Andy Muirhead: Westminster Government Has Never Represented Me

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On the 18th September 2014, the Scottish people will exercise their democratic right to vote for or against Scottish independence. A vote that was not afforded to our ancestors, a vote that many nations across the world were not afforded to them – with much blood having to be shed for their right to govern themselves.

Scotland has a glorious chance to secure the right to govern ourselves for all the right reasons. However, we are faced with campaigners and politicians supporting the Union peddling scare stories.

We have heard that Scotland will solely be reliant on oil revenue – which is running out. We have also heard that Scotland has enemies abroad and with no nuclear deterrent, we will not be safe from ISIS and those pesky Russians who could march on Kiev in two weeks.

We also have been told that we will not be allowed to use the pound. The Isle of Man use the pound and when Ireland secured their independence in 1922, they continued to use Pound Sterling up until 1928 when they brought in the new Saorstát (Free State) pound. It was only in the 1970s, when the European Monetary System was introduced, that Ireland broke links with the Sterling.

The US Dollar is used as legal tender by Ecuador, El Salvador, East Timor, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, The British colony of Turks and Caicos, the British Virgin Islands, the U. S. Virgin Islands of Saint Croix, Saint John and Saint Thomas, U. S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico.

But now the No Campaign changed its mind as Alistair Darling said on national television, in the second indyref debate, that we can and that no one can stop us from using the pound.
I can go through each issue and each talking point, breaking it down bit by bit on how Scottish independence would be positive for our nation but many learned individuals have done so previously and better than I could ever do so.

But with a young family of my own to think about and knowing how hard it is to make ends meet, the rise of food banks and poverty in Scotland disgusts me.

According to Scottish government statistics, in 2012-13 there were 820,000 people living in poverty in Scotland – a nation that numbers 5,327,700 [stat from mid-2013]. Child poverty has increased significantly and is still rising with 180,000 Scottish kids living in poverty.
The rise of food banks in Scotland has been labelled a ‘stain on our national conscience’, according to the “Below the Breadline” charity report published by Oxfam, Church Action on Poverty and the Trussell Trust.

The Trussell Trust claim that ‘71,428 people in Scotland were given three days emergency food between April 2013 and March 2014’.

I certainly don’t want my son to be brought up in a nation of paupers and having struggled to make ends meet myself over the years, I know how hard it is to survive on a daily basis on what a Westminster MP deems is enough to survive on.

My family and my wife’s family are all voting Yes. We don’t want to live 30 miles away from the biggest nuclear weapons base in Europe, we don’t want to see our taxes being used to pay for a train line that allows commuters in England travel to London quicker and has no economic value to Scotland whatsoever. And we certainly don’t want to be ruled by a government that our country never voted for in the first place. A government run by the same party who spent £8 million on Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, the same person who did more damage to Scotland than the Duke of Cumberland ever did when he tried to wipe Scottish culture out after the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

Scotland started Thatcher’s demise when she introduced the Poll Tax on Scotland – we were her guinea pigs before she introduced it onto the rest of the UK. Yet our taxes helped pay for her funeral – that is one reason alone to have nothing to do with this or any other Westminster government ever again.

Labour, Lib Dem, UKIP, BNP and the Tory politicians have all banded together to support the Union and to tell us how wrong and how destructive independence would be for Scotland. Where were they when the Poll Tax was introduced? Where were they as our shipbuilding industry and manufacturing industries were destroyed? Where were they when the Bedroom Tax was recently introduced?

In my opinion, the only reason why these politicians are venomously opposed to Scottish Independence is because of their own individual gain – just like those who voted for the Act of Union 307 years ago. With the Union these Scottish politicians, who are seemingly looking after the best interests of the Scottish people, would not receive such sizeable wages, expenses and above all a job.

I was born a Scot, I have lived in Scotland most of my life and while I currently hold a British passport I would gladly rip it up as I am handed a Scottish one. I can also understand why some want to stay British, they have their own reasons – reasons I do not agree with – but answer me this, if we are better off together why is Scotland in the state it is in? Why are we Better Together after a No vote, yet at this moment in time nothing tells me that the Union is doing anything for Scotland or its interests.

If we are Better Together, why are they promising Scotland more powers after a No vote, but not telling us what new powers we will have? And why is the future leader of the Tory party Boris Johnson stating that there is ‘no reason’ for Scotland to have more powers?

Scotland after independence is not a sure thing, it is not going to be a paradise we all know that, but it will be a country governed by those that live and work here, with Scotland’s own interests at hand not London, not the South East of England. And staying in the Union is not a dead cert that we will be better off either despite claims from the No camp.

In 1979, the Westminster government and their supporters peddled scare stories that if Scotland voted Yes in the referendum, then the coal mines would close, the Linwood car plant and Ravenscraig would shut down. Yet after the referendum failed, under Tory and Westminster rule, the coal mines closed, Linwood closed as did Ravenscraig – not to mention the shipyards on the Clyde.

Not to mention their scare stories then about oil, the level remaining and revenue created.
It is funny that history teaches us a lot about not only ourselves, but also those who claim to represent the best interests of the Scottish people. On September 18th 2014, the Scottish people have the chance to vote in a political issue that will be in Scotland’s interest and in my opinion the good of the nation rather than for the good of the individual.

However, if this chance to govern ourselves fully and independently for the first time since 1707 escapes us with a No vote, then we’ll have nobody to blame but ourselves.

Andy Muirhead
@scotzine
National Collective

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About Andrew Muirhead

Andy Muirhead is the editor of the Scottish football website Scotzine.com and produces the weekly Scottish football show The Final Whistle for Pulse 98.4FM. He has written for ESPN, the Daily Record, The Scotsman, the Morning Star and Radio Clyde. He is an avid history geek primarily World War Two, but also Scottish History including the Jacobite Rebellions.

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