I’m finally getting around to the subject of Scottish Independence. I was really a bit lost on how to start this; I mean, it seems like there’s just so bastard much to consider, right? Currency, the EU, welfare… For what seems now to have been a shockingly long period of time, I couldn’t even understand the question. Identifying as I do with the term ‘British’ as much as I do ‘Scottish’, it seemed, well, just unnecessary.
But I’ve done a complete 180 on the issue, and I’ll tell you why. Firstly, the ‘Yes‘ and ‘No’ campaigns have been making the wrong arguments. Once you reject the economic scaremongering and condescension that has been the mark of the ‘No’ campaign, the minutiae of what we’re going to do once we become independent are not important right now – we can make up our mind about those things once we get there. The two sides of the debate have done nothing but argue at each other, when what they clearly ought to be doing is convincing us of their positions.
According to the BBC, the Scottish people agree with me. A recent independent poll shows that questions like the EU, the pound and welfare make little difference to how Scots intend to vote. It also shows that the weight of opinion is shifting to the ‘Yes’ side. So what’s made the difference?
Seeing as I’m one of those swing voters, I hereby present my two cents: Britain has changed wildly since the last general election and the financial collapse; and not much for the better. The Tories in Westminster have instituted Austerity, ostensibly as the only way save the economy. They paid brief lip-service to ‘sharing the burden’, and then went right on and brutalised the poorest and least able in our nation to pay for the recovery whilst granting favours to Big Business. They have failed utterly to make the structural changes required to prevent exactly the same form of crisis from occurring again, and have incentivised the banks to take those same risks again with our futures and our money.
The worst part of it is, that you know that if the Conservatives had their way, it would be even worse; The LibDems have only been able to minimally curb the worst of their excesses. Obsessed as they are with their fake implementation of the so-called ‘free-market’, they have ploughed on with Thatcher’s insane plan to privatise the entire universe. They are busy gutting the welfare state that we fought through two World Wars to win (instead of real reform), whilst using paltry excuses to allow corporate enterprise to steal taxes they owe to us that would dwarf the savings made by fucking over the less privileged. It’s almost as if they really do still believe in ‘trickle-down’ economics. One could be forgiven for thinking that they are deliberately making our public services (the NHS and prison system in particular) unfit for service in order that they might quietly dispose of them without opposition…
We Scots are a socially minded bunch. Just a quick gloss over our voting record in the last fifty or so years unequivocally shows that we vote on social justice issues every time – and that means we hardly ever vote Conservative. Yes, we care about economic issues, but we aren’t stuck in a mindset that allows only greed as the driving force of economic improvement. The United Kingdom’s alignment with the Unites States is, to us, clearly completely barmy and only serves to make our democracy look as deranged and dysfunctional as theirs.
I’ve started to realise that I’ve hated the government of my country for, well, most of my life. Obsessed as they are with Britain’s ‘prestige’ on the world stage, the immature yearning for that sense of superiority, long since departed. That arrogant self-importance that leads us to get involved in insane wars, the blatant disregard for social and economic equality that has been a hallmark of the British political and economic reality since Maggie’s ‘Big Bang’ of ’86. Noticing that we Scots hardly ever vote Tory, I suddenly realised that I too can’t fucking bear the bastard Tories, so why on God’s green Earth should we ever allow them to control our politics again?
Suddenly, I find myself getting excited. Excited at the possibilities, the endless possibilities. I couldn’t care less about what the SNP claims they’re going to do – if they don’t deliver then we can kick them right out the door as soon as we like. The White Paper means little to me, although it does give you an inkling of an idea of what could be possible in a Free Scotland. The ‘No’ campaign seems hell-bent on trying to convince us that poor little Scotland couldn’t possibly do anything by themselves. No, we need the austere guiding hand of Daddy Westminster to steer the course. I, along with innumerable others, find this haughty condescension completely intolerable. We can go it alone. The fact that they are trying so hard to convince us otherwise betrays the fact that they, too, know this fine well. So Downing Street can take their guiding fatherly hand and fist themselves with it. Fuck you.
The economic arguments, as put to us by the self-serving blowhards in parliament are, I think, generally moot. The debt question is settled, so no problem there. The currency issue seems to be largely an issue used by either side to snipe at the other with – it’s not as if we can’t work out the answer to that question after the referendum. Frankly, given the positives of self-rule, if the English want to be dicks about it, then they can fucking have their Sterling.
There is no question that Scotland is large and diverse enough to build an impressive economy. The ConLibLabs in Westminster like to scare us with tales of how we just couldn’t afford the public spending that we currently enjoy. There is indeed a £13bn gap between spending and revenue generation north of the border, so assuming that we kept taxes, spending and incomes at the current level, then they are of course correct – but that’s the whole bastard point; We don’t need to remain at those levels. Higher taxes and incomes have worked well for the rest of Europe, and real reform of the welfare state and proper taxation collection will literally save billions. We will have the chance to re-structure our economy. So what if we’re not part of the sixth-largest world economy. It isn’t the size of the economy that matters, it’s our quality of life that’s important – one only need look as far as Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland and the like to see that.
The issue of currency merges into the question of EU membership, over which there has been some amount of fake furore of late. Listen, Spanish PMs with their own independence movements really can go hang if they expect anyone to take their
statements threats seriously. There’s just so little chance that we wouldn’t be welcomed into the EU with open arms, it’s a non-argument. We would have to re-apply, and that carries with it the burden of adopting the Euro – something which puts the shits right up most folks, somewhat justifiably – but it’s not as if there won’t be transition, nor will there be no negotiating leverage on our part. And as for the ‘stronger negotiating position’ that we ostensibly have as part of the EU, well I gotta say that I think the UK has been a whiny bitch in the EU and I’m embarrassed to be British when I go to the continent because of it. At least we can vote with our conscience, and for that reason our position is stronger, not weaker.
In the interests of making this article of readable length, I shall start to wrap up here. But know, Brothers and Sisters, that we have before us an historic opportunity here, a literal once-in-a-lifetime chance to re-imagine our society. As Salmond said, there is no need for me to choose between British and Scottish – A Scot will still be British, just as a Belgian is still a European. We just won’t be defined by England any more. And to the radicals – if you have longed for revolution, if you have hankered for sweeping change and a restoration of social equality, then I am telling you that right here, right now, you have the best opportunity to effect that change than you will likely ever get. Revolutions seldom end up serving those that instigate them but here we have a real, visceral chance to literally change our future. Let’s do it.