With a little under a year to go till the Independence Referendum, I have started to seriously consider my voting decision. If I had been asked to vote on this question ten years ago or more, I would have said “Yes” in a heartbeat. I have also always voted SNP in every election. However, as I have grown up, I have drifted away from the idea of “nationalism” and have tended to vote SNP on the grounds that they have a collectivist range of policies and have a proven track record of managing the Scottish Government effectively. I have come to feel that nationalism has brought nothing but misery throughout history. One need look no further than the Third Reich to get a sense of the divisive and insidious nature of nationalism as a cause. I tend to take the view that a fixation on national identity and racial comparisons can lead us down a rather negative road. It has surely been one of the gravest causes of conflict in the modern era. In fact, I definitely consider myself to be an internationalist and am a firm believer in solidarity and multinational organisations. I was also moved by the comments of author C.J. Sansom in his recent historical novel “Dominion”. In this book, Sansom imagines a Britain in the 1950s which surrendered to Germany in 1940. In a post-script, Sansom talks at length about why he is firmly in the “Better Together” camp. He describes the SNP as representing a “very old and mangy European beast” and says that he fears the rise of political parties based on national identity politics. I think he may well have a point. I cringe at some of the flag waving and anti-English comments that I have heard in the context of the Referendum debate. The assertions about “Freedom for Scotland” and comparisons with William Wallace and Robert Bruce also feel a bit hollow. Both Wallace and Bruce did undoubtedly fight to protect Scotland from English subjugation, but I don’t hold that Scotland’s current position is the same. The idea that Scotland should be an independent sovereign country because that’s the way it was historically is not enough to convince me either.
This will be the first time that I will cast a vote with a bit more than my own future in mind. I am thinking very seriously about my boy’s future. Would he be “Better Together” or better apart? Ultimately, I have come to view the Independence Referendum as an opportunity. An opportunity to choose a better future for Scotland. A better future for my boy. I don’t particularly like the society that I am living in at the moment. It is not a fair society. It is not a society that looks after people, that encourages togetherness and community. I hope for something better. I have come to the conclusion that an independent Scotland is more likely than a stagnant United Kingdom to be able to tackle the crisis that faces the countries of the world today – the disengagement with democracy, financial crisis, environmental crisis. I hope that by voting “Yes” we can make a better Scotland. That we can tackle inequality, challenge elites and offer local democracy. It is my hope that by starting again, we may have a chance at re-inventing government and making it deliver welfare effectively and act in a more sustainable manner. Sadly, I am not hearing this from the “Yes Scotland” campaign. I am hearing that we Scots are different, that we won’t have to put up with those mean old Tories any more. That we have gallons of oil to make us rich. I hope that Salmond and co have the confidence to deliver a more daring vision to the Scottish people. I hope that we can create the type of a Scotland that I can be proud of.