Don’t Know 7

tumblr_l6dhzvDrrh1qzn0deo1_500By Paul Cockburn

I don’t know how I will vote on 18 September, 2014. OK, I do have a pretty strong idea which box I will cross, but I know myself too well to be 100% certain. After all, back in 2011, the choice for my second vote in the Scottish Parliamentary election faltered within the sanctuary of the voting booth. Nothing to do with their policies; it was simply that one of their over-zealous representatives had almost blocked my way inside the building while attempting to hand me a flyer.

However, the fact that I’m not sure about how I will vote is significant, if only because you might expect me to be—and, in the past, a few folk on this very site have clearly assumed I was—a confirmed and assured “No” voter. I was raised near Corstorphine, Edinburgh by parents who had both grown up during the Second World War and were definitely “British” by inclination, with their television and radio tuned loyally to the BBC—I’m not saying that W12 8QT was the first postcode I ever learned, but it was the second. Most of my schooling in the capital was in the private sector. Nowadays, I make a living (of sorts) as a freelance magazine journalist, with most of my clients based elsewhere in the UK. Given that Scotland simply doesn’t have a media big enough to support the number of journalists living here, you might well expect me to be against anything that could potentially upset my own prospects.

And yet, I almost certainly will vote Yes come 2014. Because, ultimately, whatever the difficulties I might face living in a fully self-governing Scotland (especially if I still end up writing for non-Scottish publications), I know that they’ll be chiefly “administrative”. And thus not, in themselves, reasons to continue opting for a political status quo that’s increasingly unattractive.

That said, I think it’s only honest to admit that—in the privacy of the voting booth—I could still change my mind when the time comes. That, so far, I’ve felt no innate sympathy for the Better Together campaign (and its media allies)—thanks to their repeated negativity and scaremongering, their lack of any radical new ideas—is no guarantee that I’ll forever embrace the Yes camp, especially given how the Scottish government’s pronouncements on the subject have so far veered between naive optimism and what appears to be the old “have your cake and eat it” school of economics.

For the biggest risk, the biggest cause of doubt in my mind, is the recurring strain of Scottish nationalism that—fairly or not—I most associate with thrawn, wee Hugh MacDiarmid. (I’m more a Trocchi man myself, not least because he was far sexier.). I do feel that I’m Scottish, but I’m also British; there’s no conflict between the two because they’re just two of numerous adjectives that can be used to describe me. Simply put, when anyone—let alone Alasdair Gray—starts talking about nationality in terms of nouns—of there being colonists or settlers, for example—the kind of Scotland suggested is definitely not one I want to live in, or help bring into being.



Categories: Don't Know

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16 replies

  1. I see the votes being cast not for myself but for those not yet born,those that would like to have a country that they can control for the benefit of the people of the country,but for sure that they have a country.

  2. It seems to me that the SNP have made one serious mistake in this campaign. They have tried to answer the unanswerable. Why does Salmond not admit that his job, his function, his raison d’etre, is to deliver independence. Not to say what will happen afterwards. That is up to the Scottish people. Why are we not all asking Scottish Labour politicians the questions about Trident, currency, Europe, etc? Run properly, the independence vote is a canter. Salmond has botched it, in my opinion. And I am a fan, and very pro-Independence.

  3. I have been asking Scottish Labour about Trident, the EU, etc but get no replies. I have contacted Alistair Darling, Johann Lamont, Margaret Curran and LibDem Michael Moore but nothing comes back.
    The impression created of Salmond is framed by the relentless anti-Independence rhetoric from most media and Unionist politicians.
    Labour politicians have reverted to treating Independence in the same way as General or local elections, with nothing more than tactics, without ideas or arguments of substance.
    It’s taken me a while to realise this, but Independence has made me look deeper and listen more carefully. I was a life long supporter of Labour, but not now.

  4. A simple choice…remain an English vassal, a submerged Nation, without the freedom that most nations enjoy. Scots fundamental rights, in Education, Health, Welfare are being removed, and poverty and destitution being reintroduced…despite being resources rich

  5. There’s many a good reason to vote Yes and many more appearing by the day, with the Westminster loyalists chiefly responsible for supplying most of them.

  6. I’m with Charles Patrick above. This vote isn’t for you or me. We’ll probably never see the real benefit of an independent Scotland, secure and confident within itself and full of more realised possibilities. This vote is for our kids and their kids.

    This vote is to provide them with a chance at a representative and accountable democracy. Something our electorate has never had and has little hope of at present but by our actions. Its an historic opportunity and responsibility we’ve been given. Taking our time to think about what we really want and where we feel we belong goes with the territory.

  7. Alasdair Gray of course was correct. There are many people from other places who come to live among us and become part of our communities and share our lives and our ambitions. And there are others who will never be part of us because they don’t want to be part of us and because they think they are better than us, cleverer than us and they wouldn’t like to be thought of as one of us. We meet lots of both types in Highland Scotland and very many of the first group are members of the SNP. You can tell the other type by the way they talk loudly in restaurants and cafes and on buses so we can enjoy the benefits of their superior thinking.
    And I wont have any PC lefty liberals telling me I can’t make that statement

  8. anelephantcant says….. To be fair, the tactics are Marathon ( snickers?) rather than a Sprint. Better Together have ranted and raved and thrown big Punches while the Yes Campaign have soaked up the pressure and still not lost any ground…rope a dope time. Switching sports…We arent into the home stretch yet but can only hope that once we do, from Jan 2014 onwards, the yes campaign really hit full steam and run away with it.

  9. As an expatriate Scot I am having difficulty understanding why people would not vote Yes. The longer I live and the more I learn about Scotland the more I’m convinced that as ma granny used to say “We’ve had a raw deal” Surely it is a chance to give the young people a future and some pride in their heritage… and that doesn’t have to exclude the dark side of our past either. I have never felt anything other than Scottish even after fifty years outside of the country.British has never been a part of my identity. And yet here in Oz there is still plenty who don’t want to relinquish their ties with Mother England. There’s no understanding people. The slave mentality is alive and well it seems.

  10. “Because, ultimately, whatever the difficulties I might face living in a fully self-governing Scotland (especially if I still end up writing for non-Scottish publications), I know that they’ll be chiefly “administrative”. And thus not, in themselves, reasons to continue opting for a political status quo that’s increasingly unattractive.”

    It’s wonderful to read something that makes you think “here’s someone who actually gets it“. I realise the questions most people have are perfectly genuine concerns, but some of them don’t half miss the point. Misguided priorities, tunnel vision, can’t see the wood for the trees and all that. The “passports at the border” one is probably the worst. Even if it were true (which it’s not), it baffles me that some people seriously think the hassle of having to look out your passport before visiting England (like you would do for any other country in the world) is a good enough reason to throw away the opportunity we have here.

    The Polling Booth effect is an interesting thing to ponder. There will certainly be folk like Paul whose pencil hovers for a while before (hopefully!) finally casting a Yes vote, but I also suspect there will be people who go in thinking they’ll probably vote No, only to find the gravity of the situation stopping them. “I’m not going to get the chance to vote on this again. Can I really throw away the opportunity we’re getting here? If I vote No, am I going to regret it in 6 months time? How bad could independence be, really? Ach, fuck it… I’m going to do it!” A swift cross against Yes, a gallop over to the ballot box to post the form, and a bit of a rush of excitement when they get outside, like they’d just done something they feel they’re not supposed to have done.

    “I can’t believe I just did it – I voted for independence! I wonder if it’ll happen…?”

    • I remember on the day of the 1999 election for the “reconvened” Scottish Paliament, I opted to vote on the way to work, so must have been among the earliest constituents to arrive. As I lived in Donald Dewer’s constituency, I wasn’t entirely surprised to be welcomed by the man himself (the possie of photographers outside had been a bit of a giveaway). He shook my hand and congratulated me; only afterwards did I realise what I should have said to him: “Sorry, I’m not voting for you. But from the bottom of my heart, thank you for the chance to vote.”

  11. “I can’t believe I just did it – I voted for independence! I wonder if it’ll happen…?”…Brilliiant Doug.
    I wonder how many NO voting people will find themselves saying “Change the subject eh!” when their grandweans ask “How did you vote Granny\Granda?”.
    One way or another I fear they will be embarrassed to answer.

  12. I will be voting Yes, not for myself, but for my country. I’ve said it before, it isn’t about me or what I will get. If you’re asking yourself, ‘What’s in it for me?’ you’re asking the wrong question.
    Ask yourself if the Irish would like to come back to the Empire, or the Jamaicans or countless others. It’s a no-brainer.

  13. Interesting article. Hugh MacDiarmid’s mini-poem about the little white rose was and is touching and beautiful. We live in a culturally aware Scotland today but we may not have done without figures like MacDiarmid, or Burns or Wendy Wood. These were the people who we can say retrospectively were needed at the time (to keep Scotland’s intellectual light alive) and unless we lived in their time we can’t judge their actions accurately. Alasdair Gray is writing a book about independence now. I loved his earlier ‘Why Scots should Rule Scotland’ so I am very much looking forward to it.

  14. Independence Woman excellently put ,I like that I hope you don’t mind if I use it from here on.

    If you’re asking yourself, ‘What’s in it for me?’ you’re asking the wrong question………………….. SUPERB!

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