We are posting a few blogs where local RIC activists discuss their reasons for voting Yes in September. Firstly, Dr Sarah Hendry, an academic at the University of Dundee, speaking in a personal capacity.
I have always supported independence. However I have three main reasons at present; and they are linked.
Firstly, around democracy. It is not just that we have a Government that we did not elect. But the voting system in the UK is not even broadly proportionate, so it is not possible to have a Government reflective of the votes cast. That is wrong, and disenfranchising; only those in marginal seats can influence an election. It also diminishes any belief in politics and the political system. At the last Scottish Parliamentary elections, people chose to vote SNP in constituencies and in the lists. To me, that’s not what the lists are for (they are to obtain proportionality, and especially, to give a voice to small parties. The small parties, in turn, can exercise some radical pressure on the mainstream). But that’s what people did, and the result was an SNP majority (and hence, the referendum). I believe that since 1999 there has been an emerging understanding here that a proportionate system makes it worth voting; it is my sincere hope that the referendum will massively increase that engagement. That’s democracy and we will not have that from Westminster – too many vested interests against it. I am struggling to see any actual reasons for the No campaign that are not vested self-interest. That’s true of politicians, media and those who own the assets. International solidarity with the English working class? That’s an argument. But Scotland by comparison has moved so far, and so fast, in our political development that the best we can do for them is show them that another way is possible.
Secondly, around governance – a concept that recognises something wider than government in civic organisation and decision-making. There are lots of statistics around on small countries. They are often wealthier and happier than large countries – I don’t believe that’s a coincidence. Government is closer to hand, and therefore easier to control and hold to account. Larger organisations in any sphere lose any personal touch or contact. The downside of a small country (or organisation) is cronyism, which is a real risk; but even so, I consider that is to be preferred to a structure that is simply too big to manage. The human scale is where we all live.
Thirdly, around resources. Scotland is a rich country, within or outwith the UK. We are blessed with natural resources of many types. We will not run out of water, the basis of all life, in the foreseeable future. We have numerous sources of energy. We have a reasonable population density, albeit with a curious spatial distribution. We have enough land to feed and otherwise sustain ourselves, used properly, if that became necessary. We have a coastline that enables the use of marine resources, including navigation. What we don’t have is a good distribution of the benefits of these assets. Small numbers of people hold most of the land. The Crown Estates hold the coastal zone (as well as much inland property). Income and wealth are both becoming less equal, whilst social mobility (the human resource) is in reverse. Again, there is no prospect of any change to this within the current system – it IS the current system. An independent Scotland with a decent, people-centred constitution could choose to change these things. The radical groupings (within and outwith political parties) are the only pressure for this type of reform; in an independent Scotland we would have a voice and a role.