Claire Black: My referendum vote remains the same

THE next time you read this column, things will be different. Not everything – the world will still be turning on its axis, you still won’t be able to find a tape measure when you need one – but no matter which way the vote goes on Thursday, we’ll all be changed for it. Many of us already are.

Many people will feel a sense of relief when the referendum is over. Picture: Hemedia
Many people will feel a sense of relief when the referendum is over. Picture: Hemedia

I’ve known which way I was going to vote since the beginning of the campaign. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t listened carefully and critically to both sides. And it doesn’t mean that my position hasn’t shifted. It’s just that my vote hasn’t. When I marked the cross in the box for No though (I’ve got a postal vote because I’m in London – no need for a passport or visa yet), I didn’t feel elated, I felt relieved, glad that finally this agonising decision is made.

I’m declaring my vote because the past few months have been a bruising, uncomfortable experience for those of us not on board the all-singing all-dancing Yes bandwagon. We’ve been characterised as stupid, deluded, weak-minded and paralysed by fear. I thought the idea of false consciousness was a relic but it’s been treated to a resounding resurrection and used with unfettered condescension by folk who really should know better. Old pals have looked at me with genuine disappointment and not a little anger. People I hardly know have felt entitled to assume they’d know which way I’d vote (“But she’s left wing, she must be voting Yes”).

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I guess that’s what happens when only one side in a campaign articulates a vision for Scotland, no matter how air-brushed. I may be voting No, but I’m not on the Better Together bandwagon. What can I say? I’ve never really been a joiner. The project fear epithet has a ring to it, but I don’t buy it – the lack of detail on key issues is one of the reasons that I couldn’t in good conscience vote Yes at this time. But the failure of Better Together to engage with what people aspire to for Scotland’s future should be a cause of real regret to those on that side of the campaign.

If the vote turns out to be for independence, I won’t be shocked or angry. I won’t feel the need to indulge in recriminations. I don’t think people who vote differently to me are idiots – that would be uncomfortable, my English partner is one of them. I don’t doubt either that Scotland can be a successful independent country. It’s been a lazy argument to claim that those of us voting No are chronically lacking in confidence or that we are, gulp, traitors to our nation. I’m not having it.

I don’t believe that in this long, torrid campaign, the whole messy truth of what independence will mean has been adequately exposed or explored. I voted No but I don’t want things to stay as they are. Like plenty of Yes voters, I want a fairer, more equitable, more socially just society. It just so happens I don’t believe that independence is the way to achieve that. I hope that in the days to come, as people come to terms with what has happened, ideas about how we can achieve what many of us want for Scotland will be part of how we heal. That would be a victory for both sides.

Let stars come out in Tinsel Town

RELEASE The Stars is one of my favourite Rufus Wainwright songs. The campest, lushest protest anthem you’re ever likely to hear, it’s about gay and lesbian actors in Hollywood being able to come out. The only thing I always wondered was who was keeping them so cruelly locked up in the closet? But it seems that a new study has revealed the answer. According to a report from the Williams Institute, a UCLA think tank on gay issues, more than half of gay actors in Hollywood believe that filmmakers are biased against LGBT performers. More than 50 per cent of the 5,700 actors who took part in the study said they had heard directors and producers make homophobic comments about actors and a third claimed they had witnessed disrespectful treatment of LGBT performers on sets. No wonder then that only 53 per cent of LGBT actors were out to all or most of their fellow actors, while only 36 per cent had told their agents that they were LGBT. The only positive, apart from the fact that the study was carried out with support from the Screen Actors Guild, was that nearly three-quarters of gay actors who had come out said it had not affected their careers and they encouraged others to do the same. Come on Tinsel Town, get it together.

If the (flat) shoe fits...

OH GOODY, it’s London Fashion Week. How else would I be able to work out what I should be wearing next spring? After all, looking in one’s wardrobe to see what’s clean and ironed is so dull and utilitarian. I know I shouldn’t mock, but it’s just so hard not to. But if early reports from the runways are to be believed then suddenly I find myself on trend. Flat shoes are in. Isn’t that grand? Finally I can get rid of those six-inch heels and settle into my loafers. Oh yes, that’s right, I, like millions of others, have never worn anything but flat shoes. How about pink hair, that’s also on trend apparently. I might try it. What have I got to lose other than my self respect and dignity? «