I Will Vote Yes To Independence Because I Love Britain

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Well, yet another hiatus that lasted a little bit longer than expected. This one has included a change of client and job, a change of country (we're coming from the south of England again) a temporary change of home and a whole lot of collateral hassle.

However, things have now settled down again so I hope to become a bit more regular again, and pick up a couple of previous threads again, particularly our effort to have the Climate Secretary jailed for murder.

I've been spurred back into action by an article in the Guardian by The Right Honourable Sir Menzies Campbell CH CBE QC MP. It's a plea from whatever politicians have instead of a heart, hoping to persuade the Scottish electorate not to have the courage to take control of their own destiny again. Of course, being the Grauniad they call him simply Menzies Campbell, but we know who they mean.

 

Sir Ming Campbell MP 2008

He's wrong. Click through to see why...

 

As the column headings suggest, the left column is the original article, the right one the corrected version. For reference, the published page is here.

 

 

Ming and the Graun's Version   ----     My Version 
It is the love that rarely speaks its name. For it is now unfashionable to talk of love of country, particularly as we prepare to mark the beginning of the first world war's four years of horror. But it is for love of the country of my birth that I shall vote no in the Scottish referendum on 18 September.    It is the love that rarely speaks its name. For it is now unfashionable to talk of love of country, particularly as our mass media prepare to tasetelessy celebrate the beginning of the first world war's four years of horror. But it is for love of the country of my birth that I shall vote yes in the Scottish referendum on 18 September.
In pre-referendum Scotland it is necessary to state one's qualifications for publicly joining in the febrile and sometimes abusive debate about Scotland's future. One Scottish MSP has said that those who oppose independence are anti-Scottish, hence the need for me to establish credentials. I was born in Scotland, my parents were Scottish, I went to school and university in Scotland, I married a Scot, I qualified in and practised law in Scotland, I represent a Scottish constituency, and I am the chancellor of Scotland's oldest university.    In pre-referendum Scotland it is necessary to state one's qualifications for publicly joining in the febrile and sometimes abusive debate about Scotland's future. One Scottish MSP has said that those who oppose independence are anti-Scottish, hence the need for me to establish credentials. I was born in Scotland, my parents were Scottish, I went to school, college and university in Scotland, I married a Scot, I qualified in and practised engineering in Scotland until the decimation of engineering in Scotland after the 1980s destroyed the career opportunities for highly qualified engineers. I now act as a specialist software testing consultant, mainly working for large organisations in England. 
I yield to no one in my love of my country. I shall vote no not because of uncertainties about membership of the EU or Nato, or the possibility of a currency union, but because I am unflinching in my belief that it is neither in the interests of the United Kingdom nor Scotland that we should separate. To do so would be to diminish both.  

I yield to no one in my love of my country. I shall vote yes not because of uncertainties about membership of the EU or Nato, or the possibility of a currency union, but because I am unflinching in my belief that there is little demonstrable benefit to Scotland of her membership of the United Kingdom. To seperate Scotland from rUK will enhance both by unleashing native creative forces that are each currently inhibited by the other.

The advantages of the present union are often obscured by the smoke of the debate. For 300 years we have enjoyed the benefits of a single market. We have lived at peace with each other save for the last convulsions of Jacobitism in 1745. We have neither suffered invasion, nor civil war, fascism or communism. Look around you and see how few countries can make that claim. We have lived in a political system envied and copied around the world. We are members of the EU, Nato, the G7 and the Commonwealth, and have a permanent membership of the security council of the UN.  

The advantages of the present union are often overblown by the supporters of the union. Membership of EFTA/EEA will provide a much larger single market than that provided by the island of Great Britain, which will in any case remain. AN outward-looking Scotland will look to the whole world as a potential customer for the fruits of her citizens' ingenuity and hard work.

Whether or not our political system is envied and copied around the world is a moot point. It may have been true during the colonial period, but it cannot be insignificant that the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly are not exactly simulacra of Westminster. 

As an individual member of the EU, NATO and the Commonwealth Scotland will have more influence than it has now. The G& and the UN Security Council are vanity projects and the rUK's position may well be in danger after independence.

Nor have we lacked a Scottish political voice in the UK. We have been given a parliament and a referendum has been confirmed. In recent times David Steel, Robin Cook, Malcolm Rifkind, John Smith, Gordon Brown, Charles Kennedy, John Reid, Alistair Darling and others have occupied the great offices of state or led UK-wide political parties. And three Scots, James Mackay, Derry Irvine and Charlie Falconer have become, in turn, lord chancellors of Great Britain. Scotland and the Scottish have enjoyed influence beyond our size or reasonable expectation and in our UK, governments change seamlessly and without rancour. Our human rights are protected, we have a participative democracy, and the rule of law is our very foundation.  

We Scots indeed have had an inordinately significant effect in UK politics, and it seems to be increasingly resented by the rest of the populace. The fact that "high" office can be achived is no guarantor of performance in the role: of the three Lord Chancellors mentioned I have no recollection at all of one and remember the others as very fond of expensive wallpaper and being a former flatmate of the man who appointed him.

The last sentence in this paragraph is contentious. Our human rights are continually endangered by government meddling (UK and Scottish), our partcipative democracy amounts to making a pencil cross one day every five years and being treated with contempt for the other four years 364 days, and the rule of law increasingly appears to apply only to those of us not in any position to influence its application. 

 

"We have been given a parliament"!! If nothing else that phrase betrays your attitude towards Westminster and Westminster's patronising approach to the UK's extremities. I have no interest in living the rest of my life as an alleged benficiary of a parliament that does not share my political outlook, I'll take my chance trying to influence one nearer home, thank you very much.

Movements for independence are often based on some form of discrimination – ethnic, religious or economic, a democratic deficit perhaps, or persecution or institutional prejudice. None of these has blighted Scotland's relationship with the rest of the UK. Has it been perfect? Of course not, but every few years we have had the unfettered choice to change course at successive elections. We invented the NHS, created the welfare state and, more peacefully than others, divested ourselves of our past to the extent that former colonies and dominions have morphed into a Commonwealth that even countries with no historic connection with the UK want to join.   It's good of you to recognise that the current movement for self-determination is based on noble intentions. But that unfettered choice is a bit of a chimera, isn't it, being fettered by the massively larger vote of the rUK? Very often our Westminster vote is swamped by the rest of the UK and we have ended up with a government that knows for sure we didn't want it.
In Scotland we have kept our own legal system, our church and even the right of our football team to play in the World Cup. Now we are invited to give up that history and the continuing opportunity it allows us. We are asked to make a decision that may be reversible in principle but in practice will be, to all intents and purposes, perpetual; to give up intangible benefits such as shared values, mutual respect, common responsibilities and family ties.  

In case you hadn't noticed (I know you're more of an athlete than a footballer) FIFA have made several attempts to amalgamate the four home nations into a single team: if you are genuinely concerned about the future of Scottish football you really should change your mind about where to place your cross on September 18th. I couldn't give a toss about football but I do know a good cross when I see one.

And why should drawing a wee line from the Solway to the Tweed affect our basic values?

A decision in September to leave the UK will bind our successors for generations to come. Are we not entitled to clear and unequivocal evidence that to do so would do more than satisfy the ambition of one political party? Are we not entitled to be confident that we can meet the uncertainties of currency and of membership of international institutions? Do we not require evidence that an economy based on unpredictable oil reserves and revenues can be sustained, with promises of high public spending and low taxation? None of these assurances is available. Even on the balance of probabilities, the case for independence has not been made.  

A decision in September not to leave the UK will bind us and our successors for generations to come to the same mediocrity and lack of ambition that currently afflicts the union. Please don't get too hung up on the SNP - they are not Scotland and Scotland is not the SNP. The vote for independence has considerable cross-party support and of course has the support of non-party independent-minded people.

And please try to raise your sights above living on the fruits of our mineral wealth. A country that largely created the 20th century will be well able to earn its own living in the 21st and beyond. To believe otherwise is to betray a dismal lack of ambition or confidence in your fellow Scots. I suppose as someone who has made a good living out of law you may not be acquanted with the more productive ways of life that abound in our society.

But those, like me, who exercise our right to argue against independence also have a duty. And that is to recognise that the majority of Scots still prefer a solution that allows Scotland to remain in the UK but for its parliament to have greater powers, most particularly economic. The Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats publicly acknowledge this reality. They differ in nuance and detail, but not in principle.   You may have a duty, you do have an unalienable right, to argue against independence. And I and others have the same right to argue for it. And if anyone really believes that a parliament that firstly rigged a democratic referendum so that the winners lost and later only granted the minimum of devolution as a cynical effort to curry favour (an effort that has blown up in its face quite delightfully) cannot be expected to disburse any further powers without a long and bitter struggle.
The promises of the SNP are incapable of achievement, but it chooses to challenge the good faith of the three parties in their undertakings to embrace that principle. Its challenge would be effectively blunted if the three parties could agree on the process of implementation of that principle.  

You are making the mistake again of conflating the SNP and Scotland. Once we have independence the SNP will have to put forward a manifesto in the same way as any other political party and we will judge it on its merits. We can count up here, you, we did invent the science of economics. 

As for "the good faith of the three parties": again you betray a very small view view of the world. There are lots of parties but I very much doubt whether the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties could between them gather together enough good faith to fill a small bucket.

The secretary of state for Scotland should, in the event of a no vote, convene a meeting of representatives of these parties within 30 days of the vote. The parties should undertake to enter into heads of agreement, and put their proposals for greater powers for the Scottish parliament in their manifestos for the 2015 general election. And if in government, in whole or in part to introduce the appropriate legislation in the first Queen's speech after the election in May 2015. This would be the best and most practical demonstration of Better Together and "the best of both worlds".  

In the event of a no vote the Secretary of State for Scotland will sit on his arse and await instructions from London, as most of them have done. In my memory the only SoS worth a damn was Willie Ross, a Labour man, but well noted for his independence. He wasn't well liked in London. 

The Westminster government has always had the opportunity to divest themselves of further powers. It hasn't happened, and I really cannot see it ever happening.

What you have described there may well be your wish but face it, it ain't gonna happen.

Is it? 

 

 

 What do you think?

 

(I'll explain that headline in a future article.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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