There are so many distraction tactics, coupled with misdirection, misinformation, and sheer outright irrelevance, that go on in Unionist responses to the independence campaign. We’re accused of racism and homophobia by people who support a UK that is politically headed off to the nasty Little Britain espoused by the extreme right, cut off from the rest of the world and nostalgically looking back to the days of Empire, suspicious of everything foreign and convinced of its own exceptionalism as it sinks into a mire of its own making.
But they tell us that this time it’s Empire 2.0, so that’s OK then. Empire 2.0 is a new, improved and rebooted version that’s being touted by people who conveniently overlook the fact that the pillage, theft, racism, and war that characterised Empire 1.0 wasn’t a bug, it was a feature. Empire 2.0 will still be characterised by all those things. The pillage and theft of public assets by corporations who don’t pay taxes. The racism of a xenophobic immigration policy. The future wars that Britain will engage in as a form of viagra for a flaccid former power.
We get told that it’s all about the money, that Scotland is an economic basket case which depends on subsidies from a kind and generous Tory government that’s giving us squillions out of the kindness of its ice cold avaricious heart. We’re told this by people who apparently believe that the economic mismanagement by successive Westminster administrations which have reduced a European country with an embarrassment of resources and potential to penury is a good thing. They have no answer to the question of how, if what they say is indeed the case, does Scotland escape from the economic disaster zone to which we’ve been consigned. Seemingly they believe that we’re better off remaining with the people who caused the mismanagement, and who don’t even recognise their mismanagement for what it is, than to try to remedy things with our own efforts.
These are the people who want us to rejoice that the Chancellor of the Exchequer found £350 million for Scotland, over four years, and claim this is extra money and evidence of Westminster’s kind generosity not merely a slight reduction in the cuts we face. It’s still a lot less than the £370 million of public money that’s being spent on the renovation of Buckingham Palace. The only reason Scotland’s getting it in the first place is because he’s found a larger amount of dosh for spending in England. So whoop. And indeed, de-doo.
We’re told repeatedly that it’s all about the SNP. Scottish independence in the eyes of Unionism is entirely the creature of a single political party. The many thousands of independence campaigners and supporters who are not affiliated with the SNP scarcely get a look in. It’s “Nicola Sturgeon’s referendum”, not a referendum for the Scottish people. The Unionist press is full of stories along the lines of “Blow for Nicola Sturgeon”, but similar set backs for Unionism are never described as “Blow for Theresa May” or “Blow for Ruth Davidson”. Admittedly this isn’t unrelated to the fact that they’re scarcely reported at all.
It’s time to get back to basics and to talk about the core issue. Scottish independence is not about the SNP. An independent Scotland will be a democracy with a written constitution and proportional representation in its parliament. That means it will be considerably more democratic than a Westminster in which the powers of the different branches of government are not rigorously separated by a constitution and the prime minister is effectively an elected dictator who is elected under an electoral system which permits a party which gains under 40% of the popular vote to enjoy a crushing absolute majority in a parliament which is little more than a creature of its leader. What we currently experience in the UK has many more of the characteristics of a dictatorship than an independent Scotland would have.
Scottish independence is not even about the money. Like many independence supporters I firmly believe that Scotland will be better off managing its own resources and the talents and skills of its people for the benefit of Scotland, that Scotland will do better controlling its own assets and investing in its own future rather than having these decisions made for us by a government which prioritises the needs of the financial sector in the City of London. But to be honest, a country whose independence is only justified if it can be demonstrated that the average family will be better off by the price of a Chinese takeaway once a month is not a country which deserves independence. Unionists would have you believe that’s the case, that Scottish independence is predicated on the price of a chicken chow mein. It’s not. It’s about a much bigger and more profound issue.
Independence isn’t even about being a member of the EU. It’s not about being a member of NATO or being neutral. Independence is not about choosing a republic over a monarchy. Independence is about one thing and about one thing only. It’s about ensuring that the only sovereign body in Scotland is the people of Scotland. That’s all of us, those of us who were born Scots, and those of us who came to Scotland to live and who choose to become Scots and throw their lot in with Scotland. Independence is about ensuring that the sovereign body of the people of Scotland have a government that is responsible to them and to no one else. It’s about ensuring that the path that Scotland takes, the choices that Scotland makes as a country, are determined by the people of Scotland.
If Scotland remains a member of the EU then that will be because a majority of the people of Scotland have chosen to do so. If Scotland becomes a republic that will be because a majority of the people of Scotland have chosen to do so. Because right now it’s not the people of Scotland who make these decisions. The decisions are made for us by a government in Westminster that Scotland didn’t choose, that Scotland didn’t vote for. It’s a government that’s taking Scotland out of the EU against the will of the majority of Scots. It’s a government that’s turning a deaf ear to the opinions and views of the majority of Scots. And it can do that because as a part of the UK there is absolutely nothing that Scotland can do in order to ensure that the views, opinions and beliefs of the people of Scotland are even listened to, never mind ensuring that they are acted upon.
We are governed by people who know little about us and who care even less. They don’t need to care, because Scotland has no means of holding them to account. Scotland needs independence because it’s the only way in which we can get a government which is accountable. We need independence because politicians cannot be trusted. Scotland needs independence because we must keep politicians close to us, so that their arses are within kicking distance of our feet.
Let’s get back to basics. The argument for Scottish independence is an argument for making government accountable to the people of Scotland. It’s an argument for ensuring that the only sovereign body in Scotland is the people of Scotland. It’s an argument that the only people who should choose the path that Scotland takes are the people of Scotland. Let’s focus on the core issues. Everything else is a distraction.
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