Scotland’s right to choose

Politics – a word that seems to spark nothing but cynicism amongst our generation nowadays. With scandal after scandal, lies after lies, I know many will agree that our country has lacked almost any cheerful political gusto for quite some time. And no, this isn’t just a one-handed “Tory bash” – this is an issue that has spread right across the political spectrum. 

When Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced the timeline for her country’s much-anticipated independence referendum vote, I initially found myself conflicted. Whilst I have known my own position on Scottish independence for some time, it is only recently I came to reflect on the sheer political demise England faces: What will happen to little old England if Scotland becomes a lone ranger? However, I quickly realised the irrelevance of this train of thought. I am not being asked the question, or rather it is not my question to answer. 

Whilst I am part Scottish and proud to be so, I have never lived in the country. I have never experienced the day-to-day of what it is to be a citizen of Scotland – a consumer of its public services, a proprietor of its culture, a cog in its democratic institutions. If we are to debate the necessity of this demand for independence, we must do our very best to remove any subconscious biases we may individually hold toward the issue. We are all entitled to our own view on what is being proposed, but we also have a democratic and civil duty to respect the fact that we as English citizens are not the ones directly affected by this centuries-old unwritten constitution, which was undemocratically imposed in the first place. If we are to claim to be a generation which recognises the past mistakes of our national institutions, we must allow those who continue to bear the consequences of them to determine their own future. 

On a more practical level, Unionist politicians and commentators continually latch on to the fact we are in the middle of a national, post-pandemic economic crisis, and that putting any resources – be it financial or human – into IndyRef2 would be “unwise” at present. The total budget the Scottish treasury has set aside for preparing a referendum vote is £20 million – an amount that may on the surface appear excessive, but only equates to 0.05% of the total Scottish Government budget. I would therefore argue this is a relatively modest sum to invest in such a significant matter of democratic self-determination. Since the last referendum in 2014, the people of Scotland have had several deeply impactful political and economic decisions based upon outright lies and social manipulation, enforced upon them through an unconstitutional system steeped in historical classism and ‘rule by submission’. Put yourself in the shoes of a young Scottish graduate for instance, entering an economy with plummeting wages, depleting working rights and higher taxes. They face entering a society in which their political leaders have never experienced life as a working citizen of their own country and its culture. 

These issues will not necessarily improve or disappear overnight if Scots vote ‘Yes’ next October. Regardless, we must respect the people of Scotland’s clear and legitimate right to place their own hands on the tools that will enable them to try and enact change. 

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Jamie Bryson

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August 2022
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