Scotland: a nation, not a region


Special To The Japan Times

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.

  • Paul Wilson

    That sums it all up nicely vote YES.

  • Jimmy McHeggis

    “Die before you retire”

    Love it.

  • Well said.

  • Clatchard Craig

    The elite in Westminster and Whitehall are terrified of Scottish independence for two reasons.

    In the short term, they would lose control of Scotland’s vast wealth. This would be bad enough. In the long term, however, a thriving, Social Democratic Scotland governed from a proportionately-elected parliament would raise awkward questions among the English people.

    Viz: We were told that Scotland was impoverished and subsidised. Did our rulers lie to us? If so, can we trust all the other things they’ve told us? Do we really need the House Of Lords? Is it healthy that half the seats in the House Of Commons never change hands? Pandora’s box will have been opened.

  • Alexander Lough

    I have had enough of this verbal diatribe from our politicians,they have made me more determined to vote YES. Enough is enough of this foreign governance,what we vote for under the present system doesn’t give us the government we select. There for we have to vote YES,give the Scottish nation what it wants,not what WASTEMINSTER wants. HAIL CALIDONIA.

  • “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.”

    Unsure why this is the tact taken. You can charge the movement for independence with the same “self-interest”. So making this kind of jab is totally void of any meaning. The facts are the facts.

  • Starviking

    Typical bile, bluster, and poorly sourced “facts”. Why is Trident in Scotland? Probably for the same reason the USN had their SSBNs at Holy Loch: waters suited for subs, and close to their patrol areas – the Arctic Seas. It’s of note the prior nuclear deterrent, the V-Bombers, were located largely in the Home Counties, as there were better facilities there, and they were closer to their targets.

    As for the FT saying that Scotland could be better off at independence – so what? How about the long run? How about solid plans beyond ‘it’ll be all right”?

    And what of the EU? Scotland has no assured right of membership, according to many.

    And what of currency union? Some anonymous official says it’ll be all right and that becomes a slam-dunk?

    There’s more wishful thinking that just those: the SNP says they’ll keep shipbuilding on the Clyde, that the RN will have to order ships from Scotland – even though EU rules forbid non-competitive warship orders. They also say they’ll keep discriminating against English, Welsh, and Northern Irish students who will be entitled to study for free at Scottish Unis under EU Law.

    • Starviking

      And more…most people in the UK know that Scotland is a nation, not a region. Regions are for subdivisions of England – countries/nations are for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Hence ‘the Home Nations’.

  • orkers

    Scotland will elect a government to speak for it’s people. Westminster rarely does that nowadays.
    ‘Yes’ is the intelligent choice. What country would vote to have another country impose it’s will upon it’s people?

    • National govts impose their interests upon your parochial regional interests, as the Brits do, so where is the point of distinction? Will sovereignty lie in the regions? What if this process leads you to war – does Britain help you? No govt can speak for its people. Representation is a myth to subjugate. People are sovereign; they have their own minds. Before you can have consensus, you must have a political process that reconciles ideas. Representative democracy is not it. You will find a reason to disagree with your compatriots in the same way you did with Brits when that ‘freedom’ lies with you. Where is the intellectual values to make this work. You’ve not ‘won your freedom’ with this vote; you have just opened up a fight you never knew you had. That’s great, but I bet you are not ready to win it. The minority who perhaps are, will be swamped by the emotive majority who will just turn it into a muck.

      • Ian Kirkwood

        Andrew, Britain is an island and iScotland will still be “British”. The UK will cease to exist. The point of distinction is self determination based on the values of fairness and social justice. A different future to the current path of the UK demands fundamental change. Believe me.

      • I think Ian you use that word ‘self determination’ too readily. When you say ‘self’, you are really just talking about a smaller collective. You won’t in fact be self-determined, and all of your talk about ‘social justice’ only shows that you are fathoming some similar rhetoric of collectivism that already exists in England/Britain….which makes me posit that its just another franchise for tyranny. Its not a competition; they all copy the same formula. Different players, same model. Your faith I think is misguided….at least on what you have expressed so far.

    • dhnicoll

      slight flaw in your comment.. we are all in the same country still

  • Moray Nicol

    The distinctive values that are going to make Scotland better are those of social justice, a fairer society and a country and system that is set for the modern world. The second Scottish Enlightenment can show the whole world a better way

    • Social justice = fairness? So a more socialism economy. Less aspirational? That sounds divisive. Do you think that might lead the wealthy in Scotland to leave for Britain? Might Scotland then degenerate into a welfare state? There seems to be a derision for Brits aspirations, more than any ‘Scottish Enlightenment’. If you are not having an Enlightenment now, I severely doubt you will have it under the motivation of a collective ‘representative’ mob. I don’t see any deep-seated value proposition. I see more of a Russian style derision for the West. Ian Lowe (above) does give it a good go.

  • Ian Lowe

    This is the key focus of the Common Weal, an initiative to understand what the Scottish Psyche is about, what we wish for – and what we are finding is not that we are some exceptional, unusual people, but rather that we are very similar to our northern european cousins; we have more in common with the nordic countries than we do with the anglo-american hard nosed capitalism. Entrepreneurship, but with a social conscience. I disagree profoundly that this a rejection of what Britain has offered in the past – it is a rejection of what Britain offers in the future; more wars, more global antagonism and interventionism, more privatisation and exploitation of public services for the good of a very few with entrenched power and money. The darkest irony is that Blair’s new labour project was the final nail; confirming that no matter which party was in power in westminster, the current order of things would remain the same for the foreseeable future. That is the future that we will be rejecting when we (hopefully) vote Yes in september.

    • I like the answer. Do you think its shared by a good majority of your fellow Scots?

      • Ian Kirkwood


      • I didn’t mean the ‘short answer’, but the explanation or justification. lol. The short answer comes easy.

      • Ian Lowe

        I believe so – there are certainly a significant number of people who have not been involved in any political activity before, but have become involved in the campaign (including me) – I find when speaking to people at events and in the street that there is a strong desire to see the sort of social justice led approach that Common Weal proposes be adopted in Scotland.

  • Joe Ninety

    It’s notable that hatred has only been raised in this discussion by the ‘No’ side. And that only the ‘No’ side is resorting to insults and rude language.


    Oh dear, what a bitter and distorted view of our land.

    A neutral may gain the false impression that the majority of Scots favour independence.

    Might also be unaware the First Minister has promised the US a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in respect of US nuclear weapons.

    Might also be under the impression the Scotland is oppressed rather than being a thriving member of a Union of equals who provides many of the senior politicians and managers in all walks of life within the UK.

    The nationalist propaganda machine is in full flow, distorting and selectively quoting as it does. From the same FT article that the above quote comes from “In a research paper this week, James Knightley, senior economist at ING, said the high transition costs of separation and uncertainties over currency and the terms of EU membership meant that the material benefits of independence were “far from clear”.
    Please read the full Scottish independence series in the FT for a more balanced and less rabid view.

    My only surprise is that Iain hasn’t come right out and called pro Union supporters quislings or traitors.

    • I think its a good thing for the right reason. Costs willingly carried for the right value proposition. These exponents seem to willing to buy the car without reading the contract. Because they think they want a car. They don’t care what type of car; they just hope it will be better than the last car, because they think there is something inherently better about change.

    • Deirdre Murray

      There’s the rub… Scotland is far from being a ‘thriving’ member of a union of ‘equals’!

      • Starviking

        How are you discriminated against then? We have had Scottish PMs in the UK. If any part of the UK can be said to be ‘not equal’ it would be Northern Ireland, where no one is allowed to vote for a major political party because they won’t set up there.

        As for thriving, shipbuilding, renewable energy, and finance all benefit greatly from Scotland being in the UK. Leaving the UK will have a long-term effect on all of those. A few years ago it seemed like being another Celtic Tiger like Southern Ireland was possible – but reality has knocked that for six.

  • Susan McCrae

    But you don’t pay prescription charges to keep them free for Scots.

    We contribute more tax money than we get back as our budget. How our parliament chooses to then spend our budget is up to them, and if that means subsidising the prescriptions to make them free, so be it. England could also have free prescriptions, but the parliament choose not to do it. Perhaps you should direct your anger towards them instead of making us your scapegoat.

  • Waldo Tim

    What nonsense R moorhouse wrote about Scots hating the English when all you have to do is read the comments on the daily mail website especially when there is some thing written about Scotland its all anti Scottish bile, jjust like their TV channels, Ray Winston’s was onTV months ago slagging the Scots, the wine theif Richard madely on channel five also slagging the Scots off, but yet nothing is said because its an everyday occurrence that they don’t even notice it

  • Stewart Lloyd-Jones

    Why do you assume it is because you pay prescription charges that we in the Celtic nations get them for free? One does not follow the other. It is about priorities. Out of the money we are given back from Westminster (out of the money we contribute through our taxes), our government decided to abolish prescription charges. Since the Scottish Government has to balance its budget and cannot borrow money, savings had to be made elsewhere in the overall budget. The government in Westminster could abolish prescription charges whenever it likes – that it chooses not to is not the fault of the Welsh, Scots or Irish, but rather of the politicians you choose to represent you. And just because you think Scots and Welsh hate you doesn’t make it true. It really is not about you, it’s about us. Get over it.

  • Starviking

    I am in half agreement with you, but I have to point out that part of the problem is that there are a large number of English people who see England and Britain / The United Kingdom as being synonymous.

    As a teen I remember seeing a Scotland vs. England football match on TV and was gob-smacked to see the England supporters were waving Union Jacks at their ‘opponents’.

    If the Yes vote wins, there will be big change, but even with a No vote there will have to be a big change in attitudes in some parts of the UK.

  • Nicola

    You don’t pay for Prescriptions simply so Scots and Welsh can have them free. The Scottish Government chooses to use the Scottish peoples taxes to allow free prescriptions. Westminster chooses to use their taxes elsewhere. Were you even aware Scottish people pay taxes too? In fact looking at recent GERS figures, Scotland pay more than they get back and have done for years. Why do you think Westminster are so keen to hang on to them?

  • Tony

    As a Scot, I can say with certainty that I don’t hate you for being English, or if you prefer British, it has nothing to do with hating anyone. It is for me about having a fairer society for my family to live in, and the ability to change things for the better. As for prescription charges, Scotland pays for those from our budget, which if you research the matter you will find we put in more than we take out of the UK in tax so this is in no way subsidised by rUK or England. Maybe, as the article above says, England will move for change too once Scotland has it’s independence, and you too can be free of the unelected few who have a lifelong income and say over our lives.

  • Deirdre Murray

    The Scots and Welsh do NOT hate you! Don’t take it personally because we want independence

  • Deirdre Murray

    I couldn’t have said it better myself! :)

  • Starviking

    So you’re saying you want to protest, but my comments overwhelm your objections?

  • Ian Lowe

    Sorry John, but it’s you that are in the minority. the largest section of our electorate don’t care; of those with strong opinions, those of us in the Yes campaign outnumber you by quite a margin. You may be feeling comfortable because the media within the UK is ridiculously biased towards the union, and loves to portray every possible story as some sort of “setback” for the Yes campaign… the truth on the ground, with those of us involved in actual campaigning is very, very different.

    • dhnicoll

      Unfortunately the polls don’t agree with your prejudiced viewpoint.. declared No voters still outnumber declared Yes voters

  • As an Englishman I wholeheartedly support Scottish independence. The “regions” of England the author mentions however are completely undemocratic and therefore illegitimate. These regions are the UK parliament’s solution to the political inconvenience of England – any division is better for Westminster than an English parliament working in the English interest. Scottish independence will be the best thing to happen to England – ever – so good luck, you can do it.

  • Chris Broad

    My main concern about Scottish independence is the potential tensions it could create between the countries of the UK should it become independent. I’m proud to be part of a nation that unites everyone together – I don’t see any lines between the borders of Scotland or Wales or Northern Ireland, I see a group of people working together in the world for the greater good.

    I’m all in favour of Scotland having greater control over it’s own affairs and it should it vote to stay, I have no doubt the changes would be made to see that happen.

    What worries me is the nationalists who claim that English people hate Scots, because the truth of the matter is, English people don’t dislike Scots or look down upon them and to use this kind of old fashioned rhetoric is damaging and inaccurate.

    Also, to the cite the Daily Mail website is very unwise – the people who comment on there are by no means an accurate representation of British people. They are a minority (and a foolish, easily manipulated one at that).

    I hope the Scottish people choose to stay, as together we’ve achieved such incredible things and combined, as one of the most powerful nations in the world today, our voices can continue to be heard up at the top table.

    • Relationships might be better if they have to respect you as a counterpart; rather than taking your resources for granted. It goes both ways. Scots need to mature sure they respect their wealthy; and not bleed them like a sponge, because I suspect they would readily move their properties to England.

    • Stuart Muir

      Scotland will receive no meaningful addition powers if a no vote is delivered, in fact the exact opposite in a reduction in the monies paid via the Barnett Formula. You state we have achieved wonderful things together, do you mean food banks the width and breadth of the country, Poll Tax, Bedroom Tax, Sir! wake up and smell the coffee.

  • Starviking

    A history lesson might help.

    1707: Scotland and England join as the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

    1801: Ireland joins, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

    1922: Southern Ireland leaves the UK. The UK becomes the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    2015?: Scotland leaves the UK. The UK becomes the United Kingdom of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

    See? Still the UK.

    • Ian Kirkwood

      Only one problem. NI and Wales have never been Kingdoms

      • Starviking

        That would be a problem if my country’s name was the United Kingdoms, but it’s the United Kingdom.

  • Ian, if I was a Scot, I would be voting Yes too, but I’d want to do everything in my power, irrespective of my homeland, to make sure Scotland enters that arrangement ‘all knowing’, so they don’t stuff it up. You might consider that there are a great many people subjugated to other countries looking for a successful role model for secession from the (British) system. i.e. Tasmania from Australia perhaps a case in point, Alaska from USA. The pressure :)

  • dhnicoll

    So why don’t you mention the raft of regular polls which have consistently shown that the No vote still leads?

  • Gary Scott

    Great article. It won’t influence the voters though. Information supportive of the Yes viewpoint goes unreported. News organisations are blind to these articles and deaf to the voices of the people. The media are rightly thorough in questioning independence but accept at face value any statement by British Nationalists

  • Irene Duncan

    Iain, I do not know you, but this is the best piece of writing I have yet seen on Independence. I have posted and shared on facebook and encouraged others to do so. Well done you.

  • The other home nations have their own assemblies. Only England lacks…

    • Starviking

      Fair enough, though I would fear an English Parliament would be unbalancing for the UK: it would represent about 11/12th of the UK population. How do you feel about elected regional assemblies?

  • Starviking

    I don’t think it would be the Yes campaign itself messing with online polls, however individuals, and people from outside Scotland could be factors. I’ve voted twice, as an experiment, for No on that site – and I live in Japan.

  • Starviking

    That’s one data point, no proof of a conspiracy.

  • Starviking

    And often use ‘British’ to mean ‘English’

  • Starviking

    Sam, the fact remains that the majority of UK shipbuilding is in Scotland. As I said in another post, you have 2 aircraft carriers, and potentially all of the Royal Navy’s warships being built there.

    I wish we had more, and that qualified craftsmen like yourself had more opportunities at home, but the industry has been hit badly by cheaper commercial yards in Korea and Poland. Warships, at least, can be kept in Scotland, and it is skilled work.

  • Starviking

    That was not the case for the Republic of Ireland, how can you be sure a new Kingdom of Scotland will be so pure?

  • Chris Broad

    If it wasn’t given more powers, I can assure you Cameron and friends would take a thorough beating.

    • Stuart Muir

      Chris, naivety comes to mind!!

  • Starviking

    That’s a fair point on getting your system swamped by the rest of the UK, though it still is discrimination – just understamdable. However, the SNP has said they will continue to discriminate, even if if they leave the UK but stay in the EU. That is illegal.

  • Starviking

    Agreed on the centralisation of power in London being bad. Greater devolution would be great too. Perhaps we should have moved to a Federal UK a long time ago, so these actions could have been instituted more easily.

  • Starviking

    I think you are clutching at straws. Why is the poll still up on a No site? Perhaps they feel they have to keep it up? Perhaps they are looking into what is happening with the poll?

    • Don MacLeod

      I don’t agree that I’m clutching at straws at all. I’m not making that big a deal out of this poll – merely pointing to it as an example of a poll that massively bucks the trend.

      I have no idea why they still have the poll up – you’d really need to ask them that question. And while you’re at it, you might like to ask them why they allow visitors to vote multiple times? Maybe they’re hoping that No voters will flock to cast their votes and turn the tide!!

      As you rightly point out – the fact that visitors are being allowed to vote multiple times immediately raises questions as to its credibility.

      However, they can analyse their visitors logs and actually see whether foreign visitors are voting or not and they can also tell whether they have multiple voting visits from the same IP address. If they were to analyse and publish their stats it would clear a lot of these legitimate questions up. Perhaps they have an interest in leaving these doubts in people’s minds.

  • Ian Kirkwood

    Andrew, this point has already been flogged to death in the wider debate. You seem to want a high level intellectual discussion which I believe is misplaced. The main point here is that WM is not working for Scotland, self determination, worts and all, presents a better, fairer and aspirational alternative to more of the same.
    Are you proposing that NZ creates a union with Australia, Fiji, etc?

    • Ian, why do you deride ‘intellectual discussions’? The most compelling ‘men of action’ are those with obsessive-compulsive disorders by your standard. Agreed, WM is not working, but creating a smaller franchise is not going to give you ‘self-determination’; it will just leave you ‘determined’ by a smaller franchise. There needs to be a substantive point of difference; not an incidental one. If you and others don’t realise that, you will just grow more weary and cynical. I’m not for or against Scotland or NZ independence; it depends on the context in which its done. If there were reformists with a model for compelling substantive change that would achieve justice, then I’d support it, but otherwise, its just another extortion racket accepted on faith.

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