When I set up Discover Glasgow, I did so with the sole purpose of making a site that celebrates the city. If our tweets or coverage has ever strayed into politics, it has been tied to the city itself. I’ve had a few tweets and messages that discouraged linking Discover Glasgow to either the Vote Yes or Better Together campaigns, that it sullied the enjoyment of what Discover Glasgow is. So just for the record, the opinions stated here are my own. I choose to post them on the Discover Glasgow blog because it seems like a relevant outlet for this topic. The referendum on September 18th is going to affect this city, my city, your city, so it is very relevant. To those who wish to enjoy Discover Glasgow unsullied, please ignore this blog post. For those who are curious about why I am voting Yes, read on.
I was undecided for quite some time, dwelling on what it might mean, or what it might not mean, for Scotland to gain its independence. I spent the best part of my 20s living in London, and loved my time there, so I do not think I could be accused of being biased towards the English, or indeed the rest of the UK. I have family in Wales, and friends in all parts of Great Britain, but, let’s be honest, it’s not that great. The country has had issues for a long, long time, and many of these come from social and economic disparity. If Scotland were to have full control over its own budget, then we may see less Scottish people relying on food banks, projects that I have contributed to. So here, in no order, are the reasons that have swayed me to vote yes.
Alex Salmond is right in that Scotland is often governed by politicians it did not vote for, highlighted by the fact that Tory government have one MSP in the Scottish parliament. Not only that, but Westminster is an archaic beast, filled with a flange of politians who seem to do little else than shout and bicker at one another. These are mostly old men, guaranteed their high salaries, subsidised bar, and gold-plated pensions. Some may even be enrolled into the House of Lords, which as an institution has avoided much needed reform. In contrast, the Scottish parliament sessions are civil, and how I imagine a country should be run, not by a screaming squad of old Etonians acting as if they are in the schoolyard, or worse, a zoo. It is all for show though; I have witnessed first-hand politicians in London from all parties laughing over drinks and enjoying dinner together. It’s the theatrics of spin that rubs me the wrong way, and in the modern age of social media, they are fooling no-one.
THE BETTER TOGETHER CAMPAIGN
As a filmmaker and screenwriter, the Better Together and No campaign offended me on so many levels. I’m a regular cinema goer, and having to be inflicted with two of the worst adverts ever made each and every time was painful. The first, featuring five ‘hip’ young Scots, was filmed in a studio draped in blue. The people picked were not only all within the same age bracket, but none of them could act, or appear to care. The second, with a smart ‘No’ voter dressed in a suit, poking holes in the dishevelled looking ‘Yes’ voter’s ideas, was a blatant rip-off of the distasteful Mac vs PC adverts. That and the information being communicated was factually inaccurate, which led to actual booing and jeering from cinema audiences around Scotland. The Vote Yes advert managed to at least tell a story about a child growing up, show off places in Scotland that we know and love. It was well-shot, fairly well scripted, and cohesive in its message. It’s a shame that complaints regarding the first two meant that this also had to get pulled.
THE CURRENCY DEBATE
I’m pretty sure every Scottish person that has ventured south of the border, especially to London, will have had their Scottish noted rejected at various English stores. You can spend US Dollars and Euros in London, but not Scottish Sterling. So I don’t see why we couldn’t have our own currency, we practically do anyway! But to be serious for a moment, I think the currency question is the own goal of the Better Together campaign. It’s a threat tactic to suggest that Scotland would suddenly not be able to use the British Pound. If a currency union was not found, Scotland could either join the Euro, or make its own currency. All of these options have their pros and cons, but to say Scotland will suddenly be without money is preposterous. If Scotland vote Yes, the money won’t suddenly combust. For all the experts and politicians who have bandied together to say that a currency union is impossible, at the end of the day, if Scotland vote Yes, these opinions and views will no doubt suddenly change. The threat of a country without a currency seems like the last trick in a political playbook of a desperate campaign. Scotland’s independence would be a gradual uncoupling, during which the currency question would be answered. We will have a currency union, make our own currency probably linked to the pound, or join the Euro like the Republic of Ireland did.
As a population Scotland contributes far more to the BBC License Fee than it gets in return. ITV could not even be bothered showing the recent debate, which was probably just as well given how mishandled the whole event was, from the format, to the questions, and the perplexed audience that inhabited the cheap-looking set. As a filmmaker and screenwriter, there are so few opportunities in Scotland, yet there are so many talented cast and crew that I feel an independent Scotland would allow for a better use of that talent, instead of the constant migration to London. Sure, Scotland TV can sometimes be cringeworthy, but that’s because so little of it is made. Let’s get back to the good old days of Taggart and Hamish MacBeth.
A gaggle of celebrities, mostly English on inspection, have come out in support of the Better Together campaign. As much as I love JK Rowling’s books, Mick Jagger’s music, and Dame Judi Dench’s films, these people are far removed from the people of Scotland, both in terms of geography and money. The letter they co-signed spoke of a joined citizenship, yet an independent Scotland does not mean this will suddenly end. It is not a divorce.
The main reason I am voting is for change. Will it be tough? Sure. Is it uncertain? Indeed. But something has to give, something has to change in Great Britain to address the imbalance of power and wealth. If we vote to keep things the way they are, the rich will only get richer, the poor will only get poorer, and our country.
To borrow an apt phrase from one of England’s best known scribes, an independent Scotland is an undiscovered country, one which I would very much like to explore.