Politics

Scotland Deserves A Second Referendum

scottish-flag

On the Trans-Siberian Express we met a lovely Scottish chap named Quentin. He was from Edinburgh and a huge politics enthusiast. He’d ended up making friends with some Australian boys who knew very little about British politics and, combined with no internet access, he had been unable to indulge his interest. His eyes almost lit up when he realised that two British politics geeks had boarded the train and we spent the next few days having snatched conversations about the state of the UK: about everything from the SNP to the Labour leadership challenge to Brexit. I’ll be honest: it was quite surreal trundling through Siberia discussing the challenges the Labour Party face over the next few years but I wasn’t complaining. You see, as a Londoner, I have often considered Scotland an ally; we’re both socially liberal parts of the UK, each with a history and tradition distinct from the rest of England. He explained, somewhat unsurprisingly, that there were many people in Scotland calling for a second referendum in the light of the EU Referendum because “We didn’t vote to Leave!” to which my response was “Well neither did London – you can’t leave us on a shitty island at the mercy of the Tories!”

My husband Tim and I were in Scotland during the summer leading up to the Scottish referendum and you could feel the excitement. “Vote YES” and “Vote NO” posters decorated the windows, campaign stalls seemed to multiply by the day and the pubs and bars were buzzing with talk of the vote. We spent three weeks travelling around the cities, to the islands and highlands; we ate hearty food, were welcomed by kind people and saw breath-taking scenery. We spent a few days in Stirling and learnt all about William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. We visited the Battle of Bannockburn memorial and even ended up being dragged into a digital re-enactment of the battle – which lead to Tim muttering sarcastically under his breath, “Yeah – send a detachment of archers into a cavalry charge – that’ll work” – to a six-year-old. Scotland’s history seemed to be so defined by its fight for independence and here we were, 700 years since the Battle of Bannockburn, and the fight was still going on – except this time no cavalry or schiltrons were necessary. We had a brilliant Summer and by the end of it I’d come to the conclusion that, if the people of Scotland voted for independence, I’d be sad to see them go but would completely understand. When the result was announced I was surprised but, more than anything, I was relieved.

I wanted Scotland to stay part of the UK for the same reason I wanted us to remain in the EU, because I believe progress happens when we work with other countries – not cut ourselves off from them. I still believe this – but so shattered is my faith in Britain at the moment, that, when I heard Nicola Sturgeon announce that the SNP were putting forward proposals for a second referendum I was nothing but excited for Scotland. If the Scottish people are granted a second referendum and do vote for independence – I will be cheering for them – loudly.

Scotland have been lumbered with an increasingly right-wing Conservative government that they didn’t vote for. When I say they didn’t vote for them I don’t just mean in the last General Election. The last time the Conservatives had a majority of Scotland’s MPs was in 1955 and even then it was only very a slim majority with only one more seat than Labour. Secondly, Scotland overwhelmingly voted to Remain in the EU (62% to 38%) – so why should they be dragged out? And finally, the UK that Scotland voted to stay tied to in 2014 no longer exists. We have a new, unelected, Prime Minister who seems hell bent on delivering “Hard Brexit” – whatever that is. In the last three weeks alone we’ve heard the government propose: companies should publish lists of foreign employees, foreign-born doctors should be sent home and “British jobs for British people” – which, to put that into some sort of perspective, was at one point a BNP slogan. For a country that did not vote for a Conservative government it must feel, as it increasingly does in London, a bit like a fascist dictatorship has taken over.

In 2014 we convinced the Scottish people that leaving the UK would be “too risky”. I remember there was a lot of speculation about the currency. Alex Salmond was grilled about the risks to the Scottish economy if they voted for independence. Scotland was told in no uncertain terms that a vote to stay in the UK would be the most stable and secure thing to do. Two years later their currency is at its lowest value against the dollar for over thirty years as a result of “us” (meaning England) trying to drag them out of the EU (against their will.) In 2014 we behaved as if we were a neglectful partner, asking Scotland to stay with us before revealing the worst of ourselves.

When I was a teacher I considered Scotland something of a utopia – a place where education is really valued. No Ofsted gradings, smaller class sizes, a wider range of subjects offered at Secondary level, free university for all. It’s little wonder that in 2014 they were voted the “best educated country in Europe.” As we became increasingly frustrated with the English education system, Tim and I would often discuss moving to Scotland. Compared to our own system they seemed to have got it so right. It’s not perfect, by any means, but the idea of working in a country where education is respected, rather than mocked or scorned, was hugely appealing.

But it’s not just on education where Scots’ views differ from the rest of the UK. Their voting history shows that, as a country, they have a much stronger desire for an egalitarian society than the rest of the UK. This poll, published by YouGov, shows just how much further to the left Scotland’s views on nuclear weapons, welfare, the NHS and the benefits system are compared to the rest of Britain.

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Scotland are, basically, a left-wing country lumbered with a right-wing government because of a flawed electoral system. I feel huge amounts of empathy for them – I live in the only region of England that, like Scotland, didn’t vote to Leave and has consistently rejected Conservatism. Sadly, independence for London is not an option – but Scotland can still get out of this.

What I’ve found fascinating is the number of Brexit voters taking to social media to say, “Well, Scotland won’t last a day without us!” with absolutely no awareness of the irony. I would be interested to know how many English people would sit in the overlap on the Venn diagram of “Pro-Brexit and “Anti-Scottish Independence” of course, some might call me hypocritical for having campaigned for Britain to Remain in the EU followed by willing Scotland to vote for their independence but, as a country, their views simply aren’t represented in Westminster.

I’m writing this on the train to Washington DC. I’ve spent the last 9 weeks travelling around the world. Being away for so long has given me a chance to view Britain from an outsider’s perspective and sadly, from this vantage point, it’s not looking great. The message from Britain at the moment is loud and clear: “foreigners not welcome here; send them home.” At best, we’re being laughed at or pitied, at worst people believe we’re behaving like spoilt brats with an over-inflated sense of our own importance. Why should Scotland be tarred with the same brush if they are genuinely pro-immigration and open to the world rather than closed off to it? Who are we to hold them back? Their priorities are clearly so different to those of England and Wales at the moment that they should be free to pursue them.

So Scotland, I hope you get your second referendum and, if you vote to leave us, I will be cheering you on. As long as you understand that there is every chance you’ll have two Londoners and a rather overweight cat with no eyebrows coming to join you…

 

 

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16 thoughts on “Scotland Deserves A Second Referendum

  1. This is such a good post. I’m English. My wife is Scottish. I am presently living in Greece. We were stunned by the decision to leave the European Community. It was based on the British population being grossly misled.
    The Scottish Referendum vote. Well … don’t ask.
    If there is a second Referendum … your guess is as good as mine. 😃

    Like

  2. I have to admit I do not share your feelings about Scotland. My experience of the people and the country itself is limited. I have visited a few times and have had holidays there too. At one time my aunt lived in Glasgow and we visited a few times but, in reality my image of Scots and Scotland still reflect the era of kilted singers like Andy Stewart (singing a sottish soldier!, don’t ask!). Having said that, I do respect the view that they are different to the general political class in England, in particular. When I lived in Germany for a time I met a student from Glasgow, studying at a university and we had a few political discussions over a few beers and the odd schnaps. I recall being asked what I thought about the miners strike, which was going on at the time, not the big one in Thatcher’s time. I recall giving some wishy washy answer as I did in most political arguments back then. I can still here the polemic with which he assaulted me to this day. Well deserved, I guess and delivered in such a great accent too!
    So, I would support a second referendum but my hunch is that the result would be similar to the last one. Mind you if Brexit is as bad as some are predicting, it could just be different and then Scotland would need to repair that wall up there to keep the English out!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there, my name is Alan and I’m an older Scot. Born in 1950 and now a full time student at U.H.I. Like very many Scots my family is composed of Scots, English, Irish ,and, unlike very many, Traveller ( Gipsy, Romany, whatever floats your dinghy). Our drive for independence is fuelled by the desire to make our own decisions, whether they be right or wrong, and to make our own way in the world. Our Glens and Straths lie empty partly because 432 entities, either individuals or organisations, own over 50% of our land. Under Labour, in power in Glasgow for 60 yrs we have areas with the lowest life expectancy in all of Europe. Now all of these things and more are changing because of our SNP government. We will join the other nations of the world and we will still be friends and neighbours.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. SOMEBODY NEEDS TO TURN THE LIGHT ON SO THE ENGLISH PUBLIC IN GENERAL CAN SEE THAT THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL IS THE WORLD EXPRESS COMING TO SMACK THEM NOT ILLUMINATE THEM..

    Liked by 1 person

  4. terrific blog and a pleasure to read.
    It is refreshing to have someone write an accurate article which sums up the reality of where we are at.
    Scotland has suffered for many a year under Westminister rule, this can not be denied. It has been treated as a play thing by succesive Westminister governments. The changes we have seen more so in the last 10 years, with the UK govt swinging further to the right. Alienating foreigners, attacks on the disabled and the poor is disgusting and is not somthing Scotland should be part of. Additionally the good people of England,Wales and NI should also not be subjected to corrupt Tory totalitarian rule and deserve better. I want Scotland to be independant so it can best serve its people regardless of which political party governs in Hollyrood. Like wise Id also like to see each nation within the UK to be independant as each country has different views and needs.
    I see no reason as to why this can not be the case and we continue as neighbours and good friends. The WM system is vastly unfair/corrupt and we are not equals in the so called family of nations.
    I could go on and on.
    Thanks for the blog

    Liked by 3 people

  5. ye all hell broke lose in the spirit realm .earth is oblivious to the real war .but in truth god has no side and i am by it all the time .people just need to relax stop chasing the lust of life style and have a look at there world .where they live .there is a power dormant because of all the dishonesty .by people of all walks of life seeking ultimate power .they have no chance but to come clean and rejoice in each others wisdom and respect .i found the clue to the next chapter that will carry earth away from hell and disaster .and believe me when i say its beyond words .but i have a fair grasp of explaining .the spiritual awakening back in 2012 as before it was the psychology of tarot .created by the scorpion gypsies in skara brae .just a small settlement .on which they downloaded wisdom from god through crystals .and as we where all the fool of innocence to the tarot .as from 2012 it is our birth stones that aid us in unlocking further information from god .the tarot is just past and present inspiration and has no future .but spirit does as we step into the unknown .the galaxy was a spiraling mess then it was the dodgems .then the hobby horses .nows it a giant ferris wheels destined forever in existence .it is our moon that is the spiritual persistence the counter weight between the uncountable faith and fates .down the flutes and up the pipes it is the actions of our life that will touch the spark between dark and light and vibrate us in eternity through the innocence of our might .the holy ghost (Emperor Dragoon Scorpionmoon August O Thunder) cast honesty and justice on the kingdom as now known as fife and it spread like wild fire all across the world and the monsters came and where cast down by god (the brilliant creator .and mankind grew greater and greater .it is in god name we sail forth .and all the loopholer accountants are caught. for the world of humanity is but infected with dishonesty and only the innocent will prevail .to leave this place with dignity in the face of serenity .bless us all the royal crown belongs in the kingdom of fife .restor it by faith and let our new future ignite .Brian Bryce & Rihanna .just a trio with a spiritual insight hard to believe but respectable if you ever meet us .we are the future of honesty and justice and the creators .may love be your life and serenity your flight

    Liked by 1 person

    1. totally agre.e brian but you. forgot the cats fishpole inside. an inverted handprint of a. flowers heart.

      P.S.
      Excellent blog and I’d guess you would be most welcome in Scotland.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful to read such a positive and generous article, given the MSM onslaught that we live with daily! Yes, this is about self-determination and a need to build the Scotland that reflects who we really are as a nation. Too many sideline us by stereotyping and diminishing us, but we prevail. 🙂

    I hope you, your husband and your overweight, eyebrowless cat will honour us with your decision to make Scotland your home. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very informed blog. Good to know you recognise the differences in the two nations. My husband is English and an ardent Yes supporter. He convinced ME to vote Yes! We lived in the South for 16 years but one day I woke up so homesick for Scotland. I had to ask my husband to move from his birth country to mine. He had lived here before but it was still quite an ask.
    Anyway we have been here now 15 years and I’m so glad we came back, but, more importantly so is he.
    You would both be very welcome especially with your lovely 🐱. In fact why not come now and swell the numbers of Yes voters for the next Independence Referendum? You probably have about two years to get organised 😬😬😬😬!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment – I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Scotland is a beautiful country and everyone’s comments have been so warm – it’s good to know they’ll be welcoming people there if we move!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I apologise profusely, I’ve only just seen your reply to my comment from October.
        I’m not very good at keeping up to date with WordPress, to my shame.
        All the best, Wilma x

        Like

  8. Thank you for your excellent & well considered article. It’s perhaps worth emphasizing that the general view of immigration in Scotland is also entirely different from that predominant in the parts of the UK that voted for Brexit. We welcome people from all over the world, not least from the EU and those who want to come from the rest of the UK. We know that we need you to help build our progressive and outward looking nation. Hopefully we will soon become independent again & go on to become a beacon to the rest of the world. We want to be an example of how a society based on equality & social justice, unshackled from the overriding hand of our neighbours who have chosen a different direction, can thrive. We want to be a free nation so that we can take what we see as our rightful place in the community of nations. We need to speak for ourselves & not be represented by a government acting & speaking permanently against our interests & viewpoint.
    If and when we succeed, I think it likely that others will want to follow suit. We will support the rights of all peoples to self determination. Our desire for Independence is not an attack on any other people, but an expression of our own will to take our own decisions about our own country. All who would join us are welcome here, to be Scots.
    (✌ Yes that means you ☺- ceud milé failté)

    Liked by 1 person

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