Allow me to preface this post by saying that, even though I may live in the United States, Great Britain is my ancestral home and I love it with all my heart. Therefore, the current Scottish referendum hits me very close to home.
September 18th will be an extremely important day for the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and myself. On this day, the people of Scotland will be casting their votes in a referendum to decide whether Scotland will remain part of the United Kingdom, or whether it will leave and go it alone. On that day, Scotland will have the power to either save the Union or tear it apart.
Some have called this upcoming referendum “a vote of Scottish independence.” I, however, can’t help but believe it will be much more than just that. When the people of Scotland go to cast their vote this Thursday, they will not be deciding the fate of Scotland alone; they will be deciding the fates of England, Wales as well as that of Northern Ireland. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly. This vote is not a temporary fix to anything that may be wrong or will only have consequences for a year or two. People living in the United Kingdom will have to deal with the consequences of this decision for the next century and beyond.
When this vote takes place this Thursday, people who do not live in Scotland, including those Scots who live outside Scotland, will be denied a vote. They will have no voice in trying to save a bond that has lasted for three hundred years. This bond that has held my ancestral homeland together for so long has survived war, crisis, upheaval, and has bound the countries of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland together through some of the most turbulent periods in history.
This is a union which has, despite the difficulties in the past, produced some of the greatest men and women who have bestowed their gifts to humanity in science, engineering, medicine, literature, art, religion and politics. Together, this Union has played a great part in forging the modern world.
So while the rest of the Union has no vote, and while I certainly have no vote, I would like to think that we might have a voice.
What would I, personally, like to say with this voice? Only one thing: vote on the side of unity; unity with each other, and unity with the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a mixed nation – four peoples mixed together, sharing lives, ties of history, language, and above all, ties of family. The United Kingdoms culture and humor, the way it works together, plays together, the families and friends – the people of these islands share all these things.
Like many of you who live there, I share your frustrations with the current state of politics. I can wholeheartedly understand your irritation with the state of the economy. I understand and I share in your frustrations and irritations as the Union moves ahead in the face of new challenges and problems of the past that have been left unresolved. I completely understand the depth of feeling that you want better for your country. No one can begrudge you the feeling of wishing to be free from leadership which seems uncaring, even on its best days. I can completely understand the wish to be free of economic mismanagement, free to live a life that would build a better future for you and those you love. I understand these feelings because I certainly have them myself. In my humble opinion, however, a vote for Scottish independence isn’t the answer to these problems. I have a gut feeling that a Yes vote for independence would actually bring about many more problems in its wake with no solutions to be found.
Please believe me when I say I have no desire to sweep the problems the Union faces now under a rug and vote no to independence simply to keep the status quo. I would whole-heartedly ask every Scot that will be voting to vote No to independence, and work together with the rest of the union to bring about needed changes; not only to Westminster, but also to governing bodies throughout the entire country. The shared economy is struggling back to health, so lets see the recovery through together, as a unified nation. A family of nations, just like any regular family, has disagreements on what the United Kingdom should be and where it should be going. Lets discuss these visions of the future together, iron out the differences together, and find the answers together.
Of course, I shall respect your final decision, just as the rest of the United Kingdom will. It is, after all, your decision and yours alone to make. On Thursday as you take your ballot paper in hand, however, I would ask and plead with you that you think about the rest of the United Kingdom and its desire to stay with you and check the box to stay with the United Kingdom. Please think beyond the present political problems and think into the future that you are forming for the entire Union as you cast your vote.
The people of these great British islands have faced challenges before, and face great challenges today. There will surely be challenges ahead for this generation and those to come. For the sake of all, lets face these challenges as we have for the last three hundred years: together, indivisible as a United Kingdom working together to overcome these problems, not apart.