I Shall Vote Yes

The last in the series of referendum poems by
A.R. Frith. Read his sonnet for the Undecided here and his I Shall Vote No here.

I Shall Vote Yes

I shall vote Yes because
I just think that, in a divided world, we shouldn’t be building barriers
against immigrants and asylum seekers.

I shall vote Yes because
Labour say they believe in One Nation,
and that’s how fascism starts.

I shall vote Yes because I am fed up
with silly articles illustrated by stills from Braveheart, in newspapers that should know better.

I shall vote Yes, because the thought of having a written constitution
thrills me inexpressibly.

I shall vote Yes because until Independence we*re stuck with Alex Salmond.

I shall vote Yes, because it is seven hundred years since the Battle of Bannockburn,
and yet some condescending gits imagine it is an issue for us now.

I shall vote Yes
to spare the blushes of foreign diplomats who have told their governments I will.

I shall vote Yes,
but No to Nato, if anyone asks me (though nobody ever has, come to think of it).

I shall vote Yes because Nicola Sturgeon is fantastic.


I shall vote Yes because I have no wish whatever
to be loved by Eddie Izzard.

I shall vote Yes, because I am striving to be Green.

I shall vote Yes because I have always liked Sean Connery,
even in Marnie and The Longest Day.

I shall vote Yes because it will kill the Nats stone dead.
I shall vote Yes, so that Scotland may take its rightful place
in the Eurovision Song Contest.

I shall vote Yes because to me as a Quaker it seems the right thing to do.

I shall vote Yes because
that ‘early day of a better nation’ stuff gets to me, actually.

I shall vote Yes because the Proclaimers will vote Yes.

I shall vote Yes because my MSP is a Unitarian
and it will boost his morale if someone agrees with him about something.

I shall vote Yes because, although ‘no-brainer’ is an unpleasing word,
I can’t think what else to call it.

I shall vote Yes, in the fervent hope that certain people will indeed up sticks and leave
(though I shan’t be holding my breath).

I shall vote Yes because James Kelman will vote Yes,
and he won the Booker Prize for using the f-word four thousand times in a novel.

I shall vote Yes, because I am persuaded
that the precedent of how Norwegian independence affected Sweden
shows that England will benefit almost as much as we will.

I shall vote Yes, because the experience of the Czech Republic and Slovakia
was that both countries were more prosperous after their velvet divorce.

I shall vote Yes, just to spite George Osborne.

I shall vote Yes out of curiosity
as to which unionist politician will be the first one to claim Independence
was what they really wanted all along, and is plainly a Good Thing.

I shall vote Yes because, despite what some people say,
I am, and always will be, British, thank God,
and so it is my duty.

Comments (24)

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  1. JBS says:

    Lovely. Euge! Euge!

  2. jimnarlene says:

    I’m voting yes too but, I’ve never considered myself British.

  3. florian albert says:

    ‘I shall vote Yes because James Kelman will vote Yes,
    and he won the Booker Prize for using the f-word four thousand times in a novel’

    Is this satire ?

    I have never been an admirer of James Kelman but even I would hesitate to say that he was awarded the Booker Prize on the basis of his repetitious use of the f-word.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      You may need to imagine beyond the most literal interpretation of what you’re reading

    2. A.R. Frith says:

      When ‘How late it was, how late’ was published in March 1994, reviewers in the London papers were much exercised by the use of swearwords in its stream-of-consciousness narrative. Blake Morrison in the Independent on Sunday pointed out that of the expletive many critics found particularly offensive there were “fewer than 4,000 occurrences” (i.e. it was NOT every second word, as had lazily been suggested). Some six months later, the novel won the Booker Prize, prompting one of the judges to resign in protest and provoking various articles for and against Kelman, in which, as I remember, the figure of four thousand tended to be unthinkingly (and inaccurately, of course) trotted out on both sides.

      Is this satire, you ask. In Christopher Logue’s poem which inspired ‘I Shall Vote No’ and this one, ALL the reasons – for voting Labour, in that case – are “silly” or “sarcastic” (his words); but, alas, I lack his courage. The “I” of this piece is not me, but does happen to share many of my views (as well as apparently having the same MSP). Personally I might well be influenced by what James Kelman says – he is a serious and interesting writer – but not because of his prose style, which is mentioned to undercut the valid real reason. As a joke. There are others: the reference to feeling British started out as one, except that I think adherence to what Gordon Brown likes to call British values (possibly with a capital V) would compel one to vote Yes too.

      1. florian albert says:

        Thanks for coming btl to respond to my flippant comment.
        I made the comment because I find the idea that we should be influenced on political decisions by the opinion of writers difficult to take seriously.
        Also, I have long had a low opinion of Kelman as a novelist. This was reinforced by a recent rereading of A Disaffection.
        There is a huge market for Scottish fiction, witness the recent success of Peter May. Despite this, the Scottish reading public continues to resist James Kelman.
        You refer to him as a serious and interesting writer. I would not disagree with that but it is scarcely a ringing endorsement of his literary ability.
        I do not know why he – on occasion – uses the f – word so repetitiously.
        For me, it subtracts from rather than adds to the narrative.

  4. Dinna_fash says:

    Ah’ll be votin Aye
    ‘Coz ah’m shaire ah wid die
    If ah couldnae see by
    Aw thae lie, lie, lie.

    See, wi ma ain twa ‘ee
    Fitanniver wid a bein or cuild be
    Wi clear sicht
    An giud aim
    Ah’ll vote Aye an come hame.

    1. Morag says:

      Damn, that’s good.

  5. manandboy says:


    because we’re suffocating in the UK.

    Self-determination is Scotlands new oxygen supply.

  6. I predict we will win our independence. And the quicker we can get rid of the BBC and create a Scottish national television channel – the quicker we can rid ourselves of the unionist propaganda machine that is the BBC.

    1. manandboy says:

      I wholeheartedly agree, Mark.

      All things being equal, Independence would be worth all the hassle just to get shot of the BBC.

      Unashamedly Unionist, the BBC is the No campaign’s No.1 ‘Big Hitter’.

      I’d stop paying the TV Licence at a moment’s notice

      but my wife and teenage son are as yet unconvinced of the wisdom of such a move.

      They are both keen Yes supporters

      but the hold which the dominant BBC has on them

      is evidence of the power of the BBC in the referendum campaign.

      It’s true what Alan Bissett says, and I’m paraphrasing,

      ‘The No campaign own the media’.

      1. mary says:

        manandboy – I’m confused. You want to get shot of the BBC. You paraphrase that ‘The No campaign own the media’ but your son and wife over whom the BBC has a ‘dominant hold’ are keen Yes supporters?
        I am undecided.

  7. A.R. Frith says:

    Florian Albert:

    J.K. needs no endorsement from me, nor am I sufficiently well-read to be qualified to offer one. In my terms, “serious & interesting” is quite laudatory, however. As a technical stylist, also, I would rate him highly, and nor wld I be alone – while looking for the source of that “4,000 f—s” canard, I found a Daily Telegraph review of ‘How late’, which praised the precision of his punctuation (- ! – a backhanded compliment, surely).

    As to yr main point: when you say “writers”, you mean, I take it, novelists, poets etc., rather than the likes of Thomas Paine or Tom Nairn? – entertainers, essentially. Of course such a writer’s personal views may be quite as vacuous or vicious as those of any other celebrity. They ought, nevertheless, to be expressed coherently; memorably, even; wittily, perhaps – simply because it is the writer’s job to be expressive on paper. Even so, the worth of such pronouncements is more likely to be (I would say) in giving shape to the readership’s own hitherto inarticulate opinions – Wittgenstein, you remember, says something to that effect in the preface to the Tractatus – and not in changing people’s minds. So I would admit to being inspired by Alasdair Gray’s “early days of a better nation” (yes, yes, I know it’s not really his), and therefore influenced by him. You imply, I think, that to vote a particular way because x, a novelist, is doing so, is on a par with deciding to vote with y, a footballer, or z, a tv weather forecaster: mere hero-worship. Potentially, perhaps, but not necessarily.

    “btl” – back to life? what?

  8. florian albert says:

    I think that the best writers, poets, novelists and dramatists, are more than entertainers. They tell us something about ourselves and about the human condition.
    That said, when they give their views on politics, they are rarely worth listening to.
    Larkin is a classic example; an excellent poet whose political views were none too attractive.

    btl = below the line. It refers to comments – like mine – made in response to an article. The article would be above the line.

    1. A.R. Frith says:

      Um. I don’t disagree – and it’s not hard to think of more extreme examples than Larkin, of course: Celine, Hamsun, von Doderer, all pro-Nazi (unlike Kipling, who, whatever else is said about his opinions, saw through Hitler when (e.g.) Churchill was still giving him the benefit of the doubt). However, if an author does write with insight, it would seem possible that her/his views on political questions may at least be worth a quick skim – I know beforehand that I almost certainly won’t agree with Allan Massie, say, but will read a piece with his byline anyway (whereas Brian Wilson’s is a signal not to bother). The ability to tell us something of ourselves does make it likelier that its possessor may have something to contribute to such a debate, I would maintain, than some other skill that brings fame sufficient for the person to be asked for her/his views. Not MUCH likelier perhaps: obviously if you add the right-thinking-but-banal to the wrong-headed you get a v. long list. On the other hand, when an editorial in ‘The Independent’ (c.1989) attacked Graham Greene for supporting the govt of Nicaragua, because as a writer he had no standing and so was misusing his celebrity status, it was even more mistaken.

      1. florian albert says:

        It may be that writers’ political views are ‘worth a quick skim.’ Does that not apply equally to the butcher, the baker et al ?

  9. Drew Campbell says:

    I shall vote No –
    and uphold all that is Great about Britain:
    Punching above our weight in the world
    A Greece to the American Rome, home
    to the Mother of Parliaments, a beacon in a benighted world
    where the sun never sets
    on Our Old Empire.

    Rebellious Scots to crush!
    For the sake of Old Lang Syne;
    For the sake of Our Gracious Queen,
    who is concerned (courtiers’ will let it be known –
    at an apposite moment
    via unattributable whispers)
    her beloved Scotland may
    a constitution – and that would never do, never,
    no, no, no, NO!

    Remember, always, we are subjects, not citizens, but writing down such
    would only cause
    a kerfuffle.

    Anyway, the City Boys say we’re all subsidy junkies anyway –
    and we can’t afford pensions even with
    a deep-fried life expectancy of twenty-three years and a day
    or two. Not me – obviously – but you.
    (George says he’s fucked male and female of every creed and most breeds of animal too,
    but he’d never fuck a girl with a Glasgow accent – What a hoot!)

    But no, serious now, dark forces are afoot…
    No need to fret, though, for BBC and CBI and ITV and TUC will keep us right
    and the Remembrancer will drop the right word
    in the right ear
    of a loyal MP, PDQ at PMQs
    “Salmon’s landed in the pocket of Putin!”
    “There’s only ten bob’s worth of oil left in the North Sea!”
    “You’ll be kicked out of the Champions’ League!”

    So heed the words of Herr Bowie and “Scotland, please don’t go,”
    We beg of you all – for the sake of our arses, PLEASE vote No.

    (Yes, and we can be Heroes – just for one day).

    1. A.R. Frith says:

      Hmph – very good.

      I got to the third line before reassuring doubt set in, and the fourth before I was certain this was ok.

      If you ever give a public reading, that might be too late …

      1. Drew Campbell says:

        Thanks, A.R.! Yours was better – positivity usually is – and I was particularly inspired by your line about a written constitution. That’s the next step, I believe – let’s get a (draft) written constitution and even if the No vote manages to squeeze through on the day we’ll have something solid to stand behind. Let them tell us we can’t have it! “Scotland’s Future” is essentially an SNP manifesto with a few bits added; policies are clothes that can be changed or discarded – a constitution is the body of a nation, the embodiment of a people. I’m working on holding ‘Constitutional Slams’ where people can put up ideas they’d like to see written into a Scottish constitution. It’s a bit of fun on one level, but also to plant the idea that we should own our own constitution and sustain our activism. Negotiating with EIBF about it being part of their ‘Unbound’ sessions in August. If you want to get involved, let me know.

  10. A.R. Frith says:

    It was your assertion that writers’ views on politics are “rarely worth listening to” – a judgment which made no comparison to the value of non-writers’ views. I was commenting on what you had said.

    The answer to yr question is no, not equally. Although the opinions of those involved in retailing foodstuffs, may indeed be fascinating, let alone just worth skimming, it is not their trade to articulate a world view. So while Mr Bunn may be a brilliant political thinker, he obviously isn’t one qua baker. However if a writer is not merely an entertainer, but one who, as you say, “tell[s] us … about ourselves and … the human condition”, then articulating a w.v. IS what s/he is doing. Now it may be that her/his view of politics is that as part of the scheme of things it is not important, in which case s/he won’t have much to say. Alternatively, … but I feel I’m repeating myself.

    I am sure you get my point. I do think that wordsmiths, if I can use that rather arch term, have a privileged position in relation to the use of, er, words. It doesn’t make what they say truer or wiser, necessarily, but it should make it at least more fluent; and some writers, I would say, DO have a sufficiently worked out view of the world that their opinions may have weight (Tolstoy, Shaw, Chesterton, Huxley . . . Sartre, Richard Hughes . . . Orwell (hmph) . . . – deliberately avoiding any Scots writers).

    1. A.R. Frith says:

      (The above, I should have said, is in response to Florian Albert’s comment of 30/4/14 at 18:47)

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