Battle has commenced and although still something of a phoney war, the fight for Scotland’s future is underway. The upcoming referendum on Scotland’s 300 year old partnership with the rest of the United Kingdom is not a contest of which we should be afraid. It is after all, a historic opportunity for Scots to reaffirm their support for the most successful political and economic union the world has seen. Nonetheless no one can take a yes to Scotland remaining at the heart of the UK for granted and as unionists we need to stand up and make the case for the union.
Much like most of you reading this article I consider myself to be a patriotic Scot, but British also. So for the First Minister’s ‘Parliamentary Liaison Officer’ to kick this extraordinary debate about our future off with a partisan jibe, calling the unionist parties “anti-Scottish” simply for believing in the greatness of Britain, grated to say the least. In a stroke she had willfully insulted the majority of Scots.
Despite Alex Salmond’s seemingly ever burgeoning ambition to be emperor of a separate Scotland, the Union remains a bigger issue than his personal ambition and indeed any and all of today’s politicians. Scotland has enjoyed its own Parliament since 1999 with key areas of policy, including but not limited to, justice, health and levers over the economy, being devolved. The powers which have already been devolved represent real decision making power in Scotland for Scotland.
It is all very well and easy for Yes Scotland and the ‘Braveheart Brigade’ to blithely claim Scots must surely be best placed to make decisions for ourselves. This argument might be stronger, were it not for the fact that no Party in the Scottish Parliament, least of all the SNP, has actually made proper or full use of the range of powers currently available.
Of course, it is important in the run up to the referendum that we fully debate all the issues. Yet for many this is ultimately an emotional issue. While I and other politicians can state that the Union is integral in an age of global markets, that Scots have made a huge contribution to our Armed Forces and that people from all over our Kingdom have contributed to the successes of the NHS, this can all seem sterile.
For some the Union is about blood, family and a shared and hard won common history and unique sense of achievement. Together and not so very long ago, we saved the world. So while Scots certainly will hear the arguments about whether an independent Scotland should be members of NATO, the EU and a whole host of other navel gazing arguments, never lose sight of all that would be lost or the passion we feel for our country.
I don’t blame or criticise the Nats for fighting for their ambition for Scotland. I just don’t share it and I think their assumption that all Scotland does is arrogant, divisive and as expressed by some SNP MSPs at Holyrood, juvenile.
So far, Yes Scotland has made a complete shambles of its campaign. Despite having 300 years to prepare the arguments, this SNP led rag-bag of celebrities living comfortably abroad and with no intention of returning to Scotland, has mumbled platitudes and asserted absurdities.
No campaign in political history has so successfully lifted the opinion poll ratings of its opponents!
Could there possibly be a better time for Unionists from all parties or from no parties to speak directly to Scotland? To speak up for Scotland, to fight for Scotland – to fight for a strong Scotland, in a Great Britain. That is our job, our task and for the Unionist party to which I belong: it’s very raison d’être.
The truth is we are Better Together.
Jackson Carlaw MSP