Friday, August 8, 2014

A letter to Scottish voters



Dear Voters of Scotland

As a Yorkshireman who currently resides outside of Scotland I feel like a bit of an outsider looking in on the independence debate. However I have my opinions and I'd like to share some of them with you.

I'm strongly in favour of greater political autonomy as a general principle, so I'm strongly in favour of Scottish independence on the grounds that the people of Scotland deserve a government that is much more responsive to their wishes than the Westminster establishment have proven themselves to be.

It has been fascinating to see the various ways in which the independence debate has been framed by the different sides. The political establishment, supported by the vast majority of the mainstream media, relentlessly push the overwhelmingly negative argument against independence, whilst the much more hopeful pro-independence perspective is provided by an impressive array of community groups, independent websites and ordinary people.

One of the most interesting tactics used by the anti-independence camp has been the emotive argument that the Scottish people would be tearing apart "the bond of citizenship" that you share with the English should you vote for independence. The most high profile example of this emotive "bond of citizenship" argument was the pleading letter from some 200 mainly English celebrities that appeared in the press in August 2014
. The letter was signed by such luminaries as Cilla Black, Helena Bonham Carter, Simon Cowell, Richard Dawkins, Tracey Emin, Max Hastings, Ross Kemp, Rod Little, Peter Oborne, Sting, Alan Sugar and Ray Winstone.

That these celebrities would even consider basing their argument on an appeal to some abstract "bond of citizenship" just goes to show how desperately out of touch they have become with the everyday realities that so many normal folk endure. The fact that these celebrities range between comfortably well off and ludicrously rich provides some explanation of how they have completely missed the bigger picture in the Scottish independence debate.

The sheer number of establishment titles on this list (lords, sirs, dames, baronesses) shows that this is a bunch of people who are the beneficiaries of a system which keeps millions of people in Scotland, Wales and neglected areas of England in abject, soul destroying poverty. These people are not pleading with you to vote against Scottish independence because they feel it is in the best interests of the tens of thousands of Scottish kids growing up in such poverty that they have to go hungry on a regular basis (because it clearly isn't) they're pleading with you because they don't want to lose some abstract and inedible personal "bond of citizenship".

The referendum on independence isn't an opportunity to break some abstract "bond of citizenship" with the people of England as they like to frame it, it's an opportunity for the people of Scotland to stand up and free themselves from the misrule of the Westminster establishment. This mottly bunch of celebrities are incapable of understanding why this referendum is such a great opportunity for the Scottish people because they are part of the wealthy minority who have done pretty damn well out of the right-wing neoliberal economic system favoured by the Westminster establishment ever since 1979, which rewards wealth, punishes poverty and constantly builds ever more social inequality into the system.

I would like to present an alternative view from an ordinary English person, to show that we're not all as removed from reality as the English celebrities who put their personal abstract sense of shared citizenship above the very real needs of ordinary Scottish people.

Take the North East of England (England's poorest region) as an example. A recent study found that for every £1 spent per head of population on public transport in the North East, London gets £24 per head of population! This grotesque disparity in infrastructure spending between London and the North is just another way in which ever larger shares of the wealth are transferred down south. If Scottish independence means that a bit more of the wealth of the British isles is spread around a bit more fairly (instead of being siphoned off down to London), countless ordinary people will benefit from it. If only the North East of England had a bit more regional autonomy, perhaps things could be better and fairer for them too.


Another example can be seen in my home region of Yorkshire. If we'd had greater autonomy from Westminster, then perhaps our local representatives might have fought to protect our vital industries (steel, coal, fishing, transport), rather than letting the Westminster establishment deliberately ruin our industries, jobs and communities as part of their insane ideological experiment in turning the UK economy into a supposed "post-industrial society" built around the city of London financial sector (and we all know how that absurd fantasy turned out).

There are many in England who have seen our areas as badly misruled by the Westminster establishment as the Scottish have, the only difference being that you now have an opportunity to put this terrible misrule to an end for yourselves, but we must keep on fighting to achieve greater autonomy for ourselves. 


I, and many other English people, fully understand what it is like to see your own area left to poverty and ruin whilst the lion's share of the national wealth is diverted to London and the South East. Your problem is not with the English people at all, in fact you share exactly the same problem as many millions of English people; the problem of being ruled over from London by the corrupt and unaccountable Westminster establishment.

One of the strongest bonds between the people of Scotland, and ordinary people like myself from Northern England is that we understand the devastating consequences of having our local economies hopelessly mismanaged by the Westminster establishment. The fact is that this bond of mutual empathy is not one that can be broken should the people of Scotland take this wonderful opportunity to put Westminster misrule to an end.

These wealthy celebrities may imagine that they can sway you with their emotive argument about their loss of this abstract bond of citizenship, but there are many English people who understand that this is about something much more important than the hurt feelings of a few wealthy celebrities. You have an opportunity to free yourselves from Westminster misrule and to set about trying to build yourselves a better, fairer nation with a smaller, more responsive government.

I won't feel any loss at all if you guys decide to free yourselves from Westminster misrule, I'll celebrate with a drink, wish you all the best, and hope that Scottish independence acts as a catalyst for greater regional autonomy for the remaining countries and regions that must, for now, remain part of the United Kingdom.

On the other hand, I'd feel an immense sense of loss if you guys turn down this wonderful opportunity to free yourselves from Westminster misrule out of some misguided loyalty to the sense of "Britishness" that people like Simon Cowell, Tracey Emin, Mick Jagger, Ross Kemp, Alan Sugar and Ray Winstone base their vapid anti-independence arguments upon.


All the best for the future

Thomas G. Clark


 Another Angry Voice  is a not-for-profit page which generates absolutely no revenue from advertising and accepts no money from corporate or political interests. The only sources of revenue for  Another Angry Voice  are small donations from people who see some value in my work. If you appreciate my efforts and you could afford to make a donation, it would be massively appreciated.


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