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They’ll never take our freedom: Scottish independence vote gaining ground

Scots may well take the view that it’s time to make their own history, despite protests from Tony Abbott, the Tories and the Murdoch press. Freelance journalist Alex Mitchell reports.

On September 18, voters in Scotland will decide in a simple “yes/no” referendum whether to become an independent country or to remain within the United Kingdom, which came into existence in 1707. This week, London’s Tory press hit the panic button when two polls showed the unionists’ lead had been cut to five or six points and stalled, while the pro-independence vote was gathering momentum.

Millions of people of Scottish ancestry around the world can’t vote, and that is sensible from a practical and financial point of view. But if they could, diaspora Scots (including me) would vote to become independent. Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott doesn’t have a vote either, but there’s no doubt as to which way he would vote if he could. In London in mid-August, Abbott impudently said the supporters of an independent Scotland were “not the friends of justice, not the friends of freedom”. It was a sweeping condemnation of the Scots whose commitment to freedom, justice, human rights and civil rights is part of their national character.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond dismissed Abbott’s remarks, saying:

“Tony Abbott has a reputation for gaffes, but his bewildering remarks have all the hallmarks of one of the Westminster government’s international briefings against Scotland.

“Many Australians, including the great number with close Scottish connections, will look on in bafflement at these remarks — Australia is a country that has gained its independence from Westminster and has never looked back.”

Up to a point, wee Eck, up to a point.

Abbott is looking back; he’s always looked back. It’s congenital with him. Without consulting his own party or cabinet he reintroduced knights and dames to Australia. He’s ruled out having a referendum to choose an Australian as head of state. He wants Mrs Windsor to keep the job and then hand it over to one of her dysfunctional heirs. He wants to keep the Union Jack on the Australian flag, although a “yes” vote on September 18 would mean “the butcher’s apron” will be redesigned to remove  the Cross of St Andrew. Will the Australian flag have to be amended too?

Minds saturated by years of imperialist arrogance and colonial bigotry are used to throwing around the concept of independence, but they are very wary of it in practice …”

Soon Abbott and his fawners-in-chief Christopher Pyne and Scott Morrison will make Morris dancing a compulsory subject in the school curriculum, Bronwyn Bishop will be advocating young “gels” wear Pearly Queen outfits to speech nights, and Dame Vera Lynn’s wartime hits will be played at all state and federal conferences of the Liberal Party. Funnily enough, the very reverse is happening in the “Mother Country”. No one says he or she is British anymore; they say they are English or Scottish or Welsh or Irish. English is cool, British is uncool.

At the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow there were few acknowledgements of the “glorious” union. All-conquering England headed the medals table with 174 while Scotland limped behind in fourth place with 53. Scotland also had to endure snide comments from the (mainly English) broadcasters. Oh, and Australia came second with 137 medals, while “our” Queen (and the Kate and Will entourage) barracked for England.

The “no” campaign (aka “Better Together”) has been such a rousing failure it still might give victory to the Scottish nationalists. Its message to Scottish voters is one of unremitting doom and gloom. Nicknamed “Project Fear”, the English-financed campaign has predicted the collapse of the Scottish economy and currency; Scotland’s expulsion from Europe, NATO and every other world body except the United Nations; skyrocketing taxes and prices; and political and cultural obscurity.

The BBC, the Murdoch press and television, the Tories and the British Labour Party have joined a popular front to oppose Scottish independence. There is a reason for this: minds saturated by years of imperialist arrogance and colonial bigotry are used to throwing around the concept of independence, but they are very wary of it in practice, especially when it is in their own backyard (e.g. Irish independence). London finally accepted India’s independence in 1947 but only after many decades of delay and then only with profound regret and a touch of  relief. That marked the end of the empire.

The UK Prime Minister and Etonian alumnus David Cameron (surely a closet Scot with a name like that?) provided light relief when he blurted out during a referendum interview: “We want you to stay.” It was immediately compared to something a Tory upper class Englishman might say to his unhappy bride as she headed towards the door with a suitcase in one hand and passport in the other.

I find the polls and the English media coverage deeply unsettling because they appear to contradict all my natural Scottish pessimism. For example, the latest YouGov poll shows the gap between the two sides is narrowing and now stands at “yes” 47% and “no” 53%.  The “yes” vote has increased 8% in the past month, during which time Cameron has declared war operations in Iraq /Syria and Ukraine without consulting the Scots or his fellow countrymen and women.

Scots may well take the view that it’s time to make their own history and leave the English to their own devices.

6
  • 1
    Lady White Peace
    Posted Friday, 5 September 2014 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Just the fact that Tony Abbott told the Scots to vote NO…would make me consider voting YES!

  • 2
    trash
    Posted Friday, 5 September 2014 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    A pair of thoughts.

    There was an (devolution) referendum back in 1979 so a cynic might think that if this referendum fails we will be back at it 35 years time - and continually until it happens. However if the vote is for independence there certainly will not be a vote to rejoin the rump-UK.

    The Torys are (only just) in government and a Conservative MP from Scotland is a real rarity. I can imagine a glee in Conservative circles that 58 non-Tory members will no longer be needed at Westminster. The idea of decades of Cameron are less thrilling. West Lothian question, isn’t that overseas?

  • 3
    wbddrss
    Posted Friday, 5 September 2014 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    A countries existence is defined by having other countries recognize it.
    A small new country relies a lot on new partners helping it out.
    Its a tough dog eat dog world, a new country needs its currency accepted. Needs to balance its exports & imports. More importantly it will have to negotiate trade agreements. Big countries know this so they are setting stage to have the small new country give the trade advantage to it.
    All the big players know this so they just play the game. We will wait & see what happens. Scotland if it separates may well just get screwed & will have to get use to bending over.
    wbddrss

  • 4
    Guwardi
    Posted Saturday, 6 September 2014 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Yes,yes, yes, yes, yes,yes, yes,yes repeat. As lady white peace states, if Aboots ( Scottish spelling and pronunciation) against it, it must be right

  • 5
    Jackson Harding
    Posted Saturday, 6 September 2014 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Also being from the Scottish diaspora, admittedly three generations removed I’d also love to see a Yes vote. And yes Abbot’s intervention should make anyone want to vote Yes, but can we please stop blaming him for “reintroducing” knight and damehoods into Australia. Despite all the dumb things people claim he’s done, this one is one he hasn’t. Knighthoods and Damehoods have never been abolished in this country, not even for an instant. Please, if you are going to bag the PM, at least get your facts straight, if nothing else it helps your case if you argue from a position of strength and if your facts are correct.

    When the Whitlam Government introduced the Order of Australia it was meant to replace all of the Imperial honours, including knights and dames. But the state governments, particularly those of a conservative bent, continued having worthy citizens whacked on the shoulder with swords. In the Queensland of Bjelke-Peterson you were often worthy if you left a brown paper bag with a large amount of cash on a minister’s desk. Even the Queen was a little perturbed by this (reported in the popular press of the day) and eventually Malcolm Fraser introduced AK/AD into the Order of Australia to still allow for people to be beknighted, but to include some central control to prevent the excesses of the states from continuing. Appointments to the lesser orders of knighthood in the Imperial system were closed off to any further Australian appointments, they became foreign awards. The four orders of knighthood that are the personal gift of the Sovereign were unaffected, and they remain in the Australian order of precedence, as they have uninterrupted since that time.

    When Hawke came to power he advised the Queen to change the Order of Australia back to it’s original and AK/AD was removed from the Order of Australia in 1986, but it wasn’t abolished, just no more appointments please. Existing knights and dames were unaffected and they continued, two have survived the interregnum (Sir Ninian Stephen and Prince Charles). Once again the four orders that are the Sovereign’s personal gift were unaffected. These four are (in order of precedence) Order of the Garter, Order of the Thistle, Order of St Patrick (dormant since the mid 1930’s and now has no living members, although officers of the order still exist) and the Royal Victorian Order. These four orders of knighthood have been continuously open to Australians, they have never been abolished and Australians have been continuously open for appointment to them, and they have retained their place in the Australian order of precedence as part of the Australian Honours System. Oh but that never happened you say. They were “effectively abolished” you say. Wrong.

    Yes it actually it did happen. Not once, but twice. First of all Sir William Hesseltine, an Australian, was made Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order in 1990. This order is the Sovereign’s personal gift for particular service directly to the monarchy. Sir William had been the Queen’s personal private secretary. Then Ninian Stephen (yes him, former GG and sole surviving Australian AK until Mr Abbot made his change) was made a KG in 1996. A full decade after Bob Hawke “abolished” knightoods for Australians.

    When Labor next regains power we can expect to see AK/AD removed from the Order of Australia again. But those four gifts of the Sovereign will remain. You will still be able to be an Australian knight, you’ll just have to settle for a KG, KT or GCVO/KCVO instead of an AK/AD (you are highly unlikely to get a KP). Once we are a Republic, then and only then will they finally be gone.

  • 6
    GideonPolya
    Posted Sunday, 7 September 2014 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    The No vote is still trending downwards and the Yes vote for Scottish Indepencence may have hit the fornt. (Joe Weisenthal, “Bombshell new poll shows “YES” taking the lead in Scottish independence vote”, Business Insider Australia, 7 September 2014: : http://www.businessinsider.com.au/yes-takes-the-lead-in-scottish-independence-poll-2014-9?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%253A+clusterstock+%28ClusterStock%29 ) .

    Below is a list of 9 reasons why Scots should vote Yes for Scottish Independence (for details and documentation see Gideon Polya, “Nine Reasons Why Scots Should Vote Yes For An Independent Scotland”, Countercurrents, 5 September, 2014: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya050914.htm ):

    1. An Independent Scotland would ban Nuclear Weapons and cease being a nuclear target .
    2. A demilitarized Independent Scotland would have freed up resources to alleviate Poverty both at home and abroad.
    3. Scotland aims for 100% renewable energy by 2020 (via wind, tide and wave power) and an Independent Scotland would be a a major example for Climate Change Action.
    4. An Independent Scotland would dissociate itself from British state terrorism, US state terrorism, US Alliance state terrorism and British Imperialism .
    5. An Independent Scotland with a pro-peace, pro-health and pro-equity agenda could eliminate 11,000 preventable deaths in Scotland each year.
    6. An Independent Scotland could recover sovereignty, social equity and genuine democracy by a wealth tax.
    7. An Independent Scotland would have rejected the “No” advice of serial invaders, serial war criminals and genocidal mass murderers like Barack Obama and Tony Blair.
    8. An Independent Scotland would resume a rational and healthy national life after a millennium of hegemony, exploitation, ethnic cleansing and lying by the genocidal English Establishment.
    9. A pro-peace, pro-equity, demilitarized Independent Scotland would provide an example for all other countries and peoples in the world.

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