Here’s my response to Denise Mina, who wrote an odd little article for The New York Times, reprinted on Scotland-US today
I’ll pick up Denise Mina’s odd little phrase “without unpacking the issues”, because it encapsulates her approach, and that of some who claim to be undecided. She seems ‘undecided’, not as many genuinely are, because they are struggling to evaluate the arguments, but because she doesn’t want to be confused by the facts – and there is an abundance of facts available on the reasons why Scotland should be independent, and precious few arguments on why it should stay with the UK.
Here are a few of them -
1. The United Kingdom, described by one eminent British historian as a “dysfunctional dynastic conglomerate” is an anachronism in the modern world, where independent nations are the norm, not the exception. It is the rapidly failing rump of The British Empire, which having lost all its subject countries except Wales and Scotland (Northern Ireland is not a country but a province)now desperately seeks to posture on the international stage by maintaining the 4th largest defence budget in the world and nuclear weapons of mass destruction (based in Scotland, within 20 miles of the country’s largest sector of population, against the will of the people of Scotland)and involving itself in ruinous foreign wars – one illegal (Iraq)and one profoundly misconceived (Afghanistan)
2. The UK, far from being “the most successful political union the world has seen”, the phrase used by its defenders, has been a brutal, exploitative colonial empire abroad, and a grossly unequal society at home – currently the 4th most unequal country in the Western world in its wealth distribution.
3. Scotland has rarely had the governments it voted for over the last sixty years – the so-called democratic deficit, and when it got a Labour Government for 13 years, they wrecked the economy,a process now being compounded by an inept right-wing coalition
4. The UK currently has a critical problem of child poverty and food banks – the shameful 2013 equivalent of the soup kitchens of the US in the 1930s – are growing across the country, as are the queues of people waiting for handouts to feed their families.
5. Scotland, resource-rich- would be the 8th wealthiest country in the world if independent.
6. For every one of the last 30 years,Scotland has generated more tax per head than the UK as a whole.
7. Scotland contributes more to UK in tax revenues than it receives back from UK.
8. Scotland has 25% of Europe’s off shore tidal and wind energy potential.
9. Scotland has the largest oil and gas reserves in the UK. Despite that, our oil revenues have been stolen from us since 1979 by UK, and used to bail out Thatcher’s failing economy, to build the M25 motorway around the city state of London, to fund the Falkland’s War, the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War and to fatten the already bloated bank balances of the powerful in the South East of England.
10. The UK Coalition Government is currently engaged in a domestic war on the poor, sick and vulnerable of the United Kingdom, blaming them for the gross economic mismanagement of the UK economy for the last 30 years. It is drifting steadily to the right, and the electorate of England and Wales despair, because all three major parties seem committed to the same right-wing agenda. Democratic values are under attack daily, and a new populist party of the Right, racist and insular, UKIP, seeks to isolate UK from Europe and attempts to demonise immigrants. UKIP in contrast has been comprehensively rejected in disgust by the Scottish people, and its leader sent packing in ignominy when he peddled his wares in Scotland.
I suggest Denise Mina tries to understand the passion for justice and equity that is gripping the people of Scotland, gets to grip with some facts, evaluates the arguments and decides where she stands – or alternatively, gets out of the way of those who are intent on transforming Scotland into a modern 21st century socially democratic independent nation.