Guest post by Neill Walker
I will be voting Yes to Scottish Independence in any future Scottish Independence Referendum.
Scottish Independence is principally about normalising democracy in Scotland so that Scotland, as a country, is always guaranteed to get the governments that Scotland votes for on all areas of governance affecting Scotland.
Scottish Independence is principally about bringing democracy home to Scotland, so that the people of Scotland make the democratic decisions concerning Scotland and the democratic decisions concerning Scotland are made in Scotland.
In addition to the fundamental democratic principle that makes Scottish Independence imperative, there is also the question of the kind of society in Scotland that we might aspire to shape with the full democratic powers of Scottish Independence.
In this respect, I would like to set out an initial trajectory and prospectus to indicate the kind of society in Scotland that I would like to see Scotland work towards achieving:
•to position Scotland as a nation that re-affirms and declares the sovereignty of the Scottish people
•to achieve democratic justice and equality for Scotland, and for the people of Scotland
•to renew a sense of participative and deliberative democracy across Scotland
•to facilitate progress on social inequalities, child poverty, social exclusion and making progress to end the need for food banks in Scotland
•to achieve welfare policies which empower individuals and communities, rather than punishing the poor, the disabled and the vulnerable
•to achieve a written constitution enshrining rights and responsibilities, following an inclusive and participative public consultation
•to protect the liberties and the rights of the people of Scotland
•to heal and transform deep issues associated with individual and community dis-empowerment and dis-engagement
•to nurture more successful, aspirational, happy and generous individuals and communities
•to explore the potential of Scotland’s renewable energy capacity, for the benefit of local communities and of the wider environment
•to position Scotland as anti-fracking and pro-renewables
•to position Scotland as a nation of world-leading climate change targets and deep ecological awareness
•to explore the potential of greater levels of community ownership of local natural resources for the benefit of local communities across Scotland
•to position Scotland as a nation working towards the inclusion and empowerment of marginalised individuals and communities
•to advance a transformative land reform agenda in Scotland, supporting community buyouts, and empowering local communities across Scotland
•to protect NHS Scotland from the threat of privatisation to maintain it as a public asset for the benefit of all
•to advance health and wellbeing among the people of Scotland
•to keep key public services in public hands for the benefit of everyone who lives in Scotland
•to achieve more welcoming and compassionate immigration, refugee and asylum policies, positioning Scotland as a compassionate nation at home and abroad
•to position mainstream nationalism in Scotland as civic, inclusive, welcoming and centre-left, and arguably that needs to be positively celebrated more when we see other examples of ethnic, exclusive, xenophobic and right-wing forms of nationalism elsewhere
•to position Scotland as a nation working towards social, economic, environmental, energy, gender and racial justice and progressive equality
•to position Scotland as welcoming refugees, asylum seekers and diversity and society-enhancing immigration
•to be open and welcoming to ever greater diversity in Scotland, and to see diversity as a necessary and enriching strand of Scottish life
•to sustainably grow Scotland’s net immigration according to Scotland’s needs, enriching Scottish life and society and welcoming ‘new Scots’ to Scotland
•to create more good opportunities for those young Scots who want to stay in Scotland, so that no young Scot feels that they have to go abroad to realise their potential
•to further extend Scotland’s educational and research excellence, taking particular account of Scotland’s distinctive needs and strengths
•to protect Scotland’s distinctive approach to higher education which has been a key foundation for much of Scotland’s success
•to strengthen local democracy across Scotland, empowering individuals and communities to take part in decisions that affect their day-to-day lives
•to explore the potential of a citizen’s income, which could be a key initiative to tackle poverty in Scotland
•to advance transformative childcare provision to free up greater opportunities for women (and men) to fulfil their aspirations and potential in Scottish society
•to more strongly support Scottish arts and culture in its distinctiveness, and exploring their international contexts
•to free Scotland of nuclear weapons, and to free Scotland of Trident insecurity
•to position Scotland as anti-Trident and pro-conventional defence
•to re-imagine security in terms of environmental justice, greater levels of social equality, and personal, social, community and democratic empowerment
•to achieve levels of defence for Scotland better suited to Scotland’s distinctive circumstances and needs
•to allow Scotland to have its own distinctive international relations according to its distinctive history and needs
•to position Scotland as a nation working towards an ethical foreign policy
•to improve Scotland’s distinctive visibility in the world, reflecting the diversity and richness of contemporary Scottish life and society
•to nurture greater levels of mutual respect among the nations and people of the British Isles, placing the relations on a much stronger foundation of equality
•to advance solidarity, empathy and goodwill of the people of Scotland with peoples across the world, and being empowered to act upon that solidarity through full democratic representation
•to nurture a media culture in Scotland that better supports a thriving democracy, and which better supports self-esteem and confidence among the people of Scotland
•to position Scotland as a force for good in the world through soft power, cultural exchange and peaceful co-existence
•to position Scotland not just as a rich country but as a fair, compassionate and a good society
•to energise and inspire the people of Scotland to imagine a better future for themselves and for their communities
•to move from protesting and imagining to building the better Scotland that many of us aspire to live in
•to position Scotland as a nation embracing change, and being the change
•to position Scotland as a nation that is European in formation and world-embracing
•to position Scotland as a nation celebrating our diversity, enriching our communities
•to advance the necessary democratic, social and cultural institutions and infrastructure to support Scotland’s flourishing at home and abroad
•to co-create and write together the story of Scotland that better reflects our needs, circumstances, hopes and aspirations
•to raise up in their own eyes the confidence, self-belief, self-esteem and compassionate generosity of the people of Scotland
•to release the great potential of the people of Scotland so that Scotland can shine in renewed confidence and health and wellbeing on the world stage
A Yes vote will allow Scotland to flourish according to its own values, principles, aspirations and vision, and it is essential that Scotland’s political culture is fully aligned with its values, principles, aspirations and vision, and that will be the best possible foundation for Scotland to flourish and to fully play its part on the world stage.
A Yes vote will allow Scotland to address its own distinctive needs, and to adopt policies suited to addressing those distinctive needs across all areas of governance affecting Scotland. Addressing those distinctive needs is a necessary pre-condition for Scotland to flourish, and to realise its undoubtedly great potential.
By nurturing self-respect, democratic, personal, community and national empowerment, and health and well-being at home in Scotland, the people of Scotland can then contribute to being the change that many of us want to see in the world, though our own example.
Scotland can then shine in the light of its own uniqueness and be nourished in the breath of its own distinctiveness.
Post-Yes, we can work towards an inclusive, sustainable-immigration-welcoming, diversity-celebrating, multiple-identity-embracing Scotland that can be a positive beacon for many countries in what is possible, enshrining equal rights for all citizens in a written constitution for Scotland.
Many will see such a Scotland as a positive example to follow.
A Yes vote is a necessary first step to facilitate such opportunities, change, transformation, empowerment and deep healing.
The time for YES is NOW!