Scotland Week: James Yorkston on Why He’s Voting Yes on Scottish Independence | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Scotland Week: James Yorkston on Why He’s Voting Yes on Scottish Independence

Cellardyke Recording and Wassailing Society Out Now via Domino

Sep 07, 2014 Web Exclusive By James Yorkston Bookmark and Share

We have had a special theme on Under the Radar's website over the last week which we're simply calling Scotland Week. All throughout the week we have been posting interviews, reviews, lists, and blog posts relating to Scotland and in particular Scottish music. In this guest blog post James Yorkston writes about the Scottish Independence Referendum, in which in a few weeks the people of Scotland get to vote on whether or not to secede from the United Kingdom and have Scotland become its own country. 

Scotland was its own kingdom from around 843 until 1707, when England and Scotland united. In 1997 Scotland finally got its own parliament. The major decisions about Scotland and how its people's taxes are spent, however, are still made by Westminter, the British government in London.   

Folk singer/songwriter James Yorkston was born in the village of Kingsbarns in the Fife area of Scotland. Yorkston's career began with playing bass for the punk band Miraclehead (who later became Huckleberry). He eventually began playing solo gigs. When Domino Records founder Laurence Bell saw him he was impressed enough to send him a recording contract the following week. Yorkston's debut album, Moving Up Country, was co-produced by Yorkston and Cocteau Twins' Simon Raymonde and was released by Domino in 2002. Cellardyke Recording and Wassailing Society, his eighth album for Domino, was released on August 19.

Looking around the world, Scotland may seem pretty lucky country right now—no major wars, no major poverty. So it perhaps seems odd to seek change. But for me, I feel we could be doing a little better, mainly in that we could be looking after our own affairs. I don't trust Westminster, I don't trust any of the major political parties entrenched there. One only has to see how the NHS [National Health Service] is slowly being dissolved by such self-serving politicians who are bankrolled by private healthcare firms to feel a little queasy. I feel, I hope, that an independent Scotland would be better at keeping our politicians in check—it's a smaller country, less people. Easier to keep our eye on things.

I'm also not a huge believer in borders and sometimes people who are against Scottish independence use this as a reason—independence would create one more border—but I don't see it like that. For me a border between Scotland and Europe would be broken down if we didn't have to go through the antiquated United Kingdom. Granted, Scotland wouldn't have such a loud voice in Europe as the U.K. does now, but is that voice doing the U.K. any good? It seems a great deal of the people of Southern England want out of Europe anyway and are pushing for a U.K. referendum of their own within the next parliament on that matter. What would we become, if that occurred? If we stayed in the U.K. and the U.K. left Europe? That for me is just as valid an unanswered question as to what will happen to Scotland post-independence.

The way those three [main political] parties have united to stand firm with this "No Currency Union" nonsense is regrettable too. It's just been a major distraction from a whole heap of other issues. It's been a sticking point that they've refused to drop despite the answer being clear enough if they'd only be brave enough to act logically. This behavior—this attempt at scoring minor political points when there are other things to discuss—just makes me despair and distrust them even further.

However, the worst thing about this debate has been how personal and snidey it has become. Both sides—pro and anti independence—have some decidedly unpleasant people in their ranks. I've heard some absolute tripe from some No campaigners—stoking a fear of a protestant uprising against the Catholic minority being the most insulting and absurd—that I've sometimes found it hard to take their valid points seriously. But the Yes campaign can be just as vicious and stomach turning. There's been too many a comment I've read that's made me think "Am I really on your side?" 

Overall though, as I said—we're lucky. We live in a mostly peaceful, civilized society. The debate has become heated, but that's to be expected. I'm pretty sure that come independence we can all adapt in a peaceful, civilized fashion. Simply put, Scotland is a country and can be trusted to look after itself like (almost) every other country.




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