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Here's Tae Us - Unless We've Moved Awa': Give Scots Abroad the Vote

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SALMOND
PA

Scottish people living outside Scotland should have a vote on whether the country should be independent from the rest of the UK.

Over 800,000 people, like me, are Scottish but since we live outside Scotland we are to be excluded from having a voice on this historic issue.

Scots living abroad are to Scottish democracy what prisoners are to voting in the UK: locked out.

I have no objection to those who live in Scotland, many of whom were not born there, from voting, one way or the other. Many are English but since they've made Scotland their home, they have every right to their vote.

But surely, if being Scottish means anything at all, then ex-pats ought to be heard.

It worries me that this matter is not more attended to by Mr Salmond and others. The timing of the vote - to coincide with the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn - may be designed to dredge up 'memories' of the Auld Enemy, and trigger emotions such as hate, resentment and anger (at the loss of our dear nation). But these are hardly helpful emotions in an increasingly interdependent world.

I also worry that this question - in or out - is hardly the most important issue facing the country or indeed the UK as a whole. Like many people, I'm more worried that there will be a health service, a pension and a state that helps create the climate for enterprise than whether I will obliged to wear a kilt and recite Tam O'Shanter on non-Burns nights (or indeed days).

It's easy enough to say these things but I'd quite like my utterances (and indeed my actions) to have some impact (voting is at least that).

But no - or naw, as I might say when further north - Mr Salmond will have none of it.

It's not that I don't appreciate that this adds in a note of complexity. Clearly, one would have to prove that one was born in Scotland. But in truth, that is not a hard thing to do. I'm sure that governments north and south of Hadrian's Wall have that data on file in any event.

There's also the question of what constitutes Scottish.

I would favour including those not living in Scotland but who were born there. Others might go further: people not living in Scotland, not born there but who have relatives born or living there. Or a more extreme definition: not born there, not living there but who like shortbread and the Corries.

To quote a cultural stereotype, it's not like a Scot to run away from a fight so what is Mr Salmond afraid of?

Might it be that living outside the fair country has opened our eyes to the possibility (and the reality) that working with other parts of the UK is a good thing. I have found England to be a most welcoming place, filled with people who are friendly and warm. I'm sure I'm not alone and that most of the 800,000 Scots living here see the Auld Enemy rhetoric as nonsense and something best left in the history books and Mel's Braveheart.

Or could it be that those who live beyond the wall realise that Scotland has bigger fish to fry (in batter along with the Mars Bars) than whether they should 'rise up and be a nation again'. Scots drink too much, exercise too little and don't eat at all well. These matters are probably more important to day-to-day life (the nature as well as the length of it) than the vote.

It's not just that my voice won't be heard, I haven't even been asked for an opinion. No questionnaires from Scotland's First Minister, no hint that he's keen to hear the voices of those who whilst not living there still carry Scottish values abroad (hard work, thrift and the value of education), not a whit.

So come on, Mr Salmond - if you really are for Scotland then make sure that Scottish people have a voice and give us the vote.

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