Scotland: An Undivided Nation
The upcoming Scottish referendum on the 18th of September has been the political potato of the year. It is only in the last month that the UK government and UK media alike have awoken to the realisation that far from being a stale packet of crisps, this issue is the veritable hot potato of the decade.
It’s that very change in direction from the UK establishment that has finally seen anger reach as far as Scotland. For many of us, we have family and friends who plan on voting in different ways, neighbours here and in England with different opinions, and a smattering of both Yes and No posters scatter our streets and fill our letterboxes. Yet despite all of that, there has been no mass splitting of our nation, no huge division that will be insurmountable, no country in turmoil.
That is the reality that the newspapers and media seek to hide. We are shown footage of the Orange Order, a religious supremist order, marching in Edinburgh and told that this is simply thousands of No voters spreading their message. A larger gathering of thousands of Yes voters in Glasgow is simultaneously ignored, and instead a handful of people on another road shown as representation of their movement. I find myself turning to photographs on twitter to find the truth, in the UK(!).
Newspapers carry doomsday warnings of nationalism in Scotland being similar to the bigoted UKIP, a party that has near constant trouble with allegations of racism, homophobia, and misogyny. The Scottish Nationalist Party has run the Scottish government since being voted into power in 2007, re-elected in 2011. Their primary goal has always been independence, yet a great number of voters have chosen this party for their left-of-centre and socialist policies.
Similarly, not everyone who votes Yes is a Scottish nationalist. Just as not everyone who votes No is a UK nationalist. A large part of Yes Scotland is made up by the Scottish Green Party for example. But I’d argue that the overall referendum campaign is not, and should not be, about party politics. The Scottish government as they are now will not be supreme leaders of an independent Scotland. In that regard independence is just one step, not the end of the story.
I have always described myself as being Scottish and British. I have many friends in England. I’d love to visit Wales. But the UK is already broken. The poor are being pushed further into poverty while the rich are given ever increasing privileges. Tax dodgers are ignored while all benefit claimers are tarred as being cheats. The vote I cast towards the UK general elections are essentially meaningless. This is true of much of the north of England too, and further decentralisation would be to the benefit of many.
There’s no guarantee an independent Scotland would be any different. But history points towards the north of the UK being far more to the left than the south, and London continues to march further to the right. At least with a smaller government, our votes would count.
Originally there was to be a third option to float between Yes and No, a further devolvement of government. This option was vetoed by the UK government, yet now in a panic they claim that a No vote will lead to exactly this. Had that been an option from the beginning things may have turned out very differently.
But arguments about oil, currency, taxes, and pensions have been swept aside by the anger over the bias within the UK media. This bias was formerly the punchline to numerous jokes, it being well known that Scotland was almost completely ignored by the UK media, our sports heroes named British until they started to lose and miraculously regain their Scottish identity.
That joke has this month ceased to be funny. As the UK media obsess now over Scotland, running scaremongering headlines that are easily disproved, likening the SNP leader to the North Korean tyrant, and rolling out a mess of No campaigners that include the rape-apologist George Galloway.
The BBC reports on No campaigns and ignores the Yes, or paints the latter as fanatics who practice violence and abuse upon the former. They re-edit their videos to cover up their own bad practice in assisting in a treasury leak, and cutting out answers to their own questions. (The BBC bias is hardly new, with the broadcaster falling from grace earlier in the year due to its terrible coverage of the Gaza conflict.)
All of this demonstrates that the BBC is not for the people of the UK at all, but a puppet of the establishment. And in doing so, they insult everyone in the UK.
The newspaper bias was expected by all – both Yes and No voters alike. But the anger over the BBC turning against our country has led to various No voters I know changing their mind and stating they will now be ticking Yes.
The rhetoric that the BBC and the UK media would have you believe is that Yes voters say their opposition are traitors, and that No voters are living in fear for stating their opinions. This is complete mince. My family contain both Yes and No voters. My friends circle contains both Yes and No voters. My community contains both Yes and No voters. Both choices have their own risks and benefits.
Voting Yes is a valid choice. Voting No is a valid choice. Being a dick is a different kind of choice.
There are arseheids on each side. There will be arseheids throughout our history. They are the minority. Any political campaign is at risk of being hijacked by those with ulterior and poisonous ideologies. The Wings Over Scotland website, a popular pro-independence website, is run by a transphobic eejit. The No campaign have found themselves represented across these islands by the bigoted Orange Order and the ludicrous George Galloway. But both campaigns as a whole, on the ground, have not been anything other than engaged and passionate.
If you feel unable to speak out about your opinion, it’s time to change your friends – not feel pressured to change your mind.
The negativity being shone upon Scotland this month does not come from within. It comes from an establishment suddenly startled out of smug slumber to find itself at the epicenter of an earthquake.
The Better Together campaign has done its cause no favours, and in fact has probably drawn more people towards Yes than Salmond could ever have dreamed possible. But the politicians do not represent the people, the public, who have made their decision one way or the other. That public, in its entirety, should feel utterly insulted by the low standing in which the UK media and government holds our small country.
There is no lasting division. There is no country-wide split. There are no mobs. This is no rammy. There is a DISCUSSION. And there will be a vote.
And whatever way the chips fall, the establishment will never again rest easy. Its lies and desperation are visible for all to see. And perhaps now all of us in the UK are sensing a future where no establishment is wanted or needed.
They have everything to lose. We have everything to gain. It begins in Scotland. But all of us are watching. And learning.
My friend Laura has written, better than I ever could, about the current state of the UK.
We are now three days from the Independence Referendum. Awaiting our choice and our subsequent fate.
"I’ve been a firm Yes for many months now, and although I haven’t heard any reasoning from the Better Together campaign that has swayed me, I do appreciate that there are arguments for both sides and your right to choose is vital.
I think one of the best things to come from the debate, over the last year or so especially, is that so many people who would not normally engage with politics are becoming passionately involved!
Whatever the result, the most important thing is that your opinion is informed and researched, and I hope that this level of political engagement continues in future elections.”
Holley co-creates the webcomic Never Ever After (www.nevereverafter.com ) with her partner in crime, Chris Baldie.
You can also follow her on twitter.
"I really wanted to do something for the undecideds, something that wouldn’t terrify or bully them, but let them understand that they have the power to make a difference. The comic was mostly written before patronising BT lady became a hash tag, so it’s heartening to see the issue of women and politics take such an inspiring role. One thing that really irritates me is when women are treated as a homogeneous demographic, as if we’re not individuals with as much diverse thought as the male population. With this comic I want to free people from the fear-mongering, reveal some of the ideological influences and say to voters- this is a democratic process, and you’re free to choose!"
Emma is a scriptwriter and researcher.
You can also follow her on twitter.
Yes or No?
It seemed obvious to me at first
It was the rational choice
A realistic approach was required
And so I lifted my voice
And I said, no
I said no
Because a finite resource
Was no basis for a society
And the thought of a nationalist state
Filled me with anxiety
So I said no