If I were to vote no, it would be despite the Better Together campaign, rather than because of them. The issues they pick up on seem to be weak and, for me at least, not the important ones. Firstly, this constant scare campaign of Scotland being a small “basket case” economy with a weak currency just doesn’t hold up. As you see below, a country Scotland’s size sits by the most prosperous countries in the world (a few war torn countries excluded), and perhaps most importantly, all these countries have their own stable currency.
This is why I just don’t understand why the Yes campaign don’t just propose an independent Scotland with it’s own currency, if a currency with the rest of the UK is rejected. Furthermore, they’d be saving 5 billion a year in debt repayments they wouldn’t have to pay off in this case, which would certainly offset any additional costs of minting and managing a new currency; a perfectly reasonable response to being denied the assets of the Bank of England that has really scared Better Together. This is not to deny that there aren’t benefits of sticking together, but for me the whole issue is a null point as whether it’s a country or a business, everyone knows that large and small scale each have their distinct pros and cons.
If the economic arguments generally balance each other out, the for me it’s the political that would most certainly push me towards Yes. The Better together campaign, quite unavoidably in their defense, has done a brilliant job of painting the Westminster political establishment as a homogeneous boys’ club. Alistair Darling having to defend Tory policies (priceless!) has really shown the true colours of the old red blue carousel and a Scotland that does appear to be at least a politically separate nation.
However, for me the gravitational pull preventing me from supporting the Yes campaign is that of my identity, which for me trumps short term political and economic expediency. We’re talking about the United Kingdom, an ancient institution that has maintained a peace between it’s people for more than 300 years. A Union of nations almost unique in the history of mankind in which different national identities compliment rather than challenge one another. One in which there is no domination of the larger over the smaller. Has this been achieved anywhere else ever before? This is why I wouldn’t be so hasty in pulling apart hundreds of years of history and tradition that is the bedrock of our national identity, for the sake of the current political situation which is flux. Burke describes this as an “inheritance” going back to the Magna Carta, which is the “true contract between the government and the governed, a permanent partnership of the living, the dead and the yet unborn. Unless it were willingly accepted that none have the right to tear asunder this partnership, government could depend only on force”.1
Nevertheless, I do get the feeling that the Yes campaign are making an effort to preserve this. Their criticisms are aimed at the Westminster, not the UK. They pledge to remain in the Commonwealth, and want to keep the pound. I wish the same could be said about Better Together, but rather than appealing to what is truly important we are deluged with constant scare stories generally regarding the economy.
This approach almost pushes me to voting Yes just in order to assert my own intelligence; a middle finger to politicians using their scare tactics that we’re all sick of. We must admit that the Yes campaign and the SNP are far more in touch than Yes and Westminster, yet we must remember, as Burke (once again!) puts it “Wise men will apply their remedies to vices, not to names; to the causes of evil which are permanent, not to occasional organs by which they act, and the transitory modes in which they appear.”2
Whichever way the referendum goes, I urge those who can to vote on hope, not on fear. Whether this be the hope of a new nation rather than fear of the current UK political set up, or hope that we as the United Kingdom together can make this country a better place, rather than the fear of uncertainty. For me, half Scottish half English, no politician can draw a line down the middle of my identity nor my family. One country or two, I vote for the people of our nations standing together as we have done so for hundreds of years to defend what we have built and improve upon it.
1: Robert and Isabelle Tombs, That Sweet Enemy
2: Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France