Scotland’s Manifest Destiny

Dear Scotland,

Look, I know it’s not my place, as someone living in London, to tell you how to vote on the 18th of September. But fuck it: I’m feeling pretty impotent right now, so humour me. I’m terrified that my country is going to be ripped apart in a couple of weeks’ time.

While I can’t say Scotland is my country, I can’t say England is either. I’ve lived in the latter my whole life, but my parents were both born in Scotland, half my extended family lives there and I’ve spent most of my holidays north of the border. Thank God for the Union because it gives me one single country that I feel 100% happy about calling my own. I feel British more than anything, and if you vote Yes, I won’t be able to say that. I’ll still have a state but I’ll no longer have a nation.

That’s enough dewy-eyed sentiment from me. When I’m completely objective about independence, I reckon Scotland could go it alone. There’ll be enough energy and excitement to sustain things until you find your feet. Alex Salmond’s mistake was to pledge to keep Sterling, immediately shackling an “independent” Scotland to a Semi-United Kingdom’s monetary policy. Even if he manages to land a currency union, Westminster will still surely dominate and impose fiscal conditions that make a mockery of Scottish autonomy.

True independence can only come with a separate currency. Establishing a new Pound Scots will have its risks, and Yes voters are clearly comfortable with risks already. If Scotland is going to sever ties, it ought to make sure those ties won’t just be reattached through the back door.

Ultimately, Scotland will do fine because Scotland is what makes Britain Great. And I’m annoyed that the Yes campaign wants to deprive the rest of the country of that. Scotland has been an indispensible outward-looking force for civilisation since we fused together 300 years ago. Following that union, Britain became the first country to industrialise, it democratised, and created the welfare state and the NHS. Scotland should be proud of being a cornerstone of progress in all of that.

Creating a country that treats people fairly has not been easy – there are many people in Britain who don’t have that social solidarity and open, compassionate outlook on the world that define Scotland. And this is one of the times in the country’s history where they are in the ascendancy and the rest of us need Scotland more than ever. The state support that will be a given in an independent Scotland is now under threat in England. Ideologically driven reforms are pulling the rug out from under people’s feet. But as long as Scotland remains in the union, we have a chance of turning the tide.  

Faced with a struggle like this, the easy thing for Scots to do is to retreat into the cocoon that independence offers, where they can insulate themselves from an intensified political turmoil south of the border. That would leave millions of like-minded people stranded in a Semi-United Kingdom where the heartless would now hold the balance of power. There is no doubt that the poor and disadvantaged growing up in a Scotland-less Britain would face a grimmer existence. Would Scots really want to see their nieces and nephews in England face decline towards a hostile state of nature, or would they rather accept their destiny as a partner in a mostly progressive union that is more than the sum of its parts?

The struggle to keep Britain Great and fight the forces of inequality might be the harder option for you, but it would continue Scotland’s tradition of punching above its weight and civilising less enlightened parts of the world.

That’s my plea, then. If you do vote No, don’t do it for you. Do it for the kids.

And if you ignore me then I guess I’ll just try to resurrect the campaign for North East devolution. But look what happened to that last time.




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