Category Archives: Referendum 2014
It’s no secret that I’m a steadfast supporter of Scottish independence. If you thought it was a secret, see this post here on why I do. You can also read this piece I wrote for National Collective in August. (NOTE: as of Thursday, 11 April, the second link will take you to a blue screen with a brief statement about legal action. The ‘Better Together’ campaign initiated legal action after National Collective posed questions about the ethics of their (Better Together) accepting a large donation from Ian Taylor. None of those questions received a response. Instead, the actions of Better Together were to threaten and silence the opposition rather than engaging in candid discussion about this very important topic. The National Collective website should be up and running again in a few days.)
UPDATE: National Collective are back, and they have something to tell the world about free speech in Scotland. We Will Not Be Bullied
Since we’re on the topic contained in my little parenthetical above, let’s start there!
5. The Best Offense is…Threats?
Not only have I yet to see a compelling argument to keep Scotland in the union aside from the perceived powers of political benefit Scotland receives from being part of a larger whole, but the fact that Better Together resort to threats and legal actions when they are questioned brings up a slew of other issues.
If you have a case for a No vote, make it. Engage. Create positive dialogue. And when you accept a huge donation from someone with a lot of gray areas in his background and refuse to answer legitimate questions about his ethics — well. That does nothing for your case.
The fear tactics and scaremongering within the No campaign have been rather remarkable, from saying Scotland will lose its standing in the EU, to not being able to use the pound, to not keeping rights to Scottish oil and natural gas. Most of these questions have already been addressed to some degree by now, but the tactic continues to be the same.
Here’s a less mild example from UK Prime Minister David Cameron. This one boils down to “if Scotland becomes independent, she’ll lose all her defence jobs.” Because an independent Scotland would just let defence go hang? It also adds in the “Scotland only matters to the world because she’s part of the UK” spiel that carries that friendly little flavour of condescension.
Defence jobs DO matter. But an independent Scotland would need her own defence.
Uncertainty. Indefensibility. Economic instability. These words ALL sound big and loomy in a recessive world economy. The message overall is that Scotland can’t survive outside the UK and wouldn’t be able to go running back to Mummy London.
A decision for a Yes or No vote ought not be based on threats or scare mongering. Scotland indeed is in possession of a unique opportunity to succeed as a small, great nation on the world stage. By silencing opposition and failing to provide a positive, progressive alternative to Scotland becoming independent, the Better Together campaign fails to make a case for winning the votes they desire.
Just because something is complicated doesn’t preclude its value. So far, the Yes campaign has provided a more positive picture of what the future of Scotland could be.
4. Have a spare room? We’ll tax that.
The Bedroom Tax. For Americans reading this, it might sound like a bit of a joke — and most Scots agree. Except it’s not a joke. It’s a real tax imposed by Westminster this year.
The basics of the Bedroom Tax are this: they slash the housing benefit for people who have one or more spare rooms in their home by 14% and 25% respectively. The estimated cost to citizens? Upward of £14 per week, according to the Guardian. David Cameron calls it the ‘spare room subsidy.’
Oh, and this tax will hit the poor the hardest.
Austerity measures have already resulted in an increase of homelessness in England. So what do Scots think about the Bedroom Tax?
According to this poll, 58% of Scots think Cameron should scrap the Bedroom Tax altogether. (I’ve seen data that suggests this number to be MUCH higher, but I am having trouble re-finding the source. If you have one, let me know, and I’ll update.) But Westminster imposed the tax anyway, which could lead to evictions among low-income citizens.
3. How do you feel about…nukes?
Trident. This is the installment of nuclear-armed submarines at Faslane, just outside Glasgow.
Glasgow is, incidentally, Scotland’s largest city.
The vast majority of Scots oppose nuclear armament and the location of these nukes, which Westminster doesn’t want in England for ‘safety reasons.’
So, they can’t go in England, because it’s unsafe. But it’s fine to plunk them in the Clyde outside Scotland’s largest metropolis.
Yeah, most Scots think that’s wonky as well. But they’re stuck with it until either independence or convincing Westminster to plop the nukes somewhere else. (Which will happen. I’m sure. Really. Just ask them. I’m sure they’ll be amenable to moving Trident to England. Or, you know, Wales. I’m sure the Welsh would love it.)
And let’s not forget that David Cameron has brought North Korea into the Trident debate in another little bout of ‘or else’ politics, saying that the UK needs the nuclear deterrent.
It’s no secret that the Scots lean farther to the left than their English counterparts.
With the Tories enacting austerity measures (like the aforementioned Bedroom Tax) and slashing public programmes and welfare, Scots will be affected as much as anyone else in the UK — but they’re least in favour of these measures.
Scotland values its healthcare, education, and benefits services. While devolution and the creation of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood have allowed for some greater control over certain things, Scotland is still subject to Westminster for its revenue.
All of these issues are important. Trident. How the No campaign does its campaigning. The effects of austerity under a Conservative Westminster. The Bedroom Tax. But all of this is secondary to the final reason…
And that’s this:
1. Scotland’s future should be in the hands of Scots.
See that big yellow and red chunk at the top of the island? That’s Scotland.
Within the UK, Scotland is ruled by Westminster when it comes to important issues like Trident, immigration, and more.
And how many Scots voted for the party that is in power in Westminster?
Only 15% of Scots voted Conservative in the 2010 election. Which means 85% of them voted against the party that now leads the United Kingdom, and by proxy, erm…them.
Scotland’s future should be decided by Scots. When 85% of your country wants something different, it ought not be ruled by that remaining 15%. That’s not democracy when you look at it on that level. If the map were more spotted with blue, if the Scots were more scattered on these central issues — maybe it would make a more compelling argument for remaining within Westminster’s domicile.
But it doesn’t. And if Scotland remains in the United Kingdom, her interests will continue to be sidelined by her more populous neighbour to the south. That’s just democracy in action when your country is part of a larger entity. Westminster acts for the betterment of England more often than Scotland because well, most of the people on the island are in England. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that Scotland has its own views, its own needs, and its own legitimacy as a country. And it doesn’t rule out the benefits of self-determination, nor does it preclude the assertion that Scottish issues aren’t addressed as well as they could be within the United Kingdom.
This isn’t all about who gets the North Sea oil and gas.
It’s about the citizens of a great country having the right to decide their own future.
Scotland should be independent.
I won’t be allowed to vote on the referendum. Everything in this article is my opinion or based on articles from reputable reporting agencies, with sources stated to the best of my (fairly lazy) ability. You can feel free to check these things out yourself if you’re feeling feisty. I’m not a Scot by passport, but I’ve spent a lot of time there, and I have a vested interest in Scotland’s future. Namely, I would like to move there. If you have any questions about Scottish independence, feel free to ask and I’ll try to answer. If I can’t, I’ll refer you to someone more qualified.
Here’s some more light (ha) reading on the subject for your perusal.
No, no. No charming pet stories or little ginger cats trying desperately to reunite with a pug-nosed pup. Although that would be cute.
The other day I posted about the race called the 400 meter hurdles. A lot of the world likes to look at life as a marathon, and that’s fine. I’m okay with savouring the journey here and there every day. But at the same time, there are some goals that require more than a leisurely pace to achieve, and emigrating to Scotland is one of those goals for me.
My writing? Marathon.
Financial solubility? 10K.*
Traveling the world? Marathon.
Starting my new life in Scotland? 400 meter hurdles.
It’s a sprint by necessity. I have a deadline because I’ve always had a deadline. By the time I’m 30. Which is a couple years from now. Why 30? Because I want to raise my family there. And because I don’t want to uproot even toddlers that much. My children will be born in Scotland (where I can have a proper midwife, thank you), and we will build our lives there.
(Spouse is, of course, a full backer of this plan. He dislikes hot weather, loves scotch, and gets gleeful about golf. He’ll be just fine.)
So the next couple years will be a sprint. A sprint to reduce our debt (or eliminate it as much as possible). To save money to ensure we have a good cushion upon arrival. To figure out what steps are necessary. It might see me beginning doctoral study while Spouse teaches music. Who knows? The next two years will be full of hurdle jumping. Money being the most common.
Or maybe I’ll win the lottery. Ha.
No matter how difficult it is or how much my legs burn after all this running, it must be done. I want to be part of building a new Scotland. I want to be there, no matter what happens in 2014.
Running the 400 meter hurdles is about finding balance as well as speed. It’s about maintaining your current life and juggling other goals so you don’t fall on your face when a hurdle shows up in your path. It’s about moving forward in spite of setbacks.
I already work about 50 hours a week between my “job” and writing. I’m about to up that even more as I start my Mary Kay business (today!). Call me crazy (I prefer “driven”), but if this is what it takes, this is what it takes.
And I’m going to learn Gaelic. I taught myself Polish — I can learn Gaelic in two years.
Now. After all this goal-toting and revving my engine, I have to go to the salon and buy a specialty shampoo to rid myself of an obnoxious sticky hair issue.
Pardon me while I pull a Spike and fall over after my monologue.
I’ll leave you with a lovely tweet I received from a Scot whilst discussing Independence and my future emigration:
I’ll keep that in my sights. 🙂
While I’m off dealing with the mundane, what are you sprinting toward?
*Note that “financial solubility” means something different to me than to most of my countrypeople. I grew up in a barn with no toilet. I have a slightly different standard of what this means than the average American in a McMansion wondering why they can’t afford a second Lexus.
I came across a very interesting blog today, posted by Blair Jenkins of the Yes Scotland campaign for Scottish Independence.
I want to quote a few lines here, but then I will direct you over to the site for the remainder of his thought-provoking post.
Earlier this week, I caught up over a beer with a friend and former colleague from BBC and STV days, Ron Abercrombie. Ron is an enthusiastic Yes supporter who raised the interesting question of what the anti-independence campaign would look like if Scotland had remained independent and the vote in 2014 was on whether we should now join the union.
Please read the rest of this article by Blair Jenkins here. (The remainder of this post is my own commentary. I am unaffiliated with the Yes Scotland campaign or Mr. Jenkins himself. My words and my views are my own. The above quote was written by Blair Jenkins on the Yes Scotland blog.)
So much of the focus of this debate has been directed at Scotland to prove why she should have autonomy. To prove that she could handle independence, and that her people are capable of governing and supporting themselves.
I personally find the subtext of that focus to be more than a little insulting.
It insinuates that Scotland’s people cannot be capable enough to run their own country, and that they ought to leave the governing of vital issues to Mumsy in London. Scotland is not a child, and her people are far from incompetent.
Jenkins brings up a very good point — what independent, sovereign nation would vote to:
- have their government hundreds of miles away
- have their people represented only as a tiny minority
- allow a massive nuclear arsenal to be located a stone’s throw from their largest metropolis (when the majority of voters oppose nuclear weapons)
- relinquish all control over immigration
- hand over their citizens to fight in illegal wars the voters oppose
- provide huge amounts of energy, oil, and natural gas from which they will see little profit or gain and render said profit and gain to another country
- remand control of healthcare and education to a nation seeking privatisation
- live under a government 85% of voters are diametrically opposed to
It sounds absurd.
It sounds like America in 2000 getting stuck with George W. Bush when the bumbling Electoral College plunked him in the Oval Office — if he’d lost by a margin of 85%-15% instead of the slimmer margin of popular votes he received.
It sounds like a joke.
It’s not a joke.
Most Scots oppose nuclear warfare and weaponry. Most Scots are much farther left on the political spectrum than their English counterparts. Scotland’s people deserve a government that reflects their values, their hopes for the future, and the dignity of their unique history. They deserve to be an equal partner on the world’s stage instead of having their interests brushed off as a fringe minority.
If there is a clearer example of why any nation on earth should be independent, point me toward it. The Kurds and the Palestinians are stuck in a much more violent version of this tale.
Scotland deserves the right to chart her own course.
As a voter, would you choose to live under a government so drastically differing from your own views and so oblivious and dismissive of your needs? Would you vote to have projects you find abhorrent sheltered on your doorstep? Would you vote your countrypeople into a war you find immoral and illegal? Would you sacrifice the social values you hold for someone else’s prerogative? Would you allow politicians to cut off programs that entice bright, educated people to migrate to your land when your cities are undergoing a brain drain?
If you answered yes to any of those questions at all, I would sincerely like to know why.
From immigration to nuclear development, energy to education, Scotland differs from its southern neighbour in many distinct ways. If Scotland were still an independent nation today and the question raised was whether she ought to join England, Wales, and Northern Ireland — would her people find that the best route? Or would they give a respectful shake of the head and raise the saltire to fly with pride?
- Battle to Free Scotland From British Money Power Heats Up (investmentwatchblog.com)
- Scottish independence: Yes campaign chief turns the question on its head (scotsman.com)
- …The Brave (emmiemears.com)
- Scottish independence: Three-quarters of Scots back SNP U-turn on Nato membership (scotsman.com)