Bored sub-editors, prepare your headlines! An independent Scotland cannot and will not be a country cast in the SNP’s image, according to upstart SNP candidate and staffer.
This is, perhaps, an odd statement for a partisan man such as myself to come out with. One might have expected us nat hacks to be praying for decades of unbroken SNP rule under independence, as the unionist parties continuously lick their wounds and provide ineffectual opposition. I am quite prepared to tell you that this would significantly damage our country. I am equally ready to predict this will never materialise.
So why the need to highlight this scenario?
Blogs and micro-blogs have been inundated with a flood of ‘gotcha’ comments recently, after it emerged that a rumour is doing the rounds that maybe the SNP might be reconsidering it’s position on NATO. The party has subsequently been accused, by unionist and nationalist alike, of confusing the independence debate. How would an independent Scotland work with NATO and other defence bodies? How would Scotland defend itself? How could we stand tall on the international stage as a military power?
Important though it is for each party to be examining what Scotland should do about X, Y and Z after independence, we are not voting on NATO, or bus passes, or welfare. We’re voting to change the whole ethos of a nation, from one where the status-quo is tweaked and tinkered, to a nation where we take a critical look at every aspect of how we are governed.
A ‘yes’ vote isn’t a vote to stay in NATO – or leave NATO – because the SNP said so. It’s about giving Scots the power to decide these issues themselves, regardless of what the SNP, Labour, or Monster Raving Looney Party think. It’s about kick-starting a dialogue in this country that leaves no stone unturned. It’s about a national attitude change, where we ask ourselves if the institutions and sacred cows of the past fit in with our collective vision for a modern Scotland.
Now, you see, this is much bigger than the SNP and our vision for an independent Scotland.
I speak with voters every day, and although I’m running for the Highland Council, I’m talking about independence all the time. I actually talk about independence more than I talk about myself – a difficult thing for a candidate to do. When I talk to the public about independence, I don’t just preach the SNP’s vision of a sovereign Scotland (though I happen to agree with that vision). I’m actually more interested in what voters want out of independence. What would they change? What sort of government do they want? This interests me greatly, because this coming referendum is about giving the people of Scotland the tools to create whatever kind of Scotland they like.
We who support independence won’t win our case by taking one position or another on NATO. We will win our case by making communities feel empowered by independence, to say yes or no to NATO.
So by all means, do throw a cyber-hissy-fit when the SNP provides clarity on it’s preferred vision of an independent Scotland. But remember that this debate is about people, not parties.
Alex Murray MacLeod