What Nonsense

sombreroSo the banks who ruined the UK in 2008 are threatening to leave an independent Scotland, and we’re supposed to not want that?

That’s the headlines from the media. I’m no banking or high finance expert, so let’s think about this.

1. Any company that did not have a contingency plan in the event of a “yes” vote would not be a company worth investing in. And as these banks operate in many countries, re-jigging their headquarters and sorting out the legal paperworks is sensible.*

2. The threat of shifting to London sounds like they plan to close all the offices in Scotland and move south. Really? Shift the jobs to an expensive London? Why increase their running costs so pointlessly?

3. If they did, then other companies and banks would move in for the custom here in Scotland. Remember how much wealth we have here, and it’s not just the oil.

4. Removing these casino banks from Scotland would mean we could return to old style banking, where we don’t live beyond our means.

These co-ordinated scare stories are coming out now because they have woken up to the real risk that we could vote ‘Yes’ in Scotland after all. An independent Scotland would cut off the cash cow that feeds the establishment, their cronies, and the land-owning  English Lairds (PS I’m English, before you raise the ant-English point). After all, if Scotland was so poor, why the sudden rush to frighten us to vote ‘no’?

The BT bunch would have us convinced that Scotland would be the only country in the world that couldn’t work out a currency, manage our money, look after our own resources. Nonsense. It won’t be plain sailing, but it will, in the end, be for the benefit of Scotland, and the rest of the UK when they realise what is happening.

*Except the UK government seems not to have any plans in place – who would trust a government that can’t plan ahead, even ‘just in case’?

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Why do some people not want an independent Scotland?

Two HorsesWhy do some people not want an independent Scotland?

This is the piece I didn’t want to write, as it lifts some of the rocks of the debate and pokes about at what lurks under there. However, until I did, I found it very hard to understand the reasons given for why Scotland should not become independent, and why that opposition is expressed so vehemently.

The basic concern I can appreciate: the fear of change, of the unknown future ahead, but if we continue on the current track, things are going to get worse.

But the concerns on ‘separation’, Europe, the Scottish economy, currency, the BBC, NATO and defence, oil, hating Alex Salmond, all these questions given as reasons for voting ‘No’ puzzled me. As far as I can tell they have all been answered as thoroughly as possible bearing in mind that the future is mostly unpredictable.

Interestingly, no-one seems to raise an objection to the fundamental reason for voting for independence; bringing democracy closer to home.

But reading around the Independence debate has brought me to the truth – Scotland subsidises the UK. Scotland generates wealth that is sent down south to Westminster to be managed as part of the economy, but not all of it comes back.

That wealth, from oil, our resources and everything else we produce, helps fund the establishment and their cronies, make the stinking rich even richer.

Hence the nasty No campaign, spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). They’re not even trying to sell No as a good thing, but Yes as a bad thing, despite all the evidence that Scotland should, and could thrive as in independent country.

The point to highlight is that the UK establishment cannot be honest about why it wants Scotland to stay in the UK – it would lose the wealth Scotland generates for the rich and the powerful, and it would lose the control it has over Scotland; the last ember of Empire. They can’t admit that—hence the nonsense about currency, the vanishing oil and other distracting trivia.

I didn’t want to write this as I can see how it looks like an anti-establishemt rant. I want an independent Scotland because I think it would be a source of good in this world, showing by example of how to create a country that’s fair, settled, creative, and looks after its own while still looking outwards to the rest of the world. That can only come about from a ‘Yes’ vote.

Could Scotland be Independent?

Ross of MullOf course Scotland should be independent, but could it be independent? This is the other question that, as a resident of Scotland, I have to ask when casting my vote in the referendum on the 18th of September.

I’m no economics expert; I’m not a political geek; my history knowledge is English schoolboy level; no-one has put me in charge of a country: so for this question I have to look around for answers, and for answers I can trust.

By being independent my question is, would our quality of life remain the same, drop, or improve? A broad brush answer is sufficient at this stage.

Is Scotland big enough?

This is an easy one. It has a population of 5,327,700 and seems to be rising.
It has a land area of 30,414 square miles (78,770 km2) and  interestingly a coastline of 7,330 miles (11,800 km)

So how does that compare with other small countries? Take a look at this quick comparison table of the wealth of countries. It shows how rich each country is per person. A quick scan shows an awful lot of small countries in the top of the table, so size is not a problem, although I have my doubts about the source of the wealth of some of them.

My daughter has just returned from Iceland. Iceland is 27th in this list. United Kingdom is 32nd. Iceland has a land area of 103,001 km2 (39,769 sq mi), and a population of only 316,252. They seem to manage okay, thank you.  New Zealand and Norway are roughly comparable: I see no great issues there. New Zealand does not seem to be clamouring to be managed by Australia, or Norway by Finland, for example.

I don’t want to live in a country that wants to be a ‘world player’; I’m happy to live in a country that gets along well with its neighbours, and has no pretensions of telling other counties how to behave.

Does Scotland have the resources to manage on its own?

Again I’m no expert, but I’ve lived here long enough (over 30 years) to realise that it has we have abundant natural resources, with a potential for renewable energy from wind, tidal, hydro even solar energy; the sun does shine in Scotland. I drive along the M8 from time to time. It’s not the most scenic of Scotland’s routes, and I wonder about the potential of building a string of wing turbines interspersed with arrays of solar panels.

I’m not going to worry about oil. I think it is best left in the ground until we can sort out the biggest problem this world faces; man made climate change. However, we do seem to have rather a lot of it, and the value of it will only increase over time as it becomes rarer and harder to extract.

Does Scotland have the skills?

Cripes, yes. We have some of the best universities in the world, and we have a legacy of creativity and invention going back centuries. An independent Scotland, I hope, would value and nurture this creativity far more than the UK does at the moment.

I could go on, but I leave you to look at this: Advantage Scotland

Who wouldn’t want to live in that country?

Scotland could be a successful independent country, it should be an independent country.

Continued…

View from my Bathchair

From Staffa

From Staffa

When the idea of a referendum on Independence for Scotland was in the news after the last Holyrood elections, I vowed that my vote would be based on the long term benefits, if any, for Scotland. It takes a while for a new – or in this case a revived – country to emerge, and I would not expect instant rewards. My vote would be based on the future, for my children and grandchildren; what would I see from my bathchair, my legs wrapped under a tartan rug. My vote would NOT be based on the political situation now in the UK; prime ministers come and go, governments come in and out like the tides.

Then the coalition happened. Labour lost in 2010, The Tories were given a free gift of government thanks to the power lust of Nick Clegg and the LDs, and they proceeded to bulldozer all before them. The NHS in England is being privatised, food banks have mushroomed, people on low wages or none at all are suffering, paying for the austerity measures, while at the same time those who caused the financial crash are not only walking away untouched, they are gathering in even more dosh. Capitalism, it seems, only works when it’s subsidised by the rest of us. In 4 short years inequality has increased dramatically, and is still increasing. This UK government are handing out the baubles to their cronies; the sale of the Royal Mail is the classic example. And they are not hiding this anymore. I could go on.

We had one last hope: the referendum on proportional representation – at least that would begin to rebalance the system. It failed; I bet you even forgot that happened.

I’ve watched the UK deteriorate over the last four years, and watched as Westminster and the City of London grow in powers and in ineptitude more quickly than I’ve ever seen before ( I was there in the 70s and the Thatcher 80s).  And to cap it all, the likeliest government to emerge in 2015 is probably a Tory/UKIP coalition, with the freaky risk of  Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage in charge. This is not the Britain I want to see; the damage this shower is  doing is not short term, it is affecting the whole culture of the UK and how we live and work together. Frankly, it scares me.

So, the second reason I’m voting Yes is because by good fortune we have a chance here in Scotland to leave that behind, and work to build a fairer system for all the people of Scotland. A fairer society is healthier and better for all members of that society. In Scotland we can make more of our natural resources; we are abundant in the potential for renewable energy; we can distribute our wealth – for there is no doubt that Scotland is a wealthy country – fairly for the benefit of all. We can create the jobs we need, encourage the immigration to help the country grow. We can step away from the horrors created by Westminster, and avoid the nightmare future they are forming. We do not need to buy water cannons and at last we can even get rid of Trident.

I’m an Englishman living in Scotland who is also British: my ‘Yes’ vote is the best way I can see to make this a country in which I want to live, and thereby show the rest of the UK what is possible.

I am not voting ‘Yes’ for negative reasons; I am voting ‘Yes’ as this is the only way I can see to salvage Great Britain. An independent Scotland can show how to create a fairer society for the benefit of all its citizens, not just it’s self-appointed elite. I’m from Birmingham originally, then to University in Newcastle. The parts of the rest of the UK who also feed the City of London and the Westminster monsters will see what can be done with Scotland’s example, and maybe at last they too will be able to do something about it.

Continued…

Should Scotland be an Independent Country?

Bunessan at Sunset

Bunessan at Sunset

I’m overlooking the Bay of Bunessan on the Ross of Mull. The sun is bright, the sea and sky are polished blue, and the house martins are diving and swooping around my head. Sheep bleat on the hills around me and a cockerel crows in the farmyard below. I’m on holiday in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and it’s in Scotland.

I’ve lived in Scotland, in Edinburgh, for over 30 years and the referendum for Independence has helped me crystallise my thoughts of why I want to stay in this country for the rest of my days. That I live in Scotland now and am slowly getting to understand and appreciate the country and its people is not the main reason why I will vote the way I plan to on 18th September. The overwhelming reason for me is democracy. If Scotland votes ‘Yes’ it will mean that the government of this country will be even closer to its people, and will be able to respond to their needs and ambitions. And be held to account if that does not happen.

As a smaller country with a population of over 5 million we are much closer to our government. Our MSPs work, live and play in the country they represent.

Thanks to devolution we have a parliament at Holyrood already that seems to serve fairly well (don’t let the blighters get too complacent). Even the debating chamber encourages better debate than the archaic ‘two sword lengths apart’ braying bear pit of the House of Commons. And no House of Lords. We elect our Scottish Government by a system of proportional representation. I vote for who I want to elect to Holyrood; finally I can rip up my protest vote and vote for, not against.

My background is in astronomy and one fact you learn early on is that the Earth in orbit sits at just the right distance from the sun, not too close to burn up, and not to far away to freeze: ideal for life. As is Scotland. Scotland’s size, in land mass, resources and population is just about perfect for self-determination.

And we have added bonuses for hitting the ground running as an independent country. We already have a lot of the tools and infrastructure of democracy and self-management in place. We have education, law and the health service already in our control. Much of the machinery of running a nation is already in place. For example, our taxes are already collected in Scotland.

So should Scotland be an independent country? Of course it should, as should any country in a similar position to Scotland’s; there are plenty of examples to show that Scotland could and will thrive as an independent country. I am privileged to be in the right place and time to cast my vote to help Scotland become an independent nation once again.

Continued…