Sunday, 1 June 2014

Winds of Change

Whilst being out and about gaining signatures for Yes Scotland, I have come across on a number of occasions the phrase ‘I support independence but…’ followed by a specific issue. These take two forms: I don’t want ‘x’ to change and I don’t want ‘x’ to remain the same.

Motivational speech from Johann Lamont
For those worried about changes, we should keep in mind that Scotland will look very similar on the 31st of March 2016 (when independence will officially be declared) as it does today. We’ll still use the pound (something the Republic of Ireland successfully did until 1979), we’ll still be citizens ofthe EU (because we will have been spending the previous 18 month negotiating from within and there is no mechanism for removing citizenship from a population), we’ll still be a member of NATO (an organisation which has never expelled a country and is looking to expand), and we’ll still have the Queen as our head of state (the Queen is the shared constitutional monarch for 16 independent countries).
For those worried that things won’t change, we should keep in mind that Scotland’s political situation will look very different on the 6th of May 2016 (the day when the results of our first democratic election as an independent country will be announced). Instead of sending a handful of outnumbered representatives who have been elected not based on their share of the vote but through the archaic ‘first past the post system’, we will have a rainbow parliament that has been entirely decided by the people of Scotland. This will create the platform for more lively and honest debate, which will ultimately lead to better governance.

Sign for Scotland

But what about those who want to use a non fiat currency instead of the pound, or who want to leave the EU to join the European Free Trade Association, or exit NATO to join Partnership for Peace, or replace the Monarchy with an elected President? What can they do after a ‘Yes’ vote? The simple answer is that they can vote for these things because nothing will be set in stone in 2016.
If you want a currency that isn’t based on debt or to leave the EU then support the Scottish Democratic Alliance, if you want Scotland to be part of Partnership for Peace then campaign for the Scottish Green Party, and if you want a President then vote for the Scottish Socialist Party. These are all existing policies for existing parties, but there will be many more to choose from once we become independent.
Unlike Westminster, which entrenches the power of the Labour Party and the Conservative Party to ensure that no-one can break their duopoly, the Scottish Parliament uses a proportionate system.  Every vote will count, whether you live in a ‘safe seat’ or not. This also means that people will stop voting against a political party. You’ll see the end of ‘I’m supporting Labour because I don’t trust the SNP’, or ‘I’m voting SNP because I’m afraid of what the Tories will do’, and instead we’ll see ‘I’m voting for ‘x’ because I agree with ‘y’ policy’, or ‘I think ‘z’ is the best speaker’. Negative campaigning won’t work, which will lead to better dialogue, and the opportunity for real change.

The 'no' campaign's promise to Scotland
Reforms in Scotland will be rapid after independence, but they’ll also carry the support of the people, for any party which acts against the wishes of voters will quickly realise that they can turn to plenty of alternatives. Power will be spread instead of concentrated, ideas will come from the people, instead of from donors, and principles will be upheld, instead of being abandoned.
To return to the main point, if you vote no because your worried about change or lack of change then you will achieve ‘business as usual’ for the power elites at Westminster. They’ll be able to keep doing what they want, because we’ll not have enough strength to hold them to account. If you vote ‘Yes’ then you can ensure that we have a representative, reforming Government that we can control. I think that’s better than anything Westminster can offer.

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