Friday, 8 August 2014

Why I'm voting Yes

The referendum on Scottish independence is on the 18th of September. I'm passionately hoping for a Yes, and here are some of the reasons why, and what some of the reasons aren't.

First of all, the majority of Scots do not hate the English. There are some that do, but we pay no more attention to them than any other prejudiced lunatic.

My main reason is social justice. I don't want to live in a country where sick and disabled people are hounded to get jobs that don't exist. It's an employers' market right now - how many are going to employ someone who needs a lot of time off? Or shows any kind of frailty at all really. When I worked in call centres it was common a few years ago to ask for permission to access your medical records. Of course you could refuse, but then they'd find a reason not to give you the job. Employers are no longer allowed to ask health questions, for which I'm thankful, but they've just rephrased it as "Explain in detail any gaps in your employment". With my hearing problems and history of depression I'm worried, and I'm not even especially badly-off at the moment in terms of illness.

The stupider amongst us are always willing to believe tabloid rubbish about how the most vulnerable people at the bottom are causing all the UK's problems. "Look!" says the government, "Look at those poor people! While we snout in our troughs and rip you off for millions in expenses! Haha!" The government judges everyone else by their own standards, and since so many of them are venal crooks they assume everyone else is too.

And I have no faith in Labour fixing anything. No faith at all. Scottish Labour are tanking because they treat Holyrood like a Westminster waiting room, and don't even bother pretending to care what's going on around them. While I have no animosity towards Ed Miliband, there are some very unpleasant Blairites still lurking in Westminster, and I can't see how he would get anything done.

Rachel Reeves in particular scares me half to death - removing benefits for 18-24-year-olds. Yeah, because everyone has a loving family prepared to keep their children at home forever when they can't contribute financially. There are no parents out there knocking their pans in to keep a roof over their heads and simply cannot afford to support working-age children. Nobody ever kicks their kids out because the kids are gay, or difficult, or have mental health problems or addictions. It's not always as clear cut as that either - plenty of people can't live at home for one reason or another. It's another attempt to trap young people in misery. No matter how hard they work they can never afford to buy a house in London, the great black hole that sucks young people towards it, because everything is for, about and in London.

Iain Duncan Smith. I don't think any more needs to be said about that.

Sweet as the Let's Stay Together letter was, it does nothing to address why Scots might want to leave. I think the well-off people who signed that letter, some of whom no doubt vote Tory, would do better to campaign against the ConDem policies ripping the throat out of services the poor, sick, disabled and unemployed rely on. The demonisation of the poor while the UK's wealth is shovelled ever upwards. The backdoor demolition of England's NHS. There's a strong sense of social justice in Scotland, although I have noticed some becoming more vindictive and compassionless.

Compassion is a strength, not a weakness. Clinging to things that YOU have, while not wanting anyone else to have them because they "don't deserve it" is the weakness. As for those who can tell people "aren't really sick!" just by looking at them, sickness doesn't have to be visible to exist. Unless you're a doctor with someone's complete medical history, or some kind of nasty psychic, keep your opinions to yourself.

And can the No vote shut the hell up about Sean bloody Connery? As if celebrities who are either English or not residents of Scotland signing a letter has any more impact on us than a Scotsman so devoted to us he has neither lived nor paid tax here for 50 years. Nobody cares what he thinks at all, and anyone voting either way because a famous person told them to should probably be stripped from the electoral roll with indecent haste.

I'm under no illusions that in the event of a Yes vote Scotland will become some kind of social justice utopia overnight. It'll take time, and effort, and energy, but I believe enough of us have that to make this work. If it's a No I'm passionate about democracy and I'll have to accept that, of course, but I'll be bitterly disappointed. If you think things might get worse after a Yes vote, then they may well might, but they will never get better with Westminster. We can't be the lion that squeaked.

One question for the No voters. It doesn't even require an answer, just a bit of thought. When the Tories have one MP in Scotland, the Lib Dem vote has collapsed UK-wide, and Scottish Government voters are even rejecting Labour for heaven's sake, why do they want to keep us? Think of David Cameron, and all the misery his government has inflicted on people all across the UK, and how he's quite happy to let the English press portray us as whining subsidy junkies, and ask yourself why. A government that only values money and believes someone's entire worth as a person is based on how much they earn. Why?

Let's be the little country that could. Yes.

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