I have largely kept off the topic of the Scottish independence referendum (or indyref, as it has become known), largely because I think it is for the people of Scotland alone to decide what's best for their country. I'm not British, so the partition of that island into two separate countries doesn't have any emotional resonance for me, though I am from the UK, but I happen to feel that Scottish independence could be good, in the long run, for my wee part of the Kingdom. That's not enough reason, though, for me to feel like I should try and persuade Scots to do something that might not be in their interests, just because it may be in mine.
(Quick thought experiment: Scotland votes Yes, but Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders vote No, and an armed militia demands their own separate devolved government remaining in the UK. Should the British government: A) Establish a Parliament of Southern Scotland and exclude the area from an independent Scotland, or: B) Ensure that the democratic will of Scotland is respected... Anyway, I digress...)
Slugger O'Toole had an interesting piece yesterday, provocatively entitled And so the “Oh F*cK” moment arrives for the No camp in the #IndyRef. In it was a quote from a piece by Alex Massie, a Scottish writer, broadcaster and unionist.
There is a sense, I think, in which many voters have tired of the endless statistical wrangling that’s supposed to predict – and prove! – the future one way or the other. If true, that’s a win for the Yes campaign since sidelining those concerns – particularly on the economy – opens a path to voters who quite like the idea of independence – the idea of Scotland! – but are nervous about how, or even whether, it might actually be accomplished.
From a Unionist perspective, it does not help that, in general, London has been useless. Even now Westminster seems more interested in the Clacton by-election than in the referendum that will decide the future stability and integrity of the United Kingdom. Viewed from North Britain, this seems desperately petty and small. There is, whether one likes it or not, a sense that perhaps they’re just not that into us. At the very least they appear to take us – and the result of the referendum – for granted. And this, naturally, cheers Yessers.
Then again, this can be a lose-lose situation for Unionists. London’s apparent indifference is galling but there are moments when you could be forgiven for thinking indifference is at least preferable to the ignorance – and indiscipline – shown by London-based politicians when they do speak about Scotland. Yes, Boris, that means you (though you are not the only guilty party).
Read those last two paragraphs again. If the potential end of the United Kingdom isn't enough to grab London's attention, or at least distract it from the Clacton (yes, Clacton!) by-election, and convince it that it needs to pay more attention to Scotland, then I don't know what will.
Just as Antonin Scalia's withering dissent in United States v Windsor inadvertently handed victory to marriage equality supporters in federal courts across the United States, I think Alex Massie just made the best case for independence that I have see to date.