Scotland has been given an incredible opportunity. We are being given — by democratic process, and peaceful negotiation — the chance for something that people of other countries have fought and died for.
We’re being given the chance for our country to have a voice of its own; to take control of its own future; to be governed my it’s own citizens.
In five days, we will have made our decision as to whether that’s something we want.
We know that independence won’t be easy. We know that there are risks involved. Anyone who would deny that is a liar. Likewise, is anyone who would deny the risks of staying part of the Union.
We’re told that taxes could rise in an independent Scotland. That same risk still exists as part of the Union: only last year, the government in Westminster imposed on us the “Bedroom Tax”, placing undue burden on those most vulnerable in society, with the Scottish Government spending £35,000,000 of its annual budget to mitigate its effects.
We’re told that Scotland’s place in the EU would be at risk, should we vote for independence. Yet the UK government is aiming for a 2017 referendum as to whether we should remain in the EU.
All the while, the UK government is systematically violating, and stripping the rights of its innocent citizens. We learned only a year ago that the United Kingdom is illegally violating the fundamental right to privacy of every single one of its citizens — and a fair few of our overseas allies — guilty or not. Then, when we find out and complain, an all-party collusion sneaks through new “emergency” legislation to allow them to expand their surveillance programmes.
We’re told to vote No to independence, and then cross our fingers, and hope that Labour wins the next General Election. But despite Scotland’s near ubiquitous left-leaning political views, it’s becoming more likely each day, that we’ll be given a Tory/Ukip coalition: a terrifying prospect for anyone who cares about equality, and diversity. And Scotland’s political voice can be silenced by the voice of a single city in England.
(While I agree that it’s fair enough: Scotland accounts for 8% of the UK population, it should only account for 8% of the votes — that is how democracy works. But it doesn’t seem right that the entirety of a country can vote for one thing, and a single city voting can undo that: especially when one considers the cultural, economic, and political differences that influence that vote.)
We were told that we can’t keep our currency, and now that that has been shown to be false, we’re being told that, if we use the Pound, which would then be another country’s currency — if we don’t have our own central bank — that we’ll never be truly independent. Yet there are literally dozens of countries in the world with similar arrangements, and their status as an independent nation is not called into question.
We’re asked to accept the construction of new Weapons of Mass Destruction, and pay billions in taxes to fund them.
We’re being told that our National Health Service isn’t at risk of privatisation. Meanwhile, south of the border, that’s exactly what’s happening. And while the Scottish Government already has the devolved power to set policy on Scottish Healthcare, they are not in control of our budget for healthcare — that’s decided by Westminster. So while they cannot directly cause the privatisation of our NHS, they are able to constrict our budget to where the Scottish government may be forced to. Likewise, for education.
We’re now being offered vague “new powers” for the Scottish Government. We’re not being told what those powers would be, as we don’t know which party will be in power in Westminster to deliver those powers. We could get nothing at all. And if we want more powers, why not take all of them? Why don’t we take the opportunity and get full control of our taxes, of our public services, and of our laws.
There’s also the issue of the House of Lords. Despite the fact that the UK is supposedly a democracy, we have the “House of Lords” — an unelected body, who can amend or wholly reject bills voted on by the democratically elected House of Commons. The Lords are predominantly old, straight, rich and white. 26 of them are there, solely because they are Bishops in the Church of England. Although they do not receive a salary, the House of Lords can claim expenses from tax payers.
The system is broken, and has no place in a democratic country, and is the major reason for so much support for Scotland in England — not because they want rid of us, or because they view us as being subsidised; draining their resources — but because they hope that Scotland gaining independence will force a change in the UK’s government, making it fairer, more democratic, and better reflect the citizenry.
I also think it’s important to remember that this is not an election: we’re not voting for political parties. In the same way as voting No isn’t voting for David Cameron and the Tories, voting Yes is not a vote for Alex Salmond and the Scottish National Party. This is a decision we’re being asked to make — whether we feel that Scotland should be an independent nation.
We’ll know what we’ve decided — yes, or no — in less than a week.
[Updated 17th Sept 2014]: Includes the paragraphs regarding the House of Lords.