Sunday, August 31, 2014

Interview with Jonathan Robert Waddell, Student at the University of Aberdeen

P.T.:  Today I’ll be speaking with Jonathan Robert Waddell, a Student of History and Economics at the University of Aberdeen. Hello, Mr. Waddell.

J.W.:  Hello!

P.T.:  First could you tell me a bit about your background?

J.W.:  I'm from the north east of Scotland, studied at Aberdeen College, now North East Scotland College and moved on to study History and Economics at the University of Aberdeen. I'm president of the Aberdeen University Liberal Democrats and I'm campaigning for a Federal Britain through quite radical constitutional change post-no vote in September.

P.T.:  Could you please explain what type of constitutional changes you would be interested in seeing? And would the federalization be similar to that in the USA?

J.W.:  Starting with a full transfer of domestic policy to be handled by the devolved parliaments of the UK, the creation of an English parliament or maybe regional assemblies within England. From there I believe we can start to consider what we want our union to look like, how it will function on a constitutional basis and where we want to take it. I believe the model the Scottish parliament currently has is a great direction to take the other parliaments in.

P.T.:  How does this contrast with the situation as it is now?

J.W.:  As it stands, the current powers the Scottish and UK parliaments have in relation to each other, are defined by what are 'reserved' powers at Westminster, the Scottish parliament handles everything else. And then all of this to be embodied in a fully written, codified and entrenched constitution. I feel a system like this would give the Devolved parliaments the autonomy they deserve and need to run a success Federal UK. It's very ambitious and will require a lot of hard work, but I believe it's achievable if we work hard enough for it.

P.T.:  What do you think about the participants in the movement to bring about Scottish independence?

J.W.:  It's hard to say. In all debates I take part in and campaigns I respect my opponent and in many cases get on very well with them. Some of my best friends are Labour and Tories when I’m a Liberal Democrat.

In this debate I feel it's been so polarized that I’ve not had the opportunity to really make friends with them, and although I don't wish to make out that there has been no potential guilt on the Unionist side, I do feel that from my personal experience, the Independence movement has been much less accepting and much more hostile which has led me to find it hard to respect them while disagreeing with their campaign.

P.T.:  What are your reasons for being a unionist?

R.W.:  To me it's how we can use our resources to the best possible ends. I feel the various countries within the UK all have their various different strengths and all have very similar problems and very similar aims. If we work together, pool what resources we have, put all of our best minds together and work against our common enemies of poverty or homelessness, then we can do better to reach our common goals and eradicate these things.

I don't see what I have largely more in common with my neighbour in Scotland than my family in England or Wales. Ultimately, I feel the system we have is a good one, it's far from perfect and the policy isn't always right but the system itself has so much potential to work to the benefit of 63m people rather than just 5m. I want to make the best of that system for the benefit of everyone in the UK, including Scotland.

P.T.:  What would your consider your personal identities, national/cultural/religious/or otherwise? What do you think of the "crisis of identity" in Britain?

R.W.:  Well, this is probably the toughest part in the debate. Nationalists to me seem to be concerned with the Scottish identity and little else. But I don't really understand what that means. Cultural identity means so much more than the political boundaries you're parents were born in. My parents are from the central belt and I have a bit of that in me, but I was raised in the north east, in a town called Banchory, and then in Aberdeen. Hence, I’m a 'Taucher' and a 'Toonser' then I guess 'Scottish' and as part of that 'British' and of course, 'European'.

But all these things have so much to them they can mean whatever you want them to mean. I think the idea that you can be 'Scottish' is inherently not Scottish. As Scotland is made up of so many various, extremely rich cultural identities that to be Scottish could mean any number of things. As for the identity in Britain, we're in an increasingly internationalist and globalizing world and I feel clutching onto old ideas of Nationalism of any description is living in the past and we should start to expand our ideas into the modern world.

P.T.:  Do you believe that there is any place for a robust British identity, something along the lines of what is shown in America throughout the individual states?

R.W.:  I really hope not. I find both nationalism and patriotism quite futile ideals, the belief that your nationality is inherently good and others inferior and the idea that you can be proud of achievements you had no place in. I love where I live, and as an extension of that of course I love Scotland.

I want what's best for all the people who live here, but I want what's best for anyone living anywhere. Why wouldn't I want to extend a higher standard of living to anyone I can whenever I can? I consider myself an internationalist in that regard. I want what's best for the greater amount of people.

P.T.:  What is your view on the way history effects and informs the present? What do you think about the different "narratives" presented by nationalist and unionist camps in this debate?

J.W.:  Well, I'm a History student, and I would like to introduce the age old, over used yet under appreciated quote from George Santayana 'Those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it'. I think we need to understand our past and the context to understand where we are today, learn from our mistakes and move forward from them.

I must admit whenever I bring history into the debate, nationalists like to tell me that 'this debate isn't about the past, the independence movement is about the future' before dropping into some narrative about some supposedly horrible thing 'Westminster' did way back when, completely contradicting themselves.

P.T.:  Being a student of history, what do you think of the referendum being held on the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn and the whole connection with the wars of Scottish independence in general?

J.W.:  I think in a historical context, it's completely irrelevant. The wars of independence are not only so far in the past it can't be compared to modern day events and we can't allow ourselves to judge events of the past by today’s standards, but even if we could compare them, it was a very different situation that we were in.

However, I think it's very of the SNP’s outlook and tactics to make it this year. They are desperate to inspire an idea of Scottishness over Britishness. But we've already discussed the idea of identity. In short, I feel the SNP think they can inspire people to vote with their hearts and distract people from their flimsy arguments on economics and practicalities.

P.T.:  What do you feel about the monarchy?

J.W.:  Generally passive on the idea. I feel they don't have any divine right to rule, but they have no real power and exercise purely ceremonial powers. They contribute more to the treasury than they receive out of it and are generally favourable in public opinion as well as being hugely respected diplomats across the world. I see no reason to get rid of them, but they exist as a formality, if they exercised real power I’d be far more skeptical.

P.T.:  What do you think of them as they apply to the subject of unity? And what is your opinion on the Jacobite rebellions as they are being used in Nat propaganda? And with regards to them making the current Scottish monarchy "illegitimate"?

J.W.:  I think this moves us into a much broader debate that moves us away from the contentious issues that the referendum will be won and lost on. In general, I don't feel these historical events contribute to the context that we're debating in the run up to the referendum.

P.T.:  Thanks so much for the interview, Jonathan.

J.W.:  Sure! It's nice to get different questions for a change by the way. I've answered the same questions over and over, but these are bit different and I like that :) I've done so many debates and interviews. Same issues, same questions, over and over again. This is a nice change. I’m glad you're getting involved! :)

P.T.: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself personally?

J.W.:  I'm 22! :) I'm afraid I’m a complete nerd. At university I do a lot of debating and in my free time I like to go hill walking, rock climbing and cross country mountain biking. I also play guitar and drums, punk/rock etc.

P.T.:  Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed. I do hope everything works out well in the end for you and all of us.

J.W.:  Thanks; me too.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Interview with Donna Edmunds, Councillor for Lewes, Sussex

Pearl of Tyburn:  Tonight we have Ms. Donna Edmunds from Sussex, England. Thank you for taking the time out for this.

Donna Edmunds: You're welcome.

P.T.:  Could you elaborate a little about your background and work?

D.E.:  Yes. I have a degree in Zoology, and after graduating spent a number of years trying out different careers. Eventually, in 2009 I got a job at the European Parliament with an MEP, doing research and other bits and pieces - writing blogs for him and helping to organise a conference, that sort of thing

I spent 18 months in Brussels, then a year in London working for an MP, then I stopped work to have my daughter, but have run a few projects on the side voluntarily since then. I'm also a councilor on my local District Council

P.T.:  Identity wise, do you see yourself having any particular national/cultural/religious identities? And do you consider yourself predominately English or British?

D.E.:  I consider myself to be equally British and English. My mother is an immigrant (she was born in Ukraine), so I also identify a little with people from an immigrant background - we have Russian dolls in the house, my mother and grandmother speak Russian to each other etc. But I've always felt very English/British, and not at all Russian or Ukrainian.

To me, being both English and British isn't a contradiction. I live in Sussex, which is on the South coast of England, as it's the same thing to me as saying "I'm English and Southern". England feels like a region of Britain that I identify with. So I don't see Scotland as a foreign country, but nor do I feel in any way Scottish (because I'm not!)

P.T.:  So what is your reaction to The Scottish Independence Referendum?

D.E.:  Well, I feel a little sad that there are people in Scotland who feel so strongly about independence that they would campaign so vigorously for a referendum. When I think about our history as a joined nation, I feel just as proud of achievements of Scottish people as I do of people from Yorkshire or Devon or Wales. We're all British, no matter where on the island we live. But if they want independence, that's up to them.

Having said that, if we English got a vote on Scottish independence in September, I'd be tempted to vote for Independence. But maybe I wouldn't actually vote that way when it came down to it. I don't know.

P.T.:  What issues make you lean that way?

D.E.:  At the moment the way devolution has taken place means that the Scottish get much more Government money spent on them than the English do. For example, if you're a Scottish student studying at a Scottish university you don't have to pay fees, whereas an English student studying at the same university does have to pay. That doesn't seem very fair to me.

Also, the politicians in Scotland are very socialist. A (slightly mean) part of me thinks "let them have a go at socialism and see how it works out. They'll come back soon enough when the money runs out" But it's not a very noble way of viewing the whole thing, which is why I say that my emotional attachment to Scotland would probably prevail in the end.

P.T.:  Do you think there is a way of making government assistance programs fairer in all parts of the UK?

D.E.:  Not without reversing devolution. The problem is that all tax money is collected centrally, but then Scottish and Welsh parliamentarians get to set the rules on how they spend their money. It's no wonder that they keep giving their people freebies - all they have to do is demand more from Whitehall.

P.T.:  What do you think of the "historical" connections some Scottish nationalists have tried to make with Bannockburn, the Jacobites, etc.?

D.E.:  I think it's inevitable that they'll use history in that way to make their case. If their goal is to paint Scotland as having been conquered, so that they can claim to be setting Scotland free again, any historical imagery that brings that case to life will be used. I think it's up to those who don’t' want to see Scotland split from GB to do likewise, by highlighting our rich shared military and social history. And of course it must be pointed out that Scotland was never conquered, but the two countries were brought together under James.

P.T.:  Speaking of military, what sort of challenges do you think an independent Scotland would face without the armed forces and general international clout of the UK?

D.E.:  Militarily I don't think they'd face huge problems as a country. I can't see any other country wanting to invade Scotland any time soon. But there's no doubt that they would have a vastly reduced standing on the world stage, and would be unable to play a leading role in major strategic maneuvers - which of course they might be quite happy with, to be honest. The wars that Britain has joined over the last couple of decades haven't been very popular. They are talking about joining the EU though, so they'll have representation in Europe at least.

As for the military specifically, again, some of the Scottish regiments are highly regarded and have illustrious histories within the British army. Would they be dissolved? Would English people serving within them be asked to leave? Disentangling the affairs of the two nations would take quite some doing.

P.T.:  What do you think of Alex Salmond vs. Alistair Darling?

D.E.: Alex Salmond is a very accomplished politician. To even get as far as securing a referendum takes quite some doing. He's clearly charismatic and good at persuading people to back his cause.

Darling, by contrast, is a very workmanlike figure. Even as Chancellor of the Exchequer, which is the highest ranking minister in the Cabinet, he was completely forgettable. I guess they chose him to front the campaign because he's Scottish and has held high office, but he's hardly the most inspirational of people. The whole 'No' campaign has been a bit lackluster, to be honest. So much so that it has occurred to me that they might be trying to lose!

P.T.:  What suggestions would you give to Better Together to improve things?

D.E.:  I think they need to paint a more positive picture of the Union in general, and appeal more to emotions. A lot of the debate is over whether people would be £200 richer or poorer if Scotland went independent. Well, you're talking about overturning 300 years of history and splitting countless families across two countries.

The nature of the debate should be more inspiring than how much money you'll have in your pocket in the short term. A little bit more discussion about how, by working together as fellow countrymen, Scots and Englishmen have accomplished all sorts of major achievements

P.T.:  Many of the people I have interviewed have said the exact same thing. How do you think that can be driven home to Better Together?

D.E.:  I'm not sure, really. It's not as if those sorts of things aren't being said out loud in our media, after all. A lot of people have commented on the uninspiring nature of the campaign. I think one of the problems is that it's not very fashionable to be patriotic at the moment. If you start talking about how Great Britain is people assume you're a bit of a bigot or racist. So perhaps they just feel embarrassed to be making that kind of appeal to emotion.

P.T.:  How do you think it might become more fashionable to be patriotic?

D.E.:  Oh, well, that's a big question! I think if UKIP, which is unashamedly patriotic, do well in the elections next year people might feel more comfortable expressing patriotic viewpoints. On the other hand, those who oppose UKIP have done so loudly and viciously, that people might feel more than ever that they couldn't say anything publically, even if they do vote UKIP at the ballot box.

It's mostly the fashionable London elite and the middle classes who find patriotism distasteful. How do you turn their opinions around? Can you? Who knows?!
This is why I say I wonder whether they really have their hearts in this campaign to keep Britain united.

P.T.:  Can you give me a little summary of UKIP policies?

D.E.:  First and foremost, we want Britain to leave the EU and become a sovereign nation again. We'd like to see Britain start to trade more freely with the rest of the world, and in particular restrengthen ties with the Commonwealth.

At home, we're a classical liberal party, so low taxes, small government, quite socially liberal. Although we have come under a lot of fire recently for saying that we'd like immigration to be better managed and for the total overall number of immigrants entering the country each year to be brought down, which isn't strictly speaking libertarian.

P.T.:  The UKIP did very well in the EU election, didn't it?

D.E.:  Came first.

P.T.:  What kind of power does that give the party?

D.E.:  None really. It makes it a little harder for the other parties to ignore us. For example Nigel Farage (the leader) has said that he will insist on being included in leaders’ debates at the next election. But it doesn't give us any electoral power.

P.T.:  Do you think pulling out of the EU would strengthen unity in the UK?

D.E.:  That's a good question. I don't know really, since devolution has given Scotland and Wales a more separate identity than they had before. I guess a case could be made for Britain being a sovereign nation once again and everyone pulling together to make it succeed. But I don't know how well that would go down in Scotland.

P.T.:  To wrap things up, what do you see in the future for your political career and personally?

D.E.: Well, I recently stood in the European Parliamentary elections in the South East, and missed out on getting a seat - but I am 'first reserve' on the list if anyone drops out, so I'm hoping that at least one of our four South East MEPs will be elected to Westminster next May as I'll pick up their MEP seat.

Other than that, I've just applied for a job heading up the Get Britain Out campaign, which as the name implies is an anti-EU campaign. So I'm sure lots more campaigning and blogging and that sort of thing. And personally, hopefully staying living in Sussex as my daughter really likes our local nursery. Although I wouldn't turn down a job offer in the States!

P.T.:  Do you have any special interests/hobbies?

D.E.:  I do a bit of horseback riding. This is going to sound very sad, but politics is my hobby as well as my career, so I read a lot of political books and magazines - when I get the time. Mostly I'm kept busy being a mother and taking part in campaigns.

P.T.: Hey, it's nice you love what you do!

D.E.: Yeah! I'm very lucky.

P.T.: Thanks so much for taking the time out to do it!

D.E.: You're very welcome. I hope it's useful

Friday, August 29, 2014

Interview with Jamie Scott, Royal Marine in Training

P.T.:  Now we’ll be speaking with Jamie Scott, Royal Marine in training. How are you doing today, Mr. Scott?

J.S.:  Quite well, thanks.

P.T.:  Could you tell us about your background?

J.S.:  I was born and raised in England with a strong military background. Every Scott in my family is a serviceman. The Scott's have always fought for the country, and my mother was also in the TA. I have just grown up around the forces and being in the Sea Cadets, and I wanted to challenge myself and see the world.

P.T.:  Do you identify yourself more as English, British, or both?

J.S.:  In the UK, I tend to identify myself as English but, when I am not in the UK, I am British and will display that I am proud of it.

P.T.:  What is your view of the Scottish Independence Referendum?

J.S.:  I did a summary of my point of view from an English perspective for ScotlandSayNaw. The fact is we work so much better together than we have done apart. We should stick together we have done for so many years and we have defeated powerful enemies. I think what the First Minister has done has ruined Scotland by dividing her in two, just because of a war 700 years ago.

P.T.:  So do you think that the nationalist effort to correlate the referendum with the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn has helped their cause at all, or just made them look silly?

J.S.:  The fact they are trying to connect to something so long ago is daft. I love to remember history, but many people are not taking in the account of the 307 years of union, which has hit the no camp hard at first, but the mood of the people is slowly becoming the opposite of what the Nats wanted.

P.T.:  What historical achievements do you think Scots and English alike can look on with pride in the course of their union together?

J.S.:  One thing to be proud of is the technology we have came up with over the last few hundred years. Our tech is amazing. We started the industrial revolution, and as a result, Britain is the founder of the modern world. Also, the military we built up together is a damn good one.

P.T.:  What would you say are the main benefits Scotland continues to derive from being part of the UK today?

J.S.:  Well I'm not too well informed on what goes on in the government, but I think the defence is a big thing, then our combined economy, the positions the UK has in the UN, NATO and the EU, and the support we have for each other.

P.T.:  Do you think your military background affects your view of the union at all? How do you think most servicemen/women feel about this?

J.S.:  My military background does affect my view a bit, but I still try look at other facts. Most servicemen and women want to stay in the Union because their lives will be so much better.

P.T.:  What do you think about security and the armed forces, and the future of Scotland without the British army?

J.S.:  Well, I think an independent Scotland won't have fully trained armed forces more like a militia with really old weapons. Scotland would be easier to attack and their alliances would break down and maybe even rely on other countries for protection. The security of Scotland will be at great risk without the British Army may even be open to attack from larger countries or terrorists.

P.T.:  What do you think English people (and Welsh and NI people for that matter) should do to encourage Scotland to stay in the union without causing the opposite reaction?

J.S.:  I think they should try getting support for Better Together, and showing their support for what Scotland means to the rest of us. Scotland is a part of the British way, and in the social network we must try to defend pages against the Cybernat attacks and just show Scotland why the UK is better as one.

P.T.:  What do you think of David Cameron saying that English people should contact their Scottish family and friends and ask them to stay in the Union? I know he got some flack for that.

J.S.:  I agree with him. My uncle is Scottish, and so is my girlfriend’s family. They all have relatives in Scotland, and if there was to be a yes vote it would separate families and friends from each other. They have a right to speak out against it.

P.T.:  What do you think of the Commonwealth Games being held in Glasgow this year of all years? Do you think it would alter the referendum race in any way?

J.S.:  I'm not entirely sure. I'm hoping it would urge people to the union side like the Olympics did. The country became so patriotic on account of the Olympics, and hopefully the commonwealth games can achieve the same result.

P.T.:  What do you think of the monarchy?

J.S.:  I think it brings a lot to the UK, not just British Pride, but also our economy the government may pay for there living but they make millions on the Queens land and the tourism.

P.T.:  How do you think royal pageantry effects unity in the country?

J.S.:  It depends really on how they view things. During the golden jubilee, the country was united under one banner, but sadly that is no longer the case for some reason. I never heard much about Scotland at the Jubilee, so I don't really know how it effected the mood there.

P.T.:  In brief, what is reaction to the claim made by some nationalists that the Scottish monarchy has been “illegitimate” since the time of The Jacobite Rebellions and the overthrow of the Stuart Dynasty?

J.S.:  I'm not too sure about the Jacobite rebellions, but the Queen was crowned and the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and she gets her power from God.

P.T.:  As a young person yourself, what do you think of Salmond giving 16 and 17 year olds the right to take part in the referendum even though they cannot vote in regular elections?

J.S.:  It's good to have a say when it will effect Scottish teens more afterwards, and I think Salmond tried to do this so he could make sure he wins the YES vote which turned on him badly. That's why he said servicemen overseas can't vote.

P.T.:  What do you think about Scottish servicemen overseas being refused the right to vote in the referendum?

J.S.:  The fact servicemen overseas can't vote is a disgrace. The very fact that they could all come home to a different country that they were unable to weigh in on is appalling.

P.T.:  What do you think about the situation in which people from other parts of the UK living in Scotland can vote, but not Scots living in other parts of the UK?

J.S.:  If the people are living in Scotland long term, then I think they should vote, but if it's short term, not really.

P.T.:  What do you think might be the result if an independent Scotland is unable to use the pound?

J.S.:  If an independent Scotland is unable to use the pound, then it's all down hill for the Scots. They will not be accepted in the EU because they would need to bring something to the EU join, and they would need to reach certain requirements to join the Euro.

P.T.:  What’s your reaction to the Nationalist antipathy towards nuclear power and complaints about the “rape” of Scottish land?

J.S.:  Their views of nuclear power is a bit old technology moves on and we won't be left behind and the rape of Scottish lands when I visited Scotland I saw no rape of the lands

P.T.:  What’s your opinion on “Better Together” and how they running the “No” campaign, in contrast to the way Alex Salmond and the SNP are running their “Yes” campaign?

J.S.:  Better together are doing well but they do need more activities the Nats are getting in to people's face about it but they are doing something

P.T.:  Who do you think will win?

J.S.:  I think the NO vote will win as long as people vote.

P.T.:  To wrap things up, could you tell us a little about your personal interests, hobbies, and goals in life? Do you plan on attending University at some point? What type of career might you be aiming for? Would like to be a “career soldier”, or something else?

J.S.:  My personal interests are History anything Military and my main goal in life is to become a marine. I don’t plan on going to university, but I would like to start my own business.

P.T.:  Thank you very much for the interview, Mr. Scott. I wish you all the best in your training for the marines and future business ventures.

J.S.:  Sure thing; thanks. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Interview with Euan McTurk, Resident of Glasgow

Pearl of Tyburn:  This afternoon I’ll be speaking with Mr. Euan McTurk, Unionist activist. Hello, Mr. McTurk.

Euan McTurk:  Hello.

P.T.:  So could you tell me a little bit about your self, your background, and identities?

E.M.:  I'd prefer not to tell you too much about myself, to be honest. The position I and a lot of other Scottish Unionists are in at this time forces hide our real identities because of the culture of intimidation that has been promoted by the nationalists.

P.T.:  Please speak broadly, then, only as much as you feel comfortable telling.

E.M.:  I'm a born and bred Scot, with Scottish roots going back generations. I consider myself to be Scottish, British and European, the order of which depends on the circumstances!

With regards to religion, I would have to go back at least three generations to find any churchgoers in our family. I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it to be honest, if I did I could probably identify both Catholics and Protestants. However as above, I don't associate myself with either. I consider myself an atheist.

P.T.:  Are you a member of any one of the major political parties?

E.M.:  Yes. The Labour Party. Have been for over 20 years.

P.T.:  Can you say whether you live in north or south of Scotland? As in Highlands or Lowlands?

E.M.:  The West! Glasgow.

P.T.:  "The Rose-Red City as Old as Time...."

E.M.:  Yes. Smells like it too some mornings....

P.T.:  Ah, city life! Give me the country any day!

E.M.:  Or, in the context of what we’re going to be talking about, give me MY country any day!

P.T.:  Yes, and to that point, what is your reaction to The Scottish Independence Referendum?

E.M.:  I see it as an utter distraction from the proper business of Government. The Scottish Parliament currently has one of the lightest legislative programmes going since it was established, all while the nationalists try not to "upset the apple cart" while pursuing their constitutional objectives.

This means that some of the real things that they are charged with delivering on, such as child poverty, such as employment, such as the delivery of public services, are all being neglected. Which they then turn around as justification for pursuing constitutional change!!

P.T.:  As a Labour member, what would you say about the SNP trying to make people nervous about Tory rule in order to advocate independence?

E.M.:  I'm more nervous about the SNP. I don't agree with most Tory policies, but a two-party system needs two parties to work. Labour comes in and improves the offer for the poorest in society, the Tories come in and create the conditions for business to generate the wealth that can be used to support the delivery of services. Each has its place in the electoral cycle.

The SNP are like the cuckoos of the electoral system, preying on whatever policy they think will attract support to their constitutional objectives, but not actually believing in any of them. They are a broad-church of opinion whereby the only thing that they have in common is their chip-on-the-shoulder nationalism. As you might have guessed, I detest them!

P.T.:  What's your opinion of Alex Salmond? And what do you think are his main weakness?

E.M.:  Salmond is a dangerous man who has been in power for too long and now thinks he is untouchable. He is holding his party together on the promise of separation. When that is denied to them on 18 September I would expect the SNP to start a civil war of recrimination, and he will be the first casualty.

P.T.:  What do you think of the Unionist campaign thus far? What about Alistair Darling?

E.M.:  They always had a hard sell. Life is never going to be perfect and people will always have something to complain about. The challenge has always been about selling what we have - warts and all - vs. the rose-tinted pipe dream that promises everything and anything. Gullible people are always going to be taken in by the latter. Alastair Darling is doing an OK job, although he's not the most dynamic. He shouldn't be underestimated, though.

P.T.:  What do you think about historical arguments for and against, regarding historical events like Bannockburn, the Jacobites, etc.?

E.M.:  This is 2014, not 1314. The purpose of history as I see it is to learn from our mistakes, not dwell on them. The Jacobite cause is an example of history being corrupted in that it is often presented as a Scots - English dispute, whereas it was a religiously and politically generated struggle with Scots fighting on both sides. Bonnie Prince Charlie died a drunk riddled with syphilis. He would have made some Leader!

P.T..:  Do you believe there is any place for romantic historical in national consciousness? Do you think Bannockburn's 700th anniversary should be celebrated at all as a representation of something?

E.M.:  I might have taken a mild interest in the Bannockburn anniversary one time, but the fact that this referendum has been designed to coincide with it has put me off. Bannockburn is a word in a text book that took place 700 years ago and was about an English Lord who wanted to be a Scottish King (Bruce) and who spilled the blood of the common man to achieve his aims. It is a quaint aside and has no bearing on what matters most today - jobs, prosperity and equality.

P.T.:  What historical characters and events, do you think all Scottish Brits should be particularly proud?

E.M.:  I think that's a personal choice for each and every one of us. We've got lots to choose from. As before, history for me is about learning from our mistakes, I'm not one for dwelling on it and certainly not one for hero-worshipping figures from the past, most of whom have been painted one way or the other depending on who was holding the brush!

P.T.:  Do you have any that particularly interest you? And aside from hero-worshipping, any that you admire in some way or another?

E.M.:  Not really. I have a measure of admiration for lots of people, but I can't think of any who are flawless. Whatever they did, it's done and they'll play no further part. The future is in our hands now.

P.T.:  Could you elaborate on the issues of "jobs, prosperity, and equality" in the UK as opposed to a hypothetical independent Scotland?

E.M.:  We currently live and work in a growing economy, one that is the 6th biggest in the world and that can justifiably be described as one of the fastest growing Western economies. That has positive implications for jobs and prosperity. Anything the SNP has to offer is a finger in the wind by comparison. On equality, nationalism essentially has discrimination at its heart.

P.T.:  How do you think the relationship between Britain/Scotland would change with other nations (such as my own USA) would change after hypothetical independence?

E.M.:  It wouldn't be any better. The remainder of the UK would suffer the consequences, too, and would be justifiably upset at having to experience hardships as a result of our selfishness. Negotiations would not be easy. Obama and Clinton have already said that it would be better if the UK stayed together, and they are right.

I can't see us ejecting Trident from Faslane as being appealing to our NATO allies. Scotland would have a minimal defence force and would therefore be unable to join the USA on world peace-keeping duties, etc. As such, we would just be yet another small nation amongst many, and there would be no basis for any sort of "special relationship" with the States.

P.T.:  What do you think about environmentalism and the nuclear issue the SNP seem to have quite some antipathy for?

E.M.:  Environmentalism is a global issue and a perfect example of an issue that nationalism cannot sort. The SNPs stance on nuclear, like many of their stances, lacks common sense and is simply intended to appeal to as many people as possible while bringing them over to their way of thinking on the constitution. Nuclear power deserves serious consideration if we are to keep the lights on.

P.T.:  What do you think the UK represents to the world and to you personally? How would that be lost through independence?

E.M.:  We are one of, if not THE, oldest political and economic union in the world. We have had our shot at being a Superpower, we have one of the world's largest financial centres in the city of London, our armed forces are amongst the most highly regarded in the world, and our culture expressed in terms of our history and comedy attracts visitors in large number. We have a lot going for us, and separation puts it all at risk. As the phrase goes, we are Better Together, weaker apart.

P.T.:  In the end, what do you think the outcome of this referendum is likely to be?

E.M.:  We're on course for a NO Vote. The latest poll published today shows NO leading by 60:40, and that has been fairly consistent for at least the last 2 years. Barring something unexpected, that's roughly where I would expect the result to land in September.

P.T.:  What do you plan on doing as the referendum draws closer?

E.M.:  More of what I've been doing so far! Campaigning, leafleting, posting on social media, that sort of thing.

P.T.:  In addition to your political activism, do you have any hobbies or interests you wouldn't mind listing?

E.M.:  Fishing, snorkeling and sky-diving. And caber tossing. And walking in to people who are texting on their phones on the pavement (sidewalk). I particularly like doing that.

P.T.:  Thanks for all the help with the interview!

E.M.:  No worries.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Interview with Lewis Whyte, Resident of Dundee

P.T.:  Today we’ll be speaking with Lewis Whyte, resident of Dundee. Good afternoon, Mr. Whyte.

L.W.:  And to you!

P.T.:  Could you tell me a little bit about your background?

L.W.:  Well, I’m 16 years old and am currently in my last year of high school. I live in Dundee, and I’m both Scottish and British, but British first and Scottish second.

P.T.:  So would you be in "Bonnie Dundee" territory then? As in, the Jacobite leader who was killed at Killiecrankie?

L.W.:  Yes, "Bonnie Dundee" territory, lol! Although I have to say I'm not all that clued up on the Jacobites.

P.T.:  Aw, considering your geographical location, you should make it a point to broaden your knowledge on it!

L.W.:  Ha! I should get clued up on my old, old history at that!

P.T.:  So are you connected with any political party, and do you consider yourself “European” in addition to your other identities?

L.W.:  I’m not a member of any political party, but I do support the Labour Party. I just consider myself to be a British Scot, and have no opinion on the European Union mainly as I'm unsure of a lot of things about it.

P.T.:  Will you be voting in the upcoming Scottish Independence Referendum?

L.W.:  Yes, I will be voting in the referendum, and I will be voting No as I don’t see the point of independence.

P.T.:  What are your main reasons for voting No?

L.W.:  I'm voting No so Scottish shipyards will stay open and to keep Scotland defended properly. I don't want any future prospects that may ruin me and my fellow Scots through independence.

P.T.:  What does being British mean to you, and what would be lost if Scotland were no longer part of Britain, on an emotional level?

L.W.:  Being British to me means being part of something bigger and better than just an individual country on its own. Being British also means we can achieve more and tackle problems a lot better together than separated. I think what would be lost if we weren't part of Britain is taking pride in being British, especially in things such as the Olympics or when it was the queen’s diamond jubilee, where it was a great British feeling.

P.T.:  In general, do you think a general lack of patriotism has a lot to do with the way the referendum was able to be launched with any hope of success at all?

L.W.:  I suppose that a lack of patriotism could be to do with the referendum, but the real reason is due to the rise of nationalism even though it is dying out elsewhere. But as to restoring British pride, I am unsure of how to go about doing that.

P.T.:  What do you think that Alex Salmond and the other high-ranking SNP members hope to gain for themselves in this push for independence?

L.W.:  I think Salmond and the other thigh ranking SNP members hope to gain the reputation as the people who freed Scotland from so-called English rule.

P.T.:  What’s your opinion on the contrasts in the way Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling are running their campaigns?

L.W.:  The Yes Campaign is more active than BT (better Together) which is a shame, but it is full of negatives. The yes voters constantly say it isn’t about Alex Salmond, and yet he is constantly seen leading on their behalf. Their campaign is another thing all together. As for Alistair Darling’s campaign, room for improvement, I would say.

P.T.:  What improvements would you suggest?

L.W.:  BT needs to get more active campaign wise, more people out on the streets canvassing, more people talking to the public to let them know the benefits of the UK. Sadly, I haven't seen BT at all where I live. If people got more motivated, that might get more people out there campaigning

P.T.:  What did you think of the recent debate between Salmond and Darling?

L.W.:  It was a complete shambles for Salmond's side; never doubted Darling for a minute on currency, the EU, healthcare and education and the like. Salmond was failing on each one, especially currency. I would say the nationalists are still licking their wounds after the TV debate, and the result has given us the perfect chance to promote the union and for people to become more vocal.

P.T.:  What do you think of Salmond giving 16 year olds such as yourself the right to take part in this referendum, even though you cannot vote in regular elections?

L.W.:  From the perspective of the Yes Camp, I think that it was a mistake for giving 16-17 year olds a vote. I believe most of them have not been take in by the yes/SNP lies, ifs, buts and maybes and have sided with Better Together. At the same time, the ability to participate in the referendum has encouraged more teenagers to take an interest in politics.

P.T.:  What do you think about the importance of history as portrayed by different camps, especially with regards to 700th anniversary of Bannockburn, etc? Do you think voters swayed by the nationalist perspective of history, such as portrayed in films like Braveheart?

L.W.:  In regards to Bannockburn, yes, it is important from a historical point of view, its part of Scottish legend and folklore, but it really shouldn’t be used as a case for independence from a political point of view as it has no relevance in this regard. False history in films such as Braveheart gives many people the wrong view of the past, but I think people are more likely to be swayed by the lies ifs, buts, and maybes that Salmond is promising than history, if I'm honest.

P.T.:  What level of influence do you think pop icons like R.K. Rowling and Sean Connery make when they take sides in the debate?

L.W.:  Hopefully celebrities won't sway many voters for either side, although they are allowed their opinions.

P.T.:  What would you say to an American audience, which, I'm sorry to say, is often under the assumption that the Scots are somehow oppressed by the English and yearning to "breath free", or otherwise connect American independence with Scottish independence?

L.W.:  I would say: "Don’t just look at what is being said to you, look into to it to see for yourself that Scotland is in no way oppressed by our English neighbors". For the so-called Scottish independence movement to be linked to America’s movement in the 18th century is just ridiculous. America was a colony then, while Scotland was a willing partner of the Union and British Empire.

P.T.:  What is a good example showing Scotland as a willing partner in the British Union/Empire historically?

L.W.:  Many to the British Empire’s ships were built in Scotland, mainly on the Clyde, so this shows we were quite willing.

P.T.:  What do you think about the issue of nuclear waste and "the rape of Scottish land" that some nationalists blame on Westminster and use as a reason to advance independence?

L.W.:  If there is nuclear waste, like at Dalgety Bay, then everything should be done to deal with it. But I don't see it as a need to separate from the United Kingdom. As for the so called "rape of the land", I would like to see some solid FACTS from the Yes side about the misuse of Scottish land.

P.T.:  What do you think might be the result if an independent Scotland is unable to use the pound?

L.W.:  I have no clue what the result would be, but I'm guessing it would be for the worst as we need a strong currency.

P.T.:  What’s your opinion on “Scotland’s Oil” that is often advanced as a monetary security for a newly independent nation?

L.W.:  As for our oil, the yes voters claim that the largest oil field has been discovered off of Shetland. Now if this is even remotely true, they will be snookered as Shetland doesn't want anything to do with an Indy Scotland but would want to remain with the UK. Therefore Scotland would be short of oil.

P.T.:  What’s your opinion on the monarchy, and what is your reaction to some Scottish Nationalists who claim current Scottish monarchy has been “illegitimate” since the time of the Stuarts?

L.W.:  We have always had a monarch. I have no problem with the monarchy, unlike most nationalists. I wouldn’t say our current monarch is illegitimate as the Queen of Scotland since she can trace her ancestors back to Robert the Bruce.

P.T.:  What do you think about security and the armed forces, and the future of Scotland without the British army?

L.W.:  The issue of defense is another one of the main reason I'm voting No! The SNP have no proper defense plans, other than we would have a £2.5 billion defense budget which is pathetically small and would be of no use to us. Salmond also maintains that The UK would give us defense assets, but I really can see this at all. In a word, The SNP plans are laughable.

P.T.:  What are your thoughts on Yes supporters insisting that Scotland would be more of a force in the world “going in alone”?

L.W.:  I think it is complete nonsense to say we will not be better off in the union. I have not seen any convincing evidence that we would be stronger, but only the nationalist victim card.

P.T.:  What do you think about the way that the referendum question is phrased, putting “Yes” for independence and “No” for the Union?

L.W.:  I think the question is fine, straightforward and to the point: yes for "independence" and no for unity.

P.T.:  What’s your opinion on David Cameron and his encouraging English people to call their Scottish friends and relatives to urge them to stay in the Union?

L.W.:  I think David Cameron is right to rally support from the rest of The UK. After all, it is a United Kingdom versus a separate Scotland, so it’s only right that The UK as a whole speaks up. I think many throughout this country would be saddened by the loss of the union, as it has worked so well for the past 300+ years.

P.T.:  What was the latest public opinion poll ratio with regards to pro-union and pro-independence factions, and when all is said and done, which side do you think will be the victor?

L.W.:  I think the last poll was Yes 37% and No 55%, if I remember correctly, but apparently the No lead has stalled according the STV and that may allow the yes side to gain ground. I never read the article just seen the headline, but I don't see any reason for our side to have stalled. I have a feeling it may be a close race, but I hope it won't be too close. It’s a bit nerve racking, but I have full confidence we will win. Scotland will not be stupid enough to vote for separation.

P.T.:  "Keep calm and vote no", what?

L.W.:  Ha-ha, yeh, lol!

P.T.:  What will you be doing as the referendum heats up?

L.W.:  As the referendum heats up in the next few weeks, I will be trying to get my friends to vote and will continue to debate with the nationalists online.

P.T.:  To wrap things up, could you talk a little about your personal plans for the future, interests, hobbies, and goals in life? What type of career might you be aiming for?

L.W.:  Personal plans for the future are hopefully to go to university and take politics and geography, then try and seek a career in politics and have a family. I don't have many hobbies, but I like to go out with friends, play video games, and build models. And that's all, really!

P.T.:  Thank you for doing this interview with me, Mr. Whyte. I know crack-down time is approaching soon for this referendum, and the fact that people like you are still active is of great comfort.

L.W.:  Thanks very much.