Today, we’ve reached the first anniversary of the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum and since I am a proud Scot, it was only right that I made a special blog post about this historic anniversary. The #StillYes hashtag has been trending on Twitter and Scottish TV is awash with special programmes on the topic of Scottish Independence – a subject which is very much still on the political agenda in Scotland with a majority of Scots now believing that independence is inevitable.
Image courtesy of #StillYes Mammy via Twitter.
Many No voters moan that we’re still talking about independence and tell us to shut up about it, but with almost half of the country voting Yes in September last year and with the Yes campaign growing – independence is not an issue that will stand to be ignored.Sometimes, I, too, believe that independence is inevitable and that it will happen within my lifetime but, in all honesty, I have no idea what the future holds for Scotland. But my main hope is that we can build a better and more prosperous society for my generation and generations to come.
The bottom line is that I love Scotland and I love being Scottish and that is never going to change – whether we have independence or not. Whether I’m listening to Caledonia, watching Braveheart (yes, I know it’s wildly historically inaccurate) or taking in a lovely Scottish day of *cough* pouring rain, I’ll always be proud of where I come from. So, while this post is about politics, the overall message is one of patriotism, and a bit of a soppy love letter addressed to Scotland.
Image courtesy of john mcsporran via Flickr.
I don’t know if you can see
The changes that have come over me
In these last few days I’ve been afraid
That I might drift away
I’ve been telling old stories, singing songs
That make me think about where I’ve come from
That’s the reason why I seem
So far away today
Let me tell you that I love you
That I think about you all the time
Caledonia, you’re calling me, now I’m going home
But if I should become a stranger
Know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had
- Caledonia: define – Caledonia is the Latin name given by the Romans to the land in today’s Scotland north of their province of Britannia, beyond the frontier of their empire. The etymology of the name is probably from a P-Celtic source. Its modern usage is as a romantic or poetic name for Scotland as a whole, comparable with ‘Hibernia’ for Ireland.
In honour of the anniversary, I wrote this article for CultNoise magazine…
Scotland’s Referendum: One Year On
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been patriotic. Even now, if I’m away from Scotland for more than a couple of days, I can feel myself getting homesick – even for the rain. I think there’s something bred into Scots, something instilled in us from an early age, that we can poke fun at ourselves better than anyone else but, paradoxically, we’re also very proud people. Maybe that stems from the fact that, in the grand scheme of things, we’re a tiny nation tucked away in a wet and windy green corner of the northern hemisphere with a teeny toaty (translation: very small) population of just over five million. Maybe that’s why we feel the urge to be proud, patriotic and passionate, and stick up for ourselves – because there isn’t actually that many of us to do it.
Now that we’ve reached the first anniversary of the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, many people are asking: “Has Scotland changed in the last year?” I definitely think it has, and not in a bad way, as some may believe.
I’ve heard many people saying that they believe the referendum caused division within Scotland, but it’s important to remember that while the degree of division varies from place to place, there is political and religious division in every nation in the world, and Scotland is no different. While there were disturbances in the lead up to and shortly after the referendum, I don’t feel that there is a huge divide or tension in Scotland. Along with the referendum came a huge surge of interest in politics and with that, more and more people are becoming educated and learning how to voice their views and opinions in a healthy, democratic and respectable way.
Before the referendum, I, personally, had little to no interest in politics. I was completely disenchanted with the political world because I believed, like many people do, that: all politicians do is talk (or more specifically: lie); they cared more about themselves and making money than representing the public; that all politicians were faceless, robotic, boring old men who were completely out of touch with reality; and that trying to be involved in politics in any way was not only pointless but rage-inducing. To a certain degree, in relation to some politicians, I still believe some of these things. But in the run up to the referendum, I found myself doing research, watching live debates on TV, learning about all major political parties and their policies, taking an active interest in politics and, surprisingly, enjoying it.
Image courtesy of Matt Buck via Flickr.
Following the triumph of the Better Together campaign in the early hours of September 19, 2014, we were all eagerly waiting to hear Prime Minister David Cameron’s response and how he planned to deliver more powers to Scotland as he, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband had promised to Scotland in The Vow – a rushed, last-minute, panicked attempt to secure a No vote. But instead of living up to these promises, Cameron instead announced his plans to secure more devolution for England by enforcing English votes for English laws and in doing so, completely tossed Scotland and the question of our powers aside in an extremely disrespectful and insulting move. Due to a number of factors and events in the last year – feeling cheated out of home rule by David Cameron included – thousands of Scots have now joined the SNP (The Scottish National Party), and are determined to continue the campaign for independence; believing that it is now the only option for Scotland.
A recent STV News survey found that the majority of Scots would now vote Yes by 53%, with 44% of participants saying they would vote No, and 3% undecided; suggesting that most Scots are unhappy with the treatment they have received from Westminster, and that the Smith Commission falls short on the terms that were promised to the people of Scotland. Based on this, it’s not surprising that most Scots now believe that independence is inevitable with most estimating that it will happen within the next 15 years.
I wasn’t shocked to see these reports because in Scotland – in the midst of this newly ignited passion in politics, especially among young people and students – there is still frustration. Frustration that we are continually being met with empty promises, frustrated that we are constantly being undermined and ignored, and frustrated that we don’t have the powers we deserve. Many people believe that if David Cameron had lived up to The Vow, stood by his word and given Scotland devolved power to govern ourselves, the question of independence could have all but disappeared by now. But the surge in support for the argument of independence in the last year proves that Scots are far from happy in relation to Westminster rule, but that we now have the passion, the determination, and the politicians to do something about it.
A lot of good has come out of the referendum. Politics is well and truly back on the agenda and Scots are now taking an active interest in the subject more than ever before. Politics isn’t boring and full of nothing but stuffy old men anymore; Scotland now has a wealth of new and up-and-coming passionate and inspiring politicians including Britain’s youngest MP Mhairi Black and First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon who has gained such support in the wake of the referendum due to her progressive policies and her conviction that her email inbox has been “overflowing” with English people asking if they can join the SNP.
Image courtesy of First Minister of Scotland via Flickr.
We’re seeing an entirely new wave of progressive political thinking and demand for change and equality. We’re seeing people who never bothered with politics before becoming actively involved in political protest and refusing to stop until the government listens to the public’s opinion on a range of different issues.
When people ask me if I think independence for Scotland is inevitable, I really don’t have an answer. I have no idea. Whether it happens or not, my main objective is for my generation and generations to come to have a just, fair, safe, equal and happy society to live in – whether that means we stay as part of the UK or not. On this first historic anniversary, as we look back over how Scotland has changed in the last year and see more and more people being inspired to get involved in politics and discovering how we can use it to create positive change, it’s refreshing. It’s exciting to see this huge revival in politics that has had a significant, lasting impact on an entire generation; inspiring thousands who are now demanding that our government takes notice and listens to the people.
Do you think Scotland will become independent within our lifetime? I’d love to hear your thoughts so make sure you leave a comment below.
Featured image courtesy of Matt Buck via Flickr. Edited by Sophie McNaughton.