Why I think I should support a Scottish yes in the referendum

I’m English, and I live in the Home Counties, and I’m nineteen, and I shouldn’t say anything about Scotland’s independence referendum. It is a matter entirely for the Scots to decide without interference from me.

My opinion has always been that the Scots should decide, and then I could have opinions about the divorce settlement if they voted ‘yes’ in the referendum.

If they voted ‘no’ then things would go on as usual, and it wouldn’t be necessary for me to have any opinions at all on the matter. I could focus on school, life, the dogs, and my friends.

Things are never so simple, are they? So, lately I’ve been reading a lot of Scots nationalist sites to try to understand what’s going on up there. Objectively, I still haven’t changed my opinion on whether I should have any say or not. I shouldn’t.

But from a purely egotistical point of view, looking at my life and future and prospects, I am leaning toward that I hope Scotland votes yes because it means that the government in the UK would have to change.

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I haven’t written on this blog lately because I’ve been out travelling. I went to Scotland and watched Jake Bugg and Arctic Monkeys at T in the Park. It was a lovely trip, and it was entirely unplanned because I screwed up something good and bought tickets without reading the information properly.

I spent a day visiting my relatives who live near Stirling in Scotland. I have an uncle, an aunt, and two cousins there. My uncle, a stout Yorkshireman, is married to my aunt from Sunderland. They have three boys, one of which lives down south in London. Two remain in Scotland.

The three cousins count themselves as fully Scots now, but my uncle and aunt call themselves Scots-English. Both intends to vote ‘yes’ in the referendum because both see a chance to right everything that’s gone wrong with politics since Margaret Thatcher.

This woman from thirty years ago sent my grandfather looking for work first around Sheffield, then the Midlands, and finally down here in the South. This is why I’m here, after all, because of that decision decades ago. My uncle was old enough to stay behind and eventually move north to Scotland when my grandparents moved south.

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Of course we talked about the referendum during our visit there. And I told them that I didn’t really want to offer an opinion, but that didn’t stop them from banging on about the Westminster government. For someone who mostly feels contempt for our system of government and what it does, and has done, to a country I have grown to love, I’m finding it harder and harder not to fall into the ‘yes’ camp.

There’s this schizophrenic split between the debates in Scotland and England in a way. Down here in the South, what dominates is David Cameron’s slip into nasty Toryism and Euro-scepticism. He keeps throwing bones at the swivel-eyed loons on the right, and they just keep barking louder and louder.

It seems, it’s hard to tell yet, that the latest reshuffle of the Tory-part of the government is the final capitulation to the Tory-right. No more gay marriage support, no more nods to the innate English decency out there. From now on, it will be frothing-at-the-mouth conservatism until an election win is secured.

The despicable Liberal Democrats are now trying to salvage whatever remains of their positions and cush jobs by U-turning so fast you could stick a wire in them and power a small city. Whatever they believed last week is now wrong. Now they’ll put in the manifesto that the bedroom tax is wrong – and we know how much the manifesto pledge about tuition fees were worth.

Now, turn that a hundred and eighty degrees around, because in Scotland the Westminster parties are trying to woo the no-leaning voters with more EU, more social justice, more everything that the new nasty Tories in Westminster would have a hysterical breakdown about in England.

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In my own egotistical and selfish way, I have come to believe that the only way forward is to give a huge shock to the system. A shock so big that the Westminster state would be reeling afterwards, and so that forces could be enabled which would change it.

I don’t see any other way for that to happen than for Scotland to vote yes. If there’s a no, everything will muddle along in the same old tracks. That would be even worse – for Scotland, for England, for Wales, and for me.

So… I think I’m going to support ‘yes’. Even if I’m English, and nineteen, and live in the Home Counties, and shouldn’t really offer any opinion because it’s entirely up to the Scots.

Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Sometimes I feel like I am turning into the world’s biggest arsehole cynic, particularly when it comes to politics in this country. The more I see of the Westminster model of politics, the more I’m gripped by a sense of utter contempt for it.

It isn’t only that it is a first-past-the-post system which is designed to deny voters a real say, but also because this system has been rigged so hard to give safe seats for party apparatchiks that a party wants to make sure is in a government.

I don’t even like cynicism. I think cynicism is entirely negative, but I see no redeeming qualities to the version of democracy that we have. It’s a stitch-up designed in back rooms to give cush jobs for the élite. And for me to take part in that system is to give it legitimacy.

I’ve told myself that as an Englishman, I can’t have an opinion about Scottish independence, but I’m rounding toward support for it. I negotiate with myself that while I shouldn’t have an opinion on whether the Scots should vote this way or that, I can hope that they vote yes from a purely English and UK perspective.

If they did vote yes, it would be such a big constitutional crisis that the remaining bits of the UK would have to bring out the maintenance kit. Maybe we then we could get something better, something more right, something more modern.

Elsewhere on the net I used the simile that we may have invented democracy, but we got stuck with the beta version of it. Most European nations had a transitional compromise with the old order. That’s why there is still a nobility in the most egalitarian country of Sweden as well as in Germany. But that nobility is entirely powerless, and whoever tries to flaunt it is considered quite lame.

That transitional period lasted a couple of decades while the other European democracies transitioned toward a more acceptably democratic system with meritocracy and proportional representation.

Here in this country, however, we’re still stuck with the beta version. Twenty per cent of our upper house, which still has power, is still dominated by clerics and hereditary peers. Prince Charles goes around and tries to influence policy, and threatens to withhold royal assent for bills.

And we still have the first-past-the-post system, which is arguably the worst form of democracy where large segments by accident or design are disenfranchised from political influence.

So yes, Scotland’s departure from the union would be such a big shock to the system for those of us who would stay in the UK that I feel they would have to do something. But then again, the people in charge of repairing the constitutional damage would be the same people who have stitched up our democracy between them.

So, maybe I’m right to become a cynic. Maybe I should just forget about participatory democracy, and hunker down and study and then just mind my business for the rest of my life. And then think back to the rosy times when I bought into that silly dream that we were actually free. I keep thinking about the title, which is a quote from Oscar Wilde. He wrote that a hundred years ago, and nothing have changed. It’s still as true.