Things I won’t be doing in an Independent Scotland
In an independent Scotland, I won’t stop eating what I used to eat, buying what I used to buy or doing what I used to do.
I’ll still drink Earl Grey tea. Aldi do a very acceptable blend, fairly traded, blended and packed in Edinburgh by John A. Finlayson. It’s that simple to buy something locally produced and fairly traded, all you have to do is read the packaging. Now some things are not traditionally produced in Scotland; things I like – like rum. But before you all jump and say there are Scottish rum producers – I know there are. But my preference is for rum produced elsewhere. And that’s fine. An independent Scotland will come to an amicable trade agreement with the countries that produce the rum I like. I’m sure they like our whisky as much as we like their rum and a trade agreement will be mutually beneficial.
I like a nice bit of sea bass every now and again, not a fish traditionally found in the icy cold dark waters of the North Sea unless it took a serious wrong turn and ended up here by mistake. Fortunately for sea bass lovers like me Scotland has an abundance of lovely Scottish salmon that is coveted the world over. Not to omit all the beautiful pelagic seafood that, with careful management, will continue to flow from our waters.
It’s lovely to visit the local chippy in Harrogate and see the sign proclaiming proudly that they get their fish every day off a lorry from Peterhead and Fraserburgh (Michael Gove might recognise these locations as Peterborough or possibly Fraserhead). The Scottish label gives great confidence to buyers and again, I’m sure, someone with sea bass would love to set up a trade agreement with Scotland, perhaps in exchange for access to some of our incredible langoustines, or maybe a haddie or twa. Perhaps an Arbroath Smokie might be more their desire. Something that can only be called an Arbroath Smokie because of protected source legislation, which we have thanks to the EU.
Now I could go on all day about delicious Scottish foods that are only allowed to be called Scottish because they are sourced and produced in Scotland. And I’d love to blether lyrical about Haggis (only available like Cuban Cigars in the US via clandestine measures), porridge (I like mine with cracked black pepper and Scottish heather honey), Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb, Scotch Pork, Scottish Cheeses, Scottish Fish… etc etc. But I’d only be repeating myself.
Suffice to say, we have a glut of amazing produce in Scotland’s larder and we’re only to keen to share it with the world (for a reasonable price). In turn, the world has so much to offer Scotland and we want it. I for one will not stop eating Indian, Chinese, Italian, European and all the other countries’ produce. And that goes for English, Welsh and Northern Irish Produce too. I have no intention of stopping buying any of the British Isles produce when Scotland is independent and it’s my firm belief that none of the producers have any genuine intent to stop selling to just shy of 10% of the local custom.
Will all the rUK-owned supermarkets just up sticks and leave their property assets and infrastructure as scorched shells and abandon their refrigerated lorries in lay-bys with sugar filled petrol tanks and punctured tyres? Of course, they won’t. At worst, they’ll set up new regional HQs and call them “(insert store name here) Scotland”.
I like clothes. I’d go so far as to say that they’re my favourite thing to wear. I own two kilts (more on that statistic later) but I wear all sorts of things on a day to day basis. Trousers, jeans, shorts, shirts, t-shirts, jumpers, jackets, underwear, socks, shoes, boots, trainers. Chances are if you can name an item of widely worn clothing I own at least one example of it. Now while it may be possible to wear only clothing made and sourced entirely in Scotland, it’s far from a practical or cost effective endeavour and I’m nowhere near that insular in my thinking.
I try to buy good quality, hard wearing and ethically produced clothing wherever possible. It’s not always easy but the point is that with the best will in the world I couldn’t and wouldn’t want to only wear Scottish produced clothing. Which brings us back to trade. While not everyone in the world wants to buy a kilt, they do want many of our uniquely Scottish clothing goods. Wool, tweed and other fine fabrics are in increasing demand, particularly if it is made in traditional manner using the finest raw materials. As a small country, there is a limit to how much can be produced at any given time. But over two centuries of mechanisation and, at times, neglectful capitalism have seen our once thriving production and processing industries decimated again and again.
Getting back to the two kilts. One is 100% manufactured from start to finish in Scotland, it cost over £600 and is as good today to wear and see as it was over a decade ago when it was handmade bespoke for me. The other is what is known as a ‘beer kilt’. Bought off the peg from a tourist store on the Royal Mile for less than 10% as much, made in China but sold in Scotland. We are buying our own souvenirs from overseas. To the untrained eye, it looks as good as my bespoke piece. And in all honesty, it’s just as comfortable and warm; made of similar materials and at a fraction of the cost it’s far less likely to break my heart or the bank if I get carried away and ruin it. I take as much care as I can of it nonetheless, but there’s no denying it’s easier on my mind when I want to wear a kilt and do something fun at the same time. But deep down I know that I’m buying into the convenience culture of disposable garments made in (probably) less than salubrious conditions a long way away.
Which brings me to my next point. We’ve all heard of the ‘tightfisted Jock,’ the ‘Canny Scot,’ the reputation for frugality that is, perhaps unfairly, foisted on us by other nations (not mentioning any specifically). But in truth is that a bad reputation to have? We’ve been taught by the media and society for so long to believe that not wishing to waste money unnecessarily is somehow a bad thing. Strange then that Scots are actually, according to no less than the Daily Mail ‘the most GENEROUS nation in Britain’ (14/3/2013) donating on average £100 more per year than wealthier Londoners.
This is not a new phenomenon. There’s the story of the tank sent on a fundraising tour of the UK during the First World War which attracted the most donation to the war effort in… drumroll please… Glasgow. And for that generosity they were later repaid with another visit from another tank, and five of its mates, accompanied by 10,000 British Army troops in 1919 for having the temerity to want to only work 40 hours a week. All this at the behest of then Home Secretary and MP for Dundee, future ‘national hero’ Winston Churchill. It was also ordered that the Glasgow City Regiment during ‘Bloody Friday,’ better known but seldom referred to in the sanitised history curriculum as The Battle of George Square, be confined to barracks (for fear that they would join the workers’ struggle for decent treatment).
Since then things have hardly changed in some ways. The language of unionism frequently takes a turn, if not to the actuality, to the perceived threat of violence at the first sign of any unrest from ‘the rebellious Scots.’ Fratricide (ask Ruth Davidson about that one) and worse are just around the corner at every turn of the constitutional page. So, unionist propagandists frantically try to stick the pages together with glue boiled from the bones of an empire long since knackered yet still believed to be a thoroughbred race horse or worse still an armoured destrier.*
If there’s a positive case for the continuation of the union, then I haven’t found it myself. And I’m still waiting to hear it (backed up with evidence and support from people more positive than the champions of Empire 2.0). But given the seismic rumblings of the current political climate of fear and intimidation, I suspect that right now I’m not going to be hearing one any time soon.
In an independent Scotland, I will continue to do what I do for the organisation I work for now. And in an independent Scotland I am confident I will be able to. I’m a community Nurse. I work for NHS Scotland. Tomorrow I might be visiting your granny, your grandad, your mum, dad, auntie, uncle, son, daughter, maybe even you.
Every day people need healthcare. And let’s look at that word, shall we? Healthcare. Break it down. Health and care. In an independent Scotland, I don’t want to be caring for sick people all the time. I don’t want to be caring for sick people at all. What I want to be doing is keeping healthy people healthy. It’s unrealistic to think people will one day never get sick and injured no matter how much we advance, but I’d like to think that the possibility for change exists. For a long time, despite being a part of the UK, one of the most developed and advanced societies in the world, Scotland has held an inheritance that no one would envy. That inheritance is the title of ‘The Sick Man of Europe’ (formerly owned by the UK in its entirety).
Things are improving, in no small part due to differences in things like the way health and social care are handled by the Scottish Government. Our political direction as a nation is skewing (sometimes wildly) in direction from the UK body politic. I’d invite you all to check out the calculator here if you don’t believe me 👉 https://wingsoverscotland.com/the-tory-calculator/
The differences in policy and implementation between the Westminster and Holyrood governments in wholly devolved matters is widening all the time. So much so that the holders of the public purse strings are becoming alarmed that their desire to siphon off that purse’s contents into private pockets is repeatedly being outperformed by the pesky Scots and their persistently providing better public services.
Sure, unionist parties and media can try to derail that by attacking the evil SNP and the archdemonic Nicola Sturgeon*** with claims of a (largely imaginary****) horrendous deficit that would send us back to the dark ages if we left the warm comforting (hah) bosom of Britannia (who will get back to ruling the waves just as soon as she decides how many destroyers she needs to placate those pesky scots and their shipbuilding experts and
threaten those pesky Sc… sorry, Spaniards with for keeping our colony in mainland Spain and show the world we still mean are open for business) which is suckling us like some particularly spoiled parasite favoured child and got on with doing things the way that we in Scotland believe is best for Scotland.
And that’s just it, in an independent Scotland, Scots (anyone who chooses to live and make a life in Scotland regardless of where they started life) will carry on doing exactly what we’ve always done, but we’ll do it without a disapproving parent (Mother of Parliaments, ha!) waiting to forbid us to have sleepovers, stay out late, take up a career that they consider a pipe dream (I wanted to be an artist and a chef, mum), hang out with people that they might consider undesirable or maybe occasionally have a bright idea that could change the world or just burn down the garden shed.
It’s not going to be utopia, it’s not going to all be smooth sailing and it’s not going to be perfect. We’re going to make mistakes, but we’ll learn from them. We’re going to get things completely wrong, but we’re also going to get things completely right but most of all, when we do, it’s going to be our own responsibility. And we may be a canny folk, but we’ll never be a cannae folk.
*a destrier is a now lost horse type used by armoured knights in medieval times, around about the time westerners first started trying to steal land off of people in the Middle East back when Jesus was still bigger than the Beatles and oil only came from fish and animal fat**
**And then oil started seeping out the ground in the desert and we found a whole other reason to go and interfere with the Middle East and apparently, it’s ok because… Empire, (insert deity of choice), we’re making their lives better by showing them its bad to live in tents and off the land. What do you mean they invented maths and science and engineering while we were still bashing each other over the heads with pointy sticks? Savages!
***who according to certain elements of the unionist… um… well, they probably consider themselves intelligentsia but are in fact dogfood salesmen[failed] and retired academics [specialising in Nazis and comparing them to the SNP], she, the SNP, Scottish Parliament, Scottish Government, human rights, immigration, humanitarian causes, anything Scottish, accents and not bombing the shit out of other people because you disagree with them are BAD and union jacks, Westminster Government, good old fashioned racism, blood and soil British nationalism, blue passports, pounds and ounces of corporal punishment dished out daily and weekly hangings are GOOD
****Sorry, estimated (ie GERS)
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Special Thanks to Guest Editor Steve Topple you can follow him on twitter at @MrTopple or at the the canary
All images provided by Brian Falconer