Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Scottish Independence and Some Lessons for Canada

With just 15 days to go before the Scottish referendum, a new poll has confirmed the trend that I wrote about yestarday. The YES side is surging, and Scotland could be soon heading for independence. 

The poll by YouGov showed the unionist lead had shrunk to 6 percentage points from 22 a month ago as support for independence jumped to 47 percent in August, suggesting a major shift in opinion ahead of the September 18 referendum.

And although some may be surprised, I'm not. And neither is the English writer George Monbiot, who says voting NO would be an "astonishing act of self-harm."

For why would the Scottish people want to remain under the thumb of an increasingly brutish Westminster regime whose Con values they don't share?

To vote no is to choose to live under a political system that sustains one of the rich world’s highest levels of inequality and deprivation. This is a system in which all major parties are complicit, which offers no obvious exit from a model that privileges neoliberal economics over other aspirations. It treats the natural world, civic life, equality, public health and effective public services as dispensable luxuries, and the freedom of the rich to exploit the poor as non-negotiable.

When they want something different and better...

Independence, as more Scots are beginning to see, offers people an opportunity to rewrite the political rules. To create a written constitution, the very process of which is engaging and transformative. To build an economy of benefit to everyone. To promote cohesion, social justice, the defence of the living planet and an end to wars of choice.

Because that's what this referendum is about, a rebellion against those bestial Cons and their savage neo-liberal agenda, that is causing almost unbelievable human suffering. And is only making the rich richer, while making the poor even poorer.

Now I understand that in a country like ours, where separatism is a bad word, and many are sentimentally attached to Britain, even some progressives are against the idea of Scotland becoming an independent country.

Or fear that those supporting independence are anti-English...

But the fact is Britain isn't going anywhere. It will always be the British Isles. And the independence movement is not a tribal thing, as these English people who live in Scotland make clear in this letter.

As English people involved in the independence movement, we feel we are confident in saying that sentiment against English people has been virtually non-existent in our movement. What people in Scotland want to escape is the Westminster regime, not the English people.

An independent Scotland would attempt to learn from people in England, welcome people from England, and extend our hand of friendship as equal nations.

Which I know to be true because my mum was born in the south of England, lives in the north of Scotland, still hangs on to her English accent AND the Royal Family, and has never had any problems. Ever.

So I don't really understand why more Canadian progressives aren't cheering on the YES side. 

But I do think that there are some lessons we can learn from what is happening in Scotland...

For they have to do with hope and fear.

And we need to ask ourselves why so many Canadians seem to be suffering from system justification.

System justification is defined as the “process by which existing social arrangements are legitimised, even at the expense of personal and group interest". It consists of a desire to defend the status quo, regardless of its impacts.

A paralyzing fear of change which is preventing us from doing what we need to do to survive in a world that like it not will NEVER stop changing.

Even as economic inequality grows, government is slowly strangled, wages and pensions are threatened. And we live under the thumb of a brutish Con regime, that has been tolerated by far too many, for far too long.

Secondly, we might learn something from the way the YES side has managed to inspire so many, including so many young people...

By asking them to dream of the kind of country they want to live in.

Because in this country no leader so far has managed to inspire us with a stirring vision of a better country. Certainly not younger Canadians.

And when it comes to politics or the future of this country we seem to have stopped dreaming a long time ago.

Which is a tragedy, because if you don't dream of something better, you'll never get to that better place. And we'll always be less than what we might have been, and fodder for reactionary leaders.

Oh well. I'll have more to say about that in other posts, because I do want that kinder, gentler world. I want my Canada to be big and beautiful, not small and shabby, so I'll NEVER stop dreaming.

But I thought I'd leave you with another scene from Scotland's creative revolution. And another sign of the surging momentum of the YES side.

Whose supporters have managed to propel a song by the old Scottish duo The Proclaimers, to the top of the charts.

Which you can listen to here if you wish.

And includes these lyrics:

I can tell the difference between margarine and butter.

I can say Saskatchewan without starting to stutter.

But I can't understand why we let someone rule our land.

Cap in hand.

Which I enjoyed quite a bit eh? Because they show the long and close ties between Scotland and Canada.

And because I'm now sure that the Scots will not be going cap in hand for much longer, whatever the result of this referendum. For a dream like the one they now have will not be easily surrendered.

And what remains to be seen is when will the Canadian people start to dream again?

Are we really content to be a little people in a big land?

Or are we ready to throw off the yoke of our brutish Con regime?

And say YES to Canada...

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  1. Well, personally I'd rather say oui to Québec, but the PQ went of on its silly "Charter" tangent, turning off young people and néo-Québécois in droves, and Québec solidaire's progress has been far too slow.

    I wish best of luck to the Scots. Do hope the SSP can recover from the Tommy Sheridan débâcle; they are very much involved in the Yes campaign.

  2. "Canada was created out of audacity" Sir Robert Borden
    I think if a referendum were held tomorrow, Canadians would vote yes to completely severing ties with the British monarchy. To fight for ones independence whether as a person or a country is fundamental to a life worth living.
    A simple 3 letter word , yes, will give Scots their liberty.

  3. Anonymous6:01 PM

    Delusional youth voting for something they barely understand.
    Lets see if they can win against the pensioners, the employed, the rationally intelligent...........
    But, not to worry "Yes" side. Even when you lose, you will still spin the results to make a loss sound like a victory and , of course.
    You will drag the "Neverenddumb" back out in a few years time like the Quebec traitors.

    And if you do "win".
    You will deserve the economic ruin and 3rd world country status that will befall you.

    Just don't come whining back to "Jolly old Blighty" . We're busy in the real world.

  4. Anonymous7:31 PM

    Well if we are going to quote Prime Ministers......

    "“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”
    ― Winston Churchill"
    The average voter is an uninformed fool.

    "Everyone is in favor of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people's idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage.”
    ― Winston Churchill
    The average Yes voter wont listen to cold , hard facts.

    "Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery..”
    ― Winston Churchill
    Socialism is a failed "experiment". get over it.

    "“I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”
    ― Winston Churchill
    Good luck with higher taxes cause thats where Scotland the "Free" is headed

    "“Of all the small nations of this earth, perhaps only the ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind.”
    ― Winston Churchill
    Hmmmmm, another example of the "terrible" English treating the Scots poorly......

    ""How tired one gets of the well-worn cliché ‘the full-hearted consent of the people’. What exactly is meant by this? Referenda for every important piece of legislation? If this was the case, we would have no Race Relations Act, immigration would have been stopped, abortions would still be illegal and hanging still be in force. All these laws were passed not only without this full-hearted consent nonsense, but, if the polls are to be believed, in the face of a determined 70 to 80 per cent. of the electors' wishes to the contrary."
    Winston Churchill

    Once again, the average voter is a crowd following, simplistic buffoon that will wave the flag, drink some grog and wake up the next days with a massive hangover and abosolutely no idea of what they have done.
    But it will be someone elses fault. Not theirs.

    Good Luck Scotland . Yer gonna need a ton of it.

    1. hi anon....thanks for all those Churchill quotes, I think he was a true giant, and a great man. Even if he was a Conservative. ;)
      But look I don't deny that the Scots and the English have shared many things together. Including many trenches. But the NO side should have plucked that chord instead of pounding the fear key over and over again. Because if it does lose that will be a big part of the reason. But as I've pointed out in this post and others, the main reason so many Scots want to secede is because they have more of a social democratic tradition, and the Cameron Cons are trying to bury that tradition in Britain...

    2. Anon
      I don't share your contempt for the average voter. You don't of course include yourself in this group. I think the Scots are quite capable of creating a successful country out of their independence. It's not rocket science and Scotland is not a backward village. Your fear of independence is not theirs.

    3. Anonymous9:01 PM

      Sorry pam. The AVERAGE voter is a moron. I'm not average. I'm brilliant. :)

  5. Go Scotland dont let Tony Blair being named GQ man of the year change your mind.

    Harper thinks this just about seals the deal for his Nobel prize,

    1. hi Steve...any honour Tony Blair receives makes me want to vomit. Even one as small as that one. But yes everybody should sign that petition. Even if the nomination is in the same category as GQ's award to Blair...

  6. Anonymous9:03 PM

    Just curious.
    Just before the last Quebec vote in 1996 . When things looked like it might go in favour of separation. THOUSANDS of Quebecers rushed out to apply for Canadian Passports........................

    Anyone know if Scots are doing the ame?

    Just curious if the Scots are "wanting their cake while eating it" too....?

    1. hi anon....Everybody wants to have their cake and eat it too don't they? But as the polls show all the doomsday threats have had the opposite effect. Many Scots seem to feel that independence is worth the risks. And no I don't hear many people in Scotland whining about how they're going to leave the country. If you've ever visited that country I'm sure you understand why. My mum may be English but she does love Scotland, and wouldn't leave it for anything...

  7. Hi Simon, here's another version of "Cap in Hand" from the yes campaign with its main campaign points. If the PQ had used these (many of them are also popular issues here in Québec) instead of their stupid "Charter" campaign, perhaps they'd have done better. Though of course I'd prefer Québec solidaire doing better...

  8. Anonymous1:43 AM

    Hmmmmmmm Scotland is about to seperate as Europes' economy tanks.........timing is everything. :)