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

Saturday 6 September 2014

"Stay!" - an open letter to my fellow Scottish voters

This is an open letter I have earlier this afternoon sent to The Spectator magazine for potential publication; it is quite short, as the request for submissions in a tweet from the Editor suggested that they be limited to 250 words and I have done my best to comply:


Dear fellow Scottish voter,

Because I am resident in Scotland I am lucky to be one of the approx 10% of the UK population to have a vote in the Referendum. I am mainly Scottish. I have used my postal vote to vote "no" and below I explain why.

For me it is mainly about emotion and only partly about financial, security or other issues; I am British and Scottish and always felt at home wherever I lived in the UK (various parts of Scotland, the Isle of Man, and London for several years) and in the 9 or so other countries around the world I have lived in I have always felt British, too. My British friends have come from all parts of the UK and now that I live back in Scotland, many of my friends and neighbours are English, Welsh and Irish (both parts), as well as Scottish of course.

I want to remain British and Scottish. The UK has generally been a force for good in the world and I don't want it to fade into history. I wrote above that I am “mainly” Scottish, because one grandparent was Irish (from what is now the Republic) and the bitterness of him being disowned by most of his family because he fought in the British army in WWI is still a scar. Scotland has largely avoided violence luckily, but "yes" voters delude themselves if they think nothing will change in their cross-UK family relationships, sadly.

Please stay!

William Cameron

I have no idea whether my letter will be chosen for publication by The Spectator, but in case it is not it will at least be viewable by visitors to my blog, or via my Twitter or Facebook feeds.

Obviously I could (and have in the past) written at greater length on my firmly held conviction that not only is the UK generally a "good thing" and been a positive force in the world during the more than 300 years of its existence, but that in the longer term its continuation is good for both Scots and people who consider other parts of the UK "home"; for many of us Britons it is difficult to define exactly what we are, because our family backgrounds are often varied and intermingled, not only with people from all over these islands (the "British Isles", that archipelago of islands off the north-west coast of Europe), but in many cases with people from diverse countries around the world. Many people have family backgrounds from outside the UK, but have integrated within our wider British society and later generations born here mostly have little difficulty in identifying themselves as "British", plus whatever is the country of their family backgrounds - but we are all "British"; funnily enough, as I write this I am watching a repeat episode on the Yesterday TV channel of the "Who Do You Think You Are" programme, which is about the former athlete Colin Jackson - he seems to have no more difficulty reconciling Jamaican-Welsh-British roots than I do my Scottish-Irish-British roots; many millions of our fellow Britons have similarly or more complex backgrounds and, on the whole, we have all rubbed along together pretty well over the centuries.

In the context of the forthcoming Referendum in Scotland, whose franchise has nothing to do with ethnicity and everything to do with who is actually resident in Scotland, whatever their ethnic or cultural backgrounds, my fervent hope is that the result will be for Scotland to remain an integral part of the United Kingdom; we are already as 'independent' as any people are likely to be in a globalised world and we are one with our brothers/sisters/fathers/mothers in other parts of the UK - becoming a 'separate' country is not going to enhance our notional 'independence' in any meaningful way in my opinion. All it is likely to do is add another costly level of bureaucracy, which frankly we don't need - all modern societies do of course require some kind of structured government, but we already have a pretty democratic, fair system in place. As a Highlander in Scotland, our current central government in London is no more remote in organisational terms than a similar administration is or would become in Edinburgh, but being a part of the UK gives us some of the advantages of economies of scale. As for lack of representation, I personally voted for none of the governments/executives which have run the Scottish Parliament since it came into being in 1999 any more than I voted for the UK governments which managed the affairs of the UK from 1974 to 1979, or from 1997 to 2010. It is called "democracy".

This is why it is my fervent hope that my fellow voters in Scotland will by majority vote for Scotland to remain part of the UK in the Referendum on 18th September 2014. Let it not be the demise of probably the greatest and most beneficial period in the history of these islands and in truth the demise of what has in practice been an overwhelming force for good in the world.

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