Tag Archives: Arguments for Scottish Independence

Promises of Additional Powers and the Fire that Didn’t Go Out

It might be tempting to think that the latest promise of additional powers for the Scottish Parliament would deliver the reality that the unionist parties consider to be best for Scotland – a stronger Scottish Parliament within a secure and stable United Kingdom.

Note that until this last minute promise was made, we had been led to believe that the best of both worlds for Scotland was a strong (not a stronger!) Scottish Parliament within a secure and stable United Kingdom. We already had it, we just didn’t appreciate it.

So which is it? Probably neither. It is difficult to understand how the Scottish Parliament could be strong at all when the United Kingdom Parliament retains the right to legislate on any devolved matter it wishes, let alone dissolve the Scottish Parliament within a matter of days if it felt the need to do so.

The offer of additional powers is just a cynical move designed to discourage the people of Scotland from reclaiming sovereignty, without which the notion of a strong Scottish Parliament is an illusion. A strong Scottish Parliament would be a permanent institution serving a sovereign people; that cannot happen inside the constitutional set up of the United Kingdom and there is no point pretending otherwise.

(For example, this is why the unionist rebuttal of the Scottish Government’s warning that the NHS can only be protected within the written constitution of an independent Scotland is misleading – it doesn’t matter if the NHS is fully devolved or not when the United Kingdom Government can still legislate on any devolved matter it wishes to.)

Alex Salmond is a very clever politician and like most clever politicians he often indulges in the type of spin and rhetoric that leaves even the most able opponent unsure if they are coming or going. Despite that, I think he is absolutely spot on this time. The last minute promise of additional powers for the Scottish Parliament is a sign of panic in Westminster.

I remember someone warning me once that you should never turn your back on a fire. You would never know for definite that it had gone out. A fire of discontent has been smouldering across working class communities in Scotland ever since Thatcher dismantled Scottish industry in the 1980’s and used North Sea oil revenues to subsidise this devastating programme of decline.

Successive United Kingdom Governments have had an opportunity to extinguish it once and for all, but instead they all chose to ignore it. A last minute promise of additional powers will only appeal to those too wealthy to have been affected by Westminster’s negligence in the first place, or to those too spooked by the perceived risk of constitutional change. For the rest of us, hopefully the majority of us, that particular fire didn’t go out.

Tagged , , ,

Questions For Darling

In what respect is it better for Scotland that the people who live and work here do not have the right to make every key decision that affects the way we live our lives in this country?

Why is it better for Scotland that we have a permanent democratic deficit with respect to UK Government elections and are never guaranteed to get the UK Government that we choose?

Why is it better for Scotland that the Westminster Parliament holds absolute sovereignty over Scotland and the Scottish Parliament remains a non-permanent institution that could be abolished in a matter of days if the UK Government decided it wanted to do so?

Why is it better for the people of Scotland that billions upon billions of pounds are wasted annually on weapons of mass destruction and fighting illegal wars, rather than tackling child poverty, homelessness and creating meaningful and long term employment opportunities for school leavers, graduates and the rest of our workforce?

Why is it better that the people of Scotland are subject to the UK Government’s stigmatising, destructive and socially divisive welfare and immigration policies, rather than being able to shape our own immigration policies to suit our different demographic profile and economic needs, and our own socially inclusive and universal approach to welfare?

Why is it better for the people of Scotland that the UK Government dictates that Trident is kept in Scottish waters against our will and within close proximity of Scotland’s largest city?

Why is it better for the people of Scotland that we are forced to subsidise the cost of major UK infrastructure projects such as HS2 when the majority of the benefit will be reaped by the City of London, whilst corporation and income tax are effectively rendered optional for multinational businesses and the wealthy elite?

How can it be better for Scotland that the UK government exploited Scotland’s oil wealth to subsidise UK debt and failed to invest a single penny of it in a fund to create a more prosperous future for the people of Scotland?  

In what sense is it better for the people of Scotland that our key decisions are taken for us by a government that has a track record of deceiving the people of Scotland with regard to its oil resources, used Scotland as a guinea pig for unpopular Tory policies and cheated the people of Scotland out of home rule in 1979?

If invited, would you be willing to help negotiate the terms of separation from the UK in the event that Scotland decides to become an independent country, and if so which currency option would you consider to be the right one for an independent Scotland if, as you insist, a currency union is guaranteed not to happen?

Why did David Cameron make a sneaky visit to Shetland this month?  





Tagged , , , , ,

Wisdom, Justice, Compassion and Integrity

The principle that moderate levels of economic inequality encourage growth may hold true in many cases.

However in the United Kingdom, one of the most unequal societies in the developed world, doing nothing to tackle the very high levels of inequality that exist has encouraged the emergence of a society riddled with extremely hard to shift social problems.

The longer it goes on this way – the United Kingdom government will never dismantle the economic and political frameworks that brought us to this point – the less likely things are to get better. So we need to ask the question, seriously, in what respect is Scotland better remaining part of the United Kingdom, when the United Kingdom has been in social and moral decline for generations?

It is one thing to trumpet the temporary trackers of economic success, such as low interest rates, low inflation and low unemployment, as Alistair Carmichael, Secretary of State for Scotland, did today; it is fine to talk about the security, stability and certainty that being part of a larger and more diversified economy offers; but it should never, ever be forgotten that these are the very conditions that have conspired to conceal the true extent of the corporate greed, fraudulent trading and immoral practices that have been propelling the United Kingdom forward for years.

Independence would not be a magic wand, nor does anyone seriously believe that; furthermore, even if an independent Scotland were able to build a new society in which economics and politics had not been granted permanent exit from the moral space of reasons, as is the case in the United Kingdom, other new social problems would be likely to emerge in the future to take place of the old ones.

It is worth reminding ourselves that economic inequality and social injustice, to the extent that we experience them today, are not inevitable, except within states and societies that consciously choose to organise themselves in certain ways; the United Kingdom is an excellent example of that way of organising things.

Although not a quick fix, independence could create the right conditions for Scotland to positively redefine itself and start to eradicate many of our existing social problems. This should not sound too good to be true, but it does. Why is that?

It is partly because we lack the belief that we could be doing so much better as a country, and there are some unscrupulous politicians within the Better Together campaign who are desperate to keep us feeling that way; but largely because some of our most basic economic beliefs and social values are partly constituted by the politically manufactured institutions that have been stubbornly holding the United Kingdom together well beyond its sell by date.

Regrettably, many of us are now at a point where we can no longer make a confident judgement about the authenticity of the beliefs we hold and can no longer recognise that the source of our social values is to be found within the complex web of capitalism, consumerism, cronyism, corruption, elitism, entitlement and greed, that sits immediately behind the façade of security, stability and certainty (the very things we are being asked to choose by the Better Together campaigners!).

Disdain for those living in poverty and needing government help, because they are bone idle and have become an unaffordable drain on our economy; suspicion of those unable to work due to illness, because they are a burden on our elitist society, and probably at it; fear of increasing integration into the European Union, because Westminster would not be able to call the shots and because it permits immigrants employment rights and benefits we would rather they did not have.

Making life as comfortable as possible for corrupt bankers and financiers because their skills are vital to the prosperity of the City of London and elitism is economically efficient; invading other countries because military intervention is required to deliver them a modern democracy similar to our one.

These are politically manufactured bull shit British attitudes.

They are dangerous and manipulative, but they have served an important purpose for successive United Kingdom governments. The question is: do we just keep going along with them because we don’t yet know which currency we will use in an independent Scotland, or how long it would take to process our application to join the EU? Are you being serious?

There is no disguising the fact that many of the institutions we consider to be supremely and quintessentially British were created to justify the United Kingdom’s imperialistic thinking, whilst many others now exist to encourage us to remain subconsciously wedded to the false and damaging world view created in Westminster, and unashamedly promoted by its band of job’s worth politicians, including the ones living it up in Holyrood and still pretending to care, really care, about economic equality and social justice.

It is this world view that still underpins the union today and is the reason why so many of our deep rooted social problems remain, despite all of the showy efforts to tackle them through the use of meaningless initiatives, such as David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’. British politicians have forgotten what the concepts of social justice and equality actually mean, despite their rhetoric to the contrary.

Westminster’s puppets in Holyrood are keen to argue that the Scottish Government already has the powers it needs to eradicate the high levels of inequality we have in this country; it just chooses not to use them. But that is an illusion. It is too simplistic to think this way. Eradicating inequality cannot be achieved by exercising more of the powers we have at our disposal. Nor would further devolution achieve this. It would just be more of the same way of thinking, within the same set of restrictions and the same end results.

What Scotland needs is the confidence and the creativity to think differently about how it organises itself, and the boldness to return economics and politics to their rightful place within the moral space of reasons.

Independence would not solve all of our problems quickly; but it would offer an opportunity to start again, on Scotland’s terms, and with wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity at the heart of what we are trying to achieve.

Tagged , , , ,

Definitely Better Together

The Edinburgh Agreement confirmed that a section 30 order will be laid in the Scottish and United Kingdom Parliaments to allow the Scottish Government to hold a referendum before the end of 2014 to decide the country’s constitutional future.

With very good reason, it has been billed as the most important decision the people of Scotland will have had to make in more than three hundred years.

Notwithstanding the fact that the ordinary people of Scotland had little or no input to the original decision that established the United Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707, the decision to be made in 2014 will indeed be momentous.

Public opinion appears to be divided. Many people in Scotland feel that their strong emotional and cultural ties to the United Kingdom, together with the perceived economic benefits of being part of a larger entity, means that the continuation of the Union must be achieved.

Many have a strong belief in Scotland’s right to determine its own future and regain the autonomy it gave up when it entered into political union with England three hundred years ago; the crux is that only by doing so will the country be able to maximise its own resources and build a stronger economic and social future than it would have if it remained within the restrictions of the Union.

Others are still to be persuaded either way and are likely to delay their decision until more precise details are provided. They may be waiting for quite some time. For most, the decision will be an emotional one and the Yes Campaign and Better Together Campaign will build their arguments around that fact.

It has been said that one of the problems with the Yes Campaign is that it still needs to create a clear and credible account of what an independent Scotland would look like. We are told that the detail will be worked out in due course.

But in the meantime the Better Together Campaign is likely to trade on this lack of clarity and create a feeling of uncertainty around the very idea of independence. It will exploit the fact that many of us are subconsciously reluctant to take a chance on moving towards the unknown, when what we already have is a feeling of security within the Union. We know our place.

Ironically, this is the fear that also lies at the heart of the Unionist agenda – the current economic status, political stability and national security of the United Kingdom will be challenged by the removal of an economically significant and politically important part of the equation.

Facing up to the daunting prospect of having to dismantle the United Kingdom is likely to cause a great deal of anxiety in Westminster. It is likely to throw up many difficult challenges with very few experts around to guide the process. It will be horrendously complex. It will be ridiculously expensive. And it will be psychologically unsettling.

And going by the scare mongering tone of the Better Together Campaign’s arguments, this is the angst that has been shaping their view from the beginning. Their arguments against Scottish independence would seem to reflect their own concerns about dealing with the aftermath, and protecting what they already have as career politicians, rather than a genuine concern for Scotland’s best interests.

The deciding factor for me is simply that every country has the right to self-determination. Through regaining that right Scotland will enjoy the same opportunity that almost every other country in the world enjoys – to make its own decisions and shape its own future; and this includes not knowing all the answers. It includes making mistakes and getting things wrong. That is part of the life of an autonomous nation. It is not to be feared.

That said, I think there is a sense in which we are definitely better together. But I am not talking about the sense promoted by the Unionist campaigners. I believe that Scotland will be better when the people living in this country come together to achieve a common purpose. It is the purpose of making this country better than it has ever been before.

That is the true sense in which we are better together.

Together in an independent Scotland.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,