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A Scottish 'No' Voter Pleads 'England, Don't Let Us Down'.

21/06/2016 13:06 | Updated 21 June 2016

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In East Berlin for a few days, I seem to hear bagpipes everywhere. First, a man in a Glengarry busking with a pibroch in Unter den Linden; then a Pole in a Celtic top playing an ancient set of pipes his grandfather had acquired in the Highlands.
One rainy day in Alexanderplatz, a piper's distant lament rises over the rumble of the trains. The melancholy air goes with the mood engendered for me by the possibility of Britain leaving the European Union.
I love Europe. Being in Berlin, particularly the former East, reminds me why. There is so much history of suffering here, but the city has stoically moved beyond that and become a great place to be.
I love the idea that as a citizen of the EU, I belong in Berlin. I have an entitlement to be here. It's not just that I can come on holiday but I could live here if I wished. Maybe I never will, but it has been a kind of freedom just to know that I could.
Brexiters say that travel is easy outside the EU, but you can't easily live somewhere else. Getting a visa to work in the US for instance is difficult.
Personally, I don't want to give up the benefits of European Union citizenship. This is similar to how I thought two years ago in the Scottish referendum on independence. Then, as a committed supporter of devolution and of the Scottish Parliament, I voted against independence. I wanted to keep my birthright of a British passport.
For me, I decided, devolution did not have to be a stepping stone to independence. Scots can address specific problems closer to home while sharing sovereignty with other institutions such as Westminster and Brussels. We don't have to give up our membership of important institutions.
At the time of the Scottish Independence referendum, I wrote about my support for remaining part of the UK, for my respect for English values and English culture.
But the fire-breathing nastiness of the Brexit debate has been depressing. It seems to me looking back that it was at the time of the Scottish independence debate that the dragons of English nationalism started to stir, murmuring: "Take back control," and, "We want our country back".
Nationalism in general makes me uncomfortable. Perhaps Samuel Johnson was going too far when he said that "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" But there are very few problems for which more nationalism seems to be a good solution.
The way in which the leaders of the SNP Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond have put aside the nationalist cause to campaign for Britain to remain in the European Union is impressive. But hard core nationalists will be hoping England votes to Leave because they see that as the best way to get what they want. Do the English realise the significance of this for the future of the UK?
Please, England, don't let us down. Don't make a choice that will inevitably threaten the unity of the United Kingdom. Not after all that we have been through together.
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And there is more to worry about. in East Berlin the other day, I saw campaigners proclaiming that "Putin is not your Enemy; the City of London is," A man with pale blue eyes told me that Russia's leader was offering Germany the hand of friendship and collaboration, unlike the City of London, home of money men, drug dealers and terrorists.
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A recent editorial in the Financial Times said that Brexit would be "a grievous blow to the post 1945 liberal world order,". At stake, it said, is "the coherence of the West."
In the New Statesman, Linda Colley, professor of History at Princeton wrote The US has a "long, only partly buried, history of isolationism..It would be unwise " to assume that America will always be available to prop up the European powers."
Scot David Edward, a former judge at the European Court of Justice made a speech in which he warned that Britain is in danger of "losing its reputation for reliability". He said Russia was governed by "an unpredictable autocrat with ambitions" and that these ambitions would be encouraged by Brexit and a weakened EU.
But Brexit's Michael Gove says "people in this country have had enough of experts." Is that really the case? Are Brexit supporters thinking: who is that Professor Sir David Edward anyway and why should we care what he thinks?
I once heard him get the most inspiring end-of-school Assembly speech I have ever heard. In it he talked about the difficult work, in which he played a part, of building the democratic institutions of modern Germany after the Second World War, institutions which were nurtured and strengthened within the European Union.
He ended his speech by saying "This is what we achieved in our generation, now you must go out and achieve for your generation."
I was thinking about this the other day and the fact that It is people who like me, who were born in the baby boom of the 60s and 70s, who are now running the show. I guess I don't want to be part of the generation that fucks up.
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Read a fuller piece here.

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