I voted no in the 2014 Independence referendum. I remember standing in the polling booth, having a last minute ‘wobble’, whilst contemplating the possible excitement and novelty of an Independent Scotland. In the end, I voted no, and I have regretted that vote ever since.
Ultimately, I was swayed by those who said that a vote for Scottish Independence would mean an uncertain future for Scotland outside of the EU, and that was a risk I wasn’t prepared to take. I own and run a specialty chemicals business, supplying customers around the world, but predominantly customers within the EU.
Ironically of course, many of those people advocating in favour of the Union in 2014, went on to enthusiastically embrace Brexit, and force Scotland out of the EU against the will of the Scottish electorate.
Brexit was a game changer for me. Unlike the current situation in the US, where the damage done during the last 4 years of the Trump presidency, can and likely will be undone in the years ahead, Brexit is something that cannot be easily undone. We are stuck with it, despite having voted against it. And given how the devolved governments have been ignored in negotiations around what Brexit will actually look like, our supposed “precious Union”, or a “Union of equals”, simply doesn’t hold true.
Brexit means pulling up the draw bridge and isolating ourselves. It is also firmly rooted in exceptionalism, and I really don’t believe that is a Scottish trait. We’re a pretty self-deprecating bunch. We don’t tell everyone we are “world beating”, the way that Boris Johnson and other Conservative ministers are so fond of doing.
In David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson, we have been subjected to the worst Prime Ministers in living memory. Yet somehow, the Conservatives went on to win a land slide at the last general election and now govern with an 80 seat majority. Scotland isn’t a right of center country. I don’t think it ever has been. Yet within the confines of the UK political union, this is a path we are forced to follow.
I don’t believe Scotland to be a region or a shire in the north of a country called Britain. It is a nation in its own right, with its own distinct cultural heritage and political identity. For a long time now, the latter has been at odds with the rest of the UK, and Brexit has brought it to a natural breaking point.
An independent Scotland can control its own levers of power to create a fairer, more progressive, welcoming and prosperous country. It is not ‘too small’ or ‘too poor’, to be an independent country. It has ample natural resources and talented people. Try telling countries like Switzerland or New Zealand they are too small to be independent nations.
Scottish Independence is about Scotland making its own choices that reflect the will of its electorate. It is ultimately a simple question of democracy and self-determination. With Independence, I see a Scotland that strives for fairness, progressive politics and is welcoming and outward looking. That is the kind of country in which I want my kids to grow up and thrive. And that is why I will vote Yes in the next referendum.
Scott Sutherland is Managing Director at MGS Chemistry Technology Group