Stop calling me a nationalist
I am very sick of people referring to Yes voters as ‘nationalists’. This mainly comes from writers outside Scotland, where I gather the media coverage is not great. One of the first and best things the Yes campaign has done is made it clear that it’s not about the SNP. I’ve never voted SNP in my life and I can’t see myself doing so in future, though if we get independence I’ll be grateful to them. In the first Scots general election I hope to vote for whoever is offering a welcoming immigration policy, a pacifistic military policy, and enthusiastic membership of the EU. These are all things that the UK as a whole is moving away from.
I try to vote for values like these in UK parliamentary elections, but I will feel safer voting for them in an independent Scotland. At the last UK election I voted for the Liberal Democrats, and look where that got me. The wretched electoral system meant my vote didn’t even help the Lib Dems, but more broadly, the Scottish vote is so overwhelmed by that of the whole UK that we simply don’t have a say in who the UK government is. In all but three elections since the 1940s, the UK government would have been identical if everybody in Scotland had stayed at home. On those three occasions, we made the difference between a hung parliament and a tiny majority. Scots haven’t returned a majority for the Tories since the 1950s, and yet we get them setting huge areas of our policy about half the time. For all the good the Scottish vote does, the UK government might as well be chosen at random.
This isn’t about English people, by the way; it’s about a system that returns governments we don’t vote in. We’re not trying to keep English people out of Scotland. The only people who’ve even suggested we might need border controls are Westminster politicians. The only people claiming that Yes voters hate English people are the No campaign.
With the rise of Ukip, and the desperate attempts by the other parties to beat Ukip by becoming more like Ukip, the UK is headed towards more nationalist policies. My vote in UK elections, or that of anybody in Scotland, cannot change that. I’m voting Yes against nationalism. If I wanted nationalism, I'd vote No.
The economy is not a malevolent god
Most of the arguments from the No campaign are about money. I believe that they have chosen this focus because money is something that most people spend a lot of time worrying about, but don’t know very much about. What they hope for us to think is ‘We’d better leave this to the clever people.’
This is a distraction. The referendum is not about money; it’s about democracy. Money is a human construct and answers to humans. The economy isn’t something for us to fear punishment from: it’s only a danger to most of us because we don’t have the means to control it. The better our democracy, the better we can control our economy.
This is my main reason for voting Yes: this referendum is not about money. It’s about democracy.
Democracy democracy democracy democracy democracy
The UK’s system of government has been assembled ragtag over several centuries, much of it before most people had a vote. Scotland is being offered the chance to design and build a new democracy in the twenty-first century. Designed systems work better than evolved ones; that’s why cars go faster than animals.
There’s every reason to believe that a newly designed democracy will be less corrupt and incompetent than Westminster. This isn’t because our politicians will be better people; it’s because we’ll be able to hold them to account more.
The actual freakin’ nuclear apocalypse
As I write, highly civilised human beings are stationed 60 miles away from me, maintaining a small arsenal of weapons capable of ending civilisation. I would prefer if those weapons were not there. So would most of the people in Scotland, and our politicians agree – so this is another thing that we could make happen with a proper democracy.
It’s possible that, if Scotland rejects them, they’ll just be towed a few miles down the coast. But then England would argue about where to put them, and may not find anywhere. Former prime minister John Major, a Tory that almost none of us voted for, has said that the UK may have to scrap its nuclear weapons if there is a No vote. So there might be a few less apocalyptic bombs in the world. At least some of the world would be talking about them again, which is likely to help. In any case, we won’t be part of a system that supports them.
If there is ever another nuclear attack, we’re probably all screwed. At that point, I don't care who started it and I don't care who gets hit – the best we can hope for is to minimise the number of bombs that go off. An independent Scotland won’t be a nuclear power. It’s likely that if anybody did attack us, the remaining nuclear powers would leap to our aid by blasting hell out of whoever started it, but if they didn’t, well, that’s a few more habitable areas the planet might be left with.
In the last few days, the Westminster parties have pledged to devolve more powers to Scotland if there’s a No vote. Assuming for a moment that they might actually keep their promises, this will not help with any of the things I’ve mentioned. These are internationalist level policies that simply can’t be devolved: no matter how much control it might concede over taxation, healthcare, education, and law, the UK would only ever have one army, one immigration department, and one actual freakin’ nuclear arsenal. No matter how good a devolved democracy Scotland gets over its devolved issues (and the current Scottish Parliament is pretty good), we’ll still have a UK determining our policies on these and more, from a parliament in which our votes barely count.
Like devolution, the independence we’re being offered isn’t as far as we need to go, but it’s a necessary step before we can go any further. Down the line, we could even shape our own policy on truly radical ideas like, ooh, not having a hereditary head of state.