Another day, another scare story. Now we’re told (copyright Justine Greening the Tory International Development Secretary) that Scottish independence will rip the bread from the mouths of the poorest people in the world. See those starving babies in the charity campaign advert? That’s alicsammin’s fault that is.
Justine says Scottish independence will reduce the UK’s aid budget. Won’t anyone think of the children? Justine thinks Scotland won’t be giving anyone any aid of course, on account of us needing UN food parcels full of mars bars and lard.
Och, I cannae be arsed. Can you be arsed? Sometimes Better Together’s scare stories are just so needledicked they’re less consequential than a gumsy midgie. Let’s just file this one under “too poor” and move on. Project Fear’s embarrassed itself enough for the time being. Ignoring it is an act of kindness. And just to demonstrate that people in Scotland are in fact deeply charitable, more and more of them are ignoring Project Fear every day.
Instead, I’m going to list some of my top reasons for independence, just to prove that cynical auld gits can do positive too. Or at least as positive as some of us can get, which, to be honest, isn’t very. So in no particular order …
1. Getting rid of Trident
A weapon which can evaporate a city is worse than an obscenity. But it’s not enough for some power crazy weapons fetishists to have the ability to wipe out the entire human race, oh no, they want to have the ability to wipe out everything that’s more evolved than bacteria. Possibly because that’s the only way they won’t feel threatened by any intellectual superiors.
Trident has no redeeming features. It’s not even a weapon of mass destruction that serves any purpose, other than allowing British politicians to make like they’re important. They can’t even use it without US permission. Trident is the viagra of the decrepit ruins of the British Empire, and we’re all being screwed. We’re going to have to pay hundreds of billions for the privilege.
I want it gone. Westminster governments have shown not the slightest inclination to get rid of Trident. Instead they want to spend vast sums on a new version, so British governments can have viagra with go-faster stripes and join in circle jerks with the Pentagon.
Independence means Scotland will be rid of Trident. I’d vote yes for that reason alone.
2. Politicians cannae be trusted
People who want to make a career out of making laws for other people to follow are people who need to be kept on a short leash. Scotland’s Westminster masters are not on a short leash. They’re on an infinitely long elastic which passes with ease through wormholes in the fabric of space and time. They call it the UK’s unwritten constitution. What it really means is that the Westminster Parliament can do whatever suits itself, and that’s exactly what it does, and is exactly the way the Unionist parties like it. Vote yes and we snap the elastic, leaving Westminster’s knickers around its ankles.
Independence would give Scotland a written constitution. There would be rules, there would be checks and balances. There would be no infinitely long elastic. There would be a short leash. I want people with power close enough so my foot can reach their arses, metaphorically speaking, of course.
3. Did I mention that politicians really cannae be trusted
They never do what they say. Aye right, hordes of SNP supporters are going to tell me that the SNP Government has done what it said it would do in its manifesto – but being a cynic I’d just say that’s what I’d do too if I was trying to persuade people I was responsible, even though I’m basically an irresponsible person who’s only responsible when it suits me. Which is pretty much the same as the rest of the human species.
Anyway the point is you can’t always rely on it suiting people to be responsible. So you need some means of showing them your displeasure when they aren’t. Being able to vote them out of power would be a nice start. Under Westminster, we can’t vote them out of power. We have to hope that our neighbours vote them out of power. The neighbours don’t always oblige. But even when the neighbours vote out a government, the individuals in the party sail on regardless. If they’ve got their bum on a safe seat they’re there for life.
And when we do manage to get rid of them at the ballot box, like in 1997 when Scotland put a stake through the heart of Michael Forsyth, his manifesto, and his entire Scottish Tory party they only get bitten by their fellow vampires and get a coffin in the House of Lords along with thon Labour guy whose Native American name is Dances-With-Polis.
There are no consequences for failure in the Westminster system. Voting yes shows them that there are consequences. Then we can replace Westminster with a Parliament whose representatives the electorate of Scotland can get rid of all by themselves. And some garlic for Michael Forsyth.
4. Broadband or modem?
There ye go, wanting to Skype with your cousin in Waiwhakamukau in New Zealand. Would you like a shiny new superfast broadband connecting you directly to the world wide webbies, or would you settle for one of those whirrbuzzksheeetttttwhangtwang thingies that blocks up your phone line and takes 4 days to download a 20 second video of a cute kitten that you’re desperate to see because they never ever show that sort of thing on Reporting Scotland?
As far as Scotland’s communications with the wider world are concerned, we don’t even have the creaky old modem. Scotland is represented on the world stage by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British Government. Naturally they represent the interests of the UK, which is most commonly interpreted as the interests of the UK Government, which in turn is the interests of whichever bunch of unaccountable politicians happens to have the biggest gang in Westminster. They’ll quite happily sell out Scottish interests if it suits them, and all too often that’s what they do. Fishery quotas anyone?
Scotland has no international voice. We do not punch above our weight as part of the UK, because being part of the UK makes Scotland invisible. The unfortunate truth for Better Together’s grandiose claims of vast Scottish influence is that Scotland is part of a Union which is usually known abroad as Inglaterra. Folk like former NATO Secretary General George Roberston confuse their own public profile with that of Scotland’s. And we really wish he’d stop, because he’s a total embarrassment. When my Spanish speaking friends refer to him as a político inglés I don’t want to correct them any more, and that makes me a cataclysmicly bad person.
We need our own broadband connection to the world. Our own representation in international bodies. It’s not like I expect Scotland to have a massive influence in world affairs. I’d be content with the rest of the world realising we exist.
4. A normal country
It would be nice to live in normal country, where people had normal political arguments about the kind of stuff that Johann Lamont keeps saying she wants to have a debate about, just as soon as she’s finished working her way through the 36000 long list of Chinese character insults for alicsammin, because the 26 letters of an A-Z just aren’t enough for her. But we can’t have that, because Scotland is not a normal country. Johann’s patter is proof of that.
More precisely, Scotland is a normal country stuck in an abnormal situation. Scotland is a normal country which isn’t allowed to act like a normal country. Normal countries get the governments they vote for who implement the policies the electorate preferred, and if they don’t they get voted out. Normal countries have a national broadcaster. Normal countries, at least the democratic ones, have a press and media that reflects the diversity of voices and opinions in that country. Normal countries forge ties and alliances with other countries according to their own national interests. Normal countries are able to take steps to tackle their own problems – and Scotland has a lot of those.
But Scotland can’t do any of the things a normal country can do. Being a part of the UK condemns Scotland to an eternity of devo navel gazing while the inequalities remain unchallenged and more food banks open. And Scotland’s sense of itself gets battered into the Cringe.
The remedy, if you are truly fortunate, is to remove yourself from the abnormal situation. We can do that by voting yes to a question which really ought to read “Do you want Scotland to be a normal country?”
Then we can concentrate on solving our problems and making Scotland a better place for everyone who lives here. Even grumpy auld sods, who will, if we screw things up, have no one else to blame – though that probably won’t stop them trying. And no one is going to have interminable discussions about whether Scotland really needs the power to vary one tax band or two and by 10p or 15p.
5. A referendum on the monarchy
We’re not voting to abolish the monarchy in September. More’s the pity. Even worse it’s not a referendum on whether to abolish Nicholas Witchell from the telly. He does for the Royals what George Osborne does for the Better Together campaign.
This is not the opinion of the current Scottish Government, which wants to keep Liz as head of state and refuses to make jokes in public about Nicholas Witchell. If Liz is head of state in an independent Scotland then they can insist that she’s to be Elizabeth I and not Elizabeth II, although there are very many in Scotland who’d prefer she was known as Elizabeth the Last. However there are also those who love the romance and drama of fancy costumes and the whole ruler and ruled schtick, even though there are nightclubs for that sort of thing.
I’m not a gambling man. In my drug fuelled youth I once put a bet on a horse called Roll A Joint, thinking oh that’s the nag for me. Only it fell at a fence and they had to shoot it. I took that as A Sign. It is however a safe bet that a stoned dead horse with a broken leg has a better chance of winning a steeplechase than there is of the Westminster Parliament ever offering us a referendum on the monarchy.
There are very different odds with an independent Scottish Parliament. It’s far more likely that there could be a majority in a Scottish Parliament in favour of a referendum on the subject. It’s a question which is definitely going to come up when we’re faced with King Charles and Queen Camilla. Or WillnKate, the AntnDec of monarchy. I’ll be making it come up, and I strongly suspect I won’t be alone.
So I’m voting yes in September for the possibility that one day we can get rid of the monarchy. Vote no and it’s a vote to keep it forever.
6. A Labour party
It would be nice to have a Labour party wouldn’t it? A Labour party that didn’t want to privatise things, and developed policies aimed at meeting the needs of ordinary working class people, one that was opposed to nuclear weapons, and kept equality of opportunity and access for all as its central goal. You know, an actual Labour party. The kind that the current Labour party mythologises, but for real. The kind of Labour party that George Galloway says he wants only if it really was that kind of Labour party it wouldn’t let George Galloway in. That kind of Labour party. The one we were promised but never got.
Labour won’t change itself. It can’t change itself. Independence will change it. It’s Labour in Scotland’s only chance to become the party it was supposed to be, the party it claimed to be. A party which is actually a Scottish Labour party. Then it might even become worth voting for.
So there’s six of my own reasons. There are many many more. And every single yes voter has a list of reasons of their own. Few of which involve ancient history or caring about currency unions. No doubt I’ll get round to the rest of mine in due course. The best response to a Unionist politician like Justine Greening grabbing a cheap headline with irrelevant pap is to ignore them and talk about more important things instead.