A friend asked for information on the independence ref, and I realised that I'd never actually sat down and written an essay on the stance I've reached on the matter. This is partly because for the first few months, I think, after I decided I was a Yes, I was 'in the closet' about it, too worried that I was being naive and childish about the whole thing. It's also because the ins and outs of how I feel on the topic do shift and change, even if my gut feeling does not.
Anyway, I figured it was time to get the whole thing written down in one place, so I wrote my friend an essay. And now I'm posting it here for you. And then I'm going to bed because I know the wife is already mad at me in her sleep for still being up. It's emotive and passionate of course because I'm incapable of being otherwise, and I don't pretend that it's unbiased - I'm a bleeding-heart lefty and I wear that on my sleeve - but I don't THINK it contains any lies or obfuscations. So caveats over, here we go...
I'm a Yes voter for essentially idealistic reasons and I make no apology for that. Westminster has rejected voting reform that would have moved us toward (slightly) better representation there, and their dismissive, negative attitude toward coalition government in both principle and practice highlights just how out-of-touch they are with a voting public who are increasingly less and less split between red and blue and nothing else. 'First past the post' representative democracy simply does. not. work. when there are more than two parties, and Westminster have staunchly refused to accept this, making a mockery of their own electorate in the process. The Scottish Parliament, by contrast, already has a great voting system that actually represents, proportionally (almost), the voting choices of the people.
So that's the first reason: fair representation.
Another big factor for me is that a No vote isn't just a vote for the status quo. 'More of the same' from Westminster doesn't just mean more like this, it means worse than this. Austerity isn't temporary; it's the way the Tories want it, and Labour are too cowed by the way public perceptions have been skewed to mistrust public spending and demonise the poor and sick to promise to do ANYTHING really concrete about it - sure, they oppose a policy here, tweak a number there, but it's just a variation on the same melody when what they need to be doing is picking a completely different hymn. I believe that most of Scotland wants to be singing that different hymn. Our government has done its best to insulate us from the worst of Westminster's attacks on the Welfare State and the NHS is mercifully devolved, but we can't hold out forever.
A personal factor on this front for me is immigration. Firstly, I passionately believe in freedom of movement, and cutting through the crap the fact is that young foreigners are presently propping up our health service, our service industry and our retail sector, and moreover are paying our pensions and for the care of our old and sick through their taxes. Immigrants give back more to the country than citizens and get less back for it. The current tide in immigration reform was described a couple of years ago by the Dundee Uni principal as the worst threat to academia faced in the UK, and the Home Office persist in making it harder and harder for people to come here to live, which, in a world where we are more and more making connections all over the world through the internet, strikes me as tragic.
Secondly, my personal anecdata: The post-study visa that allowed Erin to stay in the country with me after her degree: gone. The two-year probation we're presently on as a legally partnered couple: now five years. And scariest of all if we had applied for her latest 'further leave to remain' visa only four months later, Erin would have been deported because my salary was a few hundred pounds beneath the ~£18k minimum for partners of immigrants. We had been living together four years. We have a Civil Partnership. She was in full-time employment earning £6k more than me. Wouldn't have mattered. She would have been deported to a country where I could not legally enter as her civil partner because at a central governmental level same-sex partnerships weren't (at the time) legally recognised. I would have been forcibly and indefinitely separated from my legal spouse for the sake of a few hundred pounds a year. I don't want to be emotionally manipulative here but I'm sure you can imagine that tears well-up even as I type that.
To me that is utterly terrifying, and everything I have read and everything that I've seen leads me to believe that Scotland does not hate its immigrants, does not eat the bullshit line that The Daily Mail and the like feeds it, and will institute fair and reasonable immigration legislation in the event of independence. And then Erin and I can begin to sleep a little easier at night, safe in the knowledge that our right to be together isn't going to be spontaneously ripped away from us. Immigration reform cannot happen at a devolved level - even under 'devo max' - it just doesn't work that way. It can only happen in a fully independent nation.
So that's the second reason: self-determination. In an independent Scotland we get to make these decisions for ourselves - ALL these decisions, not just the ones afforded to us by the central government that is unfair, unrepresentative and has its own agendas that are entirely unrelated to the will of the people. Does the Scottish Parliament make mistakes? Hell yes. Will there be corrupt and self-interested folk in it? There already are. But in a wee country of 5 million where our vote - EVERY vote - actually counts, we can hold these people accountable, and we can boot them out if we don't like them. They will work (more) for us, not big business or The City or the rich. It's not perfect, but it's a much better starting point than the situation we have right now.
My worries: I think a formal currency union with the UK£ is a terrible idea. I don't think there is any question whatsoever that the Tories would agree to a formal currency union. The people who stand to gain most from a formal union are the Bank of England and The City. The biggest losers would be the people of Scotland themselves. We give up complete financial autonomy if we have a formal union, rendering independence largely pointless and downgrading it, in effect, to a rubbish brand of devo-max where we don't even have MPs representing us in the country where our interest rates are set. It could also cause trouble for our EU membership terms as we would have the BofE as our central bank and lender of last resort - particularly awkward if the UK then voted to leave the EU! Labour have promised to block a union and for all that I think they're the wrong people doing it for the wrong reasons, I hope they stick to that. In the event of a Yes vote I will certainly be campaigning against a currency union. This is a stance shared by many in the 'non-SNP-Yes-camp', but we don't really get our voices heard much over the din of "Oh aye we'll do what we like". A break needs to be a clean one. As a no-voting friend of mine put it (riffing on a particularly odious Yes blogger's analogy), it's never a good idea to get divorced and keep sharing a car, particularly not if one partner's in charge of the keys and the fuel-ups and you only get to use the car as and when they say so! Even if you plan to stay friends it's a recipe for disaster.
I also worry about their undemocratic plans to write a 'draft' constitution without a constitutional commission made up of people outwith the political establishment.
Finally, I think that their timeline is woefully short. There will be a great deal to do in the event of a Yes vote, and their attempts to rush everything through in time for the next Scottish Parliamentary election are both suspicious and ridiculously optimistic.
Unfortunately, while there are plenty of independent Yes voters who share such worries and would like to see the alternatives investigated fully before any key decisions of this kind are made, a combination of media bias and sitting on our hands has left us basically hoping that we can reverse this stuff when really we should be campaigning for it now. The issue is that what the SNP are pushing is the line that's most likely to get a Yes, by saying that very little will actually change for those who fear it. Maybe this approach will gain more votes than it loses, I don't know. I do know that it's cynical and pragmatic to a fault, not to mention patronising and insulting to the people of Scotland (even if it's a wee bit true). But I don't think that this dishonest approach by some makes independence itself a bad idea.
In short, I have my worries, but these worries are not enough to remove my convictions that Scotland will be better off on its own. There may be hard times - there'll be job losses and job creation, there'll be upheaval, there'll be fluctuations in funding in some sectors while stuff is sorted out, and we might be a wee bit poorer before we're richer (though even pessimistic projections say it's only a very, very wee bit poorer), but for me it's worth it because this isn't a decision for me or my next five years' comfort; it's a decision that will shape the future of the whole country.
We DESPERATELY need to change the way we do things. The current tide of welfare reform is putting children on the street, sending working folk to food banks, and hounding the ill and disabled literally to death, with inequality between the richest and poorest increasing at staggering rates, rates that make you sick to your stomach when you think about them. Can Scotland make those changes alone? Do we have the stomach for it? Do we have the guts to swim against the tide, put equality above 'growth' on our national agenda and change the world we live in, setting an example for what a wee nation of inventors and writers and crazy gingers can do when we set our hearts AND our minds to it?
Maybe? I mean, it sounds pretty fucking hard, but MAYBE? I really, really hope so. I will say that I have given up all hope of that sort of change coming from London. Ever. Maybe that's defeatist of me but I'd call it pragmatic. At the very least, though, I can see the possibility of a better way, and so I, for one, will be grasping for it with both hands.
Non mainstream campaign 'Yes' links:
Radical Independence: http://radicalindependence.org/
Common Weal: http://allofusfirst.org/
Women for Independence: http://www.womenforindependence.org/
And here's the indyref filter on the blog of a No voter and friend I respect a great deal, and who turned me on to many of the worries I have about the SNP's Yes campaign (though I'm more optimistic than her about being able to change them obviously):
It's not up here
Morag: I'll find it
Erin: I left it on thje hook by the bathroom
Morag: Found it
In my mind anyway
I just saw where it is in my mind
Morag: I'll bring it up if I'm right.
Erin: You're insane
Morag: Right now I'm still on the couch so I don't officially know
Erin: Did you moveit
Erin: Then where
Morag: it's hanging over the club chair in the other front room
in full view of the door I might add
Morag: in my mind
Morag: in my mind that's where it is
Erin: Why would it be there
Morag: I will bring it up if I am correct
I do not know
Erin: And if you are not you will pay me one million pounds
Morag: i am going to go look now
I should just say
I did not agree to that
but I think it's there so it probably doesn't matter
Erin: It is good you agreed to that
Morag: I did not agree to that
Erin: I would like to be rich
Morag: I have found your robe
Erin: Where was it
Morag: It was hanging over the club chair in the other front room
In full view of the door I might add
both in my mind
and in reality
Erin: You owe me a million pounds
Morag: Wait what?
Morag: I did not agree to that
You said I owed you a million pounds if it WASn'T where I said it was
Erin: But you moved it
Morag: It was exactly where I said it was
I did not move it
And even if I had
That does not pertain to this matter
Erin: I left it on the hook by the bathroom
Erin: A million popunds
Morag: A million popunds you may have
Erin: For me
Morag: But I get to decide what a popund is
I have decided it is a bite on the nose
Yes I will give you a million bites on the nose
Erin: It's the same. As a pound
Morag: One million bites on the nose yes.
Erin: Not a bite on the nose
Morag: Would you like some tonight?
Erin: No please
Another time then
Morag: You do not have to redeem all your popunds
Morag: That's okay
Erin: That is not fair
Morag: I still owe you them though
Erin: It was a typo!
Morag: I can hear you giggling from here
I heard you again
Morag: giggling in antici
for your popunds
Morag: you have not actually stuck your tongue out
I know this
Because I can hear you laughing
Erin: You don't know
Morag: You should calm down it is late
So I'm locking my past journal entries down to friends-only. Anyone who's reading this who isn't my friend, don't worry; on the rare occasion I post it'll still be public probably, this is just the quickest, easiest way to make sure my embarrassing youthful angst isn't browsable. I may go back through and unlock posts ad-hoc but for now it's easiest to do a bulk action.
Basically it was a really good pun (conceived by co-creator erindubitably) and I wanted to use it for something. It's essentially hand-traced stills from the 1995 BBC Pride & Prejudice accompanied with dialogue from internet comment forums which, amazingly, no one appears to have thought to do before. I HAVE NEVER HAD AN IDEA BEFORE ANYONE ELSE BEFORE so I figured I basically had to give it a go at being internet famous, right?
It launched on Thursday lunchtime and seems to be doing not badly so far at about 17k page views total (3.8k homepage views) as of now, which I think is pretty okay for a brand new thing? Though it's hard to say since I launched with seven comics backposted so we'll see what it settles down to, also Tumblr is... a thing, I don't know how Tumblr works yet but basically I'm going to have to treat it separately from the website altogether I think as there's basically zero clickthrough from there but also I don't want to not post the images and oblige people to clickthrough just for the sake of my site stats because it seems like Tumblrites really like to consume their content on Tumblr? I'm going to have to speak to a Young Person about this I think, though Erin knows a lot better than me how it works and seems to have a handle on it anyway so maybe it's fine?
Anyway! Interesting times! Go see! Follow @ManfeelsPark on Twitter for updates! (Well, if you like it.)
This is a duplication of the maths from an article I've been citing that apparently comes from a homophobic juicebox, so I've duplicated the facts'n'figures (minus opinion and speculation as they are not my own) here so that I don't have to link to him any more. It explains how only three elections since WW2 would have been any different - two switching from a Lab majority to a hung parliament, and the last hung parliament in 2010 instead shifting to a Con majority (which we arguably might as well have anyway).
The 67 years since the end of World War 2 have seen 18 General Elections to the Westminster Parliament, with the following outcomes (sources below):
1945 Labour govt (Attlee)
Labour majority: 146
Labour majority without any Scottish MPs in Parliament: 143
1950 Labour govt (Attlee)
Labour majority: 5
Without Scottish MPs: 2
1951 Conservative govt (Churchill/Eden)
Conservative majority: 17
Without Scottish MPs: 16
1955 Conservative govt (Eden/Macmillan)
Conservative majority: 60
Without Scottish MPs: 61
1959 Conservative govt (Macmillan/Douglas-Home)
Conservative majority: 100
Without Scottish MPs: 91
1964 Labour govt (Wilson)
Labour majority: 4
Without Scottish MPs: -9
CHANGE: LABOUR MAJORITY TO HUNG PARLIAMENT
1966 Labour govt (Wilson)
Labour majority: 98
Without Scottish MPs: 77
1970 Conservative govt (Heath)
Conservative majority: 30
Without Scottish MPs: 5
1974 Minority Labour govt (Wilson)
Labour majority: -33
Without Scottish MPs: -50
1974b Labour govt (Wilson/Callaghan)
Labour majority: 3
Without Scottish MPs: -8
CHANGE: LABOUR MAJORITY TO HUNG PARLIAMENT
1979 Conservative govt (Thatcher)
Conservative majority: 43
Without Scottish MPs: 70
1983 Conservative govt (Thatcher)
Conservative majority: 144
Without Scottish MPs: 174
1987 Conservative govt (Thatcher/Major)
Conservative majority: 102
Without Scottish MPs: 154
1992 Conservative govt (Major)
Conservative majority: 21
Without Scottish MPs: 71
1997 Labour govt (Blair)
Labour majority: 179
Without Scottish MPs: 139
2001 Labour govt (Blair)
Labour majority: 167
Without Scottish MPs: 129
2005 Labour govt (Blair/Brown)
Labour majority: 66
Without Scottish MPs: 43
2010 Coalition govt (Cameron)
Conservative majority: -38
Without Scottish MPs: 19
CHANGE: HUNG PARLIAMENT TO CONSERVATIVE MAJORITY
So in summary we can see the following:
- Scottish MPs have NEVER turned what would have been a Conservative government into a Labour one, or indeed vice versa.
- on only TWO occasions, the most recent of them being 38 years ago, (1964 and the second of the two 1974 elections), have Scottish MPs given Labour a majority they wouldn’t have had from England/Wales/NI alone. The majorities in question were incredibly fragile ones of four and three MPs respectively – the 1964 Labour government lasted barely 18 months, and the 1974 one had to be propped up by the Lib-Lab Pact through 1977-78 so in practice barely qualified as a majority. Without Scottish MPs but with Liberal support, Wilson would have had a majority of 12.
- and on ONE occasion (2010) the presence of Scottish MPs has deprived the Conservatives of an outright majority, although the Conservatives ended up in control of the government anyway in coalition with the Lib Dems.
- which means that for 62 of the last 67 years, Scottish MPs as an entity have had no practical influence over the composition of the UK government. From a high of 72 MPs in 1983, Scotland’s representation will by 2015 have decreased to 52, substantially reducing any future possibility of affecting a change.
1. You haven't posted in over a year AND IN ADDITION
2. I'm pretty sure that you're probably not still reading LJ and just commenting occasionally (like me) OR...
3. ...I do not expect that you might at some point want to see my rare locked posts (eg: we're chatting on Facebook or IM say and I link you to it) AND/OR
4. You have pissed me off once too often (this applies to like two people, don't worry about it, it takes quite a lot to piss me off badly enough that I rescind any further chances these days) OR
5. You have defriended me for whatever reason. It's no big deal, I just have friends/mutual list OCD, I take people off who aren't mutual, and y'know, you won't be seeing this anyway so whatever
If you have been removed but believe by these criteria that you shouldn't have been, OR alternatively if you have been reading me a while (or not reading me, as it will have been recently) but I still haven't friended you and you would like it if I did (hey, I just had a cut; I have some room), please comment and let me know.
In other news, I know I'm not posting, but I'm still reading, waiting for the day when LJ just changes its name to 'Andy Ducker's links' and enjoying the posts of those of you who are still propping the place up in the meantime. I am posting over here at our house renovation blog as previously intimated.
Oh, also, I do use my Facebook as a platform for strident political ranting and cat pictures. If you would like to be on THERE instead of/as well as here, feel free to drop me a comment/message to that effect.