Scotland – The Real Choice

Loz Kaye's picture

Voters in Scotland are about to take one of the most significant democratic choices in recent years. It's fair to say that Pirate Party members have taken a range of views on #indyref. Unlike others, we're not afraid of shades of opinion in our party. But the last few days have convinced me of what my view is on the issue. The Scots probably don't want yet another Party Leader from south of Gretna banging on about the referendum, but here's what has led me to the belief that a Yes vote is the only way forward for people who care about real democratic choice.

So much of the  referendum campaign has focused on issues which aren't actually the heart of the question. It's not about whether you like Cameron and Boris or not. It's not about the SNP's voting record. It's not about whether Salmond says dumb stuff. It's not about license plates, stamps,  royal babies, how “foreign” you feel, haggis, teacakes, or spinsters cycling to evensong.

Even fundamental issues such as poverty or nuclear weapons aren't really the point. A Yes vote in of itself doesn't get rid of the need for food banks. That will be up to the politicians and activists who come after. Equally, the No camp can't really promise that the people of Scotland will be better together with the rest of the UK on balance over decades and centuries to come. An independent Scotland is not a guarantee that Trident will cease to exist, let alone the country will be weapons-of-mass-destruction free in all perpetuity.

The real point is how such vital decisions are made and who is making them. While figures like Salmond and Miliband will come and go, it is clear that now the politics of Scotland is starting pull in a very different direction to the rest of this island. It's time to bring decision making closer to the people of Scotland.

I'm not convinced that an independent Scotland would necessarily be more radical or forward looking. Mr Cameron is wrong, nothing is forever in politics. But the vote gives the chance for that more radical and forward looking future as and when the people want it.

Of any question its what currency an independent Scotland will use has come to dominate the referendum campaign. The SNP did seem surprisingly unprepared for this. It really should have come as no surprise that the UK leaders would be obstructive.

From the Pirate Party point of view this is a significant problem for the Yes side. We oppose the Euro because of the restrictions of a one size fits all currency union. For me, that opposition is just as much about the fiscal pact which removes much power from governments and citizens over their economy.

But you can't compare an economic Sterling zone to the much more divergent Eurozone. Sure, we do have economic divergence, but that is more about London and the rest of the country. Again, that is to miss the point of what the decision is about, the future direction for many years ahead. Frankly anyone who's ever used Bitcoin is already looking at this part of the debate somewhat bemused. In just a few years the whole notion of what currency is and how it functions has been blown apart. Think forward another 300 years and no doubt Apple Pay, Visa and Paypal will all be historical footnotes.

Both Yes and No are now agreed that the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK will change. The vote is on how that will change.
It's deciding how to decide, and who gets to decide.
All else- even currency, economy, environment, defence flows from that, not the other way round.

The last few days have shown that Westminster politicians are suddenly willing to wheel out what amounts to a new constitution without any mandate, for short term political expediency and to ram it through parliament. The big parties may claim it is for the benefit of Scotland, but without involving the people of Scotland actively from the grass roots up these promises are worthless.  

This arrogant approach goes against every fibre of my political being. It seems that the #DRIP method has infected all of British politics. We need a significant disruption to change that complacency. Realistically, with the death of political reform, the stalling of changing the House of Lords, democratic disengagement, a Yes vote is the only thing that is likely to give a real much needed kick. A Yes vote is as much for all of us on the British isles as for Scotland itself.

If the choice is between the people of Scotland constructing that new relationship through consent, or having a deal rushed through stitched up by the three big parties in a political panic, the choice is clear to me. The choice must be to trust the people and that is done with a Yes vote.

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Just to repeat this is a personal view, though one I know reflects the opinions of many people in the Pirate movement. Whatever your view, and however the vote goes, it's an area that needs expanding in the next manifesto. We'll be running another policy process but campaigns@pirateparty.org.uk is always open for suggestions and submissions.