State of independence

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by Ken O’Neill

Independence: the state or quality of being independent; freedom from dependence; exemption from reliance on, or control by, others; self-subsistence or maintenance; direction of one’s own affairs without interference.

As an independent candidate standing for the Lothians in this election, I can clearly see how this relates to me.  I don’t follow party lines, will not have a party whip visit me, will have the freedom to judge any kind of proposal in Holyrood on its merits.  I can set out my own agenda and vote for what I believe is right and just.  On the other side, I will have no support from a party, cannot use the input of think-tanks, don’t have the party faithful to help me with my campaign.  However, if I want to achieve something, I will have to work together with other members of the parliament.  Independent, but interdependent at the same time.

Can we make the same analogy for an independent Scotland?  I think we can.  An independent Scotland can decide the direction it wants to go, can allocate the necessary funds for the goals it wants to achieve, without interference from Westminster.  At the same time, when we have to make unpopular decisions, such as raising taxes, we will not be able to lay the blame at the door of Number 10.

However, with that independence, an interdependence will be created.  They say no man is an island and Scotland certainly isn’t and never will be.  We will have to work closely with the neighbouring countries to build strong economic ties.  We will have to find our way into the international institutions, such as the European Union and the United Nations.  I have no doubt a strong, confident and independent Scotland can make a difference in the world.  How well we perform on the world stage will depend on our domestic performance, which in turn will be influenced by our place on the world stage.  Scotland already has a strong image and reputation.  If we want to capitalise on that, we have to make sure our internal affairs are in order.  That means not only our economy, but also our society, our politics, our government.

Scotland can become an example for excellence, but we need to grow up.  The Scottish Parliament has to set an example and give the people the right to vote in an independence referendum.  This will need to include a national debate on the subject in a grown-up manner and with a factual exchange of opinions.  We cannot allow party political lines to decide on such an important issue.  All Scots have the right to a sensible debate on the matter, with access to all the relevant figures.  That way they can make up their own minds, independently.

Published with thanks to the Scottish Independence Convention