I’ve never hidden the fact I’ll vote “No” in this September’s referendum on Scottish Independence – and despite the best efforts of David Cameron to double, double, double bluff us that we shouldn’t leave, I still feel the same. My big concern is that this is slowly becoming a debate that has slowly divided a country in such a way that will struggle to heal again.
There are several anecdotal accounts of verbal abuse from both sides on spying car stickers or during leaflet drops, and with another seven months of raised emotions and arguments this could be a dangerously divisive move by the SNP. There was a mixed message from the Scottish people at the last Holyrood elections giving the SNP a majority because it gave them the idea that the majority of the country supported their core policy. This wasn’t true, it was as much about having an alternative to the other three main UK parties alongside voting for the individual MSPs. The move to the referendum has become more and more about emotions than arguments – and that’s dangerous.
Having to make a decision about your country is always going to stir up emotions in you – it’s a primal thing you can’t escape. Liking or Disliking Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon; seeing London as a negative force sucking the positives out of the rest of the country; your position on defence and nuclear armament are all emotional things we will consider. The most emotional will be our family’s well-being – how will the NHS be affected? How will the pensions work? What happens to the money in my pocket?
For me all these decisions are simple ones – I’m not willing to risk all, the security and support being part of a bigger country provides. It’s the same reason I like the idea of the European Union and wider international unions and groups. I am not naive enough to think that everything is perfect at all these political levels – we all know they are flawed, but that’s because they have people running them – we suck at being our own masters. And an Independent Scotland would be badly run with errors and flaws too; the argument that it is better because it’s at least “our” mess is not one I can agree with.
I also have an issue with friends who live across the UK who are Scottish not being allowed a vote, but could find themselves suddenly living in a foreign land. A Scot who lives and works in London or Belfast would overnight be officially reclassified as an outsider when the day before they were one of the gang. It seems wrong to me. The reasons we had the Union of the crowns and then the Union of 1707 was to make us a stronger, better and more influential voice in the world. In simple terms that has not changed and I can’t see the advantages of the additional layers of bureaucracy just to say were a stand alone country.
The days, weeks and months after the vote regardless of the outcome will see the country divided. If polls are to be believed we will still be part of the UK with around a third of the population unhappy about that. How does that make Scotland better Mr Salmond? What is the plan for this country from the 19th of September? A Yes vote would see the reverse problem of people living in a country they didn’t want. No one wins from this. We all lose one way or another, yet the once heralded “Devo Max” that the majority of Scots were happy with wasn’t even considered first as a “suck it and see” option.
Cameron’s intervention will probably see a temporary increase in support for the Yes vote, but long term the majority of the experts predict a No win overall. Either way there is only one loser: Scotland – a country divided by the same passion that brings it together.