by Ben Macpherson
What does the future hold? It’s a question we all think about once in a while, especially at key moments in our lives like before leaving school, starting a new job, settling down or moving to a new place. A degree of uncertainty in life is inevitable, sometimes important for moving us forward, and certainly not always a bad thing.
However, there’s uncertainty and then there’s a calamity; there’s uncertainty, and then there’s Brexit.
To put it politely, the UK Government’s dreadful handling and infighting over Brexit has been astonishingly irresponsible – especially entertaining no-deal as even an option, and also that they shamefully failed for years to provide adequate assurances to our friends, neighbours and colleagues from elsewhere in the EU about their rights.
And what’s especially unjust for Scotland is that this “path”, whatever Brexit is or becomes, isn’t something that the majority in Scotland wanted. In Leith we voted against it by 78%! As Scotland knew when we voted against it, Brexit will be bad for our economy, bad for our communities and bad for our international reputation and engagement. That’s why Leith has one of the highest levels of signatures on the petition to Revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU, and why the SNP called for a People’s Vote/second referendum.
Just as Scotland votes consistently in the majority against Tory rule, against austerity, against welfare cuts, against the ‘Bedroom tax’, against wars, against Trident renewal, against pension inequality and against the Tories’ “hostile environment” immigration policies, Brexit is the most recent and pronounced example of a Westminster policy being done to Scotland against our will… And just as Westminster doesn’t reflect Scotland’s wishes on what we oppose, it also doesn’t deliver our preferences either. In an independent Scotland, we’ll be able to choose, and deliver, policies that achieve greater social justice and uphold our collective belief in internationalism. In the face of the narrow British nationalism of Brexit, independence in the Europe is redolent with opportunities for Scotland, in terms of our own well-being and sustainable inclusive economic growth, but also in terms of international participation as an equal member of the European family of nations. That’s why independence for Scotland, as an equal Member State of the European Union, is becoming an ever more attractive proposition for an increasing number of people in Scotland.
At home, we are already choosing a different kind of politics in the areas where we do have control over – like devolved social security powers, climate change targets, personal care for those who need it, childcare, state-funded higher and further education, and record investment in our NHS. But what’s also true is that we cannot choose to fully deliver increased equity and better governance as a whole without self-determination over all tax and spending policies, as well as other currently reserved areas like employment law and wider social security policy.
Westminster is taking Britain down a path of isolationism, increased privatisation and rising levels of poverty and inequality. Indeed, the UN’s poverty envoy has issued an urgent report stating that the UK Government has “inflicted great misery on its people”. What a shocking and unacceptable situation in one of the richest countries in the world… In an independent Scotland, I strongly believe that we would have the means, focus and resolve to reverse that trend and put inclusive growth and social justice at the heart of our decision-making. Scotland’s National Assets have just been valued at £273 billion – think of what we could achieve if we were able to harness that wealth to build a fairer Scotland as well as a more prosperous one too!?
I believe in a more caring society than today’s Tory Brexit Britain – a society that believes in keeping everyone safe and secure in the knowledge that their rights to good housing, education, food, healthcare and work will be protected and ensured.
I believe in a more welcoming, outward-looking society than Tory Brexit Britain – a country that values the enriching benefits of freedom of movement and the need for international solidarity and cooperation on protecting the environment and our collective human rights.
I believe that, in contrast to the depressing nature of Brexit, more and more of us in Scotland, wherever we’ve come from, are increasingly curious about the potential benefits of becoming an independent Member State of the European Union. Those benefits are getting clearer and clearer by the day and, more and more, others in Europe are seeing our potential too.
So in the face of a damaging and ugly Brexit process that Scotland didn’t vote for, there is good reason to be optimistic and hopeful about the integrity and strength of Scotland’s reputation and the possibilities ahead of us.
Independence in Europe will allow us to achieve more at home and participate equally abroad, and that’ll be full of opportunities and positive outcomes for us all.
So, let’s keep working to try to cancel Brexit for the whole of the UK and, when #IndyRefNew happens, let’s grasp independence with both hands!