I recently received an email in my capacity as politics editor for BritMums. It was enquiring as to whether we would be writing about the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence. Of course we will be, I replied. Then feeling rather under-educated on the matter myself I asked some fellow bloggers who are far more informed to help me out. To that end I pass you over to Ruth from Dorky Mum to introduce the debate.
This September a referendum will take place to determine whether Scotland will remain a part of the United Kingdom, or whether it will become an independent country.
When it comes to politics, I always find it hard to keep my head down and my mouth closed. But at the moment that’s exactly what I have to do. As a Scot living in Australia, I have no say in the matter. I get no vote. But I am finding it fascinating watching all my friends and family who are still resident in Scotland work out how they will cast their vote. Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere are buzzing and busy with debate and discussion.
For the most part it seems like these small discussions taking place on social media are better informed and far more reasonable than a lot of the commentary in mainstream media. It feels like for once it really is the people who will be in charge of this decision, rather than the politicians. It’s an exciting time.
We asked three bloggers – one who will be voting yes to independence, one who will be voting no, and one who is still undecided – to share their perspectives with you.
The Yes Voter – Kate Higgins from A Burdz Eye View
Something remarkable has happened in the debate in Scotland on independence. Suddenly, all protagonists, from Yes and No, are talking about women. Not just talking about us but ruminating on our needs and interests and offering us big policy pledges.
The biggest is from Yes Scotland which says that independence would give Scotland the chance to transform childcare provision, with children under 5 entitled to 30 hours per week free childcare and early learning. Let’s not argue why or whether childcare is or should be a woman’s issue but accept the reality that in many families, it is. But what this policy does is shift childcare to become a vital piece of economic infrastructure, enabling more women to be able to return to and stay in work.
Labour has responded with five pledges for women: more free childcare, equal representation on business boards, better pay and my personal favourite, requiring companies to publish their pay gap. It’s all good but actually, as a woman who has throughout my working life, compromised career choices for family responsibilities; who has paid over a third of my take home pay in childcare fees; who has watched local authorities pay millions in legal fees to avoid paying women in the lowest paid jobs the same rate as men; and seen women I know fly high only to plummet to earth as soon as they become pregnant, “more” and “better” is no longer good enough. I don’t want pay gaps, still less to have to read about them, I want the equal pay promised women 40 years ago to become a reality. I want free childcare as a right, as an acknowledgement that investing in this reaps economic benefit down the line in terms of enabling women to keep more of their earned pay, but I also want better economic and cultural support for women who choose to stay at home, a societal acceptance that this is a good thing for children.
I’ve spent 25 years in the workplace, fortunately working for good and just employers. I’ve raised two children. I’ve bought my own house, made my own life choices, good and bad. And I’m tired of waiting for oft promised change to come. Things are worse now for women than they ever have been in my lifetime. Doesn’t matter what age they are – older women face the whammy of reaching retirement later, still with compromised state pensions, lower private pension pots and the risk not just of fuel poverty in an energy rich country but now also, food poverty in a country which spends billions on needless nuclear weapons.
I want women in Scotland to have better. I want to look forward to better in my old age, now hurtling towards me faster than I’d like. I want better for my sons and the women they will have in their own families. I’d like to think that if Scotland votes yes to independence and we make a more equal, fairer society – and I’m not so naive to think it will be a given; there are lots of interests requiring to be un-vested of their privilege to make change happen – we not only give hope, but provide a blueprint and pressure for things to be different elsewhere on these islands. For all women, not just some.
The No Voter – Donna White from Mummy Central
If Independence were the best way forward for Scotland, I’d be voting for it. No question. But I’m not convinced. At least not with Alex Salmond at the helm.
What worries me most is that Scots will vote with their emotions – placing a hatred of Cameron, Westminster and the Eton elite above the issue of whether this country can prosper if it severs ties with the rest of the UK.
Salmond and his lot play on the image of the “English oppressors” holding back this wonderful country. A Braveheart-style tale of good versus evil.
But the truth of the matter is that this man (who incidentally was born and raised in the town I now call home) has the consistency of a flag on a windy day and is just as much a threat to Scotland as the perceived tyrants down south.
His U-turns are numerous. He was for the euro and then against the euro. He branded sterling a “millstone around Scotland’s neck” and then decided he wanted it. He was against Nato. And then he was for Nato. He said he had seen the legal advice on EU membership. And then it emerged it did not exist (so he lied).
Chancellor George Osborne has ruled out currency union and European Commissioner president Jose Manuel Barroso has said it would be “extremely difficult if not impossible” for an independent Scotland to join the EU.
Why would Britain shackle itself to an independent state but still have to bail it out if things go pear-shaped? And why would Scotland want independence – just so it can be economically controlled by London without any representation?
Scotland’s self-styled saviour has put the needs of rich American right-wingers over those of local people. When Donald Trump demanded an obscene golf complex for the super rich in Scotland, it was “called in” by Salmond, despite the objections of planners, environmentalists and local people. The plans were eventually pulled following a legal dispute.
The Leveson Inquiry revealed how Salmond and Rupert Murdoch exchanged admiring letters and held private dinner dates – more than two dozen meetings. In its final report, the inquiry said: “Mr Salmond’s readiness… to stand ready to assist News Corp is striking”. His desire to lobby for the BSkyB deal “would have rendered the decision unlawful” if it had taken place.
We may hate Cameron and all he stands for. He may not represent our best interests. But before we divorce ourselves from the UK, we should be careful whom we place at the helm of Scotland’s future.
Look at this purely from a Dragon’s Den point of view. Salmond is presenting a business plan for an independent Scotland – with no solid facts, figures or guarantee of success. Would you invest in that?
As Scot Duncan Bannatyne puts it: “I’m out.”
The Undecided Voter – Ellen Arnison from In a Bun Dance
Yes. No. Maybe. No. Yes. Maybe. Round and round it goes. One minute I think Scotland should go it alone and the next a Yes vote in September fills me with dread.
It’s not that I haven’t tried to reach a decision or considered the arguments. I’ve pondered and discussed until my head hurts.
The problem with Scottish Independence, as far as I can see, is the politicians – they’re getting in the way of the issues.
The Scottish National Party – the ones in power at the moment – are all about independence. Of course, it’s their thing and I get the feeling they’d promise the earth to get what they want. Free tartan unicorns as pets for everyone! OK, maybe not, but the picture they paint of Scotland alone is temptingly brave and exciting.
But then the other side, the Better Togethers (pretty much everyone else) are so full of doom and gloom it’s positively terrifying. Imagine Private Frazer from Dad’s Army only talking about financial collapse, catastrophic immigration and political isolation. “We’re doomed!”
But the thing is it’s not actually all that much to do with them and their persuasive agendas. Whether or not Scotland should be part of the United Kingdom is a constitutional issue, not a political one. It’s like deciding not to buy a new house because you don’t like the sofa cover belonging to the current owner and you don’t know how you can replace it.
The reason there’s so much hot air on the subject is that, as far as I can see, no one actually knows any of the answers – because things can only be decided once the country votes Yes. It’s not even certain an independent Scotland would have an SNP government. There’s every possibility that all those powerful Scottish politicians would get their bums off the Westminster benches and head north.
So I’m still swithering. Nations the size of Scotland do perfectly well on their own and many of them have fabulous things like better equality, efficient childcare and compassionate social care, so there’s no reason this one couldn’t. But – while those possibilities are real – the decisions would be taken by politicians (for the most part the same one’s we’re tired of listening to) voted in by us. If the nation is brave enough to take the leap, is it brave enough to insist on the country it was promised?
So those are the eloquent thoughts of members of the blogging community, how do you feel about it? We will open a linky at the bottom of this post for you to add posts you may write on the subject, and also please do feel free to comment below.
Pro independence bloggers and grassroots organisations include Women for Independence, National Collective, Business for Scotland, Bella Caledonia, Derek Bateman, Broadcaster, Common Weal, and Radical Independence.
For more information on the Scottish Referendum from the UK Government:-
A big thank you to those who have contributed to such a thought-provoking piece.