I said in a previous post that I would be voting Yes because I loved Britain. This post will explain that assertion.
Bruce Forsyth is nowadays best known as the erstwhile host of a Saturday night BBC dance competition, wherein several people you've never heard of perform unusual dance routines with several other people you've never heard of and are given marks by several people who are famous only for awarding marks to people you've never heard of dancing on the telly.
But back in the 1960's Brucie was king of television variety and well known as a stage performer. Because of his fame and influence, and probably also because he could sing and dance, he became involved in the "I'm Backing Britain" campaign towards the end of 1967. This was a cultural phenomenon that would be hard to imagine happening today - it started with a group of typists who decided to work a little bit of unpaid overtime to help their firm and, by extension, the country. It was taken up by the papers who proceeded to make a bit of a thing of it. For a while it was the biggest story in the country and I can (just) remember stories on the evening TV news telling us which patriotic group of workers had joined the campaign that day.
The campaign was sufficiently high profile that Bruce Forsyth recorded a record about it which quickly became its theme song and was played widely. By a bizarre coincidence, whilst this post was in preparation it was played on BBC Radio 2, quite possibly for the first time since 1968. And I sang along with every word.
Please don't run away with the idea that my remembrance is down to any particularly stupendous feat of memory. The DJ who played the record - the sainted Brian Matthew - let slip that the 45 (ask your mum) wasn't a great sales success, only recording 7,319 copies. But I have one. I didn't buy it in 1968, my pocket money would never have reached to that: in fact I tracked it down just last year. I bought it because I thought that Britain in the 1960's was a great place and I wanted another little souvenir of it.
I've talked before about Britishness before and why what I think the essence of Britishness is long gone. To my mind Britishness is making do and mending, muddling through, being resourceful in tight sitations, having high degrees of self-reliance and independence and generally sticking two fingers up to offcialdom. The state provided the basic necessities of life and we looked after the rest. Then came Mrs Thatcher and consumerism. That's why here in the Repubic we have about 18 electricity companies where we once had the late lamented SSEB. The state should have shrunk but it hasn't. It tracks our movements, reads our private communications, interferes in our childrens' lives. The corporations that were supposed to supply our every need are increasingly dominant and distant, rarely heeding any individual concerns and evermore dominant in everyday life. Our politicians have taken ever more control of our lives, both at national and local levels, and with every election thay have become further divorced from us plebs and the Labour party even went to court to ensure that they couldn't be held to account for election promises.
I want my old Britain back. I want a generally benevolent government that doesn't meddle too much in my life. I want politicians that understand that public service should not be for the purposes of personal enrichment. I want a business environment that encourages enterprise combined with a shared ownership of national infrastructure. In short, I would like a return to something like the Britain of the 1960's.
That's not going to happen in the UK. It's unlikely to happen in an independent Scotland. But when I only have to persuade another 2 million people to think like me instead of another 27 million it's slightly more possible. And when the Scottish population is as engaged in the political processes as it is now, and as enthused as the population of any new country will be, major change is more than possible.
Please help me build a little bit of the real Britain again - vote Yes on the 18th.