I’ll be voting for an independent Scotland in 2014 because, from 1997 onwards, four watershed events led to a shift in my political perspective and loyalties and inexorably to the conclusion that only full independence would meet my criteria for a just and equitable Scottish society.
They were the election of the Blair/Brown Labour Government in 1997, 9/11 in 2001, Afghanistan, and the Iraq invasion in 2003.
These four events crystallised doubts that had existed since the mid-1960s (with older roots) on nuclear disarmament, the real nature of the Union and Scotland’s place in it, of Britishness, the Labour Party’s core beliefs in multi-lateral disarmament, membership of the UK in a context of internationalism and the Westminster system, and Scottish Labour’s belief that they could influence Westminster as representatives of Scottish voters while sustaining an internationalist perspective and values.
My perspective of British and UK industry and commerce, the financial/banking sector and the military/industrial complex and its influence on democratic governments widened dramatically after establishing my own consulting and training business in 1988, after many decades in industrial management. These fears also crystallised from 1997 onwards, and the likelihood of a financial crash was evident to me from the millennium year 2000.
I had never entertained romantic ideas about Scotland, and I was – and still am – the antithesis of a blood-and soil-nationalist.
But I do believe the ancient nation of Scotland has, in its history, culture, scientific and intellectual achievements and political and social values, created a 21st century social entity comprised of Scots old and new, from a widely diverse range of backgrounds and ethnic origins, that exhibits values and beliefs about politics, the rule of law, the role of representative government in a democracy, the role of a nation state in the interdependent global community and the rights and obligations of its people that, in their totality, can only be satisfied in a sovereign, independent state.
As someone committed to live and work in Scotland, I want a just and equitable Scottish society, not just for myself but for all those similarly committed to the geographical entity called Scotland. I also want a just and equitable society, not just for myself and those who are part of Scottish society, but for all peoples across the globe – but I now believe that any influence, however small, that I and other residents of Scotland can have on that wider global objective can only come from within a nation state. I believe that true internationalism begins with, and must be rooted in nationalism in the autonomous nation state.
I believe the nation state that can deliver the closest match to my political and social values is Scotland, and that the state of which I have been a member all of my life, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is a manifestly failing and dysfunctional conglomerate – the rump of a vanished empire – that cannot deliver those political and social values to any of its component nations.
What do I want from my nation state?
I want it to abandon, totally and unequivocally, the irrational obscenity of nuclear weapons, for which no intellectual or moral case exists or can exist in my view. Given that premise, the strategic case is irrelevant to me, but I believe it is totally untenable even if the moral conditions are ignored or denied.
I want it to be close to a truly representative democracy, close to the people, with a national constitution that protects their fundamental and sovereign rights. The UK in my view is demonstrably not such a democracy, given the unelected House of Lords, the current role of the monarch and the web of inherited and awarded undemocratic privileges that flow from such a monarchy.
I want a close but flexible association politically and for mutual defence with my European, Scandinavian and Nordic neighbours, but one that leaves the final sovereign decisions with my nation on armed intervention in the affairs of other nations outside of any such alliances.
I want an economically successful nation where the rewards of success are equitably distributed, and the price of economic success is not at the expenses of the people’s quality of life and the natural environment. I believe that the UK fails these criteria, has always failed them and will never match them, and that the Scottish unionist parties are impotent in Westminster to change that.
I will not regurgitate all the complex arguments and rebuttals that makes me believe Scotland has the people, the values, the will, the capacity and the resources to be the nation I want it to be. I’ve listened, evaluated and made my decision, as other Scots, old and new, must and will finally on September 18th 2014.