Sunday, 17 August 2014

debating independence

Helensburgh from Greenock, Scotland
We've got just over a month to go until the referendum on Scottish Independence. Everyone aged 16 and over in Scotland can vote, and my Facebook feed has been abuzz about it for AGES.

Remember the idea that politics and religion weren't polite subjects for conversation? Well apparently it's OK to talk about the referendum.

I'm happy that people are talking politics, but the way it's being done is often pretty nasty, and divisive.

I'm going to say right now that I'm intending on voting to stay in the Union, so you know what my biases are, but I do agree with the people who complain that the Better Together Campaign is a Tory campaign, run from London.

That said, the Yes (or Aye) campaign for Scottish Independence is being run by the Scottish National Party. Of course it is.  They promised it when they were elected.

My corner of Scotland
The Better Together campaign is basically a campaign to stay as we are.  There are carrots dangled of devo-max (an option removed from the referendum, whereby Scotland stays within the Union but gets additional powers devolved to the Scottish Government), but other than that, all they really have to do is promote feelings of Britishness (research shows that Scots tend to feel Scottish first and British second, but they do feel British), and undermine the campaign for independence.

By contrast, the Yes campaign, for Scottish independence, is promoting feelings of Scottishness, and talking about all the ways Scotland would be better off without being part of the union.  All these are, have to be theoretical, because Scotland is still a part of the union.  

The Yes campaign is very strong on Social Media.  Lots of people have great big blue blobs with YES written on them, and my friends are sharing the marketing material.  Like this one, outlining some reasons why Scotland would be better off independent.

Well, let's have a look at those points shall we?

1) Scotland is part of Britain and therefore has a few representatives in Westminster - where the British parliament is based.  Most of Scottish policy is formulated by the Scottish Government, based in Edinburgh, in Scotland's central belt.  No English areas are represented in the Scottish Government.
Scotland also sends representatives to the European Government, and some policies from that also affect Scotland.  

Westminster Houses of Parliament from the London Eye
2) This is talking about the Tory led government currently in power in Westminster.  There are a few points to make here: a) This is a minority government - most of the people of Britain did not vote for them. b) The Tory led government is the Westminster Government for Britain (see 1), and can change in forthcoming general elections.  c) The Scottish Government is currently SNP led.  There are Tory members, like Annabel Goldie, former leader of the Scottish Conservatives, and one of the representatives for my area of Scotland. d) Did Alex Salmond claim that the Scottish people didn't elect Westminster MPs when he was one, which he was until the SNP won the election in Scotland?

3) The Treasury in London does currently cover the whole of the UK.  Scotland does rather well out of the Barnett formula at the moment.  Aberdeen has made a lot of money from oil, and it is understandable that Scotland would want to make more (and also from fracking), but couldn't Scotland aspire to moving away from fossil fuels?

4) Well, it's close to the Clyde, I'll give you that, and the world would be a better place without nuclear weapons.  But 'facility' suggests it's more than a few submarines, and personally I think it would be a shame to lose all the people who work there when they have to relocate to Portsmouth or somewhere similar.

My poor little girl has recently been testing how
awesome the Scottish NHS is.  Thank you to
the brilliant staff of Crosshouse Hospital, and to
Stuart and Steve.
5) The NHS in Scotland is funded by the Scottish Government, and health policy is decided by the Scottish Government.  If England privatises the English NHS it will be a terrible tragedy for England.  Similarly Scottish education policy and funding comes from the Scottish Government, and the Scottish education system is very different to the English system.  I'm not sure what the evidence is that English schools are being privatised, but if they're talking about private finance partnerships, then that already happens in Scotland, and provides improved facilities for students.

6) Yes! There are a lot of Scottish people in the United Kingdom armed forces.  And yes, the armed forces are directed by Westminster.  I hope they mainly serve to help make people safe, but sometimes mistakes (and misdirection) happen.  This is a big issue, worth worrying about, but I'd rather our armed troops were involved in 'foreign' wars, than Scottish ones!

7 & 8) There was a GLOBAL financial crisis.  The Royal Bank of SCOTLAND had to be bailed out.  The banking system does seem to be corrupt (still), but Scottish bankers have their fingers right inside that pie.

9) Yes! Benefits are decided UK wide, and the people of Scotland seem to be more inclined to supporting the poor and needy than the English Government (which seems to be considering reinstating workhouses).  We need to wrestle control of benefits from the English government, because bringing the poor down brings society down, and is also just plain rude.

But a word of warning, be careful who you share your views with.  I've seen some fairly odd statements cropping up on Facebook, here are some examples:

  • Apparently, if we vote against independence we will never be able to sing Flower of Scotland again with pride.  Having had to sing it THREE TIMES at a school assembly last year, that sounds good to me.
  • Some parents are angry that schools have registered pupils to vote, without the parents consent (erm, why? saves them a job doesn't it?).
  • Apparently, if you vote no, you can't claim to be Scottish.  Personally I'm not bothered.  My husband is always reminding me that as I was born in England I'm not Scottish (although his daughter can be, lol), but anyway, this is just rubbish.

I'm not sure I should ask, but what are your thoughts on the debate thus far?  And how can we all stay friends for another month of it!?

Other posts you might like:

Building a batmobile with a
broken arm?  No problem.

Update on the little girl's arm: Her cast has dried and she has a picture of Twilight Sparkle on it, her arm is a lot less sore, and the swelling seems to have gone down a lot too.  She's still got a very sore thumb, so I'm going to talk to the specialist about that tomorrow.  Not sure if it's just because of where the tendon connects on the arm or if there's another small break which hasn't yet been detected.  The main thing though is that my fiercely independent little lady is still fiercely independent, and is back to jumping off the sofa (ffs).