Being Brave

A tree on Hadrian's Wall
A tree on Hadrian’s Wall by Tom Habibi


I am Scottish. I was born there, I grew up there, I lived there for the first twenty six or so years of my life. I love Scotland. I love the way the rain changes the texture of the landscape. I love the banter with random punters in the street or the pub. I love the social democratic values which underpin much of our political thought.


I also love the United Kingdom of Great Britain. I lived there for the first thirty two years of my life. I love Scotland, England and Wales. I’ve sadly never visited Northern Ireland, but I love several people who hale from there. I love the rolling downs of the south, the canny shite of the northerns and the sheer capacity for drinking of the Welsh. I love the gentle liberal conservatism that underpins much of our political thought.


I am also currently resident in Singapore, a tiny nation of a little over five million people with no natural resources to speak of but one of the highest GDP per Capita in the developed world. It has built this amazing prosperity out of almost nothing in a little under fifty years since their independence.


On September 18th, my friends and family back home have a momentous decision to make:


“Should Scotland be an independent country?”


Sadly I don’t have a vote in that decision, but I have been watching the debate closely and carefully and I think I’m standing on an interesting patch of ground to lend some insight from.


This will require a small amount of bravery, to step up on the soap box and hear whatever feedback is offered to me. But not as much bravery as those who bear the responsibility to cast a vote on this next month. There is no return to the status quo from here, and both paths will require bravery to face.


If I had a vote, where would I stand?


When the referendum first came up following the SNP’s election win and mandate to hold one, I was comfortably in the “Devo Max” camp. With that off the balot, “No” was the obvious best option to pick; improving and expanding the processes of devolving power is the best way forward (even if that wasn’t available in this referendum) but wholesale independence just seemed fullhardy and built on a dream made out of shortbread and old battles that should be left in history where they belong. Reject Independence but build a case for more devolution, was my opinion.


My opinion has changed as the months of the debate have worn on. The light under which I have viewed Scotland’s position within the UK has changed. The Better Together No Thanks campaign retoric has shone a cold, blue forensic evidence lamp on matters rather than the warm, inclusive one it should have. The relationship I thought Scotland could have with Westminster doesn’t look to be available after all and increasingly it even begins to look like an abusive relationship that needs to change.


So I am a convert, if only theoretically as I have no vote, to “Yes” and I’d like to lay out the reasons for that and examine them. I also think it is almost the best thing that could happen for the remaining United Kingdom and I’ll try and explain why that is too.



Posts in this Series: