Tag Archives: Nelson Mandela


The time is 03:20 on 16 September. In two hours my youngest daughter and I will start our journey to Scotland – she for her final year at the University of Strathclyde, both of us to participate in the experience of the Independence Referendum.

Whatever happens on the 18 September will start a series of changes with momentous consequences for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. They will spread beyond those islands to affect Europe and indeed the world. Britain will cease to be “Great” but it will become a country or group of countries better adapted to supply all of its citizens with an adequate standard of living and a return to a more democratic governance.

The campaign for Yes Scotland has said No Thanks to:

a centralised government run by a clique of politicians that serve the interests of the ultra-rich, backed up by a set of mainstream media which no longer see their function as holding the powerful to account on behalf of the weak

– a government that spends billions on billions of pounds on a military establishment so that its leaders can pretend that Britain “punches above its weight” on the world stage – a capacity that was important when the Empire stretched around the globe but is now a vastly-expensive self-delusion

– a government which is opening the public services of the country to the possibilty of US-style of litigation with its risk of immense, trumped-up claims for damages

– a government that has consistently ignored the needs of the periphery for those of the southern parts of the country, particularly the needs of London, which has become a black hole that sucks resources from the rest of the country.

The Better Together campaign has offered more of the same old, discredited way to run the country.

Whatever the result of the referendum the future is now fraught with uncertainties. This could have been prevented by an orderly political discourse initiated by a Westminster attuned to the needs of the periphery, particularly Scotland, Wales, the North of England and the South-West. The (disallowed) “Yes” vote for Scottish Independence in 1979 was largely ignored by Westminster as were the possible consequences of the Scotland Act of 1998. David Cameron was completely unable to imagine what forces he was setting loose by his refusal in 2012 to allow the referendum to include a vote for “Devo Max”: if he had agreed to that, the present situation would probably never have arisen, the pound Sterling would not be facing a long period of weakness and the country itself about to be rent asunder one way or another. David Cameron and his Westminster colleagues then and now signally failed to understand the mood of Scotland. The Better Together campaign has had an impossible task because the reality is, if Westminster cannot offer anything better than Better Together to the poor and deprived people in Scotland, then Better is not Good Enough.

Against all the odds, against every-day common sense, against the torrents of advice from the rich and powerful (looking after their own interests as always) the Yes Scotland campaign has held out a vision of another way of governance. The campaign claims have been exaggerated but the idea that it could be possible to do things in a different way has caught on. When the discourse changed from the technicalities of accounting and macroeconomics to this wider and greater vision, people living in Scotland embraced the idea that they could do a better job of running their country than Westminster could. They know that way of governance has been tried and repeatedly found wanting.

The opinion polls tell us that the people of Scotland are evenly divided between Yes for Hope and No for Fear. Because we face great uncertainty whatever the outcome, I support those whose choice, in the spirit of Nelson Mandela, “will reflect their hopes and not their fears”. My daughter has the vote on the 18th. It will be a proud moment for me when she casts it. I suspect that she will join a majority of the people of Scotland and vote “Yes”.

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