I was born in Aberdeen. My father was born in Edinburgh to parents who were also both born in Edinburgh… My mother’s family was from Glasgow, though she was actually born in Birmingham. This family photograph is of her grandmother, my great grandmother, as a young woman (top row, 2nd from left – fabulous lace collar). Elizabeth Nisbet McDonald was one of David and Mary McDonald’s seven children. They lived in New Cumnock and were tailors. Family legend says the family had drifted down there following Culloden. Two of the boys in sailor suits (Hugh and George) were killed in the First War – Hugh was in the Black Watch and George in the Cameron Highlanders. Over the generations my family have travelled. Janet McMurray (daughter of Elizabeth) studied French in Grenoble; her husband William Bruce worked in Java and served in the RAF in Egypt. My Edinburgh relations include a branch that emigrated to South Africa. More recent generations have also travelled extensively. My point is that, not only are my family Scottish – but that we have managed to be educated, be rich, be poor, be happy, be sad, have children and have pride while also being British.
None of us have choice in the circumstances of our births – location, economic situation, religion, ethnicity, date, family are all issues we arrive to and then spend our lives embracing, modifying or rejecting. How very extraordinary, then, for the voters in Scotland to have an opportunity to change part of that, not just for the people in Scotland, but for the rest of the United Kingdom too. A baby born today in Britain to parents from England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland is entitled to be a citizen of the United Kingdom. A baby born after Scottish independence will not be.
It is not clear to me why there is a need for such seismic change. Of course the relationship is sometimes fraught and iniquitous – but the debate and discussion around the differences is one of our sources of strength and surely not a reason to pull apart. The United Kingdom is perceived as a stable, prosperous, autonomous nation state – made up of components that together are greater than the sum of their parts. The Hands Across the Border project illustrates this so well. Stones have been joining the cairn from all round the world, sent or brought by people who have a desire to see our country stay together. (http://handsacrosstheborder.co.uk)
I don’t have a vote in Scotland’s future – because I don’t live there at the moment. In so far as I have a voice I want to shout loudly, and with conviction, “PLEASE VOTE NO – I BELIEVE WE ARE ALL BETTER TOGETHER”.