David Officer (Musician & Photographer): Scotland Has A Chance To Enact Real Change

David Officer is a musician, photographer and arts professional from Aberdeenshire. He makes noise under the name Daemons, most recently being commissioned by the Fram Museum in Norway to create a piece of music inspired by Roald Amundsen’s journey through the northwest passage. The new Daemons EP – Fram will be out in the Summer.

David also works at Woodend Barn, the leading arts centre in the north-east of Scotland.

Frankly, we’re all a bit fed up and disenfranchised. Does anyone believe the political system in the UK is working for the majority of people who live here? And with voting reform in Westminster absolutely deader than a dodo, what chance is there of any enthusiasm returning for politics in the UK? It will eternally be the playground of the wealthy, professional politician serving the ruling elite.

It’s become clear that Scotland has a chance to enact real change, and it’s a chance we’ve never had before. It almost doesn’t even matter how we got here… almost. We just have to take the opportunity to do something different.

Change isn’t scary. It’s exciting, it’s refreshing and it’s long overdue. How low will voter turnout have to get before Westminster decides it needs change? Electoral reform has been killed-off by the coalition with the spineless Lib Dems meekly conceding to a fudged AV referendum, meaning we are stuck with a First Past The Post system which benefits the Tories and Labour only. Scotland’s mixture of FPTP and STV is better but has room for improvement, if we’re committed to party politics then we should install a full Proportional Representation system to allow greater representation for the different ideas within our society. Only then will turnout increase and real change be possible.

I believe an independent Scotland would be a fairer society, with a social conscience absent from mainstream politics across the rest of the UK as represented in the media. I don’t believe it would be a socialist utopia without any problems though. We’ll face some hurdles along the way –  no doubt Scotland will have recessions in the future, just like other economies rise and fall and we’ll make other mistakes along the way just like the UK does just now. The point is that these will be our mistakes to make and we’ll have the power to hold those responsible for them to account, whereas when the people of Scotland reject a party or ideology it is forced upon them by the rest of the UK at present.

This isn’t a problem with collective will of the UK, I accept that for the moment we’re part of a union with a bigger neighbour and that we respect the electoral will of that union but it’s about representation and accountability. There needs to be a system where people feel their voice and votes are being heard. Independence is the only game in town now. Half-hearted hints that Scotland might be granted a few extra responsibilities (not powers) if it votes No just don’t cut it. There are no concrete plans for extra devolution on the table for after 2014 and even if there were, they wouldn’t offer the mechanisms necessary for improving the representation and control of the Scottish economy. Independence does.

And for crying out loud, it’s not anti-English. This is about new relationships not separation.  We want to stand beside England, Wales, Northern Ireland, France, Norway, Iceland, Ireland and all our neighbours as friends, allies and equals.

Independence could give Scotland a new confidence, a resurgence in art and ideas – a new enlightenment. With full control of our finances we could spend less on defence and put more money in education and science, becoming a leader in knowledge which would generate jobs, income and inspiration for generations to come. We could reject Trident and use that money to fund culture and arts to give our children stimulation and inspiration to create while attracting people from all across the world to experience a new Scotland. A resurgent Scottish media would lead to a focus on Scots culture leading to a new pride in our collective past and a rejection of Anglo-American cultural norms in place of our own identity.

Scotland could be a leader in sustainability and green issues. Countries like Costa Rica have some of the highest ratings for environmental standards and reap the rewards through eco-tourism and a thriving, vibrant ecosystem. They make this a priority instead of ploughing millions into arms and defense – they don’t even have an army! Why can’t Scotland, a small country of 6 million people, aspire to do something similar? Are we so desperate to be part of the club that we continue to waste billions on weapons of mass destruction instead of promoting new ideas and developing a sustainable infrastructure envied around the world? You can’t even get the train to the biggest town in Aberdeenshire – Peterhead.

At present, policy at Westminster is focused on the densely populated south-east of England and the midlands, which means it’s unlikely to be of use to sparsely populated places like much of Scotland. We welcome immigration to breath new life into areas which are still experiencing a drain of young talented people to Glasgow, London, Europe and beyond; yet the media and Westminster politicians would have us believe that immigration is the most urgent issue facing us all right now and the country is full.

The Scotland I want to live in is a multi-cultural, ideas driven society that engages with it’s people and lifts them out of poverty, not punishes them for having spare bedrooms.

This isn’t a pipe dream but a real possibility. We have one chance, the chance of a lifetime, the first time Scotland has ever been asked what it’s people want for the country. We have to grab it with both hands!

Organisations like National Collective are vital for this new Scotland to succeed. We need creators and intellectuals to lead this debate and inspire the people of Scotland to see the value of new ideas and abandon the status quo of austerity and right wing ideology. National Collective can be a true grassroots arts movement led by the people and not dictated by professional politicians with agendas driven by their own desire for lasting power.

We need a voice in the debate more than ever and this is why the whole country needs to take part – if Scotland votes Yes or No, National Collective should remain as a non-partisan voice for Scots society, leading and forming the debate rather than merely reacting.”

Selected works