Thursday, September 18, 2014

Independence Day

With any argument against Scottish independence, the simple test is to apply it to Ireland. 

Did Irish independence betray the internationalist ideal? Did Ireland manage OK with shared currency? Would it be better for Ireland if they'd stayed in the UK? Did we 'turn neighbours into foreigners'? Even UKIP don't mind Irish immigrants, calling them 'our kith and kin' earlier this year.

So it's a rich irony having an Irish UK resident like Bob Geldof calling for a No vote. In fact it's weird that Obama is too, unless both go back to their home countries and advocate rejoining Britain.

A Yes vote won't create a new border. That border is already there for many issues. It will increase its strength, but that isn't exclusionary. A country where, backed by a significant proportion of the population, the leader openly calls for greater immigration is not a place with those issues. Compare that with the main UK parties.

If we want to consider xenophobia and exclusion, imagine this: the Tories lose the next election, Cameron's out and they install a Eurosceptic. A deal is struck not to compete with UKIP. This coalition wins in 2020. Even without this nightmare scenario, if the tories win we're promised an in-out referendum on the EU. It's quite possible that in five or ten years the UK could be out of the EU whilst an independent Scotland is in.

The Labour Party talking about how Scottish independence is a bad thing because it puts up borders between people. That's the same Labour Party whose 2010 manifesto had a 'Crime & Immigration' section, like the two things belong together. The same Labour Party who sent a Home Secretary to help out nicking stowaway immigrants at Dover to show how tough they are on foreigners.

Gordon Brown says voting No is the only way to save the NHS. This is the same Gordon Brown, chancellor who presided over the marketisation of the NHS and the introduction of Private Finance Initiative where we pay private companies several times the cost of a school or hospital before we're allowed to pay any staff. PFI is credit spree timebomb, getting new buildings today by promising tomorrow's budgets.

The Labour Party, who only survive by saying "vote for us to keep the Tories out", are telling people in Scotland to vote against permanently keeping the Tories out.

A Yes vote is a vote for Scottish nationalism, but a No vote is for British nationalism. I know which one I'm more uncomfortable with. As Billy Bragg said on Tuesday

the most frustrating aspect of the debate on Scottish independence has been the failure of the English left to recognise that there is more than one type of nationalism. People who can explain in minute detail the many forms of socialism on offer at any demo or conference seem incapable of differentiating when it comes to nationalists

It's not just that both votes are nationalists, but of different kinds. It's that one of them is imperialist. Not only do most No arguments apply to Ireland, a large proportion apply to any country going independent from the British Empire. It's no surprise that a country that's consistently voted against Tories yet been ruled by them most of my lifetime feels like it's under imperial rule.

Imagine if you could have one vote on one day and banish Tory rule forever (and no, it won't mean the rUK gets permanent Tories). Anyone with compassion could only give one possible answer.

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