SCOTLAND DEBATE: Bryan Gunn, Ian Gibson, Tom FitzPatrick, Elizabeth Liddell and Blair Ainslie write for us on the independence debate

A Scottish flag and a Union flag fly outside a Scottish memorabilia shop in Edinburgh, Scotland. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell) A Scottish flag and a Union flag fly outside a Scottish memorabilia shop in Edinburgh, Scotland. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014
9:11 AM

Five Scots with Norfolk and Suffolk links have written for us about their take on the relationship between the people of the two nations as the independence referendum looms.

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BRYAN GUNN

Having spent the first 24 years of my life in Scotland and the next 26 years in England, you can imagine why I am in a no-win scenario here.

There are people who I love on both sides of the border, and all have different opinions on the matter.

I have been very fortunate in life and have moved up the financial ladder over the years – from paying low taxes on my low “youth team” wages in Scotland and then high taxes on my increased “first team” wages down south.

I’m now paying the same tax no matter where I would have ended up living in Great Britain.

Nothing has really changed for me. I have loved life on both sides of the border, and love people in both countries.

If my Scottish mum is happy and my English wife is happy, then I’m happy.

It’s a simple life for me really, as long as Scotland win at football and we all still celebrate Burns Night I’ll be happy.

Oh, and Mel Gibson in Braveheart is a legend!

Bryan Gunn learnt his trade in Aberdeen in the early 1980s, but spent most of his career playing at Norwich City – making the save of his life in the UEFA Cup match against Bayern Munich in 1993. He was a member of the Scotland national football team, making six appearances for his country in the early 1990s.

• IAN GIBSON

The battle for Scotland is up and running. The Yes and No campaigns are circling each other, hoping to deliver the killer blow that will sway the undecided. Until then, we face repeated rounds of “You can’t do without us” versus “Oh yes we can”, where the prime minister cites figures that pass us by and the Scottish first minister denies them, saying little else.

Scots who, like me, have lived “down there” for a long time (this is my 50th year in Norwich) are not allowed to vote. If I was voting, however, it would be “No”. This would be in spite of the strong emotional attachment and pride that every Scot feels towards their homeland.

We have grown up knowing that Scotland produces the best footballers (note Robert Snodgrass’s winning goal for the Canaries in February), as well as the best jokes. I am also attracted to a land that does not charge its university students tuition fees (even though many Scot Labour MPs voted for it in England), provides free care for the elderly, has no prescription charges and a more wholesale delivery of NHS drugs.

But while we should celebrate what distinguishes Scotland and applaud what makes it appear to be a more socialist country, the emotional tenor of the debate is masking the most important issue: inequality is still the order of the day north and south of the border. You only have to visit the deprived areas of Glasgow and other towns in Scotland to recognise this. The major challenge for all left-wing politicians is to extend benefits to everyone by redistributing wealth from rich individuals not only in Hampstead and Kensington, but also in Edinburgh’s Blackhall or Aberdeen’s Milltimber.

The UK parliament, particularly since the Thatcher era, has allowed these inequalities to grow for years. If political parties were less elitist and listened to all their members and peripheral voices, they would focus on tackling poverty and eliminating inequalities.

Why didn’t Kate Moss take the opportunity to say this when she delivered David Bowie’s plea to the Scots to “stay with us” at the Brits?

No political leader is making the case for why this problem would be better tackled, from John O’Groats to Land’s End, through separation or staying together. In my view, with people power added in, this is the priority that should unite us.

Ian Gibson was MP for Norwich until 2009

• TOM FITZPATRICK

In common with tens of thousands of Scots living in other parts of the United Kingdom, I will be unable to vote to retain the Union in September of this year. Like so many others, I am proud of my Scottish heritage, regard myself primarily as British, and do not want to end up feeling a stranger in my own county.

Despite people being proud to think of themselves as Scottish, English or Welsh, being British is a common bond and unifying term and has been to the benefit of everyone, particularly Scotland. Right across Norfolk there are Scots, and people of recent Scottish origin, contributing to the prosperity of this county. The union of Scotland and England ended years of fighting which was a drain on both nations.

Although there were early difficulties, the two countries gradually worked together and began to produce huge benefits for both in terms of trade, prosperity and peace.

Under the British flag people spread across the world, working together. The marriage has proven so successful that I cannot see why anyone thinks a divorce is needed.

The economies of Scotland and the rest of the UK are tied together so closely that a separation will have huge negative consequences for both, the full consequences of which will only become clear when it is too late. The Scottish Nationalists want to break a union of equals which has actually worked particularly well for the benefit of Scotland, and replace it with membership of the European Union. If and when they would be allowed to join, Scotland will be very much a junior new member with very little clout, but just glad to have been allowed into the club.

It is with dismay that I listen to the increasingly empty and desperate arguments in favour of a Yes vote and separation, beginning to resemble nothing better than petulance. Despite the current economic situation, the economy of the UK is still one of the strongest in the world.

Scotland and England have a huge interlocked economy... and separation will have a negative impact on sectors. The East of England benefits from the offshore oil and gas sectors, with wind generation increasingly important in terms of energy. These sectors are international and global and introducing another national division into what exists at present will weaken the position of all of us at a time when we can ill afford such fragmentation.

My hope is the Scotland does not sleepwalk towards a decision based on misplaced sentiment.

Tom FitzPatrick is North Norfolk District Council leader. He was born in Glasgow, brought up there with a few years living in Ayrshire. He attended Edinburgh University and has spent most of his working life in England.

• ELIZABETH LIDDELL

Why the doubt? Scots have always been, and will always be, independent.

Through the ages Scots have, for many reasons, travelled from their native land to far shores and helped create the foundation of many a successful business, leading in turn to a successful adopted country.

Are Scots living outside Scotland more Scottish because they have left their ’ain country?

I am not sure, but, as with any group of folk far from their homeland, the Scots gather together socially.

In East Anglia these social groups are still evident today with Anglo-Scottish and Caledonian Clubs.

Some of these clubs meet several times a month, mostly to enjoy and learn Scottish country dancing.

It is noticeable now, however, that many of the members are not in any way connected to Scotland, except by the shared love of the music and dance.

The “incomers” have integrated well!

It may be that Scots, like other Celtic nationalities, are proud of their roots and enjoy celebrating that heritage. Back to the original question, should Scotland become a country independent of the United Kingdom?

There are many areas where separation would be preferable and possible, but others where combined strength has benefits to the whole United Kingdom.

No need to state that Scotland would keep the monarchy.

When Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, the next in line to the English throne was James VII of Scotland. He was crowned James I of England and from him is a direct line to Queen Elizabeth II of England.

It took almost 100 years from the union of the crowns to persuade the governments to unite.

The resulting joint parliament, located in London, was to be a bone of contention for the next 300 years before Westminster could be persuaded to agree to a plan which has resulted in the September referendum.

Scotland has regained a parliament in Edinburgh. Restricted powers it may have, but a parliament nonetheless, which is able to govern Scotland in those matters which pertain to Scotland only. The English are a different nation and would be most unhappy to find that their government sat in another country passing laws which in the main did not relate to England (or maybe that already happens as members of the EU?).

So, why should the Scots not feel the need for a separation from the English Parliament?

A poll taken north and south of the border has produced a very definite NO result.

But it may be well for Westminster to go gently with demands. Many “NO” votes could be changed if it seemed Westminster were still pulling the strings. We can only hope that the people with the privilege of voting in September do so with their heads and a view to the very long term rather than with their hearts.

Elizabeth Liddell, who is a member of the Beccles Caledonian Society, arrived in Suffolk in March 1960 when she was “almost a teenager”. Her family and farm moved from Doune in Perthshire to Framsden near Stowmarket. She met her husband of 43 years at a Young Farmers club and they are now retired after a lifetime in farming.

• BLAIR AINSLIE

It is ridiculous that independence for Scotland is even being given consideration at all.

Much blood was spilled over centuries to bring the home nations together.

It’s disrespectful to the honour of those that suffered to think that a cross on a ballot paper can undo that. National pride and patriotism is what being a Scot is all about, and there is not a nation in the world that has more of it than Scotland.

We don’t need economic independence to prove it.

Blair Ainslie is managing director of Great Yarmouth-based offshore firm Seajacks. He hails from Dunbar, east Lothian and moved south of the border in 1979.

9 comments

  • "Much blood was spilled over centuries to bring the home nations together" Much blood was spilled to prevent it happening not just in Scotland but Ireland,Wales aye and even England when Scottish armies invaded. We are not "home nations" Scotland and France have always been closer than Scotland and England and still are.

    Report this comment

    Dan Stewart

    Saturday, March 8, 2014

  • as a scot living in Aberdeen i thought you might like to hear reasons why Scots seek independence. It is not because of jacobite history nor is ita deep rooted hatred for the english, Having worked with a number over the years most english are on the level but there are always the one or two who are not, this also goes for some scots too, So what could be the reasons, could it be the economic austerity that Scotland and for that matter Wales have endured in the hands of Westminster govt. An austerity that also blights the north of england. Successive govts have failed to distribute the employment opportunities and major wealth outwith London and the SE of England. I know that Norfolk also suffers from this dilemma. That is probably one of the reasons. For myself it goes much deeper than this. The UK is meant to be union of 4 nations, but there is no equality in the governance of the UK across these nations. Look at the demographic of westminster MPs, there are 600 of which 500 are english, so simple deduction is that the english rule the UK. The Scots Welsh etc have to tow the line. Without equality there will always be this feeling of being ruled by the english and this desire to separate and stand up on its own. Were the westminster govt to offer a different system where each of the 4 nations to control of their own "domestic" issues, yes england would have its own parliament (not westminster) and the UK national issues such as defence, foreign policy, trident, major capital investment projects, dispersion of jobs and wealth from LondonSE were handled by a truly national UK govt made up of an equal number of "senators" from each country. These senators would be a proportional representation of the parties in each individual nation based on the govt elections within each nation The party with the most senators would provide the Prime Minister, but other offices such as exchequer foriegn office would have to be daw from the overall pool of senators elected, not necessarily from one party. A system such as this would be fairer for all nations. Of course this would mean england foregoing its rule over the rest of us. This maybe unpalatable to the english (especially the upper classes) who are under the impression that they have this right to rule all of the UK. A great many english subconsciously see the whole of the UK as England only correcting themselves if pulled up on the point. Are the english prepared to relinquish this, doubtful. So there you have it, one of the reasons driving independence. Thee scots want to stand on their own two feet, the want to have the control of all of their affairs. Some may argue that we could be worse off, some could argue we will be better off. Who knows, there could be good time and bad times, we all get that now. One thing is sure, any one who puts their faith in what is said from westminster or Cameron is not being well recieved in Scotland. So far all we have heard from the no campaign is you can't do this, you can't do that and are only offering status quo. The polls show the no's in front but are narrowing.

    Report this comment

    Biddim

    Friday, March 7, 2014

  • I'm a Scot fortunate enough to still live in Scotland, though I worked in England for a time when I was younger. I'm not, and never have been, a member of any political party. I'll be voting for independence to make my country a better place to live in. Over the last 35 years, the politics of the UK as a whole have shifted rightwards, and away from the so-called post-war consensus I believe in. Relative to the politics of when I grew up, I see all three main political parties of the UK as being on the right, with little prospect of a moderate swing back left, particularly when the main challenge to those parties is also a party of the right, UKIP. I've always thought of myself as a centrist, but the centre has shifted away from me. The UK is a rich country. Scotland is a very rich country; without even taking oil into account, Scotland earns 99% of the GDP of the UK (per capita). We have lower unemployment than the rest of the UK, and a smaller proportion of our population works in the public sector - despite what we're often told about that. Yet in our largest city, there are some of the lowest life expectancies in Europe and nearly half (47%) of children live in poverty. The UK - and Scotland within it - is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world. Scotland has been mismanaged, on a massive scale, for a very long time. Devolution has helped, but it's not enough. Even before devolution we had a different legal system, a different education system and a different NHS (not widely known, even now, but true). Before devolution, they suffered from UK neglect of their different needs. Devolution has dealt with that issue, but funding levels, and some very major spending priorities in a socialist Scotland are still fixed by a more right-leaning UK's control over issues such as taxation and defence. No matter how much we vote for change in a devolved Scotland, we're still constrained by the preferences of our much more populous neighbour. We can't trust the UK parties to put this right; and with less than 10% of the UK population, we can't pull UK politics in a different direction. Nor, of course, would it be right if we could. The only way for us to change things is to opt out and go our own way. With oil, without Trident, and with the political will for social change, Scotland can aspire to be rather more like our Scandinavian neighbours - some of the happiest, most equitable and richest countries in the world.

    Report this comment

    Dr. Gavin Greig

    Friday, March 7, 2014

  • as a scot living in Aberdeen i thought you might like to hear reasons why Scots seek independence. It is not because of jacobite history nor is ita deep rooted hatred for the english, Having worked with a number over the years most english are on the level but there are always the one or two who are not, this also goes for some scots too, So what could be the reasons, could it be the economic austerity that Scotland and for that matter Wales have endured in the hands of Westminster govt. An austerity that also blights the north of england. Successive govts have failed to distribute the employment opportunities and major wealth outwith London and the SE of England. I know that Norfolk also suffers from this dilemma. That is probably one of the reasons. For myself it goes much deeper than this. The UK is meant to be union of 4 nations, but there is no equality in the governance of the UK across these nations. Look at the demographic of westminster MPs, there are 600 of which 500 are english, so simple deduction is that the english rule the UK. The Scots Welsh etc have to tow the line. Without equality there will always be this feeling of being ruled by the english and this desire to separate and stand up on its own. Were the westminster govt to offer a different system where each of the 4 nations to control of their own "domestic" issues, yes england would have its own parliament (not westminster) and the UK national issues such as defence, foreign policy, trident, major capital investment projects, dispersion of jobs and wealth from LondonSE were handled by a truly national UK govt made up of an equal number of "senators" from each country. These senators would be a proportional representation of the parties in each individual nation based on the govt elections within each nation The party with the most senators would provide the Prime Minister, but other offices such as exchequer foriegn office would have to be daw from the overall pool of senators elected, not necessarily from one party. A system such as this would be fairer for all nations. Of course this would mean england foregoing its rule over the rest of us. This maybe unpalatable to the english (especially the upper classes) who are under the impression that they have this right to rule all of the UK. A great many english subconsciously see the whole of the UK as England only correcting themselves if pulled up on the point. Are the english prepared to relinquish this, doubtful. So there you have it, one of the reasons driving independence. Thee scots want to stand on their own two feet, the want to have the control of all of their affairs. Some may argue that we could be worse off, some could argue we will be better off. Who knows, there could be good time and bad times, we all get that now. One thing is sure, any one who puts their faith in what is said from westminster or Cameron is not being well recieved in Scotland. So far all we have heard from the no campaign is you can't do this, you can't do that and are only offering status quo. The polls show the no's in front but are narrowing.

    Report this comment

    Biddim

    Friday, March 7, 2014

  • as a scot living in Aberdeen i thought you might like to hear reasons why Scots seek independence. It is not because of jacobite history nor is ita deep rooted hatred for the english, Having worked with a number over the years most english are on the level but there are always the one or two who are not, this also goes for some scots too, So what could be the reasons, could it be the economic austerity that Scotland and for that matter Wales have endured in the hands of Westminster govt. An austerity that also blights the north of england. Successive govts have failed to distribute the employment opportunities and major wealth outwith London and the SE of England. I know that Norfolk also suffers from this dilemma. That is probably one of the reasons. For myself it goes much deeper than this. The UK is meant to be union of 4 nations, but there is no equality in the governance of the UK across these nations. Look at the demographic of westminster MPs, there are 600 of which 500 are english, so simple deduction is that the english rule the UK. The Scots Welsh etc have to tow the line. Without equality there will always be this feeling of being ruled by the english and this desire to separate and stand up on its own. Were the westminster govt to offer a different system where each of the 4 nations to control of their own "domestic" issues, yes england would have its own parliament (not westminster) and the UK national issues such as defence, foreign policy, trident, major capital investment projects, dispersion of jobs and wealth from LondonSE were handled by a truly national UK govt made up of an equal number of "senators" from each country. These senators would be a proportional representation of the parties in each individual nation based on the govt elections within each nation The party with the most senators would provide the Prime Minister, but other offices such as exchequer foriegn office would have to be daw from the overall pool of senators elected, not necessarily from one party. A system such as this would be fairer for all nations. Of course this would mean england foregoing its rule over the rest of us. This maybe unpalatable to the english (especially the upper classes) who are under the impression that they have this right to rule all of the UK. A great many english subconsciously see the whole of the UK as England only correcting themselves if pulled up on the point. Are the english prepared to relinquish this, doubtful. So there you have it, one of the reasons driving independence. Thee scots want to stand on their own two feet, the want to have the control of all of their affairs. Some may argue that we could be worse off, some could argue we will be better off. Who knows, there could be good time and bad times, we all get that now. One thing is sure, any one who puts their faith in what is said from westminster or Cameron is not being well recieved in Scotland. So far all we have heard from the no campaign is you can't do this, you can't do that and are only offering status quo. The polls show the no's in front but are narrowing.

    Report this comment

    Biddim

    Friday, March 7, 2014

  • I'm a Scot fortunate enough to still live in Scotland, though I worked in England for a time when I was younger. I'm not, and never have been, a member of any political party. I'll be voting for independence to make my country a better place to live in. Over the last 35 years, the politics of the UK as a whole have shifted rightwards, and away from the so-called post-war consensus I believe in. Relative to the politics of when I grew up, I see all three main political parties of the UK as being on the right, with little prospect of a moderate swing back left, particularly when the main challenge to those parties is also a party of the right, UKIP. I've always thought of myself as a centrist, but the centre has shifted away from me. The UK is a rich country. Scotland is a very rich country; without even taking oil into account, Scotland earns 99% of the GDP of the UK (per capita). We have lower unemployment than the rest of the UK, and a smaller proportion of our population works in the public sector - despite what we're often told about that. Yet in our largest city, there are some of the lowest life expectancies in Europe and nearly half (47%) of children live in poverty. The UK - and Scotland within it - is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world. Scotland has been mismanaged, on a massive scale, for a very long time. Devolution has helped, but it's not enough. Even before devolution we had a different legal system, a different education system and a different NHS (not widely known, even now, but true). Before devolution, they suffered from UK neglect of their different needs. Devolution has dealt with that issue, but funding levels, and some very major spending priorities in a socialist Scotland are still fixed by a more right-leaning UK's control over issues such as taxation and defence. No matter how much we vote for change in a devolved Scotland, we're still constrained by the preferences of our much more populous neighbour. We can't trust the UK parties to put this right; and with less than 10% of the UK population, we can't pull UK politics in a different direction. Nor, of course, would it be right if we could. The only way for us to change things is to opt out and go our own way. With oil, without Trident, and with the political will for social change, Scotland can aspire to be rather more like our Scandinavian neighbours - some of the happiest, most equitable and richest countries in the world.

    Report this comment

    Dr. Gavin Greig

    Friday, March 7, 2014

  • Interesting comments.Good to hear from big Bryan.As an Aberdeen supporter he is part of the squad that made history,a great keeper who just came up against one of the best ever in Jim Leighton. Independence is the normal state for a country to be in. You will have heard so much nonsense about the SNP and its leader Alex Salmond.Well the YES campaign is much much more than that.There is a sizable group from the Labour party supporting independence,there are people from the trade unions there are people from no party. Tom Fitzpatrick's view is just wrong wrong wrong.The union is not a union of equals,why is the British parliament in London if this was a union of equals.Why was there an English army on the border and English ships in the Forth in 1707 if this was a union of equals. It can't be,England is a far bigger country,it was never a union. We just want to make our own way in the world ,like Norway or Denmark. Scotland is one of the oldest countries in the world,we have the oldest flag in the world and we are more than capable of being a successful small country. What about England ??? well no more Scottish MPs voting on English matters,no more arguments about who pays for what. Both countries will be better off rather than this bizarre union we have.Very few people in Scotland consider themselves British after Sept that will be official.

    Report this comment

    Dan Stewart

    Saturday, March 8, 2014

  • Is there a Scot out there ready to argue for independence? If so gives us your views for some balance!

    Report this comment

    Jonny

    Tuesday, March 4, 2014

  • as a scot living in Aberdeen i thought you might like to hear reasons why Scots seek independence. It is not because of jacobite history nor is ita deep rooted hatred for the english, Having worked with a number over the years most english are on the level but there are always the one or two who are not, this also goes for some scots too, So what could be the reasons, could it be the economic austerity that Scotland and for that matter Wales have endured in the hands of Westminster govt. An austerity that also blights the north of england. Successive govts have failed to distribute the employment opportunities and major wealth outwith London and the SE of England. I know that Norfolk also suffers from this dilemma. That is probably one of the reasons. For myself it goes much deeper than this. The UK is meant to be union of 4 nations, but there is no equality in the governance of the UK across these nations. Look at the demographic of westminster MPs, there are 600 of which 500 are english, so simple deduction is that the english rule the UK. The Scots Welsh etc have to tow the line. Without equality there will always be this feeling of being ruled by the english and this desire to separate and stand up on its own. Were the westminster govt to offer a different system where each of the 4 nations to control of their own "domestic" issues, yes england would have its own parliament (not westminster) and the UK national issues such as defence, foreign policy, trident, major capital investment projects, dispersion of jobs and wealth from LondonSE were handled by a truly national UK govt made up of an equal number of "senators" from each country. These senators would be a proportional representation of the parties in each individual nation based on the govt elections within each nation The party with the most senators would provide the Prime Minister, but other offices such as exchequer foriegn office would have to be daw from the overall pool of senators elected, not necessarily from one party. A system such as this would be fairer for all nations. Of course this would mean england foregoing its rule over the rest of us. This maybe unpalatable to the english (especially the upper classes) who are under the impression that they have this right to rule all of the UK. A great many english subconsciously see the whole of the UK as England only correcting themselves if pulled up on the point. Are the english prepared to relinquish this, doubtful. So there you have it, one of the reasons driving independence. Thee scots want to stand on their own two feet, the want to have the control of all of their affairs. Some may argue that we could be worse off, some could argue we will be better off. Who knows, there could be good time and bad times, we all get that now. One thing is sure, any one who puts their faith in what is said from westminster or Cameron is not being well recieved in Scotland. So far all we have heard from the no campaign is you can't do this, you can't do that and are only offering status quo. The polls show the no's in front but are narrowing.

    Report this comment

    Biddim

    Friday, March 7, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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