Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Wednesday 17 September 2014

On the eve of Scotland's referendum, my earnest plea is that you vote "NO"

For those residents of Scotland who have not already voted by post (as I have), tomorrow will be your opportunity to vote in the Referendum to decide whether Scotland will remain as an independent and free component of the United Kingdom or whether it will become a separate or "independent" country.

I have never been in any doubt myself. I voted "NO" and I urge you to do likewise if you will be voting tomorrow. Why? I am British and Scottish, or Scottish and British if you prefer - for me there is almost no difference. I am not remotely 'aggrieved', as so many supporters of the SNP and the "YES" camp generally seem to be, by the fact that Scotland represents less than 10% of the UK population - anyone who has given a cursory glance at public, commercial and political life will have observed that Scotland has performed way above what the raw population data might suggest. Anyone who thinks that Scots are, within the United Kingdom, in any way 'oppressed' or 'put upon' is, not to put too fine a point on it, completely deluded! To be totally honest, the 'Scottish cringe' and the 'chip on shoulder' mentality of so many SNP supporters or supporters of the "YES" campaign generally (and despite their protestations they are almost one and the same thing, to all intents and purposes, with the Greens and SSP being miniscule and maverick components), disgusts and appals me. The idea that Scots are 'oppressed' or ignored within the UK is ridiculous and absurd - the Scots are no more an homogeneous people than are the English; someone from the Highlands of Scotland, the Outer Hebrides or Orkney or Shetland is just as different from people in the Glasgow-Edinburgh area of Scotland as people in Cornwall, the North-east of England or indeed the North-west are from the people in London or the South-east of England. But none of us are so very different in any important sense. There are lots of Scots throughout the rest of the UK, specially in London and the South-east, just as there are significant numbers of English people or people from Wales and Northern Ireland in Scotland - and long may it continue! We are all citizens of one country (comprising four nations) and long may that continue, too.

No, I don't think the SNP is full of homophobes, although it does have some (as do most political parties), but it does trouble me greatly that one of the greatest financial backers of the SNP and the "YES" campaign is arch-homophobe Brian Souter. It is possible his support is purely because of his considerable business interests in the transport sector and his hope that a separate/independent Scotland will be more favourable to him (perhaps because of tax breaks), but it is not a risk I wish to take. So far as I am concerned he is an odious man and is one of the principal reasons why I resigned from the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party in 2001, because of his 'Keep the Clause' campaign and the support given to it then by the Conservatives. The Conservative Party has changed a lot since then and indeed the leader of the Scottish party Ruth Davidson, quite apart from the fact that she is a proud lesbian woman, has been a beacon of sanity and rationality in the campaign leading up to tomorrow's referendum. Although same-sex marriage has already been legislated for in the Scottish Parliament last February, the first marriage is not expected to take place until October - why the delay? Although the equivalent legislation for England and Wales was passed somewhat earlier (with no adequate or convincing reason why it was passed later in Scotland), during the first three months of the legislation in England and Wales, 1,409 same-sex marriages were carried out there. So far there have been none in Scotland. I recall that when civil partnerships were legislated for, the then Scottish Executive (Labour-dominated, and anyone who has ever read my blog will know I am no supporter of Labour) agreed that legislation passed in Westminster on this important new extension of civil rights would extend simultaneously to Scotland. The SNP Scottish Government has decided that the legislation for Scotland on this even more important aspect of civil rights equality should be later in Scotland than in England and Wales - the reasons for this one can only guess at, but I am quite frankly suspicious, given the financial input of arch-homophobe Brian Souter.

As I mentioned above, I am British and Scottish and I like being a citizen of both; I have no desire whatsoever to join the parochialists of the SNP or "YES" campaign by separating Scotland from the rest of our country, the UK. We are one country and I want us to remain one country. I hope you will vote "NO" tomorrow, as I have done already. To do otherwise will only bring damage to us all and to those who come after us, all for the sake of some illusory 'independence', frankly a chimera in our globalised world. Don't be swayed by the cheap and empty promises of Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney and their SNP/"YES" accomplices. Please, please vote "NO".

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