Americans for an Independent Scotland – and I why I am one of them

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Americans for an Independent Scotland – and I why I am one of them

In less than two years, the people of Scotland will vote to decide if their nation should become an independent country. Today, on St. Andrew’s Day, I’m going to explain why I am supporting the Yes campaign.

I am a Scot who now lives in Austin, Texas. I was born and raised in Glasgow, I graduated from Edinburgh Uni, and then lived and worked for several years in Edinburgh. My entire family still lives in Scotland and growing up I never imagined that I would live anywhere else.

In 2002 I followed a girl to America and I’ve been here ever since. Being a Scot abroad, I am reminded of my Scottishness on a daily basis. Other expat Scots will know the typical conversations that follow when an American hears our accent. These usually include discussions of golf, or whisky, or Nessy, or about how the stranger’s great, great uncle is from Scotland.  At first, I loathed the predictability of these conversations, but now I look forward to them.

I’ve come to realize that Americans have a fondness for Scots and for Scotland that they do not necessarily share with other nations. I’m speaking generally of course, but I’ve never seen the same warm reaction when Americans meet French people or Australians or the Dutch. Few could argue that Scots enjoy a great reputation internationally.

Recently a new topic has emerged during these conversations with strangers. I am now regularly asked whether I think Scotland will win its independence. Although at times, Americans do not always have the greatest perspective on foreign affairs, there is no doubt that they have taken a genuinely interest in Scotland’s campaign for independence. Indeed as winners of their own independence from Great Britain, they can identify with it.

I’ve never been a member of a political party, and I’ve never voted for the Scottish National Party, but I’ve spent a lot of time over the last ten years thinking and talking about Scottish independence. And now, I’m all for it.

——-

You know, we Scots are funny people. When we are in Scotland, there is always a lot of talk about how the weather is shite, how the football is shite, how the council is shite etc. For years I did it myself, and it can foster a mentality that Scotland is a “pishy wee country”, to quote one of my relatives.

But generally, if you take those same Scots and introduce them to someone who is not Scottish, especially if this meeting happens on foreign shores, then guaranteed the conversation will at some point jump to how Scotland invented the world. Television, telephones, steam engines, penicillin, tarmac. Scots are incredibly proud of their achievements.

Or if you’re a bit younger maybe, then these same Scots will educate foreigners on how so many great bands are Scottish, about how the best football managers are Scottish, or the best writers are Scottish. And I love these conversations. That’s the Scotland that I want to talk about. That’s the Scotland I believe in. And that’s one of the reasons I started the Dear Scotland website.

In 2009, I wrote that I wanted Dear Scotland to try to present “a combined vision of Scotland that I would suggest is unusually not shaped by politics or by negativity, but rather by a genuine appreciation of Scotland’s qualities.”

Likewise, my support for Scottish independence is not shaped by politics or by negativity.

In some ways, running the Dear Scotland website and writing so positively about Scotland has demonstrated to me that we can rightly be proud about our past, and equally confident about our future. You can read any of the 900+ articles on this website and appreciate that Scotland is, and always has been, full of unique and talented people.

For me it is a logical step to believing that these unique and talented people of Scotland are better placed and smart enough to make their own decisions. Scottish people should be governing themselves. Scotland should be a country again.

My personal journey towards independence was basically a question of confidence. Eventually I was able to flick a switch in my head from believing that Scotland was shite, to realizing that Scotland has the natural resources and passion to be as good as any other country.

When I think about it, there were occasions in my past when I also had this confidence in Scotland – like when Aberdeen won the Cup Winners Cup in 1983, or when Scotland won the rugby grand slam in 1990, or that ever so brief moment just before an international match when you hear the Hampden Roar, and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you believe that we can actually do this. Well that is the confidence in Scotland I now feel.

I have to believe that if the Scots who are currently opposed to independence or undecided could find that same confidence in their country within themselves, the Yes vote would win by a landslide.

———

As an expat, non-resident Scot, I know that I wont be able to vote in the referendum but it was with my new-found confidence in Scotland that earlier this year, myself and a few other “Scots-Americans” met up to see if there was anything we could do. We decided then that we had to do something to support the Yes campaign, and so we founded Americans for an Independent Scotland.

There are a number of rules and regulations that preclude us from contributing financially to the campaign in Scotland, but we thought that we might be able to contribute to the campaign to build confidence in Scotland.

We have several goals over the next two years, but one of our main aims is to be able to demonstrate to the voters in Scotland that the USA would be supportive of an independent Scotland. And perhaps that might help to flick the confidence switch for some of them.

With this in mind, I may post the occasional article on the 2014 referendum here. Dear Scotland has always been a blog for expat Scots and as I’ve already explained, Scottish independence is already a talking point for us too.*

One of the messages of support we have already received from Scotland stated:

“In the USA you may not be able to participate in the vote but just as in a game of football the supporters can put fire in the bellies of the participants and give confidence.”

That is exactly what we want to do with Americans for an Independent Scotland – to sound a Hampden Roar from across the ocean.

Peej Reid

*I should note that my views are not necessarily the views of all the contributors, although I do know that Billy Williamson and Alistair Braidwood share a similar perspective.

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23 Responses to “Americans for an Independent Scotland – and I why I am one of them”
  1. I received your views from Facebook. I am a first generation American of parents from the Isle of Lewis. My question is, doesn’t Scotland govern itself? It has its own parliament. The only thing, as I know it, is that Scotland’s national security and defense (as with the rest of Great Britain) emanates from London, which makes sense to me. Otherwise, Scotland would be on its own when it comes to national defense/security. And on a side note, look at the list of Prime Ministers who are/were Scottish.

    by John Buchanan MacKenzie
    on 02 Dec, 2012 8:09pm

  2. Hi John. You are correct that Scotland does not have control over foreign policy and national security. It also does not have control over its economic system, energy, trade, employment legislation or equal opportunities, among other matters.

    And I respectfully disagree with you that it makes sense that Scotland’s foreign policy is controlled from London. Just as I’m sure you would agree that it would not make sense if the US’s foreign policy was controlled by Canada or Mexico.

    by Peej
    on 03 Dec, 2012 10:37am

  3. I am American Scottish descent and I believe Scotland will suffer economically without England. Look at Ireland with the Euro meltdown ? The royals have Scottish roots and has made Scotland what it is today. Yes we are all inspired when Rob Roy defended his clan in the highland mist against British redcoats, Robert the Bruce swore fealty and respect to Edward the 1st 1296 and several times after that. It was only William Wallace who never surrendered and paid the price in 1305. Jump ahead to today and alex salmond , Scottish prime minister thinks he is defending some scottish castle against the british monarchy. It doesn’t make any sense to vote on the yes initiative because you share the same island ! Scotland will always be England and England will always be Scotland and together it’s named the United kingdom !

    by George
    on 09 Dec, 2012 10:03am

  4. Thanks for the comment George. I’m not going to get into the economics of independence as it is not a factor in my support. However I will note that despite Ireland’s economic situation, no one is suggesting that they rejoin Britain.

    by Peej
    on 10 Dec, 2012 10:41am

  5. I think that this is a fantastic article and it’s great how you focus on the positive. My great-grandma was from Aberdeen; she was fiercely independent, witty, and very proud of her heritage.I know that she would have been doing everything that she could to promote this cause.

    It’s important for Americans to support Scottish Independence; after all, can’t we identify with a populace who wants freedom from Britain and the right to govern itself and its money? We started out small, and there were those who did not want to break with the “Mother Country”, but America prevailed and look at where we are now. Many Scots who came to the colonies before and after the American Revolution were strong economic drivers in southern communities and although there were Tories, some stayed and fought on the colonists’ side. Scottish merchants proved to be a very business-minded people and helped to build America.Today, I believe that if Scotland were in charge of its own finances, it would put other countries to shame with its smart fiscal policies.

    For George: You will never hear a Scot say that he is an Englishman or an Englishman say that he is a Scot (unless it is his name). It is true that they are on the same piece of land, but they are two very distinct cultures.

    I support Scottish Independence.

    by Gypsygirl
    on 10 Dec, 2012 9:56pm

  6. Thanks for the support Gypsygirl.

    by Peej
    on 12 Dec, 2012 10:36am

  7. I enjoyed your article on independence. I must say that as an outsider, an American, I have real reservations, largely because the SNP seems to be such an incompetent,half-assed setup. Take, as an excellent example, the question of Scottish EU membership, which the SNP has light-heartedly asserting for years, without, it seems,making any serious inquiries into the matter. You see the same thing with respect, for example, to defense, to the national debt, to the banking system, to the monarchy, and so forth. An independent Scotland may be viable, but I wouldn’t want to see the SNP running it.

    by Bob Emery
    on 29 Dec, 2012 4:33pm

  8. Bob i,am glad you enjoyed the article on independence for scotland.So bob if you don,t like the s n p running it who do you think should run it ?As at this moment in time the scots voted for the snp and are the the party to get this country on it,s feet and to do what this country needs to do so bob as a by stander in the usa elections i will vote what the people of the usa say who they whant to vote in and will respect that. bob please do the same for my beloved country of scotland. thanks.ian

    by Anonymous
    on 31 Dec, 2012 11:05pm

  9. I wholeheartedly agree with your view that Scotland has a made a significant contribution to modern society, and that there is a lot to be proud of in being Scottish; however, I failed to see how this forms an argument to become an independent country. Scotland’s global identity is indelible, As a nation within the United Kingdom we have had great success, do you argue that we would be even more successful as an independent country?
    Your admission that you have not considered economics in your decision to support an independent Scotland (see comment on Dec. 10th) severely undermines your position as being pro-independence. Without considering the economics of the situation you have reduced your position to one based on national pride.
    I am proud to be Scottish, but I am against Independence. I fail to see any tangible benefits to the people of Scotland by separating from the rest of the UK.

    by Anonymous
    on 21 Jan, 2013 1:02pm

  10. Thanks for your comment Anon. By the sounds of it, we probably share similar views on many issues relating to Scotland. In my comment above that you address, perhaps I should have said that economics is not a major factor in my support for independence.

    I can appreciate that it is an important factor for many people, yourself included, but I respectfully disagree with you that by failing to address the economics my support for independence is somehow undermined.

    For me, there are benefits to being an independent country that cannot be defined monetarily. Pride. Confidence. Ownership.

    To reduce the argument to whether one person might have slightly more or less income in an independent Scotland is an over simplification. One might even argue it is a distraction.

    Current research suggests that Scots would either be 500 quid a year better off or 1 pound worse off. I think that from a purely economic perspective most people could handle either outcome.

    Which is why I believe we should be considering the intangible benefits of independence as well as the tangible, and why I’m comfortable with my reasoning.

    by Peej
    on 21 Jan, 2013 3:14pm

  11. Sorry George but my teeth are a little bit smaller than they were before reading your post.
    Scotland is being drained by Westminster, we get the comments all the time some of them laughable beyond belief, we won’t be British, we won’t be able to listen to British bands, real drivel.
    Independence doesn’t make us not British because British is an inhabitant of the British Isles, we are not sawing along the border and floating off into the Atlantic although some have considered it….lol
    Where I live in Scotland, I pay 1.69 pence per unit (1KWH) for Electricity more than anywhere else in the UK yet ALL my power either comes from Wind or Water. The reason is the National Grid charges excessively for connection to the Grid in Scotland yet PAYS money for the same turbine connected in London, totally unequal from our supposed equal partners in the UK.
    Scotland is the ONLY country in the world to have oil and be the poorer for it.
    We need more powers to run Scotlands economy but Ed Milliband has made it clear he wishes to take power back to Westminster and David Cameron has said we will not be getting any more power so independence is the only option.
    As for defence we have no enemies other than those foisted on us by Westminsters illegal wars and we have no Scottish troops anyway as they have announced laying off 20000 troops. We have nuclear warheads stored 30 miles from Glasgow because a senior Military Advisor said basing them in the south of England was too dangerous for the population, shows what they think of us!!!

    by Bob Howie
    on 25 Jan, 2013 6:56am

  12. Wow! What a great article. I, too, support Scotland’s fight for independence. Each country should, by right, govern themselves – without question. I can’t comprehend why that premise is even questioned, but I guess that that is the American coming out in me. And these feelings that Scotland (or any other nation) should control their own destiny exist despite my English (and complete lack of Scots) heritage.

    Keep up the great work and know that so very many Americans believe in your cause!

    by Julie
    on 26 Jan, 2013 8:53pm

  13. I, too, am American-born of Scottish descent. I was raised by my Grandparents in an otherwise Scottish household (if that household weren’t in the State of Maine). My grandfather told me once that he would never see independence in his day, but maybe — just maybe — I might. My ancestors left Scotland because of the impositions on them from Westminster, even back as close in history as the 1930s. Nowadays, barely a relation is allowed to have anything to do with the business that they started. Oh, they’re still in business, alright, still exporting some of the best candies worldwide, still raking in the money, but, for what end? Westminster still says “Good, you’ve done your job with your factory and with the materials that you have to pay for with the allowance that we give you; oh, and don’t forget that out of that allowance, you still have to pay your tax to us.”

    George, interesting that you bring up the very cliche points that everyone else says about Robert The Bruce — who is one of the greatest monarchs in Scottish history, who, in the end won Independence for Scotland. The Austrians and several other European regions, during WWII were also forced to swear allegiance to a criminal invading tyrant — to save their lives — in order to fight back and regain their independence just the same. You can’t win a battle with just one person. Wallace became the martyr for the greater — the greatest cause, and The Bruce became the hero king because he remained alive with everyone else and fought back and won Independence!

    …and who said that today’s Independence was all about Alex Salmond??? Talk to the Greens, Independents, and a measure of the Labour Party just the same.

    I may have been American-born, one generation away from being Scottish-born; but, you might as well count me as one of the diaspora, as long as one hundred of us remain alive.

    by Robert Buchanan
    on 28 Jan, 2013 10:10am

  14. Great article!

    As a scot living in Edinburgh, I have to say I am for independence. I by no means believe Alex salmons is the messiah but he does have Scotland’s best interest at heart.

    Lets put it this way in regards to fairness…

    Its no secret that the people in Scotland don’t like the Tory party weather it is because of the Margaret thatcher days or whatever. However in the last general election the Tories did not win one single seat in the whole of Scotland and yet because of there majority vote thanks to England they get to decide what happens in our country. Do you think it’s fair that a party we clearly do not want as a country gets to decide how our country is run. To me that is not fair and actually quite frightening. So for that and amount many other reasons ill be voting yes for an independent Scotland.

    I’ve lived in Scotland a long time and this may be hard to explains but as a nation even if Scotland did get independence and were to get say ‘fucked over’ we would feel better knowing that we were getting fucked over by one of our own.

    by Dave
    on 22 Feb, 2013 7:53am

  15. As a proud Scot living in Edinburgh, I must say I enjoyed your article and it’s nice to know that Americans are very much aware of and have a positive view of our culture. But I must also say that I respectfully disagree with your views on Indepedance. As much as I am proud to be Scottish, I am also proud to be a British citizen of the UK and I will be losing, as well as many other people I have spoken to about the subject, a large part of my national identity and pride. The London Olympics only strengthened my “Britishness”. I believe that Scotland has achieved so much since it joined with England in 1707 (Creating the largest empire the world has ever seen to name one) and it would be a shame to throw all that away now. The majority of Pro-inependence Scots that I know, who are purely voting because they “hate the English”, and the increasingly vague and false promises by Alex Salmond and the SNP on the future only make me feel more opposed to Independence. As for pride about Scotland, I think that Scots should take pride in the fact that Scotland is great and beautiful as it is, our people are loved in many countries across the globe and that we are part of one of the most successful and powerful (and it still is!) nations in human history! Sorry to disappoint those pro-independence Americans and fellow Scots but i’ll be voting “No” next year.

    by Liam
    on 14 Mar, 2013 6:43pm

  16. Hey as an actual Scot living in Scotland who considers himself British, here’s the deal.

    You Americans stay out of our domestic politics and we won’t get into efforts to break your country apart and create division,. how does that sound?

    It’s one thing to disagree with a local about the future of the place but to have Johnny Foreigner wade in as if he has a stake in it based on some distant relation is quite offensive.

    by British Bloke
    on 03 May, 2013 4:28pm

  17. The article is titled ” Americans for an Independent Scotland” so I’m not sure why you are all up in arms about Scottish Americans giving their opinions & that’s exactly what they are, OPINIONS! Also , just for good measure, my parents are from Glasgow and are still British Citizens, so as it turns out I feel like I do have a right to have an voice considering it would effect all of my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents who still reside in Scotland.

    by Alliyo
    on 09 May, 2013 9:17am

  18. I’m an American (by way of France, Italy and East Africa) and I absolutely support Scottish Independence! I’m going to continue my studies in political science at the University of Glasgow next year and while researching a bit on my new home found your site and I’m quite happy I did. I have been following the issue for quite some time and find that independence would be a great thing for Scotland. Though I don’t have a vote on this issue I will be sure to spread the word to my friends in Europe and America (especially my fellow politics majors)!

    by Alexis
    on 22 May, 2013 12:32am

  19. Dear God : Lets get some clarity and honesty

    There is no such thing as a proud Scot / Brit !!
    Clueless juvenile utter nonesense !! Be proud of what you are Liam a Brit through and through – nothing more nothing less, stop confusing those from across the pond.
    Nobody hates the English thats just scaremongering rubbish and you know it. The English are our neighbours always were and always will be in the future – we are just tired of the idea of sinking Britain and can see a positive aspirational future away from greed, stale politics, and aristocratic class ideals. (Home counties of England issues Im afraid)

    The Scots will vote for their indpendance in 2014 (and so they should) as the Americans did in 1707 – the Brits will have to make other arrangments !!!

    Youtube – Boston Tea Party by ‘proud scot’ Alex Harvey RIP what a rock song.

    Hey lets organise a proper tea party of our own come a YES vote in 2014 – all yanks invited !! The Scots know how to party !!!

    by American Abroad
    on 06 Jun, 2013 4:14pm

  20. I am American. I have far distant Scottish roots. I believe that any country that wants independence badly enough should have it. It won’t be sunshing and rainbows 24/7, but you can be proud to have make a difference, change history and be independent. Do I care what Britain thinks, no. All I can imagine is suddenly Canada started telling us how to run our country. Unfathomable. I am not deluded in believing that these United States is the greatest country in the world, nor do I believe that we do everything right, I think we’re pretty messed up most of the time. But we do it to ourselves, by who we vote in, the laws we allow to be passed, the ones we fight up to the Supreme Court to have struck down, we have a say in it. It’s something that everyone who truly desires independence should get to experience, suffer, live. Australia did it, Canada did it, the US and India fought and died for it. Scotland, your time is now. I support your independence with 100% of my being. If I could vote YES, I would. Alba an Aigh

    by Anonymous
    on 21 Sep, 2013 3:15pm

  21. These are all very stupid comments I am from Glasgow and if Scotland becomes independent the taxes will rise and the English will take there nuclear weapons back (they are in largs and places like that) leaving us vulnerable to attack and just because we are Scottish doesn’t mean everyone will like us look at the terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport and also most people who actually live in Scotland want to stay in the UK. It is only people like Sean Connery and the Proclaimers that want to be independent as they have an idea about Scotland being like braveheart or something while they live in there big mansions in America. And also they are letting 16 year olds vote bribing them with cheaper bus tickets and a better education system but they have already tried and failed with schools. So basically all politicians are idiots who come from a rich background who have no idea about the real world but sadly these are the people that rule our country so basically what you have to do is vote for the smartest idiot and in this case it is David Cameron over Alex Salmond.The only decent person on here is British Bloke. The Anonymous above me sounds like one of those americans that’s great great great (a lot more greats) Gran or Uncle or whatever is Scottish so classes himself Scottish. America mind your business you think of us like the jacobites or William Wallace or something but we are not.

    by Anonymous
    on 16 Nov, 2013 3:42pm

  22. high time to go our own way guys,because i go to london every week as a lorry driver when you get to london money is being spent like nobodys business in infrastructure projects eg m25 exstension,constant construction projects,the tories ,labour are dinosaur parties who in my eyes should be consigned to the dustbin of history because the corruption of the tossers in the toilet called westminister morally,spiritualy .the rich get richer and the working people get shafted.i served for two years in the military years ago and the tories were in power and morale was bad &scotland got got a bad deal base closure wise.wee eck has the only politician in years that has had enough of the crap of labour and the scumbags that are tories! oh sorry home counties south of watford snobs planet zog people .now is the time to call time on the union because of scumbag tories ,libdem spanners oh and labour tits,if any american folk of scottish descent thank you for your support as i have been reading positive things and if any english people reading the views please join in a yes vote that stay in scotland and work here and have families born in scotland eg young kids etc join us in a new beginning ie eqaulity for all ,a new age of decency ,economicaly &spiritually

    by david owen a proud weegie &scottish
    on 21 Nov, 2013 4:10pm

  23. Liam, just t re-affirm – the wish for an independent Scotland has nothing to do with hating the English and to say things like that is pure slander! Currently a Scotsman living in Edinburgh I used to live in London because I enjoyed it, and the company. Stop spreading hateful lies.

    If you like the conservative way of doing things then fine, be like that.

    You say that you’re proud of British colonialism, illegal wars and The Olympics(which only benefited big business and actually done harm to many poor areas of London). My yes vote is against this attitude and other reasons.

    We can do it if we so please.

    Meanwhile the rest of us will be fighting for a greener, fairer and more jus Scotland.

    by Anonymous
    on 29 May, 2014 6:58am

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