I was a little girl when I first heard of Scottish Independence. I was born in the early 1970s into a Glasgow family who now lived in Argyle, at the Holy Loch, right next to where the US navy at that time kept their Polaris nuclear submarines. My dad was a CND member and campaigner and a Labour voting trade unionist and the use of Scotland (anywhere else being too close to human populations!) to store these hideous, offensive and pointless weapons was just another affront on top of the fact that they existed at all.
It was my oldest brother that I remember being told about Independence by, about a movement which had been ongoing for decades and which asked why Scotland, as a country in its own right, shouldn’t rule itself. Why we should continue to be a convenient holiday home or dumping ground, and always unable to do anything to overrule decisions made by our larger neighbour which affected us, often very negatively.
Back then, it seemed like Scottish Independence would never be achieved, it was so obviously the just thing, but equally obviously very unlikely to be allowed by those who have long benefited from the arrangements as they stood – it had long looked like just another foolish dream, like peace or equality.
When we voted to have our own government in 1997, I could hardly believe it. Of course I voted for it, but I was still astonished that it was allowed to happen.
This Thursday’s vote – well, it’s been a long time coming, and I’m still amazed that it’s been allowed to happen. A legally binding, constitutional decision made by democratic process. Wow. And yes, they’re trying their hardest not to let us make the choice based on honest and fair information – of course they are.
And I’ve followed the saner and more complex reasons against too, as well as those easily put aside, just in case I’ve been led by some emotional cause instilled in childhood and was just being a blind follower. And I certainly don’t want to abandon the left in the rest of the UK, but I think they’ll do fine – there’s a lot of them, and I’m sure if they examine their consciences they couldn’t ask us to stay just for some vague hope of saving them through some as yet undefined process – it certainly won’t be by our voting power.
And I don’t want to anger the population of England who apparently might take this personally, but if they are (and I’m sure most aren’t), then I can’t see how us now saying ‘Oh well then, never mind, I guess Westminster rule is okay’ will stop that from happening. And I like feeling a bit British as well as wholly Scottish and I don’t see why that has to end.
And I certainly completely respect anyone’s decision to vote, fully informed, for what they think is right.
But this is not “Alex Salmond’s vanity project”, it’s not fueled by some foolish dream of utopia and it’s not about the English. It’s not about the squabbling between factions or vandalism on either side or the personalities involved. It’s not about who is better. This is simply a chance some of us have waited for our whole lives to let Scotland, this rich and vibrant country, speak for itself, rule itself and be properly present in the world. Let’s remember that that’s what this is about and not allow the will of elite establishment figures to mess it up.