Deciding to Get Involved

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By David – speech given at RIC Torry meeting, 1 April 2014

This is the first time in my life I have been so engaged in politics. I have always had a few clever words to say, a sarcastic observation, a cynical put down. I have been on the odd march about war or nuclear weapons. I write an occasional letter to the newspapers. Now I find myself out in the evening knocking on doors selling what I believe in. Sitting here talking in public about politics.

What is going on, what has changed? I have thought about this a lot and want to share these thoughts.

I am not a nationalist. I have no “issues” with my nationality. Scotland may not have been a sovereign nation for over 300 years, but I know I am Scottish. Like many of us I have worked all over the world, and everywhere that brawn as well as brains are required to build things I hear Scottish accents. We know who we are. I remember once in O’Neil’s Irish bar in Atyrau Kazakhstan, chewing the fat with an unusually broadly educated American engineer who knew of Adam Smith and David Hume and other figures of the, the, er, “English Enlightenment”… as so often happens you have to explain. That’s fine. Being called “English” is not an insult, they are our friends and neighbours.

I don’t need to build a country just for Scottish people to help me with my identity.

If I am not a Nationalist, what am I? I consider myself an Internationalist.

Why does my “internationalism” lead me to wanting to create another country? At first that could seem counter intuitive. There are two issues I would like to fix:

  1. All my life I have only voted for parties that believe in unilateral nuclear disarmament. That includes the SNP, the Green party, even Orangina.  At last this might actually happen.
  2. Sending our young men and women abroad to kill brown people to keep America safe is not borderline crazy – it is profoundly sociopathic. I call it PISD – post imperial stress disorder. The empire is over. We can stop killing people now.

If I ask myself a simple question:

“Would the world be a better place if Scotland had its own voice, however small, instead of having Britain speak for us?”

I answer yes. I am certain we would be a better world citizen than Britain. Why? Because I believe that we will build a more socially just society within Scotland, and that we will project those values rather than military ones.

Of course at the moment Britain is bring run by Eton’s sixth form common room. No wonder I want free of that, they swapped the “home counties” for the “home country” and run the state with the imperial swagger and contempt for the national interest that was once reserved for the dominions. The argument from the Labour party is that everything will change when Labour wins the next UK general election. I am told that the voice I want Scotland to have in the international community will be heard just as soon as the Labour party are in power again. I have to say that the last two Labour administrations have been profoundly disappointing. The idiot adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan are a scandal to match any of our historic imperial bullying. But what of Gordon Brown’s administration, that son of the Manse, introducer of tax credits and other help for the low paid?

The other question I need an answer to is:

“Is it possible to build a society that has the levels of equality and social justice which I aspire to within Great Britain?”

…and I have to answer no. I can tell you the moment I realised it was not going to be possible.

In 2007/8 the world’s financial structure was imploding. The future of international cowboy capitalism was at stake. Faced with the starkest, clearest choice in a thousand years between the interests of the rich and the interests of the poor, Gordon Brown’s labour government chose the rich. Gordon Brown’s undoubted understanding of the crisis and generosity to the uber-rich made the world safe for bankers and billionaires, and gave more money to the rich in an afternoon that the poor in ten years in power. Of course there are thousands of good people in the labour party – but for the life of me I have no idea what they think they can achieve while in thrall to the City of London.

The result of the referendum in September will be decided to a very great extent by the people who voted Labour in the last election. I attended a meeting of the “Labour for Independence” movement last week and was hugely encouraged to find a distinguished panel of life long labour party members arguing for Independence. So I asked the panel:

“How do I persuade my friends who have voted Labour all their lives to vote for Independence? Many of them are going to vote No just because they hate Alex Salmond. If I have one minute of their time, what do I say to persuade them?”

Their answer was: “so that together we can start to build the just society you have been voting for all your life.”

That’s why I am sitting here. I want to start to build that just society.

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About RIC Aberdeen

The Radical Independence Campaign sees Scottish independence as the first step towards creating a fairer, greener, more democratic place. RIC Aberdeen are a local campaigning group, ordinary people who want to make a difference. We do canvassing every Wednesday night, along with other events. Please get in touch for more info.

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