The Reply: Scotland should go it alone

Read the other half of ‘The Conversation’ on Scottish independence here

I am not a nationalist. I am neither a British nor a Scottish nationalist. I merely believe that independence is the best way to create a fairer, more socially conscious, more democratic society in Scotland.

Thus, as a Yes voter, I don’t view myself as breaking Britain. The truth is – Britain is already broken. We live in a state with a deepening chasm of inequality – the  top 1% of earners now own 10% of the wealth, compared to 7% in the 90s, while the bottom 50% own just 18%. We live in a state where one in six children grow up in poverty and where the number of people using food banks has increased 400% over the past year. And we live in a state where an inward-looking and racist nationalist party just won the European elections on the back of popular discontent at the professional political class. This is a state where over a quarter of MPs went Oxbridge, and where even a catastrophic financial crisis wasn’t enough to loosen the stranglehold of the city of London on the economy.

You see, the Yes campaign isn’t a blood-and-soil nationalism fueled by hatred of the English. Rather, it is civic nationalism, driven by fury at the Westminster elite and its regime of austerity, by a desire to create a more equitable, internationally-minded Scotland. No wonder then a recent poll found 64% of Scots Asians are planning to vote yes. Compare the open-minded pro-immigration Yes campaign to the unionists. British nationalism is not a cuddly, conveniently neutral identity – just look at EDL marches, or UKIP, or the BNP, or the Orange Walks that flood the city of Glasgow each and every summer weekend.

Voting yes to independence is not anglophobic – it is a statement that the people who happen to live in Scotland deserve better than Westminster. Voting yes means voting no to nuclear weapons, no to the bedroom tax, no to the all-out assault on the welfare state which has become almost axiomatic within the London parties. And voting yes doesn’t even necessarily mean a vote for the SNP.  The wider Yes Campaign is the most vibrant grassroots movement in the UK today, dominated by young and idealistic Scots who shun Westminster’s callous ideology of cuts. While the unionists have the three parties of the status quo plus a ragtag band of quasi-fascists, we have the Green Party, the Scottish Socialist Party, the  Jimmy Reid Foundation, the Radical Independence Campaign, National Collective, Women for Independence, Farming for Yes, Scots Asians for Yes, Yes Alba, Yes LGBT…

The point is: people can rightly criticize Alex Salmond for being an ex-banker, for getting into bed with Donald Trump, for wanting to slash corporation tax in Scotland. And we can slam the Scottish people for voting in a UKIP MEP. But at least the SNP, and the Yes Campaign, and the massive chunk of the Scottish electorate that voted the nationalists in, work to defend the classical, compassionate British welfare state. The harsh reality is that Scots still wish to elect a progressive government, but we are denied this right at Westminster and ruled by Tory governments we never voted for.

Scotland would prosper with independence. We are not subsidy junkies. Scotland contributes 9.9% of the UK’s tax revenues, while receiving only 9.3% of spending. Besides oil, the country is resource-rich, particularly in renewable energy and fisheries. A report from the Office of National  Statistics last week showed Scotland is the most highly educated country in Europe, a good sign for key hi-tech industries like IT and life sciences. Yet Scotland is constantly belittled by Better Together’s Project Fear and by a national media of unionist propaganda, almost wholly owned outside Scotland, with only one (broadsheet) newspaper actually supporting independence.

Devolution has allowed Scotland to diverge politically from England, better reflecting the views of the people. Independence is the next logical step, with Scotland’s separate legal, education and health systems implying Scotland is just a nation in waiting. Scotland has a cohesive history and a culture beyond tourist-shop Tartanry, with three indigenous languages – Gàidhlig, Scots and (of course) English – plus the myriad of languages spoken by the ‘new’ Scots. Compare this to the stale Britishness of those still wet for Empire. Indeed, personally, as one of the few remaining first language Gàidhlig speakers, I abhor Britishness as an identity of colonialism and forced Anglicization.

It is not the Yes Campaign, with its vision of remaking an engaged social democracy, that is parochial. Rather it is the United Kingdom that is parochial, with its perpetual imperial hangover, obsessed with punching above its weight and sticking one up at Brussels. It is an arbitrary state whose governance works to benefit only folk like us – to advantage the wealthy, the well-educated, the future politicians and bankers and wonks and wankers.

I make no apologies for arguing for independence on the premise that fighting for fairness and undoing oppression are key policy goals. But others on the Left will likely question why I want to entrench imaginary geographical boundaries, why I want to curse the people of the rest of the UK to perpetual right-wing government? But in only three of the eighteen general elections since WWII did the Scots vote matter a jot, demonstrating that a London-centred first-past-the-post-system of parachute candidates and middle England swings voters disenfranchises Scots. Moreover, a United Kingdom is just as much of a construct as a separate Scotland, and indeed independence does not preclude the creation of a positive trans-national Britain à la Scandinavia.

So when I vote Yes on September 18th, I do it not due to some vague feeling of national pride or resentment. I do it because the UK has failed the protect the weak, the poor, the alienated. I vote for an independent Scotland because that is the only way people living in Scotland can gain back their independence, their dignity, their hope for the future.

PHOTO: drgillybean





  1. gonzalo1

    14th June 2014 at 14:17

    A brilliant article and one which has great support amongst many of my friends and relatives.

  2. P

    14th June 2014 at 15:58

    Excellent read, very good points and a sensible decision for Scotland I feel.

  3. Dundee bob

    14th June 2014 at 16:39

    Yawn. Vague as fuck.

  4. Ninian Fergus

    14th June 2014 at 20:50

    Dundee bob puts the No case as articulately as I’ve come to expect.

  5. Paul Colvin

    14th June 2014 at 21:14

    Excellent piece of writing, articulate and apssionate that would resonate with any fair minded person. I would like to invite everyone, yes, no and undecideds to have a look at my facebook page.

    For poems with a difference, please feel free to look and share: Poems for Independence by Paul Colvin. Thank you.

    Poems for Independence by Paul Colvin.
    These poems in favour of a YES vote were written by me for all to read. I hope you enjoy them.

  6. Maureen Smith

    14th June 2014 at 21:17

    Thank you for such a level-headed and sensible approach to the Independence debate. This is the sort of article that is constructive and reasoned which may help people to decide how to vote. Negative comments only serve to put people off. Thank you Domnhnall :]

  7. Sunshine on Crieff

    14th June 2014 at 21:52

    Is Dundee bob one of these abusive cyberBritnats you hear about?

  8. Gordon Nairn

    14th June 2014 at 22:03

    Dundee bob is just a prat

  9. keith Jack

    15th June 2014 at 05:00

    Very well written piece. Thank you.
    This campaign is going somewhere positive at last. Let’s keep it that way. let Scotland make its own policies, its own triumphs and disasters. Scotland needs to go its own way now more than ever.

  10. Anonymous

    16th June 2014 at 08:46

    No country is truly independent now,we are all inter dependent. What will happen after a yes vote is that we will be self governing,making decisions that suit our requirements not having to accept other countries requirements. We may make some wrong decisions but it ourselves that make them and we can change them.

  11. jmack

    16th June 2014 at 20:14

    I Know nothing about politics but I’m voting yes and this says it’s a good thing, it must be an outstanding article

  12. Mary

    27th June 2014 at 22:25

    I believe in Scotland’s people of all perswasions to have the right to decide they will no longer be governed by a bunch of tories that don’t give a dam about you or I. They are only interested in vote is YES. Let Alba step forward and show compassion to the people.

  13. Colin S Malaney

    30th June 2014 at 01:25

    Oh this article is full of so much tripe I don’t know where to begin! First of all the 9.9% and 9.3% percentages ARE TAKEN FROM DIFFERENT FIGURES! When you translate it into real numbers you will discover Scotland recieves more in spending than we pay in tax.
    Second, I love how you take one completely unrepresentative poll of one demographic and stick it in there without mentioning that yes has NEVER been ahead in the polls and the vast majority of scots (like myself) reject the vile, divisive and negative case for separation.
    This might be because third, you’ve made the typical error of comparing governments that can be voted out with separation that is permanent! We can achieve so much more when we work together and so much more so when we have a devolved Scottish parliament delivering for Scotland and legislating on the vast majority of the public sector.
    Take for instance the ‘bedroom tax’ (not a tax by the way but we’ll ignore that just now). The Scottish Government has the power to counter the effects of it if it wants to – but chooses not to. Why? So their dreadful nationalist campaign can use it as a tool to paint Westminster as a nasty oppressive force.
    And while you snub the fact that the UK wants to punch above its weight in the world I’m quite glad that my country has the 2nd biggest aid budget in the world, administered by life-saving Scots in East Kilbride. I’m also quite glad that we have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, where we’re able to put forward resolutions that can be a force for good in this world.
    While there is a lot more of utter pish in this article to be challenged, I’ll finish by saying that for someone who claims to not be voting yes for pride, you finish with a pretty emotive note.
    But then again being contradictory seems inherent in the case for Scottish separation.
    I’ll be voting no in September, and I’m glad the majority of Scots can see through your nonsense rhetoric too.

  14. Anonymous

    6th August 2014 at 06:28

    Away back to your Island and live the rest of your life with this mentality it grows. Try living in the real world and one not given to you on a silver spoon.

  15. Anonymous

    6th August 2014 at 23:24

    I’m not Scottish and I can’t claim to have any real knowledge about the issue but do you not think there could be serious economic danger if Scotland do choose to go independent, especially if they are not accepted into the Euro?

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