Why it's a yes from me, despite once being a no - mo'adore: cruelty-free beauty ∙ vegan food ∙ glasgow/dundee lifestyle

1 September 2014

Why it's a yes from me, despite once being a no

Photo belongs to the Scottish Green Party

We're now one day into September and unless you've been living under a rock for the last two years (or you're living in a different country, though I've heard it's hard to not know about this across the globe) then you'll know that in eighteen days time Scotland goes to the polls to decide whether to become an independent nation or 'break-up' a 300-year-old union.

The title of the post probably gives it away anyway, but I'm planning to vote yes. Not a gigantic enthusiastic yes, but still a yes. For some people this may come as a surprise. I was a strong Unionist long before the referendum date had been declared (I was studying Higher Modern Studies at the time the SNP became elected in 2007 and I began thinking about the issue) and even though I had been slowly losing grip of my Unionist beliefs for the past year, it wasn't until the past month that I was finally given enough conviction that a yes vote would be in Scotland's best interests.

In order to explain my reasons for voting yes, I think I have to reverse time to when I was a firm no. And explaining why is the reason I was considering not posting this as I'm basically going to sound like a privileged middle-class brat. And I hate admitting I'm wrong, that too. But here it goes anyway.

I use the term middle-class but there seems to be a lot of of debate as to what it means, but essentially I had a comfortable upbringing. My parents didn't own yatchts and diamonds and my dad isn't some rich oil executive (despite the stereotype of Aberdonians) but they owned a house in a nice mid-range area with low crime, I went to a school nobody looked down on, I got to go abroad, I took part in extra-curricular activities, my parents love me and understood a good education didn't end when I left the classroom.

Don't get wrong. I wasn't a raging Tory who looked down their nose at working class people. My parents were Labour voters, most of my family are employed by the NHS, I have two people in my family registered disabled, and my parents were both born working-class and I have other relatives who could be still be considered as such. But my own upbringing was nice, and let's be honest that checking you're own privileged isn't easy (and properly checking it and understanding the full sociological aspects at that!).

Combining that with too much mainstream media, a national identity which was (and still is!) both British and Scottish and a period in time when the UK was in a better state equalled a sixteen-year-old Unionist.

I'm now 23. Between the ages of 16 and 23 I've finished the state education system, gotten a degree, rented shitty flats from shitty landlords who just wanted my money, dated misogynistic men who didn't respect me, risked not going back for third year of university due to homelessness, felt unfairly treated by employers, gotten fucked over by SAAS and also burgled. I met people of different backgrounds to my own, was introduced to different political ideologies, became a pissy hippy vegan type, and got more and more involved in feminism. Somewhere along the lines with some more life experience I got better at checking my own privilege and questioning 'the way things are done'.

There was also a coalition government formed during all this too and all sorts of shit came with that. (Note: I'm young enough that I have no memories of living under Tory rule before the coalition, my earliest political memory was Tony Blair winning in 1997) (Also note: I once considered myself a Lib Dem voter, and we all know how that worked out).

But it was only until a few weeks ago that I made my switch and I can remember the moment. My unionist beliefs had been slipping for a while as the reasons for a yes vote were stacking up (which is another blog post in itself) and many people who's political beliefs I respected were out on the Yes campaign trail. But for me the moment came when I went to a Republic Scotland event to listen to a panel debate about the possibility of not taking the monarchy with us. On this panel was a Green Party member called Zara Kitson, and for the first time independence was spoken in a way that resonated with me.

I knew the Greens supported independence - and I was aware of other pro-independence groups such as Radical Independence, National Collective and Business for Scotland - but the SNP and the mainstream Yes campaign dominate the conversation. I had read the White Paper and could find things that were attractive but wasn't enthralled by it. The same with the draft constitution. I have never voted SNP despite having lived in more than one strong-hold constituency. And Alex Salmond wasn't the kind of person I wanted to invite over for fennel tea and a slice of vegan cake.

What Zara and the Greens did was put forward a vision of a country I wanted to live in. Proper democracy! Republicanism! Decentralisation! Sustainability! Equality! It appeared honest and free of saying things just to get the votes rolling in. And Zara seemed like the sort of person I wanted round for fennel tea and vegan cake.

I still have a few reservations and I've not switched my vote based on what Zara said alone. I do wonder what might happen to the rUK clients at the company I work for. I work in the utilities industry and that is an industry which will be difficult to separate from rUK (or come to an agreement to share). I've always considered myself British just as much as I am Scottish and it's going to rock my national identity. There's assholes on both sides who I'd love to see the faces of if they wake up on the 19th and find out their side has lost. I sometimes even wonder if this blog's readership might change. But then we move back to what I was saying about checking privilege and these are insignificant worries compared to people having their benefits cut, those living off food banks, or pensioners who can't heat their house (things that are controlled by Westminster).

It could go tits-up. We could be using rocks as currency, we might get a Tory revival, Nicola Sturgeon might throw eggs at poor people and we might not get to watch English based TV. But there's no guaranteeing that the UK won't go tits up either if we stay - cause it kind of looks like it is heading that way anyway. Maybe on the off chance that when we're plotting how to illegally watch Doctor Who in 2016, rUK might have an economic break through, maybe George Osbourne might learn how to count, maybe the Labour party will get back to their socialist routes, maybe a fairer voting system will be introduced and maybe, just maybe, Nigel Farage might fall into the River Thames and drown. But those are also big maybes. Just like independence is. And I'm beginning to guess which maybe I'd rather take.

If we stay, it won't affect my life much. I'm not on benefits, I don't rely on food banks, I'm not struggling to make ends meet, and as much as I'd never vote Tory their policies don't make my life a misery. But I can't ignore people for who Tory rule is a living nightmare and my concious is telling me I need to take into account what is best for the majority. And even if I was to selfishly only think about myself: it only takes an illness, a car accident, a change of heart from my landlord, my boss to decide he doesn't like me, a divorce, my able-bodied privileged to be rocked and, possibly the most important when checking privilege, my parents to pop their clogs and leave me without my parental safety net that has bailed me of several situations (and could still do in the future).

Any yes-voters who like me aren't voting for the SNP but for an alternative Scotland and an alternative system to what we have in Westminster knows we'll have to make a massive racket during the negotiations. And probably longer. On feminism, on the monarchy, on equality, on decentralisation and on whatever else takes our fancy. We know the conversation doesn't stop at a yes vote, and some of us will need to challenge some of the points in the White Paper.

This has been an emotional debate and it's a difficult one to vote for using only your head. I want to believe the UK can push through equality and that separation isn't the answer. However when I logically think about the whole thing it looks that if I want to live in a country that is a progressive beacon for the world it looks as though I'll have to vote yes on 18th of September. Sorry UK.

For closing:
We're now 18 days away from one of the biggest decisions our country will ever consider:
- look outside your own personal circumstances and consider what is best for society as a whole
- what kind of country do you really want to live in and could a yes vote deliver it or start the conversation?
- read/watch/listen to everything you fucking can (Linkables is going to get political) and make sure that your vote (even if it's no) is an educated vote
- when I say everything you fucking can, I mean including stuff that isn't the BBC or anything with an HQ in London

And to my sixteen year old self: I know this could come as a shock to your core but you also decided avocados were delicious at some point too. But you still try to convince the world you're really a red head and you eventually did go vegetarian (and then vegan, which you didn't see coming). You were onto a few things.

Morag x

P.S. This post was written from my heart, but I plan to write one from my head with some logical points on why independence would be best and because this blog is generally seen a vegan cruelty-free beauty/lifestyle blog type thing I'm going to write a post about veganism and independence (I'm going there).

1 comment :

  1. A really great read, Morag. I'm half-Scottish and although I've lived in England for all my life, I can truly see how independence will improve the lives of my Scottish relatives. I think a lot of people think that a 'yes' vote is a vote for Salmond, but hopefully people will read up as much as they can and really educate themselves on their future, and the future of Scotland.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking some time to comment my blog :) I try and return comments for everyone. If there is anything you want to ask quickly you can tweet me at @moadore

Hugs and kisses!