I’ve found myself sitting on the fence on the subject really. I was born, raised and live in Liverpool, a city once described as “In England but not of it”, of mixed Irish, Scottish and English blood. Within 15 miles of Liverpool city centre I can be faced with road signs in a “foreign language” as I cross into Wales. I spend most of my holiday time almost equidistant from all of the aforementioned countries in the middle of the Irish Sea on the Isle of Man, which just to confuse the issue isn’t part of the “Union” at all (be that Kingdom or European). I would consider myself to be Liverpudlian first and foremost. Stereotypical English traits are somewhat alien to me, I feel more at home with the Celtic traditions of Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man than I do with warm beer and maidens playing cricket on the village green or whatever the term used by John Major was.
I can still walk, drive or take the train between the UK (Northern Ireland part thereof) and Ireland without having to produce a passport; for many of the years since independence I could still pay for a pint in the bars of republican County Louth with a note adorned with a picture of the Queen. The Union broke apart then and the world kept on spinning. The same would happen again. Wherever you live in the United Kingdom, be it the nations of Scotland or Wales; be it the historic lands of Cornwall or Northumberland; be it the great cities of Liverpool or Newcastle; there is a problem, and that problem is Westminster. Westminster has become an ivory tower inhabited by men, and it is mostly men, who have spent their entire careers in what I call the “SW1 bubble”, within a stone’s throw of the Houses of Parliament, who surround themselves with likeminded colleagues and researchers. They think they know best, their friends nod their heads in agreement, and before you can say “localism” Her Majesty’s Secretary of State is dictating when your rubbish bin should be emptied.
At the last election the Conservatives produced a poster “Are you thinking what we’re thinking”, when the question should have been asked the other way around. The politicians should be thinking what WE are thinking. But they are not and the latest poll from Scotland, shows they are not, hence the current panic from Better Together as it has suddenly dawned on them that the people want something different. You can see why our former colonies around the world looked at London, thousands of miles away and thought “those people have no idea who we are or who we want to be; we can do better ourselves”. The distances might be shorter but people around the United Kingdom look at London with the same thoughts now.
Westminster needs to let go, let the people in our nations, regions and cities make their own decisions, some of them may be bad decisions, but they’ll be theirs. Whichever way the people of Scotland vote next week, it will be their decision, and therefore it will be the right decision.
*Date correct in original blog post, which can be seen here.