Smith Commission Burning: Whit an Embarassment

The latest controversy to hit Scottish politics is a video showing some SNP councillors in Renfrewshire burning a copy of the Smith Commission report. Yup, it seems ridiculous even typing out the words.

Acting like some sort of idiotic school children, the councillors in question fumbled around outside of Renfrewshire House building to burn a copy of the report, declaring:

This is what we think about it. No real powers for Scotland again from Westminster. […] There you go Gordon Brown, cheers.

Before signing off with ‘Happy St. Andrews Day’.

The video was on Youtube, which the BBC have now grabbed and put on their site here, should you want to watch it. Personally, I wouldn’t bother. It’s embarrassing for anybody frankly, irrespective of what political affiliations they might have. To be honest, it shouldn’t come of all that much of a shock that councillors are acting like complete muppets; I thought that was par for the course in local government.

The reaction from both sides to this scandal has been revulsive.

Jim Murphy, ever desperate to be seen as a master orator decried the stunt on Twitter:

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I’m not really sure what video he watched, since the twits couldn’t even light the bloody thing properly, so to say that it was torched is a bit of a leap. None the less, this response is patronising bullshit from a man who has divided his own party, and stood on a crate on streets around Scotland literally shouting in the face of people who disagreed with him. Platitudes like ‘Surely it’s time for Scotland to unite.’ simply betray the lack of concern or understanding for the actual political landscape in Scotland. The actions of a few morons do not equate to the position of the SNP, and it’s both boring and disingenuous to bring them together in such a way. They were suspended, for what it’s worth.

Another tweet doing the rounds came from Jenny Marra MSP (Labour):

Jenny Marra MSP

Leaving aside the use of the ridiculous term ‘The Vow’, which sounds as if it is the name of some daytime reality TV show, there’s no question that she’s right on one thing: the whole burning situation was both idiotic, and embarrassing.

What I find equally embarrassing though, is the idea that somehow the commitment set up by Gordon Brown was ‘promised, voted for and delivered’. What was promised is nowhere near what has been proposed in the Smith Commission (more detailed reading of what’s included is here), and then there’s that key word… proposed. The recommendations in the report will not be ‘delivered’ unless the UK Parliament votes to accept them, and it’s been made clear that that won’t happen until after the next General Election, if it happens at all.

The idea that everything is now fine and that politicians kept their promises and we should get back in our box and stop complaining is not just ludicrous, but insulting. Even if you think that the Smith Commission has been fantastic, and that control over road signs is the apex of devolution, it’s unthinkable that you would consider it to be ‘delivered’ until it’s signed into law.

I responded to the retweet of the above from aspiring Labour party candidate and solicitor Cat Headley to query the above. Instead of a reasoned, articulated response that one might expect, instead she chose to attack me directly – saying that I knew nothing about politics.

It boggles the mind that politicians are so blindsided by tribalism that they will dismiss people who question their statements, or query their position as nothing more than diddies that don’t know what the grown-ups are talking about anyway. Such staggering arrogance is precisely why people are fed up with the entitled attitude towards issues taken by those in political parties. The sooner this contemptuous notion is stamped out, the better.

Of course, stupid begets stupid. In response to the Jim Murphy’s comments, and the ludicrous idea that ‘The Vow’ has been delivered (‘something near to federalism’, remember?), elements of the other side have gone on the offensive.

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This is in reference to the Labour Party’s decision to lead the UK into war in Iraq under dubious (and illegal) circumstances – specifically in relation to Jim Murphy’s support.

There’s been a lot of this floating about, and it’s quite simply a dumb response. One does not dismiss a stupid decision made by one group by upping the ante and equating it literally to another tragic political decision in this manner. It’s petty, lazy, and smacks of die hard factionalism. Frankly, if anything is offensive, it isn’t the burning of the Smith Commission report in the bin, it’s the comparison between Jim Murphy’s idiotic words and a war which has resulted in the loss of an inestimable amount of lives.

The words of Jenny Marra are correct: This incident, and the approach from all sides has been an embarrassment to the Scottish people. Not because of real debates that are being had, but because of the blatant spin, arrogance, and political opportunism demonstrated by all sides in response.

Get a grip.

 

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The ‘Scottish Independence Party’ Are Dangerous Idiots.

Tonight I became aware of the existence of the so called ‘Scottish Independence Party’. No, not the Scottish National Party, but the Scottish Independence Party – apparently set up by Martin Keatings and Deane Syme.

EDIT: I have received a legal threat from Martin Keane, claiming that he and Deane Syme had nothing to do with the ‘party’ except for its initial creation. At his request, I have clarified the above sentence, and added this notice. Read more about that here. 

Haven’t heard of them before now? Nah, me neither. Although going by their Facebook page, it appears that over 34,000 people have liked them previously – presumably for some of the messages they shared during the independence referendum in months gone past. Below is an image taken from their site, describing their mission in a typically self aggrandising manner.

Scottish Independence Party

There have been a whole number of groups springing up recently that are claiming to be stepping in to the void where Labour once stood; to be ‘for the people’ like no other organisation has; to ’empower local communities’ and so forth, so this isn’t really a big surprise. On the face of it, the Scottish Independence Party seems like just another group with big ideals who got a decent recognition for sharing some positive messages via social media. Idealistic, naive, and ultimately doomed to failure.

Tonight however, they revealed their real intentions.

In a post on Facebook, they set out a list of policy positions that they seemed to be considering as part of their push towards some sort of post-referendum step to formal establishment as a party.

The post itself seems to have disappeared from their timeline, but is still accessible here (since been removed).

Have a read for yourselves what they have in mind for a future independent Scotland.

These are IDEAS for POLICIES which our members have been debating on our website. In no way are these set in stone. We need YOUR help to decide which ideas are good and bad. If we’ve missed anything or if you’ve got an idea you’d like added to the list then please fire away!

1. Allow teenagers to get jobs at 15 as opposed to 16.

2. Lower the age to 16 to purchase beer & cider in pubs. (ID required) This will get the youngsters used to drinking so that when they come of age to purchase HARD alcohol from the shops/pubs & nightclubs etc, they won’t obliterate their insides.

3. All officers will be trained in the use of firearms. They will be required to carry them and will subsequently be armed officers who will the be protecting this country on the frontline.

4. Remove Police Community Support Officers as they’re a waste of money & require police backup whenever things go south.

5. Remove the TV licensing fee or lower it as it’s a nuisance and some people struggle to pay it each year.

6. Lower the retirement age. (Self explanatory really.)

7. Death Penalties for Murderers & Convicted Paedophiles. (We don’t need them clogging up the prisons.)

8. Improve the education system despite it being excellent already. (Hands on education/REAL life skills education) – Our education system needs an overhaul. Instead of kids sat looking at a board and being told what to learn and then repeat it in several exams. Learning should be more about on going assessment, asking questions, critical thinking etc and politics should be a part of the curriculum. That way we can take the power from the elite who baffle everyone with jargon and give it to the future generations. Employers are coming out in their droves to complain that kids are coming out of school with no real work place applicable skills. This drastically needs to change.

9. Get rid of speed cameras & bring in a minimum speed limit, not a maximum speed limit.

10. Legalise prostitution. This would be done from registered facilities which pay tax. It would allow girls far more protection and could lower disease rates and drug issues linked to the “profession”.

11. Legalise Cannabis. This includes growing cannabis however DRUG DEALING will still be considered a criminal offence & may get you some time in jail. Honestly, smoking a plant without any added chemicals is considered illegal whereas cigarettes which are known to contain carcinogens are legal. In an ideal world, we’d ban cigarettes but obviously a lot of people would disagree with this. Weed is healthy and has been known to cure things. There have been no deaths from weed EVER yet we see people dying from smoking cigarettes each year.

12.The prison system needs toughened up. They ain’t in there as a reward so they should stop being treated as such. Strip out the pool tables, games consoles, tv’s etc. This would hopefully stop people reoffending & getting thrown back in jail as it’s an easier ride than everyday life. If we removed all the gear then they would be dreading going back to prison.

13. Voting for 16 year olds.

14. Set up an oil fund.

15. A number/licence plate system for cyclists as well as an insurance system for bike riders. We can identify all other vehicles on the road but there is no way of knowing who is riding a bike if they happen to do something they shouldn’t.

16. Allow terminally ill patients to have euthanasia as an option. It’s rather condescending that those without any conditions or terminal illness are the ones who make the decisions regarding those living in severe pain etc. Just as life is a human right then choosing to end your own should be a right also.

This would not be for those suffering depression or having a bad day at work. It would be for people medically diagnosed with terminal, progressive and/or debilitating diseases.

17. Publicly owned services. Public railway,public water, public energy, public oil etc.

18. A nationalised central bank with our own currency. (Suggested by someone in the comments below.)

19. All workers should get a single minimum wage. An 18 year old pays the exact same prices as a 30 year old so why should they not earn the same amount for the same job. Just as females should be paid the exact same as men for the same job. (Suggested by someone in the comments below.)

20. Reduce poverty with the eventual aim of no more food banks. ( Suggested by someone in the comments below.)

21. Legalise handguns, rifles etc. (Not semi-auto or fully auto rifles, only bolt action)

22. Possibly bring back National Service in the event of an Indy Scotland. (Have to serve between 6-12months in either the Army, Marines or Navy etc.)

23. Child benefit and all associated money capped at 2 children for people who ARE NOT working. (Families earning tens of thousands a year just for having several kids is not fair on working families or the system as a whole.)

24. Mandatory driving re-test for old age pensioners (Free of charge by the government) so that they understand all the current driving laws and don’t possess a risk to other motorists or themselves.

25. Segregated schools – What this means is that any pupil who is out of line or unwilling to learn gets three chances to show that they’ve been good in class. If they continue to disrupted then they’ll be placed into a completely different section of the School with the rest of the idiots and kids who think they can disrupt the learning of others. Basically, this would mean that the people who want to learn are able to do that in a controlled environment and those who wish to muck around can be sectioned off elsewhere. Once the kids who have been disruptive or not engaging in class work have improved their overall attitude to school & class work, they can be placed back in their previous class.

26. No Nuclear Weapons on Scottish Soil.

27. Protection for the sick, weak & vulnerable.

28. Better pension & state benefits.

29. No lords that govern Scotland.

30. Make sure that all school children are able to play a musical instrument for free as well as helping students with grants etc.

More policies are likely to be added & some will be improved on. This is just a very basic list of CONCEPT IDEAS for POLICIES so bear in mind that everything is subject to change.

That’s right. Should this bunch of lunatics ever manage to drag themselves up from the mud long enough to actually form some sort of coherent political force, it’s reassuring to note that they would primarily be fighting for those extremely important causes to the ‘needs of the people’ such as eh, bringing back the death penalty, enforcing a minimum speed limit, and who could forget… legalising rifles. (Not semi-automatic or automatics though; that would just be silly.)

The complete lunacy of what is contained above is so far beyond the grasp of any sane person that it’s not worth even considering in any further detail. Whilst one or two of these might seem controversial, yet acceptable, in isolation, the cumulative total of even a portion of the ‘concepts’ to be found within are enough to give fundamentalists on all sides of the political spectrum wet dreams and nervous glances.

So what’s the problem? They’re muppets. Big deal.

The real danger of the Scottish Independence Party is that they have managed to garner such a prima facie establishment of credibility through the high numbers that have ‘liked’ or ‘followed’ their page. On my own friend list there was about ten people who, upon seeing the list published above, immediately removed their connection – embarrassed at the association. Some of them didn’t even realise they had inadvertently liked the page at some point in the past, probably having done so after seeing a passing post related to the #indyref, and an overall positive surface message with which they could relate.

The Scottish Independence Party will tell you that the policies above are merely suggestions by members to be discussed, and that they are giving an open platform for people to get involved in politics, rather than to have ideas shot down at the first hurdle based on ideology or controversy (Indeed, they have edited their statements multiple times to – at least attempt – to make this clearer). However, what they won’t tell you is that they are actively moderating the comments on their post to ensure that dissenting voices are not heard. If you wish to question why the suggestion that homosexuality should be re-criminalised won’t be added, for example, you would find yourself blocked, and the criticisms removed.

Everyone has the right to hold and express extreme ideas. That’s not the issue here. What’s dangerous about the Scottish Independence Party is that they are operating under a false veneer of credibility to peddle selectively chosen, ill-informed, non-sensical and fundamentalist positions; censoring those who call this into question; and doing so whilst claiming to give a voice to the voiceless.

Scottish Independence Party

and eh, who are these chumps? Some sort of edgy upstarts threatening to up-end the Scottish political apple cart? This comment on Reddit sums it up:

Scottish Independence Party

Check the list of pages you like. You might be surprised.

You can see which of your friends likes them by following this link:

https://www.facebook.com/browse/friended_fans_of/?page_id=292488674289406

You may wish to give them a heads up.

Ditch the dangerous idiots that are the Scottish Independence Party.

 

Why I Have Joined the SNP

SNP Logo

I have never even considered joining a political party before this past week, but today I became a member of the SNP.

Party political membership is always something that seemed unnecessary, and opposite to my principles. Why restrict your activism and ideology blindly to the views of the narrow? It seemed like it closed down the possibility for change and revolution rather than enabled it. Rightly or wrongly, party membership is something that is often looked down upon by those who consider themselves free thinkers – including myself.

The past two years has seen an incredible process take place, with more political engagement than ever before – something that was kicked off by the determination of the SNP. Whether you love or loathe Alex Salmond, under his leadership the SNP in Scotland has fought for a commitment to free education, a protection from arbitrary taxes introduced by Westminster (the bedroom tax), and overall a greater voice for Scottish people.

The result of the referendum has made me question in what ways my passion for social justice has been tempered over the past few years, and what I can do to do more in future. I’ve watched as other crestfallen Scots have signed up for membership of the SNP, and I have thought long and hard about whether I should do the same – analysing my own prejudices and fears.

These are the two listed aims in the constitution of the Scottish National Party:

(a) Independence for Scotland; that is the restoration of Scottish national sovereignty by restoration of full powers to the Scottish Parliament, so that its authority is limited only by the sovereign power of the Scottish People to bind it with a written constitution and by such agreements as it may freely enter into with other nations or states or international organisations for the purpose of furthering international cooperation, world peace and the protection of the environment.

(b) the furtherance of all Scottish interests.

In their code of conduct for members, there is a number of other statements, such as:

‘No member may make racist statements in any context’

and

‘Every member has a responsibility not to discriminate in his or her conduct on the ground of race, colour, gender, religious belief or non-belief or sexual orientation’.

It’s time to nail my colours to the mast. These are aims and values I am happy to sign up to.

If we are forced to participate in the party political process, I want to be aligned with one that will fight for real change. By joining the growing swell of people making their commitment to these aims this week (and creating the third biggest political party in the UK so far), I’m determined not to let the dream for a better country fall by the wayside. Membership will also allow me to more effectively challenge the policies of the SNP with which I disagree (like minimum alcohol pricing).

Next year in May we vote in a UK wide general election. It’s time to give Labour a hammering, and send a message that the way things are just now is unacceptable. This isn’t the end of the story.

Join us here.

Scotland: Fighting for a fairer nation doesn’t stop here.

Loss

It’s difficult to find the words to explain how I felt on Friday the 19th of September.

Partially as the result of getting caught up in the passion of the movement, I hadn’t quite prepared myself for how deeply emotional a No vote would be, or quite how hard it would knock me sideways. Somewhere deep down, my heart and soul simply refused to accept that the Scots would vote against their own independence when given the chance. It was unlike anything I have ever felt before, and left me feeling completely adrift; seriously questioning whether the things I had always believed about my country were true. The only way I can think to describe it is like discovering that a friend you have always looked up to has betrayed you right at the point you placed the most faith in them, and that any sneaking suspicions you had about the flaws in their character were proven to be true.

It’s difficult to articulate this in a way that won’t sound either contrived or naive to those looking in on this from the outside. It’s easy to see this as the sore response of someone on the losing side, but that would be a gross simplification.

I cried alone, but also alongside my fellow Scots, not just for the nation that we could have had, but because it felt like the nation which we believed in might never have existed at all. For the first time, it was our own people that had stood against us, and that was the hardest thing to accept of all.

What was the point now? With our rejection of independence, what were we meant to do to hold those in power to account? Did we even deserve anything, given that we rejected our chance to have real say or control? Was this really the country and people that I had grown up to believe were stoic and courageous? Seeing British nationalist neo-nazis with Union Flags causing chaos in Glasgow wasn’t shocking or new by any means, but felt like the final nail in the coffin. The image of those thugs ripping the Saltire from the hands of a broken lassie on the ground will stay with me forever. We were once again just voiceless subjects, and we had done it to ourselves.

I went to bed battered and dejected, and I know I’m not the only one who shed more than a few tears – not because my political views had been rejected, but because the image I had of my country had been shattered. Picking up my crumpled kilt, I hung my Saltire over the chest of drawers at the end of the room. I was unsure about what these symbols even meant anymore. I didn’t know if the Scotland I believed in was simply fantasy, or if I wanted to be associated with what had happened. This simple act felt like I was giving one last chance for them to develop meaning again.

Recovery

Waking up on the 20th, things felt different. The unexpected, crushing feelings of loss from yesterday were still there, but the sharp pain had been removed.

I thought back to what I had read and felt over the previous days, and how some of my friends had responded with such admirable resilience in the face of adversity. Despite longing to resonate with the virtues expressed in the likes of ‘Wipe your eyes. On your feet‘, I just didn’t. It was too early, and seemed far too militant. I had expected more, and needed time to grieve. For the first time I had felt loss I couldn’t rationalise away, and this wasn’t going to be as easy to just pick myself up from defiantly.

Beautiful and inspiring things were said by many people, and in the clear light of day they began to take on new clarity. Through the fog, I could feel the fire begin to return to my heart. See here for just one example.

The vision of the independence campaign had made me forget that Scotland is often a damaged, and impoverished place, marred by sectarianism and shameful violence. I was far from an activist, but felt like we had almost achieved what we hoped and dreamed about. Seeing so many people passionate about social justice was a victory in itself. To those who decried the entire debate itself, I contest that it has been one of the most engaging events in Scottish political history. The turnout speaks for itself.

For me, this referendum was about the chance to make real and fundamental changes to the country we lived in: to scrap nuclear weapons, to make a commitment to free education, and to ensure political accountability for and to the Scottish people. Whilst I, and 45% of the country believed the best way to achieve this was through independence, the values expressed are those articulated and shared by those from both sides.

The Scotland all of us envisaged might not exist yet, but that’s even more the reason for all of us to fight for it.

Independence

Let’s be clear: the Scottish people had the chance to vote for independence, and they said no.

I may be heartbroken about this, but that is what has happened. Those questioning the validity of the process, or pushing for some elusive recount are doing no good for any of us. Either way, the people have spoken; Salmond has resigned; and the decision has been made.

That said, this does not mean that we have to accept that the current situation is the best option for Scotland, and I don’t.

The question about Scottish independence may well be resolved for a generation, but the fight for Scotland’s future has just begun.

In recent years there has often been talk about younger Scots being opposed to Thatcher merely because of historical precedent, rather than through actual understanding or experience. Well now we have experienced first hand the full mechanisms of the British establishment in action. Whatever side of the vote we came down on, the debate was filled with empty promises and misinformation from those we have come to trust. Never has the duplicitous agenda of those in power been so obvious, and this is coming from somebody who always believed such espousals to be mere biased paranoia. The media and political parties rallied together for their own benefit, rather than a desire to seek what was best for Scotland.

Whilst I believe I will see Scottish independence in my lifetime, that is not the question for today, or even tomorrow. Now, more than ever, we have to stand together to fight for our common values – irrespective of our differing views on self determination.

What has been, and what lies ahead

For weeks, the atmosphere in Scotland was electric; the country felt alive.

The majority of people in Glasgow, the UK’s third biggest city… my city… voted to leave the UK.

Reservations have been expressed about the seeming redundancy of our national anthem Flower of Scotland, particularly over the line ‘we can still rise now, and be a nation again’.

Know what? I’ve never felt more like a nation than in the past few weeks. The real disgrace isn’t voting no; it’s to let go of the dynamic and push for real transformative justice – across party political divides.

From the article in Bella Caledonia mentioned earlier, these words hit home for me:

‘Armed with little more than social media, blogs, and DIY creativity, we tried to take on the might of the British state and the vast power and wealth of the British establishment. And for a few weeks we had them terrified. Hold on to that feeling and be proud of it.’

Finding those common bonds that united us over the previous weeks is vital. For me, the momentum still exists for change… possibly even stronger now that it is not tied to a single ideological question.

Whilst these are my own views, those that have conspired to influence the Scottish people for their own agenda should count their days numbered. We are slow to forget, and just as we have reduced the Tories to insignificance in Scotland, so too will we reject the complicity and hollow vows of the BBC, Labour party, and Liberal Democrats. You’ve shown your hand, and now we are going to come after you.

I love Glasgow, and I love Scotland. Today I am proud to be Scottish, but perhaps for different reasons than I was before. I am proud of us dreaming and debating what a better future might look like – whether that is together or independent. Now that the majority has spoken, it’s time to ensure that the shared values that rose to the surface are pursued.

Let’s keep asking the difficult questions and challenging the status quo.

Fighting for a fairer nation doesn’t stop here.

Scotland’s loss of hope.

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photo by my friend Neil Slorance. http://www.neilslorance.com

 

I truly believed that Scotland would vote for independence.

For the past few weeks, we had dared to dream about what sort of country Scotland should be. It felt like we had found the beginnings of a new identity based on our shared values. The atmosphere was electric; the hope intoxicating.

Today, I feel lost.

We had the chance to do something brave, and amazing. We had the chance to rid our country of nuclear weapons; to declare our commitment to human rights; to challenge the political establishment, and to finally have a real say in our future. Instead, Scotland voted to remain part of the UK.

Watching the results come in, I found tears streaming down my face.

That hope. Those dreams. The ones that my fellow Scots had articulated so passionately, along with the common bond that we had felt… all of it was crushed.

I fear that the Scotland that I have always believed in, might really be nothing more than a fantasy. Rather than the fiercely proud, open minded, and liberal nation, we have shown that we are actually the far more conservative version that rarely gets talked about. The one that we desperately don’t want to believe in. The one that chooses the safe option. The one that breeds Sectarianism.

Tonight I sit and watch the scenes that are unfolding in Glasgow. The sea of blue flags replaced by Union Jacks emblazoned with ‘No Surrender’. The nazi salutes. The gangs of thugs violently attacking people who have Saltires and Scotland tops.

Rightly or wrongly, I feel like I’ve lost my country.

I wish I could take comfort in the good that was expressed during this whole debate; vowing to double efforts to fight for a better future, against inequality… but I can’t. I feel defeated.

The spirit of the people around me made me feel intensely proud to be Scottish. Now, I’m not sure what that even means.

Scottish Independence: Why I Am Voting Yes

Scottish Independence

In less than two weeks, the people of Scotland will have voted on whether or not we wish to be a country independent from the existing United Kingdom.

There has been a huge amount of debate, which predictably hasn’t all been the most civilised at the best of times. I’ve tried to resist the urge to get involved in every online discussion, confining my personal views to in-person gatherings of a few friends (and over a lot of whisky). The times I have chosen to delve in, I’ve been attacked (from both sides) in the most bizarre and arbitrary ways. Like many others, I feel like it’s often more hassle than it’s worth to nail your colours to the mast.

All of that said, I passionately believe in Scottish independence. I don’t expect you to agree, but it would be remiss of me not to explain why.

Here’s the main reasons why I am voting yes:

The following is dependent on the understanding that despite the current political union, Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland are all distinct countries. If you disagree with that premise, then that becomes a whole different set of questions.

Constitutionally, Scotland’s people have no practical say in the government of the United Kingdom.

For me, this is the most important reason of them all.

Even if every eligible Scottish voter was to vote for one single party (and that’s not too far off the truth), it would make no real difference to the outcome of the UK General Election. As a result, there is very little pressure on governments in Westminster to listen to the needs of those in Scotland. How can there be accountability if there is no way for Scottish voters to impact those who get into power?

Scotland has a distinct political identity from other parts of the UK, with different priorities and problems. This is evidenced by the different approaches to issues such as higher education funding, and the detention of families seeking asylum.

If the Scots want to vote for the Tories, or decide to have nuclear weapons on the Clyde, or to ditch the European Convention of Human Rights… then that is fine. Ultimately, whether Scotland votes to the left, right, or middle is irrelevant. Whatever the choices though, let’s make sure that the people who live in Scotland decide for themselves, and have a real say over the government that holds power over them.

I believe that Scottish people need to take responsibility for their own decisions, and not just whinge about ‘the English’, or Thatcher, or ‘that government we didn’t vote for’.

As the result of the makeup of the UK government, Scots currently have the most convenient get out of jail free card in any debate. Sure, it might be awful how immigrants are treated, or that we sent troops to Iraq in pursuit of a war that was later discredited, but hell… we didn’t vote for the government that made those calls anyway.

This is a dangerous situation, which only serves to increase complacency. Things might suck, but that’s not really our responsibility. We’ve been marginalised politically, so they can sort it out.

Scotland has to take responsibility for its role and actions in the world – both the successes and the failings – not just hide behind the current political situation. An independent Scotland will no longer be able to blame all of our flaws on our neighbour south of the border – which can only be a good thing.

Scots have no business voting on issues that only affect English people. The West Lothian question needs resolved once and for all.

This anomaly created by devolution remains unresolved. Funny how nobody really likes to bring that up now though, eh? Political parties (mostly Labour) have cynically abused the fact that Scottish MPs can push through their own selfish policies against the wishes of local people. This has to stop, and independence is the logical resolution. Leave decisions that affect people in a particular area to those that are elected to represent the people that live there.

Here’s what I’m not concerned about:

There’s a whole host of common issues that are brought up in the course of almost any discussion about independence, despite their basis being shaky at best. Most of these are addresses in the pro-independence publication the ‘wee blue book‘. Here’s a few in particular that I hear often, and that I’m not concerned about.

Division

Denying self determination on the basis that we should seek to avoid disagreement is fundamentally flawed. We do not live in one state-less, unified world; determining the limits and practicalities of political power is something that is perfectly normal.

Asserting that your own people should make their own decisions is not about encouraging conflict but about taking self-responsibility. Voting for independence isn’t a statement against any neighbour, but an insistence that you have the right to control the decisions that affect your future. We support this in plenty of other situations, so let’s not reverse that because it doesn’t suit us with regards to Scottish independence.

Giving up your right to have a real say in your life in order to avoid conflict is neither a healthy, nor sustainable option – and a bad argument for rejecting independence.

Currency and Borders

The contention that an independent Scotland would not be allowed to use the Pound is sheer fantasy. There are plenty of examples throughout the world where currencies are used with no formal approval from the originating country. Anybody who takes this position is simply playing a card to try and put pressure on people to vote no. “Well, if you vote yes then you can’t have our money!!” – it’s pish, pure and simple.

I almost can’t quite believe that the question of borders is even realistically being pursued as an issue. We already have a prime example of where a ‘foreign’ country has open borders with the UK in our neighbours across the water in the Republic of Ireland. There are specific agreements that regulate the movement of people across these borders, and the idea that this couldn’t be extended to Scotland is nonsense. Like currency, it may well require negotiation, but to use as a weapon to dismiss independence is either ignorant of wilfully misleading.

Europe

Want to talk about conflict? The UK government consistently leads us into conflict with our closest of allies in Europe. Specifically, the current CON-DEM coalition is seeking to have us withdraw from many of the international agreements and unions that bind us together – including those that assure the protection of basic human rights. That isn’t just about being able to chuck some terrorist with a hook out of the country when we feel like it by the way – but the formal rescindment of our commitment to the end of capital punishment, and the use of torture.

With regards to Scotland’s membership of the European Union, the European Commission has said that they would give a definitive answer to the question if asked. So why don’t we have that yet? Because only the UK Government can formally request them to do so. They won’t.

That aside, this situation is without precedent in the EU. There are countless people in Scotland who have been European citizens by dint of the UK’s membership for decades. If independence nullified that overnight, there would be a far bigger headache than any administration would be able to handle – including those who are currently in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland through the rights of their partners. The European Community was not designed to allow for countries exiting, but to reduce barriers, harmonise laws, and further entrench members. It’s in nobody’s interests to exclude Scotland from the EU.

Whatever you decide, if you can vote, make sure that you do. This isn’t just some drop in the ocean like so many other elections, but one where what you vote can really make a difference. Demonstrate just how important this is, and whether the ultimate choice is to affirm the union, or declare independence, don’t let Scotland be dismissed.