Independence? Yes

Well, this has all been the best thing that’s happened to democracy & politics on this island for 300 years and if I were living in Scotland I would be sorely tempted to vote ‘Yes’ for independence, however many English Council leaders have been brandishing Saltires to try and persuade me otherwise.Joe and SaltireI hear the doubts and threats being issued from the English press about the currency and economy and I would never confuse myself with being an isolated Nationalist, but I still think it’s time, time for Scotland to be fully itself. And currently half of the people in Scotland seem to feel the same way. So whatever the referendum result, the Union of 1707 now seems likely to be radically renegotiated.

Now I’m not writing this as an expert on Scotland. I’m not. Since devolution I’ve worked in Glasgow and Edinburgh and had holidays in Dumfries, Galloway and several of the Hebrides. So even thinking that Mull is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to in my life doesn’t make me an expert. But I am a citizen of this Union, which is still a democracy, and it looks like it’s about to change, so I’m entitled to an opinion.

Calgary Bay, Mull

Calgary Bay, Mull

One of the main things that makes me lean towards independence is the way the Westminster governments of the past many years have steadily removed money and power from local democracies all over Britain. Including the way the current incumbents have somehow managed to set up a system where the Labour cities are being disproportionately punished by austerity politics compared to the Tory towns. So that here in Liverpool, for the want of £2.5m – less than a banker’s bonus or two – we’re having to consider closing 11 libraries, for example.

Not that my leaning towards independence is a party political issue. It isn’t. What I think I am is anti-establishment. And the Westminster establishment has been in full-on panic mode the last few weeks. When you find Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg all agreeing with each other and agreeing that the best solution to any problem is Gordon Brown, then you know that our cosy political establishment is seriously worried that it’s members only club is in mortal danger.

Bowmore Distillery, Islay

Bowmore Distillery, Islay

Unlike England’s regions Scotland has had a degree of devolution since 1998 and so it’s no surprise that it now looks like it wants more. Because the fact is it is a separate place, with its own very definite sense of place. It doesn’t vote like the rest of the UK and yet it still finds itself being governed from afar by governments it consistently doesn’t elect. But who knows? In the end a degree of conservatism and a display of naked power may just about pull off a ‘No’ vote. But it will be close. Close enough to change the nature of our Union for good.

The Bay at the Back of the Ocean, Iona.

The Bay at the Back of the Ocean, Iona.

And maybe that will be good for the rest of us. Maybe our own cities and regions will then take back the powers and cash that Westminster has been gathering for itself all these years. Maybe we could once again raise the levels of real political debate and engagement across the lands? Raise the woeful qualities of all of our major parties and build alternatives better than the fruitcakes of UKIP?

Who knows, maybe we can all become a little more independent?

6 thoughts on “Independence? Yes

  1. Gerry

    Absolutely agree with this, Ronnie. The panic in London is a joy to behold and spectacle of Gordon Brown being wheeled out to save the union is like something the satirists might have dreamed up, implausibly. A great many people that I chat with here in Liverpool say to the Scots, ‘go for it’ – we’d like some of that redistributed policy-making and tax-raising power, too. Simon Jenkins writes in today’s Guardian, ‘The truth is that a good half of the Scots have had enough of English rule and want to see the back of it, period.’ Substitute northerners (or Cornish) for Scots and London for English and the same applies here. I think (I hope) that however the Scots vote next week, things are going to change in this land of ours, big-style.

    Reply
  2. robertday154

    I generally agree with both you and Gerry on the wider implications for the rest of the UK if Scotland becomes independent. However, I for one would not want Scotland to become independent: not because I think they would be better off as a part of the Union, but because i believe the English will be diminished without having the example of Scotland to show us that other political directions are available. But that’s just me being selfish.

    If Scotland votes “Yes” next week, how soon could we in the Midlands and North join them?

    Reply
  3. Martin Greaney (@histliverpool)

    I’m torn too (and love your comment about Gordon Brown! My natural instinct was ‘yes’ to independence (Scotland or elsewhere), but then was worried about the oft-quoted stat we’d be lumbered with the Conservatives ‘forever’ if Scotland left the UK. But as has been mentioned here, I wonder whether such a plight might actually give us a kick up the backside, and take an interest. For once, perhaps we’d feel our normal General Election votes *would* make a difference! Also, perhaps an independent Scotland would be a more powerful model to follow than a united one, for the very reason that they’d be separate. There’d be fewer arguments tangled up in who-subsidises-whom.

    In a nutshell, I’m now thinking that an independent Scotland might give us English peeps something concrete to be jealous of, and maybe we’d even feel like doing something about it.

    Reply

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