Vote independence: let chaos reign


The Scottish independence referendum is looming large this September. I am English. I don’t get a vote. So, Scottish students, I have a favour to ask of you.

I have no idea what the ‘right’ choice for Scotland is. I don’t know about economics. I don’t know about political theory. I barely know where St Andrews is on the map. Thing is, though, nobody really knows what the ‘right’ choice is. It is a wild step into the unknown.

Chopping the top off the country would be like shaking up a yoghurt then peeling back the lid: you know the pot will still be fairly full – England, Wales and Northern Island aren’t going to be destroyed. But how much yoghurt will stay stuck to the lid? And will the rest of the world want to lick it off?

It’s impossible to tell – there are too many mysteries. We don’t even know what type of yoghurt we’re talking about: Activia or Yakult, Muller or Munch Bunch? So, rather than you trying to make a reasoned decision based on facts and wisdom, I have a suggestion.

Imagine if Scotland did vote for independence. Between September 2014 and March 2016 – when Alex Salmond would plan to declare Independence Day – there would be so many problems for the UK to sort out.

There would need be a new Union flag, one stripping out all hints of Scotland, like a spurned lover tearfully cutting the face of an ex out of holiday photographs. Scotland would also have to decide what kind of money it would use. It might retain the pound, it could start trading in Euros, or even adopt a radical barter system based on death threats and milk-bottle tops – which I think is called ‘Bitcoin’.

There is big argument to be had as to whether an independent Scotland would be obliged to offer British students free tuition like they do to those from the rest of the EU. Scots could be left fuming as hordes of Brits flood in to take up Scottish students’ places on free courses. “They can barely speak the language!” Scots would shout, fistfights breaking out in bakers’ shops when English students indignantly demand “potato cakes” rather than tattie scones. They would be considered parasitic locusts in search of cheap education on the Scottish taxpayer’s tab.

I’d like to assure you, by the way, that I haven’t come to steal from your country. I’m not here for the potential of free education two years down the line. I came to St Andrews for the weather, the plumbing in Andrew Melville Hall, because I was rejected from Oxbridge and heard there were lots of hot American girls here.

If Scotland became independent those American girls would have to file for new visas. Someone would have to sift through reams of paperwork to re-approve those students. Everyone north of Carlisle would have to find a way to peel the ‘GB’ stickers off the backs of their cars. For the next 15 years, Scottish grandparents would mistakenly type “” rather than “.scot” into their browser. Add up a million tiny inconveniences like that and the UK would end up having a complete, and glorious, nervous breakdown.

Without doing a decade of economic and political research, I think a vote in the referendum isn’t much more than a guess at what would be best. The only certainty is that a ‘Yes’ would be much more fun to watch than a ‘No’. The process of seceding would be anarchy – the British would hate the Scots, the Scots would hate the British (more) and the BBC Evening News would become one big, mucky international divorce hearing. Wouldn’t that be exciting?

If you vote yes, we can have all that. We can have a 60-million-person, 18-month-long break-up argument and it will be great. We will fight over who gets to keep the nice plates and splitting up our record collection. Except with this we’re fighting over nuclear missile silos and splitting up huge financial institutions and education systems, tearing them in two like huge concrete marriage certificates.

Like bludgeoning a kangaroo to death with a banana, independence is going to take a while and it’s going to be messy. Let me see it – please vote ‘Yes’. We can sit in your garden, eat yoghurt together under a hazy red sky and watch the world burn.


  1. This one has really plumbed the depths of ignorance. Lacking anything intelligent to say about the independence debate, you reduce the wishes of at least a million Scots to bludgeoning kangaroos and pulling our deck chairs up the the mountains and sitting back sipping irn-bru while the world is consumed by a fiery inferno.

    If this was intended as satire it fails on an epic scale. Read some of the stuff on Bella Caledonia, BBC Scotlandshire, or numerous other blogs you have probably never heard of, and then try again.

    In all seriousness, (and I spend about 3 hours every day reading anything and everything about the independence debate from academic journal to blogs, newspapers and thework of citizen journalists), this article is the single worst thing I have read. I haven’t cringed so much since I had to watch Katie Hopkins offering her intelligent thoughts on independence on The Wright Stuff.

  2. ‘England, Wales and Northern Island aren’t going to be destroyed’

    Not unless the coalition decides to bomb Shetland in retaliation…

  3. As Joel Salmon points out, you do get a vote. St Andrews students should most certainly care about this issue and think about it *seriously*. Read news articles from the mainstream news sites (BBC etc), but also read Wings Over Scotland, Bella Caledonia, and weigh up the arguments (and potential biases) on all of these different sites. Read the White Paper. Great links here:

    For people who want to spend their lives in Scotland, the question is ‘is the country envisaged by independence a country I want to live in?’ For students who might not be permanent residents, it’s a different question: is the country envisaged by independence a country you think should exist within the world? Students *do* get a vote, and if you believe that Scotland would be better off with independence, you have the opportunity to vote for it and, maybe, contribute to ‘giving’ the country you’ve been educated in a new legacy of autonomy and self-determination.

    Also, to do some myth-busting: an independent Scotland would not mean a rump United Kingdom left with Conservative governments forever: Scottish votes have only swung a national election once or twice (*either* way) over the past 50 years. Which is an argument for independence in and of itself.

    Read and think about the facts, as intelligent and mature students of an excellent university. It is about so much more than ‘watching the world burn’.

  4. Hi everyone. Thanks for letting me know my silly article about not engaging with the debate was a silly article about not engaging in the debate.

  5. Is it even meant to be satire? I thought it was just meant as a joke. Hardly subtle satire if so: lots of people criticising it, loudly proclaiming it to be satire, in a vain effort to appear intelligent. I’ve had enough leaflets through my door, and this was a fairly entertaining read, particularly the yoghurt metaphor – whether it’s original or not, I’d have to investigate 😉

  6. I actually think the underlying point of this article is exactly right – no one can predict the events following either a yes or no vote. It IS a complete leap into the unknown. The ridiculous points in the article were, I assume, merely highlighting this fact. Amicus Curious and everyone else getting their panties in a twist, you can read all the blogs and opinions you like, ultimately no one can give any assurances. Please just pipe down.


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