Opinion

Seven Years After Indyref, Are We Really Better Together?

Yesterday marked seven years to the day since the first independence referendum on 18th September 2014. We look back at the promises made at that time and how things have turned out and ask the question: “Seven years after Indyref, are we really better together?”

One of the major planks of the “Better Together” campaign to persuade Scotland to stay in the UK was the promise that the only way to secure Scotland’s membership of the EU was to stay in the UK. The No campaign played upon the fears of Europeans living in Scotland and people in Scotland who were reliant on their links to Europe, in order to gain political advantage.

As it turns out, voting No to independence precipitated the disastrous Brexit vote, which saw the UK dragging Scotland out of the EU, even though almost two-thirds of Scotland voted to remain. We haven’t even seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the effects of Brexit long-term on Scotland’s economy as part of the UK. The part we have seen, food shortages and price increases is horrific enough.

The Brexit result and the ensuing chaos has caused many people to reconsider their vote. It is clear that the only way for Scotland now to re-join the EU is to vote for independence at the next opportunity. European politicians from various countries have made positive comments about this possibility, as they no longer feel bound to stay silent on the issue as the UK is no longer an EU member state.

Our sister site Fife News Online posted statements from Lord Alistair Darling of Better Together and Blair Jenkins of Yes Scotland in the run up to the independence referendum in 2014 and they make interesting reading in light of all that has transpired since the referendum.

Are we Better Together? – Alistair Darling, Chair of Better Together
Why a Yes Vote is Vital – Blair Jenkins, Chief Executive of Yes Scotland

The statement from Darling is full of platitudes and British nostalgia, citing the second world war, without acknowledging that many more countries than those in the UK fought side by side, yet nobody is arguing that the UK should be ruled by France or the Netherlands despite fighting side by side.

Darling also mentioned pensions, despite the fact that the UK has the worst state pension in the developed world, at only 28.4% of average income at retirement. This compares poorly to the European average where the percentage is over half of the average income. We believe that Scotland can do better. To read more on the issue of pensions, visit Believe in Scotland.

In terms of the powers promised to the Scottish Parliament after a No vote, these never materialised. The Smith Commission decided not to recommend major additional powers for Scotland and all of the parties who campaigned for a No vote signed up to the conclusions. This is despite Better Together leaflets during the campaign making extravagant claims about the likely timescale for the implementation of new powers.

The then Prime Minister David Cameron turned around the day after the referendum and ruled out more powers for Scotland, instead talking about English Votes for English Laws. It was a total slap in the face for people who expected major new powers for Scotland, as had been promised. The Vow, published in the Daily Record and backed by all major Unionist parties also came to nothing. They have surely forfeited the trust of the people of Scotland and the right to be believed come the next referendum in 2023.

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