Steve Price-Thomas* Hanoi, September 17, 2014 (Alochonaa): I love Scotland. If I was reborn Scottish, I would be delighted (assuming that it was not as one of the Krankies). I’ve been thinking of writing this for many months. I know that the independence debate has strained families and friendships. But I care deeply about Scotland, and the UK, and I can’t in all conscience just sit on the sidelines. I don’t have a vote, so I am writing to friends who do. That an independent could Scotland eventually do well, I am in little doubt. Sure, there are significant risks over the currency, over EU membership, and so on. But I am sure that, one way or another, Scotland would overcome these difficulties. With a bit of luck, an independent Scotland would do just fine. So, am I saying that I think Scottish friends, and other friends who live in Scotland (unlike Scottish friends elsewhere, who outrageously are disenfranchised in the most important election of their – and our – lifetimes) should vote yes? No, I’m not saying that. Just because you can do something and you expect you will be fine is not a reason to do it. Just because you can get divorced, and you’re pretty sure that if you do you’ll be OK by yourself, doesn’t make it the right thing to do. Why do I say this? I know from experience that the United Kingdom is an extraordinary melange of peoples, not a simple union of four countries. That melange defines us. We all have multiple identities, built on intertwined histories and stories from across our islands, and beyond, that stretch back into the mists of time. Although our shared history matters, it’s not only about the past. It’s a question of the present and the future. If Scotland votes yes to separation, I will be deeply saddened that a part of what I think of as home has become a foreign country. I will regret that even if Scotland joins the Common Travel Area like Ireland, Hoa will not be welcome to visit Scotland without getting a separate visa (which despite what you may think is the case now when she visits Ireland). If Scotland votes yes to separation, I will regret that the country and people I love have decided to turn their back and walk away. Of this I am sure: not only Scotland, but the whole UK, needs a radically different, more caring politics that fights inequality, poverty and injustice, that protects the NHS, and which rejects the shrill xenophobia that is becoming ever more prevalent. If Scotland votes yes to separation, I will deeply regret that the people of Scotland will have voted to give up the fight for a fairer, more just society across the whole UK, even though they have been leaders in this fight for much of the past 300 years. There is an alternative. But the alternative need not be business, or politics, as usual. The alternative is to vote no, but not to stop there. The alternative is to vote no, then to harness the extraordinary political energy generated by the referendum debate to revitalize politics across the UK, with Scotland at the fore. The alternative is for this new politics to put fighting poverty, inequality and injustice at its heart. To take the lead in creating a compassionate, open and tolerant society, not just in Scotland but throughout the UK. So I am convinced it’s better for everyone if we stay together, not as apathetic apolitical subjects, but as newly energized citizens who fight together for a just society across the whole UK. So if you have a vote on September 18th, I ask you to please vote no. But don’t stop there. We have it in our power to create a better future together. Please don’t turn your back and walk away. Let’s make September 18th 2014 the day the whole UK started to change for the better, together.
*Steve Price-Thomas is based in Hanoi, Vietnam but has a long connection with Scotland. This post reflects his personal views on the Scottish Independence referendum.
** See other posts on referendum here: Saying Yes to a Normal Scotland, Scottish Independence – The Case for a ‘Yes!’,Scottish Independence – a critical review,Why I’m Voting Against Scottish Independence,
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