It took a fair chunk of reading, chatting and mulling things over before I finally decided that I would vote for Scotland’s independence. It was not a decision taken lightly, but the lack of any prospect of meaningful, lasting devo-max was the final straw, alongside a hard-won recognition that we wouldn’t be abandoning the rUK to anything they don’t choose for themselves. Having made the decision, it’s taken me far longer to publicly ‘out’ myself as pro-independence, mainly because I didn’t want to be painted as something I am not. Ironically, it’s the growing hostility towards yes voters, and our misrepresentation, that has made it impossible to not stand up and be counted. And maybe ramble on, for a bit.
When I was wee, I took great delight in announcing to anybody who would listen that I was a quarter Irish. My mum’s residual lilt from growing up partly in County Antrim (and partly in Sutherland and Peru), was passed down to us kids and I’d seize on every mention of it by my playground peers as an excuse to proclaim my exotic heritage. My Scottish/Irish mum was born in Peru, my father in what was then South Yemen. Now, my sister and Indian brother-in-law live in England as does my wee bro’. My friends, family and neighbors are Scottish, English, American, Austrian, Indian, Irish, Chinese, Mongolian and Canadian, and live (except my neighbors) all across the world. Amongst these travelers and settlers some have formally adopted the nationality of their new homes – including Scotland – while others are happy retaining their ‘old’ nationality, on paper at least.
Including, and especially, its fabulous diversity of folk, I love everything there is to love about Scotland: its music, football, Hogmanay, Skye, salmon leaps, pokey wee pubs, mid-winter queues at ice-cream booths next to duck ponds, Ivor Cutler and random bus-stop banter. And I hate everything there is to hate: the sectarianism, the (thankfully vastly outnumbered) Anglophobes, the poverty and snobbery and what I can only hope is political apathy rather than outright ‘I’m alright, Jock’ness. I also love the National Portrait Gallery in London, swimming with genial, gently-bobbing seals off the Norfolk coast, the absolute timeless beauty of rural England in summertime, the stupidly tall hedges in Cornwall and the warm hospitality I’ve encountered on every visit I’ve made to England.
None of this, not a jot, will automatically change if the people who live in Scotland vote for our home to become an independent nation. My rUK friends and family will remain friends and family, tall Cornish hedges will continue to be just that, and sectarianism will not vanish in a puff of smoke (though some bewildered troll-folk may emerge, blinking, from their darkened dens of sock-puppetry). Bitter people may be left with a bitter aftertaste. I won’t. I’ll be moving on.
What will change, irrevocably, is our ability as a small, genuinely-democratic nation (and from where I stand ‘small’ and ‘democratic’, and not ‘Scottish’, are key) to discuss and explore issues that affect us as a nation, to persuade and be persuaded, to vote and, crucially, to have each and every one of our votes count – towards a democratic, representative parliament of consensus politics. And in terms of a responsive, compassionate democracy, small is beautiful. It’s far easier to identify and find solutions for the issues facing 5 million people than those of 60 million. This cannot happen while Scotland remains in a UK whose masters are hell-bent against representative democracy and use misinformation and willful misinterpretation of other people’s beliefs and actions to stifle genuine debate. I would be overjoyed to see the rest of the UK moving towards a fairer, more caring and representative system too. Scotland’s independence would be no barrier to that, and is actually more likely to be a catalyst for change.
The people of Scotland are not (as Johann Lamont clumsily attempted to point out) endowed with far greater skills and merits than other folk, but nor are we in any way less able. With a constantly growing, informed, passionate and diverse grassroots movement, a skilled and educated workforce, and vast natural and renewable resources behind us, and highly motivated, practiced political negotiators from across the political parties to speak for us, we will be more than able to reach a fair resolution with rUK. To borrow a phrase it will be ‘extremely difficult, if not impossible’ for Westminster to deny us our right to self-determination, or create needless, self-defeating barriers, with the eyes of the world and its own nose-loving electorate on it.
Join Women for Independence here. Please share this article on Facebook.