I don’t usually blog out of the sphere of education, but just this once, I feel compelled. I have no Scottish blood in me, but am married to a proud Scot and so our children are potentially facing a future of having a dual nationality. We live in England and have no vote, but we’ve been following the debate with great interest and excitement.
Our marriage works like this. I am hasty and impulsive. My husband is careful and considerate. Had we lived in Scotland, I would have been running down the street with blue stripes painted on my face shouting “Yes” and he would have sat patiently waiting for me to run out breath before asking lots of what if and why questions. We work together well as a team – I think his care and attention has probably saved my life on more than one occasion. And right up until this week, he’s veered towards the No campaign. He doesn’t like unknowns. And despite the fact that he can never bring himself to support England in any sporting event, he’s had a strong feeling that the Union is better together. At least he did. But now he’s asking different kinds of questions. After astonishingly flawed ‘Better Together’ campaigning and shocking coverage by the BBC, we’re both starting to talk about the following:-
1. There is oil. It’s a matter of how much, but when it runs out….
2. We’ll need alternative forms of energy. Eventually the whole world will run out of oil. What then? Hydroelectricity, wind power? Come to Scotland.
3. Some scientists predict that water will be the commodity deemed most precious in the future. There is a lot of water in Scotland.
4. Could 1-3 explain why politicians in Westminster (in the drought prone South East of England) are so desperately running around, scaremongering Scots into believing that their economy is doomed without England?
5. If Scotland was committing economic suicide; if they are the over subsidised parasites who should count themselves lucky to have such a benevolent system of governance – a view that the BBC seems to have given priority to – then why are the English not waving goodbye and hastily erecting immigration borders? We don’t seem to be that fond of ‘scroungers’ as a rule. Yet we’re begging them to stay. My considerate husband is wondering what Scotland has that England is desperate not to lose.
6. The ‘No’ campaign has pissed him off. From the Prime Minister who seemed to do his research on “how to talk to Scottish people” by watching Billy Connolly and Kevin Bridges DVDs to the bully boy tactics of using business to do your dirty work. As our government leaned on the Spanish and any business open to manipulation to force the result they wanted, the shape of his mouth started to shift from an O to an E. He has watched in dismay as the arguments he would have mounted have been replaced by “How Effing Dare You!” Asda, a multi-national American owned company can’t cope with supplying groceries to a smaller nation? Really? Well, we’ll have to buy our Irn Bru from Tesco. Bullying won’t work. Have you ever listened to the words of ‘Flower of Scotland?”
7. The BBC has covered the whole issue so badly that they have driven hoards of Scots into thinking they’d be better off without them and that independence might be one way to get rid. The fact that the loss of the BBC was mounted as a negative by the No campaign made my husband snort with derision. “Scotland might get a national weather forecast if they were independent” he noted as once again the weatherman said “we” were in for weather that clearly only referred to the South of England.
Still, he wavers. Because he has been a Scot living in England for most of his life now. His wife is English (though to be honest, if they go independent I might start a campaign to move the border south to Watford). His sons were born here, educated here and definitely feel British. He feels sad that it may have come to this. But one thing is certain, the debate has exposed how very patronising the English government has been. It has exposed woefully inadequate understanding in our media. It has exposed the folly of being unprepared for how a passionate people who love their country might respond to negative “you’ll never be able to pull it off” campaigning. If the ‘Better Together’ campaign had looked at this from the angle of we need you as much as you need us, we might not be seeing such a close race. Instead, the campaign focused on “you are better off with us and would be idiots to leave”. Red rag tactics. It’s not called Scotland the Brave for nothing.
So on Thursday, we’ll pull out the sofa bed, snuggle up and watch the results come in with mixed feelings. And whatever the outcome, good on you Scotland for making politics feel as fresh, exciting and relevant as it has ever felt in my lifetime.