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.