Saturday, September 21, 2013

Choose wisely Agnieska

I consider myself Scottish and that’s because I am Scottish.

I was born there and so was my dad which in most person’s books, including my own, is the measure of nationality. 

I can thus justifiably wear the kilt, enjoy haggis, drink more than is considered sensible, eat seriously unhealthy food and take the average European life expectancy, subtract ten years, before applying it to myself.

Yes I’m a proper Scotsman and think everyone would agree with this.

My mother is English though.

Proper English that is. Not a soft southern Oxbridge version, no the Barnsley, pit-mining, mushy pea eating Yorkshire English.

And this has always presented me with a small problem. Scotsmen are supposed to dislike the English, it’s in our DNA. So logically if I am to be a true Scotsman I should dislike my mum.
But of course I don’t dislike my mum, that would be stupid. Disliking her would have meant I would have missed out on all sorts of good stuff growing up, not least Yorkshire puddings and Rhubarb crumble. I like my mum a lot and so I also like the English.

There I have said it.

I also like Germans, Swedish, Italians and the Spanish. The French are another matter altogether but I don’t need to explain why.

Most of the time my collaboration with our southern girly soft neighbours isn’t a problem. I can keep it firmly in the closet. Football matches can sometimes presents a small issue though i.e. what do I do when 40,000 men are urging me to ‘stand up if you hate the English’?  I normally just stay seated and hope it quickly moves on to singing about the referee’s mothers penchant for goat sex.

If me admitting to having a fondness for the auld enemy wasn’t enough how about the fact that I am happy to support England during any major football tournament where Scotland isn’t present. Which as we know is all of them.

I also vote conservative.

Still consider me Scottish?

As a side note on my father’s side my grandmother comes from Bettyhill along the northern coast of Scotland. Her side of the family are dark skinned, Latino types. My father is, my sister is and I am to a slightly lessor degree.

Apart from being a very pretty village in the middle of nowhere legend has it that Bettyhill is also where some of the survivors of the Spanish armada made it ashore back in 1588. I therefore like to believe in some tight trousered romantic fantasy with my very distant ancestors being Spanish conquistadores. In this fantasy my great, great, great, great, great, great granddad rode his horse bolt upright. He wore a colourful feathered hat and had a beef burrito shoved down his painfully tight trousers as he galloped through South America slaughtering natives and stealing their gold.

But regardless of my ancestry, in terms of next year’s referendum on independence I am not considered Scottish.

I don’t live there so am not eligible to vote no matter how much tartan I wear or shortbread I eat. I sort of understand this. I have just outlined the case for me being Scottish but this is only my definition. It’s how I feel but where do you draw the line? If it was everyone who thinks of themselves as Scottish got the vote, there would be a lot of rotund Americans queuing up at the polling stations along with myself. 

So I get it.

The whole UK is a country of mongrels anyway if you go far enough back.

I can’t vote but if I was Agnieska from Poland enjoying her gap year working in a bar in Edinburgh how would I vote?

What’s out there to help me decide on what is probably one of the most important votes in the countries history?

And this is the whole point of the blog, there is nothing or at least nothing I have seen.

Well that’s not true, I will rephrase that, there is nothing of any substance to befit such an important decision. All I see is scaremongering on both sides.

Hastily thrown together you tube quality videos either backed by doom and gloom music (the no campaign) or stirring Braveheart type music (the yes campaign). Each are very high on rhetoric and imagery but anorexically thin when it comes to real hard facts. It seems as if both sides have decided the electorate are not capable of understanding the fiscal, administrative or other dull real world implications of such a divorce.

This is either horribly patronising or more worrying, both parties actually don’t know the real implications.

On the flip side of the discussion are my good buddies the English. Given the breakup of the United Kingdom has as much implications on them as it has on the Scottish surely they should have a say in it and a vote?

The counter argument here is that if one side of a marriage wants a divorce then it really doesn’t matter if the other doesn’t does it?

I don’t think this argument is true though. Given the amount of Scottish living in England and non-Scottish in Scotland surely it should be the decision of the majority of the whole country. Country in this case being the United Kingdom?

Anyhow regardless of the defined electorate the debate needs to start. Now and properly. We need to have a sober, factual debate. We need the soap boxes to be dusted off and we need independently funded and conducted research. We need decisions to be made and explained on fiscal policy, currency, interest rates, infrastructure, country/offshore boundaries, trident and a long list of other dull but very important things.

Without it the decision will be taken on a whipped up to a frenzy fear of the unknown or worse still some stupid romantic notion of a Scotland which hasn’t existed since Mel Gibson or a short gay Italian was running around the hills in a dress and make up.

For what it’s worth, my opinion is that I don’t want to have to apply for a Scottish passport and I’m not sure even if I would get one.

I also don’t understand how independence can be truly had if the currency is pegged to another country’s. I don’t know how defence would work. I don’t know how realistically we can rid our country of those nasty nuclear subs without giving England a serious headache. Do we really want to piss off England for that matter? Probably not. I don’t know how much the infrastructure of running a country would cost and I am not even sure if the offshore boundaries have been agreed. Who really owns the North Sea and its oil? What about the Queen? And the list goes on.

I sincerely hope before next September the list of unknown elements is reduced to a very small list. If not the arguments will be based on nothing more than the unfounded opinions of a few politicians. And I for one don’t want the future of my country (yes I still consider it my country) to be decided on the emotionally charged rhetoric from a cohort of individuals who have not really excelled in the trustworthy stakes in recent times. This applies to all colours of the political spectrum.

Get rid of the music, the bagpipes, the 1966/football based silly vitriol. Get rid of the comparisons with Norway, the voice overs by Sean Connery and the shots of Andy Murray holding a trophy above his head.  

Get rid of it all and get a proper debate going. Get lots of them going. Truly understand the real implications and then and only then can Agnieska take an informed decision.

But not me - cos I’m not Scottish enough.


  1. Seems to me it's less a case of what is good for the people but more a power tussel between politicians.

    As an alternative I suggest that the Scottish parliament be dissolved and the UK parliament moved to the Midlands.

    That way a bucket load of money will be saved in less politicians and we could sell the London property.

    Also people will feel less distant from a London centric government.

  2. Darren, agree totally but like it or not there will be a vote. My point is if we (they) are going to decide on something so momentous then at least lets lay out the facts, good and bad so they can make an informed decision. At the moment all there is political rhetoric and patriotic shite and this helps no one. Like your move parliament idea, a lot.