On Thursday, Scotland will make an historic decision. Whether to be wholly independent or remain as part of the UK. Let us be under no illusions- even in event of a No vote, the status quo as we know it has gone. If No is victorious then there will still be a massive push for more powers for Scotland. There have been promises that if we vote No we will get extra powers- but please don’t let that sway you either way. The promise of extra powers is not a binding guarantee. It will have to be discussed, debated and negotiated. And if we do get extra powers they may well be far, far less than expected – they may be more. Even though it’s cynical, we should still prepare for getting zero extra powers at all and this is all bluster. The promise of extra powers is less of a certainty than a General Election Promise, and we’ve seen in the past how they’ve turned out.
There are plenty of reasons to vote No, plenty to vote Yes. I wont repeat all of them here as I’m sure many of you have seen them repeated ad nauseum. There are good reasons ether side, and there are bad reasons, and there are “What the fuck – have you been drinking turps?” level of bad reason. Ultimately, whatever way you vote Thursday there will be some buyers regret from some. Several people who have already sent in postal votes regret their decision, and others will after the main vote Thursday. This referendum has brought out a lot of questionable campaigns- Better Together have released some hum dingers such as the “Patronising BT Lady” (Not official title!) and emotional blackmail in the form of billboards boasting “I love my family, so I’m voting No”. The Yes camp don’t get off free either- with their cries of “Team Scotland” which by its very nature suggests the other side aren’t supporting of a better Scotland, there was the huge ballsup in the first major televised debate where Salmond became a broken record and refused point blank to engage with a very important question – a question later answered with ease: We will keep the pound regardless, and in event of no currency union we have plans B through E.
There have been No supporters vandalising Yes property, there have been Yes voters vandalising No property. There are people that complained back in May that there was not enough engagement in politics and now there is, it is met with cries of “Shut up” and “I can’t wait for this to be over”. I have seen rational people post drive by article dumps on social media that are easily refuted yet they get angry when challenged. Not very rational or a good example of scepticism in regard our own beliefs. I have seen arrogance, rudeness, fallings out, unverified claims flying around, accusations that if you vote No then you don’t get to complain about the Tories, arguments that the main reason person X is voting Yes is to get away from the Tories (Hint: Scotland will still have a Tory party, and if political winds change as they are wont to do we could well find a Tory government ruling Scotland one day even in independence).
There is also cries that Salmond is power mad, that he wants to be King, that… you know what? If your reason for voting No is because you dislike Salmond and/ or the SNP then please see my earlier comment about turp drinking levels of bad reasons.
I dont vote SNP. I don’t even particularly like Alex Salmond (That bloke off the telly in case Pauls wife is watching over her cereal). I vote Green. I’m a Green Yes. In 2016 we could boot out the SNP and replace them with Scottish Conservatives if we wish. This referendum is not about whether you like the politician or the politics of their party. Its about whether you think Scotland should have the chance to fend for itself and be an independent country. If being independent results in a Conservative Government in 2016 I of course won’t be happy. Any happier than if we remain in the UK and the General Election of 2015 results in a Tory/ UKIP Axis of Evil.
Then we have other issues- on the question of whether we can afford to go alone, of course the Yes camp say we can and of course the No camp say we can’t. And of course both sides have reams of data, and lots of high profile names supporting them. And the back and forth continues, rebuttal follows rebuttal, big name economist B follows big name economist A and so on. If we stay it will be difficult, if we leave it will.
We have to ask ourselves is it worth the risk? Personally I want to try. We cannot predict the future, the estimates and promises, the fear mongering from both sides, the rebuttals and debates all leave us with more questions than answers. If you want to take a risk on change on a large scale then vote Yes. But if you don’t think it is a risk you are comfortable taking then vote No and we may get change on a smaller scale. There is no sure fire way to predict the future in money, society, or what the change will be in event of Yes or if the promises recently made will come through under No. We can all pull out a figure of authority, a report from this or that financial institution but unless we are psychic we’re never going to know for sure.
Every time oil gets brought up we hear how it will be gone in a few decades – this argument has been around a few decades. Maybe we’ll have it for another century, maybe another 20 years, maybe not. 15% of predicted income is from oil. But then whether a part of the UK or not when it is gone it is gone- if independent then we lose that income. If part of the UK then the UK loses that income. Either way, Better Together or Yes, that income will be gone one day. Staying a part of the UK won’t magically make it abundant. But moving away from the UK won’t suddenly make it run out – but it is not a long term solution and we would need to find a way to replace that 15%. But there is no guarantees of prosperity either way – the economy could go belly up in another ten years whether we are part of the UK or not. And so, in truth the scaremongering and promises around economy aren’t swaying me either way.
Ultimately its probably more of an emotional decision than a rational one – either way. But then aren’t most political choices? I’m sure many UKIP voters think they are making the rational choice, and they may think me irrational for voting Green.
Whatever we chose on Thursday it is a decision we will have to live with the consequences of. If we take one thing away from this referendum let it be this – the people of Scotland have been active, engaged and involved in politics in a way not really seen before. Actively engaging in the democratic process and grabbing with both hands their future. The vote is close, around 50% of the population will be disappointed on Friday but whatever the result lets work together for a better Scotland – Say “Yes” to making our mark and be “Better Together” as a nation. Whatever the outcome.