"Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation."

Get in touch if you want to contribute to the blog.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

My 36 Questions For The 'No' Campaign.

The Better Together campaign has recently released its ‘500 questions’; an attempt to try and show us that an independent Scotland would be a terrifying place where people burst into tears after being overcome by the horrendous ‘uncertainty’ of it all. The questions range from obvious fear-mongering to sheer pedanticism as we see in question 466:

“What will Scotland’s international dialling code be?”

That’s right. Don’t vote for self-determination because people in other countries might have to suffer the mild hassle of looking up Scotland’s dialling code. How is the ‘Yes’ campaign even supposed to answer that? ‘+224562’?

We’re constantly told that Scotland becoming an independent state would create uncertainty but I’d argue that there is just as much uncertainty within the UK. I’m going to try and illustrate by coming up with my own ‘500 questions’* for the Better Together campaign.

*N.B. I am far too lazy/dim-witted to come up with 500 questions. I have 36 so far.

Exactly which powers will be devolved to Scotland in the case of a ‘no’ vote?

Exactly when will the powers be devolved?

What safeguards will be put in place to ensure that further powers are devolved to Scotland?

Isn’t it important that all unionist party leaders explain exactly which powers they would like to see devolved BEFORE the referendum? This ensures that the Scottish people will know what they are voting for.

Will the UK’s credit rating ever be restored to its AAA rating?

‘Better Together’ warned us that an independent Scotland wouldn’t be able to retain the AAA credit rating but the UK has failed to do so. Why is the UK’s credit rating suddenly so unimportant?

The United Kingdom shares a great deal of culture with nations such as the USA. Why couldn’t an independent Scotland and the UK do the same?

Will Westminster respect the Scottish peoples will and remove Trident nuclear weapons from Scotland?

Would Westminster respect the outcome of a Scottish referendum on Trident?

‘Better Together’ argues that Scotland should remain part of the UK to enjoy the ‘prosperity’, yet unemployment is high, the national deficit has still not been cut and food banks are on the rise in Scotland. How will the UK ensure prosperity?

If Scotland is too poor and the Scots too stupid to run our own country why are the London elite so anxious for us to stay?

Can ‘Better Together’ confirm I won't need to work till I'm 70?

Can ‘Better Together’ give a guarantee UK will play an integral part in Europe or even just remain in Europe?

Will there be a referendum on EU membership if the Labour Party form a Government after the next General Election?

The same question applies to all other unionist parties.

Better Together’ claims that Scotland has influence in the EU as part of the United Kingdom but Scotland has far less MEPs than other similarly sized nations.  Wouldn’t an independent Scotland have more influence as an independent nation with more MEPs?

Is there anything on the ‘Better Together’ website, other than empty rhetoric?

Is the ‘Better Together’ campaign aware that Alex Salmond won’t be the eternal leader of Scotland for the rest of eternity and that there is a possibility of a party, other than the SNP, forming a Government?

Does the ‘Better Together’ think it is right to accept donations from Ian Taylor; a man linked to tax avoidance and dodgy business deals in Libya?

Does the ‘Better Together’ campaign think that it is in the interest of the Scottish public for groups such as ‘National Collective’ and ‘Wings Over Scotland’ to be censored?

Will air passenger duty be devolved to Scotland?

Will Scotland’s subsidisation of the rest of the UK continue?

How many more Scottish men & women will have to die in illegal wars?

When will Scottish troops be allowed to leave Afghanistan?

Will the UK intervene in the Syrian civil war?

Will the UK engage in military action against Iran?

Will the UK continue to sell weapons and provide diplomatic support to Israel and its war crimes?

Would Bevan (“No amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin.”) approve of Johann Lamont becoming best pals with Ruth Davidson?

Do the unionist parties have a plan in place for their role in an independent Scotland? Isn’t it in the interest of the Scottish people to know exactly what their plans and policies are for an independent Scotland so that people can make a totally informed decision?

Can ‘Better Together’ give an indication of what else will be cut by this Government?

How will Westminster take steps to tackle climate change?

 One in four Scottish children live in poverty. How will the United Kingdom put an end to this?
Inequality is continually rising in the United Kingdom. How will this unpopular and unfair pattern be reversed?

Will Scottish currency continue to be rejected south of the border?

Why aren't Alistair Darling's eyebrows the same colour as his hair?

Isn’t the rise of UKIP in England yet another example of Scotland and the rest of the UK wanting to go in different political directions?

On the ‘Better Together’ website there is a section called ‘realscotstogether’. Isn’t this just a case of the flag-waving that you are so quick to accuse ‘Yes Scotland’ of engaging in?

Why did ‘Better Together’ remove the video of Ryan, the student, from youtube? Was it because a man’s ramblings about “sausage rolls” and “dugs” have absolutely nothing to do with Scottish independence and is just a means of them trying to play their very own nationalist card? *(The video can be found here; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asD_fBJeEg4)

A united left; the only way forward.

With now less than 500 days to go till the Independence Referendum of 2014, the magnitude and importance of this decision becomes greater with each passing day. We have the chance to transform our nation, not only for us, but for future generations. I, like many others, see 2014 as the start of the path-way to a Scotland with social justice and equality at its core. However, that doesn’t just suddenly  become reality with a Yes vote in the referendum, 2014 is the starting block, but this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.
As a member of the Scottish Socialist Party, it pains me to say this, but we have become a shadow of our former self and are on the verge of becoming an irrelevance. From 6 MSP’s in the 2003 elections, to a loss of all deposits in 2011. In the period of 2003-2011, the economy has collapsed, the greed and failures of the capitalist system have been laid bare for all to see and demand for a fairer and more prosperous Scotland has increased. But yet, we as a movement have collapsed electorally. Why? It is the answer to that question that is the true tragedy of Left-wing politics in Scotland.
The right wing media, right wing parties, the establishment, ourselves.  Only one of those 4 groups before mentioned are to blame for the collapse of not only the SSP, but left-wing politics in Scotland, and it’s sadly the last one. We on the left are the main contributors to our downfall. Whether you believe that it was one man’s sheer stupidity and egotistical attitude, or one man’s sheer determination and fight for justice that brought about the split of the SSP and the subsequent shattering of the most successful Socialist movement in Europe at the time is in my opinion irrelevant. The only thing we do know for sure is the devastating effect that those years have had on the socialist movement as a whole and how we have failed the base of support that we had once worked so hard to build support from. The true tragedy of the left is indeed that, no matter how much of a blow our enemy strikes, we deliver a self-inflicted blow which harms ourselves even more. This country needs a united left which puts the needs of the people above old personal and political score-settling.
With each passing day we see the difference in Scottish Politics and the rest of the UK becoming clearer and clearer. The rise of the UK Independence Party in the English council elections is not only surprising, but equally as terrifying.  British politics is being dragged ever more to the right with the only “alternative” being a Labour party which has abandoned the Socialist ideology and promises only austerity. The prospect of a possible UKIP and Tory coalition government should be enough for any Scot to tick the yes box in 2014, however many are caught in the illusion that Labour still represent themselves and their communities and are a viable and realistic alternative, and even more are sadly disengaged with politics as a whole. So how do we enthuse, how do we bring people out of their homes and get them politically active, how do we fulfil people with the knowledge required to see for themselves what the future as part as the United Kingdom holds and how a Yes vote in 2014 can be the catalyst for real social change? 
The answer lies in a united left. A left wing party which stands defiantly behind the working class people of Scotland. A left wing party which supports the unions in their fight for workers’ rights. A left wing party which promises an end to illegal wars overseas and an end to the bloodshed which see’s working class men like the 3 members of the Royal Highland Fusiliers killed last week whilst serving in Afghanistan return home draped in a Union Flag . A left wing party which promises to restore economic growth not through austerity and welfare cuts, but through the introduction of a living wage and a commitment to housing. Most importantly however, a left wing party which listens to its people and answers their questions directly. A return to honest politics and an end to the out of touch nature of politics at present.

Only through offering real change and not merely the changing of a flag can we win the referendum in 2014. But as I have already said, 2014 is not the end of our struggle, it is only the beginning. And only through a strong and united outlook can we realistically bring about the changes which benefit the many and not the few. 

Liam McLaughlan