Thursday, 4 September 2014

"Should Scotland be an independent country?”

This is the question for Scotland on 18 September 2014.

So if you holiday in Scotland next year, will you cross an international border? Is the UK about to lose North Sea oil and gas? Will Scotland be ejected from the EU? What will happen to our nuclear capability? Are we so politically disparate now that Scotland is right to go? Do we care?

Whilst in Scotland and Westminster, such questions are being endlessly discussed, I have heard little debate locally. Is this because of the company I keep, because we don’t see it as relevant to us, or is our old friend, disempowerment - for nobody in England, including Scottish people living outside their homeland, may vote – stifling debate?

Anyone living in Scotland who is 16 or older will be entitled to vote on 18 September. Curiously enough, in addition to British citizens, this will include citizens of all 27 EU countries and 52 other Commonwealth countries.

So returning to the question, do we care? – I see little evidence demonstrating that we do. It is not a subject, as far as I am aware, for playground or dinner party debate, yet it will be an enormous historical, geographical and political change should Scotland leave the UK.

I have huge sympathy for everyone outside the South East wishing to reject an endlessly London-centric UK, with no obvious Westminster will to change and HS2 only the latest manifestation of this trend. Scotland leaving the Union might be the shakeup needed to change the way things are done once and for all.

Nonetheless, I would have liked the rest of the union to have demonstrated a deep desire for Scotland, by having the Scottish flag fluttering from every shop in every village, debates in schools, letters to every newspaper editor, Twitter constantly trending, news stories generated across the country sending the message that we all want Scotland to stay.

Why do I care so much? Well, history and geography mean a great deal, the political wranglings less. But when I really consider it, a southerner through and through, without a Scottish cell in my body, it is because Scotland, with its magical, wild beauty, windswept mountains, huge skies and empty spaces, is part of my home, its people, my co-citizens, and we will all be the poorer should the blue fade from the Union Jack.

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