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Scottish Independence Could Kickstart Social Justice Across the British Isles

16/09/2014 16:56 BST | Updated 16/11/2014 10:59 GMT

Will Scotland address its chronic health, employment and welfare issues better as a part of Westminster, or on its own? Will it bring more social justice in the form of education and social opportunity with the existing system, or does it have to step outside the system?

To me that is the big issue. Will more of the same, irrespective of who rules the roost at the London Parliament, be a recipe for improvement, or disaster?

Scotland is a thriving, buoyant economy and culture - in parts. There are parts of its cities and parts of its countryside where social handouts have not produced social opportunity. Where rejuvenation has been little more than a lick of paint on a big problem.

I can't be the only one who when thinking of the British Isles thinks that we need a kind of 'Heineken' solution. But instead of a beer that refreshes parts other beers don't, you need a government.

A government that gets to every corner of our islands. That does not leave communities so out on a limb that they have to give up and move. Communities that can stay close to where they want to live.

Many Westminster governments since the days of the Union have been given the chance to get to these places. To refresh the parts. But overall it would be true to say that the Union has only worked for some people.

I would suggest that Scotland has not done well out of the Union. Nor have large parts of the industrial north of England who, no longer necessary to prosperity, have been dumped. Nor have vast stretches of Wales joined in the various waves of prosperity.

But Scotland can do something about this on the 18th of September. They can call an end to centuries of neglect in the so-called edges of Britain. The so-called margins. Scotland can at last get rid of dependency on metropolitanism, and make its own way in the world.

Scotland, independent of Westminster, will have many tough hurdles to jump. How will the old adversaries harnessed together for 300 years get along once free of each other? How will Scotland handle the hatred that often comes from nationalism within its borders? How will the armed forces be spilt?

All these headaches will occupy Scotland for long into the coming decades, if it votes 'Yes'. There may well come a time in such a future when Scottish people wished that they never took the jump. But they will have to remember what they did it for. For the betterment of the all and not just the some.

Scotland is a neat enough economy for it to address the appalling misuse of welfare, and the debilitating effects that crime and social exclusion bring. Such problems are better answered as locally as possible, within the communities wherein the problems arise. An independent Scotland can help keep that focus local. It can start to think Pan-Scotland, and decide how it wants to get people back to work in its own way. And how to use its education system as a battering ram against poverty and neglect.

And also have the sense of power that comes from being in charge of one's own destiny. Rather than seeing the handing out of responsibilities to Scotland by a 'higher power'.

My first venture into politics was when I worked for a stationery business as a "printer's devil" rushing around with orders and samples. I was 19 and living in Edinburgh with my young wife. The politics was the Scottish National Party and I was co-opted in as an honorary member. I had no time for them, except the Friday night darts games at Deacon Brodie's on the High Street.

It got me thinking nearly 50 years ago about an independent Scotland. Back then I think there was a lot of sentimental attachment to the idea of Scotland. But increasingly the argument matured around Scotland never being able to reach its full potential under the shadows of an at-times rather domineering neighbour.

Gradually, seeing the way that the Scottish Parliament worked, having seen some of the careful support of people in need, I came to a conclusion; that if I was Scottish and had a vote it would be a resounding "Yes".

Scotland can do us all a favour and help relegate to history all the centralised, top-down control. As if only the nice parts of London mattered.

But it won't be easy. Scotland already has the problem of being an economy that is massed around its central belt. But that will not be solved 400 miles south. It will be solved within the toing and froing hopefully of an independent Scotland.

I suggest that a 'Yes' vote by Scotland might help the rest of us get rid of the one-sided, lop-sided metropolitan imperialism that sucks life and talent out of much of the perfectly formed British Isles. Brave? I should say so!