Should Scotland be an Independent Country? My Hopes

In two weeks, on September 18th, my home country of Scotland holds an historic referendum on independence. The voters will answer a simple question:

‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’

In other words, should Scotland leave the United Kingdom and the union with England that began in 1707? The result of the vote will have far reaching consequences, whichever way it goes.

At the moment Scotland has its own parliament with limited powers but much of the running of the country is done from the British parliament in London. I remember where I was when I heard that Scotland had voted ‘yes’ to have its own parliament in 1997. I recall cheering as I watched the result on the BBC in a hotel in Luxor, Egypt (to the slight bemusement of my two English and one American friend).

Although Scotland has been part of the United Kingdom for over 300 years it’s always been quite separate in some ways. It has its own, separate legal and education systems. The educational qualifications I hold are different to those I would have if I’d grown up and gone to school in any other part of the UK.

I left Scotland when I was a teenager so I’ve spent more of my life living outside the country than in it, most of that time in London. Although I love London, Scotland is where most of my family still live, it’s where I grew up and it will always be home. As I travel and people ask where I’m from I say ‘Scotland’ not ‘London’.  I have a Scottish flag on my backpack.

Fear?  Or Hope?

If I lived in Scotland now I would vote ‘Yes’ to that simple question above. I would vote ‘Yes’ because I hope for a fairer and more equitable society.  One which educates it’s children well, takes care of its sick and poor and elderly.  One which doesn’t involve itself in illegal foreign wars.  One which is not a military base for the nuclear weapons of a Westminster government.  

I know the society I yearn for is not guaranteed to develop in an independent Scotland.  But I firmly believe it’s guaranteed never to develop under the present system.

I believe a ‘Yes’ vote will show the triumph of the politics of hope over the politics of fear (as practiced by the Better Together campaign, supporters of a ‘No’ vote).  In every aspect of my life I prefer hope to fear.  I hope the people of Scotland do too.

The polling card, where voters put their tick will decide the future of Scotland

The polling card, where votes put their tick will decide the future of Scotland

My childhood friend, Billy Riley, explains his reasons for supporting an Independent Scotland, almost identical to my own, in an open letter to his friends and does it better than I could:

”I moved to England in September 1983. I was 16 and a half years old. I have served in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. Seven years in the Royal Corps of Transport. In those 7 years, I met some fantastic people. Lots of different ethnicities, lots of different characters and lots of different temperaments. I regard many of those people I met as friends and some of them as close friends.

I met my now wife, Sharon whilst I was in the army and she was the main reason I left because I didn’t want to be posted away from her. So I left in 1990 and I stayed in England. That’s where Sharon’s family are and she did not want to leave.

That means I’ve lived the longest part of my life in England. 31 years up till now.

I can also easily say I’ve lived the BEST part of my life in England. The times I’ve had here could not be surpassed.

So I’ve lived in England more than I have Scotland.

However – Scotland is, and always will be, my home. It’s where my heart is.

A 'Yes' vote will signal the end of a 300 year union with the 'Auld Enemy'

A ‘Yes’ vote will signal the end of a 300 year union with the ‘Auld Enemy’

When and if I post anything regarding Scottish Independence – please do not take it to heart. It’s nothing to do with a hatred of the English or a hatred of anything to do with the UK or Great Britain. Any of you who know me know that’s not the case (your rugby team – yes ok – but as a nation, no…definitely not)

The reason I am for Scottish Independence is I actually believe what it says in our national anthem…that we can be a nation again….not one piggy backing off the successes of the UK or Great Britain, but as a proud independent nation. It’s about trying to introduce a new style of politics. That could be rubbish….but Scotland has “second guessed” itself for centuries; which is why it’s been piggy-backing off the UK.

I’d like to see something other than right and right of centre in Westminster – but it seems we’re all stuck in a Conservative party/Labour party turntable there. And it means Scotland gets Conservative governments in Westminster that it never votes for. That doesn’t mean Scotland is going to pull it off. It doesn’t mean there will be a new political system or that independence will work, but I’d like them to take the chance. It doesn’t mean it will be a utopia. It might be the same old stuff just a different set of faces.

What I would like Scotland – my home – to be, I simply do not believe Westminster can help with. And notice that I am speaking about Westminster – not England – not the UK – not Great Britain – but Westminster. Wanting independence for my country does not mean I wish bad for any other part of the UK.

If Scotland does get its independence I will not be going “home”. Currently, and for the foreseeable future, my home is here, in England, with my British wife and my British kids. And I do not resent being here.

If any of you think any less of me for wanting something different – something better – for my country, then I really can’t help you. If any of you think it’s through some deep hatred of the UK, Great Britain or England, then you really, really don’t know me anyway.

I’m going to retire one day and at that time in my life, should I make it, I would like to retire to Scotland. I would like the Scotland I retire to be a different Scotland to the one I left.

That’s why I want independence for Scotland.”

So, at this incredibly important time in Scotland’s history, I will be watching closely, from afar. I will love my home no matter what the outcome but I will be sad if next time I return it’s not to an independent Scotland.

With special thanks Billy Riley for letting me reproduce his letter.

Scottish National Party

Scots Voting No Would be an Astonishing Act of Self Harm

How an Independent Scotland would help English rediscover its radical heart

At a family wedding in Scotland in May 2014

At a family wedding in Scotland in May 2014

 

4 thoughts on “Should Scotland be an Independent Country? My Hopes

  1. Billy Riley

    One last point Andrew…there’s a very good reason why turnout for General Elections is so low – and it’s because people are disillusioned. And why are they disillusioned?
    1. Because they can’t see any difference between the parties anymore (hence the rise in UKIP)
    2. Because they get boom and bust – regardless of what party is in power
    3. Because they are continually lied to

    This referendum debate, if it works out for Scotland, I think will reignite the voting masses in the UK – who will see they CAN hold their government accountable.

    Reply
  2. Billy Riley

    It’s not running away.

    With the current voting process in the UK, Scotland’s vote seldom makes a difference.

    In the last 35 years, Scotland has NEVER voted for a Conservative government. True – a few (one or two seats) but overwhelmingly Scotland is a Social Democratic nation. In those last 35 years, Scotland has had 23 years of Conservative government. That’s 23 years of a government that has a vastly different political view to an entire nation.

    That’s not something Scotland was able to change because the voting power simply wasn’t there. I get the “democracy” of the Tories getting in power…but when you’re vote is as useful as a chocolate fireguard, it’s pretty meaningless.

    Secondly, a new process was meant to be put in place. It was tabled and presented as proportional representation. It was one of the reasons the current coalition government are in place – and yet it was changed to something not at all mimicking proportional representation. The UK government didn’t listen.

    Then you have weapons of mass destruction based 35 miles from my home city of Glasgow. I find the presence of these weapons on British soil to be abhorrent. I would be mortified if Britain ever launched any of these weapons – and yet, there they are. Not only that, we’re going to spend somewhere in the region of 120 BILLION pounds replacing it with a new system. That’s money that could be used to fix the social injustices in the UK…but the UK Government won’t listen.

    There are fracking licences being prepared ready for sale across the UK – including Scotland. The people of the UK (and overwhelmingly the people of Scotland) have rejected fracking. It’s being touted as a reduction in bills. It will NEVER result in lower energy bills. All it will result in is bigger, fatter pockets for pals. But they are going ahead anyway – the UK Government isn’t listening.

    My point is – it’s not running away. It’s putting in place a government that is answerable to the that nation – and with the lack of voting power in Scotland for UK elections – the governments in Westminster ARE NOT ACCOUNTABLE.

    A last point if I may – if you say “stay together and work for something different” – Scotland will certainly get that… they will get
    1. A cut in the Barnett Formula
    2. A reduction in funding for the NHS as money is taken out of the NHS in England to put into the private sector
    3. An exit from Europe without a say (again – lack of voting power in the UK)
    4. Another £120+ BILLION pounds spent on a weapon system that is very destructive, destroys with impunity and – here’s the rub – will likely never be used…it’s simply to allow the UK to stay at the top dining table when mixing it with the world
    5. The possibility of a UKIP 3rd party! I certainly do not want to be part of a UK that goes even further right than the current two parties!

    Those are my reasons. It’s not running away. It’s the result of banging your head against a brick wall and getting nowhere. When you only have two parties to choose – and they are both indistinguishable from each other – and on top of that you’re “too wee” for your vote to make a difference – what, may I ask, is going to change?

    I’ll tell you what might change though…if Scotland does get independence, I bet the politics of the rUK will change.

    “Fool me once, shame on you – fool me twice, shame on me”

    Reply
  3. Billy Riley

    And so say all of us.

    “A fairer and more equitable society”…and you are very correct…as Westminster spins around the two parties of right wing Conservative and slightly less right wing Labour, that kind of society will not be allowed to thrive. More than that, Scotland would never be able to change those governments – there just isn’t the voting clout there.

    So Westminster will be stuck in a turntable of right and left of right…that’s all that’s on offer to the UK (and don’t yet rule out far right with UKIP).

    One last point – if Scotland is “Better Together”, why is that not the case now and over the last few decades?

    Well said.

    Reply
  4. Andrew (the English novice monk)

    I still don’t get what independence your looking for, sounds like a change in politics is what your after, in which case I understand the frustration, as many many people living in England, Northern Ireland and Wales also want the same change in politics like a new restructuring of those so called politicians only interested in themselves. I was always taught to face problems head on and not to run away, it sounds to me like you just want to run because you want something different. So stay together let’s all of us England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland stand together and make that change.

    I hope this does not offend anyone, I’m just trying to understand why. I know the fat cats of Westminster are old and outdated but let’s change the system together.

    Reply

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