The Awkward Post About Independence
I have waited a long time before plucking up the courage to write this post. The independence referendum is very, very important to me but I have so many friends south of the border who I don’t want to alienate. From the start then, this is a post about why I want a positive move towards independence FOR Scotland and has absolutely nothing to do with me being AGAINST the English.
I am pro self rule here in Scotland, and anti continued rule by a government in Westminster that the Scottish people didn’t vote for and which holds my country is such little regard we are considered a ‘region’ rather than an autonomous, vibrant nation.
When Tony Blair’s New Labour government won in 1997 I cried. I was so relieved that we had finally got rid of the Conservative government that had done so much harm to the UK as a whole and Scotland and the north east of England in particular. It seemed that barely a day went by without new legislation to right so many of the wrongs of the previous years. But then things seemed to change. The move to the right that I had understood as necessary in order to win the election seemed to continue and by the end of his tenure, Tony Blair was indistinguishable from many of the conservative leaders before him. The best thing about the Blair years was Gordon Brown, a fine economist and a man who did much good for the British economy. After the disastrous tenure of Brown in the top position – he is a man far more suited to chancellor than prime minister in my opinion – we moved back to Tory rule. And I cried.
All the memories of Thatcher’s 80s began to haunt me again: poll tax, miners’ strike, selfish greed and the birth of the “put yourself first” society. I got quite ill again (depression).
We Scots are, my nature, a working class nation – yes, there are many exceptions, I know – and the Scottish National Party took advantage of this and began a subtle move to the left, offering more socially just policies (within the remit of Devolution).
Here in Scotland we have free personal care for the elderly – we look after the people who have contributed to Scotland all their lives, whether that be in paying taxes or helping to bring up the next generation; our young adults don’t pay for their education – we know our nation will benefit from having a fulfilled, educated workforce in the future; our medicines are free – an individual’s lack of money should never have an impact on his health: that’s Dickensian.
These are policies I want to continue. Policies that make my country a fairer and more caring one than that promoted by Westminster.
Do I think that an independent Scottish government is the answer to all of our problems? Definitely not. But I do believe our society would be fairer.
Do I think that Alex Salmond is the only one to lead us? Not necessarily. I have a lot of time for the man. I have met him and worked with him and have found him to be approachable, decent and caring. But I’m going to vote YES for Scotland, not YES for Salmond. I honestly think that if we gain independence, Scottish Labour will become a decent opponent to the SNP and that’s a good thing. I also hope that the Scottish Greens gain more seats.
There are many people out there just now who tell us that independence will cost us £x per annum more in taxes and just as many who say we will pay less. Regardless, these people are comparing apples to oranges. The Better Together campaign tells us that after the divorce we won’t have the same income. They forget, however that it is a divorce and we will be free to make our own decisions about our financial future and not be beholden to an increasingly distant and uncaring partner who never puts our needs first.
*And the old lie about Scotland being a net drain on the economy is just that. We pay more per capita in taxes and provide 25% of the UK corporation tax via the oil companies who are working in the North Sea. Scotland paid for 10% of the overall cost of the 2012 Olympic Games. The Scottish government paid for 80% of the Commonwealth games with Glasgow City Council forking up the remaining 20%.
Many English ‘celebrities’ have signed an open – and very short – love letter to the Scottish people telling us they don’t want us to leave. Not once in the pitifully brief note is there any mention of anything concrete, no word of policies, economy, science or arts, just touchy-feely-new-agey platitudes of “love.” One of the signatories is David Starkey who has, in the past, said:
**“If we decide to go down this route of having an English national day, that means we become a feeble little country, just like the Scots and the Welsh and the Irish.
Once upon a time England was a great country. Remember we’re distinguished by the fact that we don’t have national dress. We don’t make a great fuss about Shakespeare like the Scots do about that deeply boring provincial poet Burns and we do not have national music like the awful bagpipe.”
More recently, of course, the good Doctor also called the First Minister democratically elected twice by the people of Scotland a “Caledonian Hitler” who “sees the English everywhere, like the Jews”.
I’m not exactly feeling the love there, are you?
During the recent debate between Salmond and Alastair Darling, a debate deemed of such little interest to England, Wales and Northern Ireland that it wasn’t transmitted live there, the First Minister was harangued over his unwillingness to detail his ‘Plan B’ for the economy should we not gain a monetary union and lose sterling. He rightly refused to discuss it because there will be no need for Plan B. It is in no one’s interests to deny the Scots access to the pound. To threaten us with it is scare-mongering and I am sickened by that. The Better Together campaign keep telling us how much worse it’ll be if we leave instead of how much better it would be if we stay. They try to tempt us by offering more powers if we decline independence. Firstly, I don’t believe them. Secondly, if they wanted us to have these powers they’d have given them to us long before now and not make it dependent on remaining in our lop-sided relationship with Westminster. I’d have been less insulted if they offered us a lollipop. At least that would have been more honest.
I want a Scotland who puts her people first, a Scotland who is committed to removing Trident from our shores, a Scotland who provides for the most vulnerable in society, a vibrant Scotland where science and the arts can flourish.
These are the reasons I’m voting Yes in September and why I would urge you to do likewise. Thank you for reading.
I’m happy for people to comment on this post as they wish. I won’t publish anything abusive but I will publish calm and reasoned arguments from both sides of the divide. It’s only by discussing our future calmly and sensibly that we can make the right decision. I hope you agree with me but respect your right to believe we are better together.
**As reported by Wings Over Scotland