Pearl of Tyburn: This evening we have with us “Bonnie Lass” from the Edinburgh area of Scotland. Thanks so much for taking the time out to do this.
Bonnie Lass: My pleasure!
P.T.: First, could you give me a brief overview of your background and what national/cultural/religious identities you might see yourself as having?
B.L.: I was born in Scotland and have lived in Scotland all my life. I think of myself as Scottish and not British - if I'm filling up forms, for instance, and am asked for nationality, I always put Scottish. I'm a member of the Church of Scotland, but prefer to call myself a Christian.
P.T.: Do you belong to any particular political party?
B.L.: I am not a member of any political party, but I have voted Labour for many years now (including today at the European elections).
P.T.: What was your first impression when the Scottish Independence Referendum was announced?
B.L.: I wasn't entirely surprised, as I thought it had been on the cards for a while. But when it was announced, I realised this would be a big step, whichever way it went.
P.T.: As a person who sees herself as primarily Scottish as opposed to British, how will you vote in the referendum come September, and what are your reasons?
B.L.: Well, although I think of myself as Scottish in all things, I will NOT be voting for independence when the time comes.
It seems to me that the UK is a small enough country as it is without being fragmented further. And there are SO MANY imponderables when it comes to independence. Do we get to keep the pound sterling? What about EU membership, and maybe even the need for passports to cross the border into England?
P.T.: What do you think the result will be now that an independent Scotland may be unable to keep the pound? Also, what’s your opinion on Scotland’s overall financial well-being should she become independent?
B.L.: Many big companies are talking about relocating in England if we became independent because we may no longer have the pound.
I don't know if we have enough financial resources to 'go it alone'. The big cry has always been (since drilling started in the North Sea) "It's Scotland's oil" - but how long before the oil runs out?
P.T.: What do you think of the Scottish Parliament and other home rule bodies within the UK? And what’s your answer to the claim that complete independence would make Scotland more of a force to be reckoned with on the world stage?
B.L.: Well, I was delighted when we got the Scottish Parliament as it meant we were able to concentrate on purely Scottish issues, some of which Westminster doesn't know or doesn't care about. But I don't think that independence would make us more a force to be reckoned with.
Having “home rule” doesn’t necessitate independence from the Union. One alternative which is spoken about is 'devo-max', which seems to mean we would keep the status quo but, that the Scottish Parliament would also be given more powers, perhaps in taxes etc. That could be a good alternative in my opinion.
P.T.: What are you thoughts on Alex Salmond and his independence campaign?
B.L.: A lot of us wonder if Alex Salmond has some self-interest at heart. Perhaps if someone different was in charge, I would feel differently about it all, but such is the case. The question is how much are people swayed by personalities?
P.T.: Do you think that celebrities who outspoken on the issue of Scottish independence are affecting are affecting the opinions of the Scottish people at all?
B.L.: Is it really supposed to sway us? It doesn't alter my views. It annoys me the way that this host of ‘famous’ people - from film stars to comedians to personalities – are stating their views, for or against. For example, Sean Connery is all for Scottish independence, which, of course, is countered by the fact that he doesn't even live here!
P.T.: Now I hear that his Agent 007 counterpart, Roger Moore, is vouching for the preservation of the UK. The War of the Bonds seems to have begun!
B.L.: Oh, dear!
P.T.: Do you think there is something of a different tone in the Scottish nationalist movement of today and nationalists in past generations?
B.L.: There was a difference in the nationalist cause back when they 'liberated' the Stone of Scone, and now. Somehow they seemed quite different but can't identify quite exactly how. It was more historically based than politically back then, I think.
P.T.: What do you think about the way that the referendum question is phrased, putting “Yes” for independence and “No” for the Union?
B.L.: I think it's quite confusing. Even now, when people ask if I'm going to vote yes or no, I sometimes have to say, er....what's the question again?! It's quite loaded making the positive answer the one for independence, isn't it?
P.T.: Indeed. In fact, I would think it would be more natural for "yes" to be in favor of the status quo.
B.L.: You're right! Perhaps that's why I get confused. Also....it's such a long time since it was brought up. Is the question do you want Scotland to be a separate STATE or a separate COUNTRY?
P.T.: Good point. Or, going further, what's the difference between a "country" and a "nation", as it seems that a lot of people identify Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland as "nations" within the "country" of the UK!
B.L.: I think they did try out several wordings before they decided. There were also all sorts of 'joke' replacement questions circulating, such as "Do you want these mealy-mouthed, penny pinching Sassenachs to take over the education of our wee bairns?"
P.T.: In the midst of all this red tape and wild gags, how would you have liked to have seen the referendum question worded?
B.L.: I think something along the lines of "Do you agree that Scotland would flourish as an independent nation?" or "Do you agree that Scotland would flourish keeping in the union?" Although I suppose that would be two questions instead of one.
P.T.: Well, it could have been linked thusly: "Do you believe that Scotland would flourish more staying in the union, or becoming an independent nation?"
B.L.: Yes, that sounds good, although then people couldn't answer just yes or no. Of course, I’m not sure if that’s mandatory. I’ve never been in a referendum like this before.
P.T.: What do you think of Salmond giving 16 years olds to right to vote in the referendum?
B.L.: Many of us are also annoyed (and incredulous) that Salmond has given 16 year olds the vote! I mean, they are not eligible to vote in general elections. I feel that many of them will be influenced by 'Braveheart' and Freeeedommm!
However, I did watch an interview on TV with a group of 16 year olds, and I must say they spoke very sensibly and seemed very clued up about it all. They also had a mix of opinions.
P.T.: Have you watched any referendum debates, live or on TV? If so, what are you thoughts about them?
B.L.: There was a televised referendum debate on this week in our area. They are holding them round Scotland. I really only put it on to see if I recognized anyone in the audience, and I didn't know a single soul! I think a lot of folk must have been out-of-towners. It went on for an hour, and it was so BORING, I don't think it would make anyone change their mind.
P.T.: From you interaction with people in your area, how high is the percentage of undecided voters you encounter now?
B.L.: I don't know the percentages, but a lot of people I speak to still haven't decided. The 'letters' columns in all the papers are full of people giving their perspectives, but again I don't think people would change their mind because of what other people say (famous or 'ordinary'). Actually a lot of us think we will be heartily fed up with the whole thing by September!
P.T.: How do you think people might be affected emotionally, since Scotland and England are very much intertwined at this point? What about those with families and jobs that transcend the border?
B.L.: I don't know. As I said before, there are so many imponderables. Of course, there must be people very close to folk from across the border. You know David Cameron appealed to people in England to phone up their Scottish friends and say "We want you to stay with us!"
P.T.: What do you think of that method he suggested? Have you or anyone you know received said "calls"?
B.L.: Well, no one in England has phoned me! I thought it was a bit silly really and counterproductive, trying to force an outpouring of “love” that no one has brought up before now!
P.T.: I think Mr. C. was trying to imitate something that went on during the Quebec Independence Referendum, when the people of Canada basically pleaded with the people within Quebec to remain a part of the country.
B.L.: Oh, yes, I think someone else told me that.
P.T.: I'm not sure if it helped directly, but the result did turn out favorable for them, and Quebec is still part of Canada to everyone's benefit, as time has revealed. But it was quite a close vote!
B.L: I do wonder what the general English reaction is. I wouldn't be surprised if they think we should just get on and make up our own minds. Or maybe a lot of them would be happy to 'get rid' of us. Have there been any polls in England to ask that?
P.T.: Yes, there have been. Generally, 60% in favor of the union, 20% against it, and the rest not caring either way. Personally, everyone I know in England would be heartily depressed to lose you! So you are "loved" by some “southies”!
B.L: Well, that's nice!
P.T.: What do you think about the system allowing only those currently living in Scotland to vote?
B.L.: It seems a bit odd. After all, I have several friends who were born in Scotland and now live in England, so they can't vote; but people born in England who live and work in Scotland can!
P.T.: It does sound strange, especially since the "trans-border" commuters have the most to gain from the union in concept and reality. Lots of them have relatives north or south of the “dividing line”, as well job commitments.
They feel very much connected with the place as a part of their "country" and see their Scottish friends and relatives as "compatriots" But this is just one of the many complications in trying to "segregate" people who have been so intermixed by being considered one people for so long!
B.L.: Yes, I agree. I think there are a whole lot of complications raising their heads now, which originally weren't thought of. The really worrying thing is that, whatever the outcome of the vote, it will (presumably) be irreversible.
P.T.: Actually, some are predicting that if the pro-independence party loses by a slight margin, they may try to launch another independence referendum in as soon as two years!
On the other hand, should the pro-union party lose by a slight margin, the "Yes" people are insisting that we better shut up and sit down or else be branded as enemies of democracy!
B.L.: I’ve often thought the worst result would be almost a dead-heat, but I hadn't heard that about another go in two years time...aargh!
P.T.: The suggested “Round 2” for independence is speculative, mind, but some of the "Yes" people are definitely pushing for it, and the “No” people worrying about it, and most average people just dreading having to go through another neverendum in their lifetimes!
B.L.: Yes, I don't think I could bear to go through it all again! I think it's important to emphasize that 'we' (I mean my friends and acquaintances) are NOT talking about it all the time! Perhaps come September we will, but at the moment we are just getting on with our lives.
I don't know how strongly people think about it just now. For instance, I know my sister is going to vote yes for independence and has a badge saying so, but she didn't ask me how I’m going to vote, so I didn't say!
P.T.: What's your random prediction of the outcome in September? My guess, at this point, is that the union will win, but only by a slight margin.
B.L.: I think marginally that the status quo is the one most people seem to think will win, but that’s just my (uninformed) opinion!
P.T.: To wrap things up, could you tell us a little about your personal interests, hobbies, and goals in life?
B.L.: I am passionately interested in local history and in collecting oral history from older people, and have written several books on this and hope to do some more. I would like other people to look back at their own local history roots. One of my immediate goals is to get the book I'm working on (people's memories of their working lives and daily living) finished and out in the public domain. It is SO important all these memories don't get lost when the folk go.
P.T.: I agree. History and heritage is so important to development of culture and all the good things in life.
B.L.: Yes, that's it. It's very encouraging to me that you (at your age) think like that because more often it's when folk get older that they get interested in their heritage.
P.T.: Thank you for that! In addition to being a preserver of local heritage, do you have any other interests or goals in addition?
B.L.: Well, I also have a passionate love of cats! In the area of goals, as a great granny, I am grateful to find I am still alive the next morning! My goals SHOULD be to exercise more and leave the car at home but never seem to manage this very well (blame the Scottish weather)!
P.T.: You have a good enough excuse! Scottish weather blamed, lol! Thank you again for agreeing to let me interview you, “Bonnie Lass”, and I look forward to catching up again in the near future.
B.L.: Speak again soon!