So the “No” campaign was launched on Monday. Well, well, well, well, well. For the first time ever, I am now confident of independence. Its coming, the union is history.
Talking of history, one of the first entries on the Bitter Together blog is one of the most bastardised historical accounts of the union that I have ever seen. Rightly enough Mair was one of the first proponents for an Anglo-Scottish Union, in a time when there was again military conflict between Scotland and England, following on from the Scottish Wars of Independence, as a means of reducing the slaughter. So they managed to find a Scot that likes the union. Well done, can’t have been easy.
Actually to be fair, they have found several people who like the union and are not afraid to boldly speak their reasons, making a video to construct a definitive case for the union …so lets look at this definitive case.
The video starts with disembodied voices setting out whats great about Scotland and presumably what we are about to lose if we reject the union. The scenery – it just disappears – like Brigadoon. Alexander Graham Bell – only Scottish because of the union. Scotland will forever fall silent after independence, no music or culture ever again – just a silent wasteland of former Scottish people wandering around, wondering what happened, and realising that Scotland only existed because of the Union – a distopia of uncultured savagery. Mad Max meets Braveheart.
Then it gets into individuals setting out their case for the union, and what do you get:
- Patriotism – you can love Scotland, be patriotic and not be supportive of independence
- Education and Healthcare – the two primary areas which are devolved are held up as advantages
- The military – having allies and the military integration of the four nations
- Family allegience – indissoluble family bonds and the sancity of marriage are used to support unionism
- Britnationalism – a continuance of anti-English resentment and worries over hostility to newly liberated Scots
And that’s it. Two of the five themes appeal to nationalism and patriotism (you can be in the union and still want the English to lose at Sport – Bitter Together indeed) and one to the family allegiances. The military features either directly or obliquely on several occasions, with references to us having allies (which presumably means that if we stay in the union then they wont bomb our airports after all), and education and healthcare are both devolved issues. Bizarre – utterly bizarre – we only have an NHS because we have control over it, so the UK state couldnt sell it off and as English education is about to be wrecked, Scotland sees the introduction of a new modern child centred curriculum.
The campaign claims that they want to hear from ordinary people and gain their views on the debate. If the comments on their blog are anything to go by, they’re not going to like them. They were however too feartie to enable either comments or ratings on the youtube launch video. I wonder why that might be?
- I don’t support independence because of patriotism
I support independence because I want to be proud of my country and its place in the world. I want a country that others point to and say “look at that – that’s where we want to be”. Like Sweden on prostitution; Cuba on healthcare; Iceland on constitutional development. And then I will be proud of my country, not because others want the advantages of living in my country, but because they want to realise those advantages for themselves.
- I don’t support independence because we can have the best health or education system.
I support independence because I want my country to have the most equitable systems The best always comes at a price. What good is it having world renown surgeons when the conditions that surgical cleansers work under make them ill? Healthcare isn’t something that should be provided, it is something that should be assured. The validity of education is always in its usage – where knowledge learned is applied to facilitate, rather than to access. The best always comes at someone else’s price.
- I don’t support independence for security reasons.
I support independence because I want my country not to be a threat to the world. I want my country not to contain and maintain weapons of mass destruction. I want to be assured that if my country engages in military struggle it is for our direct protection against a tangible threat.
- I don’t support independence because of belief in pre-existing ties
I support independence because I believe in free association. I believe that those who wish to have relationships with each other should be entitled to have the form and shape of relationship that they chose. That relationships form and end and change character.
- I dont support independence because I dont believe in Britain
I believe in Britain – there is a Britain. I just dont want to be part of it. Britain is union jacks and monarchy. It is a colonialist imperial power. It is symbol of all that is wrong in the world. American imperialism has wreaked havoc yet where did the US get all its ideas. It saw British colonisation first hand and it was from British colonies that the slaves came. The city I live in has fantastic architecture all built on the slave trade. Thats what Britain gave Scotland, access to colonial wealth. I want that ended.
I fundamentally dislike the UK state. I dislike its immigration policy, its military policy and its welfare policies. I don’t believe it is possible to build the country I want to live in within the UK state. And I don’t believe the majority of Scots do either.If you look back to the 1979 referendum, Britain was a softer place, accepting the loss of its colonies, council housing and more social equity. The NHS was unitary and industries nationalised. There were ties and some of them good ones. The ties that bind us now are restrictive ones. In 1979, the majority voted for independence. In 2014 that will be repeated, what we need to ensure is that this time, we are not duped, not gerrymandered, not disenfranchised.
First of all we need to ensure that the question is clear. There needs to be complete clarity over what exactly is being asked. Additional options on the ballot paper make the decision unclear. The question should be a stark one. Written in plain English, Scots and Gaelic with ballot papers available in a variety of alternative languages, including Braille. It should be short, and it should be publicised well in advance.
Secondly we need to ensure that all of those who are entitled to vote have the opportunity to vote. The changes to the housing benefit system, particularly the proposed withdrawal of housing benefit for under 25s is going to see a massive increase in housing insecurity between now and August 2014. In 1992, the conservatives formed a government, defying the polls, on the backs of a significant number of people withdrawing from the electoral register to avoid the poll tax. We must ensure that all can have an opportunity to vote, including alternative criteria of eligibility.
Finally we need to ensure that all Scots who are considered capable of undertaking a legal contract have the right to vote. Those in Scottish prisons should have the right to vote. Sixteen and seventeen year olds should have the right to vote. The Scots are those who live in Scotland – not those who used to, want to or would, but those who live here – all of us.If they can’t simply tell us that “Scotland says No”, there is a significant worry that they will create a “No” for us.
Independence is within grasp, don’t let it be snatched away.
And you too can have the opportunity to “Vote Britain”