You don’t change your politics when you change location. Your world vision. Your core beliefs. Those thoughts and behaviours which demonstrate your ethics, your personality, your essence. So, for example, as a supporter of local food in Dorset, I continue to avoid supermarkets and items with high air-miles, now that I live in Spain. I seek out green groups and community organisations, and charities that help immigrants. And of course in terms of left and right, nothing changes. So it never occurred to me that location has an impact on one’s politics, until this month.
Since living in Spain, the Catalunyan independence debate has been a fascinating topic of conversation, and I have been teasing out the similarities and the differences between their process and that going on in Scotland. Both independence campaigns have been discussed in depth with Spanish-speaking and English-speaking friends. Both with the same degree of slight detachment. Until this month.
Everyone will remember the day it all changed. Suddenly last week the Yes campaign took the lead in the polls in Scotland. The Westminster government stepped up their “dirty tricks” campaign a dozen notches. And I finally worked out why I had struggled for my own clear position.
It’s all about location. I know myself well enough to know that if I were Scottish I would have been fighting for independence for years. If I were living in Scotland I would have been just as frustrated by the ignorant and distant London-based government(s) and would have not only joined the Yes campaign but would have been an activist, out there speaking and persuading on the doorsteps. It’s what I do. It’s who I am.
But I’m not Scottish, and I don’t live in Scotland. So the only perspective I actually have is that of an English woman living outside the currently-United Kingdom. And living abroad changes your perspective. I don’t know why, but it does. Absence makes the heart grow fonder? The part of me that is forever England? And is there honey still for tea? A friend’s stunningly-beautiful picture of the Dorset countryside on Facebook made my heart leap – an actual physical feeling of nostalgia, of longing. And I’m sad. Sad that the union between nations, that has kept Scotland and England together since 1707, will probably end today.
It will affect me far less than it will the Scottish people. I don’t really know how it will affect me except that that wonderful country to the north, whose highlands and islands I explored for a month every year throughout the 1980s, will feel more distant and less connected. I’m sure the minor administrative issues will all be resolved, but the connection will be severed. My Scottish friends will still be friends, but something will be lost.
This isn’t how I think I ought to feel. But I can’t help it. It turns out I have a fondness for things that have lasted a long time, and though the relationship between Scotland and England has had its ups and downs, it has lasted 307 years. I don’t know today’s result yet, but I have a feeling we are about to be dis-united. And at the same time as being delighted for them, I am sad for me and for England. We are the poorer for their loss.
© Tamara Essex 2014 http://www.twocampos.com
THIS WEEK’S LANGUAGE POINT:
Another multi-layered sentence, following on from last week:
El último fin de semana que pasamos en Sevilla no hubiera sido tan cansado si no hubiera hecho tanto calor y no hubiera habido tanta gente en el hotel, ¿verdad?
The last weekend we spent in Seville wouldn’t have been so tiring if it hadn’t been so hot and there hand’t been so many people in the hotel, would it?
A sentence like this is good for memorising and saying aloud over and over in the car to really get the construction into your head.
I take the view point that while we may have been a union since 1707 but we have actually been ruled by Scotland ever since James came south a hundred years before that, and that since that time the Scots and Scottish politicians have had a disproportionate effect in the running of England. Home Rule for England say I ! – but seriously there is an interesting read here
– an article by Tom Shakespeare which suggests taking devolution further may be even more beneficial.
damn – before you have a go at me Tamara – can’t find out how to get back in to correct the dreadful grammar. Must read carefully before posting.
Although English-born with a streak of Irish blood, I’ve never been particularly attracted by lumpen Britishness … and feel almost zero sentiment at the thought of the United Kingdom falling apart.
No surprise then that I should be so radically in favour of independence for Catalonia … smaller, more efficient, being closer to the politicians that take decisions for you
If you want to find out more …
I also believe that the gradual disappearance of nation-states will reduce cumbersome aggressive nationalism. It’s very difficult to pick fights with other countries when you’ve got a tiny military presence … with a bit of luck small countries might actually start talking to each other!
Great post Tamara, judging by the bookies, we will still be a united UK and lets face it, when the Scottish put their bets on I have a funny feeling they wouldn’t be squandering their money. Probably the best poll to go by. I like the sound of your politics.
One can have the same feelings of anguish at the mismanagement from the centre when one looks at the autonomous communities of Spain. Central government here operates with many of the same attitudes that one perceives emanating from Westminster or Brussels or Washington or any country that has internal political boundaries instead of natural ones.
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