THE BLOG

#ScotlandDecides: Is This The End of The UK?

18/09/2014 11:28 BST | Updated 17/11/2014 10:59 GMT

At last it's time for the referendum on Scottish independence. September 18 is a day that has been etched into the diary of many British people for a long time, but what does it mean for the rest of Britain - those of us who are Brits, but not Scottish?

I'm English. I was born in Surrey, just a short bus ride away from London, to an English father and Irish mother. I spent my entire adult life in London until I moved to São Paulo three years ago. I don't have any family connection to Scotland, but I feel intensely connected to this political process - why?

Because the UK is an inherent part of my identity and Scotland is integral to that. I've been to Scotland many times - to Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Highlands, Loch Ness - I love visiting Scotland. Before this process of referendum I always considered the culture and identity of Scotland to be rolled into my own Britishness in just the same way as the traditions and culture of Cornwall. I am a Londoner and English, but I am also a Brit and that means every part of the UK is also a part of me.

However I maintain an unusual relationship with my own country as I now live in Brazil and each time I am back in the UK I don't feel as if I have returned home. I feel like a tourist.

This probably happens to many people who relocate to a new country. Friends and family may be back in the old country, but in my day-to-day life the drought in São Paulo and the forthcoming presidential election in Brazil are more important to me that what's going on at the Labour party conference.

Perhaps it is my growing attachment to the country where I now live that is driving my frenzy for every report, poll, and discussion about the Scottish referendum. Because the UK is still my country - even as it slips away from me.

But the level of much of the debate has disappointed me - especially now that it seems fair for each side to just hurl abuse at the other. The No campaign made an enormous strategic error in focusing on the economic difficulties that would be faced if Scotland leaves the UK.

Nobody cares. If I was a Scot and desperately wanted independence then I'm sure that a few years of turbulence would be a price worth paying to create a independent state. This should have been obvious from the start. Even the concern over businesses moving south is a risk worth taking for those who want to see independence.

England, Wales, and Scotland have been bound together as a sovereign state since 1707. Of course there will be some turmoil if that union is unwound, but whether this uncertainty scares you depends on whether you are thinking about the stock market over the next 12 months or the history of the country for the next 307 years.

As an English - and British - observer living in South America I can clearly see both sides of this argument. Scotland could be an independent nation without a doubt. There are 124 nations with a population smaller that Scotland - over 100 countries that are smaller and manage to get along in the world the today. It can be done.

Scotland gave the world Adam Smith, John Logie Baird, Alexander Graham Bell, Alexander Fleming, Robert Watson-Watt. That's economics, the telephone, television, penicillin, and radar. You wouldn't be travelling by plane, using a phone, and enjoying good health if it wasn't for the expertise and ingenuity of Scots.

But almost all the great achievements of Scotland were made after the union with England. We did all this together. It could be argued that this is because the great age of Empire and industrial development came after the union, but regardless of that, England and Scotland have been a pretty good team for over 300 years. I can see why some are arguing that it's not worth breaking up a good partnership.

In many ways I don't want to lose Scotland. I love Scotland and I want it to remain as a part of my country. In a selfish way it also diminishes the remainder of the UK if they leave. The UK is already sliding down a slippery slope from being the master of the world in the nineteenth century to being just another small European state in the twenty-first. It feels sad to make something that is so inevitable just happen faster.

But I respect the choice of the people who live in Scotland and if I lived there I would almost certainly vote yes. These past three hundred years have been quite a ride, but why be frightened of change?

Scotland should not fear their independence. It will give them a chance to reboot their nation ready for this new century. It is a unique opportunity to rebuild ready for what is to come. The small states of Europe need to learn how to compete globally because China is no longer just manufacturing cheap toys and India now has some of the finest technology companies in the world.

Scotland has an opportunity to begin again, to plan how a country should be governed and should be able to compete on a global stage as an independent power. They can do all of this without the baggage of history - and a yes in Scotland will almost certainly trigger a wave of very welcome political reform across the remainder of the UK.

If this is the direction chosen then good luck to the Scots - I hope that Westminster can learn from Holyrood. But for now I'm just listening to BBC Scotland with Big Country playing in the background. There is bound to be a new opinion poll published in a few minutes...