Scottish Independence is a talking point for many Scots at home and abroad, as we edge our way towards 2014 and the polling stations to determine the future of Scotland and the Scottish people – but there’s something fishy going on, as far as I’m concerned, and that’s before I mention Salmond and Sturgeon!
Both are very good speakers and I’m sure they have very good (economic) interests at heart for Scotland, but neither are national leaders, in my eyes. So when the opportunity to attend BBC Scotland’s Newsnight Debate on Independence presented itself, I got on board, armed with my two questions to pose to the all women panel on the all women show, hosted by Jackie Bird. The panel was made up of two pro-unionists Kainde Manji and Tory business-woman Amanda Harvie with pro-Independence opposition from Elaine C Smith and Jeane Freeman (Women for Independence).
Women from across Scotland attended and quite a few had lots to say on the subject, again from both camps, but there were a few on the fence; some who have yet to make their mind up whether Scotland could or should become an independent state.
My main concerns of the evening (and there were a few!) was the level of negativity and DIS-empowerment coming from the ‘Better Together’ campaign – as Kainde repeatedly mentioned ‘fear’, ‘scary’ and ‘dark’ places. This is exactly the type of scare-mongering which switches people off and disconnects them from the political power they hold.
The ‘Yes’ campaigners did a great job of explaining why we should indeed be claiming our right to self-determination in a free Scotland, eloquently adding that there are TWO separate issues we should all be considering;
- The right to self-govern and become independent from Westminster
- Who will govern the country if Independence is achieved
It’s very important that we recognise both aspects of this, do our research and vote according to our findings.
As always, time on these programs is short – but questions are aplenty. The audience was fully engaged with the debate but there was a distinct lack of vision from the ‘No’ camp who propagated more of the same (in which case, that’s exactly what we’ll get) – while the ‘Yes’ offered choices and opportunities for change; a change to the Westminster governance which positively serves itself, with little or know thought for those north of the border.
One of my questions was about nuclear disarmament and although I wasn’t chosen to put it to the panel, I fully expected that the issue was at least important enough to address, but it was never raised. It’s as if these issues don’t affect Scottish women, or perhaps questions about defence and nukes are to be kept for the more ‘macho’ debates in the future.
There wasn’t enough time to go in depth with any of the topics which came up nor nearly enough information to sway many people in either direction, if they hadn’t already decided which way to vote.
Tonight’s experience has highlighted the presence of fear in those who want to stay in the union, much more than in those who have a fairly clear vision of equality and an empowered, forward-thinking Scotland. Some who fear a change to the status quo are doing so through lack of knowledge, others by fear of loss, which is being perpetuated and proliferated by those who do not want to leave the union, and backed up with statements of us entering the ‘unknown’ and going into dark places.
As Jeane Freeman mentioned in the programme, we are the ones who should be and will be writing the Constitution of Scotland IF we vote to be Independent. We, the people will determine what we do about what’s important to us – health, education, defence et al.
I’m more determined now that many more conversations and debates need to take place to ensure a well-educated public, make their way to the polls with pride and make right decision for our country.
There’s a lack of information; there’s too much talk without substance. Let’s get facts, figures and feelings straight – let’s talk about what’s NOT on the agenda…
Feel free to respond with your vision for Scotland in the comments section below, or by posting a video response on YouTube.