The result of the Scottish Referendum wasn't as clear cut as the British Nationalists would have you believe, hence the hysteria over the prospect of a second referendum. When a second referendum does take place, they know things won't be as easy second time round. Promises they made at the time have already been broken and the Vow promising Devo-Max has failed to materialise, so people are now far more cautious. They have shot their bolt and know they can't use the same scare tactics again to win a second referendum.
Before and during the Referendum, the BBC, aided by British Nationalist Parties, had an all-out offensive to discredit the SNP, and the Referendum itself. This book by GA Ponsonby, takes facts that are readily available on the internet so you can verify them yourself, to illustrate how they went about this. You can download it here:
Watch the documentry "London Calling" based on GA Ponsonby's book
When it comes to politics within the UK, and Scotland in particular, you can no longer believe a word the BBC says. The BBC's worldwide reputation for news impartiality is now totally discredited. They are not a news corporation, but a mouthpiece for the Westminster Government, putting out British Nationalist propaganda.
Even today, BBC Reporting Scotland is still fighting Westminsters propaganda war against the Scottish Government and Scottish Independence with misleading reporting.
Alternate news sources:
Below are a series of articles by Paul Kavanagh looking at the topics which will dominate the coming independence referendum campaign. These pieces are aimed at undecided voters and soft no voters.
Rebellious Scots to shush: Why Scotland needs another independence referendum
In this first piece I look at why Scotland is justified in seeking another independence referendum.
Scotland stands at a crossroads in its history. Soon, the people of Scotland will be asked to choose what sort of country they want this to be, even though the British government is doing its damnedest to try to prevent the Scottish people from asking themselves about Scotland's future. This refusal by itself raises an important question, just what sort of union is it where one of the smaller partners is effectively blocked from even asking itself about its role within that union because a government elected by the largest partner says no.
The truth is that if a British Prime Minister that Scotland didn't vote for imposes a veto on Scotland's desire to ask itself an important question about Scotland, and vetoes Scotland from having a national conversation with itself, we are justified in asking whether there is any union left at all.
In 2014 Scotland had a vote on its place within the UK, and voted against independence. The rhetoric of some politicians at the time was that the referendum was a once in a generation opportunity, but the truth is that in a democracy no politician can bind the electorate in perpetuity. Voters have an absolute right to change their minds, especially if circumstances change. Circumstances have changed drastically since 2014 and that is why the voters of Scotland chose in the recent Scottish election to give a large majority to parties promising to hold another referendum within the five year term of this Holyrood parliament.
The 2014 vote was not a blank cheque to Westminster to do with Scotland what it pleased in perpetuity, it was conditional upon the promises and commitments that the anti-independence parties had made to Scotland in order to secure their desired result. One of the most important of those commitments was that the only way that Scotland could remain a part of the EU was by voting against independence. So Scotland voted against independence, and well, we are where we are. Scotland is being told by a Conservative government in Westminster that it must suck Brexit up, even though Scotland voted to remain a part of the EU by a considerably larger margin than it voted to remain a part of the UK.
The Tories call themselves the party of the union, but they act as the party of British centralism. That was fine for decades, because unionism in Scotland rested upon the comforting myth that Scotland was a voluntary equal partner in the United Kingdom. That was, and is, the defining belief of Scottish Unionism. Scotland, they tell everyone else and themselves, is not a colony. Scotland was an enthusiastic participant in the British Empire. Scotland, they assert, was never a possession of the Empire but rather a partner in doing the possessing.
Unfortunately, this is not the understanding of the union that is current amongst the Anglocentric British establishment which Boris Johnson's government embodies. Their belief is that the UK is simply a euphemism for Greater England. Their UK consists of England and those lesser nations which have been compelled by one means or another to throw their lot in with England.
When there was an Empire to exploit, different Scottish and English understandings of the union were unquestioned and unexamined. After the dissolution of the Empire the disconnection could easily be ignored. For much of the 20th century there was no Scottish Parliament to articulate Scotland's political sense of itself. Scotland, like England, alternated between voting Labour and voting Conservative. As recently as the 1950s Scotland was fertile territory for the Tories. The cracks only started to appear after the demand for Scottish self-government arose in the latter part of the 20th century, and voting patterns in Scotland began to diverge from those in England. The cracks only grew wider after Tony Blair's government introduced an asymmetric form of devolution.
The cracks grew wider still during the independence referendum and its aftermath, when the parties forming the Better Together campaign turned their back on the Vow and complacently thought that the No vote meant a return to business as usual. Scotland was back in its box, and could be ignored once again. But the independence movement born during the referendum campaign ensured that the lid of the box was kept loose. Scotland was not going to return meekly to the union flag branded shortbread tin.
In order to keep Scotland tied to Westminster, we were told that it was only because of the UK that we were a part of the EU. The message that leaving the UK meant leaving the EU was central to the Better Together campaign. Scots were taught that their country was poor, semi-bankrupt, and dependent on the largesse of a kind and benevolent UK. But this only provoked an unexpected reaction in England, when England started to grow resentful at what it saw as Scottish privilege that English voters were being told they paid for, privileges which were being lavished on ungrateful Scots.
All this simmering discontent with the union metaphorically exploded with Brexit. The Conservatives brought about a referendum on EU membership in order to tackle internal Tory disputes between the Europhile and Europhobe wings of that party. After a defeat in the EU referendum which the then Prime Minister David Cameron had neither expected nor prepared for, his successors continued to treat Brexit as an internal matter for the Conservative party.
Despite the fact that the vote to leave won only a very narrow victory, Theresa May set out to placate the extreme europhobes on her back benches. She set out entirely unnecessary red lines, and the definitions of soft and hard Brexit were moved ever further in one direction, in the direction of right wing Brextremism and ever further away from what Scotland could accept. This was only exacerbated after Theresa May lost her majority in the General Election she had promised not to call. She continued as though nothing had changed. The only difference was that now she required the support of the DUP.
Heavily remain voting Scotland was ignored, along with all the other remain voters in the UK. The proposal from the Scottish Government for a differential treatment of Scotland along with Northern Ireland never even got a reply. The Conservatives had never been happy with devolution, and leapt upon Brexit as their opportunity to recentralise the UK. The Brexit vote gave them a convenient excuse to undermine the devolution settlement and grab devolved powers for Westminster, all the while mendaciously claiming that they were giving Holyrood more powers.
What really happened was this. When devolution was established, the new Scottish Parliament was given control of all powers of government except for those which were explicitly to be reserved to Westminster – such as broadcasting, international relations, defence, the social security system, most tax powers, the constitution, etc. All other powers were devolved. However, as a part of the EU, a number of these functions were exercised by EU institutions. In essence, these powers were still Scotland's, but they were being held in trust for Scotland by the EU. After Brexit, Westminster took it upon itself to decide unilaterally which of these powers it was keeping for itself, and which it would allow Holyrood to keep. And then David Mundell told us that we had no grounds for complaint because Holyrood was getting extra powers.
Thanks to the Tories and the consistent way in which they have placed the interests of their party before the interests of Scotland and before the interests of the UK, the devolution settlement has been undermined, and Scotland faced the prospect of crashing out of the EU without a deal, powerless to influence events. The threadbare deal which was eventually cobbled together was devised with no input from the Scottish government. It's a deal which didn't even pay lip service to taking Scottish interests into account.
As a direct result, the UK is under immense strain. On the one hand the Tories have created an England which is resentful of what it sees as Scottish privilege, and whose Brexit supporters would prefer to see Scotland go than to give up on Brexit. On the other hand the Tories have created a Scotland which is resentful because it has been wrenched out of the EU even though the Conservatives told Scotland that the only way to remain in the EU was to vote against independence.
On top of all this, Scotland is seeing its precious devolution settlement being unilaterally undermined and traduced by a Conservative government Scotland didn't vote for, even though the entire point of devolution in the first place was to provide Scotland from the depredations of Conservative governments Scotland didn't vote for ,such as the painful and bitter experience of the Thatcher era. Devolution is failing to protect Scotland. No one can still have confidence that the devolution settlement will be able to continue in its current form in a centralising post-Brexit Britain.
All this is the creation of the Conservative party. They did this. This is their doing. In pursuit of their own short-term party interests the Tories dug into the very core of the union between Scotland and the rest of the UK and destroyed its foundations. The cracks are wide and growing ever wider. The chasm between the Scottish and English conceptions of what this so-called union means cannot be papered over with some union flag posters and a spot of rebranding. It won't be bridged by blaming the SNP and the Scottish independence movement. The tensions that the Conservatives have selfishly created can only be resolved with a great democratic event – a second Scottish independence referendum.
In order to counter their own destruction of the foundations of the Union, the Conservative government has embarked upon what is in effect nothing more than an advertising campaign. It's too little and too late. A cosmetic exercise by the Tories won't succeed in propping up an edifice which they themselves have brought to the point of collapse. You don't save a structurally unsound building with a lick of paint and some new union flag themed wallpaper. It's too late to save the UK. The Tories have exposed its true nature. They are the unwitting midwives of Scottish independence. Because of the actions of the Conservatives themselves, there's now far too many rebellious Scots to shush.
The UK that Scotland is a part of is not the UK that Scotland was told it could be a part of in 2014. That is why Scotland voted for a large majority of pro-independence MSPs in the recent election, elected with a mandate for another referendum during this Parliamentary term. Scotland has an absolute democratic right to ask itself in a referendum if it still wants to be a part of a UK which is fundamentally different from the UK we thought we were getting in 2014.
Once in a generation: The electorate can't be bound by a politician's rhetoric
In this second piece I look at the claim that the first referendum was promised to be a "once in a generation vote."
For the past year or more, Boris Johnson has been fnaugh fnaughing his way through Prime Minister's Questions whenever the topic of another independence referendum is raised, refusing to acknowledge that the SNP and the Scottish Greens have been given a mandate by the Scottish electorate for another independence referendum.
Johnson has conceded that it's up to the people of Scotland to decide whether they wish to remain a part of the UK, but insists that the right was exercised in 2014 and that it was a "once in a generation" vote. We're going to hear this excuse a lot, especially now that the Scottish elections have given a victory to pro-independence parties and a large majority to parties asking for a mandate for another referendum within the five year term of this Holyrood Parliament. Together with deflections about the need to focus on recovery from the pandemic, it's the only excuse the British government has got left.
Boris Johnson can't plausibly argue that the SNP has no mandate from the Scottish electorate when that party won a larger vote share and a larger share of seats than his Conservative party did in the UK as a whole. He can't plausibly maintain that there's no mandate for another referendum when his own branch office in Scotland stood on the single platform of opposing another referendum and got its collective arse handed to it on a plate glazed with Stephen Kerr's tears. He cannot maintain that there is no mandate when the people of Scotland elected a large majority of MSPs to Holyrood in the full knowledge that they are committed to delivering another referendum. If Boris Johnson maintains that he got a mandate from the UK electorate to deliver Brexit, the SNP has an even stronger and more convincing mandate from the Scottish electorate to deliver an independence referendum. If democracy in the UK is to mean anything at all, the choices of the people of Scotland as expressed through the ballot box must be respected.
This was a parliamentary election, not a referendum. The percentage of people voting for ostensibly anti-independence parties is irrelevant. A mandate is established when a party or parties win sufficient seats to form a majority in parliament. The SNP and the Scottish Greens stood on a platform of support for another independence referendum. They won. The Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems stood on a platform of opposition to another referendum. They lost.
The point about a mandate is unarguable, except that is if you're one of those people who deny the existence of Scotland as a political and national entity and claim that the SNP won merely a "subset" of UK seats in a UK election. Describing the nation of Scotland, a constituent nation of the UK as a subset of Westminster seats on a par with an English city, region or county is quite possibly the cringiest description of Scotland ever, more cringey than North Britain. Even more cringey than "up there". Scotland isn't just any random selection of Westminster seats, it's an ancient nation which was one of the founding kingdoms of the United Kingdom. The Treaty of Union which founded the unitary state known as the United Kingdom guaranteed the continuing existence of Scottish national institutions, and the Scottish nation itself. The very foundation of the UK itself recognises that Scotland is a distinct polity within the UK, a polity with its own distinctive political character.
Last year at PMQs, Boris Johnson was forced to concede, amidst the usual disrespectful barracking from Tory backbenchers whenever an SNP MP rises to speak, that it is indeed up to the people of Scotland to decide whether their future is as a part of the UK. He could hardly say anything else. However his admission has an important implication.
If it is up to the people of Scotland to decide whether they wish to remain a part of the UK, that right to self-determination is either conditional or it's absolute. Boris Johnson appears to believe that Scotland's sovereign right to self-determination as a nation within the UK to decide its own future is conditional upon a timing that he'll decide. So it's not really a sovereign right to self-determination at all. If it's up to political forces outwith Scotland to decide when Scotland can exercise its right to self-determination, then it's not a right to self-determination. It becomes a question of Westminster's convenience and permission. A right to self-determination which is conditional upon the convenience and permission of Westminster is no right to self-determination at all. It's simply another way of stating that Scotland doesn't have the right to determine its own future, a Conservative PM does. And if that is indeed the case, then this is not the Union that the Conservatives and the Labour party have always told us it was.
There was absolutely nothing in the Edinburgh Agreement between the Scottish and British governments setting the terms for the 2014 referendum which stipulated that an independence referendum could only be held once in a generation. The rider that the referendum was a one in a generation affair did not appear on the ballot paper. It was not a part of the question that was put to the people of Scotland and which they voted on.
Alex Salmond described the referendum as a once in a generation opportunity, and was careful to add the rider that this was his personal opinion. Yet it appears that Scotland is to be held hostage to the opinion of a former First Minister, an opinion which has no force in law. The personal opinion of Alex Salmond is only being elevated to the lofty position of holy writ for the simple reason that Boris Johnson requires an excuse to prevent another independence referendum because he's afraid he's going to lose it.
The phrase once in a generation opportunity also appears three times in the White Paper on Independence published by the Scottish Government prior to the referendum. On page 3, the referendum is described as a "once in a generation opportunity to follow a different path". On page 10 it is described as a "once in a generation opportunity to chart a better way." On page 576 there is the statement, "It is the view of the current Scottish Government that a referendum is a once-in-a-generation opportunity."
There are two reasons why Alex Salmond's administration took the view that the referendum of 2014 was a once in a generation opportunity. Neither of them are binding, and neither of them apply today. The first reason is that the referendum of 2014 only took place because the SNP broke the Holyrood electoral system and won the 2011 election with an absolute majority in Holyrood. Prior to this election it was not thought possible for a party to do this, and the SNP's victory came as a surprise to everyone, not least the SNP. However the referendum campaign radically changed the Scottish political landscape in ways that were unforeseen. It is now perfectly plausible for pro-independence parties to win a majority of seats in Holyrood just as they did in May of this year.
The second reason is more important. Alex Salmond's government took the view that they did because they had just negotiated the Edinburgh Agreement with Westminster, as a result of which both parties agreed to respect the outcome of the referendum. It was implicit in that understanding that both parties would respect the promises and commitments that they made to the people of Scotland during the referendum campaign. What is happening now is that Westminster is demanding that the current Scottish Government upholds everything that it stated during the referendum campaign, but it itself is not bound by its own promises and commitments.
Promises and commitments like telling Scotland that the only way it could remain a part of the EU was by voting no. Promises and commitments like promising that the powers of Holyrood would be enshrined in law and put beyond the ability of any Westminster government to alter without the express consent of the Scottish Parliament. Promises and commitments likes telling Scotland it was a much loved and equal partner in a family of nations, that it should lead within the UK instead of leaving it.
Indeed, it is all the more important for Westminster to uphold its promises and commitments to Scotland because it was the proposition of the No campaign which won the referendum. Yet now the SNP and Scotland are being held to ransom by a Westminster which hasn't fulfilled its end of the bargain. If Westminster had respected all the promises that it made to Scotland in 2014, then the referendum would indeed have been a once in a generation opportunity. But they didn't, did they. Westminster cannot insist that the SNP abide by statements that it made during the referendum campaign without itself abiding by the statements that Better Together made.
It's Westminster's failure to uphold its end of the bargain that has created the renewed demand and the justification for another referendum. Boris Johnson's hypocrisy in claiming it was "once in a generation" merely highlights his own party's failure to respect the promises and commitments that it made to the people of Scotland. When he tells us that the referendum was "once in a generation", he's telling the people of Scotland that we are suckers for ever believing that Westminster would keep its promises.
Yet even if there was a solemn commitment made by both sides in 2014 that the referendum was a once in a generation affair, so what? The people of Scotland have a sovereign right to decide for themselves which path Scotland will take – even Boris Johnson admits that much. That right cannot be bargained away, signed away, time-limited, or given up by any political party because it is a right that rests with the people of Scotland, not with the Conservatives, not with the SNP, not with any other party. It follows then that it's up to the people of Scotland and no one else to decide whether or when we demand another independence referendum. In the recent Scottish elections the people of Scotland did decide to demand another referendum.
The UK that Scotland was told it could be a part of in 2014 doesn't exist. Scotland has an absolute right to revisit the question of independence. Scotland's right to self-determination is inalienable.
In this third piece I look at some of the reasons for wanting an independent Scotland.
I want independence because...
There are as many reasons for supporting Scottish independence as there are people who support independence. Before I suffered a stroke and before the covid lockdowns I travelled the length and breadth of Scotland, meeting with Yes groups, talking to local activists, and speaking at local Yes organisations. What struck me most during all these travels is that no one I've met wants Scottish independence because they hate anyone, and certainly not because they might hate the English. That's a nasty myth put about by opponents of independence in order to stop undecided people from engaging with arguments for independence.
Neither have I met anyone who wants independence because they believe that Scotland is better than anywhere else. No, overwhelmingly the reasons that people want Scottish independence is because they recognise that there is so much that is wrong with Scotland, and it needs to be fixed. We each have our own individual reasons for wanting independence, our own individual beliefs about what changes we'd like to see made in that Scotland once we achieve it. But what unites us all is the understanding that none of us can make any progress until we establish the principle that it's up to the people of Scotland to decide what happens in Scotland. We can argue forever about whether we want a shot on the swings, or whether we want a go on the roundabout, but we can't do anything until we build the independent Scottish park.
These are my own personal reasons for wanting independence. You may share some of them, you may have some other reasons of your own. But none of us can start to make any progress on making Scotland a better place until we have an independent Scotland and the power to change this country lies with its people.
I want Scottish independence... because it's the only way to rid ourselves of the obscenity of weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde. For decades we've marched. We've protested. We've established peace camps. Those of us who are old and long in the tooth were protesting against nukes when we were young, and now we see young kids embarking on the same journey of protest, a journey with no end, a journey that goes nowhere as long as we are subject to Westminster rule and a British state which fetishes nuclear weapons as the viagra of an impotent ex-empire. The only way to rid ourselves of Trident is with independence. Otherwise kids in Scotland will still be doing in forty years time what I did forty years ago, marching, protesting, and getting absolutely nowhere.
I want Scottish independence... because I grew up thinking that the poverty and deprivation, the inequality and lack of opportunity, which I witnessed in the East End of Glasgow in the 60s and 70s was normal. And now a new generation of East End weans is growing up thinking that foodbanks are normal. Well it's not bloody normal. It's an outrage in one of the richest nations on the face of this Earth. It's an affront to human dignity that the British state prioritises tax cuts for the wealthy and turning the UK into a tax haven for drug lords and oligarchs over the provision of decent public services. It's indecent that the poor are forced to pay for the crimes of the rich, but that's the British way. I want Scottish independence so that we can start to tackle the inequalities and injustices which blight this country.
I want Scottish independence... because so many of us are fatalistic and resigned to our powerlessness that we self medicate on alcohol and drugs. We've learned that hope is something for other people, that it doesn't matter what we say because no one is listening anyway. We've learned that the only way to live without hope is to anaesthatise ourselves into oblivion, a brief respite from the pain of the everyday. It's no way to live. No way to die. We need to know that the bright light is the light of hope and a better future, not a paramedic shining a torch in our eye in order to check for a sign of life. During the independence referendum of 2014, for the first time in my life I saw ordinary working class people discovering that hope was something for them too, that they too could dream, that they too had a voice, and that voice was important and it counted for something. Independence gives us hope.
I want Scottish independence... because we've bred generations of Scottish people who have learned that it doesn't matter how we vote. It doesn't matter what Scotland's people say that they want through the ballot box. We get what England votes for, our votes can only make a difference when opinion in England is narrowly divided. It's only with independence that Scotland can get governments that it votes for, governments which are answerable to the people of Scotland and which work in their interests. It's only with independence that Scotland can see the true strengths of democracy.
I want Scottish independence... because politicians need to be held to account. The British system rewards political failure. We kicked out Michael Forsyth yet there he still is, all these years later, in the House of Lords influencing our laws and deciding our futures. British governments don't need to pay any heed to Scotland, so they make decisions without considering us, and we have no remedy against them. I want Scottish independence because politicians cannot be trusted, and we need to keep them close to us so that their arses are within kicking distance of our feet.
I want Scottish independence... because this should be a land that is welcoming. Scotland was always a shelter for people from all over the world, because for centuries it was literally the end of the Earth. Once you got to Scotland, there was nowhere else to go. This is a land of migrants, and we should honour those who do us the honour of choosing to throw their lot in with the rest of us and becoming a part of the story of Scotland. Brexit Britain is closed in, inward looking, intolerant, xenophobic. I want a kinder, gentler, more welcoming country.
I want Scottish independence... because we need to do something about land ownership. Vast tracts of our country are owned by faceless multimillionaires hiding behind shell companies. They've turned Scotland into a desert designed as the playground for the wealthy. The Highlands are so beautiful and empty because its people were turfed out into the slums of the Lowland cities to produce the wealth that allowed the rich to buy up the land. Meanwhile rural communities die and decline.
I want Scottish independence... because we need to unlock Scotland's vast renewable energy resources. Scotland could be a beacon for the world, a beacon lit by energy from the wind and the waves. We need to create a sustainable economy, to reindustrialise in a green, carbon neutral and environmentally friendly way, but we can't do that as long as the political and economic levers of our country are controlled by a Westminster dominated by Conservative politicians who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
I want Scottish independence... because despite being told that this country was a partner nation in the UK we were torn out of the EU against our will and without being allowed any meaningful input into the form that Brexit took. Scotland found that the Brexit which was foisted upon it was designed and created with the interests of right wing English nationalists in mind and no one else. Only independence will allow Scotland to rebuild a relationship with Europe which is in accordance with the desires and interests of the people of Scotland. Independence represents the quickest way back into the EU, if that is what the people of Scotland want.
I want Scottish independence... because we need a written constitution that spells out the proper division of powers between the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary. Within the UK we have an unwritten constitution which permits the powerful to make things up to suit themselves as they go along. That has to stop. But above all, we need a written constitution in order to establish once and for all that the only sovereign body in Scotland is the totality of the people of Scotland. This is our land, independence allows us to own it as citizens, instead of being subjects within it.
I want Scottish independence... because there is so much that is wrong with Scotland, and we need to fix it. We have waited patiently for generations for the Westminster system to fix Scotland for us, only to slowly come to the realisation that it has a vested interest in keeping Scotland weak, dependent, powerless, and marginalised. We kept the faith all through the bitter years of Thatcher, only to discover that the British Parliamentary road to socialism ended in bombs on the road to Baghdad. Westminster doesn't want to solve Scotland's problems, because it's only by keeping Scotland impoverished and feeble that it can tell us that we need them, that we're too small and weak to stand on our own two feet. The truth is that the only people who can fix Scotland's problems are the people of Scotland themselves, and we need the powers of independence in order to do so. I want Scottish independence because generations of wise Scottish women have always told us, if you want something done, ye need tae dae it yersel.
I want independence... because Scotland is a land that is so rich in resources, possesses such an abundance of talent, is pregnant with so many possibilities. They need to be put to the service of the people of Scotland, and not leeched away to enrich the City of London. It's only with independence that Scotland can blossom.
I don't want Scottish independence because I hate anyone. I don't want Scottish independence because I believe Scotland to be better than anywhere else. I don't want Scottish independence because I hark back to a rosy vision of a mythical Scotland that has never existed. I recognise the issues Scotland faces. I want Scottish independence... because I see the problems of this country with a clear eye, and I want Scotland to have the powers to fix them. I want Scottish independence... because I want Scotland to be a normal country.
In this fourth piece I look at the claim that support for independence is nationalism and that opposition to Scottish independence is also opposition to nationalism.
Nationalism and Thatessempee - Supporting independence doesn't make you a nationalist, opposing it doesn't make you a non-nationalist.
How many times have you heard someone say that they're not going to vote for independence because they "hate that SNP". Often Thatessempee is spat out as though it was a single word, and a swerrie word at that. Just as frequently you'll hear people say that they don't want to vote for independence because they don't like Nicola Sturgeon, whose name has also developed a tendency among certain people to be spat out as though it was a swerrie word.
The overwhelmingly anti-independence media in Scotland has always been very keen to foster an association in the minds of the Scottish public between independence and a single political party. Most often the BBC presents discussions on independence by having on a sole representative from Thatessempee, and then "for balance", he or she is up against a Labour person, a Tory, and a Lib Dem. The other main pro-independence party, the Scottish Greens, are rarely invited. Other smaller parties which support independence, like the Scottish Socialists who once had representation in Holyrood, never get a look in. The impression given is that Scottish independence is a party political project belonging in its entirety to Thatessempee.
The desire of the media and opponents of independence to foster the myth that Scottish independence is the sole preserve of Thatessempee is constant and unrelenting. How many times during the independence referendum campaign of 2014 did you hear the phrase Alex Salmond's referendum? And how many times did you hear the UK being personalised by the name of the leader of the Better Together campaign as Alistair Darling's No Campaign or Alistair Darling's Pro-UK project? Not once, that's how many times.
The aim of this messaging is to discourage people who do not support the SNP from engaging with the arguments for independence. Yet there are many independence supporters who do not support the SNP. There are other parties which back independence. There are even people within the traditionally anti-independence parties, particularly the Labour party in Scotland, who privately support independence. A vote for Scottish independence is not a vote for the SNP. The anti-independence parties and their friends in the Scottish media just want you to think it is.
When Scotland does become an independent country, and there's a now a majority in Scotland who believe that it's merely a matter of time before that happens, it will be a democracy. An independent Scotland will not be a one party SNP state. Voting for an independent Scotland is not a vote to have Nicola Sturgeon as dictator for life. In fact, voting for Scottish independence is not even a vote of confidence in the SNP. It's certainly not a signal that you support the actions of the SNP administration of the devolved Scottish Government. A vote for independence is nothing more and nothing less than a statement that you believe that it is up to the people of Scotland to decide what course this country takes. It's a statement that the government of Scotland should be elected by the people of Scotland and should be answerable to the people of Scotland and to no one else. Voting for independence is not party political.
The desire for Scottish independence is motivated by a recognition that Westminster governance is not allowing Scotland to develop to its full potential. It is driven by the understanding that there is a great deal that is wrong with Scotland, and these wrongs and shortcomings can best be addressed if the people of Scotland have a government which is responsible to them, and which puts the interests of Scotland first and foremost. Saying that you refuse to vote for independence because you hate Nicola Sturgeon or Thatessempee is rather like saying that you're not going to have your toothache dealt with because you dislike a particular dentist. You'd rather have the toothache.
You may also have heard people say that they are voting against independence because they don't like nationalism. Opponents of independence are very keen to paint the Scottish constitutional debate as a debate between nationalists on the one hand, and non-nationalists on the other. However this is untrue. The independence debate is not a debate between nationalism and non-nationalism. A vote against independence is equally a vote for a nationalist project, because by a vote against independence is effectively a vote to back the intensely nationalist project that is Brexit and to support a British state which is every bit as nationalist, if not more so, than an independent Scotland would be. In a debate between Scottish independence vs remaining a part of a Brexit UK whose government plasters union flags on everything there is no non-nationalist option.
Opponents of independence are aided in misleadingly characterising this as a debate between nationalism and non-nationalism by a deficit of the English language. The English term nationalism encompasses two very different political philosophies. Nationalism can mean the aggressive aggrandisement of an existing state. It's often xenophobic, authoritarian, and intolerant. Brexit was driven by a British nationalism of this sort. However the word nationalism can also mean the campaign for independence by a nation which currently doesn't have it. These are not the same political philosophies at all, and in some languages they are called by different names. Scottish nationalism is of the latter variety, and in Spanish it would be referred to by a different word, independentismo. Unfortunately if you try to adopt this term into English and call yourself a Scottish independentist, people just ask you how much you charge for orthodontic work, so it's unlikely to catch on.
Mainstream Scottish nationalism is of the civic variety. It defines Scottishness not by where a person was born, but by where a person lives or how they choose to identify. Mainstream Scottish nationalism is honoured to accept as Scots those people born elsewhere who have come to this country, made their lives here, and have become a part of Scotland's story and journey. Scottishness is not about where you came from, it's about where we are all going.
Brexit on the other hand is most definitely strongly characterised by many of the features of the first kind of nationalism, the intolerant xenophobic sort. Opponents of independence seek to blur the distinction to get people to believe that by supporting Scottish independence, they are also supporting intolerance, xenophobia and racism. The claim that supporters of Scottish independence are anti-English racists is a constant refrain. However the movement for Scottish independence is no more defined by anti-English racism than opposition to independence is defined by the sectarianism, anti-Irish racism and anti-Catholic bigotry of the Orange Order, or the out and out racism of Britain First, both of which are groups which oppose independence. The claim that Scottish independence is racist is a tactic designed to prevent people in Scotland from supporting independence. Yet one of the most active grassroots groups campaigning for independence is English Scots for Yes.
Even without Brexit, a vote against independence would still be a vote to support a nationalist project. It's a vote to back a British state which is every bit as nationalist in its actions as any independent Scotland would be. In fact as a country which is quick to take military action around the globe in pursuit of what it sees as British interests, the UK is far more aggressively nationalist than an independent Scotland would ever be. Supporters of the British state do not get a free pass from nationalism just because they back the UK. Indeed, one of the defining myths of British nationalism is that it's better than the nationalisms of lesser breeds by virtue of not being nationalist at all. It's a comforting fairy story, but it's not true.
The reality is that the debate about Scottish independence is not a debate between Scottish nationalism on the one hand and non-nationalism on the other. It's a debate between two different visions for Scotland's future. One vision puts that future into the hands of the people of Scotland, the other surrenders it to decisions made by a Westminster Parliament which is not primarily accountable to the people of Scotland. Both sides of this debate contain people who are nationalists, and both sides contain people who are not nationalists. The debate about Scottish independence is essentially a debate about accountability and democratic representation.
As we have seen with Brexit, Scotland is being subjected to a damaging and reckless estrangement from Europe even though the people of Scotland have consistently voted against it. Yet throughout this entire process the voices of Scotland's parliament and elected representatives have been ignored and sidelined. As far as Brexit is concerned, the British Government has made precisely zero accommodations to the needs of Scotland. This is merely the latest and most egregious example of Scotland's needs and concerns not being met by the Westminster Parliament. This happens because Westminster Governments do not rely upon Scottish votes in order to get into power, so are free to ignore Scotland's needs with impunity. British governments are not accountable to the people of Scotland.
Over the past 50 years, Scotland has only had governments in Westminster that it voted for, for a total of 17 years. As long as Scotland and the rest of the UK were on the same page politically, both alternating between Labour and the Conservatives, this was tolerable. Scotland got what it voted for often enough that we could pretend to ourselves that Scotland really was a partner in a Union. There was always another election in five years time. But that foundation myth of Scottish Unionism has been blown out of the water by Brexit. Brexit is forever, not just for five years, and the way in which Scotland was treated by Westminster during the Brexit process has proven that Westminster governments have no interest in making accommodations to Scotland's needs or concerns.
Scottish independence is about establishing the principle that the path that Scotland takes should be decided by the people of Scotland. It is about ensuring that Scotland always has a government elected by the people of Scotland, and which is accountable to them and to no one else. If we cannot vote them out of office they will not take decisions in our interests. Theresa May or Boris Johnson have no need to consider Scotland's interests, and so they treat Scotland with arrogant contempt. They know that Scotland can't vote them out of power. Acknowledging that Scotland is a nation which has the right to self-determination no more makes you a nationalist than acknowledging the existence of matter makes you a materialist.
The real reason for Scottish independence is to ensure that our politicians and our governments are kept accountable to the people of Scotland. It's to ensure that Scotland always gets governments that it elects. It's to ensure that those politicians always operate in the interests of Scotland and that they are kept accountable to us. It's only by keeping them close to us in an independent Scotland that we can ensure that their backsides are within kicking distance of our feet and that we can vote them out of office when they break their promises.
That's the very nub of the argument for Scottish independence. It's not about party politics. It's not about nationalism. It's about democracy and accountability.
No jam tomorrow refers to the broken promises made by British Nationalist politicians in the 1979 Devolution Referendum, if Scotland voted No, we would get a better deal. This promise was duly broken by Margaret Thatcher who reaped nothing but havoc in Scotland, decimating our industries and casting generations onto the scrap heap. Today, Scotland is still suffering from this betrayal by a Westminster Government.
Today we are being promised exactly the same thing by the Better Together Campaign, but they can't specify what it will be, as they aren't a political party. They claim it is up to the political parties to spell out what they propose to do in the event of a No vote. A No vote doesn't mean we will get Devo-Max, like a lot of people think. No UK Government is ever going to grant Scotland anywhere near Devo-Max because there would be no point to the union if they did. The whole idea of the union is for Westminster to control and spend Scotland's assets and revenues. Without this power the whole concept of the union is pointless and worthless to them.
Regardless of what is agreed by opposition parties in the Scottish parliament, any new powers will have to be agreed by Westminster parties and all indications are, Scotland will receive little, if any extra powers from Westminster. The extra powers initially proposed by the Calman Commission were subsequently watered down, as Westminster thought they were giving too much away to Scotland. Any extra powers promised now will follow the same route, and there is nothing to stop the House of Lords removing powers from the Scottish parliament, as they have done in the past.
We won't be able to raise any extra money under any new powers promised by Westminster, so we won't be better off, and will still be reliant on the pocket money Westminster decides to give us. All three British Nationalist parties have indicated they would review the Barnett formula after the next UK general election. For every £1 Scotland sends to Westminster, we only receive 70p back, a Yes vote would means we get the whole £1 to spend.
It has taken 17 years for extra powers to be devolved to the Scottish parliament, how long will Westminster take to deliver the extra powers promised after a No vote?
To highlight the ridiculous stories about the Alex Salmond, the SNP and Scottish Independence from the BBC and Reporting Scotland, the spoof website BBC Scotlandshire was created in the style of the real BBC website. Unfortunately the ridiculous spoof stories they used to highlight real issues were actually believed by people, who thought they were on the real BBC website and they had to read the stories twice to realise they weren't real.
There are other sources of information out there, from political parties, non political organisations, alternate news sites, to individuals:
A vote for Independence isn't a vote for the SNP, this isn't a parliamentary election where party loyalty comes into play, it is about the future of our country and who is in the driving seat, the people of Scotland voting for a proper Scottish Government or the Government in Westminster, imposing policies on us based on the demands of Middle England voters. This Labour for Independence poster sums it up perfectly:
And it is definitely not an equal union when the 139 Tory MP's in the South East of England can always out vote the 59 MP's elected in Scotland and impose policies like the Bedroom Tax on us.
What else will they impose on us in the future if we vote No? A No vote will not make Scottish Independence go away, it will happen one day, it is just a matter of when. The Westminster Government know this, that is why you hear the scare stories like the oil running out. True it is running out, in about 50 years time according to some estimates with the Atlantic oil fields now coming into production and new technology extending the life of existing fields, but that is also true for all the other rich oil producing countries around the world. That doesn't seem to affect their economies, yet Scotland is the only poor, developed oil producing country in the world. This is in stark contrast to our neighbour Norway.
Scotland has not benefited from North Sea oil like Norway under Westminster rule, and there is no indication at all that we ever will.
Scotland can easily afford to be Independent, even though we are constantly told we would have to increase taxes to afford it, which clearly isn't the case. Using Westminster's own GERS figures, Ivan McKee analyses the figures and shows that Scotland actually pays more to Westminster than we currently get back. This figure equates to £4.4Billion or more than £800 per person in Scotland.
John Jappy, a retired Senior Civil Servant in the Inland Revenue, explains the truth behind the UK's finances and the significance of Scotland's oil to both the UK and an Independent Scotland's future.
The UK Government is effectively bankrupt and needs the oil revenues that rightly belongs to Scotland to keep the UK afloat. That is why they downplay the value of Scottish oil in an attempt to make the Scottish economy look worse than it actually is, yet in 1999 on the eve of the creation of the Scottish Parliament, Westminster secretly reclassified 6000 square miles of Scottish sea as English waters in an attempt to keep the oil for themselves.
If Scotland as a nation votes No then Scotland will be voting to end its status as a nation once and for all. Never again will Westminster allow the people of Scotland a chance to vote on their own constitutional status within the UK. The only reason Scotland is getting this chance is because the SNP caught them on the hop by achieving what was believed to be the impossible at a time when there is a gap in the legal constitutional construction of the UK. A gap which will be quickly closed with a No vote.
This is our chance to take control of our own destiny and create the country and society we want to live in, and pass onto future generations.
To date, 53 countries have gained independence from the UK, 47 since the end of World War II, and not one of them has seen the need to become dependent again. Let's make Scotland number 54, vote Yes in 2014.