Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A LETTER FROM AUSTRALIA

A view from Australia – Kirstie Wallace, Sydney

As a born-and-bred Australian with Scots heritage, I became the Treasurer for the Edinburgh Central Branch of the Young Scottish National Party (SNP) in my final year of university there in 1989-90.

 I wasn't necessarily an outstanding candidate for this role, it’s just that only about four of us would ever show up to the meetings and so we all had to be office bearers of some sort.   I think the most I ever had to manage in the bank account was about £25, so to think now that the SNP has gone from a minority party to running the Scottish Government is impressive and an inspirational tale for minority parties everywhere.

The SNP wasn't always this successful
But there were pioneers
I didn't go to Scotland in 1987 with any sort of appropriated nationalist fervour or political ambition; it just seemed so glaringly undemocratic that despite the majority of the population voting for Labour, Scotland had a Secretary of State, Malcolm Rifkind who was from the Conservative Party.  The introduction of the dreaded Community Charge or Poll Tax, which Margaret Thatcher decided to introduce to Scotland a year earlier than England as a guinea-pig trial, because she could never lose many more votes there, was the final straw for me, and as history has shown, so too was it the nail-in-the-coffin for the Iron Lady.  As I walked in a massive street protest to the chants of ‘Can’t pay, won’t pay’ behind Hagrid (the actor Robbie Coltrane), I remember feeling so angry that Scotland was treated with utter contempt by the Government that ruled them from London.

Like the polls show and Scottish families all over Scotland are experiencing, this vote for independence has been very polarising within my own extended family and also very unsettling for friends who are from England but who adopted Scotland as their home many years ago.   From those that will be voting ‘no’, the reasons I have been given are: they fear a financial meltdown as financial services decamp to England; see increases in taxes and stamp duties to fund an independent state; a loss of Scottish jobs and industry; a mass emigration of disenchanted Scots but an unrestricted increase in foreign migrants; the ‘fairer’ society promised is never achievable; no monetary security without the British pound and poor fiscal control of the country’s finances; a default on the UK debt; no automatic entry to the European Union; a permanent left-wing and perhaps ‘extreme’ government; increased distrust and angst between England and Scotland and a breakup of what is considered a long and successful union between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 
They all managed it. Why wouldn't Scotland
For the ‘yes’ voters, it is that they feel they will finally be able to make their own decisions (whether right or wrong); they will have more equitable democratic rights; they will get to draft and have a Constitution (which the UK doesn’t currently have); they can take control of their own resources for the benefit of their own people; they can reinvigorate their economy and industries the way they choose; they can become wealthier per head of capita from more ownership of the North Sea Oil fields; they can try to reverse the poverty trends and make a more equitable society; they can become a nuclear-free country by getting rid of the Trident missiles stationed in Scotland; and last but not least they will have their pride and confidence restored in that they aren't ‘too wee, too poor, and too stupid’ to run their own independent country.
Is this the future ?
It is also clear that what runs deep and raw on both sides is this sense of ‘identity’. Do they consider themselves Scottish or British first?  This referendum is forcing people to answer that fundamental question in themselves and  others.  There is also a real concern as to how the country will regroup as a nation after the referendum, given that almost half the population will have probably voted the opposite way, and both sides grudgingly accept that at least younger Scots have been engaged in talking and debating about the future of their country, and that has to be a good thing for any democracy. 

My own view is that, a bit like the Australian movement towards becoming a republic, that even if the Scots don’t get enough votes for a ‘yes’ this time, that it will probably happen at some point in the future, as you just have to look at the upward trajectory and successes so far in the campaign for independence since I was involved 25 years ago.  It is also echoed in Ghandi’s famous quote which my 77 year old father-in-law has used to motivate him in his campaign work with the SNP for the past 49 years: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they come to fight you, and then you win." 

14 comments:

  1. tris ( not the others so dont poke yer noses in )

    thought you would have lots to agree with this
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/16/media-shafted-people-scotland-journalists

    How the media shafted the people of Scotland
    Journalists in their gilded circles are woefully out of touch with popular sentiment and shamefully slur any desire for change

    Perhaps the most arresting fact about the Scottish referendum is this: that there is no newspaper – local, regional or national, English or Scottish – that supports independence except the Sunday Herald. The Scots who will vote yes have been almost without representation in the media.

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    1. That's a good article Niko.

      By and large he seems to write fairly reasonable stuff.

      This whole debate could and should have been more civilised, and you will not be surprised, I'm sure, if I blame Cameron and Darling mainly for it, whilst admitting that everyone who is part of it, me included, has probably said things in the heat of the moment, that they might have been better off not saying.

      Cameron really kicked it off with his "clout" speech, clearly, amazingly, unaware that for Jock McAverage didn't much give a flying one about that, but was a bit worried about food banks, cold pensioners, wars, etc.

      The newspapers have, as Mr M says, been amazingly congenial to the likes of Cameron and Darling, whom they otherwise don't much care for. (I loved that the Mail compared Salmond to Hitler and put a picture of Hitler in with the Mail's then proprietor, seemingly oblivious of the fact that the Mail was very sympathetic to Nazi Germany. (Of course we forget that many top people in Britain were, including the then Prince of Wales and later King and his wife Mrs Simpson.)

      Top journalists don't live on housing schemes, or even in private estates. They don't stand with others in the pub having a pint and a game of darts. They live in metroland, in a world so far from Easterhouse or the Hilltown, they might be on a different continent. They have no idea of the concerns of the people who will be voting. Some of them, I swear have never been to Scotland.

      It should never, however, have come to the threats about companies moving out and borders being put up. It was horribly unnecessary. The reporters have only in some cases reported what people like Lamont, Darling and tubes like Teresa May have said. In others they have made up the stories.

      They have made trouble where none existed. They seem too, to want to stir up trouble on Thursday or possibly Friday when the result is known.

      It's good copy I suspect, and obviously their proprietors don't want to hear bad stories about their own side.

      Where the journalists have fallen down is they seem to have questioned little. Tessy May says she would put up borders. Why did no one in the press ask why no borders were put up between Eire and Ulster, or indeed Great Britain? It would seem the obvious question to me.

      I suppose the truth is that the journalists do well out of neo-liberal Britain. They don't want part of it to become a left of centre country. And their bosses certainly don't want that.

      We were given the chance to have a relatively decent democratic debate, to work out whether or not we wanted to have self determination. It’s not about nationalism for the vast majority. just self determination.

      The press, egged on by politicians, have soiled it.

      I say this. If this had happened 20 years ago, before the net. It would have been an absolutely certain NO. I’m not sure that the press and most certainly not the politicians are aware of the power of the net.

      Thanks for sending it , Niko

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    2. That's Niko all over.

      Reams of rubbish, then a wee nugget of sense...

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    3. That's why we love him...

      But you weren't suppose to read that Conan. I was for my eyes only!!!

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  2. Voted for Winnie in 74 met her in 78 a very caring person.

    Media lies about NHS.

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    1. I saw her in Inverness a few years ago. I've never met her.

      I tied to copy that post form the doctor CH, but I cant get it to download in a form that I can use on the blog, so I'd advise everyone to read it from here.

      This is life and death people. It could be you that has a heart attack and needs care... and can't get it because the staff have had to be paid off.

      It scares the living daylights out of me.

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  3. I said on the last post that the pledge that appeared in this morning's papers, probably breaking purdah, was already rattling down.

    This post shows it...

    http://logicsrock.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/the-vow-unravels.html

    CH... maybe you can hyperlink this for Munguin....?

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    1. Tris Perhaps worth examining the actual content referred to in your link to the Telegraph 'bloodbath' headline, delivered by 'our Imperial Masters' before the ink was dry on page 1 of today's Daily Record 'Vow'
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scottish-independence/11098825/David-Cameron-faces-Tory-bloodbath-over-unfair-cash-for-Scotland.html. Shades of Sir Alex's 1979 'pledge' with super fast delivery of Westminster's response

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    2. Thanks Ian...

      Excellent article which backs up all the other people who are saying... Forget it. You are gone Cameron.

      For those who had trouble getting it, here is the article:


      David Cameron faces a “bloodbath” at the hands of Tory MPs after all three parties pledged to continue high levels of funding for Scotland if it rejects independence.
      The Prime Minister is facing mounting dissent among English backbenchers after promising that Scotland’s special funding arrangements will continue even when the country is given control over its own taxation and spending.
      One Tory MP said the promise to Scottish voters, issued by Mr Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg in the Daily Record newspaper, “smacks of desperation”.
      Under the Barnett formula, devised in the 1970s by Labour Treasury minister Lord Barnett, spending is allocated according to population size, rather than the amount each country actually needs.
      Critics say this gives Scotland an unfair share of government spending and even Lord Barnett has called for it to be replaced.
      According to research at Stirling University, England loses around £4.5 billion of public spending every year because the money is handed to Scotland instead
      Tory MPs are preparing to publicly savage David Cameron’s handling of the referendum in the event of a No vote, and will attempt to block the plans.
      One female Tory MP said Mr Cameron’s promise, issued just two days before the polls open, was “desperate”.
      “There will be a bloodbath. Last night as I was listening to Cameron saying we are going to be providing all these additional benefits to Scotland, when we are struggling in so many areas of the UK.
      “It’s all happening on the hoof, in cliquey conversations on telephones in Downing Street. It isn’t happening, and there are a number of us who are incensed who will make sure it isn’t going to happen. But let’s see what the results are first.”
      Mr Cameron’s campaign speech yesterday in which he reassured Scots that he would not be Prime Minister for ever has been met with scorn in some quarters.
      “Cameron said ‘I won’t be here for ever.’ It just smacks of desperation to me – a man who is trying to get his wife to stay. It’s just desperate.”
      Bernard Jenkin, the chairman of the Public Administration Select Committee and one of the Prime Minister’s most vocal backbench critics, today said the plans to grant Scotland fiscal autonomy would mean no Scottish MP could become Chancellor.
      “We could never have a Scottish UK chancellor setting English taxes in England at the annual budget but not in his or her own constituency. So Parliament will have to consider how to establish an English executive, with an English first minister and finance minister,” he said in a letter to The Times.
      Another senior Tory said it would be "easier if Scotland votes for independence" because it would resolve what role Scottish MPs should have in Parliament and Government.
      “Whatever the outcome on the day, there are significant constitutional implications. If it’s a No vote, having seen the promise of Devo Max it’s absolutely essential that there is a new settlement for England," the Tory said.
      A spokesman for Yes Scotland said: "It's clear that project panic is willing to say anything in the last few days of the campaign to try to halt the Yes momentum - anything except what new powers, if any, they might be willing to offer.
      "The reality is that the only way to guarantee Scotland gets all the powers we need to create jobs and protect our NHS is with a Yes vote on Thursday - so that we can use our enormous wealth to create a better and fairer country."

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    3. Munguin says thank you CH.

      When he's president of Scotland he will make sure you get your just rewards... or something like that...

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  4. I see the press has had to make something of Miliband in Edinburgh. How unfortunate for them that Craig Murray was actually an eye witness and saw the whole thing. (see Craig's blog in the right hand bar).

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  5. Interesting to hear a view from the other side of the world. Thanks for that.

    Our referendum is causing waves. Couldn't understand why the Australian prime minister thought it was appropriate for Australia to be independent of Britain but not for Scotland. Isn't that a bit hypocritical?

    Matt

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    1. Hi Matt. I wondered about that too. Along with Obama adn the Canadian Prime minister.. you wonder about all the blood they spilled getting away from the UK and its perfidious empire.


      I wonder what Cameron had to pay to get these endorsements?

      Well, it won't be anything that cost him any money. It will be us who paid to be slagged off.

      I wonder what they know of life here. Have any of them ever even visited?

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