) and make it clear just how much hypocrisy and lying there has been; I want to express my distaste at how many petulant jibes and attempts at petty point scoring there has been.  And how all of these have occurred at a rapid rate from both ends of the spectrum.

An oft written positive about the campaign is that, no matter the outcome, this period in history has been a win for bringing all classes of people together in political discussion.  If that is the case, then god help us.  That is not the impression I got on the street that day outside the subway.  That is not the impression I got from even the televised debates, debates participated in by professional politicians and experienced public speakers. Have even the top dogs in this campaign exemplified this triumph for political engagement when Alex Salmond’s only response is to cling to a single askew phrase from his opponent and continue to repeat it, seemingly ad infinitum, like a spoilt bully having a temper tantrum?  Should we all be overjoyed that Alistair Darling is flying the flag for the ingenuity of modern debating skills when the best he can do throughout his impotent questioning is to flail about in his own ineptness at being unable to properly pinpoint the real reasons why people believe in a potentially independent Scotland?

So many things have angered me about this time in our country and frankly, this boy is exhausted.  And no, it isn’t because I don’t care.  Of course I care; this is one of the most important decisions ever to have faced the Scottish people.  However, I am tired of the unabashed idealism by the Yes side.  I am tired of the economy this, currency union that, pensions this, jobs that, by the No side.  There are just SO MANY inaccuracies, failures and let downs from everyone involved.  To write these down in prose is time consuming and soul destroying.  Here’s a list instead:

  • The economy is NOT the only thing on the minds of Scottish people.  What ever happened to long term politics?  Sometimes people believe in their ideologies, as unrealistic as they may be.  Why was this not tackled?  Independence for independence sake is not something you can argue against.  If people want independence, they want it at any cost so that in 100 years this country may be a better place and they can say they believed in that movement.  
  • You simply cannot pigeonhole people in a debate like this.  I watched a talk given by Alan Bissett who described two types of No voter: A “Soft No” is someone who is tickled by the idea of independence but is voting to save the union because “that’s what they have been always told is right” and a “Hard No” is someone who loves the United Kingdom, flies the Union Jack from the flagpole on their mansion, sings God Save The Queen before meals etc.  The former of these is unbelievably patronising.  I am neither.  Just because you vote no doesn’t mean you are anti-progressiveness.  What’s wrong with the idea of a person who thinks independence is a good thing but only when the time is right and the independence being offered is proper independence, rather than the shoddy, unplanned one we are being given now?  Being caught up in a feverish stupor is fun but sometimes it pays off to be sensible and think things through first. 
  • Do not believe every stat and piece of info you have been told. Even from me.  Whether it’s that Scotland would be the richest country in the world or that prices will go up in Waitrose, these are not reasons to vote yes or no.  Think about where you heard it, and who from, and then disregard it.  Have the courage to support your own convictions and not the sea of propaganda we are being drowned in.
  • It’s amazing what a bunch of animals we can all be.  Whether it’s falling out with your friend because they pasted YES stickers over the billboard for the new Aphex Twin album or staunch No voters over-exaggerating alleged violent outbursts from Yes supporters, tarnishing every Yes campaigner with the same brush.  The saddest example of this is the reaction to George Galloway’s stance as a No supporter.  Whether you agree with his general politics or not, George Galloway is an eloquent man with wonderful oratory skills and a lot of common sense.  This man has fought for socialist values for decades, values that a lot of Yes leaning Scots are in support of.  This man has been one of the main proponents of similar social justice issues as those supposedly being promised in an independent Scotland.  Yet, now that he is a public No supporter, he is a “rape apologist” and is consistently abused on social media.  Like many high profile politicians north and south of the border, Mr. Galloway has said and done some things that he shouldn’t be proud of.  But where were all of you the past 20 years when he was the only person fighting for your political beliefs?
  • On the subject of social media, it is the devil.  It has only ever been a negative in this campaign.
  • Scotland may very well be a left leaning nation, but come the 19th September, or even our prospective designated independence day, should the Yes’s have it, it will not be a socialist utopia where all political figures are moral beings.  Politicians are politicians are politicians.  They will be in a Scottish government as they are in Westminster.  At least there is no reason to suggest otherwise.
  • Scaremongering is not a good way to win hearts and minds.  Fear is neither an effective nor proud method of campaigning.  UKIP are not necessarily going to be the next ruling party, Boris Johnson is not necessarily going to be the next Prime Minister and we will not necessarily be refused use of the pound, the chance to trade, cross borders at will or watch our favourite TV programmes.  Nothing is definite.
  • Where did all these anti-nuclear peace and love hippies come from?  I had no idea that the wee camp at Faslane could hold so many people!!!  I’m as anti-nuclear as the next person, but you’re either a strong opponent of nuclear weapons or you’re not.  The fight for nuclear demilitarisation is forever, not just for Christmas (or an independence campaign).
  • Anyone who is a Green Party supporter should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.  In Anthony Baxter’s documentary film You’ve Been Trumped, the filmmaker follows Donald Trump’s attempts to build “the world’s greatest golf course” at Balmedie in Aberdeenshire.  As the film points out, those who live there strongly oppose its construction as it would cause untold environmental damage.  Thankfully, Aberdeenshire council rejected the proposals.  Unfortunately, the council was overruled by Alex Salmond and the SNP government citing the economic benefits of the presence of the golf course.  As the well investigated and award winning documentary goes on to show, the true nature of the economic benefits is not as optimistic.  The Greens have a very clear political agenda (clue: it’s in the name) and in supporting this independence push, spearheaded by a government that is willing to put relatively minor economic benefit over intense ecological destruction, they have essentially sold their defining principle down the river.  Whilst I can admit that independence is a much more overarching ideal, one has to question the decision making ability by all the players involved if indeed we move into an independent Scotland.
I feel I could go on forever.  It saddens me that on the eve of the referendum (at the time of writing) this is where we are at.  Regardless of the result, I wonder if people, on both sides, will be able to accept the exercise of democracy.  Certainly, the only thing democratic about any of this is the cold, hard vote itself.  Independence is a worthwhile ideal, but think about everyone else when you go to vote tomorrow.  Everyone is entitled to social justice, equality, prosperity and a good life.  Everyone.  Not just you, not just us, not just Scotland.  Everyone.

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