Why Independence:
An Open Address to the Undecided

A re-orienting perspective for undecided voters on why they must support Scottish independence.

Today we Scots may well alter the course of our national destiny. In less than three hours, the polling will close and only the votes of those already in line at the time of closing will have their votes counted thereafter. There will be no more second chances. It can only be hoped that we make the most of it.

In the interests of early disclosure, I will say now and in no uncertain terms that I support Scottish independence — all the way to the hilt. The aim of this article is to address intelligent Scots who are undecided and have yet to vote, but who also remain willing to vote. It is of primary relevance to them and only secondarily offers something for anyone who has already voted or for interested non-Scots. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t for one minute think this article will be a make-or-break influence on the polls; I presume no such influence, so you may expect no such megalomania on my part. However, if you are open to the possibility, you can take this chance to think about the risks and stakes involved in this referendum from a different perspective, which may decide something more important than your vote alone: your engagement with your country, from this day onward, whatever happens.

For this writer, Scottish independence is the only chance to renovate Scotland’s political fortunes. Risky, yes, but necessary also; the alternative may be more certain, but it’s also more certainly stagnant, pernicious and wrong for Scotland. When our choice is recognised as being between continuing to flounder in the United Kingdom or the chance of making it on our own, it puts things into perspective. Constitutional repatriation is the one clear solution for a viable national existence — the only possibility of actually achieving something and raising ourselves out of the malaise perpetuated by the Westminster regime. It’s proper and right for us at this point in our history, even if it includes the possibility of failure; the alternative precludes the possibility of success.

Now, when I write ‘a viable national existence’, I’m not speaking (like most commentators seem to do) in a primarily economic sense. I’m talking about the prospects we have for continuing to exist. Any human community which doesn’t even try because it’s too scared of failing, has already failed.

In this case, the community of which I speak — Scotland — is composed of smaller, subsidiary communities in layers, all the way down to the local level on which it is all built, the smaller being the ones in which we live out our everyday existence. These are the ones we feel most immediately, because they are, of course, immediate. They matter to us, we who live in them, and must matter in a viable nation. As a corollary, the larger communities — from counties to the nation itself — are those through which we secure that everyday existence of the community and perpetuate our way of life. We Scots — whether Gallovidians or Aberdonians, Orcadians or Hebrideans, Borderers or Invernessians — matter not a click of the fingers to the career shill in Westminster or the compassionless manager of human traffic in Whitehall; that far South, we matter only to the electoral nose-counter and then only as noses to be counted — presumably, that is, noses to be counted generally in favour of the Labour Party, to whom we are a vast reserve of anti-Tory electoral fodder. In an independent Scotland, the farmer in the South of Scotland and the crofter up North can matter.

Within the bland multicultural nightmare of the United Kingdom, our local communities are regarded with attitudes spanning a narrow spectrum from abstract indifference to cosmopolitan contempt. In Scotland, they are by necessity regarded with keen interest. Each and every community is vital for Scotland to flourish in the aftermath of independence. By contrast, the Southeast and the Home Counties are the only support needed for the continuation of the Westminster regime, as true for them today as it was all the way back in the time of the Tudors and has remained so for the entire duration between then and now.

Politicians listen to their interests, not ours, unless it is in their interest to take heed. I say this as someone who, on a personal level, is deeply doubtful about the viability and merits of democracy itself, but in this particular case, I think that it’s worth employing whatever means get the job done. In this case it’s a vote, so vote. Supposing you want more accountability, then take your courage in your hand and make them accountable. A ‘Yes’ vote today is the way to achieve that, if it’s what you want.

A newly independent Scotland will be more sensitive to our needs and more willing to move heaven and earth in everything from the national budget, to healthcare and energy policies. Scottish politicians, with a smaller electorate where each vote is ten times as valuable, find themselves closer to our communities and are more compelled to act in the interests of those communities, with no-one but themselves to blame for any blunders which result.

In the aftermath of independence, their success will depend on being more pragmatic than ideological; more practical than airy-fairy. We will have a chance to see the flourishing of that canniness for which we Scots are so well-known, alongside the sense of responsibility proper to statecraft. Independence will bring out the best in us, our institutions and our nation as a whole.

What it all comes down to, though, is confidence our own worth and ability. Are we willing to assert ourselves in the world and maintain our relevance? Or are we willing to drift into complete irrelevance and apathy, within the suffocating framework of broken Britain? We can’t escape the wreckage until we break it all the way. That’s exactly what a ‘Yes’ vote will do.

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About S. J. Irving

S. J. Irving is a writer from Scotland. He is also the editor-in-chief of The Devil's Review.