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I'm Not a Scottish Nationalist and a YES Vote Doesn't Worry Me

06/05/2014 16:59 BST | Updated 06/07/2014 10:59 BST

This blog is in response to this blogpiece on HuffPost.

One of the most annoying aspects of the Independence Referendum are the number of political commentators who do not 'get it' or repeat the same-old claims that have been proven to be false. There are commentators who are blinded by either the Westminster bubble, party political allegiances or a complete disconnect to what is happening at a grassroots level in Scotland. 

These commentators wrongly believe that 'big issues', such as currency and the EU, are at the forefront of the minds of the Scottish electorate.  They just don't seem to understand that this independence referendum is about the 'wee things'; it is not about Westminster; it's not about political parties nor the currency or the EU. It is something far more fundamental - If you ask the average YES voter why they are going to vote YES then 'fairness' and 'equality' are brought onto the table.

My fellow Huff Post blogger, David Knowles, wrote an article called "If I Were a Scottish Nationalist I Would Be Very Worried".  From the comments section and Facebook comments, it is obvious that his view is not supported by those who plan to vote YES in September.

I hope to put forward the reasons why I believe David Knowles is wrong and put forward the argument that "I'm not a Scottish Nationalist and a YES vote doesn't worry me."

THE BELIEF THAT A YES VOTE IS ALL ABOUT THE SNP

David appears to believe that the SNP are the YES campaign. In fact, pro-No supporters call the YES campaign, YESnp. They claim that because the independence referendum was in the SNP's manifesto and because the SNP are 'leading' the political arguments for independence in political forums that the referendum belongs to Alex Salmond and the SNP.

There is also a mistaken belief that an attack on Alex Salmond or on the SNP will harm the YES campaign.  You can see this in the pro-NO media where the First Minister of Scotland is endlessly attacked and disgracefully misrepresented in the mainstream media.  The recent 'furore' over Mr Salmond apparently saying that Scotland was a 'nation of drunks' is a perfect example of this low-brow, ad hominem attack.

Quite simple, the campaign for independence does not belong to any political party.  It belongs to the thousands of activists, both online and offline, who have spent endless hours campaigning for independence.  It belongs to communities in Scotland who are uniting for a new Scotland.

It is a ridiculous and lazy argument to portray the Independence Campaign as a front for the SNP. The YES campaign is a cross-party campaign that includes the SSP, Scottish Greens, Labour for Independence, Radical Independence Campaign and a myriad of other civic and political organisations. The glue that sticks this campaign together is not the SNP or political ideology - it's the desperate need for positive change in our country.

DEBT

David claims that the SNP has made "open threats about defaulting on Scottish debt."  This is factually incorrect and needs to be challenged. What Alex Salmond actually said was:

"All the debt accrued up to the point of independence belongs legally to the Treasury, as they confirmed last month - and Scotland can't default on debt that's not legally ours. However, we've always taken the fair and reasonable position that Scotland should meet a fair share of the costs of that debt. But assets and liabilities go hand in hand, and - contrary to the assertions today, Sterling and the Bank of England are clearly shared UK assets."

This originates from political posturing by Westminster parties who uniformly told the Scottish people that we cannot use the pound if we vote YES in September.  This 'bluster' was seen by most Scots as political froth with no substance attached to it - a campaign point that has backfired on the NO campaign.

The point that Mr Salmond is making is a simple point that shouldn't really be that confusing if you are taking an interest in the whole debate. The SNP and Alex Salmond have consistently said that Scotland will pay their 'fair share' of the UK's debt even though the debt legally belongs to the Treasury.

The Bank of England was nationalised in 1946 and, therefore, is an asset of the UK. If the UK Government is not will to negotiate a 'fair share' of the assets (i.e. use of Sterling) then what motivation is there for Scotland to pay a 'fair share' of debt?

What Mr Salmond and the SNP want is a 'fair share' of the assets of the UK as well as a 'fair share' of the debts. Is that really that unreasonable?

The 'divorce' settlement must be, and will be, fair to all parties. The three main Westminster parties are claiming that Scotland can't use Sterling - which is a UK asset.   The rest of the UK cannot expect control over all the assets still expect Scotland to pay its 'fair share' of debts.

CURRENCY

David says that the SNP having no 'credible plan B (on currency) is insulting to Scots'.  I disagree and would argue that being told by the three Westminster parties that we can't use sterling - which is our currency as much as it's the rest of the UK's - as being derisory and insulting.

As well as being insulting, this stance by the pro-No parties was merely a lie to scare Scots - as an unnamed Government minster admitted when (s)he said "Of course there would be a currency union" to the Guardian.

The First minster politely describes the actions of Labour, LibDems and the Tories as bullying and bluffing. I call it bullshitting and it's what I've come to expect from Westminster.

The fact of the matter is this:  Having no currency union between the rUK and independent Scotland would result in £500m in transaction costs to businesses south of the border. Are we really suggesting that the pro-business parties of Labour, Tories and LibDems would do that to their beloved business community?

Common sense will prevail. A currency union is not what I want for the long-term but even I can see the short to medium term benefits for the rest of the UK and an independent Scotland sharing a currency.

EU

David said:

"It is true to say that Scotland's position regarding the EU after independence would be unprecedented in modern European politics, so perhaps the SNP's initial position that entrance would be automatic is understandable. However, it is precisely because this situation is unprecedented that an independent Scotland's entrance into the EU would have to be negotiated!"

In this one sentence, David has admitted that Scotland's entry into the EU would be unprecedented yet claims that he knows exactly how Scotland will gain entry. That seems a bit odd.

The facts are:  The Scottish government says it could negotiate entry from within using Article 48 of the Treaties of the European Union while Pro-No parties insist the only available option to an independent Scotland would be applying via Article 49.  David is correct, there is no precedent in this matter but we could get clarification.

The UK Government could end this debate very simply. They have the power to ask the EU for clarification on this matter but refuse to do so.

One last point on the EU. David claims that ' Scotland would have to adopt the euro'.  This is hogwash.  A country must have their own currency in the ERMII for two years to be allowed to adopt the Euro.  As Scotland does not have its own currency there is no chance of that happening.

"Wee things" that David didn't mention

No Nukes in Scotland: A Yes vote would not only end nuclear weapons in Scotland but is likely to end nuclear weapons in the whole of the UK due to the cost in rebasing the weapons of mass destruction outwith Scottish waters.

The average pay of a CEO in the UK is £4.3 million. The average workers wage is £26,500.  Inequality is rife in the UK. Since the credit crunch, workers' wages have dropped 8% yet prices, rents and outgoings are skyrocketing.  A YES vote give Scots the opportunity to reject a low-pay economy and create an economy that is better suited for the people of Scotland.

Almost 30,000 people in the UK DIED due to fuel poverty in 2012/2013.  This is a shameful stat that should disgust the political elite.  Scotland is an energy rich nation - there is no reason whatsoever for anyone in Scotland(or in the UK) being in fuel poverty.  A YES vote gives us the opportunity to shape the Scottish energy market so that it benefits the millions and not just their shareholders.

There is a democratic deficit within the UK. The voices of ordinary folk are drowned out by an antiquated political system and powerful lobby groups.  There is no political stomach at Westminster for democratic change that would combat the democratic deficit. A YES vote restores democracy to Scotland and will act as a catalyst for real democratic and economic change within the reast of the UK.  The UK losing Scotland will result in a 'resetting' of politics and the folk in the rest of the UK will have the opportunity to have their democratic voices left.

Poverty: One in five of Scotland's children in Scotland are officially recognised as living in poverty. In some areas in Scotland over one in three children grow up in poverty.  A YES vote will give Scotland the powers to eradicate poverty from our communities.  There will be no need for foodbanks in an independent Scotland.

To round-up: I don't know David at all but he is entitled to his point of view - which I respect. But I fear that he is on the wrong side of the argument.  Attacking Salmond to score points in the independence referendum is a pointless exercise.  Instead, give us your positive case for staying within the Union - which must be more substantial that 'I hate Salmond'.