Last week, the company I work for rolled out a new strategy for the year ahead and a new logo. To do this, the company bussed around 300 employees and contractors to a hotel in Glasgow city centre, around 15 miles from our office, in a mass gathering I’ve not seen since Texas. It was a novelty, and one that was met with bemusement. Not to get into the talk and what it was about, as I don’t want to talk about that, something happened at the end of the event that was surprising.
The CEO, presumably anticipating a question on the subject, maybe because someone had asked before, noted that the company was neutral in the Scottish Independence Referendum debate. As one of the largest Scottish companies, and the largest Aberdeen based engineering contractor that sits firmly in the Oil and Gas sector, I can imagine a vote of support for either Yes and No would be a major coup. It didn't surprise me that they will publicly not be leaning either way, and not mentioning their personal slant either was a nice touch.
He then asked which way the assembled crowd would be voting – Yes, Don’t Know, or No? I saw no one put their hand up for Yes, a few put their hand up for Don’t Know, but the overwhelming majority (at a guess 95%) put their hand up for No. I couldn't have predicted that. This is a straw poll, a cross section of a society more likely to be in favour of the current government – many were aged 40 to 60, male, and had benefited greatly from the Conservative and later Labour governments of the 1980s and 1990s. They are also all most self-employed contractors, not employees, and most are closer to retirement age than not.
I add the demographics because I assume they might have some bearing on the decision.
I will now admit that I have been partly seduced by the thoughts of an independent Scotland for various reasons. I originally started out as a staunch No, almost reviling the thought of a vote that seemed ludicrous. Then the information trickled out about what was planned. The thoughts and concerns about the current British government, a thoroughly abhorrent lecherous arrangement of pompous non-humans, and the dismantling of a country and society I’d been brought to believe existed. Scotland is more a welfare state than England, and in my opinion (not speaking as the voice of) my generation is happy to lean further that way, whereas the coalition is pulling it in a different way.
Now, I am not saying I’m a Yes vote yet. No, quite far from it – there’s a lot of fuzz in the air about the actualities of the new Scotland, such as taxation, pensions, even the pound’s status. These are a worrying and not trivial stumbling blocks – not insurmountable, of course, but from a Indie-Agnostic like myself, it is hard to not see the issues as they are drawn. There is one part of the referendum that I am totally supporting, and that’s the idea that Scotland should be fairer. We aren’t like most of England culturally, and whilst we share a lot with our Southern compatriots, they stand for a lot of things collectively that we don’t. I know politically aligned people in England who would love the chance to determine what Scotland is going to – why can’t “The North” annex it’s self from the South of England? Without a constitution setting out the ways in which these things can be approached, it makes no sense to not consider why we wouldn't take the chance at a new way, a fairer way, and self determination.
The reason I am not a Yes is because I am not yet convinced that a new Scotland will be fairer. As someone who earns above the 95th percentile I have more to lose – a higher tax, maybe, or a weaker pound (or whatever) to earn. It’s the idea that maybe being in control, as a state free of external control, such as Westminster, that gives us the power to make it fairer – to shape Scotland in a way that I like. I don’t think that the status quo is very good at all, and the change promised (or the potential change, more accurately) might be enough to push me over into the Yes camp.
I return to the people who said No in the survey I mentioned at the start – they are the ones who created the issues I have right now; unable to save, unable to buy a house, unable to rise in my company. I feel like it’s my generation’s turn, and the younger generations should take the opportunity to seriously consider what they want to do with Scotland and it’s future in the world.