By a Newsnet reporter
The Director of the U.S. Global Engagement Program at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York has publicly backed a Yes vote in the independence referendum.
David Speedie has said that Scots should not be scared by what he termed, “the fever-pitch narratives of the pro-union forces” and urged people to instead focus on how Scotland could thrive as an independent state.
Writing in the Scottish Global Forum, Speedie who is himself Scottish but does not have a vote in the referendum, rejected suggestions that Scots should be “mightily content with the status quo since so many had found fame and fortune in London”.
He also questioned the notion that the considerable Scottish presence in London is somehow linked to Scotland being in the UK and would end if Scotland becomes independent – “it is fatuous to suggest that the ‘north-south traffic’ of people, goods and ideas would suffer in any way in the aftermath of a ‘Yes’ vote”.
Commenting on social policy and how it has unfolded in recent decades under Westminster rule, the respected political analyst said:
“Increasingly, over 40 years of living in the United States, I have had to retreat from the confident view held during my early years of exile that certain fundamental services in the UK were superior to those across the Atlantic – namely education, transportation and [at least for the lower-income stratum] healthcare.”
The “social contract” in the UK is now “perilously frayed”, he said, and added:
“This is due surely, and in no small part, to a process that is as inexorable as it is unwelcome – the shift of power, influence and wealth to London and the Southeast of England, a process that began in the Thatcher years but which has continued unabated. Simply put, London sucks the oxygen out of the rest of the UK.”
Mr Speedie insisted that Scotland has the capacity – and the will – to resist these forces:
“I can testify to the fact that Scotland has a social democratic conscience. This is evidenced most notably by a tax and spend on social services commitment that appears to be lacking in what was recently described as the ‘madcap capitalist laboratory’ of London.”
Citing the fact that Scotland has only one Conservative MP, Scots he said, should be mindful of the “gulf in political culture…between north and south”. Mr Speedie also contrasted the support for UKIP in England with the failure of the anti-EU party to mount any significant challenge in Scotland, calling their Euro success north of the border, “one miserable seat”.
He also highlighted the dangers that voting No could bring, saying: “Indeed, in looking at the broader European picture, we should consider seriously the implications of voting ‘No’ when we know that David Cameron is committed to a ‘stay or go’ vote on Europe in the next UK Parliament. Do Scots wish to be part of a UK which decides that it no longer wishes to be in the European Union and withdraws from an alliance of 28 states and 508 million citizens?”
“Taken together”, he concluded, “these factors test to the utmost the credibility of a truly ‘United’ kingdom and the notion that Scotland is ‘better’ within it.”
Responding to Mr Speedie’s views, Scottish Global Forum Director Dr John MacDonald said: “Mr Speedie is an internationally respected political analyst and commentator and we at the Scottish Global Forum welcome the opportunity to publish his first direct contribution to the debate over Scotland’s future.
“He has articulated a passionate case for a ‘Yes’ vote, one which is certain to spark reflection and further debate. The Scottish Global Forum is committed to providing a platform for reasoned political debate and we will look to publish further opinion pieces, on both sides of the argument, ahead of September”.
Mr Speedie’s article can be found at: http://www.scottishglobalforum.net/opinion—speedie-view-from-america.html