My Road to #YES is a file of all my blog posts over the last year or so in relation to my thoughts about our forthcoming referendum.
The Internet has facilitated a new culture which does not always place a monetary value on everything. It has spawned an attitude for many people of helping those less fortunate than themselves.
At the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow there were a million donations of £5 to UNICEF all done by text messaging. This is just one small instance.
On the other hand there are the uber-rich who are totally absorbed in making themselves ever richer to the detriment of the rest of world population and the planet itself. If a buck can be made nothing should stand in the way, rain forests, the climate, the Great Barrier Reef.
And I am very sorry but I think the Westminster Parliament is a major facilitator of this culture, selling the NHS, the Royal Mail to the benefit of their own kind.
Does Scotland want to be part of this huge wealth grab? It is not nationalistic but radical to want to go our own way to help make a better nation and so in the long run a better world.
It is simplistic to argue that new jobs and better employment prospects will automatically flow from independence. What should be easier will be the creation of the conditions for that improvement.
But it is a big task and will take a number of years. We actually rely on incomers (what a pejorative word!) in many walks of life from top surgeons to farm workers to skilled tradesmen to carers to the catering industry and many more. Does that mean that the indigenous population is genetically incapable of doing any of this. Of course not, but a cultural habit has grown over time which has meant many people, parents and children, lack the ambition and the skills to be self-sufficient.
That requires a change over many areas of life starting with education and training and including our benefits and taxation system. Education must start with valuing the contribution that every child can make. Tony Blair’s mantra of 50% going to university set a disparaging tone for the other 50%. Why should a person with a degree be more valuable to society than a person without one? People should be judged by their contribution not their qualification.
Let’s hope that after Independence we have leaders who can rise to this challenge.
There is a feeling that a No vote will land us with another Conservative government. However I think it may be more than that.
I have a strong sense that substantial numbers of English people are growing more right wing. I think many people down South are in tune with Ian Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms and the need to rein back immigration from the EU. Many are also in favour of withdrawal from the EU; at least polls seem to indicate that. The major Westminster political parties appear to be singing from the same hymn sheet and a change of government may not alter that.
Whereas I do not think that is the case in Scotland. It implies that over the long term England and Scotland may continue to diverge in their attitudes to social justice and what constitutes a fair society. Scotland will not be able influence the course that Westminster politics takes and only a Yes vote will free us to follow our own ideas.
Both sides of the Scottish Referendum Debate are largely trading conjecture as fact. Assertions about currency, heads of state, membership of international organisations, interest rates etc., will all depend on negotiations after the vote. No binding decisions can be taken beforehand.
In essence the decision rests on each voter’s personal view of how they see the future. Remain in the UK and things will remain much the same. Vote Yes for the possibility of change. Remaining the same in my opinion involves accepting more of the Tory agenda for privatisation, for reducing the level and scope of social support and more inequality. At its worst it means a syphoning off of the public wealth into private hands, those of the already uber-rich. On the other hand we do not know if we have the leaders or the will of the electorate to improve our society to make it more equal, to make sure everyone pays their taxes and to ensure that everybody has the opportunity to have a fulfilled and satisfactory life. With independence there is that chance if we are capable of grasping it. Without independence I cannot see much chance of it happening.
So I am for taking the chance.
It will be a slow process converting the society and the culture in Scotland to a more people kindly model. We have lived with an increasingly aggressive Anglo-American model for many years. The mantra of the market economy, of capitalism as the the only sure method of running a country has been around for centuries and it has largely seen off its rivals. But its recent direction of travel has turned it into a monster rather than a benign method of government. Linked to a failure of democracy where governments come and go with no more than a passing nod to the hopes and fears of the people they govern, we are beginning to see the “end of era”, not unlike the last days of Rome. Are we all asleep in the so called great Western Democracies?
So what are the changes we need to make in an independent Scotland. One starting point might be the tax system. We should create a system which makes everyone pay a reasonable and fair share of the costs of the country, so the more you have the more you pay. However rather than have the burden of many people living a lifetime on benefits the tax system should encourage more and more people into worthwhile employment. Every bit of earnings no matter how small should be a plus. Earn a shilling, be taxed a penny, earn a pound be taxed ten pence. And lose none of the state benefits until you reach the tipping point when you pay in tax the same as you receive in benefits and after that you continue to pay more and more tax than your benefits. In effect your benefits become your personal allowance.
However the economy needs to provide opportunities for work over a broad front to accommodate as many of the nations talents as possible. It starts with education and then training. it continues with support for business across a wide spectrum. Let’s be creative, make things, trade things, not be frightened of failure, encourage inventiveness within a benign tax system for enterprise and business. Let entrepreneurs flourish and make money but be sure to pay a fair proportion of the tax burden. Let’s have politicians who govern according to the wishes of the voters. Wishful thinking no doubt but that does not mean in a new Scotland we should not aspire to it.
I sometimes despair of our current political and social environment. What would I really like to see change?
One blog post is not sufficient to gather all of that together but just let me take one topic at a time.
I assume that most people want to live in a nice environment, in a dwelling which provides adequate shelter and warmth and have access to food and drink. All of this should be readily available in an advanced society such as ours. I realise that this is not available to many millions in the world but that we in the UK are very fortunate.
It would appear self-evident that the government if not being the direct provider should at least arrange the country’s affairs in such a way that these basic requirements of the population are met. So why unaffordable house prices, food banks, night shelters for an increasing number of homeless people and government statistics themselves cataloguing thousands of children in poverty? And why, at the same time are we spending several billion pounds on aircraft carriers which will not have any aircraft?