The Scottish referendum!

The day of reckoning is finally here and I feel uneasy and strangely emotional. I can only hope the people of Scotland make the right decision for the whole of the UK today. Some of you may be saying what's it got to do with the rest of the UK... a lot I would say.

It's got nothing to do with the old chestnuts of the pound, pensions, defence, and the NHS, important as these are, but they've been discussed till they're run ragged and people are sick of hearing about it. And, at the end of the day, Alex Salmond seems to have no direct answers other than to trust him, all will be fine if you vote him in.

I have no quarrel with the nationalists' slogan Scotland's future in Scottish hands, but this could apply to the whole of the UK and be solved by greater devolution to all regions, not by the largest one splintering off whatever the consequences.

We have had 300 years of the union. Although there is a clear cultural identity to Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there are no borders except emotional ones. There's been much cross-pollination, blended families and it's hard for many people to know where their sense of belonging lies in the British Isles.

Many people, like myself, have a problem identifying with any one part of the UK. My mother's family were Bannisters and Cunninghams, there's Irish in my father's family, I grew up in a Lancashire mill town where my mother worked in the cotton mill and my father delivered coal. I now live in Yorkshire, but also have a home in Wales, where one of my children was born. How can I call myself anything other than British?

There are many things other than the purely physical that link us to a land. My partner has a brother who lived on the Isle of Jura and is buried by his home in the woods.

England is criticised for being colonialist, raping and pillaging the smaller countries in the union. But it's often overlooked that you have to have money to colonise, and it's the upper classes, wherever they live in these isles, who have been the perpetrators of colonialism. The problem is not dependent on where you live but on which family you were born into - rich or poor. Raising a family in a slum is no different whether it's in Lancashire or in Glasgow.

In the industrial revolution working class labour was essential for turning raw resources into hard cash, thus making the rich, who had money to invest, richer, and the poor, who had nothing to lose, wage slaves. My family were union members and passionately Labour. The unions fought for working people and without them we wouldn't have what we have today - not a perfect society, but certainly an improvement on what we had.

Life has changed drastically in the past 50 years, some say Margaret Thatcher changed everything when she broke the unions. I think this theory puts too great an emphasis on her power. Power corrupts and I don't think Arthur Scargill was totally immune to this. We see it in Westminster day after day - professional politicians are hard to read. The smoother the rhetoric, the greater the personal ambition. In today's world it's hard to believe politicians no matter what they claim to stand for. I totally understand why Scots don't wish to be ruled by the Oxbridge/Eton Westminster ticket, but then why do they think that the rest of us relish the idea?

In a world where there are so many different factions all wanting to have their own piece of the power pie, the British Isles is a beacon. We may not have the perfect totally fair and equal society, but we do have a better chance of creating this together.
I've always loved Dick Gaughan's song Both Sides the Tweed - words were originally written by James Hogg (born 1770) about the 1707 Act of Union. Dick Gaughan changed some of the lyric and added his own tune - his song, written in 1979,  says it all for me.

There is a bond between the working peoples of these islands, one which cannot be defined or broken by national boundaries. I hope when Scotland decides, it won't forget this - the union can be greater than the sum of its parts, let's stay together!

Comments

  1. Jean, thanks so much for your visit and comment over at my place. I am honored!

    Thank you also for this post with its informed and clear reasoning. I'll be listening to the results come in this evening via the BBC and keeping up with Guardian coverage, too.

    The polls have just closed, and I am just about to begin preparing tonight's supper. I'll have to see if the difference in time zones will allow me to know election results before I turn off the lights over here.

    Best wishes. xo

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  2. Thank you for sharing your views and insights. Personally, I would hate to see Scotland break away. My ancestors came from Portadown, N. Ireland, moving to Canada during the potato famine. Others were from the north, right on the border of England and Scotland but I'm not sure which side. It didn't matter. They were all from the UK. I'll be listening with great interest to see how the election turns out.

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  3. On and up now with hopefully more listening and caring, but most importantly a more devolved but United Kingdom.

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