Having spent the last year or so editing and publishing other people’s incredible articles on National Collective’s website, I thought it might be a good idea to actually write something of my own. The work involved in that last year has given me inspiration for this.
On Thursday, Scotland faces the biggest decision in its history. I’m not going to write a ‘journey to Yes’ because, quite simply, it’s always been apparent to me that it is only sensible and logical to have a more localised Government. I’ve grown up under a devolved Scotland and have always felt that the Government in Holyrood is more easily held to account than that at Westminster (this was probably cemented by seeing millions of people marching on the streets of the UK to oppose the Iraq war at an impressionable age of 10, yet seeing the skies of Baghdad light up on the BBC News despite the clear will of the people).
Rather, I’ll offer you an idea of how being part of this campaign has influenced my vision of the world and how a future Scotland can look, because independence now, for me, goes so far beyond the reasons that I supported independence in previous years (not that opposing WMD’s being based a half hours’ drive from our largest cities, and a child poverty rate of 1 in 5 don’t matter – they still represent the fundamental principles of why I am voting Yes, and how I got to the position I am at now).
I’ve been involved in this extraordinary campaign through various different outlets, most significantly National Collective. What this has shown me, both as a member and via observing the general pattern of political life in Scotland through my admittedly inexperienced eyes, is that independence isn’t just a chance to bring power closer to the people, a localisation of democracy, it is a chance to create a completely new kind of nation state.
For me debates over economic issues of the ‘£500/year better off’ type fundamentally miss the point of the potential that independence offers Scotland. We are an incredibly wealthy nation as we all know, and are now at the point where tackling inequality has to be the main aim of any government we elect, and if you take one look at the Westminster parties you will know that it is not on the top of their agenda (more information on this can be found in the video link at the foot of this article). Taking steps to make greater equality happen will not happen within the Westminster system, and the huge changes that localisation of power can bring will allow a government that is more accountable, and thus more responsive to the needs of its people. We will have a greater chance to reduce inequality as a consequence.
However important this point is, it doesn’t express the excitement that I have for the chance to be involved in creating this new kind of country that I alluded to earlier. What this country can be will be entirely up to us – never before in history has a new state emerged under such favourable conditions – with such wealth, in economic, intellectual and human terms. This is why debates over whether Scotland could be successful are so misplaced, and have utterly missed the point of what this debate is about. Of course Scotland will be a wealthy and successful independent country, it is incredible to believe otherwise. What this debate is about is what kind of country we want to see Scotland become after independence – and we have infinite possibilities for where we want to take this small corner of the planet. There are 5.3 million ideas for creating a new Scotland, something that gives me the utmost belief that the independent Scotland that we build will be the most exciting thing to be part of.
What do I want from that possible country? What ideas will I contribute as one of the 5.3 million voices arguing for better? I want a country that stands up for what is right in the world, and doesn’t take actions based on ideas of prestige and power. I want a country that makes its voice heard in a positive manner, and seeks to improve the world through peaceable means, not through use of force. The country that I seek is one where the population is engaged in the political process – much in the way that this campaign has managed to make politics normal. It’s time to move away from the Blairite era of Tucker-esque spin, and build something new so that the people that have been entrenched by an apathy brought on by a disconnect between them and power don’t return to this disengagement again. I want a country whose built environment is designed on the long-term health and well-being of its people, not the short-term profits of business.
But most of all, I want a country that enshrines the equal rights of all who live here in a written constitution, to protect the vulnerable and marginalised groups, from women to immigrants, to the impoverished and disabled; because nothing, absolutely nothing, is as important as creating an equal society. We will never have the power or influence to do this in the Westminster system. It’s time to dismantle it and build something new, that serves not only us, but the people of the rest of the UK who can better tackle a significantly weakened Westminster establishment.
This campaign has shown me what is possible. The people I have met from all walks of life and all corners of the planet, who see this as an opportunity to build something better, is nothing short of inspirational. As people, equals, there is nothing that any of us cannot do in order to create better, not just in Scotland but across the world. Now is the time to set about doing just that.
Vote Yes tomorrow, and let’s set about doing things differently.