I’m a Londoner and I’ve never even been to Scotland. I have no experience of life there so it’s not for me to tell the Scots what to think, still less how to vote in their Referendum. This has always been my position, as the No and Yes campaigns chugged on in the background since, 2012, was it?
Several of my Twitter friends are Scots or live in Scotland, or both, and I have been curious about their views and the arguments, but there seems to have been a dearth of actual concrete information on the shape of any newly-independent Scotland and the implications for all of us. Or maybe there’s plenty of information about but, being a Londoner, it’s not caught my imagination. If that’s the case, I’m guilty of negligence.
But everyone seems suddenly to have woken up and taken notice of the campaigns for Thursday’s vote and we’ve seen the initially cheery campaigns turn acrid, especially in the last few days. The mudslinging and conspiracy theories, the personal attacks and the erstwhile friends falling out have been painful to witness. Goodness knows whether it will be possible for everyone to bury their respective hatchets after Thursday’s vote.
For what it’s worth, here’s what I think:
- People with a distinct culture such as that of Scotland are already a nation. It is only natural that they seek to govern themselves.
- It’s a little late for Westminster politicians, business people, actors, sports stars to start telling people which way to vote. It looks as if everyone is having a mass panic. Which, of course, they are. If the No campaign, the people for maintaining the United Kingdom as a united entity, wanted to persuade people of their case, they should have started when the Referendum was originally announced. Flocking en masse to Scotland to beg Scots not to leave; using the mawkish rhetoric of marriage and divorce; coming up with last-minute deals: it all just looks ridiculous.
- Why has this happened? Because the UK government and everyone else complacently took for granted that most Scots would not want to leave the Union.
- In my view, the arguments for the No campaign are based of cold, rational logic. The votes for Yes are based on emotional ideas of nationhood, something that is visceral, and cannot be bulldozed. There was room for both head and heart if only the big personalities in this debate had sat down together in a grown-up way and sorted out something sensible sooner.
- It seems to me that the more high profile people go around telling the Scots to vote no, the more they will want to subvert the people who have treated them with contempt before and are coming over as patronising now. That’s my view. I know people are saying that the Yesses should be made to see reason, but that rather assumes that they are ignorant of the consequences, or more ignorant of the consequences of a Yes vote than anyone else. This might be true but rubbing someone’s nose in what they don’t know was never good manners and is bound to put people’s backs up. Who reacts well to being insulted?
To me, It’s up to Scots to decide how to vote on Thursday, of course it is. But if they do vote Yes, I have this awful feeling that those of us who are left in the Disunited Kingdom will be left to pick up the pieces for a long time to come. And we haven’t been able to vote on that.