It’s only a few hours now until voting starts in Scotland’s referendum to choose whether or not they stay part of the United Kingdom. The latest poll of decided voters is 49% pro-independence (Yes) and 51% pro-Union (No). Five percent of voters are still undecided and the vote is too close to call. My own opinion is the “No” vote is likely to win, just, and that is also my preference. Three-quarters of my ancestry is Scottish, a fact I’m extremely proud of. I love Scotland, and I think the best thing for Scotland’s future is to remain part of the United Kingdom. I can also understand nevertheless why someone would vote to separate from the Union. If I actually had a vote, I think I’d find it much harder to make a decision.
What’s struck me most about this referendum though, is the process. The debate has largely been civil. Yesterday, Labour party leader Ed Miliband was jostled in an Edinburgh shopping mall and had to be escorted out by security staff. This incident made news around the world as an example of the increased tensions as voting day draws closer. If a bit of jostling is as bad as it gets, that’s actually pretty great.
Only a few hundred kilometres south-east, hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers have died fighting pro-independence fighters (many of whom have also died) who are being financially and militarily supported by a foreign government (Russia). Russia has also occupied the Ukrainian state of Crimea, has a permanent military presence in the Moldovan state of Transnistria, and is a constant threat to the sovereignty of several other countries in the region.
Travel another few hundred kilometres south-east and you’re in the region occupied by a bunch of psychopaths who’ve used violence to establish an independent state that completely ignores internationally recognised borders. This group has injected religion into the mix, which they consider gives the rape, torture, abuse, violence and murder they commit a moral justification. Almost forty countries have now had to form a coalition, spend billions of dollars, and put their citizens’ lives at risk to try and get rid of them.
So congratulations Scotland. Whatever the result of this referendum, you have been an example to the world of how these things should be done, and I’m sure going forward you will continue to shine.