This is one of the most passionate, forthright and - in the deepest of senses - true pieces of writing to come from the rank-and-file YES campaign yet. Some won't like it because of it's forthrightness, but it is what many of us are thinking. And as for those who it is aimed at - NO voters - 'the truth never hurts unless it ought to.' Let's hope a few read this and pass through a 'dark night of the soul' to emerge healed and voting YES.
Since we posted this piece by Steven McBrien on our facebook page it has had over 900 shares, and nearly 70, 000 views. Read it and see why.
Steven McBrien is a member of the National Collective and a life-long campaigner for independence.
Dear No Voters,
I think it’s finally time for me to say this. I’ve been mealy-mouthed and temperate for a while, but I’m actually going to come out and say it now, because I no more respect your right to defend the United Kingdom than I do your right to defend elitism or religious bigotry, or anything else that is patently, blatantly wrong.
If you are planning to vote No to the chance of governing yourselves, if you think that all women and all men are equal only if it benefits your wallet, if you believe in even attempting to defend privilege by birth, if you believe in sitting back and watching while the Tories systematically dismantle the NHS, if you give any kind of credit to the pledges of a Labour party and a Liberal party who jumped into bed with the Tories in roughly the time it takes the average human being to blink, if you believe nuclear weapons can be in any way justified, and that it’s fine to tell the rest of the world they can’t have them, but you of course can, if you think that once the yoke of paying for the upkeep of this obscene armoury is removed, we somehow won’t be a million times better off both financially and ethically, if you think that you will no longer be British because, despite being born on the island that for millennia has been called “Britannia”, you are not part of the pathetic remnants of a long-dead empire that still covers part of Ireland and which insists that people on the island of Ireland identify themselves as “British”, if you believe that a Westminster-centred media is telling you the truth about how wealthy your country really is, if you believe any of this laughable, fear-motivated propaganda campaign that would have made Josef Goebbels goggle in disbelief, if you believe Ireland can have open borders with the UK but Scotland can’t, if you want to justify Scotland repeatedly refusing Tories only for them to get into power to make laws for you and your children anyway, if you take seriously the words of three political parties who have betrayed you time and time again, if you think that a Conservative or UKIP-dominated government will have any kind of mandate to offer you more powers when you have already refused more powers and are rendered politically impotent after a NO vote, and even as there is growing opinion down south that Scotland must “pay a heavy price” irregardless of whether it votes NO or not, if you think Scotland won’t be totally crucified in the event of a NO victory next month, if you wave a flag that claims to speak for Britain but doesn’t even mention Wales, despite retaining the red saltire of a country whose citizens fought and died to break away from the UK nearly a century ago, if you want your kids to be subjects and not citizens, of a monarch who is somehow allowed to be called Elizabeth II even when your entire country didn’t even have an Elizabeth I, if you think that your hatred of one person should affect the future of five million people, if you think this referendum is all Alex Salmond’s doing when the people of Scotland gave him the mandate to hold it in the first place, and a huge percentage of Scots openly give up their free time to actively support it on a daily basis, if you listen to a Let’s Stay Together campaign that sends you letters signed by bleating millionaires, and which is fronted by the son-in-law of the Duke of Westminster, one of the richest men in Europe and a Scottish landowner who stands to lose millions in Land Tax in the event of a YES vote, if you think that a Scottish parliament that was specifically designed by its Labour founders to resist an SNP government is “democratic”, if you think the powers of that parliament can’t be revoked in a heartbeat, if you believe campaign literature that constantly quotes the Tory-founded and wildly pro-business IFS, if you think the Financial Times was joking about Westminster deliberately lying about our oil bonanza, if you think Forbes Magazine was merely kidding when it stated that no-one can stop us from using the pound, if you think Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey can use the pound but Scotland somehow can’t, if you think that other countries who welcomed independence wouldn’t have given their right arms for the oil we have when they were starting out, if you think we won’t become a trade and exports and renewable energy powerhouse in spite of our almost-perfect situation and geographical location to do just that, if you think little countries can’t do it when the Top Ten Richest Countries in Europe and the Top Ten Richest Countries in the World are undeniable testaments to the contrary year after year, if you believe that getting a democratic say in what actually happens to your own country is anything but a good thing, if you imagine that the socialist movement once known as the Labour Party still actually exists despite having had its heart ripped out by a war criminal twenty years ago, if you think a nation of world-famous inventors, entrepreneurs and engineers can’t govern themselves when the rest of planet Earth can, if you imagine that a nation of five million people and a nation of fifty-six million people can be united fairly on anything other than a federal basis, if you believe in an honours system that increasingly seems to resemble the Sex Offenders register, if you think that foreign wars in which our young men and women have been, can be and will be sent to needlessly die in dust-covered countries thousands of miles away are justified, if you think a political system in which only two sitting prime ministers have ever even set foot on the Shetland Islands, 34 years apart, can be defended, if you hand your pay packets into your neighbours, for them to give you a “percentage” of it back, if you voluntarily keep your neighbours’ stockpile of weapons in your own house, if you believe you are not entitled to the pound your forefathers sweated, worked and died for over three hundred years for, if you think that, even if we somehow had to give up the pound we won’t have to give up, we couldn’t deal with a currency change when we’ve all spent decades trying to persuade people to accept Scottish notes in England anyway, if you believe the words of people who tell you constantly that you can’t do it, if you think a massive inferiority complex is good for you, if you call an entire nation with a world-famous culture and identity wanting to govern itself “separatism”, if you don’t do things because you’re just too scared to do them, if you support unilateral military action over the international law a hundred million people died to gift to you, if you vote for a relationship that is so unbalanced and unfair that you are actually threatened and intimidated for even entertaining the thought of upping sticks and leaving it, if you think you are somehow economically better off with a financial capital that is hundreds of miles away in another country, if you believe in a union borne out of corruption and intimidation, and against the wills of the people of England and Scotland, if you uphold the rights of financial terrorists to do as they please while the poorest in society suffer for it and bail them out with their own money, if you think that these ridiculous bailouts are even necessary in the first place after seeing Iceland telling the corporate criminals to get lost and now reaping the rewards by prospering as the eighth richest country in Europe, even while we get treated to more and more foodbanks, library closures and hospitals shutting down, if you are seriously planning to defend before the entire planet an unelected upper chamber with 92 hereditary peers, whose archaic rules have been out of date for centuries and whose 775 members earn £300 a day just for turning up, if you believe that a political system which denies office to Catholics is anything other than totally abhorrent, if you treat the most negative, fear-driven and insulting political campaign in modern history with anything other than the total contempt it so richly deserves, if you think that an entire nation rising to its feet before the world, only to whimper “Sorry! We can’t do it!” before sitting mutely and meekly back down again will somehow not become a global laughingstock, if you honestly think you won’t spend the rest of your lives woefully trying to defend yourselves to the people who come after you and who demand to know why, if you live your lives obeying the instincts of fear and cheerless pessimism over the instincts of hope and possibility, if you are planning to defend any or all of this bullshit while the world watches you doing it, then I don’t question your political beliefs, I don’t question your motivations and I don’t even question your consciences. I actually question your fucking sanity.
There have been many misconceptions in this debate; the biggest one, however, is that it is we YES voters who somehow have to defend our arguments. We don’t. We don’t have to defend them. You’re the ones who should be defending your beliefs. If you don’t believe in basic human rights, if you don’t believe in democracy, if you choose to uphold privilege and royalty over equality and justice, then it’s time for you to start defending your beliefs, because I for one will never, ever, ever stop attacking them. Whether you “win” in September, or whether you lose, I will attack your beliefs before the eyes of the world, and I will go on attacking them relentlessly and pitilessly, either for the rest of your life, or for the rest of mine. I will attack them when you wake up, I will attack them when you go to bed, I will attack them in your dreams and I will attack them in your nightmares, I will attack them in writing and I will attack them in voice, I will attack them at Christmas and I will attack them on your birthday, I will attack them from the streets and I will attack them from my home, I will attack them in the spring and I will attack them in the fall, I will attack them with glee and I will attack them with rage, I will attack them in print and I will attack them in public, I will attack them until I die and I will ensure that others will go on attacking them after I’m gone, I will attack them and attack them and go on attacking them until you cover your ears and snivel in wretched despair. I will tell the entire world what you believed, and exactly what you tried to deny to your own posterity; I will holler it to the heavens until I have no voice left to screech with, I will set it down in print so that every single one of the unborn billions that come after us can marvel at it. I will tear your pathetic excuses for arguments all the new ones they could ever have torn and I will pour scorn upon you and your miserable beliefs until the breath leaves my body. Do you understand what that means? Do you?
It means that you’ve already lost.
The Point marks 21 days to go till the referendum with a magnificent seven appeals to undecided voters from both rank-and-file activists and leading figures in the YES movement.
Tommy Sheridan: Hope Over Fear tour, Co-Convenor, Solidarity
If Scotland is to become an Independent nation on September the 18th then all of us advocating a Yes vote need to convince those who have not yet made up their mind as to why they should vote for Independence. We have to try and persuade people to have the confidence to take their own destiny in their hands. Many other countries that have fought for Independence over the years have actually had to take up arms to fight for that type of sovereignty. We’re getting the chance without one single bullet getting fired. All we have to do is to go to a ballot box and put a cross beside “Yes” and we can become a nation.
Politicians and commentators are keen to tell us what this referendum is about. I can tell you what it’s not about.
The Independence debate is not about narrow nationalism. I am not a nationalist. I have been an Internationalist all of my political life. Some people have said to me, “You know, Tommy, you’re a socialist. Are you not abandoning the working class in England and Wales, who’ll never get rid of the Tories if Scotland goes independent?” It’s a myth deliberately promoted by people who know better. In all of the elections where Labour have won a majority in Westminster, they didn’t rely on the Scottish votes. But, since 1955, 32 years out of the 60 years since 1955, we’ve ended up with Tory governments that we never voted for. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a country where you actually get the government that you vote for? Is that too much to ask? It’s called democracy. If we choose Independence then never again will Scotland have a Tory Government it didn’t vote for. Solidarity does not stop at a country’s borders. I have supported workers and peoples in struggle all over the world and that wouldn’t stop just because Scotland had the right to elect its own government and make its own decisions.
The referendum is not about the SNP. From those promoting Project Fear we hear constantly, “It’s all about Alex Salmond”, “Do you really support the SNP?” Yet this vote is bigger than any single political party. This vote is about the very future of our country, of our children, of our children’s children. This referendum isn’t about whether or not you like Alex Salmond or you support the policies of the SNP or The Scottish Government’s white paper. My vision of an Independent Scotland certainly won’t be shared by the higher echelons of the SNP. I don’t want to be part of Nato. I’m not interested in putting the monarchy on a diet. I don’t want it slimmed down – I want rid of it! I also don’t want oil, and gas, and electricity to be run for private profit. I think it should be nationalised along with our railways and the post office and run for social need. If we win the vote then I will put my energies into campaigning for a socialist Scotland but first of all we need a majority on September 18th.
Voting for independence isn’t the end destination - It’s only the start of the journey towards a new type of Scotland where we can start to reverse the trend of inequality by having a small country that puts social justice and equality at the forefront of its policies, rather than being a mere sound-bite that is discarded at the first opportunity. That is not the trajectory of politics at Westminster where all the main political parties are united in their desire for austerity policies that make the poor pay the price for the mistakes of the rich.
The referendum is not about the past. It’s not about historical battles but the struggles of the future. This vote is about whether your country is going to put people before profit. About whether Scotland is going to send young kids to die in illegal wars; about whether Scotland is going to spend money in giving kids a decent, healthy, nutritious free meal, and whether Scotland is going to have a publicly-owned health service, and a mail service, which this Westminster Government is privatising in England.
The main issue with the referendum is not, as BitterTogether would have us believe uncertainty. Of course there are issues that will have to resolved and negotiated. Not every i will be dotted or t crossed if we vote Yes. But it’s not uncertainty that is the main problem – its certainty. The certainty that a No vote on September 18th means more austerity on September 19th.
These Tory spivs and millionaires don’t think they haven’t gone far enough with cuts to public spending or the pay and conditions of workers. This government has already introduced a programme of billions of pounds worth of cuts and they’ve now announced another £40 billion worth. There is no escape from the wicked austerity consensus by voting Labour. At every time Prime Minister’s Questions, Cameron and his cabinet of millionaires goad Ed Milliband: “What would you do? Are you going to reverse the cuts?”
The reality is Labour are not going to reverse a single cut. They’ve said, “We’ll do it differently.” They’ve even said they wouldn’t do it as quick, but they will do it all the same.
We have an opportunity on September 18th to say we are taking a different path, making different choices.
The choice to not sell off our health service to the Tory’s rich friends.
A choice that values humanity itself.
The choice to break from decades of the disastrous foreign policy of the British state and to stand shoulder to shoulder with oppressed peoples the world over.
That we actually recognise something called human solidarity.
Where we actually believe that our old folk should be looked after.
We actually believe that our children should get a decent start in life.
We actually believe in something called the “welfare state” that looks after people from cradle to grave rather than stigmatising and hounding them.
Where we can be a country that welcomes immigrants from all over the world rather than persecuting and blaming them.
Where we say that we are not going to waste billions of pounds on offensive, inhumane and barbaric weapons of mass destruction currently based on the Clyde.
I think that they, above all, represent everything that’s wrong with the world. We’ve got kids starving, we’ve got children dying of easily preventable diseases, like cholera, because we don’t have enough money to spend on medicines. But there’s always enough money to spend on nuclear weapons.
We are a small country that is absolutely rich in land, water, the ability to generate energy, not just in relation to gas and electricity, but from wind and wave power as well. We have got an abundance of universities. We have got fantastic engineering capabilities. We’ve also got something which, personally, in an independent Scotland I’ll be fighting hard for, I can never understand why it is, that we’ve got a publicly-owned health service, and a privately-owned pharmaceutical industry. Why the hell should we allow them to rip us off? Let’s have a publicly-owned pharmaceutical industry to feed our publicly-owned health service. That’s the type of things we could do in an independent Scotland.
I have spoken at over 70 meetings across Scotland during this campaign and addressed over 14,000 people. At every one I make the same appeal. Vote YES and lets begin the process of transforming our country for the better and making it an example of how there is another way we can chose to run our society.
Let’s build a triumph of hope over fear.
The Point marks 21 days to go till the referendum with a magnificent seven appeals to undecided voters from both rank-and-file activists and leading figures in the YES movement.
Karen Hendry: single parent and anti-bedroom tax activist
The road to independence and how I got here.
Referendum, independence, you can, you can’t but what about plan x, y and z? The build up to the referendum has been one of the most exciting but exasperating things I have ever witnessed and one that will stay in the memory of myself and many others for all different reasons. With around 20 days to go I’m sitting reflecting on how I came to be a yes voter, a yes campaigner and all I can boil it down to is history and my own life experiences.
I was born in 1977 into a single parent family, my mum worked full time and we lived with my gran and papa. My papa was a miner who had survived a lifetime down the pits and lost his brother in the Kames disaster. Politics was always a lively affair in our house with the old we vote labour never Tory Tories are bad and when the miners’ strike came around I seen this with my own eyes. School friends suffering as their daddies were on strike. We were wee, but we knew that something wasn’t right with what we were hearing at home and seeing on the news and the curses and oaths when “her” (Margaret Thatcher) was on the telly. These things shape wee minds and stay with you through life.
We watched our communities struggle, people leaving to find work, people being out of work and the spark going from our neighbourhoods as everything slid there was no money no hope no sign of things getting better.
We were lucky as my papa had retired just before the strike and my mum worked nightshifts in Blackwood Brothers carpet factory in Kilmarnock so we at least had the pension and her wages other families weren’t so lucky.
Then the word came that Blackwood’s was paying people off and my mum was one of them. It was the only job she had ever known, and was trained for, but it was cheaper to get the work done abroad so the workforce was being cut. This came at a time when my gran’s health was declining and she needed help and support to manage day to day living so my mum became her carer at a time when carer’s rights and allowances were meagre (bit like today really for the service they provide and the money they save the government and their own families). So she became my gran’s carer and later my papa’s carer. The work of carers paid, unpaid and through carer’s allowance is generally unrecognised for the work they put in regardless if its family or not.
From this wee snippet of my life you can where my path to independence started. We are your average working class family and one that when the Westminster government wants to wage war on the poor are the first to suffer.
I left school and worked in Falmers jeans for 4 years until it started paying off people as the work was being done abroad cheaper and the brand was being sold to Matalan but not the workforce.
2001, I had my daughter who I have raised myself for 13 years. You know, one of those sponging single parents who worked and studied full time from college right through to graduating from university with an honours degree. And this is where I saw that we really could change the rotten system we had and that the chance of a fairer more equal society was there with independence.
Rewind to last year and we see the introduction of the bedroom tax and the eruption of the demeaning Atos assessments. This hit my mum a double whammy. Her home had 2 spare bedrooms (the home incidentally which had been rented for over 50 years by her parents) and then Atos declared her fit for work by seeing if she could lift her arms, never mind the other health conditions and the 4 page prescription list!)
I ended up being the vice chair of the Scottish anti-bedroom tax federation and also protested alongside Glasgow against Atos. The stories you heard from people about the persecution and humiliation they had been put through would have made the quietest person angry.
The pressure put on the Scottish government by the Scottish anti-bedroom tax federation led to the bedroom tax being mitigated in Scotland for the financial year 2014/15. This was a massive victory for us and showed that people power does work and can influence government. Unfortunately this is still ongoing in England and Wales, the media doesn’t show protests etc, that have been happening there around austerity, many people in Scotland have no idea how shielded they are compared to our English and Welsh cousins.
So why am I a yes voter? I’m a yes voter because I believe we can build a fairer society which doesn’t treat its poor, disabled, lone parents, low earners like a burden. I took advantage of the free tuition here and earned an honours degree, the first person in my family to ever have went to university I want that option to be available to my daughter when the time comes 6 years from now. I want to be a part of building a new modern nation where everyone has a chance regardless of age, colour, physical ability or financial position.
I want to be part of a modern nation where government listens to its people and their views on policies and consults with groups or individuals before ideas become policy. I don’t want to be stuck in a time where the poor, disabled and marginalised are blamed for everything that is wrong in society, where food banks are considered the norm, where we are fed lies and nonsense to blame everyone apart from the ones who are in control.
But most of all I want my daughter and future grandchildren to grow up and flourish in a country where no one is left behind.
The Point marks 21 days to go till referendum day with a magnificent seven appeals to undecided voters from both rank-and-file activists and leading figures in the YES movement.
The Indy Girls
As we face the final days of our right to self determination, The Indy Girls reflect on the
journey: We started out as a small group of friends who found each other through a common belief that every person in Scotland should be treated as equals and have the right to run our own affairs - like any other nation in the world.
Everyday we have been growing in numbers and growing in strength of character and self belief, and every Indy Girl who now wears a badge feels empowered like never before - it's an amazing feeling to experience.
From our quiet beginnings when we met to chat online and in person, when we went out leafleting and to the first Indy Girls meeting way back in May, we have always made it clear that we are a people's movement, not aligned to any political party or ideology.
We believe in people, and we believe in our own abilities, regardless of background.
Not only has that never changed, it has in fact it has become stronger as we travel up and down the country to various events, meetings and even discussions on our own streets.
The people we are talking to have shown true passion and vision for what we can achieve when we vote YES. Everywhere we've been, from T in The Park, Gay Pride, Wickerman, Common WealthGames, Edinburgh Fringe, and the Freedom Convoy, the collective confidence is evident for all see and feel.
On our own streets the young people have finally got something to look forward to in lifeas they never have before. What the media and the NO camp have ignored from the beginning are themassive opportunities and endless possibilities that are now nearly upon us.
There is no lie in saying that we will need more public servants.
There is no lie in saying that we will create our military services.
There is no lie in saying that we can protect our NHS.
There is no lie in saying that we will get rid of Trident.
There is no lie in saying that we can invest in the future of our children.
There is no lie in saying that Women's rights will be enshrined in the constitution.
There is no lie in saying that we can achieve better funding for Education.
(Many people can only go so far due to funding.)
How do we know this?
Because it's down to us - each and every one of us - to take control of our own destinies and to make it happen. The politicians can only take us so far - we have the chance to write our own futures like never before.
At times it won't be easy, and mistakes will be made, but they will be OUR mistakes. They will be part of growing as a people and a nation!
All through history the Scottish people have shown what great problem solvers we are - that's whatall the Scottish inventions were about - Scots came up against obstacles and found a way roundthem.
Everywhere we go now, people are realising their own potential, and daring to dream ofabetterlife,andthe reality is that we CAN! Scotland has a chance like never before, and it may never come again ... we should be running at it this with our arms wide open to embrace it!
The media have done nothing but complicate and distort the question, as has the Labour Party in Scotland, for their own self serving reasons. For all the questions and queries we have are challenges that every other country faces everyday. They all survive, and we will too, but we willnot just be surviving any more, we will be thriving and growing collectively!
"This Happy Nation" which every one keeps referring to has never been apparent in our lifetime - it a joy to now meet so many people with smiles on their faces, and to have things of such magnitudeto discuss.
The Wealthiest Nation is not what we are looking to be - we are looking to be The Happiest Nation! When people are happy the stress is lowered, and when stress is lowered people live longer ...illness, and especially auto immune illnesses are commonly triggered by stress, as are some heartconditions. That's how we start to combat our mortality rates.
A Happy Nation is a healthy nation ... remember that!
We understand there are a lot of other issues to be dealt with, but this will be the start.
When people are getting up in the morning to build something better, and not just getting up to make ends meet, the collective belief and community responsibility will return. When we are looking after our own "Wee Society" we won't need to be told by David Cameron how to behave in his "Big Society" ... This year the world has seen that we are already doing it!
What a powerful message we can send, as we show the hand of friendship to all the nations around the world, and we can tell the David Cameron's, President Obama's, Alistair Darling's, Jim Murphy's, Tony Abbott's, and ever other person who thinks they have the right to tell us that Independence is good for everywhere else but not Scotland, to mind their own DAMN business.
Those are the realities of voting YES!
The Indy Girls would like to thank everyone who has been on this journey with us - it has been a massive team effort from you all. We would not have achieved half of what we have done without the effort and input and support you have given us - in our meetings, events, our local towns, on our Facebook pages and all our local groups who have supported us through our journey.
Family and friends have also given up their time, and contributed every step of the way, and have had to see a lot less of us than usual - we salute you all!
SO - Are you feeling empowered?
Do you believe in your own abilities?
Do you believe in self determination?
Do you believe in your own future?
Do you believe that we are all equal?
Do you believe in the opportunity to build something better?
Do you believe in The People of Scotland?
Are you an Indy Girl?
Do you think Scotland should be an Independent Country?
Then vote YES!
The Point marks the 21 days to go till referendum day, with a magnificent seven appeals to undecided voters from both rank-and-file activists and leading figures in the YES movement.
Scotland’s Future – A Green Perspective
James MacKessack-Leitch, Green Party Convenor in Moray.
The debate on which we have embarked upon is about far more than whether decisions should be made at Westminster or Holyrood. We have the opportunity to ask ourselves what kind of country we want to live in; what kind of society we want to build; what kind of economy we want to run; and how to do so while protecting the environment around us.
Few generations have the opportunity to answer such defining questions, and it’s a crucial time to do so. All of us - Scotland, the UK and the whole of humanity - are facing unprecedented challenges in the 21st century, largely of our own making.
For decades, the world has been dominated by an economic model which has allowed the exploitation of people and natural resources on a scale never seen before. As a result we’re seeing a return to levels of inequality not seen for nearly a century. This same economic model is systematically destroying the environmental conditions on which our civilisation depends. And over recent years we’ve seen this economic model begin to fail even in its own terms – yet most politicians can’t see beyond the simplistic mantra of getting back to business-as-usual.
Greens around the world have been making these arguments for years. We’ve been leading the 21st century case for transformational change in our economy, our society, and our politics. What’s different now is the opportunity Scotland has to take control of that future and build a political culture that’s capable of transformation.
We live in an uncertain world. Much of that uncertainty is a result of the damage we have done ourselves. Voting Yes to Scottish independence will not reverse that damage overnight, but it will open the door to a better future, if we choose to step through.
Right now, I am sad to see the utter dominance of the debate by the economy and currency, because to my mind the solution is both simple and obvious.
In the short term of course we can use the pound, but it’s not a long term option, and it’s clear that Scotland will only be able to exercise full economic independence if we stand ready to develop our own currency. That’s it.
Continuing in the vein of slaying the elephant in the room, there are those who still make the case for a Yes vote with tired old slogans about “Scotland’s oil”. Even if there was no environmental consequence from burning fossil fuels, Scotland’s remaining reserves would only offer an economic future for a few more decades. I want an independent Scotland to be successful far longer than that!
Instead we must support a more diverse range of petrochemical uses which don’t involve greenhouse gas emissions. Scotland has the skills to do that, and with the remaining portion of oil and gas income funding public investment in renewables to replace future revenue, we have the opportunity to make this transition rapidly. The UK will only ever see North Sea oil as a revenue source; Scotland could see it as a springboard, taking us from reliance on polluting and finite energy sources to the clean technology of the future.
But what really drives me is the opportunity to create a true democracy.
Our politics is too often conducted in a polarised, confrontational atmosphere and in a situation remote from those that it affects. This is very much evidenced by the present London-centric system, and people feel disconnected with the decision making that affects our everyday lives.
Greens want to see that power returned to the people, not just from Westminster, but from Holyrood, and Local Authorities as well – independence is a first necessary step on that road, because the best decisions are made by local communities that are fully engaged, not in offices dozens, or hundreds, of miles away.
After all, our local authorities provide the public services we value most highly and use daily: children’s education, road repairs, care-homes, social housing, planning, public transport, parking, waste collections, cultural events… the list goes on. Despite this, less than 40% of us vote in elections and local government has been largely ignored in the debate on Scottish independence.
The referendum debate gives us the opportunity to rethink how all our powers are distributed. Whether we form a new country or remain in the UK, a stronger local democracy must be delivered in Scotland. A Yes vote will resolve the long-standing question of whether more powers should come from Westminster to Scotland, but also opens up the space to decide how we should share those powers across the country. A Green Yes vote in September is for a ‘double-devolution’ of power - bringing far more power to local communities, and recognising that power is granted from the people, up, not the government, down.
This isn’t wishful thinking, the unprecedented grassroots movements in the referendum debate show that people can be engaged in politics, that we can debate the issues that affect our future, and that ultimately, we can find the solutions ourselves and in our communities, without the need for a distant and centralising parliament.
There is no doubt that we have the ability tread a progressive path in the world, and if we can take this opportunity there is a chance to build a new political culture that is capable of transformation, and that provides future generations with the basis of a fair, just and sustainable society.
Can it be done?
I cannot predict the future any more than you, but there are two things I have learnt that helped me make my decision: hope beats fear, and nothing that’s worth doing is ever easy.
That’s why, on the 18th September, I’ll be voting for a Green Yes.
The Point marks the 21 days to go to referendum day with a magnificent seven appeals to undecided voters from both rank-and-file activists and leading figures in the YES movement.
John Finnie, Independent MSP and prominent supporter of the Radical Independence Campaign
People say ‘why take the risk? I agree. The most important debate our country has faced is full of unknowns. So what do we know?
We know that if you vote no all the unionist parties are committed to continuing the austerity programme and we know that 60% of the cuts are still to come.
We know the Labour Party are committed to 96% of those cuts, however, plan new further ‘benefits attacks’ on the under 25s. After all it was Alastair Darling who, in a rare moment of Blairite honesty, promised ‘deeper and tougher cuts than Thatcher’.
We know that the most vulnerable in our communities; the disabled, women and young children will feel the greatest effects of the austerity programme.
We know that the unionist parties will all replace the obscenity that is the Trident missile programme. We know that will cost over £100 billion and that £1.4billion has already been spent on the early design.
We know that, in the 4th most unequal country in the developed world, the unionist parties all voted to cap welfare payments.
We know that the three unionist parties are pandering to UKIP. Indeed Labour, desperate to lure ‘middle England’, complained the recent Con/Dem Queen’s Speech contained no immigration bill. That would perhaps seem surprising unless you recalled that it was Gordon Brown who uttered the shameful phrase “British jobs for British workers”.
We know that there is a very high chance that the much promised ‘in/out’ referendum on membership of the European Union (EU) could result in the UK leaving.
We know that with the limited powers it has, the Scottish Parliament has built on our nation’s broad social democratic consensus and delivered real social benefits. Benefits like free personal care for our older people, removing the worry for them, their families and communities about how they will be looked after. Benefits like free prescriptions, removing the ‘tax on sickness’ and the obscenity of citizens presenting themselves to a pharmacists saying they can only afford two of the five items on the script, asking which two are most important. Benefits like free university education with access on the ability to learn rather than the ability to pay.
We know some people are concerned about the alleged challenges an independent Scotland would face such as currency and membership of the EU.
I’ll declare I favour a separate Scottish currency, however, there is no doubt that, whether in the long-term or as a pragmatic temporary measure, sharing the pound is a viable option. Don’t take my word for it, Alistair Darling and Blair MacDougall, leaders of Better Together and Professor Jim Gallagher one of their advisors are all on record supporting that approach. Currency is about trade and, as should be clear to all, trade takes place regardless of currency and perceived boundaries.
We hear a lot about ‘plan B’. It’s a good question. What is Better Together’s ‘plan B’ when Tesco, Amazon and Starbucks tell them they want a single currency for Great Britain? This is all posturing by a failed state whose last two Chancellors, Alistair Darling and George Osborne have between them racked up an astonishing debt of £1.45 trillion. Those are not the kind of guys I’d recommend taking economic advice from!
I have a European Union passport now and will still have one under independence. The EU is an expansionist organisation and if Ukraine, with all the challenges is eligible for Membership, then does any credible voice suggest that Scotland wouldn’t be admitted?
Then there’s the ‘problem’ of having vast oil reserves requires to be addressed too. ‘Investment will dry up’, except it hasn’t. Why would it? Corporate greed will ensure that the money will go where the profits can be harvested and the North Sea, with or without the mysterious Clare Ridge, is a rich source of profit.
So I’ve no doubt , with the necessary work, we can persuade our fellow residents that supporters of YES have a vision, indeed various visions, of a better future whilst those who encourage you to vote No have nothing to offer but threats and more of the same. I don’t want more of the same under the UK and I most certainly don’t want more of the same under an independent Scotland.
The growing inequality which is the hallmark of the UK must be replaced by a concerted programme to remove health, wealth, gender mobility and fuel inequalities.
The UK’s National Health Service, once the jewel in the rich crown of public services, has now been singled out to be plundered by the millionaire politicians’’ mates.
The position of the Labour Party in Scotland is entirely out of kilter with their colleagues in England and wales who rightly see the Health and Social Care Act as the death knell for a free NHS. Only independence can save the NHS.
So, which of the UK’s four millionaire public schoolboys Party Leaders do you want to form your government 2015? Or, do you want to elect a government in 2016 to control all your affairs?
Hope over fear. Vision over greed. ‘A different Scotland can be ours’ only if you vote ‘YES’!
John Finnie Iain Ó Finnaí
Member of the Scottish Parliament Ball Pàrlamaid na h-Alba
Highlands and Islands A' Ghàidhealtachd agus na h-Eileanan
Derek Stewart MacPherson takes a fresh look at privatisation, why it directly affects you, and why it is an issue in the referendum debate.
Well, somebody has to say it, so it might as well be me. Privatisation is very probably the biggest financial scam of all time. It dwarves anything else I can think of. LIBOR? Fiddling small change. The original Charles Ponzi? Amateur! There has been renewed talk of privatisation recently, as the coalition government seek to use it to help balance the books, the Royal Mail and the NHS being the principle targets. It has become an issue in the Scottish referendum campaign, so it’s important to understand what it’s really all about.
It’s a scam, and here’s why: not only does it not always do what it says on the tin, it’s actually impossible for it to do what it says on the tin. I call it ‘magic pudding economics.’ Here’s the theory: You take a publicly owned organisation that is providing a service, let’s just take the example of a utility company, and you sell it off. Now of course that means you get the proceeds of that sale now. Which makes this year’s figures look better. But this is when, we have been told, the magic happens.
We are expected to believe that after the sale, the magic of private enterprise, the wonders of competition, will deliver a better, more efficient service. At a lower price. Not only has this never actually happened, if you think about it for five minutes it’s clear that it cannot possibly happen.
Earlier this summer, the Indy Girls took the YES message to T in the Park. Sharon Anderson tells their story.
Being veteran TITP goers, this year was always going to be the place to be for us, in the year that we fight for self-determination. The Summer of Independence was upon us.
The experiences we have all shared in past years, through good times and bad, were our indicator on how this year would was going to pan out. We were going to see old friends, some we only see once a year – at TITP. This year, more than any other, we were desperate to feel the vibe on INDY. To really find out what the people were thinking and feeling, as the media had constantly bombarded them with negativity and attempted to say that we had no right to discuss our futures at a social event.
Conor Cheyne is a young activist in Highlands Socialist Alliance and the Radical Independence Campaign. People getting involved in the movement often hear phrases they are not familiar with. Here Conor gives an introduction to the right wing ideas we all currently live under – commonly known as neo-liberalism.
It has often been said of fascism that it is just “Capitalism with the gloves off”. This phrase though is perhaps better attributed to a different system - one that most developed western powers have used for more than 30 years. This system has resulted in massive economic booms and individual wealth growth like that of no other period in time, though that isn't even half the story. On the other side of the coin it has caused the worst recession the western world has seen in nearly 100 years, poverty levels have increased dramatically, inequality has risen to mind blowing percentages, and despite being responsible for the World Banking Crisis those at the top of this system have continued to prosper, they even gained.
This is Neo-Liberalism.
“I congratulate you on these remarkable achievements, an era that history will record as the beginning of a new golden age for the City of London. I believe it will be said of this age, the first decades of the 21st century, that out of the greatest restructuring of the global economy, perhaps even greater than the industrial revolution, a new world order was created”
These were the words of Gordon Brown, addressing some of the most important people from the City. This also happened to take place just weeks before the 2008 world financial crash. Brown had once claimed the end of “Boom and Bust” yet as we have seen, this was pure hubris and ignorance.
Dermot Hill is a 56 year old Railway Engineer who works night-shift on the tracks. Homelessness is a problem that he has seen first hand for many years, particularly in the past few years after the financial crash of 2008 with many facing job loses and massive cuts to the welfare they receive from the government. Rising rent prices and a lack of social housing have also contributed to the problem we are facing. In this article, Dermot explains the setting up of a group designed to help combat homelessness.
We all saw the money being spent on the Commonwealth Games. So much for austerity! It was bad timing by GCC and although I won't get too political, public money could have been far better spent than homeless spikes to prevent the homeless sleeping in certain areas. How cruel can we be to one another? Hopefully the public outcry will make companies think twice before putting them down again.