Saturday, 13 September 2014

Independence - it's the real thing

Scotland is within days of re-taking our independence.

My old friend Jim Sillars brilliantly summed-up what will happen on Thursday (September 18th), saying, “The referendum is about power.  Between the hours of 7am and 10pm, absolute sovereign power will lie in the hands of the Scottish people.  They have to decide whether to keep it or give it away to where their minority status makes them permanently powerless and vulnerable.”

It is for us – those registered to vote in Scotland – to decide who is best-placed to run our country.  That is the only thing we will decide in the referendum.  We have two choices: a ‘YES’ vote means we believe the people of Scotland are best-placed to govern our own country; a ‘No’ vote hands that power to London and whichever government the people of England decide to elect.

Jim’s statement reflects the fact that, for the 15 hours the polls are open on Thursday, absolute power is in our hands: we are free to decide our future.  For the first time ever, ordinary Scots will be the sovereign power in the land: for the first time ever, we are being asked our opinion on whether or not we want to restore our national independence or remain part of a British Union.  For those 15 hours the people of Scotland are powerful.  If we vote ‘YES’ we retain that power.  Voting ‘No’ hands the power back to London-based politicians like David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband.

Despite the best efforts of the anti-independence campaign to convince us otherwise, the referendum is not about Alex Salmond or the SNP.  Personally, I think Salmond is by far the most effective and astute politician in Europe, not just Scotland.  His deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, isn’t far behind.  However, we will not be voting for Salmond, Sturgeon or the SNP on Thursday.

The referendum asks just one question: ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’  The question could just as easily have been: ‘Should Scotland be a normal country?’  That is what independence means – Scotland becoming a normal country.

Independence is the normal status held by nations around the world.  It is not normal for one country to be governed by and from another, even when that relationship is erroneously described as a ‘union’, even where the ruling country allows the other some limited power through devolution.  Have you ever heard of a country celebrating ‘Devolution Day’?  Countries celebrate ‘Independence Day’. 

No fewer than 60 countries have re-taken their independence from the UK, and not one of them has ever subsequently wanted to give up their independence and return to control from London.  Ask our near neighbours and fellow Celts in the Republic of Ireland if they would like to end their independence and rejoin the British Union: the response could be as short as two words, with the second being “off”.

London-based British political parties, working together under the ‘Better Together’ campaign, have previously referred to their role as ‘Project Fear’: they admit to having tried to frighten Scots into rejecting the normal powers of independence, powers that others countries take for granted.  Incredibly they have even portrayed Scotland’s vast oil resources – worth around £1trillion – as being some kind of burden.  Only Scotland, it seems, would be afflicted with a plague of oil.

Over the past few days, ‘Project Fear’ has used the phrase ‘shock and awe’ to describe its campaigning as we near the referendum.  ‘Shock and awe’ was, of course, the phrase used to describe American and UK bombing of Iraq in the illegal war of 2003.

The new version of ‘shock and awe’ is designed to blitz pro-independence Scots into submission and accept rule from London.  The British Unionist plan is to regurgitate every scare-story they’ve ever come up with – everyone from banks to bra manufacturers are going to run away to England if Scots re-take control of their own country; the oil is going to run out by October, if not before; there will be border guards at Gretna and they’ll shoot you if you have red hair; you won’t be able to watch the Only Way Is Essex (is that actually a threat); your auntie living in Blackpool will become a foreigner (even if that were true, which it isn’t – what is wrong with foreign people?); and supermarkets will hike up their prices (except the ones who say they won’t hike up their prices, and the ones who say prices could actually come down after we re-take our independence).

There is no positive case for Scotland remaining within the British Union, which is why the anti-independence campaign has resorted to scare-stories and lies in an attempt to frighten Scots into accepting continued control of our country by London-based politicians and political parties.

As ‘official’ polls have shown ‘YES’ and ‘No’ running neck-and-neck, the British Unionist parties have promised ‘more powers’ for Scotland if we reject independence.  Except that the promise quickly fell apart when the leader of the Better Together campaign, Alistair Darling, confirmed what was offered is not, in fact, more powers.  It’s simply the very limited devolution proposals they had already set-out months ago.

Only independence gives us full powers over all aspects of our lives – powers over taxation, the economy, employment, welfare, foreign policy and defence – all of which are currently administered by a London-based government Scotland rejected at the ballot box, and all of which would remain administered by that London-based government if we reject independence on Thursday.

The referendum is about who is best-paced to govern Scotland.  A ‘YES’ vote delivers independence and we, the people of Scotland, then elect governments of our choosing.  With independence we will always get the government for which we vote.  A ‘No’ vote hands power back to London and retains the position where, at Westminster elections, Scotland has voted Labour for the past 50 years, but for the majority of that time we have had Tory governments imposed on us by the electorate of England.  Currently, we have a Tory-Lib Dem UK Government running our country, despite the fact those parties finished third and fourth in Scotland at the last UK election in 2010.

I’ve campaigned for independence all of my adult life.  I will be very proud to place my ‘X’ for ‘YES’ in response to the question: ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’  Of course Scotland should be a normal country.

We took the first step towards home rule in 1997 when we voted for a devolved Scottish Parliament: independence completes that journey by returning to Scotland the full powers of a normal independent country.

Independence – it’s the real thing!  Let’s make it happen for Scotland.

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