Dear Voters of Scotland: I care

Dear Voters of Scotland


I am writing to you about your upcoming independence vote. I cannot help but feel that as an English-British person I am not allowed an opinion on the matter, which bothers me. Voicing solidarity with either the Better Together or the Lets Stay Together campaign has clearly become a frowned upon thing to do from south of the Scottish border. If you have a Scottish friend around for dinner in England you will no doubt find the topic the elephant in the room; nobody wants to broach the subject for fear of retribution.

I mean, blatantly it is not our fight; we haven’t the right to vote therefore haven’t the right to comment.

Except, not speaking about the subject at all seems to me to be counter productive. It is like saying we don’t really care what the outcome is because it isn’t our business. This sort of attitude is clearly the British way about things; keep your opinion to yourself in a high-brow manner then express regret after-the-fact. However, in this instance that just will not be good enough, because by that point it will be too late. The ship will have sailed. Hence I am writing to you; I want to know that I have done my bit, expressed how much I care, and shown how invested I am in your decision.


Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.

Mark Twain

I reckon that this quote sums up why people want to vote for independence – the what if mentality. They want to know what may happen if they vote yes; they already know what will happen if they vote no. The romantic allure of an independent Scotland will always be there on the horizon – beckoning them to come over and find out what awaits. This is all completely understandable. I am a massive advocate of seizing the moment – grabbing opportunities when they arrive without looking back – myself so I can hardly criticise. I won’t criticise. That kind of risk assessment is a personal part of the decision, and is purely on the onus of the Scottish people. All I wish to do is express why I want Scotland to remain part of us, part of Britain.

I guess that a small part of my feelings on the possible separation come from a sense of entitlement; the beauty that is Scotland is currently mine, though I may not live there. It belongs in my Britain. The thought of that suddenly being mine no longer gives me a flash of possibly unjustified emotions; dread, loss and apprehension.

I actually went to Edinburgh recently for the first time and tried to breathe in a sense of the city. I tried to appreciate its beauty; thus sear the feeling of it in my memory. After all, I may not visit Scotland as a place that is inherently British again in my lifetime. What I saw there was beauty and culture, excitement with history, youth yet elegance, pride but friendliness; all in all, a fabulous city that I didn’t want to leave.

I have travelled a lot – to five continents actually. I know what home feels like. Edinburgh did pose as a different country in some ways. Nevertheless, it definitely felt like home.

If Scotland leaves us it will be a crying shame, but it will have been their choice. I just hope that they bear in mind how much we love them, and that we will support them whatever happens. It may not be our business but as a close friend there is no harm in expressing our love; like having a friend who is thinking of moving to the other side of the world, we will express our wish for them not to go, but our understanding if they have to.

As the kind of best friend whose life is entwined with yours, as family even, I feel unabashed about saying I do not want you to go. It is perfectly alright to say those things to a truly close friend without fear; to say that, in my not-so-notable opinion, I believe that you will be making a mistake if you go. I do not believe Alex Salmond’s insistence that the grass will be greener on the other side. What’s more, I will sorely miss you, and I will feel like you’ve taken away something that is partly mine, which is probably the wrong thing to say, but it is my honest belief.

Thank you ever so much for reading this, and I wish you all the very best for the future; whatever it may hold. Having written this I will be here watching and waiting, keeping my fingers crossed; hoping that we will still be fellow nationals come September.

Kindest Regards

Helen Brown




Zulu Warrior’s at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Me at Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh

Me at Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh

52 responses to “Dear Voters of Scotland: I care

  1. Hang on. How does Scotland belong to you when you’ve hardly even been there? You’re saying it’s like your best fiend yet you’ve hardly even been round their house? Regardless of the outcome of the vote you will still be neighbours. Perhaps you’ll visit more in future and be able to celebrate it’s beauty, which will not have changed, further then. Mutual respect and understanding are accessible side by side without ownership. Sadly I too often encounter this type of English view. You don’t need to own your neighbours garden to appreciate it over the fence.

    • I was not saying I own it, like a handbag, but that I feel it is partly mine as I see the UK as one country and it will be sad to see it separate. Scotland and England are best friends… Family even. We’ve shared land, language, kings and queens for hundreds of years, my personal visitation rights are irrelevant; I was referring to the relationship between the two countries rather than the whole of Scotland being my personal best friend. Furthermore, we do not own you! Scotland is partly mine because we are of one kingdom! Can we not share?

      • It’s good that you are passionate about this and care about your neighbour but there is an implied equality and mutual partnership in your description which isn’t what has happened. The joining of Scotland with England and the rest of the uk wasn’t a mutually entered into arrangement. It’s not one country. It’s a union.
        But regardless of that the uk will retain some allegiance with it’s neighbour if the outcome is yes.
        The neighbour will simply be able to decide how their own section of the land of those Islands is governed and decided.
        This debate is not about Alex Salmond it’s about democracy. He is simply a catalyst.
        I am not Scottish but my heritage was also once ‘owned’ by the English like so many countries on the globe.
        The ideas of empire, patronage and ownership, particularly footed in the past, are no longer modern principals.
        However that’s not that I assume a yes vote outcome.
        But rather that the Scottish population are entitled to define their own future regardless of reluctance of those around them to give that voice it’s chance. That’s not what you are saying but the no vote has done little to persuade anyone of the value of remaining in the union.

      • We have shared one monarch since James 1 of England (7th of Scotland?) in 1603. We became the United Kingdom via a mutual treaty some 100 years later. Yes we’ve been at war before, yes we’ve fought, yes we English may have exercised some power to keep it all together, yes some Scotts may feel as you do.

        However; our relationship with Scotland is ultimately a lot more complex than the simple tyrannical ownership you saw with the remainder of the British Empire. It was, at least in parts, mutual.

      • As I said, the decisions of today shouldn’t rest in four hundred year old history. But your description of the history here is over simplifying something in rather jolly terms. Good ole England keeping it all together? Doesn’t sound very mutual to me.
        But essentially the people are entitled to decide. (BTW James VI of Scotland.)

      • It is definitely simplified! Save writing a book of a comment in reply, I had to simplify it. Furthermore, I am no historian of Scottish History, only an enthusiast.

        I was not disagreeing with your sentiment, though I am not sure you did say that; I was merely exploring the factuality of your statement regarding the mutuality of the decision.

        Thank you for the time you’ve taken to engage with my post though it proves the difficult nature of the debate! I also enjoy debating as you can probably tell!

      • I just have to say (without commenting on the subject matter itself) that I think you have expressed your thoughts beautifully and graciously and – at least on my part- were completely understood.

        While I can sympathize with either view, I don’t exactly understand the litigious attitude of some of the comments–

  2. I really enjoyed reading this. I’m another English/British person who doesn’t want Scotland to leave the UK. Even though I agree that the ‘no’ campaign has not been clear enough about the benefits, whenever I listen to the ‘yes’ campaign their projections seem unrealistic. I think politicians might be promising the Scottish the moon and then be unable to provide it if and when the time comes – and then both Scotland and the rest of the UK will be left worse off.

  3. ok, so James 6th of Scotland became James the 1st of England and Scotland- the first Scottish king to sit on the English throne… and his reign followed several hundred years of fairly ‘boisterous’ relationships between around the border- in fact its thought to one of the reasons that England never conquered all of France or anywhere else at that stage of history- you couldn’t go off to war with the Scots sitting there or you’d come back and find they’d nicked all your land for a change.
    Anyway, all that to one side, as an English Briton with enough Scots blood in me to know which tartan I’m allowed to wear (Graham of Montrose, if you want to know) I feel I’m allowed to voice an opinion. No, I’ve not lived in Scotland, just like I’ve never lived in Kent, Liverpool or many other places in the UK, and I don’t claim ownership over any of them… but I will claim that they are part of the thing that I’m part of- our country. Its not mine, and its not theirs. And if the ‘yes’ vote wins, both sides will be the poorer for what they have lost. I don’t mean in terms of economy (because no one really has a clue about that) or anything measurable, but in terms of how you feel when that person up the road who you always meant to invite round for a brew moves away, when your great uncle dies and you realise it’d been 4yrs since you spoke…

    I hope my Scottish family won’t vote to leave, but if they do, we’ll still speak, we’ll still see each other- maybe with a greater degree of fondness, but I’m not convinced about that. It is your choice to make, and its right that you have that choice. But I wish we could have a ‘we want you to stay’ referendum.

    Thanks for writing your post, its given me a space to work through my own thoughts and put them down.

    • Thank you for the added history! It’s so interesting!

      I believe the Coldstream Guards were Scottish, wasn’t it their regiments early form that helped restore the monarchy after Oliver Cromwell?

      Thank you very much anyway; I enjoyed reading your thoughts, and they strengthen my opinion!

  4. It is a good debate. (Martial law was imposed in Edinburgh in 1707 after the signing of the treaty to surpress the threat of an uprising.)
    It’s very hard to see the mutual benefits and sadly the yes campaign has refrained from sharing them whilst resorting to threats and negative excuses many of which are riddled with holes.
    The great thing is that this issue has stimulated more excited political discussion than I’ve seen in uk politics in thirty years, which can only be a good thing : )

  5. Very interesting read. Curious, do you feel the same about the Irish? I realize Scotland has always been different and has a separate Parliament (right?), but how do you feel about those who want a united Ireland? We haven’t heard much about that these days…

    • Scotland has always had a separate parliament, as far as I am aware. Though the extent of their powers has dipped and risen of the years.

      Hmm… good question! It’s difficult as religion causes as much as a rift as nationalism in Ireland. If you add religion to the issue it quickly becomes very different in my opinion – it widens the north/south gap to seemingly unbridgeable proportions.

      Having said that, the troubles have been quieter recently like you say, so it may be a realistic prospect in the future. I wouldn’t say I could transfer my opinion to Northern Ireland automatically; the situation is very different. I do love the United Kingdom in its current entirety, yet I would have to do more research to fully answer your question; I think it’s a lot more complex. For instance, the relationship with the rest of the UK and Ireland is, or was, less mutual than that with Scotland.

      Interesting to consider, what it is your opinion?

      • As an American of Irish descent (my great-grandfather came over from Northern Ireland), I always wanted to see Ireland unite, but I was always told there would be problems if it did. It’s shameful that religion causes such violence throughout the world. It is supposed to be about the exact opposite.

        I’ll be keeping an eye on the news to see how this plays out for the UK. It is interesting times…

  6. I have favoured that Scotland should “be the nation again” since I was 10, in 1950. I am English with the surnames Hunter, Campbell and Douglass in my known family tree. So I say what I like about it! One of my sisters (just-died) went to live up there 50 years ago. All her bairns, their bairns, and THEIR bairns too, are Scots born. Vote YES!

  7. Hi there! I in no way want a debate but I was wondering how you feel about 16 year olds gaining the vote for this issue? I’m 16 myself and won’t get in any way uptight about your answer I’d just love your opinion as I came across this post in ‘freshly pressed’ 🙂

    • No worries it’s a good question! Ordinarily I would be wary; I do think it is too young to vote in general elections.

      Labour has suggested the voting age be reduced to 16 in the UK general elections. To me this seems too young, and Labour seem to be taking this line simply to gain more votes.

      Having said that, I entirely believe 16 year olds should get the vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum. In ten years time those teenagers will be young adults, and will be living with the consequences of this vote. This vote will not occur every five years – it is now or never. It would be unfair to prevent them from voting on a decision that they will, quite possibly, have to live with for the rest of their lives.

      What do you think?

      • I completely agree with you on that! I’m Scottish if I didn’t previously mention that.

        As I said before I am currently 16 and I don’t feel like I should have been given the vote. I’ve not experienced having to pay taxes yet and the only knowledge I have about the pro’s and con’s of voting yes is what was taught by school only a handful of times.

        In school we were also asked what we were going to vote if we were happy to share and many that stated they were going to vote yes justified it with ‘my parents told me to’, ‘it what my parents are doing’, ‘why not’ and ‘well, freedom’ which are not logical reasons to be voting.

        I am aware of both pros and cons of voting yes but I don’t feel its enough for me to be granted the vote and I think you’re right about doing it to be tactical and gain more votes.

        This is just a short look at my opinion of course and I hope it doesn’t offend anyone but I was asked 🙂 Thank you for asking, it was good to hear someone else’s views on things!

      • Well that’s a very mature voicing of an opinion for a 16 year old! I agree absolutely, my main fear is exactly that; you are being taken advantage of by adults, who will unintentionally use you as a vessel for their opinion. If I had a 16yr old child I am sure I would do the same – it would be hard not too!

        Keep writing anyway you are clearly good at it! And all the best for the vote whatever you decide!

      • Thank you for thinking so! My parents tried to heavily influence me into a yes vote whereas my grandparents who I now live with say it’s my choice. I’ve voiced my opinion of being used tactically and they said it’s more to do with the act this decision will effect my life more than theirs because they will no longer be here soon but I still disagree.

        I plan to keep writing as I love it! Thank you very much it’s been a pleasure chatting with you 🙂

  8. Thank you for taking the time to show your support for Scotland.
    However as a definite yes voter i am looking forward to the day we are independent and don’t suffer the shackles of a Westminster government that is voted for by others, where the vote of Scots has no influence at all.

  9. Hi bros,

    nice article miss author.

    I am slovakian, as u maybe know, we separated from Czechoslovakia at 1993.

    What i wanna say, maybe there are some problems, but freedom is somerhing unique.

    We are still very good bros witch Czech people. So for me independent of Scotland is clear. Please scotish friends, dont waste your chance.

    • This is exactly how I feel! Scotland will still be close with neighbouring countries and all the amazing things it has to offer will be there as an independent country or not!
      I think Scotland’s future will be better in Scotland’s hands.

  10. I am of mixed Scottish and English ancestry on both sides. My paternal grandmother was a Wallace. My wife has similar blood ties. Yet I have been north of the border only once.

    The cultures are closely intertwined. Many Scots live in England and play major roles in the fortunes of a United Kingdom. They have no vote. Prominent among these are soldiers of the Scottish Regiments. Where are their loyalties to lie – with their comrades in arms or with a separated Scotland?

    We, the Scottish and the English love each other and have made our home together so that we are one. Why divorce?

    In many ways, it can be said that Scotland has taken possession of England to make the United Kingdom what it is today, for the benefit and spiritual enrichment of us all. Alex Salmond Is a political opportunist who appeals to baser human territorial instincts.

    The prospect of alienation is so painful. I must close.

    • Dear Richard, friend of so many discussions (and dear owner of this great blog), as you might know, despite my being blunt at times, I have a lot of affection for the English, Scottish and Irish people (as my blog attests), mostly thanks to exchanges with readers from those areas and from other English-speaking countries.

      I also think it would be terrible if divorce occurred, but probably it will not, from what I read in the newspapers and from some Scottish commentators over at my blog. We will see.

      Great blog, by the way, dear Woman of North England. Arts (history! I’m a history buff myself) and politics are among my passions. Your charity work and volunteering honour you.

      Best regards

      Giovanni, aka Man of Roma

      • Dear Giovanni,

        Thank you for directing me to this post and blog.

        I have sent a copy of my comment, adapted to include Wales and Northern Ireland, as a letter to The Daily Telegraph. So let’s see if they print it. They have published a few of my letters.

        I have been reading Manius. It is a major work in the offing!

        With kind regards.


      • You shall have to let me know if they do, it was passionate and well-worded; thank you both for the time you’ve taken to read and comment, it is very much appreciated!

  11. Well, Helen Louise,
    You could be our daughter (my youngest daughter – Elena, incidentally – having been born in ’87).

    Richard, of course, is 104 but his mind is still pretty sharp 😉

    Your blog is as young as you, but I notice a lot of public already. Keep up with the good work.

    All the best
    From Mediterranean West

  12. @Richard

    I’ll be glad to read your letter, Richard. I at times read the online version of the Daily Mail. Let me know how things unfold.

    My Manius novel – the action is placed in both today’s Rome and ancient Britannia at the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasion- aspires to be just a feuilleton. More important is content (ancient religions, Britannia’s history etc). I there try to express my experience, studies and arts passions. Despite my mind being faltering a bit, I’ll try to go on. I am stubborn, like you dear people from Albion 🙂

    And yes, Boudicca was a great queen and I am sorry for what the Romans did to your “demi-paradise … this land of such dear souls … this precious stone set in a silver sea”.

    Your bard really could sing, no doubt.

    Warm regards,


    • Have you considered that Great Britain, the island comprising The nations of Scotland, England and Wales may, to some, take the appearance of a seated figure reaching out for Ireland?

      ” … This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle … ”

      I seek to explain nothing, any more than I would seek to explain Italy’s prowess in football. 😉

    • Letters normally get published by The Daily Telegraph the day after you write them. Since two days have now passed, I can safely say that mine has been rejected – something I am very used to!

      • They receive many letters, Richard. They cannot publish them all the time.
        I’m busy Louise. I will reply to your comment as soon as I can since it requires reflectionm

    • Of course I remember! I like it it’s well written, and I agree with your points.

      One little thing, don’t be afraid to write your opinions; if people don’t agree they don’t agree! No need to apologise as your writing something in case they don’t, because it undermines your opinion, which you put across well 🙂

      Thank you!

      • Thank you very much for the feedback!

        Of course, I was conscious of my constant apologising as I wrote but I didn’t want a debate on my blog haha! I simple wanted to share and hear opinions without extreme opposition 🙂

        No problem!

  13. A great post which I thoroughly agree with. I do believe that this is really Scotlands decision and that nobody else should get a vote on that but I still think that the rest of the UK should make is feelings heard so that the people of Scotland make an informed decision. There are too many sound bites an insufficient answers on both sides.

    Whatever happens the closeness of the debate shows that things need to change moving forward.

    • Good stuff – fun to read! Very fast paced thoughts there but I get your points; very passionately independent for seize the moment reasons. It’s hard not to take a chance when you’re offered it, especially one like this. I just hope that the people voting yes are doing so for those reasons not because they’ve been taken in by false promises, and political bravado.

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