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.
Sixteen years ago today, Buffy’s first episode aired.
I didn’t have a television for most of the time the series was on, but I still remember the summer I first got into it. I’d just gotten back from Scotland and moved in with a total and complete Buffy fanatic who was in the middle of a rewatch.
It only took about two episodes, and I was hooked.
So this month, in honor of the sixteenth anniversary of Buffy’s arrival in Sunnydale, I’d like to dedicate my blog to the show that became one of my favorite stories ever told.
Stay tuned this month for plenty of Hellmouth hijinks!
The fabulous Jae Dansie over at Lit and Scribbles celebrated her 100th post the other day — and she made me into a comic!
So it made me think that today might be a good idea to demonstrate why she drew me holding that sign! Here’s a post from a while back for all you newcomers. Enjoy!
I ought to start this with a disclaimer. I do not hold a British passport; I am not a subject of the Queen. I will have no legal right to vote on this subject in the autumn of 2014. But it matters to me.
I hope one day to make my home in Scotland. I would like to raise my children there. I want to bring my family back to to the land of my ancestors. There are Scots on every branch of my family tree. Some of them are closer to the trunk than others, but they’re all there. Since 2004, I’ve spent a lot of time in Scotland. The first time I ever went, I was alone. It was me, a large rucksack, and two months that changed my life.
The north-west point of mainland Scotland, John O’Groats.
I spent over eight weeks there that summer. Listening, learning, absorbing. I saw everything from misty glens to sheer faced cliffs. I climbed Ben Nevis and visited chambered cairns and standing stones. But what I recall most about that trip were the people.
From the Glasgow cabbie who cheerfully bid me “Welcome home!” when I told him I hadScottish ancestry to Robin, a young man from Rothesay, who took me out with his friend Neil to fly on the beaches of St. Andrews — they accepted me and welcomed me. Kind and gracious and welcoming are the Scots.
It’s on this beach I tried to fly. Parachute. Harness. Gust of wind. 20 feet in the air only to be dropped on my arse. I washed it off in the North Sea and found sand in various orifices for weeks to come. Weeks. Thanks, Robin and Neil.
That land snared me so tight that I found ways to go back year after year. At Christmas in 2006, a few New Zealanders introduced me to the Scottish band Albannach. Albannach means, quite simply, “Scottish” or “Scots” in Gaelic. Their music is reminiscent of a time when drums served to make you dance, to make you fight, to stir your soul. From the first strains of Donnie’s pipes, they caught me. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet them several times and to see them live more times than I can count now — they breathe a fiery passion for their homeland, and they believe that a Scot is a Scot, even unto a hundred generations.
Even then, I’d seen Braveheart. It’s a romanticized portrait of a violent former time, to be sure, but the facts as they are remain unmolested. William Wallace was a hero. He led the Scots to many victories and a few losses. Some of those victories, like that at Stirling Bridge, were brilliant displays of tactics and courage by the outnumbered Scots. And it remains that Wallace paid for Scotland’s freedom with his blood and a horrific, torturous death long beforeRobert the Bruce was able to rally his countrymen to victory on the field at Bannockburn.
The Wallace Monument at Stirling. The bridge is long gone, but you can see Wallace’s sword at the top of the tower.
Robert Bruce himself is a paragon of Scotland’s heroes — and a bit maligned by Braveheart’s writers. He saw Scotland freed, and she remained thus for four centuries.
It should be noted, in the interest of fairness, that Scotland’s greatest enemy has — at times — been her own rulers. Nobles wooed by prospects of English titles or land, lured by empty promises at the expense of those who had no voice.
While doing my research on my family, I found a line of Scots that people on Ancestry.com were quick to believe came from the Earl of Panmure. It was exciting to think that perhaps I came from some noble house — but the facts didn’t line up. Some were content to leave those gaps unfilled, but I’m not. That Scot, with all the other Scots on my tree, was most likely a peasant. A crofter or a farmer, and likely no one of note. Indeed most of my Scottish ancestors had no voice. They were subject to the whims of their rulers, and I’ve no doubt that the political machinations of the time are what forced my forebears from their homeland.
For the first time, the people of Scotland have a say in what becomes of her. They didn’t have much of a choice when James Stuart, sixth of his name, landed on the thrones of both Scotland and England. They didn’t get to vote on the Act of the Union in 1707, and many Scots dissented — and were forcibly put down.
Monument at the Culloden Battlefield, where hundreds of Scots died fighting to return a Stuart to the throne. The battle was nearly a massacre in proportions, and what followed was brutal retaliation against the Highlanders.
Three hundred years have passed since then.
This time round, there is a chance for Scotland’s independence to come without bloodshed. This time round, I doubt it will come to that. I can most sincerely and fervently say that I hope it will not. The basis of my belief in Scotland’s independence is one of principle. Scotland is a discrete nation with a distinct culture and history. Why should she not have self-determination?
It bears mentioning as well that Scottish history is not the national history taught in Scottish schools. Scottish children learn British history, which is by and large an Anglocentric pursuit. I think that if more Scots had grown up learning more in-depth about her long and fascinating story, there would likely be greater support for independence. As children progress past primary school and onto secondary, a bit more emphasis is placed on Scottish history and identity, but it’s not the same.
I remember how I felt when I found that certain parts of American history had been glossed over in my classes. History should be the property of the people. It affects us and the choices we make.
From a political perspective, a split of the United Kingdom would be difficult. Would Scotland retain membership in the European Union? What would happen to the North Sea oil reserves? What would change? Would they get to keep golf? (Okay, that last was a joke.)
Those who are against Scottish independence say that the United Kingdom is more prosperous as a whole and that membership therein does not compromise the individual identity of its member nations. But under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which the UK has signed), Scotland has a right to self-determination if she so chooses.
Scotland of course benefits as a part of one of the world’s major powers — but what if the status quo in your country’s foreign policy grossly diverges from your wishes? Such was the case in the last major election in the UK, with the Conservatives (Tories) winning on a national scale (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) when in Scotland they garnered a tiny 15% of the vote. Yes, you read that right. 85% of Scotland did not vote for the current UK government, but they don’t have the option to get out of it. Scotland is significantly more liberal than England, and when your country has five million people to your neighbor’s whopping 59 million, your voice gets lost in a very large crowd.
It’s difficult to be objective in a case like this, but then I’m not trying to be. I’m merely trying to express an opinion and give a few reasons for it.
I believe that Scotland should be free. She should have the chance to go it alone and make what she can of this new era. Her people are capable, hardworking, generous, and kind. They have eked out a living on a hunk of largely barren rock for ten thousand years. They have fought back superior forces and given us people like David Hume, Alexander Graham Bell, Alexander Fleming, Andrew Carnegie, Robert Burns, Adam Smith, Kirkpatrick MacMillan (Like bikes? He invented them.), Craig Ferguson, Julie Fowlis, and many more.
Why do I care about all of this? I guess it comes down to who I am. I am a Scot. What makes a Scot? Is it blood? Yes. Is it ancestry? Yes. Is it birth? Yes.
But beyond all those things, I think what makes a Scot is a passion for the land, her people, and her heritage. It’s the beauty of her languages — the cadence of Scots and the fluidity of Gaelic. It’s her haunting stories, lively reels, whirling jigs and the piercing sound of the pipes. It’s a belief, in her history and her perseverance. It’s hope for her future. It’s fire and passion born of rock and rain.
Even if you don’t support the coming referendum, a Scot can be any of those things and all of them. I am one. MacLennan and MacLachlan, Maule and MacMillan, Brown and Hamilton, Taylor and Mears. By blood and bone and the stories passed down from my ancestors who never forgot where they came from — I am one. And this Scot happens to believe that Scotland is a living place, and she must and shall go free.
Rainbow over Loch Ness — one of my favorite moments ever.
The aforementioned Scottish band Albannach are offering a new album entitled The Independence EP for free on their website. If you click the image below, you’ll be taken to the page where you can download it.
Click the image to be taken to Albannach’s website, where you can download this EP for free.
They are a band of patriots, people who genuinely believe in Scotland’s ability to govern herself. One of their dear friends, writer and historian David Ross, passed from this world two years ago. His life was a testament to that belief and will not be forgotten by any of us who were lucky enough to have met him.