Too often in the debate surrounding independence is the term nationalism used, and no-one seems particularly sure in what context they wish to use it. Many pro-Union supporters pigeonhole Scottish self-determinism as a concept used primarily to stir up emotions of patriotism to encourage a ‘Yes’ vote in 2014. Yet, some pro-Independence supporters would argue that it is sheer hypocrisy to condemn Scottish nationalism on one hand while beating the drum of ‘how great the UK is’ on the other.
Here, I may be guilty of fitting into the Tory stereotype, and find myself drawn towards the question of Europe as an initial point of reference. Whilst I am not a fan of single currency, I do believe in the concept of Europe in the same way I believe in the United Kingdom; we have more that unite us than divides us. But Europe is not fixed – just look how much it has changed in our life time, with the recent decision by the Prime Minister for a referendum being testament to that. Whilst Yes Scotland states that ‘it will be the people who live in Scotland who will be in charge’, it also affirms that ‘an independent Scotland will remain part of the European Union’. Can this balance really be guaranteed? By the time Scotland has applied and been accepted as an EU Accession State, what will the EU look like? Will it really hold Scotland’s interests at heart? Our relationship with the rest of the UK is far more long-standing, with our Sterling Currency far more responsive to financial fluctuations than the Euro currency we would have to join. I believe that greater devolution will allow for Scotland to have the best of both worlds; self-governance with a historic safety net of support in London, rather than in Brussels.
There is also consensus among pro-Independence supporters that an independent Scotland will be a more fair, just, and equal nation. If this argument was correct, then who wouldn’t vote for Independence to rectify the social problems that we face in the United Kingdom? The main reason,I believe, why this argument is ineffective, is because these social problems are shared by citizens throughout our country. Are the social ills we face in Glasgow any different from those faced in Birmingham or Sheffield? Of course not; these are national problems that require a collective national response. Why would you want to push a more progressive policy in Scotland than throughout the rest of the United Kingdom? Do we not feel a moral obligation to help our wider family in the rest of the country? We can achieve so much more together than we can apart, and that to me, is the definition of the Big Society. We are a nation with so much in common, and Scotland is as fundamental to this sense of collective identity as any other part of the UK.
I think that we are better together because Scotland has an integral role within the UK, contributing positively towards the country as a whole. I believe that Scottish identity is as independent from the UK as it is shared, and as progressive as it is responsive. We have a precious relationship which could achieve so much more through collaboration between devolved and central governments to benefit everyone. Furthermore, when this is combined with our valuable position on the global stage as a United Kingdom, the potential for positive change is even greater, and I don’t think even the most reluctant nationalist could argue with that.