Saturday, 13 September 2014

Word of the Week: Undecided

I had promised (to myself) that I wouldn't write anything to do with politics on my blog but it is hard to avoid when you are surrounded by giant displays of 'YES' and 'NO' everywhere you look, and everyone you meet, even complete strangers, want to discuss the Scottish referendum.

I have read everything I can get my hands on about the issue even the glossy tome produced by the Scottish government. Nobody could say that I am not well informed but with less than a week to go I am still undecided as to which box to cross.

I am an English woman living in Scotland, not a rare thing at all, but perhaps a little more unusual is that I am not married to a Scot, I have no Scottish roots or family here, other than my own, and I did not move here as part of a job relocation package. Why then did I choose to settle here? The simple answer is because I love Scotland. It's a beautiful little country with a big heart and I love how it celebrates its individual history so passionately while striving to promote inclusion and equality. Scotland's political gravity seems to me to be entirely different from England's and more firmly rooted in social democracy - one of the main things that drew me here in the first place.

The desire for social justice makes it easy to understand the resentment felt by many Scots who do not trust a Westminster government they did not vote for. (Whether or not Scots can trust the buffoonery of Alex Salmond is another matter!) But is independence the answer?

(image credit: Cuckoo's Bakery, Edinburgh)
When looked at from a philosophical and political standpoint, the proponents for and against independence are equal contenders. Both carry an emotional punch too. This is much like a divorce with squabbling over custody and where jealousy and recrimination abounds. Are there grounds for irreconcilable differences or can the wounds be patched over and a healthy discussion of differing political viewpoints begin the healing?  

There is no hiding the hard economic and practical considerations of independence either and in the final weeks of campaigning the scare-mongering has intensified. It's working. I applauded Dr Scott Hames, lecturer at Stirling University, who during a TV interview this week said perhaps one of the truest statements I've heard yet about the referendum - "What have we found out in the final weeks of the campaign...? That Scotland doesn't decide. It's the markets that decide, it's the industrial magnates and captains of finance who'll decide what we're allowed to choose."

So there you see is my dilemma. The indecisiveness stems from being torn by the heart and the head. The English part of me does not want to cut the apron strings that tie me to the land of my birth while the 'adopted Scots' part of me is drawn by that desire to be autonomous. The head is warning me of the obvious risks involved while at the same time evaluating the potential rewards. My heart sinks at the thought of separation and simultaneously soars at the idea of liberty.  

The Reading Residence