(Mika Minio-Paluello will be blogging from Scotland for the next two weeks. This first blog is written in Mika’s personal capacity rather than from a Platform perspective. Next week, Platform will be releasing new research that challenges the dominant perspectives around oil on both sides of the independence debate)
I’m not Scottish. I don’t have any Scottish heritage at all. But I’ve come to Glasgow to canvass for the next two weeks, in the run-up to the referendum.
Why is a Yes vote a good thing for everybody?
1) Shaking up the political system
Westminster politics is frozen, dominated by corporate interests and stuck in a neoliberal consensus. It’s impossible to express opposition to free market economics via the main Westminster parties.
Much of the grassroots momentum behind the Yes campaign comes from people demanding an alternative way of organising society and the economy, with more emphasis on social justice and fairness, and less on war and austerity.
It’s a potential break in the neoliberal settlement we’ve been living under for three decades.
2) It could save at least part of the NHS from the marauding privatisers
3) Undermining the corrupt, neoliberal and warmongering elite that rule from London
Is there a guarantee that future governments in Scotland will be different? No.
Is there a decent possibility that they will? Yes.
There’s a social-democratic consensus in Holyrood, Scotland’s devolved Parliament. A Yes vote won’t transform the economy overnight, but it creates the possibility to build a fairer and less unequal society.
And a positive example to England’s north will make it easier for social movements in Britain to mobilise against austerity.
4) Open Borders
Even the SNP is proposing an open borders immigration policy. Since 2011, the Scottish government has been asking for an exception to the UK’s cap on migration.
The British government responded by scaremongering and whipping up fear of immigration.
I’ve been at the receiving end of nationalist violence, from English, German and Israeli fanatics. My grandparents fled fascist Italy. Nationalism sucks.
And Scottish independence will strike a major blow to British nationalism. Somehow, British nationalism gets off pretty lightly, despite its record of militarism and mass killing. Ask people in Iraq, Argentina and Afghanistan about their experience of the British bulldog spirit.
The whole idea of “Great” Britain underlies the belief that Britain has the right to invade other countries. That “we” are better than others. Its about time Britain was cut down to size.
That doesn’t mean that I like Scottish nationalism. But to anyone who’s paid attention, the Yes Campaign has tried to avoid nationalist rhetoric.
The No campaign on the other hand is a nationalist effort. “Better together” has stoked fear about migration, while celebrating nationalist symbols like the Queen.
BP boss Bob Dudley sums it up well: “Great Britain is great & ought to stay together”. No thanks.
6) No nukes
All British nuclear weapons are based in Scotland, at Faslane. The Scottish government committed to removing all nuclear weapons within four years of independence. This would throw UK nuclear policy into disarray and undermine British militarism – a good thing.
A No vote mean that future Conservative and Labour governments can fulfil their ambition to spend £100 billion on nuclear weapons.
7) Free public childcare
The Scottish government has promised to providing 30 hours of free public childcare for all 2-4 year olds.
This is a feminist policy that could create 35,000 jobs.
8) Imagine the Union Jack with the blue background from the St Andrew’s cross removed…
9) Independence could create the space for an energy revolution, transforming oil & climate policy
The Scottish government has already committed itself to generating 100% equivalent of its electricity demand from renewables by 2020 – a far higher target than the UK government. But at the moment, its power to shape energy policy is limited and corporations remain in control.
Independence would allow Scotland to restructure its energy system around decentralised, community renewables and end fuel poverty. Community and public ownership over energy would increase economic democracy, while a just transition from fossil fuels to renewables would guarantee jobs. On top of that, Scotland has such massive offshore wind potential, that it doesn’t even need the oil…
These are not fanciful dreams, but practical proposals being advanced by Scottish groups and movements.
An energy revolution is not an automatic outcome from independence – far from it. It will be a tough struggle. Breaking free of London is only the first step. The next is independence from the oil interests that captured the British state.
10) Oil taxation (if you’re not going to leave it in the ground)
The UK allowed corporations to walk away with a £74 billion windfall in the six years before oil prices spiked, compared to Norway’s fiscal regime. Britain’s fossil fuel tax system has been described as “intellectually bankrupt” and “corporate welfare”, with companies making a 60+% rate of return on North Sea oil.
They know that Westminster is unlikely to end to the giveaway. Power in London has been thoroughly captured by the oil and finance corporations. The corridors of Whitehall almost reek of crude.
The SNP has promised to keep taxes as they are. But popular demands are increasing for an end to private profiteering, at the expense of the public. That sends jitters through BP and Shell – they’re not so confident about controlling future fiscal policy in Scotland.
I’m working on some more calculations on this, so watch this space…
11) I don’t believe England be stuck with a Tory majority forevermore
Will independence automatically deliver a utopia? No. The SNP might even shift to the right in an independent Scotland. They might try to get out of their promises of free childcare and abolishing Trident. A just and fair society will rely on continued social movement pressure and grassroots mobilisation. But challenging power in Scotland will be far easier than it is now. And a progressive neighbour promoting an alternative direction can inspire us south of the border as well.