Comment is free, so why not Scotland?

My good friend Neil McIntosh has sparked a debate from his London bolthole about the rise of the SNP at the Scottish elections.

In his highly regarded weblog Complete Tosh he seems to argue that Scots have failed to take into account the Nats basic policy – independence.

But I would argue that isn’t just a debate about money, oil and funding any more, it is about a nation rediscovering a confidence lost after 300 years of being told what to do. Of people asking, reasonably, could we do better?

Would, for instance, an independent Scotland be able to slow down the current ‘brain drain’ prevalent over the past decade that has seen some of our most noted talents heading away, to places such as London?

Could harnessing such talent, providing them with a reason to remain here, help the financial ambitions of a fiscal Scotland?

In recent decades, yes, Scots have grown bitter towards Westminster through the Thatcher years and Tony Blair’s decision to send troops to war. And yes, maybe they have grown tired of the same Government in charge.

But let’s not kid ourselves that voters are just sick of Blair’s Labour and not intelligent enough to realise independence is the core SNP policy.

They understand only too well that this could be another step towards that party’s ultimate aim, but they are at least ready to explore it as an option, even if it isn’t ever prosecuted. Why run from the question?

And what of their other policies?

The SNP have pledged to remove nuclear weapons from Scotland – Labour say it is an outrage that will kill thousands of jobs.

The Nats says they will refuse to grant permission for a new generation of nuclear power stations to be constructed here. Labour says it is the only option, despite our country’s abundant national resources offering green alternatives.

Scottish Labour led by a school teacher in Jack McConnell vowed it would invest more in education after this election. He’s had plenty of time. Why did it not do so before? McConnell in the hustings was unable to answer. In the meantime young teachers train, but have no jobs to go to.

Why did its campaign under Douglas Alexander concentrate only on attacking the Nats, rather than concentrating on its worthy achievements, such as the smoking ban, probably the most important bit of legislation in the life of Holyrood?

George Robertson made the mistake in the nineties when he said that Devolution would kill of nationalism stone dead.

It was as arrogant then as Labour’s bleating about breaking up the Union is today, and proven to be quite, quite wrong.

People forget Holyrood is still a young parliament, one populated largely by ex councillors. Surely the introduction of the likes of seasoned politicians such as Alex Salmond and George Foulkes can only help it mature.

Separation worked for Ireland, currently the fourth most prosperous nation in the world. It’s prices are high, but people can afford them. Scotland is not disimilar to Norway either, regarded by the UN as the best place to live in Europe.

You won’t hear the likes of Alan Cochrane mentioning this, however, as he is a die in the wool unionist who writes for the pro Tory paper The Telegraph. But it is up to people like him to state an opposing argument, it keeps the debate alive.

Independence may not, ultimately, be the right answer for us. And who am I to say?

But the argument is there to be had. That is what democracy is all about, and why those still living in Scotland have chosen to fuel the debate, by voting as they have.

Now, is that such a bad thing really?

Categories: Blogs, Interviews and talks

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