Today is the day. Scotland decides whether to remain part of the United Kingdom or become Independent. And it’s nail biting stuff.
It’s a dramatic twist in the history of these isles. Even though we knew two years ago that the referendum was going to be held on this day, we’ve all been asleep at the wheel. It was only last weekend that the country woke up to the real possibility that the Yes campaign could win this election, and I suppose that is why we are on the brink of separation. An arrogance, or more generously, a false sense of security made us feel that Scotland’s split was a far-off dream for a handful of nationalists. The youth has been galvanised and pushed it to a ‘too close to call’ finale.
97% of eligible voters have registered. That’s a colossal figure. But the amount of voters who are deciding the fate of not just Scotland but the whole of the United Kingdom is less than 10%. That means over 90% of the British are having no say in the way that our country is heading.
I have Scottish friends living in the UK who are furious they cannot vote whereas EU citizens residing in Scotland, no matter how long they have lived there, can vote. I’m not sure what’s fair in that. Nor in the fact that hardly any of the details have been hashed out which starts to make the question on the ballot ‘Should Scotland be an independent country’ sound more rhetorical than practical.
I took my kids to Scotland, on an impromptu road-trip, this summer. Friends joked about did I have our passports? I didn’t plan to go because of the upcoming election. I hadn’t visited for over 15 years; I felt a deep-seated need to explore the wild landscape but within the safety of my own backyard.
I’d forgotten how varied and beautiful the country is. Just like the weather that rolls in and changes within a few minutes – lashing with rain one moment and then energizing sunshine the next – the scenery changes within a short drive. You can see every cliche up close and personal – dramatic, stunning, picturesque, quaint. Even the residents are varied – lots of English accents, quite a few Scottish and some Scandinavians. The point is, we are so integrated that just putting a mark on a piece of paper today doesn’t take into account of how complex the separation will be.
After spending two weeks going wherever the wind blew us, I’d fallen in love with Scotland again. And now it’s on the brink of deserting us, I’m devastated. It’s like a lover turning his back and walking away. I’d never appreciated its proximity, beauty, independence but now we’re on the verge of losing it as part of the family, I am desperate for it not to vote Yes.
Whatever the outcome of the vote, the political landscape in the UK will have changed dramatically. And I hope that we can learn vital lessons from this nerve-wracking experience – that we must appreciate everything in our lives whilst we still have it; that it’s no use in not appreciating and then mourning something that you’ve let slip through your fingers.
Perhaps Sky News has the best take on it all – a squabble, a family argument, the familiar bickering. But is this a separation or a final divorce?