“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.” — John Donne, “Meditations XVII”
It might not seem very relevant down here what the Scots are up to. The Home Counties are the places that everyone likes to complain about, regardless of whether you visit a pub in Blackpool, Cardiff, or Stirling. We are far away from the hue and cry of the referendum election, and our media and rulers take little interest beyond an occasional “what are they up to now?” or “my god, they can’t do that!”
The thing is, though, and it seems more and more likely, that the events going on in Scotland is the bell that tolls for us, even down here. It is the sound of revolution; a peaceful one that goes on through the ballot box, but still a revolution to match the Jacobite uprisings of the 1700s or the Cromwell years. If there is a ‘yes’ in the referendum, the Act of Union of 1707 which created this country is dissolved.
If two partners in a marriage dissolve their marriage, you can’t have one partner go around and still claim a state of matrimony. While the state that lords over it remains in the uncharming term successor state, how can one say that the country still remains if one of the two parties which merged to form it breaks off?
Isn’t that which one loves, if one is the patriotic sort, the country? Politicians come and go, processes of state change and evolve, the forms of state expand and contract. It is not the state which brings up a patriotic tear; more likely an expletive filled rant. It is the country one attach oneself to, either by choice or by defaulting into that position by living there. And country and the state is not the same, and it is the country which would be dissolved by a Scottish yes.
If one is not loyal to a state, but to a country, should not the Scots vote yes? Why should they be loyal to a conniving, manipulative, and unethical state that robs them of their natural resources and then hands them pocket change back. Even that pocket change is grudgingly given, with plenty of grumbles about ‘subsidies’.
As one who has lived in an Arctic country, a far more Arctic country than Scotland, I can appreciate that things cost more to do. A simple ambulance journey can become a helicopter trip from a remote location and not a brief car chase from one neighbourhood to the next. That simply costs more, much more, under the principle of free care at the point of delivery, such as we have with the NHS.
If it comes down to a matter of state, rather than country, then I’ve been of the mind that maybe a Scottish independence would be good for England. I can clutch to that selfish, Anglo-centric view that change would be forced upon the state through this process. I’m not loyal to the state, which I find unethical and imposing and inefficient, but to this bit of land that I live in. I’m loyal to the people here, to the green pastures and the chalk hills, and to the life I have here.
It doesn’t matter that it’s the Home counties that everybody complains about. It doesn’t matter that half the people in this town commute to London to work and play. It doesn’t matter that this place is so charmingly called a ‘commuter belt town’. It’s still mine by choice, and the people in it aren’t bad or particularly menacing. Just a little bit indifferent, and a little bit misinformed, and a little bit complacent.
If there is a ‘yes’ in Scotland then maybe that would change, and maybe they would think about change, and maybe they would demand change. That’s what I hope, and that’s why I hope Scotland votes ‘yes’.