Today's contribution to our 'Tell Us Your Story' campaign is from Fiona Annesley: Thought of Indyref2 is Deeply Depressing.
Like most people I suppose, I have many different reasons for feeling so strongly about Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom. On a personal level, I am half Scottish and half English, was born in Edinburgh but brought up and educated in England while spending holidays in Scotland. For all my working life I lived in London, married someone from Northern Ireland and until recently we lived on the Welsh borders. Now we live in the north of Scotland. So, as you can see, I am British! When the first referendum took place in 1979, and then the independence referendum in 2014, I felt very angry that I had no vote because I was not living in Scotland at the time - even though I have such a strong Scottish connection. If another vote were held today I would have a vote but, I still feel that it’s not right for the SNP to say that this is a decision for Scotland alone. For one thing it affects the whole of the United Kingdom, and for another, why should foreign nationals living in Scotland have a vote but Scots living in England not?
On a practical level, I do not believe for one moment that Scotland could thrive alone, whether it managed to re-join the EU. Scotland could be independent of course but I feel its economy could not possibly be strong enough to do all that people rightly now expect in the way of health, social care, education, defence etc. etc. Even when the price of oil was high I didn't think it could work and to have relied on just one element would have been dangerous anyway.
The Barnett Formula is generous to Scotland too and no one can ignore that. The so-called ‘freebies’ that are enjoyed in Scotland are envied across other parts of the UK, however this is the choice of the devolved administration in Scotland when It comes to spending. It does seem that in a financial sense Scotland is in a very comfortable place being part of the UK, especially if it can still afford these ‘freebies’ in times of ‘austerity’ as the nationalists keep talking about.
Defence is another major point for me. As a soldier's daughter, I know how important the Scots are to the British forces and as a believer in nuclear defence I know how important Faslane is to us all, not to mention the ship building that takes place in Scotland for the British navy. Thousands of jobs would be at risk if Scotland went independent and the whole of the British Isles would be weakened at a time of increasing international tensions. Security of all kinds in this uncertain time is of the utmost importance.
Finally, there is the emotional level. We have shared our monarch since 1603, been a union since 1707 and have loved and admired each other for most of that time. Most English people love the Scots and coming to Scotland and often feel bemused and hurt when SNP types say such ugly things about the English. We have fought wars together and share the same beliefs, standards and values. I can think of no reason at all why Scotland would be better off without the rest of the UK and every reason why we really are all better together.
The thought of another referendum is deeply depressing. The last one divided the country and made some people behave in a hateful way and some of the bitterness still lingers. We must persuade more people of the benefits of the union to keep us safe and prosperous.
- Fiona Annesley