Aye, have a dream*

I’m loath to get into politics, but just in passing: with less than a year to go before Scotland votes on independence, one oft-repeated fallacy is really doing my head in: it’s the idea that voting for or against independence is voting for or against the SNP.

The referendum isn’t about party politics. It’s about the entire political system. An independent Scotland may well elect majority SNP governments, but it might equally elect a Labour government, or a coalition, or – and I admit, this one’s pretty unlikely – Tories.

An independent Scotland would arguably have a much more representative democracy than we do now, where we’re governed by a coalition that Scotland didn’t vote for. Devolution has softened that somewhat, but we’re still largely ruled from Westminster.

That’s what we’re being asked to vote on. We’re not being asked to decide whether we like Alex Salmond or David Cameron. We’re being asked how we want to elect their successors.

* Not my pun, I’m afraid. It was one of the placards at the weekend’s pro-independence rally.

5 thoughts on “Aye, have a dream*”

  1. > An independent Scotland may well elect majority SNP governments, but it might equally elect a Labour government, or a coalition, or – and I admit, this one’s pretty unlikely – Tories.

    It’s not unlikely at all, if you think of the timescales involved. If Scotland votes to remain in the Union, that vote will stand for probably fifty years minimum. If you vote for independence, that’s two hundred bare minimum, probably more like five hundred (ignoring the EU elephant in the room). Not only is it silly to vote in this referendum based on what you think of current political leaders, it’s equally silly to vote based on current economic conditions or world politics or the various parties’ policies or even the viability of an independent Scotland. England didn’t succeed as an independent nation because it was viable: it became independent and then bloody well made itself viable. And that’s nothing compared to the USA, an experimental nation widely expected to fold within a couple of decades at its outset. Frankly, that’s what most nations have done. Voting for independence because of what you think of the SNP or the Tories or North Sea oilfields makes no more sense than basing your vote on your opinion of the Whigs or the Jacobins or bear hunting rights.

    Of course, not one of the campaigning parties is saying that. They’re all telling you you should base your vote on policy, as if this were an election. It’s not. You should vote based on gut feeling about your own nationality and what nation-state you want to be a part of, for no better reason than your self-perceived Scottishness and/or Britishness. They’re the only issues that are going to last for centuries.

  2. > It’s not unlikely at all, if you think of the timescales involved

    That’s a good point.

    > it’s equally silly to vote based on current economic conditions or world politics or the various parties’ policies or even the viability of an independent Scotland.

    I think you have to take a lot of that into account, though, because obviously we’re not going to be around in 200 or 500 years time so the short term is a bit more relevant :)

    1. > I think you have to take a lot of that into account, though, because obviously we’re not going to be around in 200 or 500 years time so the short term is a bit more relevant

      Nope, that’s what elections are for, and the referendum isn’t happening instead of an election, it’s happening as well. So whichever way the referendum goes, you’ll continue to have elections with a short-term cycle for all your short-term political needs. The referendum is simply not about that stuff. It’s about nationality and nationhood.

  3. I think a lot more people would vote for independence if there was a pledge that an independent Scotland would exile all those responsible for Better Together’s FUD campaign. (Come to think of it, that’s actually quite an appropriate name)

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