Glasgow is a city and Scotland is a country where labels matter. My dad tells the story about the time as a teenager he walked into a pub in Glasgow to watch the now defunct 'old firm' football game (Celtic v Rangers for those who are blissfully unaware). Noticing a spare seat with a good view of the TV he casually made his way over to it. However his path was stopped by a man who over time has been named 'Hamish McGregor' (obviously); who proceeded to give him the necessary questioning in order to determine whether he would be allowed to sit there:
"Haw you. Are you a Catholic or a Proddy?"
"Me? I'm Jewish."
"Aye. But are you a Catholic Jew or a Proddy Jew?"
Yeh yeh - I'm sure you have heard that one a hundred times before. But as with all jokes there is a reason why it is told so frequently - there is something in there that resonates with all of us. Because Glasgow is a City and Scotland is a country where labels matter and how you define yourself matters and how other people define you matters. And in my opinion this is something that goes right to the heart of what is going on in the Country this week.
The myth goes as follows. In Glasgow you have two sides. Let's call them the green corner and the blue corner. If you are in the green corner then it must follow that you are left wing, you traditionally voted labour, you are working class, you are Catholic, you support Celtic, you support Irish Nationalism, you are a Republican, you support the Palestinians, you hold liberal values, you think Ally McCoist is a buffoon. And of course you detest the Union.
If you are in the blue corner then of course it must follow the opposite. You are right wing, you traditionally voted Tory, you are middle class, you are Protestant, you support Rangers, you abhor Irish Nationalism, you are a Monarchist, you support Israel, you hold conservative values, you think Ally McCoist is a handsome witty man. And you love the Union.
So if that's the traditional myth. And if that's the myth let's call me the myth buster. Left wing, labour voter, middle class, Jew, Celtic supporter, support Irish self-determination whilst not holding any love for the IRA, fairly anti-royalist whilst not wishing any harm against them, ardent liberal Zionist, holds liberal values and I think Ally McCoist is a buffoon.
So what does that mean for me and the Union? I'm a middle class Jew who sees Israel as a positive thing. So that means I'm supposed to support the Union right? But I'm a left-wing, liberal, anti-royalist, Celtic fan so that means I'm supposed to detest the Union? This is all so confusing. What does Ally McCoist think about it all?
In some respects I'm lucky. I live in London. I left Glasgow when I was 17. Taken by the bright lights of the south and the promise of a wonderful English Jewish wife (I'm still waiting), I left for University in Manchester in 2005 never to return. So I won't have a vote on Thursday. Which means I don't have to label myself as yes or no. It means that I can be an interested spectator from a safe distance.
Which is why from this safe distance I have been a little bit depressed by the independence campaign. From both sides. Surely this is about you. It's about how you feel about yourself. How you think Scotland can move forward and create the best society for you and your contemporaries. Surely it has nothing to do with all the partisan labels that Glasgow and Scotland proscribes you.
Alas that has not been the case. This has become as partisan a campaign as any I have ever seen. People feeling they have to vote one way or another because that is what is expected of them based upon their labels. How depressing is that? This was the once chance for Scottish people to make a personal choice based on how they feel, not about how others feel about you.
I'm not even going to get into the economics of the decision although I appreciate that it is important, as I kind of have this idealistic approach that whatever the people decide they will make it work. At the end of the day everyone in Scotland wants what's best for Scotland. So I just hope that whatever the result, partisan affiliations can be put aside and either an independence package or further devolution package be negotiated that best represents the aspirations of the Scottish people.
The only label that should matter for the future of Scotland is 'Scottish' (or resident of Scotland if we want to be accurate about these sorts of things). Let's hope people remember that when they hit the ballot box.