Saturday, August 30, 2014

Wee Free Freedom! (Last part)

Things have been hotting up north of the border. 

It appears that speakers from both sides of the independence debate are getting shouted down at public meetings and in some cases having things thrown at them. With only days to go before the referendum, this is unnecessary and really does not help either side, succeeding only in entrenching and dividing people.
It's also a shame, because the debate on the subject has become much more interesting and nuanced over the past few months, and it's that debate that I want to hear, as it raises issues about democracy and representation for the whole of the UK, not just Scotland.
It boils down to one simple question, really: Who do we want to represent us politically? This, in turn, leads us to ask Tony Benn's 5 Questions regarding power.

What has arisen, I think, is that the 'Yes' camp is far more varied in what it wants from independence than is sometimes represented in the media. Certainly, it would appear that people living in the Shetlands, the Orkneys and the Hebrides either regard Holyrood as being no better than Westminster, or would like to have power devolved more directly to them. By contrast, the 'Better Together' (a.k.a. 'No') Camp seem to be far more homogeneous, to their detriment. Why their detriment? Because they have painted themselves into a corner in some ways: they cannot talk about the issues regarding representation without actually providing reasons to vote for independence.
So, who should be our representatives? Should we be tied in perpetuity to what is in effect a  two-party system? Must we get stuck with politicians who are more obsessed with a party stance and getting elected than actually doing the job to which they have been elected - governing on our behalf? Who controls the economy? Why should a relatively small group of people have so much power and to what extent are they accountable (or not) to the people?
The very best of the debate (and that is most certainly not the televised grandstanding between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling) has asked these questions, and they are pertinent to life within the whole of the UK. With the economy 'recovering' (for whom?), house prices are rising at absurd levels; prices are rising, while wages remain relatively stagnant; The NHS is being privatised by stealth, while it has become abundantly clear that the privatisation of our resources and industries has not turned us into a nation of shareholder, but instead allowed those shares to be owned by overseas investors; The very people who were culpable to a large extent for the financial disasters of 2008-9 are still in position and in fact have done very well from downturn; And the current government seems to be in thrall to the money.
And yet nowhere in England or in Wales is anyone really questioning the status quo. Only in Scotland are these questions being raised, debated and considered.
Quite honestly, given the few issues I've put above, who wouldn't want independence?
Well, I've stated before that I'm agnostic on the issue. And besides, I don't get to vote on the thing.
I think there are two questions that anyone pondering whether to vote 'yes' can ask. They are 'How?' and 'When?', and these work when put to any of the proposals laid out by either side. For example, the one about currency - 'How will we use the pound post-independence?' (a question that to my mind has not been satisfactorily answered by either side), and 'when will this happen?'
If all of the 'How' and 'when' questions can be answered satisfactorily and clearly, then I think that a 'yes' vote is actually a no-brainer. People want assurance, but assurance on such an issue is not enough -a concrete road map of what is most likely to happen will be the thing to win the issue, even if some of what may be will  involve difficulty and even hardship for a time.
Finally, just one thought: There are times, when you don't know what to do and you can't decide, that you've got to take a punt.
Good luck to all of us.

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