For my latest blog I want you to take a slightly different, very quick view of history, and ask yourself a question at the end. Please bear with this.
1st May 1707, Scottish representatives at Westminster have just signed the dissolution of the Acts of Union with England. It has been agreed that Scotland can no longer be a part of the Union and must go down a separate path. The Scottish Parliament sits for the first time in 300 years the very next day, Scotland must be an independent nation again.
Things aren’t easy in the new Scotland, a period of adjustment is required but people crack on as usual. Over time exports start to pick up as we sell our jute, our whiskey, our steel all over the world, we even sold our jam. Our biggest trading partner England still buys our goods and has become a friendly neighbour. Children and women are going to school and into further education but we still have some division between faiths but the Scottish Government are doing all they can to use education to find common ground.
We start to build our confidence, great inventors come along and we bring about the pedal bike, the pneumatic tyre, the Stirling heat engine, the Royal Air Force comes about and steam hammer is born. Alex Bell invents the telephone and Freddie Creed the printer. Peter Pan, and Long John Silver entertain the kids while Sherlock amazes the adults. A new game is gaining in popularity called golf, even the ordinary people play it. Chloroform is invented, the syringe, insulin and the best of all penicillin. What a period, Scotland is changing the World for the better, a small wee country is improving the lives of millions all over the world.
Along comes 1914, the Great War. Scottish men and women stand up to fight alongside their neighbours against tyranny, the war lasts 4 years and many have been killed and wounded but we took our part with pride and dignity. In 1930 the great depression hits us hard, almost 30% of people in Glasgow are unemployed, no one is unaffected. Down South modernisation helps England to come out of the period early while Scotland has to rely on agriculture to feed itself and we begin to re-build. Everything changes when in 1939 War breaks out in Europe again, Scotland proudly takes its place with the free world to fight and defend its friends in europe and throughout the World. These men and women do us proud and after 6 long years of war we have victory. The war teaches us that we need to change and we bring about the NHS in Scotland through the hard work of the Labour movement in partnership with colleagues in Wales, Labour bring about change in employment conditions and education, housing. We really are moving on and up.
We have a period of stability until the 70s when again we start to face economic difficulties, production is falling and wages are rising. Germany are modernising but we are a bit skint, England is suffering the same fate and the Labour movement is slighted by in-fighting. The Conservatives win power in England and begin to go through a period of mass de-industralisation, mass unemployment returns. But we have landed lucky, we have discovered oil. The government can’t believe the windfall and mass modernisation begins, we start to build modern social housing and re-invest in our education and public health services. We even achieve close to full employment while putting money away for a rainy day. England and America go to war with Iraq in 2003 but a million people take to the streets in Scotland and the government decides that it can’t go against the wishes of the Scottish people so we stay out of it.
In 2008 the banks crash, mainly due to decisions of the English and American governments in the 90s to de-regulate. Times are tough on both sides of the ocean as unemployment climbs, benefits are cut and food banks spring up all over England and Wales. Scotland due to its Oil fund and strong banking legislation comes through strongly and while we do face some rises in unemployment we are able to withstand this better.
However things are not so good down south, their has been a shift to the right and a centralisation of wealth to the south east. The government in England have just decided to renew their nuclear weapons , have given tax cuts to the wealthiest and are cutting help to the poorest. The NHS in England is going through a period of privatisation and education costs a small fortune. The Conservative movement in Scotland wishes to desolve the Scottish Parliament and join with England once again, they gather momentum and the Scottish people decide to hold a referendum. The question is:
Should Scotland cease to be an independent country and form a political and social union with England?
This is a just a brief take on the question we are facing, ask yourself. Would you vote to join a union with England , I wouldn’t.