Links to the previous days I uploaded today in one go at the bottom of post.
It’s the morning of our return to Edinburgh, we’ve just got 30 or so Kms to Craignure ferry terminal to cycle and the rest of the journey is by ferry and train changing at Glasgow.
Tobermory is a nice village but it rests in a deep bay surrounded by high cliffs and as our hotel was perched at the top of one we didn’t much fancy dropping in to the bay only to cycle the very steep road out. I plotted a route through the streets above the bay to hopefully circumnavigate all steep roads. We set off immediately down but then up turning at the church following the road at the top of the bay which had a spectacular view with sun being distorted by haze and boats moored in the milky flat water of Tobermory Bay. We turned inland, heading up briefly and left which took us down hill to a roundabout where we joined the main road. Breakfast still heavy on our stomachs we took it easy for the next 10 hilly miles to Salen on a nice wide road.
The road eventually turned into a single track and stopped down by the Sound of Mull to out left, an eagle soared overhead, a few buzzards stood watchfully ontop of telegraph poles. We saw many road kills avoiding skilfully. We were tired but the sun was out and going was now good. The road turned into a wide two lane piece of Tarmac leaving the hills behind into level ground. Arriving into Criagnure we stopped and had coffee and read/ browsed the paper/internet.
Papers and headlines have been full of the Scottish Referendum over the past few weeks, we were never far from it on our tour of the western isles. Yes signs adorned the fronts of houses, some of the b&bs and on hillsides where farmers or such like had hiked to tell the world they favoured separation. We passed little No signs and when we did they were in cars perhaps visiting or more rarely in house windows. The larger towns of Portree and Oban had The No camp stalls with activists handing out balloons, stickers and flags. We declined. We never saw any Yes stalls save a Yes shop in Portree. It did seem like the outer isles favoured the yes campaign and why not? They’re further away than most to Westminster, they may not have much to lose in separation or to gain but that is more a presumption than anything based on fact. I’d imagine health care and subsides would be high on their agenda.
The island of Benbecula and north of south Uist seemed to be mainly MoD, what would happen to those jobs and bases in the event of separation. St Kilda even did not escape the UK defence presence albeit in a private contractor for the radar maintenance, keeping watch on the North Atlantic and the military bases in nearby Uists. I can’t help but feel this would be down graded in a separate Scotland.
The train service we got on from Oban and ferry services we took are all subsidised by the government, Scotland or UK I don’t know but that’s a lot of money to keep a small populous moving and connected to the larger islands and mainland. Tourism obviously a big factor in the running of these services but still subsidised. Would a population of 5million be able to keep this subsidy up? I think price hikes would be likely or service cuts.
Is this necessary I ask? From a selfish point of view I see it as a distraction. More should be being done to run the country than to fight a referendum. However the fact that almost 50% want separation means this is a vote worth having. I don’t see myself personally troubled by being governed by Westminster though I do have a good job. I pay taxes and rely on the nhs for the usual but nothing life threatening yet. I’ve seen the good of the NHS though and keeping specialist hospitals are there which may be in England or wales makes the idea of being together worthwhile. Would these still be available in an independent scotland- I think not.
The fact I’m English plays more on my heart than the head, and not wanting to be thought of as an Immigrant in what I class as my own country. I’ve taken scotland to my heart it is a country I love and why I chose to move back up here. I don’t see scotland benefiting from separation.
Cycling around the Hebrides has helped me think about these matters and I’ve not touched on everything here but I couldn’t write a blog post about the journey without mentioning what I’ve been thinking about on this holiday. This is why I’ll be voting No on 18th September 2014.
I’ve even put in thoughts of what happens In the event of a Yes. Well for a start I’ll need to accept it if it was the will of the country where I live and I will need to hope that the people in charge of negotiation do a good job, maintains economic stability, works out what will happen to my UK bank account, UK pensions (I’ve got 4 believe it or not) and help me through any changes I need to make. Lastly I will need to hope my job does not move as my employer is UK wide with most in the rUK so perhaps jobs may migrate away. A lot of hoping in the event of a yes.
Links to the previous Days I uploaded today in one go.