Guest Post from Kirsty McAlpine
Reproduced with thanks from Women for Independence, via Bella Caledonia. The mission statement for Women for Independence states: ““We will ensure that there will be a space for women’s voices and interests in the campaign. Independence will create opportunities for women to engage in developing a fully democratic vision for Scotland’s future. Women should play a central role in achieving independence.”
A week or two ago, I was asked by a Better Together supporter on twitter why it was that I supported independence. My pithy less than 140 characters response;
“In a nutshell, I hope for a better country for us all like many other small indy neighbours.”
I was struck by the reply back “same as every other supporter can’t give us reasons. I just can’t see it working, nothing wrong at the moment” because the idea that everything is fine at the moment flies in the face of the experience of many of my friends and family, the people that I come into contact with in my work and, I’m certain, many of the people reading this blog.
How depressing if this were to be as good as it gets?
Rising inequality sees the UK as the fourth most unequal country in the developed world where the richest 1% of people in share between them 14% of the wealth and where the poorest half among us share 10% of the wealth. This year the UK placed 23rd on Save the Children’s list of Best places in the World to be a mother (a fall from joint 10th last year). We now have to contend with the iniquitous, nefarious bedroom tax, a “solution” looking for a problem in Scotland; over the last decade the Scottish housing benefit budget for the social rented sector increased by only 6%, over the same period in London, it increased by 122%. And we continue to read daily horror stories of the lengths people are driven to because of welfare reforms that target the weakest and most vulnerable in our society instead of those with the broadest backs who could (and should) contribute more.
All in all, the thought that this is “UK OK”, the paucity of any sort of compassion, and No supporters believing that there is nothing wrong at the moment makes me even more determined to secure a Yes vote next year.
Poll after poll after poll tells us that we need many more women like you and I to vote Yes to be in with any shout of winning our much needed independence. How do we get there?
We know that in so many of the areas where Westminster fails us, that it is women that are far harder hit – 94% of the cuts to household budgets this year will affect women. And the coalition’s inertia around raising the minimum wage (which far many more women than men are on) to a living wage in order to match their rhetoric of making all work pay a reality, does little to inspire confidence about Westminster’s ability to ever starting to work for women.
We need to shout from the rooftops that Westminster doesn’t work for us. Ask your undecided friends and family why, if Westminster didn’t work for your mum, or aunty, or granny, do you think that it will work for your daughter, niece, or granddaughter in the future?
We have the opportunity to overhaul the way that we do things in Scotland. To make our country fairer by introducing truly progressive taxes and continuing to invest in our universal public services so that they are something we remain proud of paying for, not, as has been suggested, something we get for nothing. We could lead the world in renewable and green energy and climate justice – we certainly get the rain and wind for it. We can make Scotland one of the best countries in the world for our citizens to grow up in, and follow our small sized neighbours in making big contributions to targeted aid and development to make lives better for people all over the world. And that is the tip of the iceberg of what we could do with the full, normal, powers of an independent state.
Yet with words like naw, cannae be done, separation, terrifying, uncertainty, warning, and risk, the scaremongering that is peddled by the other side is oftentimes so hysterical we’d be forgiven for thinking that the sky will fall around us on day one of independence. Be assured – it won’t.
The opportunity presented to us in the independence referendum is exciting. It is not something that I, you, or any other woman (or man) should be afraid of. I trust the people of Scotland to make the best choices about our future. And if we keep getting our positive message out there, I trust them to vote Yes for a better future for all of us.