I’ve dithered and swithered over this for a month or so now. Do I keep politics off these pages or do I throw my tuppence worth into the ring of fire and nail my colours to the saltire-draped mast? I’ve never liked mixing pop and politics, even though many of my favourite records, from The Clash to Curtis Mayfield to Bob Dylan to The Smiths are nothing but. If I was to stop and think about it, ALL my favourite records are probably political in some way, but I’ve never been all that comfortable with the serious stuff. I suppose when it comes down to it I just like to dance to records with a message. With hours before the polling stations open, I doubt this piece will sway many voters one way or t’other (and it certainly isn’t intended to), but for what it’s worth, what follows is Plain Or Pan’s man-on-the-street view of the Referendum.
Since the Referendum date was set a couple of years ago, I became a quiet ‘Yes’ voter. I wasn’t a soap box ranter. I couldn’t (still can’t) quote you facts, figures and government misinformation. But I believed Scotland could be a better place without Westminster rule. Over the past few months and weeks, this feeling has intensified and I’m now a full-blooded, hand-on-heart ‘YES!’ man.
What you’ll read here you’ve read elsewhere. Social media is thick with it. Propaganda, lies, deceit and the odd soundbite of truth are all over it like a big tartan blanket. Like I said, I can’t quote you facts and figures, but I can tell you what other folk’ve said.
My ‘Yes’ changed to ‘YES!’ at the end of last week. The Sunday Times poll put us in the lead for the first time, and much like Scotland scoring against Brazil in Spain ’82, this only served to get the other side really angry. David Cameron, a man who openly cared little for our great nation yet who’d somehow found himself ruler of it, a man who’d previously said he’d let us fight this Referendum business out amongst ourselves, suddenly woke up with a start and along with those other two barometers of democracy and decency Miliband and Clegg, and a train load of worried looking politicians in false smiles and grey suits, turned up in Scotland in a last-ditch attempt to swing the vote.
His promises of more devolution are laughable. Ask most Scots and they’d probably tell you that Devo-Max was the preferred option all along – Scotland get maximum power and control whilst still remaining a part of the UK. But that was a tricky one. Some people might vote for that, they thought. Best just give them the Yes/No option. The powers that be honestly thought it’d be a landslide for No, so now that the race has turned neck and neck, with Yes leading one day to be pulled back by No the next, everyone south of The North is panicking. Their offer is too little, too late and, if y’ask me, not to be trusted one iota.
A couple of nights ago I was asked to appear on The Gist, a weekly podcast broadcast from New York. It mixes politics, current affairs and the odd bit of music. It’s definitely too highbrow for my level of political nous, but they were keen to find a Scottish man on the street with no background in politics. I fitted the bill. I spoke with Mike Pesca, the congenial presenter, for around 30 minutes before my ums and ers and uneducated rantings and ravings were edited into a more palatable 5 minute soundbite. There’s lots they cut out – the fact that seemingly almost the entire population will be turning out to vote, the fact that there are decent and not so decent arguments and counter arguments on both sides for oil, pensions, the NHS, currency (you know all that already), the fact that one of the reasons I was a ‘YES!’ voter was because the UK had been in cahoots with the US over illegal wars and I wanted no part of that (wonder why they cut that bit out?) But the podcast didn’t have a full half hour to air my spiel. I’m on after about 4 mins…
Another thing that wasn’t fully aired was the story of the oil field not more than 20 miles from where I type. Talking about this recently, my pals and I remembered in the 80s seeing a couple of oil platforms out in the Firth of Clyde, just off the coast of Irvine. They were drilling for oil. And they found oil. 100 years worth, if you’re to believe some of the reports. But the government wouldn’t allow continued drilling on account of the fact that right above the oil field was where the submarines carrying Trident missiles sailed. Trident is based not too far up the coast and no-one could risk a potential disaster if oil drilling was to begin. So it was all packed up, hushed up and forgotten about.
Amongst taking control of our own taxes, decisions and society, one other thing a Scottish government has promised to do is rid ourselves of nuclear weapons. Put simply, the terror threat has moved on and we don’t live under that kind of threat any more. Nuclear weapons are plain and simply a huge waste of money. A Scottish government will re-direct that money to the things that can help Scotland stand on its feet once again. And this would also allow oil exploration to begin once again on the Firth of Clyde.
Aye, it’s a huge leap of faith if you plan to vote ‘YES!’ But Scotland has the potential to be one of the happiest, wealthiest, safest nations on the planet. Who wouldn’t want to live in a place like that?
Who knows how it’ll all go? We find out early on Friday morning.
Buffalo Springfield – Down To The Wire;