Ray McRobbie (Writer): I Used To Think We Were Better Together

Currently based in Germany, Raymond McRobbie is a journalism graduate from Aberdeen who at the moment writes about various topical issues for anyone who will pay them any attention, while figuring out how to use this supposed talent for actual profit. Ray is also an avid thumb-twiddler, tea-drinker and enjoys a nicely-constructed tweet. Please, send him some.

As the pace of the debate speeds up and more complex issues are raised surrounding Scottish independence, I am continually dragged back to the simple matter of why I will vote Yes in 2014.

I took my sweet time committing to a decision, having written in May last year that I was firmly on the fence awaiting more information. It was only a year previous to that I wrote the following sentence:

“I think independence is currently the dumbest idea ever.”

That was before I did any real research into the matter.

A lot has changed for me personally since then. I graduated from university in Aberdeen, got married and moved to Hamburg, Germany last September with my wife to spend what will be a glorious year in mainland Europe.

For the last year of university I’d been researching the media’s coverage of Scottish independence and had got a bit obsessed with it all, without actually coming out on one side or the other for the actual vote. As I’m sure others are, I’m now getting slightly sick and tired of the daily ‘doom and gloom’ stories printed in the mainstream papers. ‘Bad’ news stories supposedly sell, but they’ve gone so far with the idea that Scotland simply cannot cope on its own that the ludicrous headlines make “Scotland will no longer be allowed to call things ‘things’” look realistic. And to prove the exaggerated spin no longer works, one only has to look at the dwindling newspapers sales.

I’m personally disillusioned with politics, the UK voting system, the press and the scandals. There has been disillusionment for centuries but in the fast and far-reaching world of today there just seems to be more of it. In the past few years alone we’ve had phone-hacking, banker bonuses, MP expense-fiddling, long-term police cover-ups surround the Hillsborough disaster, shushed-up celebrity paedophilia at the BBC, NHS care scandals – does Scotland get unfairly tarred with the same brush to outsiders because we are part of the UK? And why are these things happening on a seemingly regular basis today? As a kid I was led to believe we’d have flying cars and mass-marketed hoverboards by 2015.

I’m lucky to have had the chance to experience new things. As it should, living abroad and visiting new countries opens the mind. I’ve felt just as at home in Hamburg as I had been in Aberdeen. It can show you the good and the bad of other places, and also different ways of doing things. Others aren’t so lucky. Those struggling to get along in life must watch a Scottish Government do what they can with the powers they have and watch the majority of powers that affect them be wielded by those in London. Remember all those U-turns after the George Osborne’s budget last year? Recall the recent furores over school curriculum reform and the bedroom tax? The government’s proposals don’t even seem to be working for people in England, let alone the others parts of the UK.

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are vastly different in wants and needs. Westminster can’t look out for the best interests of all. And not only can’t it, it shouldn’t and it doesn’t have to.

The 2014 referendum is not about how British you feel. It’s not about flags, nationalism, history and the UK being OK (or not). Scotland has a parliament and it has shown perfectly well over several governments that Scotland can govern itself when it comes to health, education, the emergency services, justice, transport and more. You’d be hard pushed to find somebody who honestly believes Westminster looks after many of these things in a more competent manner. Why, then, can’t it control its own foreign affairs, broadcasting, gun laws, gambling…?

In my eyes, having half a parliament means Scotland will always be treated half-heartedly. It’s as simple as that for me.

The vote is also not about how scary or dangerous a Yes result would be. A country taking control of its own affairs shows that it wants to grow up. It’s happened to well over a hundred other countries since the end of World War II, despite the opposition saying independence is not natural. And the best thing is this – Scotland is in a much better position than nearly all of those nations who chose self-determination and never looked back.

Scotland needs to start taking responsibility for all its own actions. As we get closer to the referendum, it’s becoming more and more obvious how little the UK political class (and the commentators from across the spectrum) give a damn about Scotland. The UK general election in 2015, the possibility of an EU referendum in 2017 and the supposed rise of UKIP are more important to these folk and I can’t decide if it’s arrogant or ignorant of them to completely dismiss the possibility of the dissolution of the UK. These classes just can’t – or won’t – comprehend Scottish debate.

National Collective is part of a bigger network of free-thinking and optimistic people – people who don’t look to the future and quake in their boots. People who know that life is precious and should be enjoyed, with others from all around the globe. That’s why I’m excited to be part of it, even if all I do is bastardise my news-writing qualifications by producing stories about robots and zombies.

We don’t believe that a country gaining political independence means everyone turns into ‘foreigners’ overnight, as if there’s something wrong with ‘foreigners’ in the first place. We are part of an inter-connected world and we want the people of Scotland to be able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with everyone else – not have others go and do all the hard bits for us.

I can’t imagine voting No, unlike a couple of years ago. A No vote now feels like a defeat – acceptance that the current political set-up is fine. Acceptance that Scotland should make do with people living outside Scotland making the big decisions. Acceptance that Scotland is not good enough to do what every other place in the world with the opportunity has done.

If the No vote wins, and we realise that the only change has been the loss of our opportunity to make change, how will you feel?

Try to imagine waking up the day after Scotland’s Referendum and asking yourself that.

Ray McRobbie
National Collective 


About Ray McRobbie

Raymond McRobbie is a journalism graduate, who at the moment writes about various topical issues for anyone who will pay them any attention while figuring out how to use this supposed talent for actual profit. Ray is also an avid thumb-twiddler, and enjoys a nicely-constructed text message.