Still Undecided? Remember it’s not about you


All recent polls show the undecided will be the decisive factor in the outcome of the Scotland referendum – and you have to sympathise with the plight of those still sitting on the fence.

The poor folks have been bombarded from both sides with figures, claims, counter-claims and a barrage of words and hot air on the subject – leaving them more confused than ever.

This is shameful as almost all of the campaigning is utterly irrelevant. Why? Because it comes from politicians and pundits who thunder on about the issues – the politics. And they miss the point. This is not about politics. Not at all.

The economy, health, education, defence et al have no place in the referendum. To use your vote wisely there is only one decision you must make – would you like to run your own affairs or not? It’s that simple. And that important.

This is not about Alex Salmond or David Cameron. Or any political party. Or manifesto. Don’t listen to them. Or trudge through 600-page White Papers. Politicians of all shades and abilities will be around forever. They will come and go as the electorate sees fit and make decisions on your behalf. For better or worse. Whether in the Union or not.

Be sure of this – regardless of the outcome, Scotland will be governed by elected politicians. As any democracy rightfully is. So don’t become obsessed with their plans about your future in an independent country or as part of Britain. All sides are inevitably flawed by self-interest and will promise the earth for your vote in a general election. But this is not an election – it is a single issue.

Consider only this. You love your daughter. She is married and lives, say, 10 miles away with her husband and children. She runs her life and household in the way she sees fit. Is this an acceptable state of affairs for you? Do you love her just as much now that she has her own life and you have yours? Then vote yes for independence. Or would you prefer her to take over your life and decide how it will be run. Then vote no.

There is nothing else to ponder. The independence question really is that easy. Don’t be fooled by those who try to make it difficult with ‘issues’. All that you have to decide is whether Scotland – a country that has given so much to the world – can produce enough good people, of whatever hue, to run its own affairs.

On that basis then, you would expect the yes side to be overwhelming favourites to triumph. After all, who in their right mind would want their next-door neighbours to be calling the shots in your household?

Rather a lot, it seems. Clearly they are feart about what might happen to them outwith the UK. An unholy alliance of the right and left has gathered under the Union banner – for different reasons but aiming for the same result – to spread the fear. And they have certainly made an impact.

Let’s take a closer look at two of the leading lights of this campaign from opposite ends of the political spectrum. Representing the right is Charles Moore, former editor of The Daily Telegraph and The Spectator, who added his Old Etonian-Oxbridge weight to the debate. Writing in defence of the status quo, the official biographer – and admirer – of Margaret Thatcher gave us his thoughts recently.

Now, you can imagine Moore, the embodiment of the English intellectual establishment, composing his essay at home in a splendid country pile in that green and pleasant land. Sitting at a mahogany desk in his oak-panelled office, his thoughts come pouring out on the screen and you wait for his patrician wisdom with bated breath…

“The kilt, the tartan, Balmoral, the novels of Walter Scott – almost every famous emblem of Scottish self-consciousness – arose from the defeat of Scottish independence, not its assertion. They were distinctively Scottish elements to help compose the new Britishness.”

So there it is. When the Scots became uppity 300 years ago, the English offered a few placatory morsels, even creating the tartan and the kilt for them – a sense of identity so they might feel worthy in their own right. Is there anything more patronising? Or insulting? Or so out of touch? Three centuries out of touch, in fact. Does he really not see the massive changes in the world in all that time? To compare Scotland then and now is nonsense of the highest order.

Yet this man is a heavyweight of the Union who wants Westminster to rule Scotland in perpetuity. If following this relic of the empire’s advice is your idea of a prosperous future for you and your grandchildren, then good luck with that.

Representing the left is George Galloway. He is also a relic and as out of touch as Moore – though coming at it from more recent times. He is touring Scotland, as he does in his unique narcissistic fashion, warning us guid folks about the dangers of independence. His views – like his pompous vocabulary and sectarian scaremongering – are 40 years out of date.

In the sixties and seventies the independence movement had a distinctly anti-English tinge to it that was unsavoury and put many people off – including myself. Galloway believes those dark xenophobic days still exist and calls for a unity of socialists across the UK instead of a ‘racist’ independence. Of course, the world – and Scotland – has moved on hugely in the last four decades or so. Back then, racism was almost institutionalised throughout the ‘civilised’ world. However, the difference between the independence camp then and now is vast.

I know of no-one voting yes who is doing so because they hate the English. Scotland is shaping up to be an open, welcoming country to all its communities and there is certainly no element of England-bashing that I have witnessed in the yes campaign. As an example, just recall the amazingly warm welcome Scots gave the English team at the opening of the Commonwealth Games.

Galloway has been away from his country of birth for too long as he strives – and fails miserably – to become a major figure on the world stage. His views on independence are not just offensive and inflammatory – they are as archaic in their own way as Moore’s.

I lived in England for some years and love the country and its wonderful people. I could no more hate the English than I could hate my family. I just don’t want them to run my life. And I have no yearning to run theirs. We can get along famously without a political alliance.

Of course, many complex issues will have to be confronted down the line – but that’s two years away. Regardless of how you vote now, politicians will decide on these things and you will have your say in a general election in an independent Scotland or as part of the UK, as you always have.

What you must ask yourself now – and only this – is whether or not Scotland has the gift to thrive in its own right. For me, if I must have politicians running my life – and I do – can I at least have people who live and work in Scotland, and whose minds are in the here and now, to do so.

Much as I have a soft spot for the eccentric Charles Moore curiosities who will go to their death-beds  dreaming of empire, I really don’t want them running my affairs. Their world of patronage deservedly vanished decades ago. A new world is still forming and it is so much better.

There is one other thing you should know before you decide. Your vote is a legacy. It is not just about you – it is also for your descendants who will have to live with the consequences long after you have gone. That’s how important this is.

So don’t be feart. Be bold. Be proud. Be brave. Let your country take care of its own affairs. And may it be a new Scotland that is warm and welcoming. A land that has decency at the heart of everything it does.

Only you can give it that chance to be worthy of handing over to future generations. It really is that simple.

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  1. If they haven’t made their mind up by now then they are non voters unless of course they are thick.

  2. woolfy2341 says:

    If people haven’t made up their minds by now then they are non voters or stupid.

  3. Phil Robertson says:

    What’s not clear in all the metaphors here is why Scotland becomes the viable national unit. What is so different between the folks of Dumfries and Carlisle that puts them in different countries but doesn’t apply to differences between Glasgow and Aberdeen .

    1. Douglas says:

      Phil, are you being serious or merely facetious?

      The difference is that Scotland is one of the historic nations of Europe, whereas Carlisle is not. That is a statement of fact not a “nationalist” point of view: Scotland is one of the oldest nation states in Europe. Older than England in its current borders, because for centuries England was preoccupied mainly with France and governed large parts of France.

      Scotland is older than Spain, older than Italy, older than Germany, older than Belgium, and Holland, and older than Russia in its present form. As far as I am aware only Portugal could claim to be an older nation state in Europe as it is found in its present borders (more or less), though that would be using the Declaration of Arbroath as a market date, and you could argue Scotland began centuries earlier.

      If you have any doubt about that check out the first line of the Anglo Saxon Chronicles, written over a thousand years ago, and not by a Scot exactly…

      I don’t understand why so many side of YES are keen to describe Scotland as a “polity” either when what it is, and always has been, is a NATION. It is one of the oldest nations in Europe, and let anybody gainsay that if they can.

  4. arthur thomson says:

    It is a matter of choice Phil. Some people choose to see Scotland as the viable unit, whilst others choose to see Britain as the viable unit. There is no ‘magic’ to it, no slight of hand and no useful place for being disingenuous.

  5. Tog says:

    Has the francise for the referendum now been extended to the under tens?

  6. David Fullstone says:

    Yes Alex I feel too many people are getting dragged into the confusing world of statistics and political personalities when the real big picture is being missed. I always like to veer away from what is making so many stay undecided and stick with what I have seen all my life. In agreeing with what Alex put it really is about deciding your own future. Ok politicians some politicians are corrupt and some aren’t but I feel we are missing the main point. All politicians want re-elected. If you have your own government the politicians will all be competing with each other to get your vote. I still remember when Maggie tested out the Poll tax on Scotland waiting till she got the suicide rate just right tweaking here and there till she could do it on the South in an improved form. For her to do that in the South would have been political suicide but Scotland simply doesn’t matter. Many people who haven’t worked all over the country don’t realise this isn’t a Scotland/England thing. It’s a Scotland/North of England rebelling against the South thing. I work in England and the North/South debate I always hear is about what the North of England thinks of the South and vice versa where the Norths complaints are the same as Scotland’s. It’s simple really politicians always look after the area around their seat of power and where they will get the most votes. At least with a Scottish government whatever the politician in charge they will be looking to make the Scottish happy so that they will be elected/re-elected unlike the Westminster who simply don’t give a damn about the Scottish. It’s nothing personal it’s just that they want re-elected and our contribution is totally insignificant. Don’t get me wrong unity is a good thing but just like a marriage in some cases there is great team work going on and in other marriages the husband reaps the benefit of being seen as a family man to the company whilst giving the wife just enough to get by on. Listening to the YES/NO debate is like listening to social services trying to explain to the wife why she should leave with the wife believing things will get better. I would love to be able to move back to Scotland but in this unity the quality of life is unbelievably better in the South of England. It always has been unbelievably better and unless change happens things will stay the same. Anyway I’ll let the NO vote get on with looking into their crystal balls of fear while I hedge my bets with the way the South of England always has treated the North of England and Scotland irrespective of who is in power.

  7. thisgreenworld says:

    abso-bloody-lutely. this is nothing to do with pensions or currencies – these are details that sensible people can work out. It’s about asking ourselves “What is our country for, who does it benefit. Nobody can be certain about anything, it is about what we WANT our OWN country to be!

    regardless of the petty to and fros of Alex and Alistair…

  8. Reblogged this on Bampots Utd and commented:
    Vote yes and watch your children get a better education !

  9. bringiton says:

    If you watched the STV debate tonight,you should be in no doubt that the case against Scottish independence is predicated entirely on currency.
    Without the pound Sterling we are doomed and that goes for every country in the world that doesn’ t have that privilege.
    Darling’s fellow Tories were cheering this concept on because it is all that is standing between them and social democracy.
    I entirely understand their position but fundamentally disasgree.

  10. Heather says:

    I whollly agree that this is about a country and self determination, but the no lot have and will continue to bombard the people of Scotland with scare stories if they even consider taking matters into their own hands. We all know that Independence will be better for the people of Scotland and that it most certainly cannot get any worse than it is now under the uk, unless it is a no vote.
    Thats the thing, how to get the message out that this is about the people and a country, and moving forward not backwards in their management and outlook of their own country, not being dictated to, and used and abused, by a neighbouring country. The message is getting through, but we need to step up a pace now.

  11. Gary says:

    Many of the most ardent unionists do not believe Scotland to be a country and think independence to be the drawing of a line where none has been and the end of their country of Britain. The YES vote sees it as the transfer of the rest of the powers to Holyrood. The come the politicians of Westminster, they know Scotland is ‘viable’ they know the currency issue is a distraction and the scare stories they present are not ones they believe. Voting NO because of an identity issue is one thing but to vote NO out of fear which is due to the knowing lies of BT would be a crying shame. Better Togethers strategy of lies and smears is the dirtiest campaign I’ve ever seen. I don’t know how they can sleep at night.

  12. Big Jock says:

    Put starkly the choice is a once in a lifetime leap of faith to create a revolution in Scotland.Or to change nothing and vote no.You then have to accept this is as good as it gets.You cannot complain if the Tories get back in and we end up out of Europe at England’s behest.You accept majority rule by consent if you vote no.I fear for Scotland after a no vote! The currency issue maybe campaign rhetoric but so is enhanced powers.Its a trap an empty promise of something intangible. Power resides at Westminster and power will be eroded rather than expanded.Expect to be punished and expect the Scottish government to be at war with Westminster over the health service and education.That’s the future after no!

  13. David McCann says:

    Couldnt agree more. The media are determined to put a price in £sd on independence, when it is about nothing of the sort- its simply about democracy. How on earth do other free and independent small countries manage? It suits the media and the No campaign to bury us in a mountain of statistics, when it is marginal as to how a future Scottish government might act.
    I think it also suits the media to depict the Yes campaign as a campaign to re-elect an SNP government, whilst at the same time ignoring the breadth of the Yes campaign, who manage to pack halls on a nightly basis, without a politician in sight. Most of these meetings are arranged with an invitation to the No campaign to provide speakers.
    In the vast majority of these meetings the No campaign refuse to attend, or pull out at the last minute.
    Tonight’s STV debate, between two politicians left this activist with the feeling that I am living in some parallel universe, and that my engagement with real people is all a dream.

  14. Hortense says:

    Probably the closest thing to an expression of my views I’ve read over the last two years of campaign. I would add that the question should be ‘ do you want your country to run (all) its own affairs?’ Most folk should be able to answer that immediately. Thanks

  15. Lochside says:

    Phil Robertson: the difference between the folk of Carlisle and Dumfries? Well the former are English and the latter are Scottish. This is also true of the folk in Cornhill on Tweed and the folk in Eyemouth.That’s been the case for around a thousand years you’ll find.

    Try looking up Carlisle Utd.’s fan site ‘Carlisle Mad’. It gives a good snapshot of your average Cumbrian fitba fan..not scientific maybe, but better than IPSOS I’d hazard a guess.There’s a thread on there that discusses ‘Scottish Independence’. It’s an interesting read. Full of racist invective and ignorant comment by people who obviously see a big difference between them and the folk a few miles north.

    Maybe it will explain to you that there is a distinctive national and political difference between the two countries.

  16. gonzalo1 says:

    An excellent article, Mr Mooney. However, for many voters out there it will always be about money cos that’s the way of the modern world. So we should explain to them, and more importantly, their children and grandchildren, the opportunities that will arise under an independent Scotland that don’t exist at the moment.

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