Dear Scotland,

You are about to make an important decision between you, and it would be a “Good Thing” if you made a decision you were later happy with.  To that end, I am going to suggest a couple of things.

Firstly, ignore everything that people are saying about the economy, the pound, being part of the European Union, or cross-border halibut-slapping cooperation.

Secondly, understand that there is actually only one question to ask.  And that question is not “do you want to be independent?”  Nor is it “would we be better off without being ruled from Westminster?”  Nor indeed “should we stay together for the sake of the children?” (Does no one think of the children?)

The question is this: “Are you currently in intolerable subjugation from the UK government in Westminster?”

And I’m serious – that’s the question.  If you go back in history, and you ask the Founding Fathers of the US, you’ll find that they would have answered yes to that (although whether they were, or whether we had a slight disagreement about who paid for the French-Indian wars we’d just won together… well, that’s a different question).  Ireland would have answered that every year from their first conquests, through Elizabethan times, up through that lovely Mr Cromwell, onwards through the 1801 union (yes, George III knew when a new century started, and celebrated by destroying the Irish parliament – that guy knew how to throw a party), and indeed Ghandi never thought “will India be richer without the British?” – no, he knew that it was wrong, it was a “Bad Thing”, to be ruled by a foreign power.  All the African countries followed the lead, and they were right.

We* were a foreign power to them.  [* - by “We” I loosely mean a group of people who in some part were my ancestors and lived in the same geographical location that I do, but weren’t necessarily actually me or my family – I can honestly say I’ve never knowingly subjugated a foreign people]

So are we a foreign power to Scotland?

Now that is an interesting question.  You can’t assume the answer is no just because we’re next door – the Netherlands fighting against France and Spain, Switzerland fighting against apple-hating madmen, and indeed the entirety of Eastern Europe have already settled that fact for us.

It is a little-known fact (now) that Scotland was staunchly Tory until the 1980s.  Something changed.  Something in Westminster.  Something made Scottish Nationalism a genuine power again, and that something was Margaret Thatcher, not least with her “we Scots” speech. Scotland, with its dour attitudes and Knox-ridden outlook, was a hotbed of protestant work-ethic industrial strength.  Thatcher destroyed that, and did it overnight.  She also, at least to the nationalist cause, broke the terms of the Act of Union by imposing a tax (“The Community Charge will be very popular”) on Scotland prior to inflicting it on the rest of the UK.  She planted the seeds of this year’s referendum, and without her the answer to my actual question would be obvious.

So, is Scotland under foreign subjugation?

Well, I don’t know.  Scotland over the last thirty years has become a vastly more progressive country (small c) than England, but importantly possibly not than the north of England.  The north of England has more in common with Scotland than with London, and a break would harden that divide.

In the end, Scotland has to decide.  If it does decide to become independent, I am entitled to a Scottish passport (according to Alex Salmond’s original manifesto), and I will be taking up that entitlement, and would become officially Scottish (because I so enjoy the rugby, obviously).  If it doesn’t, I will remain that weird thing which is sometimes “UK” and sometimes “British”, and sometimes mistakenly “English” (since at the moment that is not a nationality, and as long as Northern Ireland and Wales stick with England, it won’t be).

So, Scotland.  Make your choice.  Make it wisely.  If you have doubts, I suggest doing what I always do with a hard decision.  Imagine yourself twenty-years hence, living with having made the decision.  Will you be able to live with what you’ve decided?  If the answer to that is yes either way, don’t vote.  If it burns in your gut, go that way.  Go that way in good conscience.

But do not vote on whether you’ll have fifty quid more or less, or whether you’ll have the pound, or whether things will be hard for a while.  Any teething problems with currency will be resolved within a few years.  You’re voting for generations to come.  Vote like it matters.

Because it does.