Saturday 29 March 2014

Mystery Ministers and Jerking Knees

Knee jerk
It doesn't take much to get some knees jerking!

A piece by Nicholas Watt in The Guardian (Independent Scotland 'may keep pound' to ensure stability) has prompted a wee storm of speculation and a flurry of conspiracy theories.

What is the identity of the "Mystery Minister" who has spilled the beans on the British parties' posturing about abolishing the currency union? Was this a slip or a purposeful briefing? If it was purposeful, what is the intended purpose? And what could the "Mystery Minister" have possibly meant by his linking of currency union to the removal of Trident?

All great fun, of course. For the political anoraks among us - and I hold up my hands to that - speculation and theorising is truly titillating stuff. But a word of caution is required. While we should not dismiss such interventions - as suggested in characteristically doltish fashion by Alistair Carmichael - neither should we read too much into them.

Many, perhaps most, politicians like to think of themselves as Machiavellian masters of the political arts. But the mundane truth is that precious few are clever enough to carry off the sustained deviousness of black-belt political gamesmanship. Most are too blinkered by partisan and personal interest to be able to see all the moves and calculate all their implications.

There are no superheroes in politics. Neither are there any evil masterminds. Sometimes, things are no more than they seem.

The comments by an, as yet, unidentified UK Government Minister certainly blow apart the British parties' currency union bluff. But that's no great shock. Only the most bitter British nationalists desperate for some disaster to be visited upon the uppity Jocks took it seriously anyway. Pretty much everybody else knew that the British parties would be obliged do a U-turn on this eventually.

It may even be that this apparently off-message revelation was actually quite purposeful and intended to prepare the ground for some gentle back-pedaling. Watch out over the next few days and weeks for somebody else "close to the UK Government" chiming in with remarks about there being arguments for retaining the currency union.

But there are subtle clues that do suggest this may be a strategic gaffe. Note the following words from the "Mystery Minister".

"You simply cannot imagine Westminster abandoning the people of Scotland."

That is precisely the line we would expect the British establishment to take when going back on their threat to abolish the currency union. They will make out that they are allowing Scotland to use the pound in an act of paternalistic generosity while, behind the scenes, desperately trying to get
+something substantial in return for this selfless munificence.

Of course, the remark may indicate no more than the kind of contemptuous condescension that we are all too accustomed to from British politicians. But we may not be entirely deceiving ourselves if we discern the greasy paw-print of some party spin-quack here.

The reality, of course, is that we can all to readily imagine Westminster abandoning the people of Scotland. So much so that we are now at the point where the people of Scotland are ready to abandon Westminster.

But don't expect to see Darling taking a fall for this, as some commentators have suggested. Even if the "Mystery Minister's" comments were not part of a ploy by the anti-independence campaign, Darling's role is to be Cameron's stooge and take the flak when the referendum produces a Yes result. He is unlikely to be sacrificed at this stage, no matter how much the British media turns against him and no matter how much other people involved in Project Fear may blunder.

The stuff about the currency union is interesting for another reason. It is not the first such intervention. Little more than a week ago, Guto Bebb, the Conservative MP for Aberconwy, spoke out against the UK Government's threat to abolish the currency union calling it an "empty step" and noting the importance of a shared currency for businesses in England and Wales as well as in Scotland.

With all due respect to Guto Bebb, he is a rather obscure figure on the wider political scene in the UK. Which makes him an excellent candidate for the job of flying a kite in preparation for a later intervention by a ranking politician.

Again, I stress that, while its fun to speculate, we shouldn't get carried away. It is entirely possible - even probable - that there is no connection whatever between Guto Bebb's remarks and the comments made by our "Mystery Minister". It could all be perfectly innocent. Total coincidence.

Interesting as this acknowledgement of the British parties' true intentions regarding the currency union may be, it is the linking of this to Trident that has provoked the most vigorous knee-jerking.

If this was intended to plant the idea that the Scottish Government might "do a deal" on the removal of Trident in return for being allowed to use the pound, then it has certainly worked at what I will graciously refer to as the less thoughtful end of the pro-independence spectrum.

Already we are seeing outraged diatribes insisting that there should be no such deal. No doubt there is also a Facebook page where people can vent their righteous indignation at an entirely imagined transgression by the SNP.

If it was intended to provide a cue for British nationalism's little band of amateur propagandists, that is likely to be even more successful. While some independence campaigners may be slightly deficient in their analytical thinking, Britnats tend to avoid such niceties altogether.

I don't have to look at my Twitter feed to know that the Better Together mob are already crowing about how the SNP has betrayed the people of Scotland on the matter of getting rid of Trident. All in blind disregard of the fact that the SNP hasn't actually done anything. And in dumb denial of the fact that the parties to which these Britnats give their allegiance are proposing not only to keep this obscenity in Scotland but to spend untold billions of our money on perpetuating this affront to the sensibilities of decent people.

It's all a fuss about nothing.

The “Mystery Minister” is doing no more than stating the obvious. There is nothing new or revelatory in what is being said. Unless it is unaccustomed frankness from a British politician.

The UK/rUK will obviously try to stretch the timetable for removal of Trident as much as possible. The Scottish Government will have to judge how much stretching to permit and what can be demanded as a quid pro quo.

So far, so unremarkable.

But, always going for the most simplistic approach and the shallowest analysis, the media will peddle this as a “climb-down” by the Scottish Government. Some will even try to spin this as the early stages in a deal to let Trident stay in exchange for the currency union being retained. This is nonsense, of course. The Scottish Government's position has not changed one iota.

Trident is obviously massively important to the British state.  But currency union is simply not that important to Scotland. Certainly not important enough to be bought at the price some are suggesting.

British politicians and the British press see things only from a British perspective. This leads them to miscalculate the relative weighting of negotiating points from Scotland's point of view.

There is absolutely no question of Trident being allowed to remain in Scotland. No government could get elected in Scotland on such a platform. When the "Mystery Minister" talks about the "outlines of a deal" he can be referring to nothing more than a reduction in the amount that the rUK government would have to pay for interim use of Faslane.

Or. more likely, a bit of leeway on the time-scale for the removal of Trident. And that is something that the Scottish Government has to be prepared to negotiate anyway as any attempt to force early removal could easily be portrayed as compromising safety in an unacceptable way for purely political purposes.

But when we are talking about leeway on the time-scale we aren't talking about much. The  "Mystery Minister" almost certainly overestimates the importance of the sterling zone to Scotland and fails to take due account of how important it is to the economy of rUK.

The Scottish Government must be seen to be reasonable in negotiations. But there are limits. In the end, politics is all about compromise. The essential thing is to know where the lines are drawn. I haven't the slightest doubt that Salmond and his team are very well aware of where the lines lie as regards Trident.

It would be unfortunate in the extreme if those with understandably strong feelings about Trident allowed themselves to be manipulated by political mischief-makers to the detriment of the independence campaign.

Let's get those knees back under control, shall we?

Originally broadcast by Aye Right Radio
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Johann Lamont does Monty Python

As I watched Johann Lamont's antics over the past week I was reminded of Monty Python's  famous "Dead Parrot" sketch. There was the hapless leaderette of British Labour's northern division desperately trying to assure us that the parrot of devolution is merely resting; or pining for the fjords and not dead. Not dead at all. Honest, guv!

History may well record that it was the incoherent midden of a report from North British Labour's Devolution Commission which rang the death knell for devolution in Scotland. That devolution was finally killed by this rag-bag collection of constitutional tinkerings that ran the gamut from the merely inadequate through the totally unworkable to the utterly incomprehensible and, if Ms Lamont's efforts when interviewed on the matter were any evidence, completely inexplicable.

"Scottish" Labour's offer to the people of Scotland is remarkable not only for the paucity of its ambition, but for the pride taken in its vacuousness.

It is remarkable, not only for the fact that it explicitly prioritises the preservation of the British state and its structures of power and privilege over the needs and desires of Scotland's people, but for the frankness with which this subordination of Scotland to the ruling elites of Britain is stated.

If this insulting offer didn't kill devolution it certainly made it disreputable.

Another view is that devolution died the day that a majority SNP government was elected, putting an end to the British parties' efforts to prevent the people of Scotland having  a  say in the constitutional status of their country and making a referendum inevitable.

I would contend that the origins of devolution's demise lie much deeper. I would hold that devolution, as a constitutional settlement for Scotland, was always inherently fatally flawed.

Scotland is a nation. Devolution doesn't work with nations.

Devolution only works where the legitimacy and authority of the devolving power is generally accepted by the polity to which power is being devolved. The legitimacy and authority of the British state is NOT generally accepted in Scotland - other than by those whose prejudices do not permit them to question it.

It seems a long time ago now that there was a certain tension within the independence movement - I'll put it no more strongly than that - between what we might cal the gradualists and the absolutists. The latter insisted that devolution was a trap. That it would be likely to be accepted by the people of Scotland as an adequate substitute for independence.

Gradualists, on the other hand, regarded devolution as a way-station on the road to independence. They saw devolution as a process - ironically putting them in agreement with what is now claimed by many unionists. They said that, being a process, devolution must lead to independence. This inevitable trend towards independence could only be thwarted if it was accepted that the devolution process also involved powers being taken away from the Scottish Parliament and returned to Westminster. Something which itself would only serve to emphasise the need for full political autonomy and so aid the independence movement.

Needless to say, the gradualists have been proved right.

The only question, then, is at what point does the devolution process end. The British parties try to pretend that it can be an ongoing process forever. That we can keep on endlessly tinkering with the constitutional settlement, switching powers backwards and forwards between Edinburgh and London at the whim of British politicians. But that is simply not feasible. In fact, it is nonsensical.

The purpose of all the talking shops that the British parties indulge in is, not to find the solution which best addresses the needs and aspirations of Scotland's people, but to find the fix which will preserve the ultimate power of the British state and fend off the threat to that power posed by Scotland choosing to restore its rightful constitutional status.

The ink was barely dry on the original devolution settlement before it was recognised as unsatisfactory. Then we got Calman. Now, even before the Calman fix comes fully into force, even the British parties are acknowledging that it too is inadequate. It's an accelerating process. The constitutional fixes of devolution are now being recognised as useless before they're even finalised.

Even as British Labour in Scotland are presenting to the people of Scotland the package that they've spent two years cobbling together they are talking about the need for a "continuing conversation" about what powers the Scottish Parliament should have.

They are asking the wrong question.

The issue is not one of what powers the Scottish Parliament should have but of who gets to decide what powers the Scottish Parliament should have.

Only the people of Scotland have the legitimate authority to make that decision. On Thursday 18 September 2014, for the first time in history, the people of Scotland will have the opportunity to exercise that authority through the democratic process. We will hold in our hands all the powers that the parliament of a nation should have. All the powers that we know we want for our parliament.

We can choose to continue to be the ultimate political authority in Scotland by affirming our sovereignty with a Yes vote. Or we can choose to hand that authority back to those whose sole imperative is to ensure that the Scottish Parliament never has the powers that the people of Scotland want.

Devolution is not an option. Devolution is dead.

Of course, we still have to hear from the Tories. Maybe they can nail the dead parrot back on its perch. But I doubt it. I hear some people saying that Ruth "Line in the sand" Davidson may take the opportunity offered by the abysmal failure of her unionist ally, Johann Lamont, and try to portray the Tories in Scotland as the real champions of devolution. But there are problems with this.

While it would not be difficult for the Tories to come up with something better than British Labour's offering, they still face the same problem that led to that offer being such a shambolic flop.

Whatever proposals the British parties come up with they are always going to be too little for the people of Scotland or too much for the Westminster elite - and probably both.

It is entirely possible that Ruth Davidson might devise something which at least looks sensible when stood next to the gibberish we're getting from Johann Lamont, but it is not possible for her to devise anything with more substance.

But even if the Tories do make a better fist of concealing this lack of substance than Lamont has, they still face the problem of convincing a now highly sceptical Scottish public.

If "Scottish" Labour can't persuade the people of Scotland that the devolution parrot is just tired and shagged out after a long squawk, what chance is there that the toxic Tories will be able to do so?

Dead parrots don't fly. Devolution is dead. There is little likelihood that we will see its obituary in the mainstream media. But it is time for the rest of us to move on. It is time to stop talking about devolution as if it wasn't an ex-parrot. It is time to focus on what is really on the referendum ballot - independence or nothing.

Originally broadcast by Aye Right Radio
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Tuesday 18 March 2014

Can! Should! Must!

Yes we can! Yes we should! Yes we must!
With six months to go until the people of Scotland vote on the constitutional future of our nation, Yes Scotland has launched a massive campaign to promote the message that Scotland can, should and must be independent. As you might expect, I have no disagreement with any of that. But, as you might also have anticipated, I have my own slant on this message.

That Scotland can be independent is a given as far as I am concerned. The economics of it all have never been an issue for me. So long as I was persuaded that independence would not result in an economic catastrophe of epic proportions the finer details could be of no more than academic interest. Facing a decision with such momentous implications for my country and its people, I find at times darkly comical and at times grossly insulting the idea that I might be swayed by necessarily tenuous promises and threats involving relatively trivial amounts of cash. Or threats involving large amounts that simply aren't credible.

There is, of course, no economic catastrophe looming. At least, not one caused by Scotland restoring its rightful constitutional status. We know what causes economic disaster, and it's not the people exercising their democratic right of self-determination.

If the economics of it all have not been an issue in the sense of something that causes me any significant concern, it certainly has been an issue in terms of the obsessions of unionist politicians and their friends in the media. They would have us believe that the economy is the only issue. That it is all about the economy. There are reason for this.

Firstly, the anti-independence campaign knows that people tend to be pre-occupied with money. Even if there were not genuine reasons for worrying about how we are going to pay for the things we need, we are conditioned to fret about whether we can afford the things we want. Democratic politics has all but been abandoned in favour of a neo-liberal economic imperative. Politics outside the referendum debate long since forsook lofty or even merely worthy ideals. It has been reduced to unseemly squabbling over money. Since this is all they know, the British parties have tried to frame the referendum debate in the same terms.

Then there is the fact that economics is the perfect territory for a campaign which, apart from the odd smear attempt, relies entirely on scaremongering. Nobody does doom-laden prognostications to order better than practitioners of the dismal science.

But, perhaps most importantly of all, the obsessive focus on economic arguments serves to divert people from the areas where the No campaign's arguments are pitifully weak or totally non-existent. They are distinctly uncomfortable talking about democracy and social justice. As well they might be.

There is no economic catastrophe looming. Don't take my word for it. That is the verdict of authorities such as The Financial Times and credit rating agency, Standard & Poor's. Even David Cameron admits that Scotland is economically perfectly viable. Anti-independence campaigners will throw their hands up in horror at any suggestion that they are arguing that Scotland is "Too wee! Too poor! Too stupid!", while simultaneously pumping out propaganda which suggests precisely that. They don't feel any need to be consistent. Inconsistency and even total contradiction serves their purpose of creating a sense of confusion.

I absolutely abhor and totally reject the suggestion that Scotland must tick somebody else's economic boxes in order to qualify for that which is ours by right. But if those boxes must be ticked, then they have been. Scotland is a wealthy nation. Scotland can be independent. Next question!

In addressing the matter of why Scotland should be independent Yes Scotland builds its case on democratic accountability, economic efficiency and social justice. And a very strong case it is too. An unanswerable case. The argument that, as an independent country with a government that we have actually elected, Scotland will "make better and more relevant decisions for our future than remote Westminster" is just about as solid as any political argument gets. Especially when one understands that the "remoteness" of Westminster refers, not merely to linear distance, but to an ever-widening gulf in political culture.

Impeccable as Yes Scotland's approach undoubtedly is, I would tend to approach the argument that Scotland should be independent on a more basic level. I would argue that Scotland should be independent because it is fundamentally right. It is a matter of constitutional justice. Independence is normal. What we seek for Scotland is no more than the constitutional status that all other nations take for granted. It is not a question of whether Scotland should be independent but a question of whether Scotland's anomalous constitutional position as an appendage of the British state can any longer be justified.

In fact, it is a question of whether that anomalous position is tenable even in the relatively short term. I would argue that it is not. I would argue that we have reached a tipping point. I would contend that the political union between Scotland and England is broken beyond any hope of salvation. I will go further and argue that efforts to preserve the political union will ultimately fail - with the probability that other aspects of the union between our nations will be severely and perhaps irreparably damaged in the process.

This is a price that the British establishment appears to be willing to pay in order to preserve the structures of power and privilege that define the British state. We see confirmation of this readiness to sacrifice the social, cultural and economic unions, which largely work to our mutual benefit, in the increasingly shrill and confrontational stance of the UK Government and the British parties.

For decades the union has been held together by a noisome potage of lies, deceit, bribery and ever more uncomfortable compromise. Various things have served to dissolve this unreliable glue - the reconvening of Scotland's Parliament, the rise of the SNP as a political force, and the burgeoning of internet communication all being major factors. The political union is done. It is now only a question of how much we can salvage of the rest of what has been developed over the past three centuries. Unionists seem hell bent on destroying all of it in a fit of pique.

And that is one of the reasons why Scotland must be independent. We simply cannot afford to let the forces of reactionary ultra-conservatism triumph. We must not allow the ruling elites to destroy that which is ours by any measure of natural justice in order to preserve that which they regard as theirs by divine right.

There is another reason why Scotland must be independent. It is, I am convinced, the consideration which will ultimately persuade those still swithering as they stand with pencil poised over ballot paper that they must vote Yes. Or, that they must not vote No. It is the consideration of what a No vote means. What will persuade many in that eleventh hour is the thought of the consequences for Scotland of voting No.

Addressing a meeting in Dundee recently I asked the sixty or seventy people in the room to think about whether we would ever be able to look each other in the eye again if Scotland voted No. I urged them to think about the question we are being asked in the referendum. The question which, in reality, we are asking ourselves.

Should Scotland be an independent country?

I asked them to try and imagine that question being asked in any other country? I asked them whether they could conceive of the people of any other nation even considering the possibility of answering No to that question?

We must vote Yes even if for no other reason than that the alternative is unthinkable. Voting No  is an admission of inferiority that will blight our nation for decades - perhaps forever. It is a failure to grasp the opportunity that we have won for ourselves which will bring down upon our heads the bitter condemnation of future generations - not to mention the deserved contempt of our neighbours and the world in general.

If we vote No then we will be the nation that threw away its independence, not for any sound, rational reason, but out of craven timidity.

If we vote No we will be the people who held our sovereignty in our hands and chose, through fear of shadows and phantoms, to hand it back to the ruling elites who have treated us with nothing but sneering disdain.

Forget about the tawdry trinkets of "more powers" being dangled before you by the British parties in the hope of persuading you to abandon both pride and enlightened self-interest to vote No! The idea that the ruling elites of the British state might voluntarily relinquish power is ridiculous at the best of times. That they might do so having, in their own eyes, just triumphed in a battle to preserve their grip on that power is a notion so ludicrous as to border on the insane.

It is obvious that we can be independent!

It is easy to understand why we should be independent!

It is vital we realise that we must be independent!

This article first appeared in the March 2014 issue of AYE Magazine.
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Saturday 1 March 2014

The referendum is about us

The following is a transcript of a speech I presented at Yes Dundee's Yes Cafe in Roseangle Art Gallery, Dundee on Saturday 1 March 2014.

Yes Dundee
I have been a supporter of independence all of my life. Or, as I prefer to put it, an advocate of restoring Scotland's rightful constitutional status.

I put it that way because, for me, this is first, last and always a constitutional issue. I accept the inevitability of all the talk about economics and currency and all the rest. I understand the necessity for it. But these are peripheral issues.

The referendum is not really about what currency we use, or whether we will be a few pounds richer or poorer, or how much "clout" we have in the world. It is about how we think of ourselves, our communities and our nation.

It is about whether we see ourselves as being a nation at all. Or whether we see ourselves as merely a region within the British state.

A nation is its people. And let me be quite clear that, when I talk about the people of Scotland, I am not referring to the kind of "Scottishness" in which the likes of Alistair Darling profess such puffed-up patriotic pride while all the time talking Scotland down.

I take no particular pride in being Scottish. Pride is for personal achievements. All I had to do was be born in Fife to a mother who was herself born in this very city and a father who, somewhat inconveniently for my argument, contrived to get himself born in Australia. But you take my point. I was born Scottish. There was no effort or personal sacrifice involved.

So-called New Scots - Asians, East Europeans and the rest - have more right to express pride in being Scottish than I do. Because they have made a conscious decision to be Scottish.

Being Scottish is not about a common inheritance. It is about a shared commitment.

So when I talk about the nation of Scotland I am talking about the people of Scotland. And when I talk about the people of Scotland I mean those who have made a commitment to the nation and its people. And if that sounds like some kind of circular argument I make no apology for that. I see no reason why a nation need be defined by reference to anything outwith itself.

We are a nation not because others say that we are. We don't need anybody else's permission to be a nation. We are a nation because we say we are.

But what kind of nation are we? Obviously, that depends on what kind of people we are.

The anti-independence campaign likes to pretend that nationalists like myself are claiming some kind of "Scottish superiority". They like to put about the notion that we are saying that people in Scotland have different, and somehow "better" attitudes than people in the rest of the UK. It's all lies, of course.

All we claim is that there is a distinctive political culture in Scotland. Not unique. Not necessarily better. But different from the rest of the UK.

This should not be a controversial claim. Voting patterns alone should make it evident that Scotland has a distinctive political culture even if it wasn't already glaringly obvious from the fact that we are having this referendum!

We need independence so that the policies which affect our lives can be informed by our own political culture rather than the political culture of the British state. Is that too much to ask?

What makes Scotland's political culture different? Ultimately, it must be the people. Because it is people who shape the political culture. But that does not imply that individuals in Dundee or Dunfermline have attittudes that are markedly different from those of individuals in Doncaster or Durham.

We can all be offended by the injustice of the bedroom tax and the obscenity that is Trident.

It merely means that those attitudes are expressed differently through the local institutions and processes of democracy so as to produce a distinctive political culture.

People are pretty much the same the world over. But political cultures vary tremendously. Why should it be such a dreadful thing for Scotland to have its own political culture?

We want independence, not because we regard ourselves as superior, but because we refuse to accept that we are inferior.

We refuse to accept that we are less than the people of other nations who take their independence for granted.

So, if the kind of nation we are depends on the kind of people we are, what kind of people are we? In a very real sense, that is what will be determined by this referendum and the campaign leading up to the vote.

How that campaign is conducted will say a lot about who we are. Which is why I so deeply resent the way that the British parties in Scotland are behaving. But that is a whole other topic.

Let's consider instead what the vote says about us. Think about the question we are being asked.

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Can you imagine that question being asked in any other country? Can you conceive of the people of any other nation even considering the possibility of answering No to that question?

The fact that we are asking this question of ourselves tells us what kind of people we have been. People who have, for too long, been meekly content to accept a subordinate status within a union that was contrived in a different age for purposes that were never relevant to us.

A union that we, the people, had no part in creating or sanctioning. An anachronistic, dysfunctional, corrupt union which serves none of the people off these islands well.

A union which was always intended to serve the purposes of the ruling elites. A union which, in that regard if no other, has not changed one iota in the last three centuries.

A union that sucks the human and material resources out of our nation and in return gives us government by parties that we have emphatically rejected at the polls.

A union that imposes policies which are anathema to our people. Policies which have been rejected by our democratically elected representatives.

A union which, were we being given that option now, not one of us would vote to join - but which we are nonetheless being asked to vote to remain in.

All of this and more is what we have accepted in the past. And our acceptance of all this has defined us in the eyes of our neighbours, the world, aye! and ourselves.

Ladies and gentlemen, I put it to you that the fact that we are asking ourselves this question says nothing very flattering about who we have been in the past.

The way in which we answer the question can change all that. It can change the way we see ourselves in the future. It can change the way others perceive us. It can change who we are. And by changing the kind of people we are and how we think of ourselves it can release the forces which will change the nation.

Or it can do the other thing. We can vote No and confirm that we are to be no more than that which we have been. That we will not be what we aspire to be. That we choose not to be all that we might be.

I ask you again, ladies and gentlemen, can you imagine the people of any other nation making such a demeaning choice?

If we vote No, will we ever again be able to look one another in the eye?

Ladies and gentlemen, I said earlier that i wasn't particularly proud of being Scottish. I explained that this was because there was no personal achievement involved. No effort. I didn't have to do anything in order to become Scottish. So I see no cause for pride.

But I do take pride in my country. I am proud of Scotland. Not a vaunting, strutting, flag-waving, belligerent, "my country right or wrong" kind of pride. A quiet, cautious, conditional, pragmatic kind of pride. I want to be proud of my country. I want Scotland to be a country I can be truly proud of.

I see no possibility of Scotland being that country while it remains part of the British state. We are told that, with a bit of constitutional tinkering here and there Scotland can be "as good as independent". That is a fallacy.

The only ones who have the legitimate authority to decide what powers the Scottish Parliament has are the people of Scotland themselves. So long as that power remains in the jealous grasp of the British state, Scotland will be less than a nation and its people will be diminished accordingly. The more so if they actually consent to this condition.

This referendum is not about money or oil or monarchs. And it certainly isn't about Alex Salmond. It is about you. It is about us. It is about the people of Scotland and what kind of people we are.

This referendum is about the most fundamental constitutional issue of all - sovereignty. The sovereignty that rightfully rests with the people of any nation.

This referendum is about whether we are the kind of people who will carelessly allow that sovereignty to be usurped by the ruling elites of the British state, or whether we are the kind of people who will seize to ourselves the power to shape our own destiny.

I'll vote Yes, not because I am inspired by a great past, but because I aspire to a better future.

I'll vote Yes, not because I'm resentful about what has been done but because I'm hopeful about what can be done.

I'll vote Yes, not for anything that is promised, but for everything that is possible.

I'll vote Yes, ladies and gentlemen, and for the sake of Scotland; for the sake of Scotland's people; for the sake of Scotland's future; and for the sake of your own modest pride, I urge you to do likewise - VOTE YES!
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