This post is not about voting for No or Yes, but encouraging you to think carefully about the consequences of each option before you decide regardless of what way you lean. It’s not only in response to the many vague and heartfelt reasons such as “we have so much shared history”, “it’s upsetting to break up a union”, and of course the famed “we’re just better together”; but equally directed at the “freedom for freedom’s sake” rhetoric which I honestly have never heard but suppose from all the vitriolic comments directed against it must be out there somewhere.
I understand that there is a lot of emotion, history and joy embedded in both sides of the debate, but there seems to be an assumption that this vote is about “change” or “no change”.
As both sides will readily attest, that’s simply false.
It’s untrue that there will be no change. It is a choice between two options which are both very different to what we have now, not just a matter of opting for the flag or politician we prefer. This is why I consistently encourage people to investigate what both sides say, both from their own sources and from the many neutral sources available for each topic. For example, you want to know about pension security? Great! The DWP have explained exactly what would happen. Go look it up1.
I think it’s important to know what you’re voting for as much as possible precisely because it means big changes. If it didn’t mean anything at all I would agree it doesn’t matter, but it really will make a difference whichever option is chosen.
If you vote ‘No’ you vote for all the change ‘No’ brings, based on the change that the UK government has been bringing into place and all major parties have sworn to continue. If you vote ‘Yes’ you vote for all the change ‘Yes’ brings, based on whatever government is voted into power in an independent Scotland. Neither option retains the status quo.
After a Yes vote, Scotland’s vote actually counts for choosing a government.
At the moment the UK government only has options which lean to the right with any power, but Scotland’s political landscape has a lot more variety2, especially with socially minded or left-wing parties. Plus, Westminster uses First Past the Post which as one can see results in swapping between Blue or Red; Scotland uses Mixed Member Proportional Representation3 which means our parliament reflects the diversity of views. That makes a big difference in how the country will be run.
Like what the UK government is doing? Vote No.
Dislike it? Vote Yes.
After a No vote, the amount of funding allocated to Scotland for services will change greatly.
That’s not unionist backlash or separatist myths; the way funding is allocated guarantees it. Currently for services such as the NHS (which is entirely separate from the three English, Welsh and Northern Irish health provision services, which are also separate from one another4) Scotland is allocated a percentage based on what England is allocatedr5. But, England has been privatising their NHS6 with one of the outcomes being to not have to pay as much. If England doesn’t allocate as much funding to the NHS, Scotland doesn’t get as much funding. If they allocate none, Scotland loses about 1/3 of all income. That means under a No vote we will end up with a private health service instead of public health care (unless the Green party or NHS party win a majority in the UK).
Like public healthcare and universal rights to treatment? Vote Yes.
Like the move towards fully privatised healthcare and treatment based on income? Vote No.
After a Yes vote, that new government is going to have some new parties.
Actually, all the major parties involved in the Yes campaign are putting forward their vision for what an independent Scotland could have, and since they are in agreement on the basics (more spending on public services, less spending on nuclear weapons) if they get in then there will be a massive swing towards social ideals. For example, the SNP wants to increase childcare funding and minimum wage7, the Scottish Greens want to introduce a universal basic income8 instead of our current benefits system etc.
Like guaranteed health and social care for all? Vote Yes.
Like the current and increasing reduction in public services? Vote No.
After a No vote, the three major UK parties have said that, to varying extents dependent on which party gets in, powers for the collection of income tax will be devolved to Scotland9.
That means that, if you believe anything those parties say any more at least, the Scottish government will have to set up a Scottish version of HMRC and fund it from the Scottish budget. On the one hand, new jobs; on the other, far less money for the government to spend due to funding the Scottish HMRC. As Johann Lamont (Scottish Labour, strong No vote) said: ‘Scotland will not be getting more money, it will simply be accountable for raising more of its money. I hope that dispels some myths.’ That will be a big change.
Dislike public spending but like devolved tax collection? Vote No.
Like public spending and want all powers transferred to Scottish government? Vote Yes.
Those are just a few examples; I’m trying to show that either way, No or Yes, there will be a change from what we currently have, so it’s important to explore what those changes actually mean to inform your vote.
Sadly it’s not a case of whether you like England, it’s a case of considering the various implications of what the vote brings. And as a Christian, I would consider what government policies are in line with God’s character, and what aren’t, and inform my vote in that manner. We know from the sources on both sides that independence is entirely financially feasible, nobody is denying that, it’s whether it’s a good thing or not that’s the case. This is not choosing between two flavours of the same dessert, with the only difference being that a Yes vote means we become dual citizens. If it were I really wouldn’t care enough to write this much
I am not urging you in this post to vote a particular way, I am urging you to consider your vote as the important thing that it really is by voting for the consequences you want in the future. If you look around at the state of our country and you really like the status quo, that’s all well and good (though it highly surprises me), but it won’t stay this way whatever the outcome; which change we want is what we need to consider.
2. See the UK political compass based on 2010 party manifestos at: http://www.politicalcompass.org/ukparties2010
3. For a detailed explanation, see Dr. Euan Bennet’s explanation here: http://scienceofindependence.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/mythbusting-with-evidence-1-after-independence-it-wont-be-any-easier-to-change-governments-we-dont-like/