Just the other day I was confronted in the street by a Yes campaign activist. When I said I would not be voting for independence the response was: “Why on earth not?”
I said that I had a whole host of reasons but not having all day to argue I simply added that I am as passionate about staying in the Union as Nationalists are about leaving it and I ended the conversation. I now regret not having a simple and quick answer.
On reflection, as an Englishman living in Scotland who cares about the whole of Britain, the simple and over-riding answer I shall give in the future is this: for me the separatist agenda is at odds with the outlook, qualities and attitudes that Scots have demonstrated over the 300 years of Union in that it is as self-indulgent and inward-looking, turning its back on the needs and aspirations of the people who live in the other parts of these islands that we share.
We in the UK are all in the same boat and we should be sharing the resources and skills available across these islands to bring about change for the better for all, but especially for the less fortunate whether they be in Glasgow, the north of England, Belfast, South Wales or inner London.
I want to see a mutually supportive and beneficial Union which combines strength and economies of scale with a wholesale devolution of power which will deliver a better life for people across and within all the home nations. I cannot support the “look after your own” approach that independence signifies.
Learning from history we should not be putting up barriers and drawing national distinctions which can only lead to division, mistrust and unwelcome competitiveness.
We need to stay together and progress together.
I am amazed at the number of people writing in the press who still don’t seem to understand what the referendum is about. It is not about Alex Salmond, the SNP, or breaking up the UK. It is not about creating a new country; Scotland already exists.
It is about is who we trust to run the country for the next 300 years: Westminster or Holyrood. I would have thought that was a no-brainer, but I feel the need to remind readers about Westminster’s recent record. Those with long memories will remember Margaret Thatcher and the brutal destruction of communities across Scotland from which many have still not recovered.
More recently we had the illegal and expensive war in Iraq which has made the UK a prime target for terrorists. Then we had the deregulation of the banks causing meltdown in the economy for which the poor and disadvantaged are now being punished, even though it was obviously not their fault.
Contrast this with Holyrood, which has committed to free education, healthcare, and keeping vital services in public hands.
I am a Scottish Green and do not support everything the current Holyrood administration does, but even in my wildest dreams I cannot envisage a Scottish government, elected by Scots, behaving as badly towards its more vulnerable citizens as Westminster has repeatedly done in the past, and will surely do again in the future.
We need to take matters into our own hands to ensure a better future for our children and grandchildren.