We’re in the calm before the storm. A constitutional crisis is on the horizon and is heading our way, when it breaks it could threaten the entire basis of the devolution settlement and undermine the foundations of the British state. It could be the thread that unravels what passes for a Union and leads to another independence referendum. So in this period of relative calm, it’s perhaps a good idea to get back to basics, and to restate the fundamentals of Scottish independence.
Contrary to the much propagated myth so beloved of British nationalist politicians and the British nationalist press, the number of Scottish independence activists who want independence because they hate the English can be counted on the fingers of a boxing glove. The number who are actually prominent and influential in the campaign are even fewer than the number of people who’ve sat through a speech by James Kelly MSP and thought, “My. That guy is charismatic.” People don’t want independence because they hate anyone. That’s a convenient bit of disinformation put about by those who don’t want folk to engage with the independence debate, a bit of disinformation that feeds into a long standing English prejudice against Scotland, that Scotland has no culture or identity of its own other than an atavistic hatred of England, that Scotland can only be defined by reference to England. Independence isn’t about defining Scotland by reference to England, it’s about defining Scotland by reference to Scotland. That’s why British nationalists are so afraid of it, a self-defined Scotland is a Scotland that doesn’t need Westminster.
The real reason that the vast majority of independence campaigners seek independence is because they are dissatisfied with Scotland. It’s because they recognise that this country has so much in the way of potential, but that potential is being squandered. Scotland possesses an embarrassment of natural and human resources, but those resources are being wasted and the country is riven with inequality, scarred by social injustice, and debilitated by poverty.
Scotland is marked by poverty, but Scotland isn’t a poor country. Scotland possesses resources, talents, skills, and opportunities which most countries would envy, but they are being wasted. The products of our labour, the capital and skills that Scotland produces are being syphoned off. Scotland is not a poor country. It is an impoverished country. When British nationalists tell us that we can’t afford independence, they’re telling us that Westminster has ripped us off for centuries and we need to stay with those who’re ripping us off. It’s like telling someone with a lodger who robs from their wallet that since they have no ready cash they need to keep their lodger.
The impoverishment of Scotland means that those kids playing on the wasteground in one of Scotland’s big housing schemes still face the same restricted and narrow life chances that their parents and grandparents faced. They are capable of so much better. They deserve so much better. We all deserve better. Independence campaigners seek independence not for its own sake, but because they want to make Scotland a better place, because they want a Scotland where all of its citizens can reach their full potential.
Scotland needs independence because Scotland is broken and it needs to be fixed. For generations the people of Scotland have waited for Westminster governments to fix this country, but they’re the ones who’ve created the problems. They’ve had plenty of opportunities. All the way through the Thatcher era we waited patiently, praying for the Messiahs of Labour to deliver us, and when the day of redemption finally came we got Public Finance Initiatives, we got the war in Iraq, we got the tombstone teeth of Tony Blair. Now we have Jeremy Corbyn preaching salvation through the British parliamentary road to socialism, but even if he does get elected he’ll only offer us five years. Then it will be back to Tory business as usual. Scotland has a natural left of centre majority. The only way to keep the Tories at bay for good is through independence.
Scotland needs independence because it’s the only way to ensure that we get governments which reflect the needs and desires of the people of this country. Brexit has illustrated the democratic chasm that exists in the UK. Scotland is not an equal partner in a family of nations. When it doesn’t suit the interests of Westminster, Scotland can be ignored, sidelined and ridiculed. Right now the interests of Scotland are subordinate to the internal party needs of the Conservatives. The political imperative to keep the lid on internal Tory divisions is greater than the need to ensure that Scotland’s needs are met. We’re being dragged into a damaging hardline Brexit, because it suits the Conservative party, and Scotland isn’t being consulted or even kept informed. It’s a disgrace, and it traduces what passes for democracy.
All this is happening because Westminster politicians cannot be held to account by the people of Scotland. As long as Scotland remains a part of the UK, we will be governed by people who are not accountable to us. That means that they will not listen to our concerns, will ignore our voices. Scotland needs independence because politicians of any hue cannot be trusted. We need to keep them close to us, so that their arses are within kicking distance of our feet. It’s a lot easier to do that in an independent Scotland where the government is elected by the people of Scotland, is accountable to the people of Scotland, and where it is constrained by a written constitution which places sovereignty firmly with the people.
If we want a country that truly reflects our values and how we see ourselves and wish the world to see us, we need independence. If we want to walk in peace amongst the nations of this Earth, we need to get rid of Trident. We can’t do that with Westminster. If we want to spread the message of tolerance and respect for migrants and those who choose to honour us by making their lives in Scotland, we can’t do that with a Westminster which pursues a xenophobic Brexit. If we seek to build a better country for the future, we can’t do that by being enthralled to the past in a UK that fetishises WW2, the Empire, and Royalty. If we want to reach out to the world and to be a part of it, we can’t do that by reducing ourselves to what we can see through the narrow and constricting letterbox offered to us by the UK. If we want to look in the mirror of politics and see a true reflection of ourselves, we need our own mirror.
Independence campaigners want independence because they recognise that their maws and grannies were right. Those strong women knew that if you want something done, you need to dae it yersel. We need to fix Scotland ourselves. Let’s get working. We have a DIY project to attend to, and we’re going to make something beautiful.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
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