I’ve just returned my postal vote for the referendum on Scottish Independence, because I will be up north promoting my novel The Brahan Seer on the day of the vote. This is the blog of a writer and I generally do not want to pollute this space with too much politics, but for this special occasion I am going to make an exception.
We’re told that a lot of Scots have still not made up their minds how to vote, and I hope that some of those people will read this post and find it helpful in coming to a decision. Here is why I am voting Yes:
1. To rid Scotland of the madness of nuclear weapons and nuclear power. Nuclear weapons are unusable… always have been, always will be. How can this insanity of the 1970s Cold War have survived this far into the 21st century? If we use a nuclear weapon against an enemy nation with nuclear capability, we will ourselves be annihilated within minutes. If we use a nuclear weapon against a nation who do not have nuclear capability, then we will have committed an atrocity beyond all possible moral justification and endangered Earth’s ecosystem. I want no part of either scenario because I am sane. End of argument. Nuclear fission reactors are not safe. Fukushima blew up. The Japanese are not stupid people. Neither are the Germans. The German government decided to abandon all nuclear technology in the wake of Fukushima. The corrupt British government, beholden to vested interests, after a pretend period of mock review, resolved to build a new generation of nuclear power stations. Why? Because, as we are always being told about nations like Iran, domestic Nuclear power is a convenient cloak for production of the raw material for nuclear weapons. Why all this debate over exactly how many barrels of oil Scotland will produce over coming decades? That financial gain surely pales in comparison to the savings available to any nation which abandons the vast and pointless cost of nuclear weapons. Hence the success of the economies of Germany and Japan post WWII. Any nation that commits itself to hard work by exclusively peaceful means, will prosper. Why are the British political establishment so obsessed with, and wedded to, Nuclear weapons? Two words: British Empire. Because holding nuclear weapons enables them to preserve the absurd fantasy of Britain being a major geo-political power in the world. This pipe-dream has been slowly bankrupting the British State for the last 50 years. This is where Scottish oil revenue has gone, along with making an awful lot of London bankers very rich. Enough is enough. We voted Yes in 1979, but those in power (Labour) pretended we voted No and we got Thatcher as payback. Don’t make the same mistake again, or the world will regard us as the stupidest race that ever lived, who deserve all the political disregard we can get. This brings us to point two:
2. Democracy. Scotland votes further to the left than England. Hence the Thatcher years where Socialist Scotland endured openly hostile rule by a government so grotesquely right-wing that their crypto-fascist leader counted the mass-murderer General Pinochet of Chile among her personal friends. We are currently governed by a coalition fixed-up between Tories and Liberals. Did any of us up here vote for these people? Damned few. Therefore this is currently some kind of colony, politically speaking, governed undemocratically and against its will. They will tell us that the establishment of a Scottish Parliament was designed to relieve that tension, and yet the third choice of “Devo-Max” (maximum political devolution, but still withholding such powers as those required to remove nuclear weapons from our soil) was forcibly deleted from our ballot papers by our current Tory Prime Minister David Cameron. The message is clear from history from the previous examples of ex-colonies like India and Ireland leaving the British Empire: Westminster will treat you with contempt until you negotiate from a position of power. Only voting Yes will give us that bargaining power to secure a new deal for a new nation. Which brings us to our third and final point:
3. Scotland, this extraordinary little nation, invented the industrial revolution and the modern world in which we all now live. For a race of people so contorted with self-doubt and riven with national timidity, we have in fact always struck well above our weight in terms of achievement in every area of human endeavour. Wherever you go in the world you will invariably find that some clever Scotsman got there about 150 years ago and single-handedly invented the tram system or a cure for Cholera. It’s time for a new invention. For Scotland to demonstrate to the planet that our current system of Capitalism, doomed to perpetual boom and bust, doomed to make the rich richer and the poor suffer without hope, is not the only way. It will take a wee while, granted, but if we vote Yes we can take the first steps to constructing a new kind of society within a new nation, one that delivers true democracy for it citizens, banishes poverty, and makes responsible use of its natural resources in a sustainable fashion that will ensure the safety and prosperity of future generations. And once we’ve cracked it, like we did before, we can export that formula to the rest of the planet. We don’t make the world safer by threatening each other, we do it by peaceful trade. We won’t make the world fairer by waiting for the privileged to be nice to us, we will do it be democracy and legislation, by force of numbers, by putting egalitarian ideals into practice.
That’s me done, almost. They say that a lot of people are scared to vote Yes. We all understand fear. What I understand about fear is that the people who feel it most are those who lack control over their own lives, who know deep down that their whole world might be upended tomorrow on the whim of some other unreasonable person, or someone whose interests simply aren’t the same as their own. There’s only one cure for that kind of fear. If you are a teenager, grow up and leave home and get a job. If you are an abused spouse, then leave your partner and live on your own terms as an individual and join the larger community in which you may find support and work. In the words of the writer Helen Keller: life is a daring adventure or nothing at all. She was deaf and blind. You are not. Scotland needs to grow up and take responsibility for itself.