#indyref: Scots owe football team to English, says Ming Campbell

Scotland yes campaign material

Before I get too far in, it’s worth applauding Menzies Campbell for at least trying to be positive about the Union. We’ve all seen the relentless negativity from Better Together despite promises of such positivity, so for Mr Campbell to try and address the deficit is a welcome move, even for Yes supporters such as myself. I’m not convinced he really got there, though. Let me explain, and lest I be accused of taking his words out of context, here’s the original article so you can see for yourself.

Mr Campbell starts off by saying, “it is for love of the country of my birth that I shall vote no in the Scottish referendum on 18 September.” That’s perfectly reasonable, though it is worth noting how many times unionists have scoffed at the idea of Independence being an idea for the heart and not the head. Let’s move on to the substance, however.

“I shall vote no not because of uncertainties about membership of the EU or Nato, or the possibility of a currency union,” he says, which is a positive change. Lord knows we’ve had enough of scaremongering on these subjects. In the very next paragraph however, he continues,

“We are members of the EU, Nato, the G7 and the Commonwealth, and have a permanent membership of the security council of the UN.”

Excuse me? Why bring up the UK’s membership of these institutions unless the implication is that an independent Scotland would no longer belong? Is that positive? If you’re not voting No because of this, why bring it up?

It’s not long before more similar questions are raised. Mr Campbell lists a number of prominent Westminster politicians who hailed from Scotland suggesting that we’ve, “enjoyed influence beyond our size or reasonable expectation.” Personally I can’t help but feel like this is somewhat patronising but since I like to think the best of Mr Campbell, let’s assume that’s just me. He does conveniently forget however, that these figures are hugely outweighed by representatives from our neighbours, at a ratio of (roughly) 13:1.

Let me frame it another way. It’s perfectly possible to write a list of ten women’s names that you’ll find at the forefront of scientific research in the UK, and then use that as evidence to suggest that women are doing fine when it comes to getting into the field. The list has no context however, without note of how many more men there are at the top. Same with Scots MPs at Westminster.

Our human rights are protected, we have a participative democracy, and the rule of law is our very foundation.”

Just as with international body membership, why bring this up unless you feel that an independent Scotland would abandon these principles? Or is the point that an independent Scotland would never have pursued them in the first place? Ignore Scotland’s long-established independent legal system. Ignore also the fact that opposition to the Human Rights Act 1998, the ECHR and ECtHR is centred in Tory heartlands, not Scotland. Is bringing up the UK’s, “participative democracy” a dig at Alex Salmond’s “dictatorship”? Or is it just ignorance of the sheer scope of the grassroots efforts for a Yes vote in Scotland? Neither sounds very positive.

Movements for independence are often based on some form of discrimination – ethnic, religious or economic, a democratic deficit perhaps, or persecution or institutional prejudice. None of these has blighted Scotland’s relationship with the rest of the UK.”

The emphasis is of course, mine. I’m sorry, how many times has Scotland agreed with the Tory government it’s been saddled with? How many times have two million Scottish votes been the deciding factor in which party wins a UK election? How many times has Scotland paid in more than it’s got back? Wasn’t it the London-based Guardian which Mr Campbell was writing in, that ‘comically’ asked, “do you agree that Scotland should go and fuck itself?”

Mr Campbell then talks of the invention of the NHS and welfare state. He doesn’t mention the current UK obsession with dismantling them. He doesn’t mention that the Scottish NHS is largely independent already.

“In Scotland we have kept our own legal system,” he says, so it would appear the rule of law still does exist in Scotland. That’s good, then. “Our church and even the right of our football team to play in the World Cup.”

We’re allowed to practice whatever religion we choose, and we’ve been allowed to keep our own football team? These are marks of how great the union is, rather than, say, exactly what we should be entitled to whether in a union or not?

“Now we are invited to give up that history and the continuing opportunity it allows us.”

That’s not taken out of context; it’s the very next sentence. Our own legal system, church and football team are things we will give up if we become independent? Am I misinterpreting? Let’s look at it again, all together.

In Scotland we have kept our own legal system, our church and even the right of our football team to play in the World Cup. Now we are invited to give up that history and the continuing opportunity it allows us.”

History not being a thing you can, ‘give up’ (it’s not an asset to be divided like a CD collection, as the PM might say), I can only agree with my initial reading. It’s through the magnanimity of England that we were allowed to keep the above, and somehow when we’re independent, those opportunities will all be taken away? I’m starting to think that as well as being wrong when I thought this was the positive case, I was also wrong when I called Mr Campbell reasonable. Let’s move on.

His next point is copied and pasted from unionist stump speeches of late. The, “there’s no going back,” chant of doom, again ignoring the answer to the question, “how many countries have wanted back?” altogether.

A decision in September to leave the UK will bind our successors for generations to come. Are we not entitled to clear and unequivocal evidence that to do so would do more than satisfy the ambition of one political party?”

Oh goodie gumdrops. YesScotland is a front of the SNP, all Yes supporters are SNP activists, and the only people, the ONLY people who want independence are SNP members. I’m not going to even bother with this. This is part of the positive message? I’m done.

An article entitled, “I will vote no to independence because I love Scotland,” could easily be mistaken for the positive case. I’ve no doubt it has been and will be trumpeted as such. I’ve read it though, and it’s not. I’m still waiting. More to the point for Better Together, undecideds are still waiting, and in its absence they’re not going to hang around forever.

That’s a good point actually. Stick the kettle on, BT. There’s no rush.


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