Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Politics. This time it's personal.

So, apparently, after lots of hot air on both sides of the Border, we're going to get a vote.

Scottish Independence. Here we come.  Or not, clearly, depending on what happens in 2014.

And, somehow, it feels personal.

Because I'm English.  Born there. Bred there.  But Scotland is my home.  And the home of my husband (Scottish) and my children (well, what are they?).  It's where I live and where I hope to die.  I belong here now.

But if Scotland, and the Scots (does that include me?  Do I get a vote? Will they be breathalysing voters for evidence of Irn Bru before they let them enter the polling stations?  And what about the many, many Scots living in London, or Luton, or Lusaka?) vote to end the Union, for right or wrong that will feel like a rejection.

A rejection of England and the English.  And, given that I am English, a rejection of me, by a country in which I have never felt anything but welcome.

I'm sure, in the years to come, we will hear plenty of arguments about how it's not England that subsidises Scotland, but the South East that subsidises the rest of the country (ies), or about how Scotland's in an arc of prosperity that includes Ireland and Iceland (bet Alex Salmond's wishing he'd never come up with that one), or economic this and social that, and what would happen with the pound, or the NHS, or defence, and how we do or don't need each other (and whether we ever have), and I suspect that I will have an opinion (ill-founded or otherwise) on many of these.

But for now, this isn't an opinion, it's an emotion.  And it feels personal.  And I don't like it.


  1. As a fellow Scot, I really hope this doesn't happen. I *hope* there are enough intelligent people voting to drown out all the 'we-just-don't -like-the-English' voters.

  2. My Scottish husband living here in England is feeling very concerned about it all. As you say, the arguments for and against will go on and on but in the meantime it's very unsettling for everyone.

  3. Well put. I have very similar feelings being English and having lived in Scotland for most of my adult life. My husband is English too and we have have a feeling of creeping unease about the whole thing.

  4. Excellent post. It's such an emotive thing.

    You can see why the break up of Yugoslavia and the USSR led to such violent events. Not that I'm suggesting similar will happen in Scotland, but it is such an emotional step for everyone and it does feel so personal.

  5. It's not about rejecting England, or the English. Many SNP members are English, my SNP councillor was English. You and everyone who is registered to vote in Scottish elections (i.e. domiciled) will get to vote in the referendum. It's so NOT about nationality, or where you were born, or being Scottish. It's about the people of Scotland (all of them who live and work here) having the power to decide how Scotland is run. As things stand we are allocated a budget from Westminster (arguably it does not measure up to the taxes collected from Scotland)and we have the power to spend that as our devolved parliament, voted for by us, sees fit. So we have no university fees, no prescription charges... and so on. We choose to spend our budget in a different way from Westminster and it reflects the will of the people. We are culturally a socialist nation and we need more than a pocket money parliament. We need the political will of this country to be reflected in its government, we need a chance for Scottish Socialists, Scottish (pre neo-liberal Thatcherite) Conservatives and the whole rainbow of political opinion in this country to be represented and allowed to fully govern. An independent Scotland would be a good neighbour to England, our biggest trading partner. The gung-ho nationalism needs to be nipped in the bud on both sides if we are to have an intelligent debate and a considered outcome.

  6. Hmmmm. Hasn't Scotland got all the oil/gas? Seems like a reason to rebuild a wall but by the reasoning of NikkiH all taxes paid say in Scotand and it has it's own health system etc. I can imagine that having to run something similar to the NHS and Social Secfurity etc completely internally would soon drain the taxes which I find a bit worrying for the low/no income people. That infrastructure separated worries me. Would we separate the crown again? Would the Queen have any part to play? Would everybody in Scotland be shouting 'FREEDOM' lots? Unsettling times.

  7. How do you pay for the separation? That's an expensive job. How you reallocate national debt? Also expensive. I'd be interested to see a feasibility study for the actual separation with a real plan and then it'll be clear whether this is just political posturing to get 'Devo Max' or not...

  8. Nikkii - Thank you for commenting! I rather hoped you would when I published!

    You're absolutely right of course, and that's why this post was purely an emotional response, not the considered, researched one I hope will inform the cross I put in whichever box in 2014. The problem though is that while many people will think like you and vote accordingly, there will be many (more?) on both sides of the debate who will vote emotionally, as a knee-jerk expression of the nationalism you describe. Surely the blether about scheduling the vote for the anniversary of Bannockburn (wherever that idea came from) is only the first sighting of that particular iceberg....

    I don't know enough yet to comment on the issue itself, which is why I didn't, but I do wonder why it is that Scotland, specifically, needs independence. Yes, of course it's different from other parts of the UK, but then so are Essex, or Powys, or Aberdeenshire, aren't they?

    As for how we spend our budget, don't get me started on why I think free prescriptions are a silly idea...

    Kelloggsville - specially the thought of Mel Gibson having anything to do with it...

    Mrs T - Pass... But I too will be looking out for answers to all those questions.

  9. Fiona - me too!

    Trish - I really feel for people like Dougie. Will he get a vote? I suspect not if he's not registered to vote in Scotland and why would he be? But yet he (I imagine) will still feel very Scottish, and still have a strong feeling of need to have a voice in what happens to it. Really hard, and I'll be interested to see what they do about ex-pat Scots worldwide. I suspect we'll see an awful lot of people registering to vote at their Granny's...

    Ellen - "creeping unease". That's it. That's precisely it. It's not rational, but it's there, niggling.

    Pants - golly! I hadn't made that comparison, but now you have you've made very certain that I won't (or will try not to) vote emotionally!

  10. I don't think you can really compare regions to a country and Scotland is most definitely a country :)

    I'm interested in your issue with prescriptions. I was listening to Radio5Live one day and was shocked to hear that less than 10% of prescriptions issued were paid for anyway. What was even more shocking was that if someone qualified for free prescriptions for a particular condition, that meant ALL their prescriptions were free, so they could get aspirin, cough syrup, everything free no matter what they earned. Their condition qualified them. The argument was that they couldn't possibly make a particular drug free, the free aspect had to be attached to the person. Ahem - the PILL?


    Anyway, #bbcqt is on an Nicola is playing a blinder, crikey I'm agreeing with Kelvin McKenzie... did hell freeze over??

  11. There's a whole different debate there about what defines a country though isn't there? I'm not sure, say that Orkney has much in common with Glasgow or Glasgow with Moffat... And is the fact that they're all lumped together purely historical? In which case Cornwall might argue that it's a country too (I know people from Cornwall who certainly would (after a pint of scrumpy or two anyway!)). I don't know, but it's interesting.

    The prescription thing: well. I thought it was a silly idea originally because if, which it is, Scotland's health is generally appalling, that, that is going to be down to a combination of poverty, resulting from unemployment, poor education, bad nutrition, poor quality housing and a million other factors all of which need money throwing at them. So if there's money to burn on Scotland's health, that's where, in my opinion, it should be being spent - improving health at the outset, so that we don't need so many prescriptions.

    It's arguable too that the people who were previously paying for prescriptions were those who could afford to do so - not on benefits, not under 18 or students, not with a chronic condition needing regular drugs etc etc...

    What I hadn't realised then, which I do now, is the knock-effect of free prescriptions - a massive waste of GPs' time. I'm typing this prior to dashing out for supper with a GP friend who reckons that on average as many as five appointments a day are being taken up by people who want a prescription for an over-the-counter medicine because then they won't have to pay for it. I can't see how that is good for anyone...

    Ok. Rant over. Time for a drink. Big drinkers, GPs... Might explain why Scotland's health is so poor...!

  12. I really don't think they should do this kind of thing without asking ME about it! I mean, I have one child born in London, two born in Fife, I have lived in Scotland for 6 years. Husband is (maybe) just about to apply for a job in Edinburgh. Surely that gives me the right to tick a box on a piece of paper somewhere?

    Feeling disenfranchised here.

    1. Well, I'm crossing my fingers even more for the job in that case, and not only so that you get a vote!

  13. Hi again, You inspired me to write a post on the subject. Thanks.

    1. You're welcome - and thank you for putting it significantly better than I did. Off to comment (can't from my phone, where I read the post) now.

  14. Well for this Englishman living in Scotland (for 27 years) it's nothing to do with rejecting the English (some of my best friends ... etc etc) and everything to do with taking responsibilty for our (that is Scotland's) own destiny, for richer, for poorer. I'm not sure yet whether I want the full independence enchilada but I certianly want a political establishment that has to raise the money it spends and an electorate that understands that who it votes for makes a difference to the taxes you pay and the services you get.

    1. Thank you for popping over and for the comment. I agree, how could you not? As I said, I need to do much more learning and reading before I make a definite call on this one - it's instince at the moment, not intellect.

      Although surely your last sentence applies (at least on the tax we pay front) to Scots voting for their Westminster MP, and if the average voter doesn't already understand that then I'm not sure there's any hope for any of us!

    2. Whoops. Instinct. Clearly.


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