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    Posted on May 3, 2014

    12 Inspiring Statements From "Scotland's Future" - The White Paper On Scottish Independence

    Whatever you think about Scottish independence and the validity of the white paper, it's an impressive example of rhetoric and full of sexy, inspiring sentences that we should definitely hold the SNP to if they become the first government of an independent Scotland. It's a 649 page document so let's be honest - reading this is way faster than reading the actual thing, and definitely counts. Vote Yes friends, it's our chance to change the world!

    1. "If we vote Yes, we take the next step on Scotland's journey. We will move forward with confidence, ready to make the most of the many opportunities that lie ahead."

    There are plenty of things in the white paper that can't be guaranteed. Election promises for an election that won't take place till 2016, almost certainly some that won't happen anyway, even with a Yes vote followed by an SNP victory. But what these opening lines of the white paper make clear, is that that's almost beside the point. What matters isn't exactly what will happen after Scotland votes yes, because no one can tell you that for sure. All we can say is that Scotland will move into the future as Scotland - an independent nation, a group of 5 million people with a government charged with representing them and their best interests and nothing else.

    2. "The year ahead should be a national celebration of who we are and what we could be"


    As an international student studying Scottish Literature, one thing that's always impressed me about Scotland is that even though it hasn't been a recognised nation for over 300 years, it still has a very keen sense of an individual culture. It's not all bagpipes and Robbie Burns (ok, I admit to a continuing love affair with Rab), Scotland has a remarkably active community of artists, musicians, film, theatre, writers and poets for such a small and, let's admit it, thus far fictional country. Imagine what could happen with independence? Based on devolution an awful lot, and personally I'd expect to see a nurturing of Gaelic, following the example of other Commonwealth nations following their separations from the British Empire. With the referendum and associated artistic explosions, the Commonwealth Games, Homecoming, and the continued success of things like the Edinburgh Festivals and Celtic Connections, there's no more exciting time to be in Scotland. Let's keep this positive everyone - Yay Scotland, not nay UK.

    3. "But with Scotland as an independent country, our relationship [with the rest of the UK] will be one of equals. I have no doubt that it will flourish."

    OK, so maybe Dave an Alex won't go to too many football games together and share a whisky once all this is over, but there's definitely some truth and a whole lot of precedent in this. Take the 'special relationship' between the UK and their former colony the USA for instance. Well, maybe that's not the best example, but I've definitely heard Yes and No supporters alike express less than friendly sentiments towards the boys and girls in Westminster. With separation, perhaps Scotland will come to view the rest of the UK and their government as less of a welfare-cutting, NHS sabotaging enemy, and more like the cute old uncle you used to be afraid of but now you just think is so sweet with his endless cups of tea, and his quaint old sayings and his stories about the days when he ruled the waves. Didn't your relationship with your family improve after you went your own way and moved out?

    4. "We can also choose to protect key elements of our commitments to social justice in a written constitution... [which] will put questions of social justice at the forefront of the work of Scotland's Parliament, government and public institutions."

    That's right, constitutional doesn't have to mean one's daily exercise anymore! (Although I do love that expression). Forming a constitution is one of the most exciting opportunities Scotland would have if it votes for independence. Scotland is a nation that has become known for prioritising social justice - especially since devolution. Protecting the NHS to name a pertinent example. A constitution is an extremely helpful tool whereby the population can hold its leaders to account. The trick is to make sure its flexible enough to allow for future shifts in what is considered important by the public. So I'd advise not going near the phrase 'the right to keep and bear arms' with a 20 foot pole...

    5. "A child in poverty is a child that has one more barrier to learning. A child whose home life is chaotic, or who is hungry, cannot do their best."

    That's just inspiring stuff right there. The white paper is full of facts, figures and plans relating to child poverty. Quite simply it's something that should never, ever happen, and all over the world it has become more prevalent since the global recession and the increasing number of people 'in work' but surviving below the minimum wage. It's the kind of thing that is more conquerable in countries with smaller populations as well. It will probably come as no surprise that the Scandanavian countries Scotland is largely using as a model for post-independence make up the four countries with the lowest rates of child poverty in the OECD. As another service to your children, please don't make them wear kilts. Trust me, it's cruel.

    6. "Scotland is the only European country with a dedicated Youth Employment Minister... training for employability will be significantly improved by independence."

    As annoying as the cries of Mrs Lovejoy are, she has a point. Youth have been hit hardest in the UK and the rest of the world by the global financial crisis, with youth unemployment at nearly 20% in the UK. This is one of the highest rates in the eurozone, despite having one of the lowest overall unemployment rates. It's a depressing start to the working world, one that can result in long-term depression and joblessness, and we all know a high-achieving university graduate having to scrape together an income from odd jobs and bar work. Westminster's current master plan is to introduce national service and chuck the unemployed and over qualified youth in the army to fight some pointless war. Perhaps the Scottish plan has a little more inspiration and merit.

    7. "This transformational change to childcare in Scotland will allow parents, in particular women, to choose to work without worrying about the cost of looking after their children."

    As a feminist, member of Women for Independence and a die-hard Sheryl Sandberg/Lean In fan, this is one of my favourite ones. What any Sandberg reader will appreciate is that the gender pay gap (men earn 10% more than women on average in the UK as of November 2013) generally isn't fuelled by lecherous cinema owners paying the male ushers more than the female because 'it'll just be lining her purse on top of her man's allowance'. It comes about through dozens of factors such as occupations traditionally associated with men being valued more highly by society, and the expectations and infrastructures developed around the idea that there will be one full time parent/caregiver for elderly relatives, and that that person will be the mother/daughter/daughter-in-law. Only with the kind of dramatic re-assessments of how we think about childcare and parental leave will women truly be equal members of society, at least in terms of their working lives. It's incredibly rare to see this issue being addressed or even acknowledged by a government - hold them to it in 2016 women of Scotland!

    8. "The current Scottish Government's ambition for an independent Scotland has deep internationalist roots and is based on a firm belief that, as an independent country, we will have a distinct and valuable contribution to make to world affairs."

    Imagine what Scotland could do an a member of the United Nations? No longer a virtually voiceless region of the least-regarded member of the P5, but its own place with its own placard (and perhaps someone to translate Scots). Small countries can do amazing things in the UN that can come to be matters of intense pride and identity. Think of New Zealand standing up against the USA and all the other nuclear powers since the 1980s and still loudly and staunchly sticking to that today. Think of the nations of the Horn of Africa eradicating the last outbreaks of smallpox against the odds. Think of Bhutan measuring its nation's wealth in happiness not economy. What could Scotland tell the world once it's given the microphone?

    9. "Trident is an affront to basic decency with its indiscriminate and inhumane destructive power."

    YES! If for no other reason than the chance to get rid of nuclear weapons from Scotland, voting Yes in the referendum is the way to go. There is no excuse, no justification, no reason on earth to possess the power to massacre whole cities and countries and that's what Trident, the UK's nuclear submarine weapon system, affords. If it's defence you're worried about, the next sentence in the white paper sums it up pretty well: "Westminster's commitment to nuclear weapons leaves other aspects of our defence weakened." No kidding! The plan right now is to spend billions on a replacement for a system which no government can ever use without literally risking the end of the world. Scottish people have consistently polled as being mostly against nuclear weapons and no wonder. Just look at the reaction from the various other UK locales being suggested as new homes for Trident in the event of independence.

    10. "Scotland has a different need for immigration than other parts of the UK. Healthy population growth is important for Scotland's economy."

    A polite way of saying we plan to be a little less scared of people from other countries. In the interests of keeping this positive, I'm going to say that the Westminster government have a hard time developing policies on immigration that fit a country as broad and diverse in its need as the UK. But unfortunately that means that the hundreds of thousands of students attracted by Scotland's famous and internationally very high ranking universities, cannot, once they've obtained their qualifications, stay and help combat Scotland's deficit of working-age population or contribute to the Scottish/UK culture or economy at all.

    11. "Using independence to build a clean, green and nuclear-free nation, Scotland can be a beacon of environmentalism and sustainability."

    An incredibly inspiring statement, albeit copied slightly from book 1 page 1 of New Zealand identity but that's cool, we're good at sharing. Back to the whole constitution thing, Scotland would be in a unique position in essentially making a new country, ready for the 21st century. As such it can enshrine the contemporary world's desperate need for environmental awareness in its the aspects of its infrastructure that would be created or significantly altered.

    12. "Scotland's strong and vibrant culture is one of our most enduring and powerful national assets. Our rich heritage gives Scotland its sense of place and underpins our understanding of our past, our present and our future."

    Somehow, despite 300 years of not existing, Scotland has managed to be considered by itself and by the world as a 'country' even though as a nation its as fictional as its unicorn mascot. Scotland, as a concept, has survived because of its culture; its books, its music, its film and theatre and yes, even its bagpipes. Robbie Burns is the most memorialised writer in history with statues all over the world in his honour. Edinburgh has the world's largest monument to a writer in the form of the Walter Scott memorial. Scotland is only Scotland now because of its culture, and this culture does and will bring millions of tourists to its shores, especially if it is free to brand itself as Scotland and not that bit that's a 5 hour train away from London.

    So I'll finish with another bit of inspiration from another example of excellent Scottish writing, Alasdair Gray.

    "Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation."

    Let's be inspired and brave and vote yes, and let's be better friends with our neighbours because of it.


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