So yeah, there’s a Yes sticker in the back of my car

I’m not particularly political, I’m not a dyed in the wool nationalist and I’m not the kind of person who goes for bumper stickers. And yet I put this in the back window of my car:


Yes, it’s the independence referendum, possibly the most terrifying thing to happen in Scotland since The Krankies came out as swingers.

Like many Scots, I’m neither a Saltire-swirling SNP supporter nor a Union Jack-saluting unionist. I was born here but my family is English, Irish and Welsh; I see myself as a Scottish Brit, a British Scot, that guy with the weird accent.

Maybe the accent is why some people have been surprised that I’m in the Yes camp, or maybe it’s because I’m so middle-class I’m bordering on cliche.

One of the most worrying reactions to the sticker, though, is this: “I hope you don’t get your window panned in.” It isn’t impossible: there’s a level of anger around some parts of the debate that’s really quite frightening and some car windows have indeed been panned in (albeit not many, and only cars parked near big football matches).

A caller to Radio Scotland put it very well this morning: “There’s much more heat than light”. There are very vocal and very angry people on both sides, with unionists shouting down the nationalists, nationalists shouting down the unionists, and both sides demanding silence or boycotts for anyone expressing an opinion they disapprove of. The official campaigns spout absolute bollocks – overly optimistic bollocks on the Yes side and made-up negative bollocks on the No side – and televised debates become pointless shouting matches.

The media doesn’t help. Traditional media is largely unionist. It characterises anything vaguely negative as a personal blow for Alex Salmond, as if the whole independence campaign is about making him the first King Eck of Scotland. It plays down any positive news for the Yes campaign, consistently smears pro-Yes campaigners as online abusers, repeats every gormless anti-Yes utterance by sun-baked tax exiles who haven’t lived here since the 1970s and seems unwilling or unable to compare the current crop of scare stories with the ones we were fed before the last devolution referendum and the one before that.

Online media is largely pro-independent, often smug, and frequently characterises the Union as entirely Tory – or it runs apparently serious pieces about how we’re being oppressed by the BBC’s 3D weather maps (although there are exceptions, such as Rev Stuart Campbell’s gleefully partisan and scrupulously documented Wings Over Scotland. You might disagree with the Rev’s conclusions, but at least he backs his arguments up with evidence).

It’s all noise, and it’s drowning out what the referendum is really about.

If we let this get party political – if we let it become Alex Salmond vs George Osborne, if Yes becomes synonymous with the SNP and No the Tories – then we’ll lose sight of the big picture. If we do that we might make a long term decision based on things that really won’t matter in the long term. Fifty years on, who’ll care what anyone thought of Nicola Sturgeon or Alastair Darling?

The referendum isn’t about who gets in in the next election. It’s how we elect – and get rid of – the next lot, and the lot after that, and the lot after that.

September’s vote isn’t about which political party you prefer. It’s about how we keep the bastards honest.  Those bastards might be SNP, or Labour, or Green, or Conservative. It doesn’t matter. We’re being asked to choose a system, not a party.

One of the most dangerous ideas that’s gained currency – and it’s an idea that the No campaign is really pushing – is the idea that a Yes vote is a vote for the SNP. It isn’t. Independence could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to Labour in Scotland, to the Greens, even to the Conservative party: a reborn Scottish Conservative party, one that has more in common with the long tradition of small-c conservatism than the UK party, could one day have more MPs than Scotland has pandas.

I’m voting Yes because I believe that the current electoral system is broken, too weighted towards London.

The UK is largely governed by, and governed for, the South-East of England – a part of the country that’s economically, socially and politically different to Scotland. That part of the country has one third of the UK population while Scotland has less than one tenth, so it doesn’t really matter who we vote for or against: it’s the South-East that decides who gets in.

You can demonstrate the problem with just one of Tony Benn’s famous questions for politicians: How do we get rid of you?

For Scotland, the answer is that we can’t.  If we believe that the party  or coalition in power isn’t acting in our best interests, we’re powerless to change it. We have to wait until they piss off the rest of the UK and the South-East in particular.

We voted identically in the last two general elections, with completely different results (with some irony the same Alex Salmond who’s often compared to a dictator by the media is the only party leader with a mandate here: his government won a majority, unlike the Conservatives and Lib Dems). The results were different in the last election because England voted differently.

Hence Yes: I believe that if Scotland is its own country, it’ll have a more representative democracy. We can answer Tony Benn’s question by pointing to the ballot box: if we elect a bunch of numpties we can boot them out without having to persuade millions of people in England first.  We simply don’t have that power under the current arrangement.

That’s what we need to think about, and it’d be helpful if everybody stopped shouting.

Writing on Bella Caledonia, David Greig makes some good points:

1) There are reasonable arguments for both sides. Most Yes voters have their private doubts as do No voters. The fruitful debate emerges when we share those doubts, not when we pretend to certainty.

2) Try to stay future focused. We can’t ignore the past but lets not dwell on it. This is the 21st century. Surely on behalf of our children surely we can imagine what might be best for them, and not get bogged down in a hundred quid in tax here or there, or whatever economic argument happens to suit your side politically right now.

3) Whichever way this vote goes it’s going to be close and we’re all going to have to live together in the same country afterwards. It will do no good if this debate is characterised by contempt or name calling. There’s no value in building up a new us and them, or fomenting new grudges. If either side feels defeated or humiliated in 2014 we will all be storing up serious trouble for the future.

I particularly agree with this bit:

The things which matter to me – a sustainable future for my kids; a compassionate political system, the best education, health and economic opportunity for every citizen, imaginative and flexible policy-making, stronger communities, progressive tax… It seems to me that all these things are much more likely to be realised in an independent Scotland than they are within the United Kingdom as it currently stands.

But if the Unionists can put forward a more positive proposal I’m genuinely open to changing my mind.

Here’s hoping we can work it all out without any more windows getting panned in. Especially mine.






0 responses to “So yeah, there’s a Yes sticker in the back of my car”

  1. Big T Bone

    Really enjoyed your piece, it is exactly how I feel, right down to the conservatives having a part to play (I could never see myself voting for them, but never say never) and even being open to debate and persuasion. That one would be tricky, as my Yesness is getting firmer by the day. The great thing about this whole process has been the political engagement, even of the previously disenfranchised. Thanks.

  2. Ali Napier

    Great article, everyone I know who has read it agrees you’ve nailed the issue perfectly, in language that everyone can understand – no mean feat.

  3. Excellent piece, enjoyed with a freshly brewed cup of Java. I’m a believer in the 21st century mantra of “If it ain’t broke – improve it”, but you’re right. It’s broke. And we CAN fix it.

    AND having been led here from Bookface, I bought “Coffin Dodgers” (Kindle Edition). So there!

  4. James Stewart

    Thoroughly enjoyed the article. My father was Irish and my mother was German. I am a proud Yorkshireman. I don’t identify and never have identified with South East English politics. My wife and I have responsibility for our children’s future. We see that future in an independent Scotland. The two party dictatorship in England is not my or my families future. I firmly believe we have real chance to change the political landscape for the good of everyone not just a few. I can’t see that with Lib/Lab/Cons. I will definitely be voting yes for independence, then I will see who I identify with with most in independent Scotland to take us forward at Scotland’s 1st independent general election.

  5. Gary

    Hi T Bone, thanks for your comment. I agree about the engagement – it’s a really positive thing, and it’s great to see enthusiasm over apathy.

  6. Gary

    Thanks Ali, that’s very kind of you.

  7. Gary

    Haha – John, you’re my kind of blog reader :)

  8. Gary

    Hi James, it’s nice to hear from you. That’s pretty much my take on it too – as a parent I’m trying to take a long term view over immediate self-interest. I don’t believe an indy Scotland would be some kind of utopia and I’m sure we’d get off to a bumpy start, but so far I’ve been persuaded that my kids would have a better future if we did our own thing. That’s assuming our post-indy politicians don’t screw it up, of course :)

  9. Of course vote yes. and the Welsh, offered a referendum should vote yes also. Then, using the same process, let’s bring back the old kingdom of Northumbria. Of course Yorkshire will want to split away too so we’ll have Northumberland, Cumberland (Forget Cumbria), Lankashire, Durham and Yorkshire. Next let’s bring back the old district councils and then parish councils. We’ll make those independent. Why not a village council and a street council. I don’t live on a street so I want my cottage to be independent! What we need is a touch of anarchy.

    Do I jest? Not in the slightest. With today’s technology we really don’t need a parliament down in London other than a possible training camp for comedians. Let’s keep the politicians at home – they can represent the people who elected them rather than a party and meet by video-conferencing.

  10. CdrJameson

    At least Scotland is offered a chance to break away from London.
    No such luck in the regions of England.

  11. And what do you propose to do about that, Cdr Jameson?
    You have identified the problem, so now would be as good a time as any for you and all those good, like-minded Englishmen and women to start brewing up practical solutions.
    This Scotsman has every faith in you and wishes you well.
    I sincerely hope that in six months we’ll be in a position to offer some useful pointers to you. :-)

  12. I broadly agree, so here are the bits I disagree with.

    Firstly, yes, the Scots’ votes do make a difference in UK elections. As has been noted many times, one effect of Scottish independence will probably be that the Tories will win more general elections by larger margins — certainly they would have over the last century if it weren’t for the Scottish vote. That may not be as much power to change the government as you’d like, but it’s far from powerless.

    Secondly, by its very nature, this debate was always going to be unbalanced between the two sides. Of course the No campaign are very negative: they simply don’t have to make the positive case, because it’s the status quo, so everyone can look around and see it for themselves. This is a debate about a hypothetical situation, so the only two positions are optimism and pessimism. That’s not to say that the No campaign have been entirely reasonable about everything they’ve said (ha!), but I see a lot of criticism aimed at them that they’re entirely negative. Well, yes, obviously.

    Finally, though (as you know) I agree that this is a long-term decision and considerations of contemporary politics and politicians simply shouldn’t come into it, I am increasingly worried about the period between a Yes vote and the first general election, during which people in the right positions of influence will be able to exert power and control over the shaping of the Scottish constitution, thus influencing the parameters under which all future Scottish governments will be elected. Salmond and Sturgeon have demonstrated, I think, that they are the last people anyone sane should let within a mile of that process. If you get a Yes vote, you need to get them the hell out of the way as quickly as possible. And that’s never going to happen.

  13. Duncan Fraser

    Well said!

    I hope nobody gets their windows panned in.

  14. Damienneimad

    Your argument seems somewhat contradictory at points. Firstly, the idea that you are voting for an ideal rather than a party is something I wholeheartedly agree with. However, to suggest that independence could be beneficial to any other party is redundant when you highlight that Scotland has voted almost identically in the last two general elections.Much of England’s constituencies are Labour v Tories whilst Scotland is a divided region again much of it coming down to Labour v SNP with if course much of the north leaning towards the lib dems, but let’s be honest, lib dem don’t have much of a future after the effects of the coalition. Ultimately, for the foreseeable future, scotland would be run by SNP and England Tory. To simplify, if you had voted conservative in the last general election, you would have no problem with “London” running things the way they are. Remember that the United Kingdom is one place. People in Newcastle closer to those in Edinburgh than they do London. Do we really want to turn our back on our neighbours who probably share very similar views to us? No. Finally, I find it incredible that people suggest the No campaign should be more positive. Surely it’s self explanatory. We live the way we do, the yes campaign must convince us to change. With their current campaign, I am happy at home.

  15. Andy-Laa

    Please do vote for independence. That way, England and Wales can stop supporting you and you can sort your own shit out and get your politicians out of our parliament.

  16. NH

    Always good to read a well thought out and articulated intellectual piece such as this…

  17. Gary

    Oh, Andy. Still, we’re doing okay if this is all the trolling we get out of nearly 8,000 people who’ve read this so far – which is pretty amazing when I only really wrote this for the handful of people who usually read this.

  18. Gary

    Hi Damien, thanks for your comment. I think you’re right that in the short term at least it’d be SNP up here and Conservatives down there, but I do think that in the longer term that would change. Not having first past the post opens things up for other parties – the greens and smaller socialist parties, for example – and by existing as purely scottish parties our labour, lib dems and the conservatives could reinvent themselves. That doesn’t mean I think a scots Tory government is likely, but if voting was liberated from the “anybody but the Tories” mindset things might get interesting.

    I’m not usually this optimistic, btw :)

  19. Gary

    Hey, Jo.

    I think our MPs’ importance – electorally, not in pushing unpopular laws through under labour – has been overstated a bit. Wings did a good analysis of the numbers:

    I agree that the nos just need to persuade us that going solo will be a disaster, or at least worse, but I do think seeing the status quo as positive is a tactical mistake. It’s very easy to characterise the status quo as negative, whether that’s bedroom tax, UKIP-fuelled policy making or what’s happening to the NHS in England and Wales. Stick with us and get more of this sounds like a threat in that light :)

    You’re right about the post-vote period. Hopefully the current political engagement – we’ve had record voter registrations, and I don’t recall this much grass roots political activity happening before – doesn’t fade too quickly.

  20. Scott

    good piece, I’m in agreement, it purely about representation for me, feel like I have zero control being under Westminster. could still change my mind.

  21. DB

    Nicely weighted article.
    I would go further than your assertion that the current electoral system is ‘London weighted.’
    It has occurred to me – even before the referendum debate started – that the city of London / Westminster isn’t really part of the UK. In truth, it has become – or perhaps always was – a Principality (rather like Monaco) which serves only a Political, Corporate, Banking and Royal elite; by this I don’t mean any shadowy conspiracy but rather what author Daniel Estulin refers to as ‘a systemic aristocracy of purpose.’
    Yes, of course we – the subjects – receive some benefits and protection. But, in return we are there to serve by way of providing land, labour, tax and natural resources – a modern day tribune if you like.
    For me this is what the whole debate boils down to: do we want to continue to legitimise such a corrupt system OR do we want at least a chance of something different (imperfect though that will surely turn out to be)
    This is not a clear cut separatist Scotland V England issue. It is far greater than that. It’s about sowing the seeds of destruction for a system that does not serve the people that give it legitimacy.
    There are many people in England , N.I. and Wales that should see a Yes vote as a positive thing that might open up new possibilities for them. We shall see.

  22. will ross

    Yay: freedom for the royal county of Berkshire!

  23. mupwangle

    Berkshire is very oppressed.

  24. Chris Simpson

    What a breath of fresh air.
    I may not agree with you on everything but that’s largely irrelevant as I don’t have a vote.
    My fervent hope is that you can all make a choice about a system you want and fight for that inside our outwith the union -your call.
    Whatever you decide most of us in England will find the positive in whatever outcome and demonstrate the pragmatism we are famous for in our glorious mongrel dog of a country.
    Good luck with your choice and safety for your car windies :)

  25. Lancastrian

    Well said!

  26. Lancastrian

    Forgive the two pence here, but I’d really like to point out that the Yes campaign is making progress because they’re out here, on the ground and campaigning. The area I live in is canvassed nearly every weekend by people in Yes uniforms, handing out literature about how brilliant things will be under independence. I have yet to see anything specific from the UK government – or see a single campaigner. I

  27. Lancastrian

    That last comment was sent too fast!

    As I was saying before interrupted: it really seems like the No campaign isn’t engaging in this process at all – at least not at a local level – there’s lots of carpet bombing coverage on the media, and some attempts to make light of the situation – look at the April Fools stories this year. This suggests to me that either the No Campaign is so certain that they will win the Independence referendum they don’t think they need to do anything; or that they just don’t rate it at all.

    Either way, it is a sad situation and I would have thought the No campaign would have been more active in trying to get its message across. In my eyes it almost seems like they want to lose.

    Just my 2p worth.

  28. Gary

    Hi DB. Yes, I know what you mean about the elite, and I’ve seen it suggested in various places that London should declare independence from the rest of the uk. I think you’re right, I think a yes vote here will inevitably lead to more cracks, maybe more devolved power to the non-London bits.

  29. Gary

    Hi Lancastrian. Yes, I think you’re right, the grass roots door knocking and public meetings all appear to be coming from Yes campaigners (with Nos often refusing to take part in debates). The difference between that and BT – almost entirely campaigning through traditional media – can’t be accidental.

    I wonder just how cynical it is. Have they decided not to knock doors in Easterhouse because poor people generally don’t vote, but Mail-reading Bearsden pensioners do? If so the grassroots stuff Yes is doing could really end up biting BT in the arse.

    I don’t think this’ll be won by newspapers or TV programmes. I think if yes wins, it’ll be because of people talking to one another online, at work, in pubs. The hardcore on either side have already made up their minds, but the don’t knows need more engagement than Alastair Darling jumping out of wardrobes shouting “booga booga”. That’s what the grassroots stuff offers, I think.

    > In my eyes it almost seems like they want to lose.

    Funny you should say that. There’s a conspiracy theory doing the rounds claiming just that :)

  30. Gary

    Hi Chris. I’m sure if it all works out you’d be more than welcome up here :)

  31. Gary

    Me too. If the yes campaign goes mental between now and September, it’s stickers aff ;)

  32. Gary

    Hi John. In my early days of writing about the net there were quite a few people predicting that one day, we’d have online referendums on every single parliamentary vote. I wonder how that would work: would we become an engaged and informed populace, voting in huge numbers, or would all our laws end up being decided by the same three guys and the odd twitter lynch mob? My money’s on the latter :)

  33. Gary N

    You mentioned you particularly agreed with this above:
    “The things which matter to me – a sustainable future for my kids; a compassionate political system, the best education, health and economic opportunity for every citizen, imaginative and flexible policy-making, stronger communities, progressive tax… It seems to me that all these things are much more likely to be realised in an independent Scotland than they are within the United Kingdom as it currently stands.”

    Well, it seems to me that a unionist vote is more certain to continue to the sustainable future for my kids as brain drain is already happening due to fear of independence.
    An independent Scottish political system would no doubt be passionate but I’m doubtful about compassionate simply on the basis of my experoence of piliticians in general.
    We already have excellent education. Why risk this being eroded? , etc etc.

  34. LW

    This makes me wonder if we could move the border south a bit and inch Newcastle into Scotland (as a born & bred Englishwoman I never thought I’d be saying that). First piece of sensible writing I’ve seen on the subject.

  35. Bryan

    “Our votes didn’t count”.

    Yes they did. They returned MPs. It’s easy to throw around the line that ‘the UK is governed for the South East’ – what does that actually mean? There are swathes of blue across the North of England and the North of Scotland is dominated by the Lib Dems (you know, the other party in the COALITION government we have).

    Now I agree that our electoral system needs to be reformed. It needs to be reformed not because the geographical area of ‘Scotland’ is hard-done-by (it has its own parliament to largely balance out the demise of Tory – not right-wing – Scotland) but because it essentially disenfranchises huge swathes of people across the entire UK. First Past the Post is a big problem. The Royal Prerogative is a big problem. The Lords is a big problem. People across the UK think this. I prefer to stand with them in working to change this than indulge in this ‘poor Scotland, we cower beneath the yoke of undemocratic English rule’ rubbish which is just embarrassing.

  36. Gary

    Hi Gary, thanks for your comment. I’m sure you’re right about politicians’ lack of compassion :)

    Brain drain is actually one of the reasons I think we might be better alone: we have a huge demographic time bomb looming due to our ageing population, and the answer to it – immigration and lots of it – is at odds with the current direction of UK policy.

    I agree with you about our excellent education, but again I see that as a check in favour of independence: it’s better because we haven’t let Westminster wreck it, and the same applies to our NHS – it’s flawed, but it’s nothing like the horror show it is elsewhere in the uk. If the reason things are better here is because Westminster isn’t involved, surely that’s an argument in favour of more autonomy?

    The worry I have over the status quo is that it won’t remain for long. There are serious noises down South about cutting our block grant, and if the no campaign and its newspaper pals continue to describe us as subsidy junkies and scroungers – as the telegraph did this week – then those noises will grow more serious. The coalition is already using very careful wording around the Barnett formula: it’s always “no plans to change”, not “we won’t change it”. It Westminster were minded to destroy the SNP after a No vote, giving more tax raising powers with one hand and cutting Barnett with the other would be a pretty effective way to do it.

    I may be wearing a tinfoil hat on that one :)

  37. will ross

    I think you mean royal Berkshire?

    Royal Berks. if you prefer.

  38. Gary

    Hi Bryan. Given that the lib dems buggered up the chance of electoral reform for a generation, how exactly is the electoral system going to change?

  39. Gary

    Apologies in advance, everyone: I’ll be closing comments temporarily from late Friday because I’m away for a family holiday. If my wife found me sneaking online I suspect she’d declare independence from me :)

  40. A Non

    “You can demonstrate the problem with just one of Tony Benn’s famous questions for politicians: How do we get rid of you?”

    Interesting question but Scotland’s list system means that it is almost certain that at least 1 MSP from each of the four main parties will be elected in each of the 8 regions simply because they happen to be top of their party’s list. That’s at least 32 (almost 25%) you can’t get rid of – even if you wanted to.

  41. Gary

    That’s a really good point.

  42. I’m interested in your assertion that “brain drain is already happening due to fear of independence”. Do you have any references for this?

  43. Calum

    Firstly I congratulate you on an refreshingly honest view on the debate of Scottish independance. It’s nice to hear someone express themselves without the usual hyperbole and hiding behind big scary “facts”.
    One thing though, you say that “Scotland voted identically in the last two elections but got completely different results”. Surely if everyone voted the same they would be represented by the same constituents as the previous year. Whether you are arguing for electoral reform or not you must realise that your vote is not for the leader of our country but for your “local” politician. The outcome of the general election is not down to any one particular constituency, nor a group of, as you suggest by claiming the south east of England has some kind of over representation.
    As a English born, Scottish raised, London resident I am intrigued and still slighty undecided by the notion of Scottish independance and throughly enjoyed your article.

  44. LAW

    What’s your thoughts on the fact that Edinburgh to Scotland will end up like London is to the Uk. In any country the money will be spent nearer to the power base. How will the minorities in the Highlands and Islands affect the mass voting in the central belt. And are they assured of investment in their roads and infrastructure?

  45. That would be a concern of mine, too (and I speak as one of the Edinbourgeoisie).

    Personally I think land reform is a precursor to decent representation for the Highlands and Islands. Are changes here more likely to be enacted by Holyrood than Westminster? I believe so, if for no other reason than that we have a more proportional electoral system.

  46. Gary

    Hi LAW. To be honest I haven’t a clue, but I’d imagine that the more local the democracy you have the more likely minority voices would be heard – not just geographic minorities but political ones too, for better and worse. Certainly you’ve more chance of discussing dualling the A9 in the Scots parliament than in Westminster, and the greens have a profile here they don’t have down south.

    I think you’re right, Edinburgh would become more like London – and I suspect that would ultimately mean all the cronyism, lobbying and corruption that goes with political power. I’d like to think our press is up to the job of investigating and exposing that.

  47. Islander

    The Scottish Parliament have long dragged their feet on land reform and action is now being taken from WM.

    The geography is also a red herring – I feel no comfort in the prospect of decisions being taken in Edinburgh, from a (current government) focused on centralisation of power within a single-tier parliament.

    I also agree with the poster who pointed out the non-elected ‘list’ MSP’s.

  48. Gary

    Hi Calum. Sorry, I didn’t word that bit of the post very well: what I meant was that while Scots voted almost identically both times, the party that ended up in power nationally was different.

    I agree that we should vote purely for local representation, but I don’t think we do: at a local level there’s often very little difference between, say, a labour and a conservative politician, but the policies of their parties can be very different. If you were massively opposed to a party’s economic policy, or its social policies, would you overlook that because your local candidate was quite good?

    > you suggest by claiming the south east of England has some kind of over representation.

    No, I don’t think it’s over representation; it’s just that the south-east of England is where most of the people are. In 2011 we had about 5 million people in the whole of Scotland; London alone had 8 million. The south east has roughly one-third of the whole UK population; we’ve got less than a tenth. That obviously has a huge impact on politics and spending priorities.

  49. Andy

    To expand, I feel there is far less chance of representation for minority groups (e.g. islanders) under any Westminster government. Governments will always be biased towards population centres, but there are issues which affect all of us collectively. The devil we do currently know, imho, is far worse than the ones we don’t, and at least an independent nation would, as Gary suggests, be able to hold them accountable.

    Excellent piece Gary, and pretty much how I feel about a lot of things. As a Scot currently dividing my time between Scotland and London, the gaping (and increasing) inequality is all too plain to see. The inequality within London itself is also crazy, but that’s a story for another day. What is apparent is that Westminster’s policies suit London very well, especially the richest sector. The rest of the country – not so much.

    Interestingly, I had a discussion with a pal who works in the City recently about independence, and like most Londoners I’ve spoken to (especially in the City of London) he is dead against it. However, he stated that he thought that what the UK needed was to de-centralize government more, and make it more relevant to the regions. When I told him that was exactly why I was heading towards a YES vote, he said that it would be better for the UK as a whole to vote for that through Westminster. I reminded him that whilst London (and of course the South East is largely just a suburb for London commuters, so they count too), and specifically the City, has a business monopoly over the rest of the UK, Westminster are unlikely to do so. Scotland’s needs and wants in this regard will remain largely irrelevant, so for me the only option is a yes vote.

    As part of my due diligence, I’ve been looking into the financial side of things. Although it is difficult to place any faith in financial figures (other than the huge public spending gap which is irrefutable – London = £2730 per UK capita until 2015, North East England = £5 for the same period), it does not make for good reading for the Better Together campaign, and really just highlights how skewed the current system is to maintaining London wealth and Westminster power. But then again it’s difficult to trust anyone with predicted figures, especially since nobody truly predicted the global financial meltdown. As Gary points out, in the case of Independence we would have the power and the say to boot the offending group out, and replace them with one we collectively feel best represents everyone’s interests, something that can certainly not be said about Westminster. I still love my English friends dearly, and on a social level I see no reason for anything to change.

    It’s the lack of a fair, representative system through Westminster, and especially of accountability to us, which means I will be voting ‘yes’ in September.

  50. Islander

    Yes, I am aware of it. I’d recommend the following though

  51. Daniel

    I’m afraid I disagree. Alex Salmond has very much made this debate about him (refusing to debate with Darling but wanting to debate with Cameron). I also don’t think this is the time for indepenence, we are doing it now because it may be SNP’s only chance. Why did Salmond come back after leaving? He sees his chance to be first leader of an independent Scotland. To suggest that the Yes camp isn’t almost totally dominated by SNP and Alex Salmond is totally naive.

  52. Islander

    In my experience, islanders having a ‘voice’ at either parliament is completely dependent on the elected member. In recent years, our local community have both spoken to, and had questions raised by, our MP. He has also been more proactive in using contacts in local council to highlight issues around devolved matters which MSP bounced into long grass.

    I simply don’t think that what is being proposed, and at this time, is the solution – although I am pleased for the debate it has stirred up and believe that change will come either way.

    Someone already likened voting ‘yes’ to voting for better weather. Yes, there will be sunny days (nae midgeys!) and you can point to the bad weather we’ve been having under the current set-up, but independence cannot guarantee long, warm summers and crisp winter mornings. Yet anyone voting ‘no’ is accused of not liking the sunshine.

  53. Gary

    Hi Islander.

    > Yet anyone voting ‘no’ is accused of not liking the sunshine.

    Yeah, I’ve seen that – people on both sides refusing to accept that the other side might have a legitimate argument.

    > independence cannot guarantee long, warm summers and crisp winter mornings.

    Absolutely. But conversely, neither will it usher in typhoons, thunderstorms and hails of livestock like the other side would have you believe :)

    It’s all a bit pantomime, I think, and that’s worrying when there’s important stuff to think about. Elements of the yes campaign are floating about in clouds of sunny optimism when there are huge flaws in many of the proposals (eg today we discovered that the childcare plans are overly optimistic at best, completely divorced from reality at worst), and elements of the No campaign are fuelled by, or deliberately spouting, the most spectacular misinformation. I’d like to think we can do better than that.

  54. Gary

    > refusing to debate with Darling but wanting to debate with Cameron

    It’s politics, of course it is, but he has a point: by the same logic that Cameron’s people are using to deny a debate with Salmond, Salmond shouldn’t be debating with Darling: as the leader of the No campaign, Darling’s analogue is Blair Jenkins.

    Given that Deputy PM Nick Clegg has publicly debated Nigel Farage – the head of a party with zero MPs – not just once but twice this month, it does rather play into the Yes campaign’s hands. I completely understand why Cameron doesn’t want to do it, but it does reinforce the narrative of a faraway imperial power.

    > we are doing it now because it may be SNP’s only chance.

    You can’t fault them for that, surely? They promised for years that if they got in, they’d hold a referendum. They got in, they’re holding a referendum. If anything it’s quite refreshing to see a political party keep a promise.

  55. Gary

    Hi Andy.

    > What is apparent is that Westminster’s policies suit London very well, especially the richest sector.

    Yes, absolutely. I don’t think this can be stressed enough: leaning towards Yes doesn’t mean being anti-English or anti-London; it’s about wanting an alternative to a political system that seems overly concerned with the interests of a very narrow group of people.

    > I reminded him that whilst London (and of course the South East is largely just a suburb for London commuters, so they count too), and specifically the City, has a business monopoly over the rest of the UK, Westminster are unlikely to do so.

    That’s one of the things I find frustrating about the argument that we’re somehow betraying everybody else if we do go independent, that the right thing to do would be to stay part of the union and reform it from within. Where’s the momentum going to come from when the people with the financial and political power are quite happy with the way things are?

  56. Gary

    Thanks for your comments, everyone. As I said before I’m going away for a bit and won’t be around to moderate or reply to comments, so I’m closing the comments until I get back. Hopefully all my windows will be intact when I return :)