Long time no post; I'll get into that later. In the meantime, here's a little rant that I've been saving up.
I started off being a No vote. I don't want to break up the Union. I don't want History to be reversed; history shows that small city states didn't always do so well as a conglomerate of city states. (So says the Ancient Civilisations archaeologist,) But, I slowly swung to Yes. I've been Yes for a while actually - round about the time they screwed about with benefits. All that bluster about fraud? Well, there's more tax fraud than benefit fraud. Yes, there will always be some people who game the system. (Not looking at you, MPs who over claim expenses or flip their houses. Or course not.) The important thing is, you cannot and should not penalise all the people for the sake of a few. Applying their logic, some men are rapists; therefore, all men should be locked up. Or, some women are rapists (it does happen); all women should be locked up. Some humans are murderers; we should all be locked up or put to death (in states with the death sentence). Do we do this? No. Because it's not acceptable to penalise the masses for the transgressions of a few.
Yet that's what's happened with benefits. And the majority claiming benefits - particularly disability ones - are disabled and/or elderly. You're going to get old one day: do you want to live under a regime where the old are left to die? Do you want to be left to die? And as for disability; we're not all born disabled, but some of us will have terrible accidents, be maimed. Our children may develop a rare condition. You might develop alzheimers, or cancer, or any number of awful conditions. Every time you get in your car or cross the road, you trust the people around you not to be fools, not to cause an accident.
At that point, I realised, I did not want to live with a government who cared so little about the people - our parents - without whom we and they would not be there. You can tell a lot about a society based on how they look after their vulnerable. More civilised and developed societies support and care for their vulnerable; less advanced, more primitive ones remove them, as they take up precious resources.
That's when I decided that I was voting Yes. Remember the Fees for university fiasco? We now live in a society that penalises our ancestors AND our future. The ultimate selfish society. That is not a government I want. They do not stand for me, they do not represent me, or my morals or values.
I'm voting Yes.
It's not that the government we'll end up with up here will necessarily fix all wrongs: they are but human, of course they won't. But it's a chance for change, a chance to make something better. There's so much hope there, so much opportunity. What happens next we can't know, but we can at least harness this desire to make a better future for everyone, not just the rich. We're not looking starry-eyed at some utopia, but if we seize the day with both hands, maybe we can be more than we have been. We should take that chance.
I have two analogies for you.*
Imagine a scenario where two people have been taken hostage. No-one knows where they are; they're being looked for, but it could be a long time before they're found. Their guards keep them under lock and key; but one day, one of them breaks their shackles. As they're working on the shackles of their fellow hostage, steps trying to free them, steps are heard in the corridor outside.
Do they stay, and keep trying to free their companion, risking almost certain capture, or do they take the chance to flee through the window, to go and bring reinforcements to rescue their companion? Freedom through the window is not certain, but what is certain is that if they stay, neither will have a chance of rescue. It would be better to go, to run, to take the chance to rescue them both.
In this scenario, we - the citizens of England and Scotland - are held hostage to the government, and by voting for independence, Scotland has the chance to run to ultimately free us both.
An acquaintance of mine had been swept off her feet by a very Manly Man. He was wealthy, and plied her with gifts, dresses for the social functions to which he took her, where she met his work compatriots, mingled with the great (not the good; it was financial services). He was proud that he had such a beauty on his arm; she improved his status in the company.
There was one drawback; this man was Always Right. He knew what was best for her, he knew what she should or should not be doing, or saying, or thinking. He didn't need to listen to her thoughts or feelings, because he knew what was best, and that is what (if she knew her place) she ought to want.
She stuck it out for a while, but soon, the knowing what was best for her began to grate. He didn't listen to her, ever, and that too began to grate. She had a chance for a promotion at work, but it would involve travel, away from him. She told him about it, and he informed her that he would write her rejection letter for her. Of course she didn't want the job, he said; she didn't need it, wouldn't need it when they were married, and of course she wouldn't want to be away from him. Her place was to be there for him.
She tried to explain how excited she was at her talent being recognised, how she loved travel and exploring, how this promotion could lead to her dream job. He looked at her while she spoke, and then said, "Yes dear, but of course I know you don't want the job. It's not the best thing for you, and I'm proud of you that you see your place is here with me."
She looked at him for a while, and then left. At home, ranting to herself, she realised; he had not been listening to her for a very long time, She had given up many opportunities while she had been with him, but this was the last straw. Her live was hers to live, to make the most of; she was not an accessory to be taken out of a cupboard and showed off any time he wanted.
She met with him the next day, and broke it off. Again he looked at her, that patient but patronising smile, and then told her that she was hysterical and should lie down; she'd be over this little foible in the morning.
She was livid, but she said nothing. She wrote him a letter, stating her position, and then refused to take his calls. Friends reported that he told them she was ill, overtired with work, of course she didn't mean it but these little hysterical turns should be left to run their course. Though naturally, when they were married, he would ensure she was treated for them; he couldn't have this sort of thing going on.
Several months later, she and her new man were walking to dinner, laughing and joking, when who should they run into, but her ex. He wanted to know who was this that she was with. Had she got over her little hysterical turn yet? He wouldn't be waiting around all day for her. That encounter led to the memorable outburst, "John, we have not been a couple for Five MONTHS. I broke up with you five months ago because you never listened to me. Ever. Always you knew what was best for me, what I wanted, without once ever listening to me. Well, grasp this: We. Are. Over. Okay?".
Part of their argument also involved him pointing out he earned more money than her current beau, and that clearly she could have no future with him, to which she responded that she would rather take her chance and live poorly but happily.
I'm sure you can work out who we all are in that one.
I think at this point, I should also just make recognition of the Better Together contingent - specifically, the politician contingent. As a voter in favour of independence, I'm glad that their campaign is so dire; so full of empty rhetoric, so full of patronising sentiment, so overwhelmingly negative. I think that it can only help the Scottish Indy movement by being so. But I remain disappointed that all they can come up with to persuade us that we could be the United Kingdom is negative: bullying, childishness, spreading of fear and intimidation, ganging up (why hello Russia, Barrosso!), empty promises, filled threats, rhetoric which means squat - based on their current record - not to mention the condescending and patronising tone almost exclusively used when they're not wibbling ridiculousness. I mean really - We'll be barred from using the pound? No can do! We can peg our currency to the pound (whether it would be a good idea or whether we'd want to is another matter). Passports at the border? Well, you don't need a passport to travel within Europe as a European. You do need an identity card (Eeeek!), but not a passport.
Hello baby, hello pram, hello toys on the ground.
So often on reading the latest snippet I want to grab them, shake them, and ask them what the hell they think they're doing behaving like spoilt brats.
Couldn't they come up with something positive?
We won the damn war by pulling together, for goodness sake! Doesn't that count for something, more so than, "You don't know how to manage your money on your own"?
Or "I'm not gonna stick my oar in, but...." That's like saying, "I'm not a racist, but..." or "I'm not homophobic, but...." or, "I don't mean to be offensive, but...." If you have to precede your comment by a denial then you know damn well you're doing what you're pretending you're not!
And that leads me to my other complaint. I swear, so many of the the comments they've pulled out read like things a manipulative parent or significant other might say. Don't you think so? Here's what some of their campaign gems have reminded me of so far:
Verbally Abusive Partner (VAP) and Downtrodden partner (DP).
DP shoulders bag. "I'm leaving. I'm worth more than this, more than being your skivvy, your punching bag, the thing that makes you feel important."
VAP: "You can't leave! You're nothing without me. Do you hear? Nothing!"
DP: "Oh but I am. I have my personality, my skills, my sense of humour. I have my empathy, my moral value, my integrity."
VAP: "You mean you think you do! For god's sake, you couldn't even manage your money on your own if I didn't take your wages and hand you out housekeeping."
DP: "How would you know? You've always taken my wages and given me housekeeping. You've never let me manage on my own. But I managed just fine before you came on the scene, buddy."
VAP: "Honey, look, calm down. I'll give you more money. I'll let you manage your own wages. We've come so far, baby, don't go now. We can make it through this. I love you."
DP: "It's a little late to be saying you love me after taking everything and returning nothing, like a giant leech. Goodbye."
VAP: "Yeah, whatever bitch! Don't come crying to me when you can't make it alone! When you come snivelling at that door, I might take you in, but you can be sure you won't even get a snifter of your wages then!"
I wish that it wasn't necessary to have independence. I wish the Westminster government were more trustworthy, more middle-ground, more reflecting of the views of us all as a whole. I wish they could see the importance of investing in both our past and our future, of not going all out for all they can get. I wish that our voting system represented us better. I wish that the government had a better plan to look after our economy - after all, the current one isn't exactly growing industry and jobs. At least the post-war plan had merit - it worked.
But in light of the fact that none of these things are currently true, I think that voting for independence allows us to demonstrate that there may be a better way than the way things are being done at the moment. It may be that regional government is the way to go - after all, just as Westminster isn't representing Scottish interests, they're not representing Yorkshire and the North of England either. I'm sure the same is probably true of Wales, too. Maybe we should follow the American regional model, and become the United Counties of Great Britain and Ireland. That way we can all have governments which broadly reflect us, while also having a shared cultural identity.
*Note: In all the little scenes here, I've tried to keep gender out of it. I'm not wanting to get into a debate about gender issues or stereotypes, so if these scenes read a little clunky for want of specific gender, it's because I've tried to write it so you can identify with them regardless of whatever description of gender that you choose to be.