Friday, 12 September 2014

Crawley Observer Column 10th September 2014

This week in my Crawley Observer column, printed on Wednesday 10th of September, I have written about the impending Scottish separation vote. By coincidence, my Labour counterpart has written about exactly the same subject in his column on the same page in this week's Crawley Observer. While I welcome his support for the United Kingdom, readers will note that while I put my country before politics in my column, he can't help but bring (anti-Conservative) politics into his. I also manage to get the day of the vote right and not a week early... My column is below the picture and the Crawley Labour leader's is in red italics below mine.

"On Thursday the 18th of September, an election takes place that could potentially create the biggest constitutional change in our country for over 300 years. It is an election that involves less than 10% of the UK’s population but one that could have implications for all of us.        

The Scottish referendum on independence is self-determination and democracy in action which I view as healthy. However, the rest of us in the UK don’t get a say even if we are Scottish but living in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. Here in Crawley, there will be plenty of Scots denied a say on Scotland’s future in the UK.
As an island nation, I find it incomprehensible that the northern third of our island could suddenly become a foreign country instead of a member of our United Kingdom. With myself being part-Scottish as well as English, I personally find the possibility of my heritage splitting apart somewhat disconcerting.

There are more practical reasons for all of us to maintain the Union than geography and sentiment. The No Campaign is known as “Better Together”. They have an excellent website that sets out the case for maintaining the Union and I would urge anyone interested to take a look. For me, as well as our shared identity, the main areas of concern for the entire UK are the economy, defence, the Pound, and government spending and debt. Indeed, there is already speculation of a possible run on the Pound and stock market should a Yes vote happen.
Some may wonder why I should care so much as Scotland leaving the Union makes it much easier for the Conservatives to win general elections for what remains of the UK. I believe it is wrong to put perceived electoral gain ahead of what I believe is in the best collective interest of our countries. I urge anyone reading this with family and friends in Scotland to get in touch with them in this last week of the campaign, and to let them know we would dearly like our Scottish friends to stay together with us."

Crawley Labour Column:

"On Thursday, Scotland decides the future of the United Kingdom and it looks as though the result will be much closer than anyone anticipated.

Throughout the contest the ‘Yes’ campaign have made a number of statements which could be considered misleading, but what has been far more disappointing has been the failure of the ‘Better Together’ campaign to show a brighter future for Scotland in the UK.
Yet, Scotland’s issues aren’t noticeably different from those living in the rest of the UK. Scottish voters have been polled extensively over recent months and the issues which have kept coming up are much the same as those I hear from residents on the doorstep; they’re worried about the NHS, they want an economy with better job opportunities and which addresses the increasing gap between wages and the cost of living, and they’re concerned about what’s happening to the education system.
The recent narrowing of the polls says far more about what is going on in the UK as a whole than it does Scottish nationalism. If it continues to become harder for people to maintain their quality of life in the UK, if the country continues to become a less fair place and if we struggle to see things getting any better for the next generation, that affects residents in Crawley just as much as it does voters in Cumbernauld.
The SNP took control of the Scottish Government in 2007, yet despite being committed to holding a referendum on independence it wasn’t until their second term - with a Conservative Government securely embedded in Westminster - that they kicked off the campaign. I was in Scotland over the Summer and as one Scot put it to me: if you had the chance to get rid of the Tories forever, what would you do?
Ultimately, the UK Government’s inability to show that a united kingdom can be more than a place where cuts to services are coupled with tax cuts for millionaires may well cost us all. Depending upon what Scotland decides on Thursday, David Cameron may well go down in history as the Prime Minister who broke Britain."

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