GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – An independent parliament in waiting, Edinburgh’s devolved Holyrood legislature will become the beating heart of Scotland’s democracy if the country backs itself and votes yes in September’s independence referendum.
There is certainly no logical reason why a rich, naturally left-of-center country like Scotland would vote against the best interests of the majority of those who call it home, to pursue the right-wing future offered by both Westminster parties.
For Scotland, independence is about democracy not nationalism; it’s about righting the wrongs of a country living its life as a region.
In a manic desperation to safeguard Westminster rule, British nationalists are trying to con people in Scotland into believing black is white: that more austerity, an increase in the retirement age, pensions being privatized, nuclear weapons on the doorstep of Scotland’s largest city, a lower life expectancy, record numbers of food banks, governments it didn’t vote for, are the best thing for Scotland.
“Die before you retire” would be an apt slogan for the no campaign.
Scotland really is being asked to vote for its very own dystopia; where the poor are to be used as the logs on a roaring Westminster bonfire that’s burning the remaining threads of a fair and progressive society.
The Westminster government in London uses Scotland as a place to house its weapons of mass destruction and for its abundant resources. And it will continue to bleed the country dry for its own ends if the no camp’s message of doom and gloom prevails in September.
Fortunately the ludicrous nature of the scare tactics and threats being imposed on the debate by those determined to control Scotland for their own self-interest is unraveling by the day. The polls show things are pretty much neck and neck, with the no side edging it at the moment. But people across Scotland are only now beginning to fully engage with the debate and they hear loud and clear the lies of the no side.
When the ministry of defense in London says the nuclear submarines housed in Scotland are a little too dangerous to be relocated to certain parts of England, the people of Scotland know they are being taken for fools. They see that Scotland is not a valued part of the United Kingdom; rather, it is a place to be placated with false promises in the hope it will continue to fall for the lies of Westminster millionaires.
The truth is that Westminster is financially, politically and morally bankrupt. The keenness among pro-unionist members of the U.K. parliament from Scotland to push the country toward a no vote is borne from their own self-interest. They want to continue enjoying their inflated Westminster salaries before whiling away their later years in the warm and unelected surroundings of the House of Lords; living the life of the privileged while those they serve starve inside austerity Britain.
Scottish independence can be the beginning of the end for this desperate political construct: the U.K.; it can spark a democratic revolution across Britain.
As a country, Scotland’s natural constitutional state must be independence. For the regions of England, many of whom feel disenfranchised by the elites running what is one of the most centralist states in the developed world, devolution and greater local decision making could be the prize, if Scotland votes yes in September. English democrats will rightly push for more powers closer to home. Indeed there is growing support from liberals in England for Scottish independence, with twitter buzzing in recent months with backing from those south of the border sick of the direction of Westminster rule, many telling Scotland to have courage and “go for it.”
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron tells Scotland it should vote no to independence because “we’re better together,” but ultimately it will mean being together in isolation. The London regime is planning for an in/out referendum on membership of the Europe Union to try and win back the right-wing conservative voters it has lost to the puerile anti-European UK Independence Party, whose acting chair in Scotland recently attacked Glasgow City Council: saying it was for “gays, Catholics and communists”. This charming party is expected to do well in England at this year’s European elections, and in the next U.K. general election. Yet another right-wing party then with no support in Scotland on course have a say on how the country is run.
When it comes to the EU referendum, opinion polls show Scotland would vote to remain in the EU, while the rest of the U.K. is largely determined to leave. Scotland’s opinion will count for nothing though, as its far larger southern neighbor will ultimately decide, due to the sheer size of its electorate.
With any luck, this democratic injustice won’t come to pass because the country will have voted yes to independence. The polls show the momentum is with the yes movement, who are running an inspiring grass-roots campaign organizing local meetings across Scotland pretty much every day to talk with the public about independence and what it will mean for them. People are listening and want to hear more.
In town halls the length and breadth of Scotland, the pro-democracy independence side are winning debates on a weekly basis. The only barrier to this has been when debates have been canceled because the no side failed to put forward someone to take part.
Sadly Westminster is only interested in democracy as far as it is able to dictate the terms of it. In the case of Scotland’s independence referendum, this has been to stifle proper debate. Cameron won’t even go head to head with Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond; he’s been too busy lobbying Russian President Vladimir Putin and other national leaders: briefing against Scotland internationally while refusing to address the issue on his own doorstep.
Even U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne on a trip to Scotland in February refused to speak to Scottish Television after announcing there would be no currency union with the country in the event of a yes vote.
A U.K. government minister has since let slip to the Guardian newspaper there would “of course” be a currency union. The inability of Westminster to treat Scotland with respect has become a hallmark of this campaign.
More worrying than this, though, have been the pronouncements by some senior U.K. government figures that Westminster might not accept the result if the people vote yes. The sheer contempt which some within the British nationalist camp have for the democratic process is beyond belief.
Scotland needs to bring an end to this ridiculous situation and gift its parliament with the transformative powers that come with independence.
If the country votes yes, political parties of all colors will have to respond to its aspirations and come forward with new policies. A no vote on the other hand will leave Scotland in the grip of one party rule for the foreseeable future, as the right-wing Conservative Party and formerly left of center Labour Party adopt the same policies in a scramble to secure the crucial votes of those in the south of England.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has even made clear his ambitions to become the male Maggie Thatcher, pledging to govern like the iron lady herself if he becomes U.K. prime minister. The woman who used Scotland’s oil to finance her thirst for war and to destroy the country’s industrial base, is not the type of role model the people want a potential Labour prime minister to follow. And with Miliband now intent on more austerity if he gets the top job, both Westminster parties are on course to destroy the hopes of future generations, with the Child Poverty Action Group revealing that 100,000 more Scottish children will be forced into poverty by 2020 as a result of London’s austerity obsession.
The society of Scotland has a once-in- a-lifetime chance to claim the political powers needed to avert this impending, and — in so many parts of Scotland —already existing, humanitarian crisis.
According to the Financial Times newspaper: “An independent Scotland could expect to start with healthier state finances than the rest of the U.K.”
Scotland’s wealth is being wasted by those who don’t care about the well-being of its people. Only independence can reverse this abomination.
Iain Robertson is editor of Enterprising Energy magazine, and partner at Write Word International.