…………….before we all go and vote. This is intended to be my last blog post before the Referendum. (Unless something really new happens in the next few hours)
I’ve nailed my colours to the mast weeks ago. I’ve campaigned on the streets, in town halls, in hotels, in public meetings all over Perthshire. So there’s no dubiety about how I’ll be voting. If you’re reading this, you probably already know this. YES, just for the avoidance of any doubt.
My blogging and writing on Facebook (more the latter than the former) has been heartfelt. Sometimes, particularly on Facebook the head and the heart haven’t always been joined up. Sometimes the “send” or “share” button was just too easy to click. So, I apologise to everyone who felt hurt or offended by anything I’ve written. But I hope I made you sometimes stop and think, to read the articles I was sending onwards and just consider them. This has been a passionate debate about democracy, and what a debate we’ve had and movement it’s become. Scotland can stand tall tonight, proud of the way it has acted over the past two years. There have been flashpoints and unacceptable behaviour from both sides, but if you strip away the media glare from them there have, thankfully, been remarkably few incidents considering the number of people and the number of meetings involved. I respect your passion and hope that you respect mine. Regardless of the way things turn out, we still need to live and work together. Laughing together would be good too. I’ve learned so much from my friends on Facebook and other places during our “discussions”. Thanks to you all for participating.
I started on the YES side. Two years ago I was a YES voter because I believed the system of politics and democracy in the UK was broken beyond repair. Voting YES, was in my view the only way to get any type of change to that system. Westminster had become a byword for self-interest, cronyism and corruption. In recent times we’ve had scandal after scandal centring on that place – and still the MPs there are asking me to trust them. (cash for question/access, expenses and the now swept under the carpet paedophile rings being amongst them) I realised back in 2012 that my view was akin to firing a nuclear missile at the problem of Westminster, but I couldn’t see any other way to democratically get it to change. I still don’t.
You can critique my argument by saying that if Scotland’s independent then why should I care at all about Westminster? Fair point. My answer is that I fully expect Scotland to be successful and to thrive. In doing this, Scotland will show the people in England who have been so badly taken for granted by Westminster that there is another way to run a country. The Red/Blue “Buggins turn” way the country is run just now will be cracked. It will take time, but it will surely happen.
The independence referendum comes at a time when we are living with the consequences of decisions taken about 25 or 30 years ago. Back then, the UK went on a privatisation spree. Electricity, Gas, Telecoms, Rail being some of the first to be sold off. We were all encouraged to “tell Sid” and to be Sid. But that’s not how it’s turned out. We’re not Sid anymore – if we ever were. Ownership of much of the UKs vital national infrastructure is now in foreign hands. Indeed, if you look at the electricity industry almost two thirds of the ownership is in state hands – just not the UK state. Manufacturing and production were ignored and starved of political support. And we’re left with a vastly unequal society, increasing gaps between rich and poor, private monopolies and cartels, foodbanks, crazy property prices in London and the South East and a fear of the future driven by almost no political choice in the UK. It’s austerity or austerity at the next UK election in 2015. Where will that leave society in the UK by the next time we the people are next consulted in 2020?
Looking at these now, from a societal point of view – how good have these decisions been for all of UK society? We have people in energy poverty and a rapidly rising number of foodbanks. Yet we’re told we’re the 14th richest country in the world. How does that happen? Is there an alternative? It would seem not in the UK.
It’s the economy, stupid.
I wrote on this before. While there are big and maybe fundamental risks for Scotland in becoming an independent country, no-one has shone the same searchlight on the future of the UK economy. Most commentators would have us believe that the choice is “all the independence risks vs. the comfortable current status quo”. This is a deception and flawed comparison. I don’t see the UK economy recovering outside the M25 balloon. Along with the North of England, Scotland is still bumping along with very little real growth. So a more fair comparison of risk would take into account where the UK is heading. Currently the UK has about £1.4 Trillion of debt and it’s repaying this at £42Bn per year. The deficit is closing, but it will be many, many more years before the UK’s finances are in balance, let alone before the debt starts to get paid back. So when you think there are economic risks for iScotland, bear in mind the risks the UK faces. If interest rates move, as the Governor of the Bank of England says they will, then the UK repayments would rise to unsustainable levels. Seems to me this makes a fairer more level playing field for comparisons of the future risks. It’s obvious the UK is close to broke, close to bankruptcy. Any moves in interest rates will have consequences for the UK. And what happens when the property bubble in London deflates (again)? Who’ll be around to pick up the pieces of the broken banks then as people get locked in to negative equity? What happens if the Bank of England stops giving all the other banks money by Quantitive Easing? No-one’s looked at these risks in anything like the detail that’s been applied to the risks for Scotland. A few years ago I read a scary economic research report by Tullett Prebon. (click the name for the link. Properly unbiased, not a Government think tank or Government funded in any way) Doesn’t look like the UK has addressed many of the risks identified in that report.
Scotland will use the pound sterling. With or without a Lender of Last Resort. Will that make interest rates higher? Maybe it will, probably it will. But they are at historically low levels and sure to rise in the UK in the foreseeable future too. So maybe they’ll balance out. Is that a leap of faith? Probably. Other countries have managed to do this, admittedly with a less hostile neighbour.
Banks – the way they have been described during this campaign it seems that they are almost certain to fail again. God help us all if they do. It will make little difference if we’re an independent Scotland or the “broad shoulders” of the UK.
It’s the NHS, stupid.
Some links here, because other people describe the risk to NHS Scotland far better than I ever could.
Prof. Allyson Pollock giving a TEDx talk – which had nothing whatsoever to do with Scotland and Independence. (http://tedxexeter.com/2014/05/06/allyson-pollock-privatisation-of-the-nhs/)
A neat cartoon from The Kings Fund showing just how mind bogglingly complicated the Health & Social Care Act has made healthcare in England & Wales. (again, nothing to do with Independence, just background detail – http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/projects/nhs-65/alternative-guide-new-nhs-england)
Jeanne Freeman describing to Andrew Neil exactly how the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and the TTIP will destroy the NHS in England and the threat it poses to NHS Scotland. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23m6CukRUGM)
I’ve got friends in England who think the NHS is fine. All I ask is that they realise that it’s only 2 short years since the act that ripped it apart. When the power companies were sold off we thought they would be fine. Now we’ve got people in energy poverty and the money we pay for electricity is flowing to the Governments in other countries. (check the beneficial ownership of the privatised power companies) Where will the NHS be in another decade? ’nuff said on the two futures for NHS Scotland.
May you live in Interesting Times
We certainly do.
2014 – Our independence referendum Which way will the people vote?
2015 – the UK Parliamentary elections – Who will win? What’s in their manifesto (like that actually matters or mean anything)? My money’s on Boris Johnston and Nigel Farage.
2016 – The Scottish Parliamentary elections – Who will win? If it’s a YES vote then my money’s on the SNP losing out as another Rainbow Parliament with reps from The RIC, Generation Yes, The Green Party and others gaining seats. And that’s called democracy.
Who know who will be elected in any of these? Yet the media would have us believe the UK is stable, settled and safe. Really? No uncertainties there?
I could go on about so much more. About the scandalous lack of impartiality in the media. About the wonderful leadership shown by Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon. So many things….. I’ve made new friends. I’ve spoken with people from Barons to bairns. I’ve never experienced anything like this before in my life. The snowball is still rolling. It’s probably unstoppable now, and the avalanche of enthusiasm, energy, excitement it’s created will give Scotland back what it needs to thrive in the future. I doubt if you can quite understand this if you haven’t been living through it here in Scotland. We’re building a country, not a spreadsheet. This is not about what happens in the rest of my lifetime. It’s about future generations. It’s about democracy. It’s about looking beyond the nose on your face.
Let’s do it.