Scottish Referendum: Maybes Aye; Maybes Naw

Am I Scottish above all else? Do I feel British? What about European?

These are questions that I have found myself discussing with friends on numerous occasions over the years. The fact is that I’m currently all three, but am I happy about it?

On the eve of making one of the most important decisions of my life – whether to vote YES or NO in the Scottish Independence Referendum – these questions eat away at me.

For those who may not know, the Scottish electorate have been afforded the democratic opportunity to decide tomorrow whether we want Scotland to “go it alone” by divorcing from the rest of the United Kingdom and possibly the EU, a position not seen since 1707 when Scotland and England first united.

If YES, there will be no going back.

As I type, I feel nervous; excited; anxious; proud; passionate; tired, angry and thankful for western democracy. To be honest, I can’t wait for tomorrow to be over and for the result to be announced.

I cannot recall a time in my life when passions have run as high or wounds as deep amongst us Scots.  Crowds gathering, fights breaking out between family and friends; the impact of social media taking both a positive and a negative toll on propaganda and rumour.

I have watched with interest (and at times frustration) as both sides of the debate have slung mud at each other over the last eighteen months.  I have endeavoured to look beyond all the headlines, bluster and intimidation, instead remaining open-minded in engaging my brain and not just my heart (despite the two being intrinsically linked).  I have attempted to work through the practicalities of the maths behind independence, even when the passionate political assertions and promises can’t always be easily supported with facts. I have weighed up whether the promise of hope is reason enough to make that leap of faith towards an independent Scotland.

Whatever the outcome, life will have to go on. Either way, I will still be a proud Scot on Friday and my hope is that we can overcome the deep divisions that this vote appears to be creating in order to continue to make the best of our beloved Scotland, whatever its future governance.

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With the opinion polls now too close to call, I have made my decision……

But this post is not intended to be just about me and what I think. To mark this historic event, I have invited some of the most passionate and engaged folks from the Scottish world of blogging and social media to tell you how they will be voting in our Independence Referendum, and why.

In the interests of fair and unbiased social commentary, I have listed the responses below in the order that they arrived in my inbox (yes, it has got to that point)!

I would love to hear what you think.

FOR THE NO VOTE: PAMELA

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The truth is this is my 5th attempt at writing this little piece for Glasgowdragonfly. It’s hard isn’t it? Trying to tell the world why you believe in something? It’s a million little things.

Let’s start with a few of the negatives associated with the pro-independence campaign: I don’t believe the yes camp’s vision of a land of milk and honey following independence and I can’t quite work out how the country will be more socially just either, to be honest. I don’t claim that everything the yes camp have said is nonsense but to pour scorn and call everything even slightly negative against their case as scaremongering is frankly irresponsible and a dangerous vision to sell to people.

The buzz word for the nationalists is Yes! Literally, the answer to every question posed is yes.

Join the European Union with no problem? Yes! Part of NATO? Yes! Use the pound? Yes! Better welfare state? Yes! Protected NHS? Yes! Lower corporation tax? Yes! Get rid of Trident? Yes! More Jobs? Yes! Free Childcare? Yes! Free Education? Yes! More money in our pockets? Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!

I believe this campaign is built on shifting sand, an awful lot of people have been promised an awful lot of things without any real consideration for how it will be paid for.

That is my negative spin on voting for independence but here is my positive spin on staying united:

I think the UK is a great nation! We are the same, we have the same beliefs and moral standing in the world, we are family of nations bound together in a common cause. We achieve great things together and frankly punch above our weight on the international stage. I don’t care if I am governed from 50 or 500 miles away. I do care that I live in a country built on the blood and tears of the generations who have gone before us. Our grandfathers died and our grandmothers gave all to protect our country, to give you everything you are privileged to have today – your freedom and the right to even have this vote.

I’ll be honest it is like a knife through my heart when the people who are trying to protect this union now, not with their blood but with a simple cross in a box, are called traitors and scum in the street or online. We are a nation built on great things, we are united in so much – much more than what divides us.

Like all countries, the UK has problems but I think we should deal with that as a nation and not turn our backs on the other occupants of this very small island and abandon them to deal with these issues alone.

My lasting message is this – if it is a yes victory I will get behind the will of the Scottish people 100%, but it would break my heart to turn my back on the United Kingdom and no longer be British.

FOR THE YES VOTE: JAMES blogger (@jamesvsburger)

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On September 18th, between the hours of 7am and 10pm, we’re going to be faced with the biggest decision that we’ll ever have to make.

‘Should Scotland Be an Independent Country?’

This referendum certainly isn’t something that I’ve taken lightly. When it was first announced, I was firmly on the side of ‘No’, without having done any research on the matter and from simply looking at my life as it was then and thinking ‘I’m quite happy the way I am’. I knew; however, that something this important couldn’t be decided on a whim or before I’d spent some time doing my own research on the matter. Since initially saying ‘No’ a couple of years ago, I’ve spent time educating myself on the matter, whilst trying to set aside as much media bias and political spin as possible and I’m proudly voting ‘YES’.

So, what changed my mind from two years ago? To try and be as brief as possible, ultimately I feel that independence will provide Scotland, at least, with the best opportunity to create a brighter future for us all.

Imagine a nation of people, all engaged with politics and actually taking a strong interest in how their country is run. Many in Scotland often feel like their vote simply doesn’t matter, and understandably so. I’ve lost count of how many people I know who are completely disconnected from politics – I was the same way for a large period of time. In this referendum, every single vote counts. Every single one. And that is reflected in the fact that 97% of us are now registered to vote. In that respect alone, we’ve already made history. People have something to vote for and something to hope for. But why stop there? People are engaged like never before and I believe that the passion people possess right now would carry over, should Scotland vote ‘YES’. Granted, even in an independent Scotland, you personally may not get the Government that you vote for, but at the very least, it would be a Government elected by the people who live and work here and nobody else.

For the first time in my life, it feels like we’re currently living in real democracy. This referendum has been about real people, not politicians. In future, if a Government lies to Scotland after getting elected, then WE should be the ones who have the power to kick them out and not have to rely on the votes of others.

But the thought of creating a country of engaged and passionate voters isn’t the only reason I’m voting yes. I believe that the ‘status quo’ has failed. Bedroom tax, illegal wars, weapons of mass destruction…a vote for ‘No’, I believe, is a vote for more of the same. Last year, I volunteered at a local food bank and it was an experience that gave me a real wake up call. Something was terribly wrong in Scotland and I realised that this referendum wasn’t just about me and my life – it was about creating a fairer and better place to live and about wanting more for your country. We’re a wealthy country and the fact that so many live in poverty is a flat-out disgrace. I’m not saying that independence will fix all of that overnight, but we’ll be able to take more control of what happens in our own country and address issues like this at a more local level.

The ‘No’ campaign like to say that ‘a vote for no isn’t a vote for no change’, but at this point, it all sounds like nothing more than desperate political spin. I believe that Westminster never imagined a day where this decision would be so close. I believe that they really did think we’d ‘bottle it’ and this referendum was more of a formality than anything else, otherwise ‘Devo-Max’ would have been a third option on the ballot paper, as the Scottish Government had proposed. Why have slightly more ‘powers’, when we can have all of it? Why continue to get Governments that we didn’t vote for when we can have a real democracy? I believe that at its heart, Scotland is a socialist country that’s unfortunately being led further and further right by elitist parties and that people here have had enough.

If we remain within the UK, you only have to look at our choices for Prime Minister: Cameron, Clegg or Milliband. These people have very little concern for Scotland’s future and are so out of touch with people here, that it’s no wonder they’ve probably done more damage to their campaign than good. A friend of mine said that it almost feels like Scotland ‘is the dog that never learned to bite back’, but now it feels like things could very well change. Looking at the three Westminster parties, it’s a struggle to tell them apart. I don’t think any of them speak to Scottish people and the thought of a dreaded Tory-UKIP coalition is a very scary, but real reality that terrifies me to my core.

To be clear, I’m not a nationalist and it’s not a word that I particularly like either. I love England and have plenty of friends and family there. This referendum isn’t about Braveheart, chest-beating, Alex Salmond (for the record, I’d vote Green in an independent Scotland, not SNP) or wanting to get away from England. It’s simply about a country wanting to govern itself and I can’t imagine going to the polling station with that thought it mind and putting a cross in the ‘No’ box.

I’m not going to go into figures because they’re all out there for those who want to find them. I believe that Scotland can be a prosperous independent country. We have 20% of Europe’s fish stock, 25% of Europe’s renewable energy and 60% of Europe’s oil, to name but a few things. There’s absolutely no reason that we can’t proper. It’s NORMAL for countries to govern themselves and we’re more than capable of doing so.

We have the chance to make history on September 18th. We’ll never see anything like this again in our lifetime and I hope that both yes and no voters alike cast their vote without allowing a corrupt media or any big, greedy business to interfere with this very real democracy.

Yes, independence is scary (it’s supposed to be!) and it won’t be easy. The ‘No’ campaign like to talk about uncertainties, but there’s as much uncertainty involved with a ‘No’ vote, more Governments we don’t want and possibly being taken out of the EU in 2017, despite how Scotland votes on the matter. It’s not a magic gateway to an immediate utopian bliss, but it IS the chance for us to unleash Scotland’s full potential and create a better place to live for us and future generations.

Scotland’s ready to make history. It’s ready for change. Let’s not be the first country to ever reject its own independence. Vote ‘YES’ on September 18th.

THE UNDECIDED VOTER – ALISON blogger (@hungrysquirrels)

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So tomorrow is a big day for of those of us living in Scotland – the day of the Independence Referendum is almost upon us…

It is time to decide Should Scotland be an independent country?

At this point I am undecided as to which way to vote.

If I am entirely honest I have probably leaned towards a Yes vote for most of the build up to this Referendum. However, as the big decision day has drawn closer, I have started to have second thoughts. The magnitude of this decision has been weighing heavily on me over the last few weeks. As a Mum to an 18 month old with another baby on the way in February, and having just bought a new house with a mortgage, I cannot help but feel apprehensive and unsure about the financial impacts that independence may bring. A lot of the Yes-voting commentators have been accusing the No-voters of scare-mongering and spreading fear, yet I feel it is important and healthy to be aware of the potential hardships that we may have to live through if the country votes Yes to independence.

In my heart, I would love for Scotland to be an independent country, for Scots to decide what is best for the Scottish people, and to come together to celebrate independence.

Most of the recent opinion polls have shown a very close result with a small gap between the Yes and No camps. In contrast, when Norway voted for independence following a referendum in 1905, 99.95% voted for independence! Only 184 Norwegians voted no. I can only imagine how positive the country must have felt after choosing independence for their country, when the vast majority of the population is in agreement. I have to admit that I am slightly nervous about the repercussions of a close split in the Scottish Independence Referendum. I cannot help but feel that instead of bringing us together as a country with a common goal, this referendum could potentially be very divisive!

I can only hope that whatever decision the nation comes to we all embrace it, and unify to provide the best future possible for our children!

For me now, time to be brave and make a decision on what I feel is best for our future in Scotland!

FOR THE NO VOTE – JENNIFER

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Hello folks. I am Jennifer, a (reasonably) yummy mummy from Glasgow and I’ve been asked by the wonderful Glasgowdragonfly to say a few words on why I’m voting no in the Scottish referendum. I have lived in Scotland for most of my life and around other parts of the UK, because of this I have always referred to myself as British rather than Scottish and I am proud to be part of the UK as a whole.

What became very apparent to me growing up in England was the fondness that was felt for Scotland and the lack of understanding of this North of the border, where people were genuinely surprised to hear that they were thought of so highly down south. I also felt really welcomed in England, but on return to Scotland found often upsetting negative views of England and its people. It is this divisiveness and narrowness of thought that has caused the people of Scotland to feel unloved in the Union and there are many in which this feeling has turned to resentment.

My family has influenced me strongly in that I have always been encouraged to view people as people, not as a nation or stereotype or as the sum of their political views. My Granny has been as strong defender of the union and all it stands for, having fought in World War Two for the defence of the UK and against a Nazi movement which used strong, nationalist ideas of the “Fatherland” to further its cause. Despite this, my Granny has always been careful to emphasise the fact the it was not a war against the German people, but against the Nazi regime and that people are people who want the same basic things, wherever you go: a safe place to live and bring up their family and work that puts food on the table.

I must stress, I am not comparing the SNP and the Nationalist movement to the Nazi regime, but rather emphasizing the importance of not creating more division, more borders less understanding and less cohesiveness in an already war hungry world. So, it is with a view to reaching out to our English, Welsh and Northern Irish friends and beyond that I shall be voting no tomorrow.

FOR THE YES VOTE – GEMMA (@gemch)

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OK, I have to mention first that I am not one of these crazy patriotic haggis eating, kilt wearing, thistle growing, William Wallace lovers shouting ‘FREEDOM’ at every opportunity. I live in Glasgow, having been brought up in nearby Port Glasgow, I love to travel and my main focus in life is saving and planning to get out of here. I love my British passport, my best 3 years were spent at University in the South of England and my favourite place in Glasgow is the departure lounge in the airport.

I am not an SNP supporter nor a fan of Alex Salmond. I remember back in January seeing Salmond’s smug face announcing that there would be a referendum in the Autumn of 2014 and to me, at the time, this sounded like a terrible idea. Why leave a successful, prosperous union and go it alone as a tiny wee county?

Admittedly, I didn’t think too much about it over most of 2012/13. It was being talked about more but still not as much as The X Factor or Kim Kardashian’s arse etc. But something changed in January of this year, people were asking questions, posting statements online and adding little YES stickers onto their Facebook profiles! What was going on? It was time to investigate.

First I had to remind myself what the referendum was about. We would be asked ‘Should Scotland be an Independent Country?’ There would be two options: YES or NO. This was NOT a vote for the SNP or against the Conservatives, it was to ask a question, an awfully big, important, history changing question.

There were and are lots of scare stories and big promises flying around. Who to believe? Luckily for me, I have always been aware of the control the media has over how we perceive things and so I drew my research from various sources. Official government papers, interviews from the big people of Scotland, facts and figures from both sides of the campaign.

I don’t want to be a Conservative party basher here – I am in no way a Tory supporter and know first hand how Thatcher managed to destroy the livliehood of many a Scottish town – but history shows us that the current UK regime are not in touch with the average Joe. The poor continue to get poorer, the rich get richer and I feel that can only get worse. Despite devolution, we are still under control of a government we did not vote for and early indications show they are in line to win the next election with the possibility of a coalition with UKIP. I know this is not what my country – Scotland – wants.

I am voting YES because I feel my little country can stand on its own two feet and do it well. We will have more opportunities, more fairness, people living and working in Scotland will make the best decisions for us. We can finally get rid of Trident (nuclear submarine) and stop funding the streets that are paved with gold in London. For me, above everything, this referendum is all about democracy.

For once our vote can actually count, the needs of the Scottish people will be put first and, NO HOUSE OF LORDS!!!!!

No-one has a crystal ball, nothing is ever guaranteed and I am pretty sure there will be pretty of hiccups along the way but a YES vote for Scottish independence worth it for our future.

FINAL NOTE FROM GLASGOWDRAGONFLY

A huge thank you to all the awesome contributors for their compelling and thought provoking stances.  Tomorrow we will vote.  Friday we will learn who emerges victorious.  Will I be celebrating or crying into my dram on Friday night….?

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12 thoughts on “Scottish Referendum: Maybes Aye; Maybes Naw

  1. Like you I cannot wait for this to be over. I have even came off of Facebook as I was so fed up of seeing so much of it on my newsfeed. Everyone is entitled to their opinion whether it’s a yes vote or a no vote but I’ve seen people being quite abusive towards other people just because of their differing opinion and that’s not right! One Yes voter’s comment that has stuck with me was “if it goes to a no vote then we should be embarrassed to sing “Flower of Scotland” as everyone will laugh at us as we got the chance to run our own country but we never took it!” I mean really?! And also if you vote no then you aren’t Scottish. It has really got my back up & like you I will either be celebrating or commiserating with a dram on Friday 😊! Cheers 🍻

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    • Yes, It’s been an interesting couple of weeks! I was in a place where I wanted to take a total social media black out about a week ago but I just couldn’t resist sticking about to watch history unfold. Irrespective of vote, it all just goes to show how passionate, engaged and vocal we Scots become when the cause is right. It’s just a shame it’s such a close call!

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  2. It’s been fascinatingly weird to be watching this all unfold from afar. As part of the Scots diaspora, I obviously don’t get to vote (I actually don’t get to vote anywhere now) but I’m passionately political so I’ve watched the campaigns with keen interest. It’s amazing how close it is. Whatever the outcome tomorrow (or rather Friday when it’s announced) I think Scotland should be proud of extending the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds and for engaging so many in political debate. I would love for there to be an exceptionally high turn out too. It’s very bizarre to have my country deciding on something so massive without me. I will be waiting on tenterhooks for the result.

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    • Absolutely agree re 16 & 17 year olds. It’s their future after all! Apparently, 97% of the population have registered – the highest ever on electoral record – so hopefully all will vote. The opinion polls are so close to call, I’m kinda hoping that anyone genuinely still undecided considers abstention as it’s too narrow a margin to toss a coin in our future. Right. I’m off out to vote now…. 😉

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  3. As a sometimes dreaded American, I was interested in the vote not because it affected me but because it was amazing to see a nation come together. It didn’t matter which way the vote went, it was about standing as a nation and making the most important decision of your lives. I know that my belated opinion means little, to nothing but know that someone out there respects what the Scottish people did and the courage it took to stand together.
    However, a small part of me wanted to see Scotland’s people stand together and become their own nation, because of all the countless lives that were lost fighting for freedom in centuries past. How awesome would that have been to see?
    Good luck in the future and don’t forget to keep fighting, for what you believe in.
    Great post!

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  4. Reblogged this on Glasgowdragonfly's Blog and commented:

    Scotland’s alleged “once in a generation” vote on independence happened one year ago today. And doesn’t our time and circumstance fly?

    The night after this post was originally published, a nervous nation stayed up to watch the results come in live on TV.

    For the benefit of those of you living on Mars, the outcome of this vote was that Scotland decided with a 55% to 45% majority that we didn’t want to break away from the rest of the United Kingdom to become an independent country.

    This came as a huge shock to most of us I think – but especially to “the 45” who went on to break the Internet with their collective disappointment.

    Hearts were ripped out that day and tossed aside on the street to wither.

    It really was a painful time to be Scottish, irrespective of inclination.

    International commentators and expats couldn’t fathom the negative outcome either. More than slightly condescending comparisons to Braveheart the movie were drawn. I’m afraid I can’t explain it either, other than to say that it was a far more complex decision making process than it perhaps seemed from the outside looking in.

    In fact, I know of lifelong friends who still don’t speak to each other thanks to the post-referendum vitriol.

    In particular light of current climes in Europe though, I sometimes wonder if undemocratic, war torn nations laugh at Scotland’s western sensitivities and accusations of oppression and the hands of the English.

    I mean, I actually saw two fully-grown men in suits grappling outside a deli one day in Glasgow over which way to vote; meanwhile, but five hours in a plane away, thousands are being exterminated by ISIS for daring to leave their houses.

    By our comparative cotton wool standards, I found the uncertainty around the referendum quite stressful. There weren’t always facts and figures to back up “Yes” camp claims. But then I did come at it from the somewhat fortunate position of owning property and having some modest savings to lose.

    And on this day in 2014, I certainly had my eyes opened about how those who shout the loudest aren’t and wont always win over the majority.

    How votes are never won over by being disrespectful towards the opposition’s views.

    And perhaps most pertinently that:

    Scotland extends far and wide beyond the Glasgow’s city limits, each region with its own differing needs, wants and motivations.

    The central belt urbanites really need to try and understand this about our country’s diverse identity if hearts and minds are to have any hope of being won over in the future.

    Yet, I still see a degree of wilful arrogance and ignorance coming from these quarters.

    And where are we now in terms of our politics?

    Europe, let alone the UK is in a mess – our views have never been so polarised.

    Over the last year, English nationalism has increased, largely thanks to our referendum promoting UK separatism. This in turn has fuelled the Scottish National party to start banging on the jungle drums again, now claiming that it might not just have been a “once in a generation” independence vote after all. Wales and Northern Ireland, of course, have their own agendas too.

    It feels exhausting and I’m not altogether sure when the politicians are actually finding time to get their day jobs done.

    But when would the timing be right to go for it again? If at all?

    The once buoyant global oil price crashed not long after we voted “No” heralding the loss of 66,000 Scottish jobs (both directly and indirectly) as a result.

    Gambling on our futures like this feels uncomfortable. We would have lost our banks on that bet alone.

    But is it really as stressful as it seems? Or is it just that pesky persistent shouting from the sidelines again?

    It seems to me that the one common factor between all these competing megaphones is the sense of entitlement that citizens of this united and divided county believe is theirs as a given right.

    Yes, there are some things reserved only for the law and elected policy makers to fix.

    But let’s stop sitting around waiting and start to take some personal responsibility into our own hands to fix things to match the economic reality of this country. We’ve seen this working brilliantly in practice through the community collectives that have sprung up this last few weeks over Syrian refugees when the UK Government’s response was felt to be falling short.

    Afterall, there’s nothing revolutionary about donating a couple of cans here and there to a food bank, outgrown clothes to a refugee convoy, or time to an elderly neighbour, is there? It also feels good to be a part of something positive.

    The other thing that all Scots have in common is that we all love our country, hence the passion generated over this referendum.

    Rather than getting endlessly hung up on the “us and them,” there is plenty we can all do to help the collective effort to eradicate the very worst extremes of poverty and suffering without reducing every single perceived failure of the establishment to the blame game of political debate.

    We won’t and can’t solve it alone, but we can choose to step-up if our elected Governments’ don’t.

    Without good citizenship, and in continuing to perpetrate a culture of envy rather than hope, I believe that we will only serve to pass on to our children worse than we have inherited.

    Stuff the politicians.

    Your country (UK, Scotland, either, both) really needs you!

    So who is with me?

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