So, Scotland is to be asked the question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”   I find it extremely interesting that the powers that be have chosen to ask the question in this form, and that the existing government, which desires a No vote, has agreed to these words.

I realise of course that I am pedantic about words and may look at the wording of the question in an untypical way, but personally I don’t see how the question could be put in a way more slanted towards the Nationalists.

Should Scotland be an independent country?   Of course it should.   Should England be an independent country?   Yes.   Should Norway be an independent country?  Yes.   Should you, gentle reader, be an independent person?  Of course you should. There is also the brevity of the question.   Six words, and the destiny of a nation – several nations – in it.

Should.   There are implications there of duty and honour and obligation.    Something to which it  might be proper to aspire.    One should do one’s duty;  stand up for right;  pay one’s debts;  act with integrity.

Scotland.   Well, thank God that’s a clearly defined entity.   Everyone knows what and where that is.   When you say, anywhere in the world, Scotland, you don’t draw a blank response of ignorance.   People smile.    The picture that they form – heather clad mountains, shining rivers, handsome men in kilts, pipe bands, tossing the caber, Robert Burns and the haggis, whisky, the thistle, Gin ye dor (translation: come on if you’re hard enough)  may not be entirely accurate – it is not wrong, Scotland is all that, but it is alot more besides – but to put it in marketing parlance, as a brand, we’ve got recognition.   We’re not the kind of country where you might be forgiven for thinking, ‘Mali?’

Be.   We can certainly BE, and perhaps it is a weakness in the question, for we undoubtedly ARE.

Independent.   Stand on your own.    Think for yourself.   Understand your separate aloneness.   Make your own mind up.    Be self reliant.   These are all characteristics of the majority of  Scots.

We all absolutely understand, more so perhaps than we do with Wales – and no disrespect to the sons of the dragon – that Scotland IS a country.   When I say to my friends, why are places referred to as ‘the North’ when they’re south of Scotland, they answer, ‘But that’s another country.’   Or in talking of the UK’s legal or educational system, people will pause in their analysis and shrug  their shoulders and say, ‘Oh as for Scotland – it’s another country!’

It’s interesting that the word ‘country’ was used and not ‘nation’.   In ‘Flower of Scotland’, the Scots democratically selected national anthem, chosen by the simple expedient of it being sung forcefully whenever any other anthem was played, there is a verse which says (referring to the time when Scotland saw off the marauding English king ):

Those days  are gone now

And in the past they must  remain.

But we can still rise now

And be The Nation again…

I find this rising to be The Nation the most moving line in the whole song.   I love the use of the  word word ‘rise’.   We don’t have to fight.    We just have to rise up and BE the nation, like we rose up and sang the song.

As I have repeatedly said, I have no idea how the vote will turn out.   I won’t have a vote, and as I no longer live there, I am content with this situation.   But I’m by no means certain that this is the question Cameron should have asked.   I thought the Tories, and especially Osborne the Sneerer were supposed to be ace at strategy?    Am I missing the subtlety of some especial cleverness here?     We could have asked Should Scotland leave the UK?    Should Scotland separate from England?   Should the union be broken up?   Should we increase the powers of devolution within the union?    Any number of questions could have been asked.   And then again, it’s surprisingly vague.   Should Scotland be an independent country?  When?  How?  On what basis?   Does the government in the south think that this opacity is a defence for its position?   Do the Nationalists believe that the theoretical nature of the question mean voters will decide without considering the consequences?

I’ve made my position clear already.   I think we should attempt to save the union, but it would have to operate on a different basis.

But of one thing I’m absolutely certain.   Were I a Scottish voter, and  the question were put to me in the form proposed, Should Scotland be an independent nation?   I’d have absolutely no option but to answer, Yes.   To answer No would be to deny our whole birthright.