Referendum Reflections

Before I start getting into my thoughts and reflections on the Scottish independence referendum which took place last week, I should point out that I don’t live in Scotland right now and i didn’t follow the debates as closely as I could have done; mainly because I didn’t have the right (quite correct in my opinion) to vote. So if my views seem ill informed or downright wrong to anyone reading please bear in mind they are based on information I had and are my own personal reflections.

If anyone had asked me in May or June of this year how I would have voted in the referendum I would have, without hesitation, have said I would vote no. My reasons for this were simple. First of all, having lived in the north east of Scotland I had seen Alex Salmond’s complete indifference to the way Scottish people were being treated by Donald Trump and his organisation as he tried to go ahead with his golf resort at Balmeddie. Mr Salmond was well aware of what was going on (if you are interested in knowing more google Tripping up Trump) but turned a blind eye as it suited him to do so; until the wind farms were brought into the equation – working toward being a top European proponent of off shore wind energy seemed more important to Mr Salmond than the people of Balmeddie.

However, in addition to this there seemed to be very little clear, concise information with regard to major concerns: what currency would we use? What was our defence policy? Would we apply to join the EU and/or the Euro? What would happen if our application was rejected? Who would be our political and military allies? What happens when the oil runs out? How would we spend/invest the oil revenue before it runs out? The answers all seemed to rely on said oil revenue and a vague sort of ‘trust us’ from the SNP (Scottish National Party). Across my Facebook feed, friends who were planning to vote no seemed to be in the majority.

Then came the news, sometime in July, about a massive oil field discovery off the coast of Shetland. It was reported by friends working in the oil industry that workers on the rig closest had been sent home on full pay until the end of September, David Cameron made secret visits to discuss this discovery and not a word was reported in the press. This was the story that changed my mind. It seemed clear that we would never get a fair deal from Westminster where oil was concerned. I also got to thinking that Alex Salmond wouldn’t be around forever and, whilst there would undoubtedly be a period of uncertainty following a yes vote, I felt I had to look long-term, beyond my lifetime, and what was best for Scotland. I felt it was time for Scotland to make our own decisions and own our own mistakes, work hard to build a successful, prosperous and inspiring country. No more blaming the government/Westminster/England or the mythical ‘them’. At this point my sister said I sounded like I had escaped from the movie ‘Braveheart’ and I had to concede I was thinking from the heart (brave or otherwise!) and if I was living in Scotland I don’t know if I’d have been so sure.

However momentum was growing for the ‘yes’ vote with polls indicating that ‘yes’ was edging ahead and, seemingly in panic the men from Westminster arrived to boost the no vote with promises of extra power and extra money – despite the fact they had previously pointed out how much money they already gave to Scotland annually they were now desperate for us to stay in the union. So now the question seemed more to be ‘Should Scotland be an Independent Country? Yes or No (but with a few extra promises thrown in for good measure)’.

September 18 rolled around, people voted and the results returned 55% to 45% in favour of NO. The United Kingdom had survived intact. I was disappointed but then thought, if the vote had been reversed how would independence really work if we were effectively forcing almost half the country to accept something they didn’t want?

What followed in Glasgow on Friday evening was unbelievable. Riots and intimidation of yes supporters by Unionists (Unionists in the Orange Order/Rangers supporting sense of the word, not as in everyone who believes in the United Kingdom). Did these people not realise that the No vote was successful? Did they vote no to have an excuse to riot? There has also been talk of BNP involvement, I’m pretty sure this is not what the majority of those who voted no wanted.

Across my Facebook news feed I have seen stories and videos talking of vote rigging, ballot papers being incorrectly printed and other such things. Whether there is any truth in these allegations remains to be seen. There is also talk of Westminster already back tracking on the promises, news of the oil find has been reported in the media (largest oil field in the world according to some reports) and some no voters wishing they had voted yes. I have also seen a story saying the vote can be challenged and declared void if a petition is launched within a certain timeframe, again I don’t know if this is true.

I should also say that I am categorically not anti-English; I lived in England for a while and have some amazing friends who are English and who (I hope) will always be my friends. This affects them too, as regardless of whether Scotland stays in the union or finds another way to independence things will change. English people on Facebook have questioned the money Westminster gives to Scotland, perceived bias to the South East of the country, the threat of privatisation of the NHS in England (Scotland already has devolved powers for healthcare), etc so this debate does affect England too. I’ve also read of English people asking if they can vote on whether or not they want to keep Scotland in the union and, if I was English, I’d probably think ‘well if you don’t want to be with us off you go then and we’ll see how you get on’

My final views? Scotland needs to be a united country before we vote for independence again (assuming we get the opportunity to do so). The country needs to be working together, not fighting and arguing amongst ourselves and we need clear, truthful answers to the questions I mentioned earlier (and probably many more that I’ve not thought about). The oil find may be being touted as one of the biggest in the world but it will run out eventually and you can’t build infinity on a finite resource. I also think that the people of Scotland should also be incredibly grateful that they had the chance to walk into a polling station and cast a vote. All over the world people are fighting and dying for the right to independence and freedom and, regardless of anyone’s views (mine included) on the SNP and the Westminster government, we have to be thankful that we were allowed this opportunity.

So what happens now? I have no idea but I dont think it’s over and I do think that the UK as a whole will see changes as a result. Again, these are just my thoughts and ramblings, I’m no political commentator(that is probably fairly obvious) but as a Scot this was important to me.

Normal service will now resume with stories of life in Saudi Arabia and travels with my friends.

Thanks for reading.

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