Why look – it’s another unnecessary opinion piece about the Scottish #Indyref by an Englishman
Last time I checked the internet was not short of opinions about the Scottish Independence Referendum. So please feel free to ignore mine. Although it does include a little bit about the experience of running Ampp3d during the process which you might find interesting. Or not.
I’m English. I was born in London, and think of myself as English. You may consider that enough reason to switch off and go and read something less boring instead.
Still here? Great.
My family has Scottish roots. My paternal grandfather moved to the south coast of England from Edinburgh to join the navy during the Second World War, and ended up in London after the war for work. My wife is Scottish, so technically our children are 5/8ths Scottish, but we never talk about that. Joke. At home in sports events we all cheer England and Scotland, and South Africa, where my wife lived for a long time. Unless they are playing each other in which case my wife and I revert to tribalism and the kids pick the kit colour they like best.
Personally, I’m broadly pro-Yes in the independence debate. My reasoning is this. Scotland was an independent nation for 800+ years. In a Europe where Moldova, Macedonia and Montenegro have managed to make themselves viable nation states, I struggle to see how a nation with the population, resources and character of Scotland couldn’t do that either. It’s a sentimental judgement.
My wife, though, would be a No. We had a conversation which made me see a radically different side to the debate. She feels totally alienated that although she was born in Inverness she doesn’t get a say because we live in London at the minute, but that anyone who currently immigrated into Scotland for work or is there studying does. She feels Scottish and British. Being British means that our London-born 5/8ths Scottish children come from the same country that she does with the same passport she has. Independence would at a stroke mean they were born in different countries. It’s another sentimental judgement.
Which is why Ampp3d coverage of the #Indyref debate has been a fascinating challenge so far. We try, as much as possible, to deal in facts and data. And the independence debate has been awash with data. It’s just that most of it, as far as I can see with my data-journalism hat on, has been partisan and hypothetical.
I can’t quite get my head around deciding to vote on whether you are an independent state or not based on some projections of oil production and revenue in 2050. It is 36 years away. I don’t know anyone on the planet who keeps referring back to their predictions from 1978 for this year, going “Awesome, glad I voted that way in an election 36 years ago” or whatnot.
It’s difficult to conceive that in the event of a Yes vote it will actually be in the best national interests of the rUK to have a land border with a destabilised nation that has no currency, isn’t in NATO or the EU, and with a load of new border posts to build. And whatever happens – again looking at the historical lessons in Europe from the peaceful break-up of nation states – I genuinely doubt that the sky will actually fall on our heads.
I just hope three things.
From my view down at Ampp3d, it has been an incredibly divisive debate. When #BBCQT or Any Questions has been in Scotland, our Twitter account generally gets a much bumpier ride live-tweeting the show than when any other issue is the focus. Of course, there’s an element of that being because – however much you’ve researched your material – you are still “the London media”, but it has been quite vicious. And I should add that despite the media stereotype of the “cybernat”, we’ve found plenty of No voices being pretty unpleasant to us too.
So my first hope is that Scottish politics will find a way to reconcile the two sides of the debate in the weeks and months that follow the announcement of the result.
My second hope is that, whatever her people decide, Scotland has a prosperous and happy future.
My third hope is that I don’t have to read any more unnecessary opinion pieces about this from people who don’t have a vote who aren’t Scottish oh hang on…