by Hazel Lewry
But for all its diminutive stature it is very powerful indeed. It can decide the fates of nations.
It’s a word we use all too often, normally it has a set meaning, it’s a denial – plain and simple. In many cases it’s an appropriate word to use because it has a very specific meaning.
The problem with the No word comes when it is to be used broadly, when it will not just be a case of “No, you can’t buy that specific food”, but is changed to “No, you can’t buy any food”. No is something that must always be looked at in context.
That brings us to the opposite of No, Yes, we know what a yes vote will get us in the upcoming referendum, it will get us independence. The campaign for Union acknowledges this but then throws out all types of questions. Defence, health, retirements, social security, the list goes on.
The campaign for Union appears unable to accept that decisions on these aspects of our lives will still have to be made irrespective of the outcome of the referendum. The campaign for the Union, by using that little No word, refuses to accept that the only ultimate outcome of the referendum is simply the geographical location of the building where those decisions will be made.
Will it be Edinburgh or London?
Tied to that geography is another little bit of cartography, namely where the people making the decisions live, because where they live will influence how they vote on all these issues with regards to Scotland.
Why should anyone expect someone living in London to care deeply about what happens in Aberdeen or Arbroath, they don’t and won’t. They’re focused on their own problems. Arbroath and Aberdeen don’t even make their evening news. Most Londoners probably couldn’t find either on a map unless they were marked. These northerners certainly aren’t looked upon as close family. Historical actions give the fact to this.
So in a time of austerity, when there isn’t enough to go around, you protect your own – that’s simple human nature.
So, we know what Yes will give us, it will give us the opportunity to make our own decisions – whatever they might be and wherever they might take us, for good or ill, but what of No.
Westminster needs to answer what No means in the up-coming referendum.
Does No mean more cuts to Scotland’s meager budget, meagre by comparison to what flows south.
Does No mean proper and fair accounting from Westminster, an accounting where items like Trident’s almost 100 billion are no longer counted billed against a Scotland that doesn’t even want it.
Does No mean an end to free higher education, because a nation running in the black gets it pocket money cut and can no longer afford to properly educate its talented youth.
Does No mean an end to the Scottish NHS, an NHS that isn’t presently being privatized like its English sister, because we simply can’t afford it anymore. We know that that healthcare will just be paid for privately in future if that happens, or are we to do without medical care?
Does No mean there will be a loss of free travel for the elderly and infirm?
Does No mean no more free prescriptions?
Does No to independence mean Yes to nuclear weapons on the Clyde?
Does No mean we will lose the right to stop new nuclear power stations being built beside our major cities?
Does No mean no more test policies like the poll tax?
Does No mean more stimulation for Scottish business rather than tax raids on our industrial sectors?
Does No mean a proper allocation of the defense dividend, not just today’s perpetual billions in under spend?
Does No mean an end to asset stripping Scots lotteries for London’s benefit?
Does No get Scotland a guarantee of increased investment?
Does No get Scots more devolution, more freedom, more impact – exactly how?
Does No mean no more meddling in Scottish sports, teams or heritage?
Does No mean that as a proud and ancient nation we have our own Olympics team?
Does No mean no more meddling with our culture, laws and rights?
What else does No mean?
Does No mean you will enshrine the above promises in a constitutional document before the referendum? If that is No we will understand it to be Yes to yet more empty promises.
We know what Yes means, it means decisions being taken by the people who live where the decisions will be made. We know it’s not a cast iron guarantee that they will be the right decisions, but we know they will be decisions taken by people with a vested interest in their own land. They will be taken by people who live in Scotland. That means there is a far better chance they will be the right decisions.
Westminster needs to answer the question before they can credibly ask any Scot to vote No. Just what, exactly, are they voting No for?
If Westminster can’t bind future governments to these guarantees, then they must acknowledge there is no difference other than location and vested interest between the yes vote and the no vote.
That as an example if there is only money for one new school, and the choice is Purley or Peterhead, where London will go for Purley, Edinburgh will choose Peterhead.
Westminster and all its supporters must give us concrete details of what a No vote gets us or acknowledge that everything they put forward is smoke and mirrors, scaremongering and panic inducing drivel.
Because there’s one thing we know as Scots, this present Union doesn’t work. It has lurched drunkenly from scandal to scandal, crisis to crisis and war to war. We need guarantees that No simply doesn’t get us more of the same, that No gets a new beginning.
If Westminster can’t tell us what No stands for, the only sane alternative is Yes.