You may have guessed by my Twibbon that I will be voting yes on September the 18th. Inspired by last week’s #bbcindyref debate I thought it was time for me articulate why I will be doing so. The answer to this one is simple. It’s because I want to live in a fairer, more socially just Scotland, and I believe independence is the best way to achieve it.
For me it’s not a question of nationalism, nor party politics, or even about the oil. Rather it reflects my belief that Scotland will be a better place to live if we are no longer part of the Union. Whilst devolution, and the creation of the Scottish Parliament, has been one of the best things to happen to the country in my lifetime, I don’t think it goes far enough. To address the deep-rooted and persistent inequalities facing our society we need control over the tax and social security system. We don’t have that at the moment. Because of that we’re now witnessing a fundamental dismantling of the British welfare state by the Coalition government. The impact of which has been felt only too keenly by low-income households and communities across the length and breadth of the country. Yet we’re powerless to stop it. This for me is not democracy, nor a union of equals.
In turn, this takes me to the joke about the pandas: a well-rehearsed one in Scottish politics, but pertinent nonetheless. From a Scottish perspective we’re ruled by a Conservative-led coalition government that we didn’t vote for and don’t want. The direction of travel of politics and policy in England truly frightens me. It does not reflect my beliefs, my values or my view of how the United Kingdom needs to move forward. The possible scenario of a government including Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage beggars belief. Yet under the current constitutional set-up that is potentially what we have to look forward too.
The independence referendum however, offers us an opportunity to do things differently; more so than we’ve ever done before. But to achieve this we need to have faith in ourselves as a nation to stand and fall by our own decisions. And we need to also accept the independence is not a one off event; like devolution, it will be a continually evolving process. Much haggling and negotiation would need to be done in the years immediately following a yes vote.
But as Ken Stott quite rightly pointed out on the #bbcindyref panel last week, plenty of other countries have successfully gained independence from the British government. So it can be done if we have patience, faith in ourselves as a people and a nation, and we keep the end goal in sight. That’s not to say it won’t be a bumpy ride.
One final thought. The media and politicians have largely framed the #indyref debate in terms of the economy. But looking only at the economic issues means we may miss the transformative social and political potential of independence. For me that’s where the real prize is. Plus, at any rate we’ll be keeping the pound, currency union or not. It belongs to Scots as much as any other nation of the UK. Given the EU referendum in 2016, I’d say we’ve also more chance of being in Europe as an independent nation than as part of the UK. The real plan B then isn’t about an alternative economic vision, rather it’s about what will Scotland do if we don’t secure independence, and we face another Conservative-led government in Westminster?
Worth pondering folks.
And time to come off the fence I’d say.