Tag Archives: independence referendum

Reaching Out to That “Inner Nat” in our Fellow Scots

As we approach the two year countdown to the referendum It’s time to reach out to that patriotic inner Scottish nationalist that resides in practically everybody who lives and works in Scotland. It’s time for that “inner nat” to shout out that this is our time, and we can, and we will, secure our independence.

Our job is to unleash that inner nationalist that resides in our fellow Scots. That essentially Scottish spirit that knows we can, and we will, and that no one will tell us that we can’t and we won’t. It is the “inner nat” that longs to be like all those other countries in the world, normal and self-governing, peacefully patriotic and above all free and independent.

The inner nationalist knows we are better than this. Knows we are a rich, inventive nation that will make a positive, peaceful contribution to world affairs. It is the inner nat who waves the saltire proudly and knows that we are as good as anybody else in the world.

It is the inner nationalist that is appalled by the likes of Iain Duncan Smith who tells us we’re “too wee or too poor” to run a welfare state. It is the part of us who shouts out indignantly at his likes and all the other naysayers who deride our ambition and talk us down.

The inner nationalist is also the part of us that believes in our sense of national dignity and self respect- the pride in taking responsibility for ourselves and blaming no one else for our failures. About the self respect that it is us, the Scottish people, who will make our own way in the world.

The “inner nat” is proud of our achievements, roars on anyone in a Scotland top, and is culturally relaxed and in tune with his or her innate Scottishness. He or she is proud to be Scottish, but is an avowed and committed internationalist.

Independence will be about the heart and the head. The head that knows that it is the people who live and work in Scotland who are best placed to decide our future, simply because it is us who care most about our nation. But it is the heart that’s most important, that patriotic, ambitious inner nationalist in us Scots that knows that independence will allow us to be all we can be and express ourselves fully.

The inner nationalist in us will drown out the negative voices that tell us we can’t and who try to denigrate our ambition. The inner nationalist is simply an emotional response that says Scotland deserves better, is better and deserves its national liberation, its independence and its freedom.

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Being “Better Together” with the Conservatives

Something very significant happened last Saturday, and it happened in most cities and towns across Scotland. Though it probably passed by most of its intended audience, there they were, Labour and Conservatives, actively campaigning together on the streets of Scotland for possibly the first time.

Now, politicians come together on a cross-party basis for any number of issues. In both Parliaments there are cross-party groups, and motions are regularly signed by politicians from across the political spectrum. In councils, proportional representation necessitates coalitions and cross-party arrangements. Occasionally, Governments may need the support of other parties to get important legislation through. I mean, I’m in a cross-party rock group for goodness sake!

All of this is part of the day to day reality of our political process, and all of it a necessary part of our realpolitik.

What was different about last Saturday was that Labour were on the streets of Scotland with the Conservatives actively asking the people of Scotland to sign up to a political proposition about who is best placed to govern Scotland.

What this new and very important cross-party coalition was asking us to endorse is that in Scotland, Conservative rule is preferable to Scottish home rule. That the Westminster Tories are in a better position to make the crucial decisions about Scotland’s future rather than the people who live and work in Scotland themselves.

“But it’s not about Tory rule” our Labour friends will defiantly contend. “Better together means better together with the UK not with the Conservatives” Labour activists will wail. But “better together” must have a context and currently we are being asked to be “better together” within a UK which has a Conservative Government that precious few people in Scotland voted for. Yes, the Conservatives might be replaced by the almost unelectable Ed Miliband, but then again, they might not.

Labour might not like it, but right now it is a Conservative Government that currently administers our social security system and macro economic policies. I bet on Saturday Labour politicians weren’t trying to sell Westminster’s austerity package or its crippling and cruel welfare reforms as examples of being “better together”

I actually think that some in Labour realised what was going down and just how bad this all looked. Whilst the normally toxic Conservatives were absolutely cock-a-hoop about being endorsed and included, Labour politicians were just a bit more embarrassed and reticent. Indeed, Jim Murphy first had to explain why he “hated” the Tories before proceeding to join them on the streets. They are right to be nervous. Just look what happened to the Liberals.

Scotland’s democratic deficit is at the heart of the debate about independence and, unfortunately for the Unionists, it is not going to go away. One of the most powerful reasons for independence is that we will always get the Government we vote for. With independence we will never again get a Tory led Government with a solitary Tory MP tearing the heart out of our welfare system.

“Better Together” might be a campaign about being together in the UK, but they also have to fully explain who, and what, we’re being asked to be better together with.

Why Unionist Attempts to Politicise the Olympics Failed

Whilst everybody was enjoying the spectacle of the greatest Games on Earth there was one group of people who are doing their level best to spoil it for you.  Welcome to the UK Unionists. If there was a gold medal for petty political point scoring up there on the podium would be the anti-independence politicians and commentators. In rhetoric reminiscent of Labour claims that devolution would kill the SNP ‘stone dead’, time and again we heard claims the SNP are opposed to Team GB and that every medal marks a death blow to Scottish independence aspirations.

They condemned the Scottish Government for wishing our Scottish athletes well. They then criticised us for providing a Scottish showcase opened to fully engage with the Olympics. They scoured through ten year old speeches to misquote us out of context to prove that we’re pathologically opposed to the Games. They were even quicker off the blocks than Usain Bolt. Within five minutes of Danny Boyle’s fantastic opening ceremony, there they were, declaring game, set and match for the UK state.

All of it utter nonsense, and all of it grating with the Scottish people who just wanted to enjoy the Games free from politicians trying to hijack this spectacle for their own ends. And after all their incessant efforts, Guess what? Opinion polls show that if anything the Olympics have actually increased support for independence! Talk about getting it wrong and aiming that blunderbuss at the foot. Even when presented with this evidence they just can’t seem to stop. Gordon Brown and Douglas Alexander are the latest senior unionist politicians to forlornly mine this empty seam, using the Olympics, because they can’t come up with any compelling or convincing case for the Union themselves.

How people vote in the Independence Referendum will be dependent on many things. Should the Westminster Tories continue to determine Scotland’s future? Would Scotland be better off in control of its own resources? Does Scotland want to make its own peaceful contribution to world affairs without being drawn into illegal wars? These are the issues that will determine the outcome of the Referendum, not a Games, regardless of their scale or success.

And anyway, Team GB is as much my team as it is the most enthusiastic fan from any other part of these isles.

While I would naturally like to see a Scottish team march round the Olympic stadium under the St Andrew’s cross as an independent nation, I cheered on Team GB till I was hoarse. I recognise the immense pride of Scottish athletes in representing their country and of course they should be able to stand under their current national flag and take great satisfaction in being a member of Team GB.

As an independent nation we will be represented by a Team Scotland in any future Olympics. That is what normal independent countries do in international sporting events. But for now we are part of the UK and all of us in Scotland are enjoyed our team’s success, regardless of how we vote or what we think about Scotland’s constitutional future.

But probably the most ludicrous notion is that the Games has shown that we in Scotland will have to choose between being Scottish or British. This is a theme that has gained much currency amongst these anti-independence commentators recently and shows a singular, probably willful, misunderstanding about what independence is about.

What we want with independence is to complete the powers of our Parliament and take responsibility for our own affairs. We want to recalibrate the political relationship of the UK state and it has nothing whatsoever to do with ‘Britishness’. That is the social union and none of it goes anywhere with independence. We will still share a British island and we will still enjoy our fantastic relationship, heritage and British culture.

But in cheering on Team GB did that mean that I was entirely happy or satisfied with all the arrangements for the London Olympics? Of course not. Like the Tories in opposition, and more recently like Labour in raising concerns about the G4S shambles, I tried as much as possible to hold the Westminster Government to account – that is my job as an MP.

But these issues have come and gone, and so, unfortunately have the Olympics. In two years time Glasgow will host the Commonwealth Games where we will compete as Team Scotland. What is as certain as Scottish gold is that those self-same anti-independence politicians who have so valiantly tried to politicise these Games will be screaming blue murder at any perceived notion of nationalist politicisation.

But do you know what? Just as the London Olympics has absolutely nothing to do with the Referendum, neither will the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.