Moving On

tunnocksFlora Napier on Ivor Cutler, bobbing seals, improbably high hedges and getting to Yes.

It took a fair chunk of reading, chatting and mulling things over before I finally decided that I would vote for Scotland’s independence. It was not a decision taken lightly, but the lack of any prospect of meaningful, lasting devo-max was the final straw, alongside a hard-won recognition that we wouldn’t be abandoning the rUK to anything they don’t choose for themselves. Having made the decision, it’s taken me far longer to publicly ‘out’ myself as pro-independence, mainly because I didn’t want to be painted as something I am not. Ironically, it’s the growing hostility towards yes voters, and our misrepresentation, that has made it impossible to not stand up and be counted. And maybe ramble on, for a bit.

When I was wee, I took great delight in announcing to anybody who would listen that I was a quarter Irish. My mum’s residual lilt from growing up partly in County Antrim (and partly in Sutherland and Peru), was passed down to us kids and I’d seize on every mention of it by my playground peers as an excuse to proclaim my exotic heritage. My Scottish/Irish mum was born in Peru, my father in what was then South Yemen. Now, my sister and Indian brother-in-law live in England as does my wee bro’. My friends, family and neighbors are Scottish, English, American, Austrian, Indian, Irish, Chinese, Mongolian and Canadian, and live (except my neighbors) all across the world. Amongst these travelers and settlers some have formally adopted the nationality of their new homes – including Scotland – while others are happy retaining their ‘old’ nationality, on paper at least.

Including, and especially, its fabulous diversity of folk, I love everything there is to love about Scotland: its music, football, Hogmanay, Skye, salmon leaps, pokey wee pubs, mid-winter queues at ice-cream booths next to duck ponds, Ivor Cutler and random bus-stop banter. And I hate everything there is to hate: the sectarianism, the (thankfully vastly outnumbered) Anglophobes, the poverty and snobbery and what I can only hope is political apathy rather than outright ‘I’m alright, Jock’ness. I also love the National Portrait Gallery in London, swimming with genial, gently-bobbing seals off the Norfolk coast, the absolute timeless beauty of rural England in summertime, the stupidly tall hedges in Cornwall and the warm hospitality I’ve encountered on every visit I’ve made to England.

None of this, not a jot, will automatically change if the people who live in Scotland vote for our home to become an independent nation. My rUK friends and family will remain friends and family, tall Cornish hedges will continue to be just that, and sectarianism will not vanish in a puff of smoke (though some bewildered troll-folk may emerge, blinking, from their darkened dens of sock-puppetry). Bitter people may be left with a bitter aftertaste. I won’t. I’ll be moving on.

What will change, irrevocably, is our ability as a small, genuinely-democratic nation (and from where I stand ‘small’ and ‘democratic’, and not ‘Scottish’, are key) to discuss and explore issues that affect us as a nation, to persuade and be persuaded, to vote and, crucially, to have each and every one of our votes count – towards a democratic, representative parliament of consensus politics. And in terms of a responsive, compassionate democracy, small is beautiful. It’s far easier to identify and find solutions for the issues facing 5 million people than those of 60 million. This cannot happen while Scotland remains in a UK whose masters are hell-bent against representative democracy and use misinformation and willful misinterpretation of other people’s beliefs and actions to stifle genuine debate. I would be overjoyed to see the rest of the UK moving towards a fairer, more caring and representative system too. Scotland’s independence would be no barrier to that, and is actually more likely to be a catalyst for change.

The people of Scotland are not (as Johann Lamont clumsily attempted to point out) endowed with far greater skills and merits than other folk, but nor are we in any way less able. With a constantly growing, informed, passionate and diverse grassroots movement, a skilled and educated workforce, and vast natural and renewable resources behind us, and highly motivated, practiced political negotiators from across the political parties to speak for us, we will be more than able to reach a fair resolution with rUK. To borrow a phrase it will be ‘extremely difficult, if not impossible’ for Westminster to deny us our right to self-determination, or create needless, self-defeating barriers, with the eyes of the world and its own nose-loving electorate on it.

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  1. xsticks says:

    Really enjoyed that Flora. It isn’t always easy to understand that independence will change nothing but also change everything fundamentally. I think you’ve summed it up very well.

    1. Thanks xsticks – I think you’ve summed it up even better than me. I’ll borrow that if you don’t mind! 🙂

  2. Tutu ana Tiara too says:

    Well articulated. For me, it’s always been a guttural feral internal roar of defiance and desire for Scotland, its people, it’s future to be determined by those who care most.

    All my life as long as I can remember I’ve wanted an independent Scotland, warts and all. We’re not perfect and we never will be, but we can try to be better and to be a positive example in the future.

    1. Cheers, Tutu. I think everyone should be able to determine their own future, politically. We are amazingly lucky to have the chance to make it a reality. As I said I’d wish it for the rUK too, there’s been too little representation for too long.

  3. Amy Skea says:

    Very well written! You almost make me want to vote yes…….almost!

    1. Thanks Amy, so long as you keep an open mind… 🙂 I’m aware of many of the concerns from the No camp, and one of my biggest worries is that those concerns are not being discussed by No voters *within the context of a potential Yes vote*. If they are genuine, solid concerns then I feel that you (#No voters in general, not you personally) need to also be asking ‘how would we work to get this issue resolved to help us/our industry in the event of a Yes?’ and not just campaigning for No and hoping against hope there isn’t a Yes. Perhaps there is more of this type of discussion going on behind the scenes than I’m aware of, but it would be positive and ‘transparent’ for them to be discussed by both sides publically. Far better to be prepared for whatever the future holds. I know exactly what I will be doing in the event of a No vote, although I am increasingly optomistic that it will be Yes!

  4. Simon Brooke says:

    We’re not small! Sorry, but we’re not! Everyone who tells you Scotland is a ‘small’ nation is either mistaken or deliberately misleading you. When Scotland joins the United Nations we will be exactly middle sized – half the nations in the UN are smaller than Scotland (on both area and population), half are bigger. Even Dumfries and Galloway, which is not Scotland’s biggest nation, is bigger than one sixth of all the independent nations in the world.

    Sorry if that disappoints you – if you want to live in a small nation, try Monaco.

    1. Simon Brooke says:

      D&G is a region, not a nation, of course. D’oh!

    2. You’re totally right, Simon, we’re not small in any negative sense at all. I just wanted to point out that, like other nations without a huge population, we are better adapted than, for example, the Uk/rUK to focus on the needs of our citizens. And thank you for the offer but nothing in the universe would persuade me to relocate to Monaco, though I might visit for a grand priz if my finances ever allow 🙂

  5. setondene says:

    I enjoyed reading this, alongside the many other accounts of people of multi-hued ancestry who are choosing to vote Yes for all sorts of reasons. One thing we’re not hearing much about are people who are actually Scottish. Maybe people like that are out of favour or a potential embarrassment of some kind to the Yes campaign. Or maybe they just don’t exist any more. Though I do suspect that small handfuls of working class people here and there have not been World travellers for the past 3 or 4 generations…

    1. Ian Kirkwood says:

      I can see what you are trying to say here but I think the important point is that it is the people of Scotland who will have the opportunity to vote. They have the responsibility to ensure that the debate and referendum reflect the future course of the Scottish nation.
      There is no doubt that many people risk being marginalized and indeed some choose to be. The grass roots YES campaign is doing a great job in reaching out to the groups and communities which are perhaps less motivated to participate or vote. I fully agree that it is critical that every effort is made to achieve inclusion. Not only in the run in to the big day but importantly after the decision.
      Is there any doubt as to which choice can deliver that last part?

    2. Hi setondene, I think I understand what you are trying to say. Firstly, as far as I am concerned anyone who lives in Scotland and considers themselves to be Scottish is ‘actually Scottish’, regardless of their ‘hue’. Secondly, I don’t agree that the folk who you feel have no voice – and I am going to have to assume you mean ‘white’ or ‘white working class’ – are under-represented in any way at all in this debate! I think the Daily Mail and its ilk have a lot to answer for in deflecting attention away from the real ills of our society and system and trying to provoke needless division. And just btw, people from all backgrounds travel/emmigrate for all sorts of reasons including to find work – my own ‘world traveling’ ancestors include a ship’s carpenter.

      1. setondene says:

        Blueprintediting. Sorry, I shouldn’t have used the word ‘many-hued’. Stupid of me not to realise it would be picked up wrongly by the over sensitive. I’m of part Middle-Eastern background. What I meant was that, while I agree with Fiona’s sentiments, the denial of Scottishness as an identity kind of irritated me a wee bit. I think those of us who actually like our Scottish identity have felt embattled by a British state that obviously mistrusts us and tries to suppress our culture. It would be nice if we could gain a little more space for ourselves in the future, though the SNP certainly has its focus on things other than culture.

        So your assumptions about ‘white’ are wrong, but I think the blogsites are dominated by middle class commentators who find World travel, including working and living in other countries a hell of a lot easier than working class people. Just for the record I live in an area of multiple deprivation where many people have never even been to England never mind elsewhere. And for the record I’ve worked in about a dozen different countries myself.

    3. thisgreenworld says:

      Is anyone actually and only “Scottish”? whatever that means… Far as I’m concerned, anyone living here is Scottish. All of us are ‘from’ somewhere else if you go far back enough (the rift valley of Africa of course) and me; I’m a quarter each ‘english’, ‘irish’, ‘scottish’ and ‘welsh’ if that makes any difference at all.
      I care about where someone is going more than where they’re coming from. I’m going towards a smaller, more democratic, fairer, greener country that can work out our own solutions, which we can show to the world for them to say “I’ll have what she’s having”.

      1. NIcely put thisgreenworld! Hopefully we’re all going along a path towards getting rid of areas of multiple deprivation – which is why I’ll be voting yes and then at the first GE for whoever is offering solutions and following through with them. To be honest, with the sheer scale of grassroots stuff going on, from co-ops to social enteprise and more support for credit units – I don’t see how we can fail if folk just give it a chance!

  6. Hotrod Cadets says:

    Loved this Flora.

    Indy Scotland will be better: not because it’s Scotland, but because of what we (the people who live here) decide to do differently.

  7. yerkitbreeks says:

    Now look Flora, I really want you around on the 18th September, so please think again about swimming with those gently-bobbing seals since they can be anything but amiable !

    1. 🙂 Perhaps they just get a bad press!

  8. bringiton says:

    Great stuff Flora.
    As a Scot,I am becoming more impassioned about our dependence as time goes by.
    Being dependant means that your future is in the hands of someone else and that there is
    little need for you to decide anything.
    Why bother to think when you have others to do it for you ?

  9. Steve Bowers says:

    Outstanding words Flora, fair brought a wee tear to my eyes. Personally i can’t wait for independence, I just can’t believe how lucky we are to have this chance to reform our country. I have grand children of 7 weeks old and 3 years old, what a different /same world they are going to grow up in

    1. Glad you liked it, Steve. What a fantastic time/event to be able to tell your grandkids about.

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