Geordies for Yes

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All this week we’re publishing articles by English people who support a Yes vote in September. By Michael Potter

Left to burn by the government in London as industries and whole communities are left to die with heartfelt pleas to tackle the problems simply ignored by a distant and indifferent ‘home counties’ elite. Sound familiar?

But it’s not Scotland I’m talking about, it’s the North-East of England I’m describing. The truth is Scotland and the North-East of England share one huge problem: London.

If there is anywhere in England where people understand why Scotland might have had enough of London’s rule it’s right here in the North-East. The same frustrations at seeing governments that don’t seem to give a damn about us, the same anger at seeing the economics of casino capitalism run riot over us just because it suits the needs of London’s bankers.

Personally I think Scots would be crazy to turn their backs on an opportunity to walk away from the disaster that is the United Kingdom. To be in control of your own destiny seems so obviously the way forward, whatever the obstacles to overcome.

Most people in the North-East wish Scotland all the best if it goes for independence but why is that?

It’s not just because most people in the North-East feel far more at home in Scotland than in the South of England, although they undeniably do. A massive gulf has opened up between the values held by most people in the South of England and those of people in the North of England where community, solidarity and the common good are still not dirty words.

Here in the North-East we are all too aware that Scotland’s decision whether to clinch independence will have a massive effect on us too. Sadly we won’t get a say of course but if we did, I’d be arguing for ‘Yes’.

A ‘Yes’ vote would show people in the North-East that there is actually an alternative to laying down and being repeatedly trod on by London. It would rekindle the push for the North-East to have some say in its own future, which is our only hope of breathing life back into our region, triggering regeneration and recovering the North-East’s self-belief.

The last time people in the North-East were given the opportunity to vote for a Regional Assembly, it was resoundingly turned down. But if Scotland waves goodbye to the UK and forges a successful independent path just up the road it will have people in the North-East re-evaluating our strained relationship with London all over again.

The economics of a ‘Yes’ vote are also surely in the North-East’s favour. Even though Scotland plans to keep the pound after independence, it will still have far more scope to shape its own economy to actually meet its own needs. That means the North-East will be the next-door neighbour to Europe’s newest country with a dynamic, outward looking, resurgent economy. Scotland will be keen to business with the world, starting just across the border in a region with an economy and skills base that fits incredibly well with Scotland’s own.

One of the massive differences between Scotland and the North-East of course is that Scotland is a nation and the North-East is just a region. However it is a region with a very powerful sense of identity and a growing realisation that just like Scotland we can’t rely on London to solve our problems. In fact London actually makes things worse all the time.

In terms of politics the North-East is caught between a Labour rock and a Tory hard place. As in Scotland, the Conservatives show the North-East nothing but contempt while Labour takes our votes but then takes us for granted, doing nothing to tackle our problems and never addressing our aspirations. I’ve lost count of the number of times people have said to me that if only the North-East had a party a bit like the SNP then London’s political class would have to finally take notice.

Whether or not the SNP’s grand project North of the Border eventually gives rise to a Northern Separatist Party here in the North-East it’s clear that a Yes vote will create an earthquake in the rump former UK, breaking the rotten mould of London’s rule and bringing the chance of much needed change here in the North-East too. ‘No’ would be the death of hope for a generation, ‘Yes’ the springboard for a brighter future both here and Scotland. In London’s corridors of power they must be praying for ‘No’. That’s all I need to know.



Categories: English for Yes

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12 replies

  1. I hope that, by gaining independence, Scotland can give those in the north of England, the hope, aspiration and the strength of will; to readdress the issue of their own future. A future where they too; can rebuild communities, deliver what priorities that serve their needs and give a meaningful voice to the north in Westminster.

    • “a meaningful voice to the north in Westminster.”

      I think it’s far more likely that they’ll either reassert the borders of the Kingdom of Northumbria and Mercia, or get the Scottish border moved south. Westminster is *completely* boholden to London and the South-East, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. That’s where the population is concentrated, and thats where they keep the swing constituencies. Remember that, when planning, it is more productive to assume that they’re doing it on purpose.

      Remember these two pictures?

      • So, pro-Scottish separatists in northeast England? It seems a patron saint may not be all Scotland has in common with Russia, if you’re right Illy? 😉

  2. i’d love to see the north-east, break away from the shackles of london

  3. I grew up in Northumberland close to the Roman Wall, and in the middle marches where border stories were part of the folk memory. I knew I was English beacuse I was on the English side of the border. Later I moved south to University and found myself in a foreign land, with foreign people, also called English but like nobody I grew up with. since 1988 I have ‘stayed’ in Scotland and hope to remain here.

    I dont think I could call myself Scottish as by birth and for the first three decades I lived mainly in England but there is clearly a strong bond of common history in the border counties and towns and a common industrial history of engineering, coal and shipbuilding that links Glasgow and Newcastle. The history of industrial decline and loss of purpose in the late twentieth century is also held in common.

    The power and absolute dominance of London is a common threat. It is a paradox but a curiously compelling argument that independence for Scotland, and the rediscovery of purpose and confidence could also help the north east of England challenge this hegemony.

  4. We’ve already seen impact on the NE under devolution. Living in Edinburgh since 1999 I’ve witnessed countless building projects going on across the city and numerous contractors and builders from the NE.

  5. I’ve alluded to this topic before.
    When we get a YES, it’s those in the NE I’ll feel for….After I’ve finished celebrating of course!

  6. It sounds like the North East does indeed have the same problem as we do. The Tories ignore you because you don’t vote for them – and Labour ignores you because you do.

  7. I Sincerely hope that if we get our Independence here that it will provide the impetus for a resurgence of interest in politics on both sides of the border. and the people are revitalised into doing something about the current status quo. why should vast swathes of the country simply be there to bolster the bankers and the housing bubble in the southern counties of England? i hope the people of NE England decide its time they had their own voice, and took a hand in what is being done or not done on their behalf. i Love Newcastle, its a wonderful city, with wonderful warm people. i feel at home there. Unlike i ever could in London town.

  8. I dream of a time we in England ‘do a Scotland’ But we first need Scotland to ‘do a Scotland’. At the moment like us south of the border Scotland is glued to a London and Westminster model that has morphed into an entity that feeds itself at the expense of everything else. Like the city of London they represent, Westminster politicians ‘in the village’ claim that without the driving force that is the financial services industry, the country would be all the poorer. A hundred plus years ago great cities like Glasgow Manchester and Newcastle for all the squalor, were competitors in the generation of wealth. Since any chance of a recovery was decimated by Thatcher closing it all down for good all we have now are regional lapdogs to the London master. If Scotland bites through the leash that binds it to that unforgiving bastard we might discover we can not only survive and thrive in the big wide world but create something altogther more pleasant.

  9. GOOD LUCK TO BONNIE SCOTLAND FROM A NORTHUMBRIAN WITH SCOTTISH ROOTS

    • London is indeed the common enemy of Scotland and The North, but Scotland has a golden opportunity to kick that enemy out. I hope you take it.

      From here in Northumbria it’s incomprehensible that anyone in Scotland would want to remain London’s docile plaything when Scotland could take its place in the world and build it’s own, far brighter future. Go for it Scotland and best wishes from the ‘Geordie Nation’ 😉

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