A guest post by Anne Meikle
I was brought up in Musselburgh, born in 1950, a part of the babyboomer generation. My first realisation of the importance of politics was when President Kennedy was elected. What hope we had that the world would change for the better, and how naive we were then. When the Cuba crisis hit and I sat in my home with my parents, sister and brother, I was terrified that at 12 years of age my life would be over, and everyone else as well.
Thankfully the Cuba crisis was resolved and my life continued. I am blessed with a daughter and a son now in their thirties, and a wonderful grandson who is a joy.
But I ask myself what kind of country do we want Scotland to be when he grows up, and all the wee boys and girls around Scotland today? This for me is the heart of the referendum debate.
Our Scottish Parliament is doing well, I think it is generally considered, with the powers they have devolved. The responsibilities of the Scottish Government include health, education, justice, rural affairs, housing and the environment – in fact fewer powers than some individual states in the USA or Länder in Germany.
The current Scottish government have actually carried out their election pledges from the funds allotted by London. Their priorities have been to freeze council tax, to provide free care for the elderly with free prescriptions for all. All health care is free, a fully public service, at the same time the NHS Scotland’s budget is protected to pay health care workers their full entitlement to pay increases. To provide free higher education for our students, while widening nursery care provision as far as they can and the provision of green energy is ongoing and new research opens up possibilities all the time. Many other positive initiatives have been enacted to make Scotland better, with the powers available.
As we approach the referendum date we should all know by now that Scotland provides more than its share of taxes to Westminster and has done for many years. I can recommend this article from Business for Scotland as the defining and easily understood case for Scotland’s economic viability as an independent nation.
Everyone knows that life in Scotland for most, is generally good, and that we are so lucky to live in a beautiful land. People from around the world come here to visit and enjoy our amazing history, landscape and wildlife. Our arts and cultural life is alive and thriving. Our resources are vast, food and drink industries, farming and fishing, oil and gas to last at least another 50 years. Our education system, our universities are among the best in Europe and this together with our ancient legal system always completely independently run.
This is obviously the reason Scotland is being bombarded with fear stories from the London Parliament, from its current incumbents in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords – the London owned press in Scotland and the London governed television media. If it were otherwise, surely there would be no problem in releasing Scotland from the Union – but Scotland is in no way too wee, too poor or too stupid.
In fact Scotland is the third wealthiest area of the United Kingdom.
But life isn’t rosy for all of us.
“Scottish people are living dangerously,” says Professor David Conway from Glasgow University – in fact our health record is shocking.
Housing in Scotland, it’s not all leafy suburbs and pretty gardens.
These social problems have been neglected for years. Scotland was hit hard when PM Thatcher decided that the UK’s economy should change from a manufacturing to a financial/ service industry. We have moved from making things people want, to buying and selling currency.
The problems I’ve outlined seem to relate oddly to the article from Business for Scotland linked to above, which shows how healthy and diverse Scotland’s economy actually is, but we simply don’t control enough of our own money to do what we need to do to begin to tackle these problems.
So where does Scotland’s wealth go? All taxes raised in Scotland go to the Westminster Treasury. They give back a block grant back to the Scottish Parliament to pay for the devolved services they are responsible for Westminster retains all the powers over welfare, benefits, personal and company taxation. as per this graph below.
You must know that the United Kingdom is the fourth most unequal state in the West, worse even, unbelievably, than Ethiopia.
You must know that 60% of the austerity cuts still to come into effect in the UK which will hit the most vulnerable members of society, (both major parties have signed up for this policy).
You must know that neoliberalism is the ideology now in force at Westminster. The rise of UKIP could well mean a UKIP/Tory coalition in 2015.
You must know Westminster can take back all of Holyrood’s devolved powers at the the drop of a hat, and close down our Parliament if they choose.
You must know that voting No will not mean more powers will be devolved – No Scottish politician can deliver on promises made now on behalf of a future Westminster Parliament – they simply don’t have the power to do it.
No box to tick for more powers, on the ballot paper
Voting No means nothing else except that London will continue to take all of Scotland’s resources to be used as they see fit. New railway systems in England, more nuclear weapons based in Scotland’s waters, more tax breaks for the already rich and bankers’ expenses.
Voting No means that all Westminster politicians will hear is that we don’t care enough about Scotland to choose our own direction and policy choices for the future.
You must know – Scotland has everything it needs to become an independent country. How can we continue to allow another country to take all the vital decisions which affect us all? Why are there are still some folk thinking of voting no? I simply can’t answer that.
If you won the lottery jackpot, would you give all your winnings to your next door neighbour and hope they might give you a wee drop back but insist you were only allowed to spend it on what they said you could?
I want our children and grandchildren to inherit a more prosperous, fairer and more equal society than the one I’ve grown up in. A society which could have all the benefits of our resources to tackle the long and festering social problems which the Union has failed to address and to grow our economy ensuring jobs and opportunities for our young people?
Is Scotland ready to give Holyrood all the powers it needs as a Parliament for Scotland?
Many questions we must all answer individually. The world is certainly watching with massive interest. As all the fear stories go around again and again, with Prime Minister Cameron sending out 35 embassy communications to attempt to recruit other governments to influence our choice, as all the London based media attempt to scare us out of our free and democratic right to self-determination. I urge you all to put this aside in favour of our good Scottish common sense.
I don’t want my family, my grandson to have to leave Scotland in search of a better life.
We need to build our own nation the way we want it to be and it can begin with a written constitution which we can all contribute to after a Yes vote.
It’s so simple really – what every other country takes for granted. The Union is the odd one out. With 230 sovereign states in the world, Scotland would come in about 113th with our population of around 5.2 million.
Everything they say now can’t be done in this campaign period, will be done after a Yes vote.
I believe we are ready
I believe we can trust each other to build that new nation, fairer and more equal, one our grandchildren will want to live and work in.
I believe in Scotland and our future as an independent nation.
I believe the removal of Trident nuclear weapons from Scotland’s territory will make us all feel safer instead of being a target as we have been all these years since Polaris.
I urge you to consider and vote YES for Scotland and for you and yours
Anne Meikle, an ordinary gran
Anne is an active member of Yes Edinburgh North and Leith. Visit their Facebook page at:
Anne has her own blog Bonnington Mill