I very seldom agree with anything David Cameron says – but I did agree with his impassioned ‘heart and soul’ plea yesterday for Scottish voters to stay in the union.
It’s not that I don’t understand and sympathise with the desire of so many Scots for independence. God knows, there have been plenty of times when I’ve longed to escape from the thraldom, ineptitude and corruption of Westminster myself – and if this had happened in the Thatcher days, I’d have been rooting for the SNP (and probably on the first train to an independent Edinburgh to beg for asylum).
But now the referendum is almost upon us, the idea makes me terribly sad. I love Scotland – it’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been – and I don’t want it to go. I love Scottish humour and music, Scottish accents, Scotch whisky and Ewan MacGregor. I’m proud to be British as well as English, and of the bit of vicarious Scottish identity I can claim as a fellow resident of a United Kingdom. I care about it so much that I’ll feel painfully, personally diminished if Scotland chooses to leave on Thursday. What then of the Union Jack? Our collective national branding as inhabitants of Great Britain? ‘England, Wales and a chunk of north Ireland’ doesn’t have the same ring to it… and somehow it would seem illogical to limp on in an incomplete union. If it’s going to be Scotland for the Scots, then why not Wales for the Welsh and Ireland for the Irish?
And I’ll be scared. Scared that the ‘No’ campaigners aren’t simply scare-mongering, but voicing legitimate concerns about real problems to come… scared that in leaving a known (if imperfect) status quo for an uncertain future, we’ll end up poorer on both sides of the border… scared that becoming separate countries really WILL threaten livelihoods, businesses, pensions and who knows what else – and that we won’t find out for sure until it’s too late to turn back.
Scotland and England are joined at the bedrock, and I’m praying that we’ll stay joined in every other way, too. Having said that, if the ‘Yes’ vote wins on Thursday I’ll be praying just as hard for an independent Scotland to be a great success – but gosh, how I hope the result will be ‘No’…