I have had a week to mull on Scotland’s referendum vote…here are my thoughts and views on the whole thing – YES, YES – THIS POST IS ABOUT POLITICS, SORRY! BUT IT’S IMPORTANT PEOPLE! (I won’t be offended if you skip this one though – but this is just my two pence on an issue that is dear to me!) I’m not mad at you for rolling your eyes…just stand there while I – WHAAAACK!
“DEMOCRACY DEAD?! PFFT! TAK’ THAT, MAN!”
Scotland has voted no, SCOTLAND HAS VOTED NO! Seriously how fucking great would the UK actually be without Scotland? That would be false advertising at the very least…as an Englishman born and raised in the North East I am shocked, but genuinely overjoyed that Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom family – perhaps it’s selfish of me, but it was a horrible feeling to imagine that all of a sudden, overnight; there would be a clear division between people, friends and even families. I mean it would suddenly be a foreign delicacy for me to pick up my favourite (haggis and chips) from my local chippy! Would I still celebrate Robbie Burns night with my family, as we have all my life?
For 300 years we have been British, I know personally that I always eager to refer to myself as British rather than just English, as I am proud to relate myself to each and every member country of the union…I am not the only one, as the number of people living in Scotland who chose British as their national identity rose from 15% in 2011 to 23% in 2014, according to the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey. The number of people who chose Scottish fell from 75% to 65% over the same period…numbers don’t lie, surely.
Having spent a lot of time abroad, including North America and Asia – I have lost count of the amount of times I have been assumed to be Scottish due to a mixture of my accent and attitude. Even when I explain, and point it out on the map people are unclear – and when faced with the standard Americanized question: “so what part of London are you from?” intended as a synonym to: “so what part of England are you from?” I have found myself telling them I hail from nowhere near London! And in their eyes I become basically Scottish. Therein lies something important, there is a blur between the union countries, that can’t just be split up, divided, and disenfranchised just because of imaginary lines on a piece of paper.
The fact is that England isn’t just London, Great Britain isn’t just London, and the United Kingdom is not just London. We must have fair representation for all, and it appears that those in the North of England and Scotland are those who are the most overlooked when it comes to actual physical change and governmental effort. The thought process appears to be that as most of the big offices are centered in London, this is where most of the funding should go…leaving many to struggle and strive just to survive, never mind live a life full of conquered dreams and happiness. Due to this rather bleak outlook, it was certainly amusing for many of us to see every English politician resolutely shit their respective y-fronts at the thought that the YES campaign may be successful…at the same time, the hashed together, last minute approach from them actually served to speak volumes for how they really feel. Very disappointing. I spoke with Scottish friends before the vote and they were disgusted and appalled, well…they were not their exact words…but you can use your imagination.
I don’t blame the Scottish people for seeking out independence, in fact if I was Scottish by birth and not just by historical lineage I would be all for it (my surname is Taggart, I don’t think you get more Scottish than that! Maybe William Wallace, but that’s about it!) So in that sense there will be widespread disappointment among many – after all, 45% of the vote (1.6 million people) voted FOR independence….that’s a huge number of people who took a stand at what they saw to be a broken system, something that simply didn’t work for them. I can certainly empathise, after all the boost that the YES campaign received was in part due to support on a massive level from younger voters, and the working class portion of the Scottish population…places like Glasgow, Dundee, North Lanarkshire post-industrial locations that appear to have been royally fucked over, stripped of all they have and left to rot. There are parallels here to coal mining and ship building cities in the north of England, such as my hometown Sunderland, go in any real pub and I promise you will meet people who still hold grievances attributed to life after Margaret Thatcher, and how the place was before all of that mess…
One thing that can be said is that in the northern territories of the UK there is a great sense of pride, and a collective nature that binds the people together, this whole referendum and the media storm that circled it have proved at least one thing…that the referendum has been a working class revolt against austerity measures. It seems, enough is enough. BBC’s Andrew Marr had this to say: “What started as a vote on whether Scotland would leave the UK has ended with an extraordinary constitutional revolution announced outside Downing Street by the Prime Minister.” You see, by pushing the Better Together group (NO voters) into an awkward corner, where it actually began to look like they may lose…leaders were forced to make last minute hasty concessions that they hadn’t expected…in doing so the cogs have began to turn, and look set for further change.
In a dream world Scotland would just absorb the North of England and we could all just tell the Labour and Conservative drones to fuck the fuck off. But that appears to be highly improbable. I’ll be saying my hail Marys though, you know just in case…
People have began talks of more devolution of power…I mean, the folks in Wales and Northern Ireland will surely see this as a sign that they can receive more, surely it is only fair? More exciting is the idea of devolved powers for REGIONS – a more federal, American style model I suppose, which may demand a formal constitution to lay out set rules that can’t be quibbled. This has grown, and evolved far, far beyond just a nationalistic and patriotic march – and has instead leaped forward and tapped into a profound discussion on the United Kingdom we all want for the future. At the very least this is the start of a conversation that could lead to a more fair system…but we must keep the momentum going, people have short memories – there was a referendum in November 2004 on devolved powers to Northern England (not Scotland however), it was scrapped after the voters of the North East rejected the proposal by almost 78% landslide…what’s to stop the same thing happening again?
When you consider the 2004 outcome, which had a horrific 49% turnout – it shows how much of a testament to the people of Scotland the unprecedented 85% turnout was – I mean 85% of voters turned up to lodge their opinion, 85% of them cared and wanted their opinion (YES, or NO) heard…it shows that people do care, and people do want to be part of positive changes that can move themselves forward. It proves that as much as Westminster may believe that the voting public are basically apathetic drones, they are wrong. So lets keep going, unified in our desire for a more fair and all encompassing system – let us harness that momentum for change, and join together with the many millions of disenfranchised and overlooked people across all four nations who also demand an alternative to the cynical Westminster styled view of a future in which good healthcare and education are a privilege rather than a right; let’s make some sort of legacy, let’s make something to be proud of.
I truly do hope that this is the start of something good, like most up these frosty parts I don’t trust those down Westminster as far as I could throw them, but I’ve seen the Scottish caber toss – so maybe with them as friends, that gives us some strength going forward.