I’ve changed my mind over Scottish independence and so on which way I would vote in the referendum on 18 September.
Although a Liberal and Liberal Democrat, I welcomed the SNP’s election progress from the 1967 Hamilton by-election to their first administration in the Scottish Government. As a school and college student, trying to be different, I would talk to girls about Scottish independence. As a chat up technique it was a total failure! Only a few years ago, I wrote in an email about wanting to be on the northern side of the border when Scotland became independent.
I displayed a sham certainty that melted several years ago before the prospect of a referendum after the SNP’s election victories.
In fact all along I was arguing for federalism with a passion that persists.
Why when, Liberal Democrats are jostling to explain why they are voting Yes, have I abandoned my flirtation and do I passionately want a No vote?
First, because I am a Liberal, not a nationalist. I was inspired to join the Liberal Party by a plain and dull party political broadcast that talked about federalism. I liked the idea of changing the constitution to make all the parts of the United Kingdom equal and properly able to work together. I am half Welsh and Wales is, constitutionally, the least equal of all. Independence creates competing unequal nations. It doesn’t matter that a No vote will not create federalism. That is not the question in the referendum; but if we are together, we Liberal Democrats can go on working for federalism. We have achieved devolution and other great things, why should we not also achieve Gladstone’s great dream of federalism?
Second, if I were to vote for independence, I would have to do it for better, for worse, in sickness and in health, come what may. A Yes vote should only be cast if I could live with an independent Scotland not getting into the EU, NATO, OECD and all the other international bodies Scotland belongs to as part of the United Kingdom; if there was no currency union; and if I could live with none of the liberal policies in the 650-page White Paper being implemented and an independent Scotland swinging to the right, with a government with no commitment to the White Paper, as might happen when a Yes vote removed the SNP’s reason for existing. In other words, I could not make the only honest vote, which is an unconditional one.
Third, although people say this is not about Alex Salmond and the SNP, the truth is that it is. They are intolerant. The do not debate with opinions at odds with their own. They denigrate, denounce, wrap themselves in the saltire, bully and belittle. If it is not about Salmond and the SNP, then the whole Yes campaign, non-nationalists included, must be like that. I don’t what such illiberal people in charge of a new country or even an existing one.
Fourth, a Yes vote will destroy the United Kingdom from the moment the result is declared and I don’t want it to be destroyed.
None of this matters – I don’t have the vote in the referendum. I am one of the millions of Scots for and against independence who are disenfranchised by the first minister and the Yes campaign’s manipulating the franchise to increase their chances abetted by Westminster’s craven surrender.
But, if you do have a vote in the referendum, please think about what I say and vote No.
This article by Ian MacFadyen first appeared on LibDemVoice.org on Wednesday 10 September 2014, © Ian MacFadyen and LibDemVoice.org 2014