Article for Saga Magazine

August 30, 2014

It looks like I've found my target market. Here is a blog I wrote for the hipster magazine Saga and was orginally published on their site on 22nd August.

 

Which way will Scotland vote on September 18?

I’m really looking forward to September 18. I’ve lived in the UK for 14 years now and the referendum has interested me more than any other political issue since I moved here from the United States.

I’m one of a very rare breed of Americans that immigrate in reverse – my ancestors left various bits of the UK over 100 years ago – but I was drawn back to Britain after getting a job here. Yes, I did come here to take one of your jobs, but I can assure you no one wanted it and with good reason. And if you’re reading this, there is a good chance you’re retired anyway. 

I’ve actually gone fully native. I revised the UK citizenship guide, passed the test, got a British passport and now I’m just like you. Sort of. Not really. But I do try. I can carry three pints with one hand and can stand in a queue nearly as well as you do.

With the referendum coming it feels to me like part of my adopted homeland could be splitting away. The whole thing has made me feel a bit like an orphan who, after finally finding loving parents, has to watch their marriage fall apart. Of course when I say loving, they’ve both been kind to me, but one does sense a low-grade tension between the two. Clearly, Scotland isn’t sure it can put up with England’s irritating foibles for another 300 years.

Watching my newfound parents potentially split up has worried me because I have some experience with divorce. My actual parents divorced and it didn’t work out well for either of them. After the divorce and the end of their union one of my parents ended up going from union to union to union. I do worry that Scotland could end up in the Russian Federation. At the same time my other parent just knits. Thirty-five years of knitting and there is something wrong with a man who knits. I have some lovely jumpers but I don’t feel comfortable wearing any of them.

As a person not originally from either Scotland, or the rest of the UK, I have tried to understand why, after so long the union could be ending. Is Scotland that different from the rest of the UK?

I have to admit when I first moved here I remember meeting people from all over the UK. Meeting people from Glasgow to the West Country I certainly couldn’t tell them apart. They sounded the same. Incomprehensible.

One thing that has come up a lot is that Scotland feels it’s moving in a more progressive, liberal political direction. But for me, with my old American hat on, the political divide is barely visible. If you want to see real political differences pop over to the States sometime. Just about everything is more conservative in the US. Even President Barack Obama, considered by many in America to be an evil Socialist and liberal devil, supports the death penalty. However, because he is a liberal he believes in a liberal style execution. One’s final meal is an organic steak, with a side of kale and one is executed by solar power. It sounds idyllic, really.

I think that the debate has been fantastic though; it’s good to do soul searching every now and again. The referendum has engaged people of all ages and political stripes, which is always good for a healthy democracy. 

Although when I say healthy I do recommend staying away from twitter and the comments section of any online article about independence. It will make you question whether some people should be allowed to stay in the Scotland or the rest of the UK at all, much less get a vote in its future. 

No matter what happens with the result, I hope that for both sides it leads to a positive discussion about the good parts of being British. Like many immigrants, when you’ve chosen to live in a new place, you often like and appreciate it more than someone who lives there by accident of birth. So whether we end up in a trial separation, or with a renewal of the Union’s vows, talking about the relationship is a good thing. 

As long as I still get weekend visiting rights.

 

Original version is here 

 

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