Yes or No

A personal view on independence

by Shahsamen Murray


The campaign trails had been well trodden in the run-up to the historic Scottish independence referendum. Before the vote, which ended with a narrow but firm desire of the Scottish people to remain a part of the UK, author Shahsanem Murray, a Kyrgyz citizen living in Scotland (and therefore entitled to vote) shared her reasoning for remaining together and drew parallels with her own experiences of the march towards Central Asian independence.

Within Edinburgh, the Royal Mile, has been known not only as one of the most historical places in the whole of Europe but for the last five decades has openly hosted many visitors and artists to the city’s’ Festival of Arts and Culture. As I walked along it today it was fantastic to see such a vibrant city and it made me sad to wonder what the Festival may turn out like at this time next year.

This annual art-festival continues well into every evening during the month of August and one of the main centrepieces is the wonderful military parade – the “Tattoo”. It is a beautiful
performance of military expertise honed from the friendship primarily within the commonwealth countries to the United Kingdom. It is one of the many sophisticated examples of the United Kingdom working well together.

Recently, we all watched the debate with PM of Scotland, Alex Salmond, and Ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alastair Darling. With less than five weeks left until the referendum on Independence of Scotland for me it was a truly sobering and terrifying glimpse of our possible future should Scotland exit the United Kingdom?

This big issues and questions surrounding an Independent Scotland are still unanswered.

What about the population who would like to be remain as UK citizens? What currency will be used? What will be the value of the pound (or whatever) in our pocket? What will  happen to our pensions? What will happen to our armed forces?

The SNP party are loud and scream on the streets, on the internet and at any available opportunity about Independence for Scotland, but they never answer the fundamental questions. Jibes to anyone who disagrees with them centre on being unpatriotic, Tory lovers or being tied to England in some fashion. Mob rule comes to mind as a phrase to describe them. They simply do not have any clue as to what it is actually going to be like being out with the UK. They almost drown whole country in the uncertainty they have created.

On March 14th, I went to support the “Better together campaign”, which was held in the Edinburgh Conference Centre. I saw many Scottish people who were young, middle age or elderly and most were Conservative party supporters and members. The debate centred on how we should all stand up together in the upcoming September referendum.

The main speaker was the Rt Hon PM David Cameron. I certainly valued his passion and patriotic mood. I am sure he will continue his hard work to bring the country back to its feet from catastrophic economic crisis and shambolic time of the previous government who made such a mess with this country.

In his speech, David Cameron said, “Clans of Scotland please come together to fight for brighter future and to safer Great Britain…”

After the debate between Alastair Darling, the first Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, said “This opportunity for Scotland. This is our moment, let’s take it!” Empty nationalistic rhetoric with no facts. Much of their so-called arguments imply that a Yes vote will make everyone richer and it is distressing that the SNP followers naively believe this when simple economics dictate the opposite.

They are part of this historical moment. They are given a choice. However, before they vote they should think very hard about what unity has delivered for the last 307 years.

What were the main reasons to be united – economic and political stability!! Has it worked – undoubtedly!! Before choosing any sides, they have to stop and think about the many aspects of the outcome.

Monumental changes are always long and painful process. The country will be on its knees for decades as uncertainty and lack of confidence in business takes hold. Overspending by the socialist leaning SNP will deliver crippling public finances. I think I am correct in saying that every country in the world that has gained independence has struggled and the people have suffered.

Living in a capitalist society, we should consider about, what we are aiming to achieve and what we are going to lose with separation? The economic issue is undoubtedly the “Big Issue”.

I have now been settled in the UK for almost thirteen years, although I am originally from Kyrgyzstan. I was brought up under the Soviet system until the early 1990’s when the whole system virtually collapsed in one night as the USSR dissolved and Kyrgyzstan became Independent.

On first reflection, trying to draw the parallels to my previous experience of gaining Independence is very hard. However, as time passes the parallels become evident.

Ideologically I was brought up in a perfect value system, where everyone should be equal, happy, and proud to be a Soviet child – that was the main agenda. We all had free education, we all dreamed of becoming members of the Communist Party, achieve more, build together a much better future. Unfortunately, everything suddenly disappeared in a blink of an eye.

The economy that was set up and built by the Soviet system for almost seventy years had to change from a Soviet centrally controlled system with a strong underlying blackmarket system into a market economy.

In one night, when the “rouble” currency devalued, people’s lives simple turned into a chaos. Poverty was everywhere within a month. Some people lost everything and most of
all people lost hope for the future.

My generation were only in our second term at university. We went through the toughest and most challenging of times. I remember how shops were empty in a week. Our parents, who previously had moved in high society as fine communists, were suddenly jobless.

The process of Independence in Kyrgyzstan arrived with so many dreadful difficulties – we did not have any choice.

Now, almost more than 20 years since Kyrgyzstan became independent, we have already gone through two painful revolutions to fight for democracy, but both presidents have run away and left empty budgets to our countries.

I still feel those days in my deep memories. Even though I moved to a different country for better future for my family, where I rebuilt everything from scratch, the whole ” Independence” debate still terrifies me. One is more than enough for me, in my lifetime.

I hope that after 18th of September, we still be one fantastic great country including Scotland as well.

The SNP party should exist, but in a different form. I certainly do not want to repeat the false ideology and will not support the Independence of Scotland. I would like to see this country provide a future to my kids and family. Let us hope that young people, including hardworking migrants who have the right to vote, help us to stay together in the United Kingdom, and say, “not this time, and not in our watch. No, thanks!“

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