My father was born in Edinburgh. He has family living in Scotland and he considers himself to be Scottish, or rather ‘a Scot’ as he would put it, but, because he lives in Yorkshire, he will not be allowed to vote in the upcoming Scottish independence referendum. I was born in Blackpool and have lived in Yorkshire most of my life. I consider myself to be English, but I also went to university in Aberdeen where, for four years, I was registered as a voter. I voted in the general election of 2010 for a Scottish MP and, were I still a student, I would have a vote in the referendum, despite my obvious English-ness.
I personally have little to say on the subject of Scottish independence that hasn’t already been said by much better people than myself, but it troubles me profoundly that my father, a proud Scot, cannot vote on what is without a doubt one of the most important political issues to face his homeland in hundreds of years, while I, up until very recently, could have simply by dint of a decision I made to temporarily relocate in order to study somewhere far away from home. For all the rhetoric about this being Scotland’s decision, I cannot help but feel that there must be an awful lot of Scots living elsewhere in the UK who feel cheated by this technicality of geography, to say nothing of those in England who feel similarly ignored in the debate.
As far as the Yes campaign is concerned, the rationale behind this choice is easy to follow; Scotland wants independence and it should be decided by the people of Scotland rather than the overwhelming majority of the English. While the ‘Scottish-ness’ of these Scottish voters may be called into question, the sentiment is easy to understand. The pro-independence supporters are both vocal and motivated in the pursuit of their goal – that much is undeniable – but that doesn’t change the simple fact that, by alienating Scottish expatriates and English supporters of an independent Scotland, they have denied themselves access to potential support which, given the current state of the debate, might well have tipped the scales in their favour.
Meanwhile, the Better Together camp’s efforts to promote the continuation of the union between Scotland and the rest of the UK seem quite anaemic by comparison to those of their outspoken opponents. Consistently ridiculed by Yes leaders and accused of scare-mongering and patronising Scottish voters, despite their chosen nom de guerre the Better Together campaign’s main arguments appear to come more from an anti-independence position than a pro-union one, making the debate needlessly confrontational and serving only to fuel the anti-union sentiment of the opposition. At the same time, many in England and Wales have become completely disinterested in the issue of Scottish independence as they simply do not have a say, a fact that the Better Together argument appears to be deliberately ignoring despite the potential ramifications of a split.
The question of Scottish independence is an extremely serious one that merits a much better discussion than either side is currently offering, especially at a time when so many people have become disillusioned with British politics in general. People feel ignored and forgotten by those in power and, when less than ten percent of the population are being asked to decide on an issue that will have a serious impact on the entire UK, regardless of the outcome, it is all too easy to see why. People are all talking about the fate of Scotland when we should be talking about the fate of the United Kingdom, and we should all have a say, regardless of where we stand or where we live.
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