Al the Fish has named the big day, September 18th next year.
What do I think the result will be? I think the vote will be a no, the SNP have been very canny in extending the vote to 16 and 17 year olds, but I don’t think it will make the crucial difference.
If I had a vote, on balance, I’d probably vote no. There are just too many imponderables for my liking. The question of EU membership is central to this; no-one in either Westminster or Edinburgh has delivered a properly documented, evidence based answer to the question. The public noises coming from Brussels suggest to me that the answer is that Scotland would have to re-apply, and would be subject to adopting the Euro, Schengen and all the rest of the stuff that goes along with it. Personally, I fail to see the point of Scotland leaving the Union only to go and join the European Union; that does not reflect independence to me.
The question of Head of State is simple, it can still be the Queen, she can be Queen of Canada, Australia and New Zealand, etc, so that isn’t a problem.
There’s the question of territorial waters, whether there would be border controls (unlikely, we have an open border with the Republic of Ireland, but of course they aren’t part of Schengen), the separation of common finances, rights of Scots in England and vice-versa.
No, there are too many questions which should have definitive answers way before a vote comes to pass for my liking.
That being said, I am ambivalent about the whole thing. I like Scotland being part of the country, but have no objection to Scotland deciding it wants to go it alone. I think the whole thing is constitutionally shaky, and wouldn’t be surprised if a yes vote resulted in some lengthy legal wrangling.
What is being proposed is a dissolution of the Union. I have a suspicion that the hardcore no camp would seek to block a yes vote on the grounds that the whole of the Union should have had a vote. Would it work? Probably not, but I’m betting it would provide a costly delay to the whole thing.
My main concern is not one of constitutional legality, nor of future treaties, my concern is based on fairness and propriety.
The Union has been in effect for three hundred years, give or take, and England and Scotland are so closely intertwined now that I don’t see how a neat job can be done of severing the ties. You may as well get a glass of fresh water and a glass of salt water, pour them into a jug and then try to separate them again.
Who are the Scots?
You could walk down a street in Inverness and easily identify those who are Scottish and those who are not. Yet, assuming they are eligible to vote in elections, all will have a vote.
You could walk down a similar street in Ipswich and conduct the same exercise, yet none of them would have a vote. Is the Scot in Ipswich not as deserving of a vote as his compatriot in Inverness? If he is living abroad, he is entitled to vote in a British election, does his exile from Scotland in England prevent him from having a vote in the biggest issue involving his homeland?
These are pure Scotsmen, Mrs. Snowolf is half jock, her father lives in the Midlands, so he will not have a vote. But supposing he could vote, would Mrs. Snowolf have a vote being half-jock? Assuming Scotland got independence, I’d think she’d qualify for a Scottish passport. So why should she not have a say?
It is ridiculous to include those who may be transient and have no connection to Scotland, whilst excluding those who have a very real, if ex-patria, personal investment in Scotland. Certainly you could extend the vote to people who are living out of Scotland, but then how do you prove you are Scottish? Who gets to say who is and who isn’t? What would be there to stop me, with no connection to Scotland at all, registering for a vote? The whole thing would be reduced to farce.
How does one attain Scottishness? Do we follow German lines where people who have lived in the former Soviet Union for generations qualify on genetic grounds as German, yet second and third generation Turks, German born and spoken do not? Do you award Scottishness on residency grounds? Does being born in Scotland make you Scottish, or is it down to other grounds?
We are the biggest mongrel nation of all, we struggle with the idea of defining ‘Englishness’ and I don’t see how defining ‘Scottishness’ is any easier, I’m afraid a fondness for whisky, haggis and going misty eyed at a Rod Stewart song or Burns recital just doesn’t cut it.
It seems neither fair nor proper to me that the SNP have overseen the disenfranchising of a very large number of their own people. This leads me to a very uncomfortable conclusion; the SNP don’t care about the Scots, they care only about power and their own imagined magnificence. On that basis, I hope the referendum is beaten out of sight.