What if I told you there was a country where if you were in trouble, the government considered it a duty to help you out? What if I told you they’d give you money with no repayment scheme if you lost your job, because they believed you’d pay them back what you could when you were earning again? What if I told you when you were sick they’d make sure professionals looked after you, and any care or medicine you needed would be taken care of regardless of whether you could afford it on your own? What if I told you they’d educate your children from the age of five all the way through to their twenties if that’s what was wanted, and they’d cover the bill for you too, because they believe a right to education is universal, not a privilege of the rich? What if I told you that when you’re too old to work, they’ll make sure you’re homed, fed and cared for, and no one will care about the money because looking after you costs what it costs and that’s that? What if I told you this country doesn’t care where you’re born, what accent you have or what colour your skin is; because all are welcome there and anyone can join the club?
What if I told you there was a similar country next door. A country that has systematically made things harder for poor people by raising the tax on everyday goods and making people move house if they lose their jobs? A country that looks at those who’ve lost their jobs and sees a group of people that can work for less than minimum wage? A country that charges you for medicine when you’re sick, care when you’re old, and is thinking of charging you any time you visit a doctor in your life? A country that charges you if you get divorced and need some outside help to work out what’s best for the kids? A country that will charge your children more than almost anywhere else in Europe for the ‘privilege’ of going to university? What if I told you a majority of that country’s voters just helped a party that blames those not born there for almost all its ills? That want to stop new people coming in and living there unless they’re rich? That stands opposed to societal progressions like gay marriage, maternity leave and equal pay for both sexes?
One of these countries will soon be powered almost entirely by renewable energy within its own land and waters. The other hires foreign firms to build nuclear power stations.
One of these countries wants to get rid of an outmoded, useless and horrendously expensive weapon so the world is that bit safer, and the money can be spent on childcare, schools and community. The other wants to keep the weapon, even though the man that led them for most of the last fifteen years said himself that it was defunct as a tool.
One of these countries has a parliament dominated by socially progressive parties. The other has been moving steadily right for years.
Would you think these two countries were the same? Doesn’t sound like it, does it?
What if I told you however, that there were two countries that had a lot in common? They tend to speak the same language. They like the same sports. They watch the same movies and enjoy their recreation in much the same way as each other. They have broadly similar values. One has a population considerably larger than the other, but it’s not cause for consternation. Around the world many people have trouble pointing out differences between them.
I would of course be talking about the US and Canada. Similar but different. Friends, but independent of each other.
What would be so horrific about Scotland and England being able to say the same?
We’re similar but different, and we’ll be better friends if we’re both independent of each other.