Good morning, good afternoon, good evening and good night. I’m That Guy and writing this post with me, as I type these very words, is Benny. We’ve written this to share our views on the highly discussed and controversial topic of the Scottish vote for independence, which is being held on Thursday, with, in my opinion, the results most likely being agreed and released on Saturday. I’ll be very surprised if there isn’t a recount, at the very least.
In the below, Benny has written about Scotland, it’s culture, the landscape, etc., whereas I, That Guy, have written about the vote, its impact, and where that leaves us in the future. We both use “I” a fair bit, so hopefully this information will help you know who’s who.
NOW, before we get on the topic properly, I want to say a few very simple things, which I believe are very important to the topic at hand and especially my parts of the below write-up. First and foremost, a lot of my ‘conclusions’ are “worst-case scenario” and slippery slope reasoning. I’m voicing very real concerns, but there are some arguments which I know are flying off the handle, and these are a result of my very passionate belief in the topic and my outright pessimism. Nothing is ever going to change that.
Second, believe it or not, I’m actually pro-independence, on the condition that it is what the people actually want. If 50.00000001% of the Scottish people want independence, then they can have it, as far as I’m concerned. The whole point of democracy is to let the people vote for what they want.
Third and finally, I’m a strong believer in democracy – over the top, so. Even here, at TGTRS, the only place in the world where I have absolute control, I try to do all the big decision making in as democratic a fashion as I can. It doesn’t always work, and I don’t always get my way, but that’s the point of democracy – to let the masses get what they want, not the individuals.
It’s pretty important to grasp some basic Scottish history in order to understand the current debate. We may as well start with Edward I, arguably the only English monarch to strike the right balance between bigoted douche and uber-badass, as well as being winner of ‘Most Awesome Nickname In History’ with Hammer of the Scots. Now, with a nickname like that, it pretty much goes without saying that Edward I’s primary goal towards the end of his life was to crush Scotland to the point where it slipped into English control like a lonely widow falling into the grip of a particularly immoral clairvoyant. Despite Edward’s best attempts, Scotland refused to be tamed and, during a crucial military campaign, Edward I died, leaving the crown to his inept son, who rather obviously failed to complete his father’s work, presumably while getting into as many awkward accidents as humanly possible.
Just imagine if Mr Bean claimed a divine right to rule…
Tension between Scotland and England lingered for centuries, with Henry VIII very nearly falling prey to a joint Scottish/French alliance and Catherine of Aragon (semi-badass Spanish warrior princess that she was) crushing a Scottish rebellion while Henry was in France. Suffice to say, Scotland and England were not exactly brothers in arms. Politically, Scotland and England were separate until 1603. Elizabeth I had died with no heir to succeed her and something of a crisis was looming. However, Mary Queen of Scots, who was executed by Elizabeth in 1587 under charges of treason, had a son. James I of England (and technically James VI of Scotland) was crowned in 1603 and so both countries shared a king for the first time since Edward I. By 1707, legislation had been drawn up to combine England and Scotland and form The United Kingdom.
Since then, Scotland has experienced WW1, in which 14% of its population fought and 2.5% of its population died and 5% were injured, they experienced a mild economic boom due to ship building, followed by an economic depression due to the fact that it’s fucking war and that tends to be bad for business. In 1924, Scottish Ramsey McDonald became Labour’s first ever Prime Minister, which is a pretty awesome claim for Scotland and WW2 saw Scottish inventor Robert Watson-Watt invent radar which was invaluable during the Battle of Britain. Suffice to say, Scotland has played a significant role in Britain’s recent history.
In 1975, those of us who were graced with being alive on the British Isles, had the opportunity to take part in the first nation-wide referendum to decide, as a nation, whether we were to remain a member of the EU, or, as it was at the time, the European Community. For those of you who have been living under a rock since then, the popular answer was yes, stay in the EU, and we have done so to this day.
In my honest opinion, this upcoming vote is just as big, nigh, an even bigger decision, impacting just as many people (more if you allow for population growth and the growing importance of political decisions on the world stage), and yet, according to the 2011 census, only 8.4% (we’ll call it 9% because of university fees) of the UK population are actually being given a chance to vote on this, and that’s BEFORE you take off the people who are not eligible to vote. After that, we’re down to, what, 7, maybe 8% of the UK population getting a say in whether Scotland can leave the UK. Can anyone honestly tell me that this is democracy in action? I truly believe that anyone who honestly believes that is lying not only to the world, but to themselves.
Truth be told, I half expect the current government to use this very argument to over-rule the vote, but of course, we here at TGTRS have decided to not only show this to the top four political parties, (Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and UKIP), but also to the big four news networks here in the UK (BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5). Aren’t we clever, eh? Worm your way out of this one now, Mr Cameron!
Now, there are those of you, I’m sure, who will say that there is a large number of people who do not vote, no matter what the circumstances. At the most recent general election here in the UK, back in 2010, only 65.1% of people actually voted. Now, the way I see it, that’s not true. 100% of people voted, but for the 34.9% of people for who a vote was not officially cast, their vote was to let everyone else decide. Abstaining is, although wrong, a very valid thing for people to do, and as such, should be regarded just as highly as a normal vote. You can quote me on that.
The SNP (Scottish National Party) was founded in 1934 with the expressed intention of giving the Scottish Parliament more control over its own country, but the movement has really kicked off in recent years with the rise of both Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, two politicians who appear to be both passionate and competent with Sturgeon especially appearing to be an ambitious and formidable political player. In truth, the strength of the SNP comes from three major factors:
1) Salmond and Sturgeon are popular politicians who know what they are doing and have a clear grasp on the future of Scottish identity.
2) Scotland is a proud country and a significant percentage of the population view Scotland as a strong and noble country held back by Britain and deserving of its own independence.
3) Scottish history is full of men who have fought to preserve Scottish independence, William Wallace stands out as one of them and as a definitive hero in the annals of Scottish history. One top of this, Scotland was never really conquered in the traditional sense, birth right is the reason why Britain includes Scotland and I think most Scots are aware of that.
With regards to point 3, it’s probably easier to think of Scotland as a combination of The North and Dorne from A Song of Ice and Fire (1996-ongoing). In the series, Dorne was the only part of Westeros to resist Aegon the Conqueror and therefore, the Targaryens had to marry into the Martells (rulers of Dorne) in order to ‘conquer’ it. This is much like how Mary Queen of Scots is the product of English and Scottish marriage and ultimately led to the inclusion of Scotland in the UK. Scotland’s resemblance to the North is somewhat similar, with the cultural perception of a strong, hardened people living in a place of the world that is occasionally quite harsh. In terms of the North, the historical allusions continue. Uber-badass and father of the year, Tywin Lannister, leech obsessed Roose Bolton and Long John Silver wannabe Balon Greyjoy have all attempted to conquer the North, with none of them really being successful in the traditional sense. Granted, Tywin’s Red Wedding pretty much ended the Stark rebellion (FYI the Red Wedding is a reference to the Black Dinner in which Scottish nobles were murdered at dinner) but it’s not exactly a fair fight. Yes, Roose Bolton is technically the warden of the North now but, just like Scottish history, a significant number of Northern lords are playing about with the idea of rebellion. Balon Greyjoy may have taken parts of the North but that quickly fell through after Theon screwed up and Balon fell off a bridge like Frank Spencer in a Christmas Special
Little known fact, Series 2 of Game of Thrones actually has a deleted scene where Balon roller-skates behind a bus
Furthermore, like most characters in A Song of Ice and Fire, Tywin Lannister is inspired by multiple historical figures, a major one being Edward I, you know, the guy who got pretty close to conquering Scotland in much the same way the Tywin conquers the North?
With his innate sex appeal?
Now, we’ve done some very basic, and believe me, this is a bit of glancing over some statistics, and taking some campaign information for granted, which I hate doing, but have done because I want this posted tonight, so there’s a chance someone who actually gives a damn will actually read this. I can hope, right. So anyway, about the stats.
Someone important in the yes campaign, probably Salmond, has said that Scotland haven’t voted for a Conservative government. After our very basic checks, and again, remember, these are VERY basic checks, I’ve come to the conclusion that if Scotland becomes independent, then it will be a very VERY long time before we have a government that isn’t Conservative. With the Scottish putting up a high percentage of the Labour votes, we’re all but guaranteed Tory rule unless their leader kills someone, live on TV, then molests an animal of some description, all the while announcing plots to kill the reigning monarch.
By that logic, you’re probably thinking “hang on a minute, isn’t that a good thing for the Conservative Party?”, and yes, you’re right. It is. So here’s my question to you. Who decided that, with all this in mind, it would be a good idea to let the vote happen? I understand that this is something that occurred mostly because Alex Salmond is a stubborn bastard who thinks he’s acting on behalf of the majority, and he may indeed be doing so, but I can’t help but feel that, deep down, this is all part of some plot to make the Conservative party the undisputed government of the UK, or what will be left of it. Maybe I’m just paranoid, maybe I’m just seeing the worst in people, but anyone who doesn’t see that this looks fishy, obviously hasn’t realised that Alex’s last name sounds a bit like Salmon. And apparently, his deputy is called Nicola Sturgeon, another fish. I know this is a ridiculous argument, but you never know. These could just be names they’ve chosen as a sort of Easter egg for those clever enough to see it. In all seriousness though, ignore the names and just take into account the fact that these days, everyone is in everyone’s pocket, politics and corruption go hand in hand like drugs and prostitution, and no matter what we do, the masses always seem to lose out. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a conspiracy here.
Scotland is also culturally important to Britain. Great Scottish literature includes but is not limited to the works of poet, Robert Burns, Carol Ann Duffy, Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting (1993) and Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961). Furthermore, just think of all the great Scottish icons whose work and talents may never have been introduced to us in the same way were Scotland not an official member of Great Britain:
-Billy Connolly, who was voted the nation’s favourite stand-up comedian in polls conducted in 2007, 2010 and 2013 and is often cited as one of the most influential comedians of modern times.
-Singing sensation Susan Boyle who taught idiots who didn’t know better not to judge by appearances.
-David Tennant, a Shakespearean actor who is arguably one of the most popular actors to have played the Doctor.
-Sean Connery, the actor who immortalised James Bond.
-Brian Cox, another Shakespearean actor who was the first to play Dr Hannibal Lector
-Maggie Smith, the actress who starred in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and had a supporting role in the Harry Potter franchise, even turning up to work despite the fact she was fighting cancer.
Now, let’s have a look at the likelihood of Wales and Northern Ireland trying to gain independence, if Scotland manage it. Well, we know Ireland almost definitely will -they’ve given it a go before, and it’s only through the might of our military that we’ve managed to calm that down. The army and Mo Mowlam, to be precise. Together, they kind of made Ireland peaceful. I mean, sure, there are a few violent times every now and again, but in all honesty, we get them everywhere. However, I fully expect Northern Ireland to end up joining the Republic of Ireland and leave England and Wales together. Now think about Wales. Although Plaid Cymru is not a particularly strong party in Wales, there’s no denying that if Scotland get independent, it’ll make people see that in reality, independence is not an unrealistic thing to want. Wales, I believe, will experience a massive surge in population for Plaid Cymru, resulting in the genuine possibility of them seeking full blown independence within a decade, maybe two. By the time my currently unborn child actually understand what is going on, there will not be a United Kingdom, but rather, England, all on it’s lonesome, surrounded by Scotland, Wales and mainland Europe.
Of course, there’s the chance that even if they do try and get independence, that the vote will be denied, but then there will be riots, and instead of achieving independence in a calm, peaceful and democratic way, we’ll end up having a political revolution, where the people that want independence fight against the people who don’t, armies get called in and hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people, get killed because democracy was denied. I’m hoping that if they ask for it, they get to vote, mostly because I’m pro-life, and anti-death, as well as pro-democracy.
And now let’s look at the global picture. We here in the UK have pissed a lot of people off over the years, even in my lifetime. There’s a reason we haven’t won Eurovision since 1997, and that, dear reader, is not because our musical culture has turned to shit, but rather, because we’ve upset a lot of people. You see, Eurovision is actually a political popularity contest. The ex-Soviet bloc countries tend to vote together, which I believe is out of fear of Russia who, especially lately, have been acting a little bit crazy. I first noticed it with Georgia back in 2008, but look at Ukraine and tell me that Russia knows when to stop crossing borders it shouldn’t even go near. We did particularly badly in the years following the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which were very controversial acts and were frowned upon by the international community, and, ooh, lookie here, we were lied to there as well, weren’t we? I see a lot of lies in politics lately… Remember David Kelly? Look him up on Wikipedia. He’s the weapons expert, not the footballer. I’m not going to tell you what I think looks suspicious there, but just think about it, please?
So remembering that we’ve pissed a lot of people off, and with the UK becoming the single country of the UK (assume the above happens, as this is where things start to get slippery), then we start to become a viable target for invasion and potential takeover. I mean, let’s just look at the facts. Apparently, if Scotland get the yes vote through, we’re going to have very limited availability of Trident, which I believe is our main nuclear deterrent, only really getting control of it again by 2028, allegedly. So we’ll become useless in the event of a nuclear incident, unless the government is hiding a warhead on a rocket somewhere (I’m guessing St Stephen’s Tower), which means the more risky behaving countries will be more likely to go for us with our weakened army, weakened navy, and weakened air-force. I’m not saying they will, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Scotland decided to push south, with support of those in the north of England, who are tired of Conservative rule, maybe even getting as far south as Lincolnshire. Wales might even go for a few counties, getting the south-west regions, such as Cornwall and Somerset. After that, we’re practically wide-open for being picked apart for scrap by whoever comes in to get us.
And of course, that’s just a military viewpoint – with Scotland departing, we’re likely to dip back into recession, by my reckoning, an event which would be repeated in Northern Ireland and Wales followed close behind. The EU will then decide that as it accepted the UK as a single country, we’ll all have to re-join as our individual countries, and of course, they have the chance to say no. Want to really screw around with someone? Kick them out of a club, and make them pay to get back into it.
Fifty years down the line, where do I think we’ll be? Well, do you remember how Italy used to be, pre-unification, where the whole place used to be ran as a series of city-states. Well, I think we’ll end up like that. I like to think by then that either myself, or my descendants, will have managed to find a place in society where we won’t have to fight, but rather, can be the Lord Melchett of the situation, pushing others into battle whilst cosy in our manor. Realistically, though, I know that if the situation arises, my family, much like yours, British reader, will be forced into violence in a way that we do not desire. I’m hoping that if it comes to it, I’ll have long since died by then. However terrible that sounds, I’m being completely serious. I may not love this country as much as is probably expected of me, but it will destroy everything I hold dear for the country to be torn apart.
I think a point which hasn’t been discussed nearly enough is Scotland’s landscape. To me at least, Scotland has always encapsulated wild beauty, untameable nature, hills, valleys and mountains as well as cold seas and harsh winds. Now, naturally I know that the rest of Britain is beautiful and by no means am I suggesting that Scotland is the most beautiful part of the country, large areas of their cities are still blots on the landscape to me, but I do think that Scotland’s landscape has become part of the collective international image of Britain. To demonstrate this, here are some images of Scotland’s natural beauty:
So, bearing all of the above in mind, the crazy, the historic and the out-right genius opinions, we have a few things we’d like to say to a few very special groups out there that, hopefully, are reading this, preferably before the vote happens.
To the Scottish people, I would like to say that if you truly believe that Scotland will be better-off as an independent country, then by all means, vote for independence. I won’t stop you, won’t even try to talk you out of it and if you ask me really nicely, I’ll even support your cause. But if you have any doubt at all, either way, I want you to refuse to vote. Don’t throw a vote at the wrong decision, just because you felt pressured to make one. It is better to choose not to act at all, than to regret the action chosen.
To the current UK Government, aka, The Conservative / Lib Dem Coalition, I would like to remind them that I have sent a link to this post to BBC News, ITV News, Channel 4 News and Channel 5 News, as well as to your respective party contact emails, the Labour Party and UKIP. To you all, I’d like to say that I’m not a genius, a specialist or even someone who I expect you to give a crap about, but I am a person who knows what the right thing to do is, and what the right thing to do is, and I feel cheated by the fact that I, as a British Citizen, do not get to vote on this matter. I am at the mercy of, as the above detailed, approximately 7-8% of the population with no way of democratically defending my viewpoint. Other than write to the government or contact the media, this is my only reasonable recourse. I haven’t got the funds to take time off work so I can protest, and what would come of a protest anyway? They don’t work anymore. You’ve brought the country down to a level where the only thing we can do in the hope to achieve something, is write a long, scathing opinion of the situation, and in all honesty, there’s no guarantee that this will work either. My colleague and I have furiously typed this away tonight knowing there’s a chance that this will be read by our usual readers and them alone, with the faintest glimmer of home that democracy and freedom of speech are still alive. In summary, this vote is not an example of the democracy that I thought we stood for, as a country, I can see no legitimate reason as to why this is, and I am highly disappointed.
To the media, namely, the news channels mentioned above, I would like to say that I am available for interviews, between the hours specified in the email we sent to you. I left my home address, work address, home email, site email, mobile phone number, work number and contact times for you, and if you choose to use them, I will not complain. I would prefer NOT to be contacted at work, but heck, I work hard and I think they’ll let me off a visit from a news reporter for an interview. If not, well, I’ll take an early lunch break. I don’t want to assume you’re even interested in what either me or my colleague have written, but we are just average guys, writing what we think, and if that’s not worth looking into, then what is? This shouldn’t have taken more than 10-15 minutes of your time to read. I think that’s an investment worth making.
As for the world, just hear these final words on this topic. I won’t be writing about Scottish Independence again, unless requested by a political party, or a media team, so hear these words and remember them. No matter what.
“Think about the world – take none of what you are told for granted. We are lied to, yes, but if we think, truly think, we can see through the lies and maybe even, one day, discover the truth. Take an active role in your community, look into politics and the economy, and most importantly, remember that these next few years will be the making or the breaking of the UK. This is history in the making. Don’t close your eyes to it.”
I know that in reality we won’t be losing the actors or the history or the landscapes of Scotland should a yes vote come to pass, but I do feel a certain pride in being able to associate myself with these things. When I think of Scotland I think of it as British, in the same way I think of Northern Ireland and Wales as being British. To me at least, Scottish culture is part of British culture and its part of what makes this country great. If Scotland do decide to leave Britain on Thursday then the things I’ve mentioned won’t cease to exist, you can still read Burns, or laugh at Connolly, or climb Ben Nevis, but they will cease to be British. I think I will feel genuine loss if Scotland becomes independent, I’ll feel as though Britain has lost part of its culture, part of its soul and that would be a terrible loss indeed. I for one am hoping for a No to independence and a Yes to maintaining the collective culture, history and spirit of a truly great Britain.
As always, if you would like to share your opinion on this topic, comment in the section below, or send us an email to an email address which can be found on the contact us page. We value all of your opinions, highly.