Saturday, 30 November 2013

Scotland's Future

Scotland’s Future, the Scottish Government White Paper on independence, was published last Tuesday (November 26).

Within minutes of the official launch ending, Alistair Darling, the Labour MP who leads the anti-independence campaign, appeared on television, saying, “Nothing has changed as a result of today’s White Paper. There is nothing that we found out today that we didn’t already know.”

What a guy! Within minutes Alistair Darling had read the White Paper’s 670 pages (170,000 words), including the section that contained 650 questions and answers relating to independence. Isn’t it quite incredible that Alistair Darling apparently already knew the answers to those 650 questions ahead of the government document being published? Of course, it could just be the case that it would not have mattered what was contained within the 670 pages of Scotland’s Future, Mr Darling and his friends in the other British Unionist parties would have trotted-out the same well-worn attacks on the abilities of Scots to successfully govern their own nation.

Following the White Paper launch at the Science Centre in Glasgow, First Minister Alex Salmond and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon travelled through to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, where Ms Sturgeon made a statement and took questions on the SNP Government’s independence proposals.

Again, however, it was clear the British Unionists in the anti-independence coalition (Labour, Tory and Lib Dem) had not actually read the White Paper. Again, the Unionist response was a snarling attack on the aspirations and abilities of the people who live in Scotland – we were told (yet again) that alone amongst all the peoples on planet Earth, only the Scots are incapable of running their own country. Again, the British Unionists trotted-out their mantra – that we are too wee, too poor and too stupid to be a real country, with a real sovereign parliament – and made clear that, in their opinion, it is best for decisions affecting Scots to be taken in London by a Tory-led Government for which we did not vote.

Labour’s Johann Lamont again stood shoulder to shoulder with Ruth Davidson of the Tories (and the wee eejit of a guy who currently leads the Scottish sub-section of the British Liberal Democrats) in attempting to undermine the positive case for independence. In order to promote their Scottish dependency culture (the British Union), Labour, the Tories and Liberal Democrats must rubbish the people of Scotland and our ability to transform our country into a normal, independent nation. Aspiring to create a better, fairer Scotland is attacked as ‘wishful thinking’ and ‘pie in the sky rhetoric’, while the Unionists offer us more austerity under a Tory-led Government we rejected at the ballot box.

The Labour, Tory, Lib Dem coalition in the anti-independence campaign tells us the British Union allows us to have the best of both worlds, but what we actually get is Scots paying millions-of-pounds every year as our contribution to nuclear weapons of mass destruction (which the majority of Scots consistently say they don’t want) while having imposed on us cruel welfare reforms, such as the Bedroom Tax, and savage cuts to public spending.

The lack of any credible input from British Unionists in the Scottish Parliament was perfectly illustrated by a question asked by former ‘Scottish’ Labour leader Iain Gray, who angrily wanted to know where the money would come from to pay for the Scottish Government’s proposed Oil Fund. Honestly, Iain, it’s not that difficult. Take a look at the name of the fund. No? Still having problems? Okay, here is a clue: small independent Norway currently has an Oil Fund, valued at £450bn, which is funded from the wealth generated by the country’s North Sea oil fields – that’s what makes it an Oil Fund. Norway, of course, discovered oil in its sector of the North Sea at the same time as bigger fields were located in Scottish waters. Scotland, however, was not (and currently is not) an independent nation. Rather than our wealth going into a fund for use by the Scottish people, it gushed into the UK Treasury in London where it was used to pay for mass unemployment in the 1980s and to fund a low-wage, low tax economy (low tax for the rich).

The Scottish Government White Paper listed a number of ‘bread and butter’ issues that, in themselves, are good reasons to vote for independence: for example – 30-hours of childcare per week in term-time for all three and four-year-olds, as well as vulnerable two-year-olds; Trident nuclear submarines and missiles removed from the Clyde within the first term of an independent parliament (four years); scrapping of the Bedroom Tax in the first year of an independent parliament; basic rate tax allowances and tax credits to rise at least in line with inflation; a review of the UK Government plan to raise the state pension age to 67; minimum wage to rise at least in line with inflation; BBC Scotland to be replaced at the start of 2017 with a new Scottish Broadcasting Service (continuing a formal link with the BBC – so we would still get Dr Who, contrary to a British Unionist scare-story of last week); Single-tier state pension of £160 per week from April 2016; Royal Mail returned to public ownership; Scottish Defence Force of 15,000 regulars and 5,000 reservists – appropriate to our country’s size and non-hostile foreign policy; British citizens living in Scotland on day-one of independence will be entitled to Scottish citizenship and passport – but it won’t be compulsory and, contrary to yet another British Unionist scare-story, no one will be told to leave and there won’t be border guards at Gretna.

However, just one of the things the British Unionist media failed to point out last week was that the policies listed above are those of just one component part of the YES campaign, the Scottish National Party, and would only be implemented if the SNP formed the government in the first independent parliament, to be elected in May 2016. The core factor of independence is that we will always get the parliament and government for which we vote (unlike under the British Union where Scots reject the Tories but have them imposed on us by voters in England).

The bottom line is if we don’t want the SNP to form the government of an independent Scotland – I disagree with some of their policies, such as retaining the Queen as Head of State – then we don’t have to vote for them in 2016. However, in order to take control of our country and always get the government for which we vote, we must first re-take our political independence. That is what we will be voting for in the referendum on September 18th next year.

The referendum isn’t about parties, policies or personalities, it is solely about deciding who is best placed to take decisions for Scotland – either the people of Scotland (independence) or the Tories with their Labour and Lib Dem partners (the British Union).

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