A letter to the undecided

Dear Friend

I’m writing this on a spellbinding early Indian summer’s morning in Perthshire. The mist has burnt off and the sky is cloudless. The trees and bracken are just starting to turn. The hills are within touching distance. All is still and clear. Or is it … ?

Perhaps you feel you’re still in the mist, your head and heart fogged with uncertainty. Should we keep things as they are or should we vote for change? Can we afford to take a leap in the dark, or is it safer to trust the people who currently run things on our behalf? Is the man leading the charge a cunning, self-serving manipulator or an impassioned advocate of what he believes to be best for Scotland? And how are we to decide for ourselves what is best for our country, best for us as individuals?

Most of what you read in the papers or see on the television tells you that we would be mad to go, that independence would leave us impoverished, outcast and vulnerable, a small inconsequential nation in financial peril with diminishing resources, high taxation, underfunded public services, crumbling institutions and no voice on the world stage; that a vote for independence is a foolish triumph of heart over head, not to mention a betrayal of old friends, and that many of those who advocate it are motivated by selfishness and hostility.

You will also have heard that should we stay we will be given the powers we need to raise more taxes and manage more of our own affairs, while retaining all the benefits of financial, political and social union with our bigger neighbour.

Then there are the opposing arguments – you hear less of them in the mainstream media, more in the online channels and on social media as well as in village halls and on street corners – that this is a moment of great opportunity, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take control of our own affairs, manage our own rich resources, spend our own taxes the way we want to, and speak to the world with the dignified voice of a self-determining, sovereign nation like every other – one, what’s more, that has a mature, balanced and affectionate relationship with its larger neighbour; that an instinct for social justice will lead to a fairer society where there are neither food banks nor grotesque salaries for bankers, and where characteristic ingenuity and drive will create jobs and long-term prosperity.

You will also have heard that should we stay we face further austerity from a government which boasts one elected representative north of the border and is lurching ever further to the right, the threat of reduced funding for our health service, a share of a massive bill for upgrading a nuclear arsenal sited 30 miles from our largest city, a very uncertain future in Europe, and the possibility of a backlash for having had the temerity to contemplate independence in the first place.

So which is right? And how do you choose? One claims to be the voice of prudence and reason, the other the voice of optimism and belief. But prudence tends not to favour change, while belief tends not to put bread on the table. So is it a question of head over heart, or vice versa? Clearly not. There’s plenty of both on both sides – just as there are unpleasant people of extreme views on both sides (though given what’s at stake, I believe history will come to look on this campaign as one of the most civilised on record).

There is one critical difference between the two sides, though. While there are positive and negative arguments on both, only one is actually driven by a positive. Imagining a better future, whatever anxieties accompany it, unlocks energy and opens the heart. Seeking to maintain the status quo does neither.

But we now know that change is coming anyway, whatever the result. The genie is fairly and squarely out of the bottle. So we will all have to find a way to move forward productively, graciously and magnanimously – whether in victory or defeat – in order to create or adapt to the new circumstances in which we’re going to find ourselves.

So if you’re still undecided when you walk into the polling station next Thursday, you might ask yourself this: do you want to go with the energy for change or the safety of the status quo? That is to say, would you rather vote in hope or in fear? And if it feels lonely to be making this decision, remember that once you have, there will be somewhere around two million other people ready to keep you company.

All the best


Click here for a collection of all my posts on the referendum to date.

About Jamie Jauncey

Author, writer, blogger, facilitator, musician, co-founder of Dark Angels and The Stories We Tell
This entry was posted in Referendum, Scotland and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to A letter to the undecided

  1. Dear Jamie

    Thank you for your letter. I’ve been decided all along but your wonderfully eloquent and passionate writings have been a source of inspiration all these months.
    Thank you for repeatedly taking the time and effort to articulate these deep feelings and intelligent, well-informed arguments – not easy.
    Well done for having the courage to stick your head above the parapet – a place where others can snipe at you, or more hurtfully, disassociate from you.
    You’ve done good. Really good. May sense prevail next Thursday and the word of creation win.

    A friend indeed

  2. David Cameron let Alex Salmond dictate the terms of this referendum – which doesn’t really play into the Yes campaign’s assertions of an undemocratic, disassociated and uncaring elite. It seems more like libertarian whiggery to me.

    But if, on that basis, you can bring scarcely more than 50% of the population with you, then it feels like a mistake. Independence will be opportunist rather than democratic.

    Even so, I wish you luck, Jamie. At least a Yes vote would put an end to this hitherto endless debate (through my lifetime, anyway).

    And I can’t resist, after yesterday’s debate, delighting in the spectacle of two eloquent charlatans on opposing sides – George Galloway (who, such is his lust for station without dedication, couldn’t even remember which constituency he had won at the last election) and Alex Salmond, whose shifting around on the hardware of independence has at least been fun to watch.

  3. I’m going to miss you after next week, Paul! Guess we’ll just have to find something else to disagree on. One thing we do agree on though – the unbearable nonsense of being George.

  4. Katrina Gordon says:

    You’re lovely, Jamie, and thanks for providing a most eloquent nationalist perspective. My vote will, I promise you, be a vote from a positive and generous heart. I think what’s best for Scotland is working closely and in co-operation with our neighbours in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to create a fairer society for us all. I think our Scottish socialist votes are a vital ingredient in the creation of a successful UK government, and the UK is definitely better with us than without us. And I feel that the consensual continuation of our co-operative UK democracy sends a powerful message to the dictators and terrorists of this world. The idea of an independent Scotland doesn’t scare me. I’m proud of our nation and of course we could go it alone. My considered opinion is that we’d be better to stay and work at improving the UK as a whole to make things better for everyone, not just the Scots. Scotland is my home and I’m 100% committed to a fairer and happier future for Scotland however the vote goes next Thursday. Exciting times. 🙂 Thanks, as ever, for sharing your passion and positivity – we need more of that, whoever wins the vote.

  5. william morrison-bell says:

    Hello Jamie – I typed a long reply to this latest post on my phone yesterday while on the train which immediately got lost as we went into a tunnel. Teeth gnashing frustration. I have enjoyed watching you morph from being a weekly adventurer in language and life (cultural commentator) to being a full time political activist in the nationalist cause. I both love and am sceptical of your passion for change. I’m a Borders man (as you know) though the other side to you and here we have always been something inbetween, neither one or the other – ruggedly independent and and difficult b*ggers into the bargain. Over the years we have experienced lawlessness, reiving, battles between Scots and English, and unremitting bad weather. My heart has always lifted as I cross the border at Carter Bar, leaving behind the bleak Northumbrian hills and looking down onto the fertile Scottish lowlands. I’ve loved the sense of crossing an invisible line, and of eveything being the same and yet different. If you vote yes then good luck to you all. I’m sure it won’t all be doom and gloom as some would like to suggest. You have the skills and resourcefulness in spades to make it on your own terms. Yet I do not support the cause of separation. I feel we have been grievously served by our government because the vote is really about the breakup or continuation of the Union, in which we should all have a say. And, I dare say, you too may not be being best served by your own leaders. I don’t consider myself partisan and I distrust nationalism, whether Scottish, Welsh, English or Irish. I believe we are better together, reconciling our differences as best we can and celebrating our commonality. Love and respect. William

  6. Simon Pepper says:

    Well spoken as usual Jamie, thanks. I like your reference to an improved relationship with the rest of the UK. For me, the oft repeated analogy of a divorce is quite wrong. This is called independence for a reason, not ‘separation’ – independence within what should continue to be a family – setting up on our own like a person who has spent far too long with over-weaning parents who assume that their values, views and priorities hold true for all. We’ll continue to share a rich history and many interests. There is no need for the kind of animosity generated by a divorce, but the parent doesn’t help nurture mutual respect by constantly asserting – ‘you’ll never manage on your own’, and ‘this is a betrayal of the family’. Parity of esteem should be the goal.

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