An Independent Scotland Could Save Britain


If ever a better example of the warped democracy we live in were needed, the privatisation of the Royal Mail has handed us one on a plate. It’s not a nice dish though. This is more of a sobering dollop of cold, colourless mash which reminds us with every mouthful the difference between us and them. The ‘them’ in this case being the ones who struggle to fully enunciate “we’re all in this together” due to their mouths being stuffed full of Kilkeel Crab Salad, Braised Shin of Kettyle Beef and Apple Crumble with Bushmills Whiskey Custard (taken directly from the G8 dinner menu).

After the momentary confidence boom when Scottish MPs helped oppose military intervention in Syria (I have always wanted to show off to the world that my representatives work as a buffer against warmongering), Scotland’s political worth in Westminster has been dealt yet another teeth-shattering blow. Despite four fifths of our MPs (79% versus 21%) voting against selling off a 497-year-old institution, it turns out it doesn’t really matter, as the rest of Westminster has already decided for us that we can’t have it. This privatisation isn’t just opposed by Scottish MPs but by all of the people of the UK and by the postal workers’ Communication Workers Union.

Democratic insolence aside, this is a ball breaker through and through. Not only are Scotland’s notably remote island communities now liable to suffer from the decline in postal service quality and reliability, but the same Government so desperate for Scotland to not ‘betray Britain’ has chosen to sell the majority stake of yet another classically British institution (which was even making them a profit!).

A nation should be proud of such an institution not because someone born within the same national boundary is making millions from it, we should be proud of it because every single one of us owns it. What else does a nation have to be proud of if not its collective efforts? Someone on Skye will hardly be swelling with national pride over the fact that someone in London is making millions from their lacklustre mail service. What’s relevant is what they directly share with their fellow country-people whether they’re from Cornwall, Cardiff, Carluke or Chelsea. What they should share is a commonality of services and ethical values, not a line on a passport. If the only commonality is of serving the profits of the same CEO, rather than a socially driven concern for both local and global communities, then the nation is owned by the elite, not by the people. And the collective which is capable of so much good is broken down. If the workers and the ordinary people are to have their own nation they must have a shared system of day-to-day clockwork. Privatise the Royal Mail and what you’ll get is yet another business which will happily discard the universal policy in favour of higher profit from centralised economic hubs.

If you consider yourself socially minded and haven’t watched it already, Ken Loach’s documentary The Spirit of ’45 is a must see. It explores a time in which the British people came together despite all odds, after learning the hard way what was at risk. This society came together and the workers united to elect a Labour government which ushered in a groundbreaking welfare state which provided vital services to everyone. To everyone. Not only was this a reaction to the troubles of wartime, but to the deep depression in which Britain’s people lived in the 1930s. This support for the need for social harmony stemmed from a prevailing notion put succinctly by ex-Labour MP Tony Benn:

In the 1930s we had mass unemployment. We don’t have unemployment in wartime. If you can have full employment killing Germans, why can’t you have full employment building homes, building hospitals, recruiting nurses, recruiting doctors and recruiting teachers?”

Now ask yourself, what is the current Government, or even the last however many, doing to preserve those honourable British values? From what I can see, all they’re doing is ensuring that those rich enough are able to secure their wealth by investing it privately into our public services and institutions, as a result massively degrading the accountability and public ownership by which we can rely on these services to value people over profit. They make money. Our services crumble.

Scottish independence won’t tear Britain apart. Scottish independence has the potential to save the best parts of Britain which haven’t yet been sold away by Etonian millionaires. Britain has been torn apart for decades by rampant free market individualism which has eroded the powers of the Unions and the people. In this National Collective article, Jo Edwards puts forward such a case:

Largely thanks to the era of Margaret Thatcher the psyche of society became a mass of ‘I want’, ‘I know’, ‘I decide’ which has now become common place. But what happened to ‘we are asking’, ‘we are saying’, and ‘we should decide’? The encouragement of self success, individual ambition and ownership ensured that everyone was to become concerned only with number one.”

If we had been allowed the devolution we voted for in 1979, who knows what we could have been guarded from during Thatcher rule. Thanks to our devolved powers now, a small part of the iconic National Health Service has been saved from being sold off to the highest bidder (or, to the highest Conservative Party donor). Despite using all of the democratic powers at our disposal, we are having our other public services ripped out of us by a group of millionaires (80% of whom are male, just to emphasise the gross misrepresentation at work) hundreds of miles away who we never voted for.

While arguing so stubbornly to save the political name of Great Britain, many have forgotten to address what is actually so great about Britain, and who’s trying to save that. The Westminster parties have done such a bad job of holding on to these values that they have now been hijacked by the BNP as a tool for fascism, the war against which is exactly what bore these values in the first place. We should be sustaining these values healthily, invoking the collective spirit of 1945 and adapting it to the environmental and internationalist needs of today. An independent Scotland offers us the chance to do this. The Union doesn’t.

When the welfare state was established, we had just been through a war which exhausted both our finances and the last remnants of the British Empire, but we still managed to set it up because we realised how important it was for us to come together after we had come so close to being torn apart. If politicians at Westminster continue to refuse any way back to the progress we were making under collectivism, as they have proven they will (even the current Labour Party cannot be further away from the party which brought about the welfare state), then Scotland should be allowed to become the socially democratic and outward looking country it actually wants to be while it’s still healthy enough to do so. And to our fellow men and women of the United Kingdom (and the world), we would love for you to join us.

Hamish Gibson
Arts Editor
National Collective

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About Hamish Gibson

Hamish Gibson is an arts journalist studying English and Politics at Aberdeen University. National Collective Arts Editor and Scotland On Sunday new music columnist.

There are 4 comments

  1. Paul McConnochie

    I’ve been arguing this in my own circles. This is a very well written piece, that I can point my friends and acquaintances to. Thanks for writing it.

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