A guest post by Ally Farquhar
The man with the rapier-like wit, who always sees the big picture, turning political machinations as they relate to Scotland’s future into incisive language we can all understand, is taking a well-earned break with his hubby. Enjoy guys. Meanwhile the dug, we hear, is lording it up in blissful summer luxury (somebody turn him over before he gets sunburnt).
As a guest post I thought maybe perhaps it’s time, once again, following Ross Thomson’s throwaway comments last week on Politics Live about “anti-Englishness” in the Independence movement, to further address that old misconception that pops up almost on a weekly basis about the motivations and intentions of those who believe that Scotland would be best served by a government of its own people. (Indeed Paul himself, before his happy hols, has written on this very subject).
As regular readers of the weegingerdug are aware there are always a ready bunch of loud British nationalist types out there in the mainstream and social medias claiming, usually through snarling rows of condemned enamel, that the movement for independence in Scotland is just a vile cunning ‘cover’ for wanton anti-Englishness.
They are usually coming at us from the wildly contradictory let’s make Britain “global’ again, whilst isolating the UK from Europe, point of view, with chips on both ‘broad’ shoulders, choked up with the anxieties of the ghost train of a Sunday morning, following the night before, multi-layered prejudices, xenophobia and red white and blue underwear, or they are that manky guy with the megaphone and the aversion to Persil.
They are often the kind that describe us as divisive nationalists whilst describing themselves as ‘British patriots’, They are proud Scots, but……… yet cannot see the irony of their assertions.
As we all know, the allegation that those who believe firmly that Scotland is better governed by the people in it, and not by the British state, are anti-English, is an absolute fallacy, is clearly outrageous and couldnae be further from the truth.
Pro-Scottish yes, absolutely on the mark, striving only to live in a normal country, like most other countries of the world, a normal country which makes all the important decisions for itself, a cause which is so right and just that we crave it coming to pass. Being in a political union where another country has the established powers to rule your own country from theirs is not normal. However, anti-English most definitely we are not.
Our admirable host best described this delusion recently in one of his insightful posts thus “Scottish independence isn’t defined by nationalist hatred. It’s defined by escaping from it.”
How could a yearning to live in a normal country ever be construed to be about anti-Englishness? Most of us have close family and friends who are English. Many of us are English by birth. Are we planning on never ever planting an affectionate smacker on the foreheads of our grannies fae Liverpool or papa’s from Newcastle ever again? Are we banishing our wives, abandoning our children to a lifetime of Whitley Bay swirly ice-cream cones and raspberry sauce? Are we no more to look forward to sharing Christmas with our sister’s kids from Exeter? Will we shun our lifelong friend from the East End of London because he sounds like Phil Daniels?
No, this simplistic, childish and divisive spin is put on a movement which only wants Scotland to be like the rest of the world to try and show us in a false negative light to those we need to convince.
We are not better than anyone else, we don’t see ourselves as superior, but we certainly aren’t inferior either, apart from mibbees at the fitbaw, and we are not that particularly good at quiches.
Once we have our own front door key to our own house I’m sure our friends to the south, and their elected masters, when the dust settles in a few years-time and they eventually politically cull the more rampant of their right-wing heid-the baws, will find us the best of neighbours, naturally and voluntarily.
Anti-English we are not. However we are most definitely anti other things, things like anti-inequality, anti-unfairness, anti-exploitation, anti-poor health and anti-poverty.
The dreadful news that last year 1,187 Scottish deaths were drug-related is sobering. Every one of these human beings was once a new born infant untrammelled by parental hang-ups or burdens, unaffected yet by possible poverty, despair or social ills, unaware of their status in life. Fresh to the world, a life full of possibilities and potential, many were the hope for the future of parents naturally seeking only a better life for their children than they themselves had.
This stark mortality statistic highlights the level of urgency which needs to be adopted if Scotland is to take up the reins and return to controlling its own destiny.
Let us take care of our own and not rely on the policies of another country to solve a health and social problem which they have no intention of solving. For it is their policies over the last 50 years, in a no risk country which doesn’t vote for them, and arithmetically doesn’t matter to them, a country they have used as a social experiment, without compunction, which have caused, and then exacerbated this tragedy, and many others like it in Scotland.
Here are a few other facts about life in Scotland in the 21st century in a country which has been blessed with an abundance of natural resources, innovation in technology and science, world renowned export food and drink industries, resources and expertise which are the envy of many other countries in the developed world.
An Oxfam report in early 2018 highlights that the richest 1% of the population in Scotland own more wealth than the cumulative wealth of the bottom 50%. Just think about that for a minute.
How can that possibly be true? How can it be? Other countries who discovered that they had a vast natural resource around their coastline at the same time as Scotland, some of similar size and population as Scotland, now have some of the highest living standards in the world, the best health care, citizens who live consistently to a ripe old age, with excellent standards of housing and first class public services.
In 2018 1 in 5 Scots were living in poverty of some kind. 1.03million people existing below the poverty threshold, of which 240,000 were children (a comparative figure significantly higher than most other European countries). These figures for Scotland rose by 30,000 Scots in relative poverty over the three year period to 2018. Around 50% of people in Scotland of working age who are in severe poverty live in households where at least 1 adult is working, in low pay.
Scotland continues to have the lowest life expectancy of the countries sheltered upon the saggy bosom that lies under the humphy-backed broad shoulders of the union. The average life expectancy of Scots in 2017 in comparison to people living in the South East of England was overall around 2 years less. However looking closer at areas where high poverty exists in Scotland statistics show that that living in some parts of Glasgow means you’ve a fair chance of dying around 8 years earlier than your southern neighbour. Ye’d better hurry finishing that crossword up.
In 2018 the Trussell Trust recorded 210,605 referrals for three day emergency supplies to feed Scots living in poverty, many of them vulnerable, many of them families with small children. The last time I looked at these figures in 2015 there were 133, 726 referrals for three-day emergency supplies in Scotland for that year, which was a shocking enough statistic itself at the time. In 2018 this had increased by 57%. We are reaching an emergency situation here folks, and that is before Brexit kicks in, and it will.
Just as a wee contrast though, consider this, around 432 families or corporations own 50% of Scotland’s private land (that is a lot of land). This level of elite ownership is very different to the norm in most other European countries, Think about that. Who is actually benefitting from this precious union we keep hearing about? It’s certainly not the people of Scotland.
These, and more, are the important challenges Scotland needs to address. A burning desire to work towards fixing what ails our country is the strongest motivation most of us have for seeking an independent Scotland. Westminster needs to get out of the road and let us get on with it.
It’s absolutely nothing remotely to do with trying to spite English people. My goodness when we get our country patched up and healed our neighbours can look north to an example of progressive social democracy that they may very well decide to follow themselves. Watch out for that one Boris & Co.
See the next time somebody tries to tell you that you must hate English people because you want your country to govern itself please make sure you put them straight, will you?