When I look at the list of people and organisations who support or donate to the No campaign, I don’t need to wonder why such a large part of the British establishment is listed as supporters of Better Together or No Thanks or whatever they are called this week.
The largest landowners and richest people in the UK huddle up together with the unelected unqualified and unsatisfactory house of lords – aided and abetted by the old boys from the most elite private schools in the Tory party, the new money in the increasingly millionaire-ridden Labour Party – and all the other fully -expensed hangers on in Westminster – spouting off about how much they love the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (as the “union” is properly known).
This Union is the one that gives them massive salaries, massive expense accounts, massive tax breaks, and allows them to buy land and houses and sell them on at a vast profit (because they were paid for on expenses) or “flip” them, for tax manipulation purposes so they get even more rich (about 400 people own more than half of Scotland). This is the union that guarantees their inheritances, their investments and their lifestyle. They’re not backing the Union to support you (the people of Scotland) they’re backing it to avoid banking regulation, expenses regulation and proper auditing and legal retribution for abusing the system. They’re backiing the “union” to avoid land reform, higher taxes for the top earners, climate change targets, redistribution of wealth and social justice. They’re backing the “union” to keep trident and its potential replacement as far away from London as possible without making it too hard to get to for the folks that have to work there. They are not doing it for the likes of you, Scotland, ya wee scruff. They’re doing it for themselves.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that I say that Scotland is a recognizable, individual nation as distinct from the states of the rest of the UK. Scotland is distinct from all of the many other countries of the world I have visited in my time (I have lost count) and it is this distinctiveness that deserves recognition as an individual nation, and as such, it (Scotland) should have it’s own voice among the other nations of this planet as an independent sovereign state. Scotland should take responsibility for its own decisions and how it is run – and despite the fact that I won’t be allowed to vote in September (because I live in Australia) I wholeheartedly support Independence for Scotland. This is a view that I have come to relatively recently. I was a staunch “No” supporter as recently as 5 or 6 years ago. Perhaps living overseas and seeing the old country in a fresh light every year or so on family visits has made me take more notice ? And my views have changed for democratic reasons. or rather, because of a lack of democracy.
When I speak of Independence, I do mean full Independence – not some watered down parish council arrangement, which is what Westminster has always envisaged. I am only glad that the Scots are made of sterner stuff than Westminster have the ability to control and they forced the issue to get another chance to choose freedom from the resources drain that is the south east of England – and Westminster, in particular. I am hoping that Scotland votes unequivocally for Independence on September 18th – just for the avoidance of doubt.
In discussions with Scots people both here in Australia and in many other countries over the internet, I have been called many things: “a low-class numpty”, “a working class snob” and “jealous of MP’s who have made a few bob”, but that’s not it at all. Oh, OK – mibbe the first two have foundation. But I don’t begrudge people making a few quid by working at a job that’s well paid – I’ve done that. I can even forgive working the system a wee bit to maximise the benefits. What I cannot forgive is the increasing lack of scrutiny over MP’s and peers in the Houses of Parliament, the deregulation and the absolute acceptance that expenses are there for the taking – and even when they get caught in the act of blatant embezzlement and fraud, they are allowed to keep most, if not all of the proceeds and continue in their position of absolute trust and integrity when they have been proven to be cheats, thieves and charlatans. I definitely can’t forgive that!
The House of Lords is another place where cheats, thieves and charlatans abound. These people are granted expenses and sundry attendance payments for being completely unelected party donors, friends of a government minister or landed gentry and Bishops from the Church of England – Mostly turning up just long enough to register for the attendance allowance and free meals, plus the travel and hotel expenses. Out of the more than 800 peers, the ones who actually stay in the Lords for a full shift are largely asleep on the benches or sitting in the bar building their tab. It is not representative or accountable Government, it is not relevant, and there are no plans to make it such. It is, purely and simply, a gravy train for party faithful.
Westminster MPs are elected on an outdated First Past The Post system which favours the Conservatives and Labour above smaller parties. There are no plans on the table to reform or abolish either the House of Lords or the voting system in the House of Commons. There is a complete lack of accountability – we should be able to recall MP’s and peers who do not perform their duties according to the expected standards or who have been found to be breaking the laws or the regulations. While Scotland’s version of democracy is not perfect, it IS more accountable than Westminster and easier to enact change upon it.
The Scottish Parliamentary elections see smaller parties given a better chance of a say, and the distribution of MSP’s reflects the public vote across the country better than the outdated first past the post system which favours the main two parties in Westminster so much that a party previously violently opposed to coalitions became, toward the end of the 20th century, a party flogging their votes for a share of power in Westminster. It is shameful that the Liberal Democrats did not foresee what was always obvious to voters: that you can only have a share of power if you have the largest share of votes in the coalition. So a few token jobs for some of the boys, but still no power. Life[s a bitch, eh Mr Clegg ?
I hate what the Conservative Party stand for with a passion, (I’m not too fond of the Labour Party, either, lately) but they have every right to stand for election. People have every right to vote for them and even with independence we may still have Tory MSPs. They might even form a government one day, but they would do so having been voted for by the people of Scotland, not imposed upon Scotland by its larger neighbour. The people of Scotland would have greater representation and our own voice as an equal member of the European Union, working for our own needs. That’s not selfish, it’s just responsible, accountable democracy in keeping with the rest of Europe.
The astroturfing organization “Vote No Borders” have got one vital point wrong in their opposition to Independence. There’s always been a border between Scotland and England, and it won’t change if we become independent. Nor will it change if we don’t. Independence isn’t about becoming an isolationist state looking out for number 1, but taking a seat at the family table with our own voice. No one in Scotland wants to ignore the rest of the world with regards to climate change, poverty, war and famine, disease or any other issue which affects us all. Quite the opposite in fact. The Scottish parliament has already proven that it is capable of disagreeing with Westminster in its dealings with the rest of the world. With Independence Scotland would be free of the shackles placed on it by Westminster giving it the opportunity to project a welcoming, open and peaceful ideology and control over its own foreign policy and trade and alliances.
The crux of the modern country-state is that it is a business. Any responsible business partnership would re-assess their agreements at regular intervals and if you and your partners came to realise you wanted different things, then you might discuss which direction you might want to go in search of business and markets when things are no longer working out for you.
The fact that the partnership is over 300 years old and isn’t going so well seems to me to be a perfect reason to reassess the agreement. Three hundred years ago, no-one in Britain had a vote unless they were hugely rich and powerful. People did as they were told by their laird and he did as he was told by the Duke. who did as he was told by the King or Queen – and that usually involved bribes, enticements and usury. Exactly how Scotland became a part of the Union in the first place!
Times have changed and now building or maintaining empires through military aggression and economic sanctions is an option only available if you can carry the voting population along for the ride. The information age has equipped people with more information a lot more quickly than, say in the 1980’s when Thatcher took us into the Falklands, Iraq, and various other wars and military actions that were none of our business – mostly at the behest of a former colony. Having said that, at the time, I supported the troops – I had family involved.
The thing that upsets Westminster most is that the end of the British Empire has come and the final breaking up into individual nations who have their own voices and make their own decisions makes them gag because it signals the end of their gross misappropriation of natural resources, revenue and manpower provided by the colonies – and Scotland was always only that – a colony ruled from Westminster – just like (back in the day) India, Pakistan, Rhodesia, Kenya, the USA, and all the other countries who became independent despite the worst excesses of Westminster in trying to keep hold of them.
I lived in England longer than I lived in Scotland – mainly due to family re-location when I was a young child.
My father was in the RAF and we went where they told us to go, and I mostly didn’t like it at all. I wanted to live in Scotland – my home – with my people. That was taken away from me by having no say in how I ran my life. When I left school, I ran away to Scotland. With the help of my grandparents and Uncles and Aunts, I survived long enough to get through the Heath government that signalled the first tranche of the major destruction wreaked on Scotland by the Tories in my lifetime. Eventually, My parents came to persuade me to move back to England – there was work and opportunity. I succumbed to the pull of youthul ambition and never lived permanently in Scotland again. That was 40 years ago. I lived mostly in England between then and 2010 – including a few more acts of wanton destruction the tories (and labour) unleashed on Scotland.
England is pretty packed. Covering an area of 50,346 sq miles with a population of 53.01 million means there are 1052 people per square mile packed in to this space. Much of Scotland on the other hand, is pretty much empty, with the odd settlement of people thrown in to keep an eye on them and provide shortbread and tweed for rich holiday deerstalkers. With a population of 5.295 million living in an area covering 30,414 sq miles, Scotland has a density of just 174 people per sq mile. This needs to be addressed, but much of the power to do so is reserved by Westminster who are restricting immigration despite Scotlands need to bring skills, knowledge and families to our rural communities, and taxes to our treasury. Much needed funding for re-industrialization is also reserved by Westminster for the close-fought constituencies in England that swing back and forward between tories and labour every election because, as every party leader knows, the votes in Scotland have never, or rarely, affected the outcome of a UK general election – so Scotland and its people do not matter to them.
It is an accepted fact that small, efficient states are more adaptable than larger states, both democratically and economically. The evidence is incontrovertible. Scotland will be better able to grow and change during challenging times, and post-indy, it WILL be challenging. Westminster will do its best to ensure that.
Having said all that, there is nothing certain in Independence, but the opportunity to make a better place is certain and should not be missed. Independence will give Scotland the chance to build a brand new, modern democratic nation that takes care of the vulnerable, the poor, the sick and the homeless. A welcoming country that opens the door to the refugees forced out of their own homes and countries by the gutless, powerful warlords that seem to control the largest part of the second and third world countries, and those that just want to escape the wars and starvation they have no control over. Scots are like that – “mon in, pal. Here – huv a wee swally”. It is remarkable in a positive way that many immigrants in Scotland style themselves as Scots.
Scotland will be one of the wealthiest nations on the planet and that’s before you take into account the oil – either North Sea or North Atlantic (oops! that was supposed to be a secret!). Even with the lowest estimates of GDP, Scotland is already the richest part of the UK apart from south-east England. Scotland is already wealthier per head than France, Italy, Japan and the rest of the UK.
What Scotland needs is not wealth, it is equality. What we need is not to siphon revenues from oil and gas, among other resources off to Westminster, but to re-invest in Scotland – build on the already substantial renewable energy resources, re-invest in the youth and the established workforce to build a skills pool to be proud of. Invest in skilled immigrant workers to supplement, educate and re-skill our own workers to enhance that skills pool. India have done just that to startling effect. Scotland has a big head start on India in terms of where it starts from.
Of all the nearly 60 countries who have become independent from the UK, none have requested to rejoin. 30 countries around the world have become independent nations since World War II ended, and again, none have reverted back to their former union since. It is Scotlands time to be an independent, sovereign nation with the power, the will and the vision to be a great one. Vote yes in September.