The Scotland Question

Posted on: September 21, 2013 at 11:00 am | Politics | 2 comments made

Och ayeI went through a phase as a teenager of believing in Scottish Independence. I had pretty strong political opinions at the time, in common with many other people of that age, borne of lack of life experience and youthful idealism.

I continue to have mostly leftward political leanings, but with age have found that my stance has become slightly more conservative with a definite small c.  I became distrustful of nationalism and of any political party which founded their stance on what could be considered a ‘them and us’ stance. ‘They’re not like us.  They’re [insert nationality/skin colour/gender/religion/orientation here].’ Bollocks.

Until recently, the most compelling argument I heard for Scottish Independence was this.  ‘We are stale as a nation and we need a change to shake things up.’  I think the person who suggested this to me was referring this to a kind of longstanding post-Imperial funk in the UK.  I could see his point, but it didn’t really convince me totally at the time.

Until recently, I would have voted ‘No’ in the referendum.

I don’t think I would now.

I have been thinking about legislative changes of the past few years which have frankly left me very fearful.  There is a sense of death by increments.  Tiny chippings-away of our rights and liberties which are frankly starting to put me in mind of the gradual rise of nazi-ism before WW2.  That might sound like an overstatement, but I think parallels can be drawn between the UK at present and pre-war Germany.  Okay, I’m not in any way a student of history but on the surface, that’s how I’m starting to perceive things.

A breakdown:

  • Bedroom Tax and Universal Credit – Welfare Reform Act 2012 – Horrible policy which unfairly penalises people for having an extra bedroom.
  • Privatisation of the NHS, Education, roads, probation services, Royal Mail blah blah blah
  • Recent outsourcing of assessments for ESA to Atos, a private company.
  • Privatisation of Social Work Services for vulnerable children in England – Morally reprehensible.
  • Transparency of Lobbying bill – Frightening prospect for many small charities.  Now U-turned, but I doubt it’s the last we’ll see of it.

And that’s just what I can think of at this moment.  I have never signed so many online petitions in my life as I’ve done in the past few years.

I generally don’t trust the press.  I lived in China during the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and the experience of following the coverage in the UK press over the internet and watching the English-language Chinese news on TV showed up so many direct contradictions that I was left convinced that news from neither side was truthful.  My husband worked for a press cutting agency a number of years ago and has been left with a similar mistrust of the press, as he noted contradictory articles about the same incidents appearing in the British press.  I have to acknowledge therefore that the information I get about the government is very much dependent on the newspapers I chose to read.  I am as biased as the next person.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really trust politicians either.  And I’m not a fan of Alex Salmond.  I am under no illusions that an independent Scotland will be free from corrupt politicians and policies I can’t stand.  But at least with an independent Scotland I can more easily hold my government responsible and have a better say over what happens in my country.  As someone recently pointed out, in most recent elections it wouldn’t have mattered if every single person in Scotland voted for the same party, we would still get the government decided on by England and Wales (Wings Over Scotland have a pretty good illustration for this and actually seem to have made an effort to use actual data instead of pulling it out of their arses).  And let’s face it, Scotland’s political landscape is very different to England’s.  And last week’s Sunday Herald (image here)  shows just how much David Cameron cares about whether or not we remain part of the union.  Either that, or he genuinely doesn’t think there’s any chance of a Yes vote.

So, yes.

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