The magnificent Karine Polwart has today brought a much needed bit of heart into the independence debate, sadly not matched by the partizan headline created by the Scotland on Sunday sub-editor. It got me thinking about whether I should try and write my views down, and how I could further the debate.
This has already been a hugely antagonistic campaign, with both sides slinging mud and misinformation around with enthusiasm. Unfortunately, all this does is polarize viewpoints and stifle genuine debate from people who aren’t political commentators or campaigners. But this referendum needs their voices to be heard. It’s simply too big an issue to leave to professional spin doctors and those with a vested interest in seeing their side win.
I decided a while ago I would try and not get into a tit-for-tat argument about Scottish Independence with people. My position is one the is intractable and not for changing so why try and persuade those who are so vehemently pro-union? It would clearly be a waste of all our times. Instead, I felt I should concentrate on helping the debate move forward and let people decide for themselves. Just post links to articles and information and let interested people read it and come to their own conclusions.
This is not an easy task. It’s very difficult to walk away, particularly when people want to antagonize you and defeat your argument.
Karine’s article today highlights the importance of this though. We need debate; we need to talk about the possibilities, not just the financial benefits or costs to independence. Perhaps I can’t further the debate without putting my case forward first. So, this is my attempt to explain why I support Scottish Independence. You can read it and decide for yourself.
The independence question arose before north-sea oil and Scotland will continue to exist long after it’s depleted. We should say Yes not because we stand to gain and be richer for it, but because we will have a greater say in the type of society we want to live in. I’d be happy with independence even if it meant being worse off, not because I want to be punished or that I have some weird hatred of success, but because that would be our choice and we would be responsible for resolving that situation ourselves. Jeezo, it would be liberating.
We have a once in a lifetime chance here to shape a better society, to raise a standard and claim that we can do things differently. I look at nations like Iceland with real jealousy. Sure, Iceland has it’s faults (unsustainable fishing practices, whale hunting and eating rotten shark meat - gads) but it also behaves like a truly progressive modern state, while at the same time taking pride in it’s folk history and it’s contemporary culture. In Scotland, our children are raised to sneer at our traditions and embrace contemporary culture from England and the US. A Yes vote might allow us to have confidence in ourselves and celebrate, maybe even marry, our traditions with our inventive contemporary spirit.
Scotland has culture to be proud of. We have produced a torrent of Turner prize winners, we have some of the finest traditional musicians in the world and some of the greatest contemporary musicians. It’s all rooted in the place and the people. We have a social spirit that should be celebrated, a pride in helping and creating. Imagine what an impact on the world an independent Scotland could have, with confidence and a swagger, producing work which is celebrated by all it’s people, broadcast across the country and projected as a representation of Scotland today.
This isn’t about negativity, looking at England and saying we want no part of that, it’s about being united with our own voice. A Yes vote wouldn’t see us set adrift from the rest of Europe or the UK, but we’d be able to develop the relationship for mutual gain and respect. Many parts of Scotland have more in common with Scandinavia, so why not forge new links with those countries? Surely that would benefit England, Wales and Ireland too, with increased trade coming through Scotland to the other home nations.
Ultimately, Scotland will be shaped by it’s people after 2014. A Yes vote isn’t a vote for an Alex Salmond dictatorship as some would have you believe, but we will be given a chance to bring in a parliament in a newly independent Scotland. It could be anything we want it to be and one would imagine many SNP voters feel naturally aligned with other parties policies but have voted SNP to further the independence movement. Perhaps Labour would become the dominant force in Scotland once more? Perhaps the Greens would make bigger in roads? We can decide. Maybe the SNP will prevail and continue to surprise people with their able administration of the country (though I disagree with them on many things these days).
This is our chance to take a bold step that will shape our country for generations. Scotland is a nation, not a northern region of a bigger state and we should remember that. We have a shared history as people, a culture and country to be proud of. Why not have our own voice?
Tick that box and let’s see what happens. It’s exciting to have this opportunity and we should embrace it, not fear it.