I have at the moment exactly one positive reason for voting Yes to independence.
I and others have a lot of negative reasons for voting Yes, which Kenny Farquarson has observantly summarised as:
And perhaps the biggest group of all in the “I’m not a Nat, but…” category is those whose vote in the referendum in October 2014 will depend on who, at that point, is most likely to win the UK general election in May 2015. If it looks like the Tories, these people might well choose independence. Their view will be: “I’m not a Nat, but I’m damned if I’m going to put up with this shower for another five years.” After all, in Scotland we talk about Tories in the way Americans talk about buffalo – you can still see one or two dotted around the plains, but the days of the great herds are gone forever.
(David Cameron, if you’re still reading the #TellDaveEverything hashtag, the only way you can save the union is to call a general election in May 2014, and make sure Labour wins.)
(Yes, I know George Osborne would never let you do that. Nick Clegg wouldn’t be very happy either, but you could give him some extra puppy treats to make up.)
I don’t discount this reason. It’s why I very badly want a Labour party which is actually going to oppose the Tories. First and most of all, we need economic security, and we will never get it with this shower of cheap-work conservatives running the country.
It probably can’t be stressed often enough that without economic security for the masses, other social justice issues can pretty much be written off. You’re not going to have reproductive freedom, voting rights, or anything else, if you don’t give We The People the economic power to fight back.
But that reason for voting for independence – that we can’t get rid of the Tory governments the English keep imposing on us any other way – would feel like a defeat: we’d be giving up on the idea of defeating the Tories, and just ditching the English variety. We do have Scottish Tories, and some of them are out to get devo-plus, which could well leave Scotland neither independence nor pride.
Nor do I particularly want to vote for independence just to kick sand in the face of the kind of public schoolboy wit that found The Economist‘s “Skintland” front cover amusing:
We in Edinburgh did not do too badly – they handed out puns like Falterkirk, Donedee, Shutland Islands, Glasdone, Stonehaven’t, Nilmarnock, and pathetic tripe like that.
They even renamed Lockerbie as Locklustre – to do that to the place which is synonymous with one of the great tragedies of this age is not just unfunny but utterly cruel and small-minded.
That latter description sums up whoever is responsible for the cover. You can just imagine a tiny-minded coterie of former public schoolboys who never got over their acne sitting round the editorial conference table discussing how to wind up the Jocks. Maybe there was even a traitorous Scot or two involved as The Economist was, after all, founded by a Scotsman, James Wilson, who also founded what became the Standard Chartered Bank. He was also a member of a dying breed – he was a Liberal MP.
Suffice to say their “jokes” were about as funny as haemorrhoids and just as strangulated. Some apologists for the magazine – usually from the Unionist side – have accused my party, the SNP, of having had a humour bypass, but how can that be when the only “humour” on display is the sort you find in the third year dorm room of a particularly inbred preparatory school? (Martin Hannan, The Scotsman)
The nastiness of The Economist‘s cover militates against the Union: why stay locked to a country where the ruling classes despise us so much? The Economist Expresses bitterly the old tired anti-independence campaign, that Scotland needs England to survive, that this mean little country of ours cannot afford to quit the support of our wealthier neighbour. It’s a naked expression of power, that kind of rudeness, this declaration that they need not trouble themselves even to be polite to or about a people so far their inferiors.
The only problem with this as a campaign idea is that it is known to be a lie. Professor Gavin McCrone in 1975 pointed out to Ted Heath’s Tory government that Scotland had the capacity to be economically independent, and with North Sea Oil in Scottish territorial waters, even wealthier than England. The publication of the McCrone Report tells us what realistically we already knew: Scotland provides more in revenue to the UK Treasury than the Treasury hands back.
I have family reasons for being opposed to nuclear weapons. My dad has campaigned against nuclear weapons since nuclear weapons first existed: he is a lifetime member of CND. He was on a Ministry of Defense blacklist. My parents met because they had both been on the Aldermaston march. His phone was tapped in the 1980s by MI5, who apparently feared that anyone staunchly opposed to nuclear weapons was probably a traitor. Forty years ago he was charged with distributing controversial material without a license – but was cleared in court by a legal decision establishing that campaigning against nuclear weapons is a political activity, and therefore handing out anti-nuclear leaflets is protected by law. I went on my first anti-nuclear demo when I was seven years old – my sister, age four, was in her buggy, but I walked.
But you don’t need a family background in anti-nuclear campaigning to know that nuclear weapons are useless, expensive, dangerous military gimcrackery.
Our governments – Tory and Labour alike – want nuclear weapons. By and large, though, we don’t. The UK is locked into treaties – they tell us – which mean we can’t get rid of them. The UK doesn’t want to lose its status as one of the original six members of the Nuclear Club.
Scotland doesn’t need that kind of status. The SNP has committed to rid us of nuclear weapons with independence.
(The possibility of staying in NATO doesn’t require Scotland to have or to host nuclear weapons.)
If Scotland votes yes in autumn 2014 – and the prospect of getting rid of nuclear weapons may be my one positive reason for voting yes, but it is a huge reason – then rUK will have a big problem: they have nowhere in the UK where they can safely store the nuclear missiles based in Scotland. An entirely new base will have to be built, and it will take years – but politically, they cannot afford to start building it until the ballots are in, counted, and the vote is a clear yes to independence. Even then there will probably be last-ditch arguments from the rUK government with the Scottish government about continuing to keep the base in Scotland.
With that in mind, the pro-Union press is pushing hard on the idea that a non-nuclear independent Scotland would be kicked out of NATO. This is not based on any realistic assessment of America’s views of Scottish independence: it is quite simply argumentum ad baculum, the appeal to fear.
I’m tired and angry of these fallacious arguments that pro-Unionists keep putting up, that assume I’m ignorant or frightened. Give me good positive reasons for staying in the Union.
(Such as a a committment to getting rid of Trident, by the way. Sign the petition to scrap Trident now.)