Margo MacDonald: Short-changed as part of union

0
Have your say

Gordon Brown, former chancellor and prime minister in Westminster, wants some more powers transferred to Holyrood. He also wants to end poverty among Scotland’s children.

Quelle surprise. These were not his priorities when he had the power to dictate spending priorities, including derogating Scotland from specific measures when our needs differed from those elsewhere.

It takes either a brass neck or a convenient onset of amnesia for Big Broon and Alistair Darling to forget that though both tried to be kinder to the poor of this parish they stuck to the Conservative way of managing the economy. After they and the other remnants of the Blair experience had cleared their desks, the gap between the haves and the have-nots was as wide, wider even, than it had been.

Some people see this alone as the reason for voting Yes. I see it as an example of how the Scots will always be short-changed by having to be part of a policy decided in the best interests of the majority – who live a fair distance from where, as the song tells us, the “Tweed runs tae the ocean”. Even with the best intentions and support, Scotland being a tenth of the UK’s population will always militate against getting our best interests right.

Proof of this can be seen in how we were quite unable to stop Thatcher squandering the money from oil and gas, or to halt at the Border the bedroom tax, which our democratically elected Scottish Parliament opposes from every part of the chamber.

Better Together, whether it refers to its ability to set fundamental taxes even when it’s obvious they are not what Scotland, as opposed to the UK, needs, and its ability to ignore Scottish social priorities, is a slogan better suited to the south-east of England.

It may be there are some Scots who intend to vote against having power in Scotland, but they are in a minority if their intention rests upon a mistaken belief of our insufficiency, and the poverty that would result from losing economic support from England.

Scotland would be a very different proposition in that we would be a petro-based economy and our future growth is likely to come from having very different natural resources from England – requiring a different approach to managing an independent economy north of the Border.

In a weak response to this, that depends on Scots being a bit feart of jumping from what they know, even if it is not meeting their needs, to something that looks like a better bet, the No men and women say: “But oil is volatile.” All that means is that the jackpot can vary, but it’s still the jackpot.

If the Better Together slogan obscures the reality of a parting of the economic ways being essential to allow Scotland to map her own economic and social future, does the Yes campaign tell us all we need to know about such a bold move? Yes tries hard to reach the parts other campaigns haven’t reached for 20 years, and its efforts are commendable, but the Scottish Government’s White Paper has obscured the fundamental reason for voting Yes.

That lies in the confidence each and every one of us living north of the Solway has in ourselves as a community, a nation. Why should we be the only nation under the sun unwilling to organise our corner of the world in ways that suit us? The White Paper describes how our services are delivered and hints at how an SNP government would run them. Good, but the world is changing as I write this and the SNP government will need to be good at negotiating the changes.

If the negotiating team represents the whole parliament, the campaign slogans will be ditched and for once in a very long time, Scots will put their interests first, and experience the satisfaction of knowing that they’ve caught up with every other nation.

Yes the choice for sensible socialists

Ever since I learned that John Mulvey, pictured, the former leader of Lothian Region and a sensible socialist, intends to vote Yes, the Dukes of Hazzard sing-along theme tune about “good ol’ boys” has been looping round my head. Not that I want to get rid of it, but would some of the Good ol’ Gals step forward so that I can at least slide into Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves?

The list of former Labour council leaders is beginning to show that support for Yes, or No for that matter, is founded on personal conviction rather than party allegiance.

That’s why I’m not surprised to see Charles Gray, former leader of Strathclyde Region, Alec Mossan, former Lord Provost of Glasgow, along with Tommy Brennan, formerly the convener of shop stewards at Ravenscraig, sensible socialists to a man, are saying Yes.