Scottish Independence: “No” Is Not Good Enough

With the referendum on Scottish independence a little more than a year away the debate remains depressingly shallow.

The “Yes Scotland” campaign presents us with a wishlist of policies and outcomes that it would like to come to pass in an independent Scotland without acknowledging  that the only certain outcomes from the referendum will be some administrative untangling and a Scottish general election in 2016.

Meanwhile the “Better Together” campaign continues its strategy of scaremongering, presenting every challenge of independence as a disaster waiting to happen, and warning of an impoverished Scotland, small and weak, ignored and neglected by the wider world.

In a previous article I challenged the supporters of Scottish independence to come up with something more than the emotional appeal of Scotland as an independent nation. I asked for a vision of a reformed democracy that provides sustainable prosperity for everyone within it, and how this vision could best be delivered within an independent Scotland.

What I failed to make plain was that my challenge also applies to the “no” campaign. In fact, those who are advocating a “no” vote in the referendum have, arguably, a greater responsibility to show us a better way forward. They already hold the levers of power, or did so in the recent past, and must therefore shoulder much of the blame for our current woes.

Those of us who identify ourselves as Scottish rather than British understand the emotional appeal of returning Scotland to a state of independence but, when push comes to shove, most of us are more concerned with the tedious realities of daily life than we are with dreams of Scottish sovereignty.

We’re frustrated by a political system, in Holyrood as well as Westminster, that appears to be hopelessly out of touch with what’s going on in our communities, populated by too many characters who are venal, corrupt, and self-serving.

Even more to the point, we’re worried about our dysfunctional economy where, despite being told that we live in one of the richest nations in the history of the planet, most of us are loaded with debt and terrified that our precarious incomes won’t manage to keep pace with the ever-rising cost of living.

These frustrations and fears won’t be changed one iota by independence as it’s currently being presented, but the possibility of change within an independent Scotland might entice many of us to jump ship and sail away in the hope of a better future. Not so much “Yes Scotland” as “Why not? It can’t be any worse”.

If the “no” campaign really wants us to believe that we’re going to be “Better Together” then it needs to find something more compelling than the status quo to offer to voters in 2014.

Have a good hard look at the malfunctioning machinery of democracy and government, and tell us what you’re going to do to make it work properly for everyone in every corner of the United Kingdom.

Investigate and understand the lunacy of our financial system and tell us what you’re going to do to reform it so that everyone is able to participate and prosper in a sustainable economy without the fear of being buried under a mountain of debt.

Until you answer these questions and add some substance to your “Better Together” slogan don’t expect us to vote “no” next year. No is merely a vote for what we’ve already got, and that’s not good enough.

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