Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My Thoughts. Exactly.

Pretty much every conversation with someone new, and quite a few existing friends, in the last few weeks has involved, at some point, a single subject. As sure as night follows day, I have been asked a variation on the following question:
Do you think Scotland will become independent?
It is a subject which has taxed many a grey cell in my cranium for the last couple of years, whilst being alternatively relieved/pissed off that the powers that be have deemed the opinions of expats irrelevant to this momentous decision.

Throughout much of the campaign I have felt like King Agrippa, faced with the arguments of Saint Paul and responding:
Almost you persuade me to become a Christian, but not quite.
Neither the "Yes" nor the "Better Together" campaigns have presented a definitive argument as to why to agree with them.

The "Yes" campaign has far too many vague claims that everything will be fine, for my liking. They claim that an independent Scotland will keep the same head of state, and the same currency as the United Kingdom, which begs the question, why bother? They claim that the European Union will welcome an independent Scotland with open arms, which inherently means that EU law will trump Scots Law, and decisions made in Edinburgh can be overturned in Brussels or Strasbourg, which again begs the question, why bother?

On the other hand, "Better Together" seem to appeal to sepia tinged visions of the British Empire's faded glory, with yet more vague promises of greater powers for the existing Scottish Parliament.

I don't want to get into the failings of both campaigns, though many a "Yes" supporters' hard and loose approach to historical facts has pissed me off several times (I have seen several claims that the Union was a result of an English invasion...British history 101 was clearly failed), I want to clearly state how, and why, I would vote on Thursday, if I could.

I would vote 'yes'.

Not for any blinkered nationalistic reasons, not to give the Tories a kicking, not out of some anti-English bias (which would be ridiculous anyway as, in common with all my brothers, I am half English and half Scottish), and most certainly not because I believe Scotland to be some oppressed nation in need of liberation - a sentiment shared, interestingly enough by one Alex Salmond, when he wrote:
Scotland is not oppressed and we have no need to be liberated. Independence matters because we do not have the powers to reach our potential.
It is clear to me, admittedly from a distance given that I have lived outside the UK since 1999, that the Union, and the parties supporting it, as it currently stands is not fit for purpose. That, however, is not reason enough to throw the baby out with the bath water. In an ideal world I would want to see a fully devolved United Kingdom, with parliaments for all the nations that make up the Union - Scots, English, Welsh, Irish, and Cornish. Those parliaments would have the power to legislate fully within their nation, tax rates, spending plans, the works, with a pan-British senate to oversee matters of common concern, defense and foreign relations for example. A fully federal union would move decision making powers closer to the people that government is supposed to serve.

It is in the absence of this option, one which having spoken to many of my friends at home would likely win far greater support than the binary choice of independence vs status quo, that I would be casting a yes vote. Reluctantly, and with a heavy heart, but with the hope that the finest progressive achievements of the Union, the NHS for example, might continue, and be built upon to create a fairer society for all the people of Scotland.

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