Are you in favour of Scottish Independence?
People ask me this question on an almost daily basis, and I am forced to share with them the bitter truth that is doesn’t matter whether I am or not. I don’t count. And I’m not the only one.
I am one of 800,000 Scots who currently live in other parts of the UK, none of whom will be allowed to vote on the issue of Scottish Independence.
Now, let’s be clear about this. I still live in the UK, of which, until any independence vote is successful, Scotland is still very much a part. I do not live in a foreign country. I am not an expatriate. Like every UK citizen living in Scotland, I hold a British passport, not a Scottish one, yet, because I do not live geographically in Scotland, but 340 miles as-the-crow-flies south of the border, the powers that be have decided that I am not entitled to vote. Given that the current population of Scotland is only 5 million, you can imagine the massive impact those 800,000 extra voters would have. Shame none of us get a say.
To give you some background, I was born in 1973 in Yorkhill, Glasgow, and raised in Old Drumchapel. My parents are both Scottish. They both served in the City of Glasgow Police, my father becoming a Superintendent in the then newly amalgamated Strathclyde Police Force, my mother serving as one of Scotland’s first female detectives in the Criminal Investigation Department.
My mother’s parents were Scots, her mother a West of Scotland swimming champion in her youth, and her father serving in the City of Glasgow Police during the Second World War. Prior to that he had worked as a bow-plater in John Brown’s shipyard in Clydebank, working on many of that yard’s famous constructions, including HMS Hood, the great battleship sunk by the Bismarck.
My father’s parents were also Scots. His father was a postman in Banavie, near Fort William in the Western Highlands, where my father was born. He took up this post having been invalided out of the Scots Guards in the First World War after a dum-dum bullet ripped the back of his thigh off at the Battle of the Somme. After retiring from the post office, he and my grandmother opened the Tigh Na Bruach Hotel at Invermoriston on the northern shore of Loch Ness. My father’s sister continued running it long after they died, religiously serving the region’s booming tourist industry until a stroke forced her to sell.
I could keep going back further and further, but I assure you, you’ll find nothing but Scots.
My Christian name is Iain (a Scots Gaelic version of John), and my surname is Paterson, a sept of the clan MacLaren, historical natives of the beautiful lands around Balquhidder, right in Scotland’s glorious heartland, in whose magnificent ancient tartan I will proudly be married later this year.
For seven of my teenage years, I was fortunate enough to attend The High School of Glasgow, one of Scotland’s top schools, and a flagship for all that is good about Scottish education. Scotland’s oldest school, it was founded as the Choir School of Glasgow Cathedral around 1124, and has a proud 900-year history.
I lived the first 22 years of my life in my birth city of Glasgow. I was raised as a member of the Church of Scotland in Drumchapel Old Parish Church, and, as a teenager, I was honoured to become a Sunday School teacher in that church.
I received my formal Music Training in Glasgow at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, as it was known then, now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, graduating from Glasgow University, one of Scotland’s oldest (founded in 1451), with a BA in Musical Studies. I was fortunate enough to be one of only two students in my year who received a grant from the Scottish Education Department to fund my studies.
At the age of 22, I was forced to leave Scotland in search of work, as there was none available with out national company, Scottish Opera. I have performed in many concerts in Scotland, and have participated in both opening and closing concerts for the Edinburgh International Festival.
All of this is a very long-winded way of saying that I’m about as Scottish as they come, yet a couple of politicians have decided that I am not entitled to vote on whether my home country, of which I am very proud, should separate from the United Kingdom.
And I’m not alone. Three are 800,000 of us out there in other parts of the UK who are just as proudly Scottish as I am, but who get no vote.
You’ll notice that I’m not decrying the idea of Scottish Independence. I stood in our Parliament building in Edinburgh and was almost moved to tears by the very fact of its existence. Whether or not I favour Independence is beside the point. The point is that the decision is being made without the input of too many proud Scots who would love to, and should, have a say.
That isn’t democracy. It’s a joke. And it’s a very poor foundation upon which to build, or even re-build a nation. I can’t help but think that the ghosts of Hume and Smith and their enlightenment cronies are looking down and frowning upon such injustice.