The radical implications of “no”

It’s only two months until Scotland’s referendum. It’s an emotionally charged issue, and I know that some of my friends plan to vote differently than I would like them to. I still want to be friends afterwards, so most of the time I like to consider the matter calmly, almost as if it were just another everyday policy detail. But sometimes a piece of fiery, passionate rhetoric comes along that it just too powerful to ignore.

This article by Peter Arnott in Bella Caledonia is such a piece. Arnott points out that voting “no” in September has implications that are just as radical as voting “yes”:

Every vile piece of Westminster legislation that has attacked the poor and dismantled the Welfare State, every policy that has ensured that it is only the poor who have paid the price of the recession caused by the greed of the rich, every act of economic and social vandalism – it has been the comfortable posture of the well meaning voters of Scotland that none of these things have been your fault. That you didn’t vote for them.

Well, you won’t be able to say that any more.

Up until September the 18th, we have all been able to hide behind all that being someone else’s fault. Either way the vote goes, Yes or No, that comfortable position has already been shattered. Either we vote to take responsibility for our own economics , our own wealth distribution, our own decisions to make war or peace…or we are voting to mandate away control over all of these matters to Westminster forever.

Either way, we will be responsible.

If a Yes voter has to take on board the moral hazard of whatever happens for good or ill in an independent Scotland, a No voter must equally accept moral responsibility for having given Westminster permanent permission to do whatever it likes forever. No questions asked.

Moral Hazard works both ways.

Whatever austerity measures are coming down the line, all those policies that weren’t your fault before September 18th? After September the 18th, they will be your fault. No. Sorry. Every single one of them. Will be your fault. This is the trap that history has set you. And I understand your discomfort. I understand your wanting to wish all this away. But you can’t. You’re stuck along with the rest of us.

(Emphasis mine.)

This is more than just a policy detail; it’s a generational decision. If you can vote in the referendum, this may be the most important vote you will cast in your lifetime. I still want to be friends afterwards, but if you’re planning to vote “no”, please at least read the article.

(Additional commentary on the article over at Wings Over Scotland.)