Scotland All Around Me

Now the referendum is just three weeks away I feel like I should speak out for my own views on the independence referendum in Scotland. I’ve been following it very closely since last year and even though I had been keen to volunteer at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games I had been trying to avoid talking about the referendum so that I could keep politics out of the games. I hated the idea of a political agenda getting in the way of the games, these were indeed the friendly games as they were meant to be. I was among 15’000 volunteers who were going to do our best with pride and determination to show just how much we were celebrating the strengths and ambitions of the champions of the Commonwealth, of which Scotland was a part of.

When I was a boy I grew up curious and passionate about Scottish culture. It’s people lived in a nation that surprised me every time I read about it, they were a world away from London and the south of England. A trip can take you spellbound as you cross the border to the highlands. I wanted to get lost in there and see what it was like and experience Scotland for what it was worth. I got my chance when the Commonwealth Games was coming to town. I visited Glasgow in August 2013 for my interview at the Commonwealth Games and I went to Edinburgh in February this year for the dream holiday I’d always wanted which was a trip by train from London to Edinburgh. These are two ideal cities any visitor to Scotland should take in first where you can explore the magnificent architecture of Georgian and gothic buildings. It was like escaping to an alternate reality where you could escape the crowded, dwelling city life down south where everyone is streetwise and sardonic. That’s the kind of attitude you wouldn’t find in Glasgow where the people are friendly and the community really shines. The council’s message was clear: People Make Glasgow. As a Clyde-Sider and a Briton I felt really at home here and I had become adopted by the city like I was an Essex imported Weegie.

One important factor that has been at the forefront of the independence debate is the subject of the economy and that Scotland can’t survive on it’s own. I hate to add insult to poverty or rub the union into the face of the locals but I think this has more to do with unfair control from Westminster, social divisions, obnoxious snobbery and a lack of wealth distribution. As an Englander and an ex-East London lad I can tell you that even the working classes living close to Westminster have their own problems with Westminster that make me sympathise with the Scots.

I grew up in a dysfunctional household where everyone had a reason to be crappy to each other because of their own self-worth. Some of my family still think of Glasgow as a hell hole. The only Glasgow they seem to know is the one immortalised in the media when Glasgow was the murder capital of Western Europe and that is just bloody stupid. I have the decency to go out and do my research, the city has changed beyond all their perceptions. I considered myself to be a Briton first and an Englander second and that is not because I like the union, but because I love this gorgeous pleasant island nation made up of Anglian and Celtic nations which give it an identity that makes it a brilliant and powerful land of hope and glory. I’m extremely proud of my Celtic neighbours and as an Englishman I think of them as my cousins. I have been warned about making references to Scots being British, well I get the same attitude to that down here where some of my friends and family think of themselves as English and not British. They even resent their own kind close by in the north and the midlands, even though they are just as much one of their own fellow Englishmen. As an Englander I cherish all citizens across England and I care about their welfare as much as my own here in Essex and London. And as a Briton I care deeply about the whole of the country from John O’Groats to Land’s End where it’s nature, lifestyle, people and places make the British Isles a truly Great Britain.

Now the Union has been around a lot longer than three hundred years, the Celtic nations of Ireland, Wales and Scotland have been closely tied to England for a lot longer on their terms as well. Rule from London has always been a debate of unfairness with people outside the capital thinking they get an unfair deal of the wealth from the treasury. Well imagine that unfairness with no ties to Westminster at all. Had the Celtic nations not been politically unified with England then maybe the south would be more crowded than it is now with Scotland, Wales and Ireland living the existence of hermit like kingdoms with England having barely the same kind of wealth it has today. The English have a great deal of debt to their Celtic cousins than they care to think. Consider the story of the Tudor dynasty: a Welsh royalty who ruled England from 1485 to 1603. King Henry VII took over from the extinct Lancaster dynasty after he defeated the York King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth. Now when the Tudors took over England and Wales had been impoverished from the fall out of the Hundred Years War and the War of the Roses which caused massive social and financial issues. Over time this famous Welsh dynasty restored the nation’s finances, strengthened the judicial system and laid in motion the wheels of a powerful union that would secure Britain’s place on the world stage. Having read this I can’t see what England would do without the Welsh, as they have always been the butt of jokes everywhere by comedians. I hold the Welsh in high esteem. Without the Tudors we wouldn’t have Queen Elizabeth I who would destroy the Spanish Armada. Our Protestant religious order would have been destroyed which was established by King Henry VIII, and the Spanish would’ve conquered England and then Wales and probably would’ve invaded Scotland which was also Protestant at the time. Making our borders even more dangerously open to attack than they are now. It would take another Celtic dynasty to complete the political union.

One of the things that I really love about the Scots that I would miss the most is their valuable sense of patriotism and affection for culture. They have a powerful bond and value of community that swells with pride every time they come out to celebrate both Scotland and British things. I saw this for myself at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow where everyone was happy and jubilant. Together with England they uphold the same values in every part of this island nation. They embody the traits of great behaviour towards adversity: brisk, brave, unfussy and cool under fire. Scottish patriotism is an intensification of British identity. They have taught the whole of Britain the value of patriotism and nationalism as a driving force of nature to make a man love and care for his country and his people. Something that they could teach the left-wing morons down here in the south where their perception of patriotism is an ‘evil and segregationist’ agenda with ethnic minorities. Some councils down here favour the rainbow flag over the Union Jack, jobsworth police officers tell football fans not to hang out England flags to avoid upsetting ethnic minorities and even the England football team displays no passion like our Commonwealth athletes as I saw them victorious as I was a Clyde-Sider ensuring that they won the medals they deserved.

The trouble with the politics down here in Westminster is that it has left-wing equality obsessed ministers who are so greedy with doing business overseas that they hire economists with law backgrounds. The kind who think that dismissing your country’s nationalist agenda and culture is vital to make the most profits. They are just a load of over privileged, obnoxious snobs who don’t even know their own manners to think they are better than rest of the country. I’ve seen politicians and professionals promote diversity and inclusion but sometimes they don’t practice what they preach. I’ve seen bosses who hire locals to work for them in the north but won’t let them work anywhere near the management area. Those kinds of managers need to respect and understand all classes and citizens, for inequality is a fact of life and we should embrace these people for what they are worth. Don’t be afraid to confront authority, they are just as flawed as the common man is. The real revolution should focus on getting Westminster into line with the whole of the country, not disbanding it. Believe there are some bad people in power who need to be fought, not just removed. With the union intact we are stronger and better together united in harmony and goodwill.

This is why I want Scotland to stay in the union, to teach the English and Westminster the value of community, culture and patriotism. Without them I don’t think the UK as a whole can survive. They are the founding nation of the UK as it was a Scottish king – James I of England and the VI of Scotland who founded the union and created the Union Flag. However it took a hundred years for the Union to be formalised with a proper centralised government and that required a lot of mutual benefits for all quarters of the UK. It has worked out very well for the last 300 hundred years with industrial, social and political ideas contributed from all the nations of the UK carving the groundwork for the modern Britain we see today. It kept order, freedom, finances, security, welfare and a unique cultural identity which we could all share together as Englanders, Scots, Welsh and Irish citizens.

It would’ve been a lot more volatile and unstable without the union. If Scotland votes to break away in the following years the country will be in situation of despair, discontent and disorder. I’ve seen where independence and cultural revolutions lead to from history. Consider the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Bolsheviks massacred the Romanovs, started a communistical superstate and went onto spread a disease of contempt towards free trade and personal freedom and paranoia that lasted throughout most of the second half of the 20th century where the local populace lived in fear of it’s government and was restrained from achieving their own future. Then there’s Burma (now called Myanmar) which gained independence from Britain in 1948, after a few years of democratic elections the country went into turmoil and power was seized by a military coup d’état that continues to run the country to this day. There have been endless peace demonstrations in the streets calling for end against this rule ever since. These policies have impoverished the country with socialist style nationalisations and they have always ended in violence with shootings and arrests towards their own people. Now in the run up to the referendum with Scotland’s breakaway from the UK the opponents of the Yes campaign have come under attack from so called ‘Cybernats’ – trolls who are bullying the opposition. Well I am expecting Cybernats to attack me for writing this post and I can only respond by saying to them that you are showing your true colours for independence with a taste for anarchy and chaos. I can see you Cybernats as potential angry revolutionaries who will seize power amongst the fall out and effectively become the very thugs who will impose draconian laws of discontent on your own people. So to that end what good are you in doing the yes campaign a favour, you’re just a bunch of cowardly thugs determined to drink the coffers of Scotland dry and pour out all the resources of the country for yourselves just like what happened in Russia and Myanmar and other countries who went through experiences like them. The Scottish National Party should know better and I hope they condemn the Cybernats, you don’t win favour by siding with villains. It makes a bad impression on the independence campaign as a whole.

Overall I hope the people of Scotland vote with their hearts and minds and with good intentions and if I was a native I would vote ‘no thanks’. I have gained so much respect and admiration from Scotland during my time there over the summer and I have earned something for myself that will live in within me forever: the spirit of a Clyde-Sider. I met many amazing people and befriended a lot of them as I worked alongside them and I saw where my best friends and connections came from. They are the friendliest people who I could I ever meet and they embody everything that I adore about Scotland. I am just so thrilled to have them in my life and I’m glad to see that I now have a thriving social circle established north of the border. One day I shall go back to see them and set myself up in Glasgow. I love the city so much I have a strong bond with the Glaswegians and it’s people and I hope to find a job and start a new life there. There are some amazing and wonderful people who I encountered up there and many more from my Facebook account who I have yet to meet up with, and when I do I will continue to appreciate a better value of friendship just as I have done during my time as a Clyde-Sider. I really would like to say to Glasgow a big thank you for bringing out a side of me that gave me a new outlook on life and made me realize that I am a truly valuable person who made a great city good for a Commonwealth Games where the real champions were the athletes and the volunteers. Glasgow knows how to throw a party with an intense atmosphere of excitement and optimism. People make Glasgow and those people can become champions and I’m going to see to it that I become one. I’m going to make the legacy of the games see to it that Glasgow inspired and made a champion out of it’s volunteers. To do that I am going to take what I fulfilled and use that to achieve something great so that the legacy of the games is fulfilled.

Please don’t go your separate way Scotland. If I have to lose you it will be just like that moment when it came to home time after the games. I felt just like David Tennant’s Doctor at the end of his time as the Doctor in ‘The End of Time’ when he stood there in the TARDIS and went ‘I don’t want to go!’ I was feeling very sombre as I prepared to leave the city that I had called home for 17 days. I felt like I had to say goodbye to a place that I worked hard to make the best country in the world, and it won’t that be for long until I return.

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