Scotland: To Be or Not to Be…

Where on earth do I begin?

This Indyref. This vote we residents of Scotland face on the 18th of September. Yes or No. Independence (or Independence Lite, depending on your position on currency union) versus a status quo that’s rapidly morphing into a confused message of promised federalism (more or less).

To my former comrades (though it’s been a long time since they appreciated that moniker) in the Labour Party and ‘the left’ I am a quisling. A traitor. A naive idealist. A clown. A nazi and a nationalist. Stupid. Hateful. Populist. Unthinking.

My voting intention is simultaneously anti-English, anti-British, anti-common-sense, anti-solidarity, bonkers and even ‘evil’. I stand accused of being in thrall to Salmond and his lies. Of having been seduced by the devil. Or of not loving my family enough to think of the bleak future a Yes will give them. I am selfish. Blind. Economically illiterate.

But this is not ethnic nationalism. I am not stupid. I do not hate ‘the English’ (my family and friends remain in England – how could I hate?). I am no Salmond or SNP lover…

In fact, just a few short months ago I assumed that I’d vote ‘No’.

But then ‘No’ got increasingly harder to say. It started to stick in my throat. And the appearance of every new ‘heavy-hitting’ corporate body or Investment Bank or Economic specialist’s ‘You’re all doomed if you vote for Independence’ Report ensured my doubts grew and the questions multiplied.

When Credit Suisse issues an admonitory note advising that an Independent Scotland will be an economic basket case (I paraphrase and because the note itself is impossible to get a hold of first-hand I can only refer you to the excerpts in the Telegraph here: ) I wonder to myself if Credit Suisse has a vested interest in the continuation of the Union and maintenance of the status quo. So, I do some research. ( and any googling of them will turn up the massive £2.5 Billion dollar ‘settlement’ re felonies committed in the US: ).

Then, of course, I have an injudicious ‘discussion’ on FB, where my card-carrying Labour Party member and fully signed-up No supporter pal/s tell me that Credit Suisse is ‘politically neutral’ and that of course Credit Suisse has to be believed because Credit Suisse had no interest at all in the politics of this referendum.

The company that’s just been convicted in the US on major felony charges; which the US Government is bending over backwards to ‘accommodate’ and to ‘exempt from the usual sanctions and which spends millions every year on supporting politicians, political parties and lobbying is ‘politically neutral’.

Aye right. And Jimmy Saville was really a good man because of all that charity work he did.

The suggestion that Credit Suisse’s interests may not be identical or even dissect – at any point – Scotland’s interests, gets short shrift. The suggestion that they might need to ensure the status quo for personal corporate reasons gets short shrift – or is taken as evidence of their ‘objectivity’ and ‘neutrality’. The expression of surprise that they wish, now, to pray in support the very corporate and investment entities that they last year held out as embodiments of criminality, inequality and amorality is dismissed with a clever: The fact that they know how to commit a fraud so large they can get away with it shows that they fully understand the casino that is global banking.’ 

Oh. So that’s why we should trust them…?

On any cynical reading she’s right, of course.

Only it’s not a casino. It’s a better bet than that. It’s a guaranteed money-making machine for the astonishingly rich – a criminal entity who’s too big to prosecute.

The thing is – too many of the warnings and threats miss the point entirely.

For a start, too many folk here reckon they have got nothing left to lose. Their salaries, their life expectancy and their life expectations are so low that no threatened economic instability could make things worse.

And then there’s the widespread disaffection with Westminster: with its expenses scandals and child sex scandals and broken promises and austerity and lack of accountability and failure to listen or connect or to engage with the electorate. Its remote and out-of-touch politicians reinforcing just how remote and out of touch they are, with their ludicrous, last minute sprint to plead with the Scottish people ‘not to go’. ‘Don’t leave us’ they beg.

What the f* do they think they are doing? They’ve spent the last 2 years assuming that ‘No’ was certain to win – and so have ignored us. They were so remote that it took the shocker of a weekend poll (from a company the No establishment believes is fairer to them) giving Yes a 2% point lead over No to wake them up. And now we have the embarrassing, unedifying sight of a discredited and despised (Yes, George, David and their Tories utterly despise him – along with a sizeable chunk of his own party) ex-Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, – truly a yesterday’s man, a man who doesn’t even have the good grace to turn up to take his seat in Parliament despite being an MP – being wheeled in to front a shambolic last minute bid to pretend that ‘No’ really means ‘Yes-to-greater-devolved-powers’. Though none of the three unionist parties can agree on what they will actually be; they are not guaranteed and the government has had to fight off accusations that they are breaching the very rules they agreed to regarding the publication of new policies etc in the 28 days prior to an election (see S125 of the Political parties, elections and referendums Act 2003 – the Edinburgh Agreement signed by Cameron and Salmond is the non-statutory version).

The Truly Toxic Trio of Cameron, Clegg and Milliband cancelled Prime Minister’s Question Time (oh my God how will things ever be the same?) and hot-footed it to Edinburgh and Glasgow and ither airts n pairts to love-bomb us wonderful people ‘up here’.

Well, to love-bomb in between threats.

Sure, there’s much that I do not agree with in the Scottish Government’s White Paper. I’m not convinced about the currency proposals (though I think the rUK protest just a bit too much – they need the Scots as much as we may need them in that respect). And more detail is required, primarily in the economic areas and for pensions, investments etc.

But that’s also the nature of the game. That negotiations are required and that ‘details’ can only be those of intent or general desire. Details will emerge in negotiation. That’s life. And I am placing my trust in ‘life’ – and in the very clever, able men and women who will negotiate on our behalf (I have faith because I have been involved in the negotiation of major bits of legislation and know the folks who will get that job).

For me, Independence holds out the hope of strengthened, reinvigorated, vibrant and thriving democracy. It offers a new way of doing things. A written constitution. The engagement of the electorate. Accountability. A sense of control.

It offers the possibility of a grown up and mature country which will take responsibility for its own destiny and direction.

Yes, mistakes will be made. Yes, the short term will no doubt be difficult.

But all that pales into insignificance against the prize: the creation of a new order; a new politics; a new country and government.

13 thoughts on “Scotland: To Be or Not to Be…

  1. You wouldn't believe some of the discussions that have been set of by this issue in the United States.
    Everything from…the Scots better consider how independence worked out for Rhodesia to, and this was a particularly precious gem, if Dixie hadn't been invaded and conquered by Lincoln, the whole world would be run by Nazis now.
    I don't have a f***** clue.
    Good luck with whatever happens ma'am.

  2. Well said – reckon I agree with all of that!

    …..independence holds out the hope of strengthened, reinvigorated, vibrant and thriving democracy. It offers a new way of doing things. A written constitution. The engagement of the electorate. Accountability. A sense of control.

    One day it might come to Wales too

  3. Good luck with that!
    It's a rough old game, this Indyref lark.
    And this last week is just set to get dirtier and more vicious. Today saw the threatened relocation of the big financial institutions – and we've still got 7 days to go…
    I'm considering entering political purdah – any more from me and I will be left with absolutely no friends… Jeez. It's a painful process.

  4. Yvonne I have lost one friend who was at my house as a dinner party guest. They had no idea what my view was but assumed I was a NO. What did I do? I simply answered a question his wife (like him a staunch irrelevant NO – they are Southern English and high tory and only have a holiday home here) put to me “Why would Scots vote 'Yes”. I obviously still retain some of my advocacy skills because her husband rose in a white fury and left (and sat in the car for the rest of the evening). She did not. But it is an indication of unwelcome things to come. Perhaps I will lose all my English tory friends.

    All that doesn't matter although I think it will be an indicator of things to come after the 18th and I am not looking forward to it.

    I don't like or trust Alex Salmond. That is irrelevant. The referendum is about the future of Scotland as you say and we will be able to decide on our politicians after that. [Remember what happened to the country's saviour Churchill].

    Currency is a problem. If Scotland adopts the GBP then we won't have controlled of interest policies etc. I'm not sure what the answer is and I don't think anyone else is either.

    New Zealand was left almost without reserves after the Christchurch earthquake number two but it still has one of the strongest currencies in the world.

    I have voted YES and I predict that those who are undecided because they cannot assimilate (like most of us) will simply look at the ballot paper and vote not with an undecided head but with their heart.

    I have, for many months, predicted 52:48 for YES. In a week and a day I will know whether I'm correct or not.

  5. It's doing that, isn't it – losing us friends.
    But maybe that's for the best – they weren't friends if they couldn't respect our views.
    It's been my ex Labour comrades who have rejected me… and interestingly, my Tory/LibDem English relatives scrupulously avoided all reference to the Indyref when up yesterday and today…
    I am frightened to hope that your prediction is correct Graham – though I do despite my despair today leading me to wonder whether I'd not be better sending my ballot paper to RBS et al and asking them to fill it out – for isn't that what the No Campaign's exhortations amount to?
    Ah dear. Roll on the 18th.

  6. Unfortunately as you can see above…the level of debate is most generously described as humorous.

    Scotland…the next Zimbabwe.

    Still, there are those of us who anxiously watch all Independence and Secessionist movements.

  7. Yip. We'll be taking back the grouse and stalking and hunting estates any minute… expelling and imprisoning and shooting the foreign owners…

    We have got full on Establishment hysteria here. Cameron or his 'Treasury aides' illegally briefing re Bank movements and meeting with supermarkets to pressure them into adverse comments. And we are just a tiny pimple on the arsehole of Europe. Imagine what would happen if the Southern States decided they wanted to leave the US…

  8. Sentiment apart, I am hoping for a victory for the 'Yes' campaign on Thursday precisely because there is more to independence than the SNP and Salmond – to think that there is not is to see the situation through Westminster eyes.

    Independence offers a way to start to bring democracy back to Scotland, because those who support it will not allow the current corruption to continue.

    I do not rule out ballot rigging to obtain a victory for the 'No' campaign – if all else fails them – but the voice for not only independence but for the radical change that independence implies will not be silenced even in defeat.

    I find myself compulsively humming 'Hi, Johnny Cope' these days……

  9. Watching with great interest from Ireland. If Scotland votes Yes (which I hope it does), where does that leave Wales and Northern Ireland. Interesting piece by Fintan O'Toole in the Irish Times today

  10. Ah Helen – it is electrifying here. Taxi drivers, shop assistants, folk in the street – we just can't stop talking and arguing. I wish you were here to experience it first hand. I have never experienced anything like it. 97% of the folk entitled to vote are actually registered to do so. The turnout will be astonishingly high – and proof that when folk think their voice matters and makes a difference, they will vote. I think No won't need to rig the ballot to be honest – they've got the Beeb and almost every newspaper spinning the No message and Money's voice is very very LOUD. There's fantastic article from Fintan O'Toole in yesterday's Guardian. I don't usually like other people to do my talking for me – but O'Toole gets it right and says it so eloquently here:
    Regardless of outcome – Labour is finished as a political force here. It was on the decline – but this has hastened its death. They won't be forgive for the negative destructive and anti-democratic campaign they've been associated with.
    I often wonder if it wouldn't have been sensible for Salmond to announce that he'd be standing down after the vote – regardless of outcome. It would have neutralised the often very negative Salmond effect. But he didn't. We are where we are.
    My own middle son (Evan 17 – the arty social conscience lad!) has been heavily involved in the Radical Campaign for Scottish Independence. But that is what the campaign has done – it has fired our young folk and in a way their response has filled me with faith that democracy is in good hands (most are very conservative btw – so not a majority vote for Yes amongst that group).
    Loved the John Cope reference Helen. 🙂 x

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