We Need a Brand New Country
by Amie – from her speech at the Seaton public meeting, 26 June 2014
Thanks very much for giving up part of your evening to come along, as let’s face it, there are other things that you could be doing with yourself but instead you’ve chosen to come here and we appreciate that. It means that you WANT to find out more. It means that you’re not apathetic about the future of your country. And it is YOUR country. Not the government’s country, not the bankers’ country, not the rich folks’ county — YOUR country.
We hope that you enjoy your time this evening and you’ll leave with some thoughts in your heads and questions on your lips. And that’s important because this doesn’t just end after tonight. The RIC will be campaigning and discussing with local people about the benefits of Scottish independence right up until the referendum on the 18th of September and beyond. And that’s why we exist; we exist because we believe that a new Scotland is possible. And it is, believe me.
Firstly, I’m going to address some myths that have been circulating in the media about why we shouldn’t vote yes. If you’re not aware, the mainstream press are extremely biased towards the No, or ‘better together’ campaign. And whilst that’s unfortunate for us, it does give us the fire to raise interest and awareness and change minds for ourselves. It’s in our hands. And that’s the beauty of the RIC — it involves ordinary folks, no different to any one of you. We’re not politicians or lawyers or media types — we’re just citizens who are sick to the back teeth of being treated unjustly and unfairly and want to do something to change it. Simple as that.
Now, a lot of folk are put off as they think a vote for Yes is a vote for the SNP or for Alex Salmond. Not so. This is a referendum, not a general election. We’re not voting for a party and we won’t be tied to the SNP. That will come two years down the line where, if we do get independence, Scotland can vote for whoever it wants to vote for with no input from Westminster whatsoever.
Isn’t that refreshing?
Some people also seem to think that independence will distance Scotland from the EU and this will have an effect on the lives of the thousands of immigrants who have come to Scotland, maybe forcing them out of the country they’ve come to call home. This may be among the fears of some of you here tonight. These fears are unfounded. An independent Scotland has plans to remain part of the EU for the foreseeable future, unlike the UK, where David Cameron has said he will not rule out plans to hold a referendum to leave the EU. While the UK is pursuing the UKIP anti-immigration agenda, Scotland is welcoming skilled immigration from all over Europe and beyond. We always have done and will continue to do so. That, in turn, will boost our net economy. Whatever your thoughts on EU membership, that’s worth bearing in mind. Any EU citizen who lives and works in this country has a right to vote in the referendum.
The overwhelming majority of Scots who support independence, at least in my experience, do not hate the English, as some unionists claim. I certainly don’t. Half of my mother’s family live in England. I have cousins who were born in England. Some of my best friends are English. The RIC are a civic nationalist group and we want to take the stigma away from the idea of nationalism and replace it with one that promotes the notion of acceptance of all within the country’s borders. It’s not a campaign against England and its people — it’s a campaign against unfair representation and rule that comes from what is, essentially, an English government. It’s an anti-Westminster campaign.
Take the bedroom tax, for example. 91% of Scottish MPs voted against the bedroom tax, yet it still went ahead in Scotland. If we had a completely independent government, it would not have gone ahead and thousands of families wouldn’t be facing arrears and eviction, not to mention the mental anguish and humiliation that such a tax brings. It should be up to us, not Westminster.
The simple fact is, Scotland is not being treated fairly and drastic action is needed before Westminster’s austerity cuts hit and lead to even worse conditions for our poorest and most vulnerable citizens. We have what is, quite literally, a once in a lifetime opportunity to abandon a rapidly sinking ship. There is no virtue to be found in loyalty to a system that has abused Scotland’s wealth and used it as a dumping ground for nuclear weapons and waste for far, far too long. We do not owe Westminster a thing. What we do owe ourselves is a government that is run by us with our interests at its centre — a government that actually listens to its people and acts according to their wishes. With citizens, not subjects.
Think about it — if your washing machine breaks, if your car breaks, your computer breaks, you try to fix it. Well, Britain is broken. We tried to fix it with devolution but that wasn’t enough to save it. We need a brand new country. And that band new country will come in the form of Scottish independence. Let’s start afresh with a nation rich in natural resources, that cares about its people from the smallest to the tallest, from the richest to the poorest. I’m a young female from the East End of Glasgow, one of the poorest areas in Britain with the lowest life expectancy. No one should be expecting to hear from me. There should be a 50 year old male with an Oxford degree from a middle-class background up here. But instead, I am. Don’t let anyone make you feel your view is not important or your voice doesn’t deserve to be heard, because let me tell you, it does. And we want to hear from you.
A better Scotland is becoming more and more of a reality. You can help make it so. And you’ve taken the first step by coming here tonight. And we thank you. Sincerely.