Friday, 20 September 2013

A year to go



Last Wednesday (September 18) saw us pass the year marker until the Independence Referendum.

This time next year, Scotland will either have retaken its place as a normal, independent nation or we will have decided to remain just a region of the United Kingdom, with all that entails, such as Tory-led Governments in London imposing savage cuts and policies like the Bedroom Tax.

Looking at it logically, it’s a ‘no brainer’: with independence we always get the government for which we vote, and we implement policies specifically designed to meet the needs and aspirations of the people of Scotland. Sticking with the British Union means that 60% of the time we get governments we rejected at the ballot box and we have policies implemented to suit London and the south-east of England. Even when England’s voting-choice has coincided with that of Scotland (the 40% when both countries have voted Labour), we’ve had governments that have pandered to the self-interest of the City of London and have ignored what would have been best for Scotland.

Without the British media – including the BBC – churning-out anti-independence stories on a daily basis and telling us we really are too wee, too poor and too stupid to govern ourselves, the campaign for keeping Scotland within the British Union would never have got off the ground. As it is, though, with just under a year to go until the referendum, the trend in polls is unmistakable – the ‘YES’ vote is rising and the ‘NO’ vote is falling. More and more Scots are seeing through the unionist propaganda – spread by so-called ‘Scottish’ newspapers owned by companies based mainly in England, and by the BBC (the clue to the broadcaster’s position is in its name – the BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation). Despite that daily deluge of British unionist propaganda, the people of Scotland are coming to the conclusion that, actually, we are perfectly capable of running our own country and doing a much better job of it than London-based Tories, Liberals and Labour.

Personally, I believe Alex Salmond to be the most competent politician of his generation – all the other political parties who attack him would, in reality, give their eye-teeth to have him in their camp. Scotland is fortunate to have such an able politician as our leader. However, having said that, I do recognise that some of my fellow Scots do not share my opinion. I’ve heard them say they won’t vote for independence because it would be voting for Alex Salmond, and they don’t like him.

I don’t know if their dislike stems from them believing the British unionist propaganda that daily demonises Mr Salmond or perhaps they mistake his confidence for arrogance. Whatever the reason, the reality is that a ‘YES’ vote in the Independence Referendum is not a vote for Alex Salmond or even the SNP.

Voting ‘YES’ on September 18 2014 will result in Scotland retaking the status of a normal, independent nation, the status we lost when the so-called ‘Scots nobility’ sold our country into a Union with England in 1707. Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns, famously described the traitor nobles as “such a parcel o’ rogues in a nation” having been “bought and sold for English gold”.

That is what next year’s referendum will decide – whether or not we restore our independence – nothing else. Voting ‘YES’ does not elect Alex Salmond or the SNP.

A ‘YES’ vote will lead to the next scheduled Scottish Parliament Elections in May 2016 becoming the first to our newly-independent parliament. We, the people of Scotland, will decide who we want to represent us in the independent parliament and who we want to form the government. At that point, if the people of Scotland decide they don’t want Alex Salmond to be First Minister or the SNP to form the government, then democracy will provide that result. Independence means we will always get the government for which we vote.

That reality exposes the absurdity of ‘Scottish’ Labour’s position within the pro-British Union campaign. ‘Scottish’ Labour politicians and activists are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with David Cameron’s Tories in seeking to prevent Scots from restoring our independence and electing governments of our choice to run our country. ‘Scottish’ Labour is campaigning to allow the continuation of a British Union that sees voters in England elect Tory Governments – Tories that Scots reject – and for those Tories to impose their policies on Scotland. Incredibly, by its actions in the pro-British Union campaign, ‘Scottish’ Labour is saying it would rather see David Cameron’s Thatcherite Tories continue to govern Scotland from London than have a Labour Government in an independent Scotland.

Since 1707 almost 50 countries have retaken their independence from Britain: all are now thriving nations where the people would never think of giving-up their independence. One of those countries is Ireland. Despite the economic problems it has recently suffered, if you were to ask the people of Ireland to give up their independence and return to being governed from London, I suspect the collective response would consist of just two words, with the second being “off”.

It is not normal to be governed by and from another country. In 1905 when the people of Norway held a referendum on whether or not their country should retake its independence from Sweden, more than 99% voted ‘YES’.

Of course, today, Norwegians have one of the highest standards of living in the world, partly-funded by the fact the country discovered oil reserves in its sector of the North Sea in the 1970s. This was at the same time as oil was discovered in the Scottish sector of the North Sea. Norway, being a small independent country, was able to use the wealth generated from its oil to build a strong, vibrant country and economy. In addition, successive Norwegian governments have invested part of the country’s oil revenues in a ‘Futures Fund’. The fund is used to benefit future generations of Norwegians and currently stands at around £170billion.

Scotland – not an independent country – saw its oil wealth sucked into the Westminster Treasury and used by successive British governments, partly to fund a low-tax, low-wage economy and the costs of soaring unemployment. Since the 1970s those successive British governments have told Scots that our country is an economic basket case, dependent on hand-outs from England, when they knew full-well that an independent Scotland could have mirrored the success of Norway.

Today, Scotland can still prosper as an independent nation: the continuing oil-wealth would simply be a bonus to a strengthening economy overseen by Edinburgh-based governments whose priorities first, last and always would be the interests of Scotland.

Independence is simply being a normal country. This time next year, by voting ‘YES’, we can transform Scotland into a normal country.

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