A guest post by Maggie Craig
I’ve known since the date of the referendum was announced that I’m going to vote yes. Faced with the question, “Should Scotland be an independent country?” there is no other possible answer as far as I’m concerned. The Union of 1707 was a forced marriage and while some individual Scots over the centuries since then may have benefited from it, I believe it has done huge damage to our collective self-belief and self-esteem. We’ve always been the junior partner.
One of the great joys of living in early 21st century Scotland is seeing how much that self-belief and self-esteem has and is being reclaimed. One of the great heartbreaks is seeing how many families in this much-vaunted most successful union of all time are dependent on food banks. Then there’s the wasteland or maybe the new shopping malls where our industrial base used to be. One aircraft carrier with no aeroplanes doesn’t make up for that. Not much use against suicide bombers, either.
I’m not supposed to fit the demographic of a yes voter. I’m a woman who has her bus pass. From these two pieces of information the pollsters tell me that I’m risk-averse, more cautious and more practical than, I assume, men and younger women. I take enormous exception to being pigeon-holed in this way. As Dr Johnson replied when asked who was more intelligent, man or woman: “Which man? Which woman?”
I know lots of older women who are planning on voting yes. Friends tell me they’ve never been interested in politics before but they are now. They want a better future for their children and grandchildren and they see that it’s within reach. We ladies of a certain age have been there, done that and got the t-shirt. We think about life, the universe and everything. We remember.
I grew up in Glasgow in the 1960s. A favourite treat was a sail doon the watter from Craigendoran, drinking in the fresh air and the beauty of the Firth of Clyde. And all the time we knew that what we now call WMD and then called nuclear submarines were lurking there at Faslane and the US base on the Holy Loch. That was pretty bloody risky.
We used to joke nervously about the West of Scotland going up in a wee blue light. Or maybe a mushroom cloud. At school we had the Protect and Survive talk. One of the instructions was to whitewash your windows to protect against the radiation of a nuclear blast. When I think now about the stupidity of that, it beggars belief.
Filling in a form at school which asked for our nationality, we all put Scottish. The teacher told us we had to put British because Scottish wasn’t a nationality. When we filed into the TV room to watch the launch of the QE2, we turned away in disgust when the name was revealed. Everyone knew she was the last of the great liners and we’d been hoping for Queen of Scots or Queen of the Clyde. The skills of the Clyde’s shipbuilders couldn’t even be given that recognition. Junior partners, again.
I come from a long line of women who had to be practical, make ten shillings do the work of a pound, send the weans off to school fed and clean and ready to learn. My mother helped out, as grandmas do. She also taught my son some of his earliest words: “Mrs Thatcher, bad lady.” At the same time, she and I taught my children to believe in unicorns. Unicorns matter.
The practicalities are hugely important, of course they are. I’ve read the statements, listened to the experts, found my way to the truth with the help of blogs like WGD, WoS and Bella Caledonia and I’m convinced that the economic arguments against independence Project Fear keeps throwing at us don’t stack up. Scotland can be a viable independent country, a prosperous place where the prosperity can be shared.
And it’s about so much more than money. It’s about fairness and grace and unleashing Scotland’s creative potential in all sorts of areas. That’s what Project Fear continually fails to grasp.
Of course there is some risk. Life’s a risk. None of us knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. Whether people vote yes or no, change will come. That’s the way of the world. I’d rather have change we’ve voted for than change imposed on us from a government we didn’t vote for.
Believe in unicorns. Believe in Scotland. Vote yes on 18th September.
Maggie Craig is a published author and has her own blog at http://www.maggiecraig.co.uk/