As if Prime Minister David Cameron hasn’t got enough problems, the promised referendum allowing Scotland to vote on whether people want independence from the rest of the United Kingdom looms ever closer, and some polls show that the gap between the Yes and No camps is closing. It will be a tight race come September. While staying within the UK still leads in the polls, over 50% of people believe an independent Scotland could be successful.
One reason for the increasing number of once-independent areas seeking to regain that independence is that people also want to recover their character, their heritage, their sense of belonging to that particular patch of the earth which defines who they are.
While most of us are happy to trade, to buy products from other countries, to take part in what is now a “global community”, we want to do it on our own terms. We do not want to be governed by global corporations which have far too much influence on our governments.
Globalisation is a process of homogenisation. We do not want to be mixed together until we are all the same tiny digits in the corporate balance sheet. We want to be different, and we want to market that difference. We want our contributions to the world to be recognised as ours, not swallowed up by some greater, faceless state.
Let me make it clear – I am English. I am British in the sense of belonging (as did my ancestors) to the British Isles, which is not a nation but a geographic location, a part of which is England. I come from a place, not a political entity. And I am definitely not United Kingdom-ish. I have huge loyalty to my land but little in the way of political “patriotism”.
When I visit Wales or Scotland I am conscious of entering countries separate from mine, full of Welsh and Scots – not Brits. We define ourselves as Welsh, Scottish or English. We belong to countries with different accents, idioms and languages, different histories and cultures, legends and customs, and ways of thinking and perception. And I love it that way.
Therefore I respect the fact that many Scots want to return to being independent of the United Kingdom – not that any of our ancestors got to vote on the issue of being “United” back in the 17th century. I also respect the fact that the Scots are holding a referendum on whether to regain their independence from Westminster, and that it is their referendum, not mine.
There’s another thing. Although it has not been openly said, is it really Westminster that many Scots feel the need to separate themselves from? Because there are quite a lot of us English folk who feel the same!
But as an Englishwoman, I am ashamed of some of the arguments put forward by the “Better Together” camp. That title for a start. And the launch of Better Together was used by ex-Chancellor Alistair Darling, himself a Scotsman, to make much of the fact that an independent Scotland would “lose its standing in the world”.
Even worse, a diminished United Kingdom would lose its “clout”. Very important, clout is, to self-important politicians. They don’t get to interfere in other countries’ affairs, something that other countries might consider a good thing.
How tediously long is the list of what Scotland would lose if it cut its ties with England. Oh yes. It is England that is all-important. Little mention is made of Wales or Northern Ireland, but then they are not host to Westminster or the “financial capital of the world”.
Better Together said Scotland can’t be part of the EU. Why not? They can easily apply for membership or is Westminster going to have a hissy-fit and veto their entry? But the ex-head of the EU Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said “it would be extremely difficult”…