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An Independent Scotland Could Escape Westminster Austerity

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Perhaps the convincing case for Scottish independence is the prospect of Scotland never being ruled by a Tory government ever again. Years of Westminster-centric policy and pro-business Thatcherite reform have alienated the Scottish electorate from the British political system; an arrangement that seems increasingly in favour of cut-backs, austerity and tax breaks for the richest. While Conservative and New Labour governments might have secured votes in England, most people living in Scotland have no sympathy for career politicians bidding for power in a seemingly corrupt playground for the elite. In 2014, with Tory austerity plans guaranteed regardless of which party wins office, independence seems like a sure bet for the Scottish to withdraw from Cameron's race to the bottom.

Despite the fact that there has only ever been one Conservative MP in Scotland since 1992, Scotland has found itself subject to the policies of one of the most extreme Conservative governments in history - one that has sold-off the Royal Mail, fast tracked the privatisation of the NHS and introduced record cuts and reforms to the welfare state. The Scottish people did not vote for these policies, yet social programs in Scotland face being torn back even further by the next government as Westminster pushes its fiscally responsible but morally bankrupt agenda.

Does this mean that the left, both in Scotland and the rest of the UK, should support the Yes campaign? At a glance, there are obviously some clear contradictions that a nationalist platform might have with the usually internationalist leftist platform. However, Alex Salmond is not your typical right-wing nationalist. Rather than being a tool to promote national barriers and cultural tensions, his particular brand of Scottish nationalism is more of a campaign to give Scotland the national freedom to embrace a social democratic, rather than neoliberal, agenda. In the eyes of many nationalists in Scotland, it is the firm grasp of Westminster rule that restricts Scottish politicians from introducing and protecting new and current social programs, welfare provisions and publicly owned services.

With an increasingly confident Ukip and far-right reactionary movement here in England, it is very possible that Scottish independence would allow millions of people to escape the rampant nationalism that is booming south of the border. As the UK moves towards more privatisation, poverty and inequality, independence could very well grant Scotland the powers it needs to bring about progressive and left-wing policies - ones that would previously have been thwarted by politicians in Westminster.

It is vital that campaigners for Scottish independence remember the reasons for which they're campaigning, or else they might fall into the trap of the meaningless, xenophobic nationalist rhetoric that has plagued England for decades. At the price of breaking the British union, an independent Scotland would have the chance build international ties and embrace immigration and freedom of movement. What might seem like destructive nationalism could be the key to opening up a new internationalist platform in Scotland.

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