‘Twas the night before independence…

17 09 2014

I haven’t written about the Scottish independence campaign before now because so many others have done so before me and considerably better.

I’m writing tonight, the night before the referendum for posterity. To remind myself what it is I’m voting for and why.

I’m voting YES.

I’m voting yes for a number of reasons, I’ll probably forget some in my list.

Mostly I’m voting yes for my daughter and any children she may have, and their children, for whom the idea of being governed by another country should be as alien as foodbanks. I don’t expect a Scottish utopia or immediate changes. I wouldn’t even be surprised if things got a little challenging for a while. The real benefits of independence won’t be experienced until my daughter is an adult. I’d hope that includes a free higher education for a mind that already shows signs of heading to university. I don’t want her starting life with £60k debt. Yes I do believe society has a responsibility to educate.

Each of my reasons for voting yes relate back to my daughter in one way or another. I want her to experience true democracy. No one who considers Scotland a country in it’s own right can believe the current political situation is democratic. We sometimes get the government the country votes for but always we get the government England, c.85% of the electorate, vote for. If a country is unhappy with their chosen government then they should have the pinnacle of methods accountability at their hands, the ability to vote that government out should they fail to deliver. With less than 9% of the electorate of the UK, Scotland can never do this without the help of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. If we don’t vote for Tories & England does, we get Tories & we have no power to hold them accountable because we have none (or one) to remove from their seat in the commons. A country should control it’s government.

I’ve heard the argument that we already have our own parliament dealing with devolved issues but this doesn’t give us any control over social security, defence, foreign affairs or even the budget we receive from Westminster. Now the Westminster budgets are a little strange. Why pay all our tax to London to be given a little bit of pocket money back? Our funding will be cut, I have no doubts about that. We’ll pay the same if not more in taxes and get less pocket money back. We all know how funding cuts will affect services we currently have. This will eventually lead to NHS cuts. Westminster parties are right when they say that Holyrood is responsible for our devolved health service spending but we can only spend the pocket money we are given. If that’s cut, inevitably the nhs will come to be cut. There are only so many police, social care and education etc cuts we can take before the nhs is highlighted for its share of cuts. It’s disingenuous for Westminster to claim that’s not in their hands, it may be indirect but they hold the purse strings. I do love the NHS

This leads to another reason, I firmly believe the money we give to London to be spent on trident and illegal wars we don’t want to get into, could be better spent on more progressive and productive things like health, education and social security. I don’t want nuclear bombs on my doorstep. I don’t want my daughters life in the hands of megalomaniac millionaires with their finger on a red button. When I was a child, my parents took me on CND marches and I’ve grown up opposed to nuclear weapons. I don’t want them here, they’re not a deterrent, they’re a target. They need to go. Not down south but be gone forever.

And while still on about money. I don’t give a shit what currency we use. Like it or not we live in a capitalist world, there will be a solution be it currency union, sterlingisation, smackerooni or dust bunnies – too many people want to shaft us for all we’re worth to let us relax in an egalitarian bartering society.

The same theory applies with banking and supermarkets and other businesses threatening us in the event of a yes vote. Capitalism won’t sit and wait for them to catch up. Someone else will come along and take over. For banks I hope it will be credit unions, for shops I hope there is a regrowth of independent traders. People will always want to make money. At it’s most basic, capitalism allows for competition – let the banks go. Let asda raise their prices, people will take their business elsewhere.

Now everyone goes on about the bloody oil. Either we’re bathing in the stuff or it’s running out. It’s been running out since the day we took the first barrel. That’s no surprise… In my opinion, the oil is a bonus but not something to build a country on. We have a good percentage of Europe’s renewable energy in Scotland, we should be looking to that for the future, let oil be the cherry on the
cake, not the main ingredient.

Talking of cherrys on cakes. Lots of campaigners believe independence will rid Scotland of the Tories. As nice as that would be, I don’t believe this to be the case. Prior to Thatcher, Scotland was a fairly conservative country. I don’t think everyone here is an anarcho communist or even remotely socialist. We are generally a country that seeks a fairer society but true democracy will give the Tories equal chance to lay out their positions and some will prefer them to the alternatives. Similarly I am not and never have been an SNP supporter. I can’t say I never will be but I highly doubt it. I currently like the Greens having been abandoned by labour. An independent Scotland with it’s fairer electoral system will allow smaller parties access to parliament & the chance to grow & govern.

Acht there are probably many more reasons but it’s late so that’s it for now…





Open Letter to Alex Salmond & Co.

29 01 2012

Dear First Minister Alex Salmond & co,

I applaud raising the issue of Scottish independence and by asking such questions of the Scottish people, we have the chance of dictating real and positive change in their political and economic future. However, and there is always a ‘however’ in this kind of situation where spin quickly overtakes reality, we are left completely in the dark regarding independence and any other options such as devo-max. You are asking too much of the Scottish people (and we’re really not as daft as we look) to expect us to just trust you, a politician nonetheless, on an issue that affects every inch of our political and economic future.

I am excited by the prospects of the alternatives to the union but without knowing what EXACTLY is on offer and how EXACTLY we get there, you are asking too much of me and my fellow Scots. WHAT DO YOU ACTUALLY PROPOSE BEYOND THE PHRASE GAINING INDEPENDENCE?

I do not believe Westminster and the Government of the United Kingdom represent me and my country fully. I can see many benefits of independence or devo-max, but what i am thinking of is not necessarily what the politicians of the country are thinking of and until I see a road-map to independence in front of me, complete with legal competence, to ensure for example the majority of north sea oil belongs to the Scottish people, then I cannot vote in favour of it.

Talking of legal competence, I would like Scotland to be openly consulting not only with UK but also with international lawyers on this matter and for the response to be made public. United Kingdom legislatures are not appropriate as all sides will find the wording in favour of their campaign. But this isn’t necessarily about legality. This is not about who has competence to hold a referendum. It is about the future of around 6 million people. This is about the breaking of a union brought about through a treaty, this is higher law than merely Westminster or Holyrood and their respective government dictates.

It is oft quoted that the people need to decide the future of Scotland. I wholeheartedly agree. We need to know that what the 6 million human beings want BUT before we know what we want, we need to know what is on offer to us.

You ask me to follow you blindly but centuries of doing so with Westminster have led us into the darkness. We have an opportunity at light but I don’t want to see a rope dangling in front of me that is out of my reach. I do not want more unfulfilled or unfulfillable promises laid out in front of me. I don’t want to be continually striving for the light but it continuing to get further and further from me.

I do not like carrots, and the stick you dangle bearing one does not entice me. I need more. I need an informed choice.

Show me that you mean business and are not just talking through your well fed cake-hole. Show me that Scotland can and will survive and remain economically viable with legitimate proof not just conjecture and mibbes. Show me that a future independent Scotland can be based on openness, honesty and above all reality. I cannot stress enough the importance of reality in this situation. We may be surrounded by clouds but our heads need not be permanently stuck there.

Independence is a dream and until the people of Scotland can be shown the facts and figures pointing to the reality, this is going to remain an unwinnable battle fought out in the media by the media. This is not a battle for newspaper editors to fight. Why are you letting it be the case? People will not walk into the unknown, they would prefer to remain with what they know is safe but unacceptable. Yet you are not showing us your plans or that your plans are realistic and attainable. You are asking the impossible of the people who can make this a reality. Lets stop talking fantasy.

The unionist battle strengthens daily as you do not offer the information people require to vote for independence or an alternative devolution. We are not asking you to look into a crystal ball and predict our future with precision but we cannot vote on some half-baked idea of independence without a plan to get us, and more importantly keep us, there.

The longer the ridiculous media circus plays out in public, the less likely your chances of winning a fair battle are. I don’t want people to vote because the Daily Mail called the Scottish people names or because the unrepresentative government at Westminster pissed us off, I want them to vote in favour of change because it is what we need. As yet you have not shown us this is what we need or why we need it.

I’m not alone with my concerns.

With the sincerity of a politician,

Grumpyhatlady





An independent Scotland or a listening Britain?

6 05 2011

This is just a bit of a brainfart based on what’s going on in my head after the elections. Opinion rather than a heavily researched blog…

How exciting were the 5th May 2011 elections?

Not very.

For years I was a labour supporter, as were my parents. The socialist element and the consideration for education and state were important to us. Well Labour pretty much fooled the chattering classes by dressing up as warmongering Tories in red and so my family turned our attention elsewhere, long before the bankers cocked up our economy.

The Liberal Democrats spoke a good game leading up to the General Election of 2010 but now we all know how they shafted their voters by climbing into bed with the Tories and then their true colours shone through. Their desire for power, that they would never get on their own, was greater than their desire to keep their promises to their voters. It’s a shame really as they had the potential to grow more influential but failed. Oddly the British public, fearing the unknown or just not listening to the newspapers of the time didn’t vote en-masse for the LibDems at the General election as expected. Perhaps they could see through the PR monster built around Clegg. I wouldn’t be surprised if slowly this party died off completely.

The Conservatives never change, they performed exactly as expected and at times exceed those expectations making Thatcher look like a loveable hippy communist. They are a vile bunch of privileged buffoons who for some reason manage to fool mainly but not exclusively, those in the South of Britain, that they adequately represent the country.

5th May 2011

In Scotland we had the Scottish Parliament elections on 5th May 2011. It was pretty much ignored by the London UK media until *surprise surprise* the Scottish National Party had a landslide victory.

Of course in Scotland this was no surprise, it was entirely expected, but it spoke volumes to the political commentators down South. The “big three” parties were all quite severely hit, all losing seats to the SNP. Now there are claims of the British political landscape changing. Do they honestly believe it will make a difference to those voted in by, yet blinded to the people?

For me, and many of the people I spoke to, the problem with politics lies with the fact there are only three, or four in Scotland, main parties. The choice is so limited and their policies so similar that there is no actual choice. When it came to my constituency vote for the Scottish parliament it was more a matter of elimination than a desire for my chosen candidate to succeed. That isn’t real democracy in action its picking the least worst from a bad bunch because you feel the need to at least say something.

There were more options on the regional “list” vote and having only one choice out of those available, meant that many good potential politicians were being left out. I would rather have chosen two from the regional list than voted for a constituency MSP.

I’m sorry Pirate Party, had Greens been a constituency option you’d have got my list vote.

Regardless it was done and within 24 hours it was widely known that the SNP had done even better than expected. They gained a majority of the seats in the parliament by a landslide.

Interestingly, their past as a minority government was fairly inoffensive as they had to negotiate with other parties to get policies and legislation through. To me, it’s not such a bad idea to do this. It meant introducing bills that took into account many of the views of the MSPs from differing parties and given the involved consultation processes in getting a bill through parliament, it was often more representative of the populations wants and needs. It meant things were pretty bland over the past 5 years but nothing too damaging was done. No massive damage to the NHS for example and no minimum pricing on alcohol.

It will be interesting now to see how the SNP perform with a majority. Now we will get to see which side of the fence they lie on. No longer can they perch in the middle, dipping their toe in both left and right sides while staying stoically in the centre. We will get to see the true colours of the SNP and it can be either quite exciting or totally terrifying.

It’s no secret the SNP want Independence for Scotland and judging by the differences between Scottish and English political preferences in elections, it may not be such a bad idea. For sure, Westminster do not adequately reflect the needs and wants of the Scottish people on national issues and haven’t done so for a long time, even pre-devolution. With only one (YES ONE!) Scottish Conservative MP at Westminster, there is currently no real representation in the British Government for the Scottish people.

The real problems arise when looking at the logistical nightmare that would be gaining actual independence beyond the vote. We already know England would not happily give up the lucrative oil industries in Scottish waters. What would Scotland’s defence system look like? What about the state benefits system or pensions? Would the BBC still be advert free or would it need additional funding or more governmental support? Would we become a republic or keep the monarchy? Would the UK become a federal state or would Scotland gain full independence and leave the UK? Would we stay in the EU or not? How would independence affect UK made legislations retrospectively?

What would this process actually cost the country? What would this process cost the tax payer?

I’ve already heard some people suggest we’d just take 1/4 of the UK finances as we leave, but does that include 1/4 of UK debt too? Scotland already pay a proportionally high tax thanks to their oil/gas industries, that both Labour and Tory governments have  helped themselves to with ‘one-off’ tax payments when they feel so inclined. Would we take a proportional amount of what we’ve put into the UK on a territorial basis rather than a human one?

What would happen if the Scottish parliament bankrupted the country? What if the oil actually did run out? Would there be the chance to go back or would we be on our own?

The entire situation is more complex than I can be bothered going into (or researching) but there are definitely a lot of questions than would need answering. I am neither completely for or completely against. I’d need to know some truths and not political spin.

Of course this is all hypothetical based on the results of a hypothetical referendum that may or may not be legal.

And for the legality of a referendum; as a fact-finding exercise, I can’t see how it would be breaking any laws, but the results would not be legally binding and that legality is what the SNP would hope for and need to make the transition from a devolved parliament to an independent state. The only party pushing for independence are the SNP, all other parties in Westminster and indeed Scotland appear to oppose it. Even if the Scottish people suggested they would like independence, as a reserved UK Parliament matter there is little hope of Westminster agreeing to it.

And then this opens up a whole new bag of worms, referring back to the fact that the UK Government do not represent the Scottish people well. If the Scottish people do not feel that Westminster listens to them, their wants and needs, what next?

A situation like we’ve seen in Ireland over the past 40+years? Egypt? Libya? Syria?

Will we see revolution? Would this be silent or would this be violent? Would it be political or on the streets?

This could be the start of something really interesting and potentially exciting, regardless of what the public want. Conversely it could be a nightmare.

It will definitely be interesting finding out.

 

 

 

For those unaware of the Scottish system you get 2 votes. 1 for the constituency candidate and 1 for a regional candidate. On the whole its a reasonable system. The constituency candidate is selected using the traditional First Past The Post system used in the Westminster elections.  The regional vote uses the Additional Member System where you essentially select a party rather than a person that you want to have that element of the vote. Based on a Proportional Representation system, the percentage of seats a party gets equates roughly to the percentage of votes the party gains in one of the 8 regions. Each party has a list of people who will get into parliament should they get enough votes.