Margo MacDonald: The waiting is over, let battle commence

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Signed, sealed and delivery guaranteed in 20 months. Thank goodness. I was losing the will to live watching news bulletins where a firm-jawed Nicola Sturgeon told the interviewer some details remained to be agreed and, looking like a fish out of water, Michael Moore, minister for all things unimportant, also firm-jawed, agreed.

In yesterday’s newspaper reports, it was pretty obvious that on some questions, negotiations between the two must have been full of awkward silences to fill out the time allocated. It was obvious from the start that Westminster would go for one, decisive vote only, so that couldn’t have taken long.

Maybe the time saved was used to negotiate a fair, foolproof and economical way of paying for the campaign, and maybe not. Maybe we’ll have to wait until we know which side wins and who gets the chance to write the memoirs of how Scotland was saved from a fate worse than death, and cut loose from a fading power or, stayed with a familiar, if fading, power.

But how do we decide how to vote? Doesn’t the Government have a responsibility for ensuring everyone has enough accurate information to make an informed appropriate decision Yes or No to accepting the privilege and responsibility of full sovereignty and national equality for Scotland? Yes, but not all the responsibility lies with the Scottish Government – each one of us has the responsibility for the effect of our vote on the result and there are many more ways of getting the information wanted by different people to help them make up their mind. So the Government should pay for (ie all of us should provide government with the money to do so) a stream of information that is factual, as opposed to opinionated. Difficult, but not impossible.

There’s no way of keeping them out, so the political parties should have their roles, regulations and restrictions well-defined and obvious to the general public. Although this is a decision for individual Scots, political parties have their different views on independence, but each should be responsible for paying to promote its own policies and ideas for or against independence. More than likely, 
negotiating how much each campaign can spend was one of the trickiest parts of the negotiations. But since the spending limits don’t go on until a few weeks before the referendum voting day itself, in maintaining an equality of total spend amongst the various interests, the exercise will be utterly futile. The big money, and placement of messages and personalities, in a wide range of media started to be felt yesterday

This is getting perilously close to politics, up close, and we know what a turn-off that is for a fair swathe of the people whose interest, even passion, must be engaged in the most important political decision they will ever take as individuals. Some people, like me, decided years ago that with full responsibility for how Scotland fared in the world, Scots would try, experiment, exercise ingenuity and entrepreneuralism, to our capacity because we would only have ourselves to depend on for our prosperity.

I always believed we would get the balance right on social policies, and the attitude, and policy innovations of the Scottish Parliament prove the case. We know that we can govern ourselves, but some people think that we’re better off deferring to another country, England. For some, this betrays a lack of self-confidence, in others a lack of accurate information, and in others, a conviction that we’re better British.

People attracted by my personal persuasion programme for a Yes vote should note that the last of these groups contains within it some of the genuinely un-persuadable Brits in our midst. We should respect their right to be wrong, and invite them to the victory ceilidh anyway.

For people in the other two groups, explanations of how independence would affect their lives are probably the direct route to get them engaged with the issues and hopefully, in agreement with your side of it. Otherwise, having boosted the No side by one vote, you’ll have to persuade another person of the reasons to vote Yes.

As for me, as an Independent, I’m acutely conscious of the need to put as much space as possible between the political parties and their policies, and the principle of which parliament will best exercise Scotland’s sovereignty in future. So I’ll run alongside the Yes campaign, but because there are certain parts of SNP policy with which I don’t agree I’ll stay off the bandwaggon, even though there are parties other than the SNP, like, for example, the Greens.

You’re welcome to join me.