I have never viewed myself as British for a long time now, even though my passport and birth certificate says I am.
Growing up I took for truth the things I was fed by the media and at school. I am 45 years old now and there was no internet then. When I remember the history I was taught at school, it was of glorious English victories and noble but ultimately Scottish failures. I was taught of the great British stiff upper lip and how we respected our betters, we did as we were told because they knew what was best for us. We won the war and the Royal Family were marvellous and we were lucky to have them. I didn’t understand or was interested in politics then.
My first real wake up call I guess was Thatcher. I didn’t understand the politics of it but I certainly understood the fact that many people where I lived didn’t have jobs, that we didn’t have much money, that sometimes I was hungry. I didn’t really go on holiday like some of my friends and never really had the best things like some of my friends but you just accepted it as how it was. I remember the Falkland War, hearing Rod Stewart singing Sailing as the Great British Navy was sailing from Southampton with the red ensign flying proud. But I also remember asking myself, ‘why are all our ships rusty?
I remember how grey Dundee was, how damp all the grey was in the City Centre and in Whitfield where I lived. Everything was damp, then in the summer it was fine for a month or so, then everything was damp again. I didn’t have much, like many people, but just had to accept it for what it was.
That brief reflection on my past kind of takes me to where I am today. I still don’t have much but I do have an understanding that the things I was told then are the same things we are told today about being Scottish and about being British. Being Scottish means that you are somehow less than if you are British. If you are British you are a part of something that is special, the best armed forces in the world, the best people in the world, the oldest and best parliament in the world and we have the Royal Family.
Being British means you are protected from the worst uncertainties in the world, being British means that the politicians in Westminster always do what is best for the people and you should, at the end of the day, be thankful that those with the most even look out for those with the least.
Being Scottish means that you are a small person, you get everything for nothing, that you contribute nothing to Britishness, that you are a burden and you only have what you have because of the largess of the people who would wish to rule over you and have the most. Being Scottish means you can’t defend yourself, you can’t feed yourself, you can’t make your own decisions other than the ones they allow you to make, and you are nothing without Britain.
I am at the point now that when I look around me I ask myself how much has really changed. Dundee still has the same problems that it has always had, it doesn’t look as bad as it did, but people still don’t have jobs, people are hungry, people have a vacant look. I am still being told by politicians from all the parties at Westminster, aside from the SNP, that I am too poor, I am too stupid, I am too wee and that I am Scottish. I am nothing without Britain, I am defenceless and I will starve along with my children without Britain. The Labour Party that used to defend the poor and vulnerable now attack the poor and vulnerable. The Liberals who never really knew what they stood for still don’t know what they stand for other than they know they will support the attacks on the poor and the vulnerable; the Tories are still the Tories.
This cycle has to end, the things that I was told in my younger years are being told to my children in theirs and to me in my middle-aged ones. Scotland can be better, Scotland can change, the Scottish people 300 odd years ago never voted to be British. The very descendents of the ones who robbed us of our Scottishness to embrace Britishness are still doing it today, the cycle has to end. I am tired of it now, I am tired of scraping by, of being told I am too poor, too stupid and too wee. I am tired of being looked down on like I am some kind of disease that my betters stood on. I am tired.
Better Together talk of Great Britain, they can’t see that they are being used by an establishment only interested in themselves and theirs, they fail to understand that they have been brainwashed into believing that they are little if they are Scottish and great if they are British. I am tired of it, it doesn’t scare me it shames me, it shames them.
There is no Great Britain, I will never ever be British as long as I live, I am not small, I am not stupid, but I am poor and if we vote no in September I will become poorer, my children will be poorer both financially and in spirit. A Yes vote will give us an opportunity to be great, to become a fairer, more honest, more decent, more caring society. It won’t happen over night but it will happen if we work at it. It will never happen if we remain the servants of Great Britain.
I am Scottish and not British, I will be voting YES.