Voices for Yes: politicians, trade unionists, comedians, even Faslane nuclear base-workers speak up for independence
Faslane worker on Yesby Chris, a Faslane worker As a socialist, I have nothing to vote for when it comes to a general election. The choice is Tory or Labour, a Labour Party committed to austerity, a Labour Party who refuse to publicly back the unions, a Labour Party who – despite public support – refuse to renationalise the railways. A party of the left? A party of the workers? They can never be trusted again.
We deserve better. We can be better. We are a proud, welcoming, progressive people. We have the opportunity to build a society built on inclusion, equality and social mobility. We cannot achieve that as part of the UK, however we may be able to do it in an independent Scotland.
Change will not come easily, it could take years, decades even, but it will come. The benefactors will be our children, who will grow up in a fairer society. They will look back on our food banks and wonder why we tolerated it for so long. We have been granted an unbelievable opportunity, an opportunity to break free of the shackles of Westminster and create something more. A socialist country, a nation built by the workers, for the workers. It will never emerge if we vote No. We’ll all be asked a question on 18 September – Yes is the answer.
‘Yes is people power vs the establishment’
by Isobel Lindsay, a founding member of both the Scottish Independence Convention and Women for Independence
“If Scotland was a car, what kind of a car would it be?” was a question asked in a BBC vox pops. One man answered – “A half-built Lamborghini”. It wouldn’t have been my choice of metaphor but we all know what he meant. Scotland’s potential is great. Yes represents people power versus the British (and Scottish) Establishment – corporate power, media power, the wealth elites, the military elites, all the petty vested interests around the Westminster system.
Yes challenges all of that and if we win, that people power will not easily be shoved back into a box labelled apathy. Scotland will not just be open to change, to new ideas: Scotland will expect that change. Our political parties will have to go with a much more open, participative and egalitarian politics because this campaign will have been won by the activists on the ground. But it is also essential that we get the message across about the consequences of a No vote.
A neighbour said to me – “Any time I find myself swithering, I think about what it will be like if we vote No.” There is – and it’s not new – a pent-up desire by some people with power to bring Scotland into line. Gordon Brown was enraged when Holyrood introduced free personal care and did not go along with the Blairite university fee policy. Andy Burnham, Labour shadow health minister, recently stated that he wanted standardised health structures throughout the UK, an indication of how they are thinking.
Their agenda will not be more powers for Scotland, it will be clawing back powers. The one ‘power’ they will give us is increasing the amount we have to raise through income tax and using this to cut the Barnett formula. We will be given this narrow tax base limited by the large numbers of low paid while Westminster keeps National Insurance, VAT, Corporation Tax, Excise Duties, oil revenues, etc. Without a huge effort, a No vote will produce a mood of depression, shame and impotence – a nation without the self-esteem to govern itself. But a Yes vote will give a huge injection of adrenaline into Scottish society and Scottish politics.
‘If Scotland votes Yes, Edinburgh Zoo will have to hand back the pandas to China’
by Vladimir McTavish
A Yes vote on 18 September is vital. Hopefully it will allow us to live in a country where we’re not lied to by our government. Successive UK governments of various persuasions have lied to the Scottish people about a range of subjects, from the Miners’ Strike, to the Poll Tax and the Gulf War. Currently, the subject they are lying to us about is Scottish independence. During the past year, most of the following claims have been made by Westminster. One or two, I’ve made up. See if you spot the difference.
- If Scotland votes Yes, an independent Scotland will face a pensions black hole. This is bollocks. Because so few people in Scotland live to be older than 65, our pensioners will be rolling in money if we vote Yes. There has to be some advantage in living in country with the lowest life expectancy in western Europe.
- If Scotland votes Yes, we will no longer get the Gulf Stream, so our winters will become even colder.
- If Scotland votes Yes, Scotland will still be at war with the USA. Yes, that’s true. The treaty which ended the American War of Independence was signed by the whole of the UK. So, depending on whether we became independent, we could be fighting a war of independence against a country that is already independent. That’s according to an article in The Independent.
- If Scotland votes Yes, Edinburgh Zoo will have to hand back the pandas to China.
- If Scotland votes Yes, we will no longer be able to access large sections of the internet, as we will not be able to connect with websites or email addresses ending in dot.co.uk
- If Scotland votes Yes, you won’t be able to receive phone calls from England as the rest of the UK will not know the international dialling code for Scotland.
• Vladimir McTavish will be performing in AYE RIGHT? HOW NO? The Comedy Countdown to The Referendum at The Assembly Rooms, George Street, Edinburgh during The Edinburgh Fringe at 6.30pm from Friday 1st to Sunday 24 August. See arfringe.com
‘It’s as though a light switch is flicked on’
by Jean Urquhart, Independent Highlands and Islands MSP
Much has changed since the signing of the ‘Edinburgh Agreement’ by Alex Salmond and David Cameron. If a week is a long time in politics, then getting the green light to hold the referendum was light years away. Cameron and all of his Westminster cronies of whatever political colour, are very keen to promise devo max (just not enough to have it on the ballot paper at the time, although many wanted that option).
Their collective promises for a better deal with a No vote won’t be worth the manifestos they’re written on. Who believes this stuff?
The desperate visits north (first Westminster cabinet meeting in Scotland for 90 years, first visit to Shetland of a Prime Minister for 34 years) by more and ever more of the Unionist MPs only shows up their past disregard for Scotland. Scotland taken for granted and abused at will. Never a priority until the natives get restless. Well, the natives are way past being restless, and more importantly, fed-up of being patronised, cajoled, bribed or love-bombed out of their right to self determination.
The notion of “living as though in the early days of a better nation” to quote Alistair Gray is really happening. With every successive public meeting I attend, the energy is coming from the audience. It’s as though a light switch is flicked on and the questions are about how and when we can start to make changes and not if they are possible to be made. Is it possible for a nation to realise it’s own collective strength? The strength to vote itself out of a broken, unrepresentative and distant political system?
I believe it will happen. I believe that we will make history on 18 September. The world is watching as we take the courage into our own hands to really make poverty history, to put the country to work for the people who live in it. If not now, when?
Worth the risk – what risk? Land of milk and honey? Of course not, but the opportunity to really make a difference to all our lives with a pencil is surely irresistible? The only time I have ever agreed with David Cameron was when he refused to have devo max on the ballot paper – I hope he rues the day and we see a massive majority in favour of the chance of a better future for all of our children, grandchildren and for the generations to come.
We could bring socialism back onto the agenda and benefit our brothers and sisters in the rest of the UK
by Colin Turbett, Chairperson, North Ayrshire UNISON (personal capacity)
Though English born, I have spent all my adult life in the West of Scotland. Since then I have voted in ten general elections, less than half of which resulted in governments representing anything chosen by Scottish voters. During that time, I have watched the UK become synonymous with the slavish adoption of US foreign policy along with unjustifiable, unpopular foreign wars and vast spending on ever more sophisticated weapons of mass destruction.
All of this stemming from the growth and spread of neoliberalism in place of the welfare state and government responsibility for full employment. I have watched as whole industries have been destroyed along with the communities that depended upon them, and those who defended them savagely assaulted and characterised as the ‘enemy within’. As a public sector worker and trade unionist, I have witnessed (and fought against) cuts, vast job loss and the introduction of ruthless business models leading to the outsourcing of services to global corporations.
These horrors have replaced the public service ethos that once gave pride to the workforce. All of this made worse by the casino capitalism of the banks and the bailout we all paid for to keep this rotten system afloat. Westminster rule by whichever shade of Tory is based on serving the interests of the ruling classes with elections focused on the electoral mood of the English Home County middle classes. We could do better in an independent Scotland and we could bring socialism back onto the agenda. This would ultimately benefit our brothers and sisters in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
We need the powers to change things
by John Davidson, PCS Assistant Group Secretary and YesPCS Organiser
I’ll be voting Yes on 18 September because Scotland deserves better than the rack and ruin on offer from Westminster. As a child of the Thatcher years, I lived through the Poll Tax and watched as our industries were destroyed. Thirteen years in power saw New Labour abandon the working class, by backing illegal military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, increasing inequality, failing to lift anyone out of poverty and privatising more jobs and services than Thatcher and Major combined.
To improve the way things are we need the powers to change them. Scotland only has one Tory MP yet we have a Tory Prime Minister. Scotland believes that public services should be delivered in the public sector yet Royal Mail is privatised. Scotland wants to look after the poorest and most vulnerable in society, yet we have the Bedroom Tax. I’ve fought massive job cuts in the civil service and seen hundreds of offices close and over 200 000 lose their jobs.
We can show that there’s a better way of doing things that values people, develops our communities and distributes the vast resources of our country fairly. We’ll be setting an example to all nations that prosperity and equality are mutually inclusive.
I’ll be voting Yes as a means of transforming Scotland from a low-pay, highly unequal society into one which we can all play a part and receive a fair share in return. Workers deserve better – on September 18 we can take the first step to make that happen.
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