As a Yorkshireman sadly no longer resident in Scotland, I don’t have a vote in this historic referendum. However, I passionately hope Scots will vote to stay. I obviously wish Scotland every success regardless of the result. After all, it’s a place I’ve come to love unconditionally over the four years I spent there. Yet to be honest, I would find separation utterly devastating, like having a limb torn from my body.
I can think of many, many reasons why Scotland should vote to stay. Britain is a complex little country, yet when we look back it stands out as an enormously successful one. We have an incredible shared history, made possible by the hotbed of ideas and people that is our Union of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Together we became a leader in science, the arts and industry. We invented so many of the ideas the modern world is based on.
When the evil of fascism rose we defeated it, and then we won the peace by building a National Health Service and welfare state to care for those in need. Scots have always represented the best of our United Kingdom, from founder of the BBC John Reith to the thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment. After 307 years of common purpose, I can’t help but feel it would be a tragedy to sever the bonds that made all this possible.
Only a fool would say we don’t have our problems. But the scourges of poverty and need are ones that exist across these islands, and there is so much more we can achieve together in tackling them. The nationalists claim to be a movement for social justice, but I see nothing just about cutting off our obligations to one-another and only looking after our own. Indeed one of the few concrete promises of the SNP’s White Paper (and it is the SNP’s agenda you’re voting for with a Yes), is a 3% tax cut for big business! I would much rather we, as the last Labour government did, successfully fight abominations like child poverty by sharing resources across the UK in real solidarity.
There is simply no evidence that Scots and English people have different views about building a fairer society, so why seek to just make things better for a country of 5.5 million people, when you can help do the same for 58 million more as well? After all, it’s never been in Scots’ nature to not think big.
Together people from Glasgow to Cardiff, Aberdeen to Leeds, can unite to make ours a thriving, outward-looking country in the twenty-first century. We can push the frontiers of scientific knowledge forward and power down to our cities and devolved parliaments. We can do what we did so successfully with LGBT rights, campaigning across Britain for equality. To me that’s a far more exciting vision than the politics of nationalism.
And I know in my heart of hearts this is a dream I share with so many of my Scottish friends; what we have in common dwarfs what we have apart. I’m writing this little piece a long way from St Andrews, so I can only echo the thoughts of so many like me, watching tentatively as Scots go to the polls.
Scotland, please, please vote to stay.
Will Lord graduated from St Andrews in June 2014 with a degree in International Relations and Modern History.