A Price Worth Paying?
Posted on October 18th, 2016
by Rab Bruce’s Spider
During the IndieRef, a poll suggested that many people would be influenced by whether they believed they would be £10 per week worse off. It was a very depressing statistic to be presented with because it showed just how deeply the selfish, penny-pinching attitude of neo-liberalism had pervaded the thoughts of so many people.
Yet, as the outcome of the Brexit vote is demonstrating, the reality is very different. In practice, we are seeing that a great many people do not care about the economic consequences as long as their political aim is achieved. In this respect, those of us who support an independent Scotland really ought to be wary of mocking Brexiters because, for many of us, independence is worth paying a price for. Our view on that is little different to the view of the average Brexiteer, even if the consequences of Brexit are far more severe than those we expect from Scottish independence.
This presents us with a potential problem for the next IndieRef because there is a strange dichotomy in how people respond to such important issues. We know we can fully expect the media, led by the BBC, to trumpet warnings about the disastrous economic consequences for Scotland should it break from the UK. Indeed, they have already begun their campaign of widespread misinformation and propaganda. This constant repetition of the Subsidy myth and other aspects will continue and will conveniently ignore the already visible results of the Brexit vote. On the face of things, many Scots will use these warnings as a reason to stick with the Union, although the reality is that it will be little more than a convenient excuse used to back up their attachment to the UK. The reality is, as we can see, that a plunging Pound, an ever-increasing Deficit and a clueless Government who seem to think that the EU will give them whatever trade deal they demand, do not, in practice, affect people’s essential allegiances. This means that changing the minds of Scots who feel an attachment to the UK is going to be very difficult indeed.
So how do we persuade people that, contrary to what the media are telling them, independence is a less risky option?
There must certainly be more made of the desperate state of the UK’s financial prospects, the growing inequality, the dreadful Social Security system, the appallingly low Pensions and the privatisation of the English NHS. But those things, on their own, will not be enough because many people will simply shrug and deem them an acceptable price to pay for what they mistakenly see as the stability of the UK.
What we also need to do is talk Scotland up. It won’t be easy because the media will do their best to suppress any good news about Scotland but we should remember that, in contrast to the UK as a whole, Scotland is a net exporter. For all the talk of the plummeting pound benefitting UK exporters, the UK does not export all that much when compared to most of our European neighbours, but Scotland has the food and drink sector, including whisky, fish and beef; we have expertise in computer gaming and bio-medical science; we have five universities in the world’s top 200; we have the potential to develop industries such as shipbuilding which have been deliberately run down by successive UK Governments; we have an often-overlooked forestry industry; we have a growing and leading renewable energy sector; and, yes, we have oil which, despite the fact that it has apparently led to Scotland becoming impoverished, is actually regarded as a valuable asset by every other country in the world. If we can demonstrate that becoming independent and retaining membership of the EU would allow us to take advantage of these and other factors such as Human Rights, a more compassionate Social Security system, better Pension provision, etc., we will be able to paint a vivid contrast between the prospects for an independent Scotland and an increasingly isolationist and xenophobic UK.
For many of us, independence is an article of faith, its value outweighing the costs, but it is increasingly becoming the sensible option in economic terms and we need to ensure that more of our fellow Scots understand this.
One final, and important, point needs to be made. We should not take any delight in the awful move towards Fascism which is increasingly evident in England. I would still want independence for Scotland if the UK was a benevolent society with a tolerant attitude and was to remain in the EU. Sadly, that is not the course English voters have chosen to follow. I feel nothing but sorrow at this state of affairs but it is a choice of their own making and there is nothing we in Scotland can do about it except, hopefully, go our own way and hope, for everyone’s sake, that things do not become too dreadful south of the Border.