The referendum could turn out to do for Labour what the First World War did for the Liberal Party.
Over the summer quite a few people from Wales have travelled up to Scotland to help the Yes campaign, and reading their accounts and impressions has been fascinating. In the next few days this blog will take a look at what some of the European press has to say, but if there is anyone out there who has been to Scotland in the last few weeks who would like to share their impressions, please get in touch.
Here is Cllr Siân Caiach who has been spending her holidays up in Perth and Kinross. Yes, councillors are allowed holidays.
She says that the impression many people have got south of the border, and in Wales, is that the referendum is all about nationality. The reality on the ground in Scotland is different:
"This is about opportunity more than nationality, the corruption and inequality inherent in the UK state and building a better and fairer country to live in. This allows recruiting not only non political and general interest groups, but other main stream political party members......I have no doubt that overall this is a political battle between the right and the left."
Siân's point is underlined by the following open letter written by English people living in Scotland who have joined the Yes campaign.
During the course of this referendum campaign, you have been told many distortions of the truth and fabrications about Scotland and why people in Scotland are voting Yes.You have been told by the likes of Andrew Marr and Jeremy Paxman that there is a strong anti-English feeling in Scotland driving support for independence, or that people in Scotland are voting yes because they want to break away from English people. You have been told by the likes of Taxpayer’s Alliance and UKIP that Scotland is a ‘subsidy-junkie’ leaching off the English taxpayer to pay for universal public services. You have been told by the likes of the Daily Telegraph and Kelvin McKenzie that Scotland is a resourceless nation, an economic desert, which has little to offer this island or the world. And finally, you have been told by your own politicians – David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband – that independence will hurt you in England as much as it will hurt us in Scotland.
We write to you, as English people living and working in Scotland, to tell you that this is false. The movement for a yes vote has proven again and again what its real intentions are, and if the media in the UK will not listen we feel it is our duty to set the record straight.
First, as English people involved in the independence movement, we feel we are confident in saying that sentiment against English people has been virtually non-existent in our movement. What people in Scotland want to escape is the Westminster regime, not the English people. The yes movement is about a multi-cultural Scotland, a Scotland based on diversity, and is vociferously opposed to the racist, anti-immigrant sentiment of the likes of UKIP. An independent Scotland would attempt to learn from people in England, welcome people from England, and extend our hand of friendship as equal nations.
Second, it is untrue that Scotland is a ‘subsidy-junkie’. Scotland pays more in taxation to the Treasury than it gets back in funding. We have universal public services in Scotland like free prescriptions and free tuition fees because Holyrood has been responsive enough to the wishes of the Scottish people. It would be entirely possible to have the same in England if your politicians got their priorities correct. We hope, as an independent country, Scotland can prove that world-class universal public services is affordable, and that people in England who believe the same can use our example when deciding who to vote for.
Third, Scotland and her people have great potential, just like England and her people do, and we want to be an independent nation so that we can make the most of that potential. We are currently held back, just like the North of England is held back, by a UK economy and political system which supports international finance against all other industry sectors. In the UK we have the greatest regional inequality in Europe. That is a problem for Scotland and for the rest of the UK. We want independence to start addressing that problem.
Lastly, the politicians of the UK’s main parties are simply wrong. Independence will be good for Scotland, and it will be good for England. Yes voters in Scotland have no bitterness or resentment towards people in England; in fact we believe the relationship north and south of the border will grow stronger, as we both treat one another as serious partners and friends economically, socially and politically.
English Scots for Yes