…. The White Paper. It is the only topic of the moment, you may have noticed.
But let me start these notes by saying that I have not read it, yet. But I will, for there is a hard copy version coming; all 670 pages and 170,000 words of it. I was keen to secure a copy. This is history in the making.
Now there has been much said in the media in the last 24 hours or so, much said by ‘experts’ who also had not then read the document; much pontificating; much in the way of traducing. Indeed the response by the Westminster parties was leaked by The Spectator four days before Scotland’s Future was even published. This clearly was on the basis of getting your defence in early, before even reading, far less considering, what was proposed.
Most vociferous, from the politicos, have been the two Allys, Carmichael and Darling. And what rot they spoke, both of them. I heard common sense from Gerry Hassan this morning, beginning to form his views by the following day. He likened yesterday’s milestone as a good natured company flotation. I like that analogy.
His common sense though, has been little in evidence elsewhere. Currency is the big topic. And bemoan a Plan B option all they like, these two fine men, like their seniors in government, cannot and will not rule out a currency union. For they know firstly that they can’t; and they know that it is the only sensible way forward, for all involved. Even Darling said so. It works for the Channel Islands and elsewhere. And to try and deny it as a viable working solution, is simply folly for the rUK.
We need to consider the role of our state-funded and supposedly impartial broadcaster. I heard BBC reporters yesterday suggesting that Scotland needs to decide to vote either with the head or with the heart. This is an appalling position to take. My vote will be cast with both head and heart, in full alignment; it is not an either/or situation. And I dare say that across the fence there will be votes cast to cancel mine from the same standpoint, head and heart together. The implication from the BBC that to use one organ leads you in one direction, the other organ in t’other; and that only one of those routes is the right path, the one the BBC favour, is simply wrong; misleading, and slanted.
And in the news bulletins we have the usual propaganda; bulletins leading with faux outrage from each of the three leaders of the Westminster parties in the Holyrood session yesterday, but omitting completely the responses from the DFM. I listened to those debates as they happened, and I nodded quietly, as Nicola Sturgeon tore to shreds the ridiculous positions put forward by her opposite numbers. But the BBC overlooked those response, as they do. And of balance there was nane. Not even a reference to Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Greens, tearing a strip of the doom-merchants, with his Babies, not Bombs, support for the proposals.
For the decision we face is not about identity, as I confirmed to a friend on the No side recently. We have an identity today, and will have an identity tomorrow, proud Scots. That will not change, though as an independent nation state the kilt may swing a bit more, the glengarry held a bit higher. But identity is not an issue here.
What most certainly is an issue is being the 4th most unequal society in the developed world; and having this unique opportunity to re-shape our society for the better. It will not happen again in my lifetime, possibly not even in that of my children. But we can look to our Nordic neighbours, and we can aim to emulate them, from similar resources. It is called vision. The Westminster parties have yet to outline what vision, if any, they hold for our nation within their union.
And within the union, should we choose that as our future, there will be no status quo. Be under no illusions of that. The block grant under the Barnett formula will not remain in the present format. The child care proposals, from the White Paper, that are integral to increasing the workforce and the tax take, which in turns funds the child care that makes it all possible, is not something that can be done now, despite the protests of the opposition. For the funding from the workforce would go to Westminster, the block grant would be unchanged, and the costs of the child care could only come from cutting other areas in budgets that are otherwise finely balanced, as they have to be without the normal powers of government. So we are stymied, for opting out of paying for those damned WMDs, of those illegal wars, of the accursed bedroom tax, is not available. Not yet.
And in Norway child poverty is at 3.2%, with a workforce, revenues and child care designed to make that investment in the future. In parts of Scotland child poverty, under the union, is at 50%. Thanks for that Westminster. What do you want for your grandchildren?
The ballot paper will not include a ‘more of the same please’ option. It will never be the same again. Similarly the ballot paper will not include ‘separation’. But it will allow us the chance to create a fairer and more equal society; one that will become substantially less unpalatable than that which we have today, the 4th Most Unequal Society in the Developed World.
And on 19 September next year, the grandstanding ends; the negotiations begin. There is a share of debt at stake, and jointly held assets to be shared. We own 8.4 % of the BofE, of the armed forces, of the civil service, the DVLA too and the Passport Service. The structure is all in place, subject to the tinkering, to the re-branding. The deal can be done. And the politicians, who are all committed to doing so, will set aside today’s posturing and put that structure in place, sensibly.
Now the Better Together vision for the future in union, where can I download that?
Rather than a fruitless search for the fabled BT Vision, instead, better spend your time with Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp’s summary at Business for Scotland.