I was an Undecided in the Scottish independence debate for a long time. It's only very recently that I decided that I was a Yes. Yesterday, I tweeted this:
It's only just starting to sink in that I could very well be one of the founding citizens of a new country. That's quite a legacy. #indyref— Johnnie Ingram (@johnnieingram) September 10, 2014
I joined Twitter in early 2008, so I've been a regular Twitterator for over 6 years. I have no problem with expressing my opinion (quite forcefully and often controversially) on my Twitter account. Nevertheless, that tweet is the most retweeted and commented-upon of my 5000+ tweets, by quite some margin.
The debate that took place in response to that tweet was of a really high standard, and forced me to think long and hard in order to justify my opinions. It's also prompted me to finally try to write some of them down: hence, this post.
I'm aware that describing an independent Scotland as 'a new country' is over-simplification at the very least. The point I was trying to get across was just how huge and unprecedented this is, and how overwhelmed and humbled I am to be given the opportunity to take part. Very few people get the chance to experience their country's nascent independence (and even fewer do so peacefully, democratically and safely).
Let's take a quick ramble through some of the arguments, for and against, that have been put to me.
Important note for the attention of idiots: these are my opinions and (some of) my reasons for voting the way I did. Your opinions and reasons may be different. In fact, they probably should be different - that's that whole 'democracy' thing that we keep banging on about.
In many ways, I think Scotland's economic future is actually brighter under a Yes vote than under a No. I will, however, freely concede that I don't have enough knowledge or expertise to say with any degree of certainty what Scotland's economy would look like under a Yes or a No. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that anybody actually does, not even expert economists. Because of that, I've had to take my best guess (after reading expert opinions from both sides of the debate). I came down (hesitantly) on the side of Yes on this one, but only just.
Devolved Scottish powers if we stay
The Scottish government has been consistently requesting extended and boosted governmental powers for about a decade. The fact that this is only being offered now, at the last minute, and only when Yes suddenly starts looking like a real possibility, shows how unwilling the Westminster government is to hand over any of these powers (despite their protestations to the contrary). I have absolutely no confidence that any significant handover of powers will ever happen. The current government has given me no reason to trust their word, and plenty of reasons (cough tuition fees cough) to doubt it.
This is a weird one. I've a few people telling me that the Scots are actively hostile to the English, with the strong implication that the Yes camp is primarily fuelled by anti-English sentiment. I can only really speak from personal experience, but I was born in England and have lived in Scotland for many years now, and I've never felt even the slightest bit of antipathy. Quite the opposite, actually: Edinburgh is the first place I've ever lived that has really truly felt like my home.
In fact, the only antipathy I've encountered is directed towards the Scots rather than emanating from them.
So, I'll have no truck with this supposed Damn-the-sassenachs Remember-the-'45 bullshit. Scotland's a great place to live, whether you were born here or not.
Vote Yes so we can stick it to the Tories
Forgot the Tories. This is not a short-term decision. This is about Scotland's future in the coming decades, centuries and maybe even millennia.
I want to do everything I can to construct a good world for my daughter to grow up in (and my daughter's daughter, et cetera ad infinitum). In order to do that, I'm actually prepared to suffer some degree of short-term hardship in my own life if it means that her life will be better. Not everyone will feel that way, of course, but that's the sentiment that's motivating me.
An independent Scotland will be free to democratically elect whatever government it wishes. A single Scottish vote will carry a much more appropriate proportional weight in a post-Yes election than it currently does in a UK election.
See also "I don't want to vote for the SNP."
Please don't go. You don't want to see us cry, do you?
Appeals to the emotional side of an argument rather than the rational are a sure sign that one side has nothing concrete to offer.
See also "We're pregnant!"
It's too risky
It certainly is risky, but "too risky"? I'm not so sure. This is a monumental decision in the history of Scotland. Whichever way we go, there's a lot of uncertainty and risk in our future. Don't kid yourself that remaining in the Union is the path of certainty and assurance. The rosy future of the United Kingdom is by no means guaranteed, with or without Scotland.
Freedom from Westminster
This one is more of a valid contention that the Sticking It To The Tories idea, above. It's becoming increasingly apparent that anything north of Milton Keynes is given 2nd-class status in the eyes of most of our lawmakers. I see no prospect of this changing any time soon, and so my very real worry is that a dependant Scotland will see increasing poverty, poor education and urban decline.
Overall, it's not that I have no sympathy for the No camp. I do share some of their concerns. The potential benefits of Yes, though, are just too exciting to pass up. I want an independent Scotland, and I want to chance to help build it.