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Melissa Steel

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A Scottish Student on Scottish Independence

Posted: 06/12/2012 16:02

What are Scots known for? Irn Bru, deep frying, consequent obesity figures on the news, and now wanting independence from the rest of the UK. The outside world basically perceives us as lardy William Wallaces with sugar dependencies.

However, most people I know in Scotland seem very ambivalent about the whole movement (and not overweight, either). The general attitude seems to be that it is great that we get to go across the Forth Road Bridge for free now, but a greater commitment to the Scottish National Party (SNP) is to be shied away from.

The problem is that those who are Scottish Nationalists seem to be much more vocal about their cause than the average Unionist. They are the ones in the pub sporadically shouting "BUT THE OIL...THE OIL WILL PAY FOR EVERYTHING" with the blind passion of a caricature of a 1980s sheikh. This is usually followed by "ALL WE NEED IS WINDMILLS", shrieked like a crazed Dutchman reworking 'All You Need is Love'. For those not in the know, Scotland's North Sea oil is believed by some SNP supporters to be bountiful enough help the region function as an independent state, and the wind mills reference is a nod to the current Scottish Government' s flag ship green energy project. These are two very opposing beliefs, in a sense. One problem that springs to mind is how we could ever be really energy efficient while continuing to sell a fuel form that belches holes in the ozone layer?

Just in case you weren't able to tell, I am not enthused by the prospect of Scottish independence. If you examine the above example, you could come to the conclusion that is more ill-considered opinions on the issue that annoy me. The bad thing is that this is all I seem to hear from the cause's noisiest supporters, who appear to be more interested in pretending we are a repressed colony and they are our fire-brand avengers than entering into a considered debate on the topic.

However, when the 'Better Together' campaign came to my university town recently, I was struck by their use of English students as canvassers for their pro-union cause. Surely this just supports the fantasy image of the English as our colonial overlords? Although this was probably far from the campaigners mind, to some Scots it would be reminiscent of the controlling of the 'native' to benefit the Empire (or Westminster, in this case).

Nevertheless, as a Social Anthropology student, I wonder whether the cultural difference between Scotland and England is enough to warrant total separation. There are regional differences, yes, but walking down the street in England or Scotland means you are likely to encounter the same language, culture and mind-sets in both.

The occasional tantrums some of our representatives seem to have in their communications with Westminster do nothing to make me bend to the SNP agenda, either. In fact, sometimes I imagine Scotland as England's temperamental wife, who occasionally has a fit and screams "Right, that's it. I've had enough. You just don't appreciate me [and my North Sea oil and majestic wind mill collection] anymore! It wasn't like this when James I first united us!" Then everything is okay again when the husband brings a bunch of garage flowers home (i.e. token government subsidy).

I suppose this is a plea for all Scottish voices to be heard on the issue- not just those who shout the loudest.

 

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