That’s it. After many months of indecision, I now know where my vote will go in September.
At first, I was waiting to be persuaded by the arguments of either the Yes Scotland campaign or the Better Together side. But having taken care and time to consider, I will be voting that Scotland reclaims its place as a state in her own right.
This is not a Braveheart call – I’m a passionate Scot and a Tartan Army–minded sort of guy, but that’s not why I want my country to be what it should be, like any of the smaller nations who have emerged from unions in the recent past and have shown they can thrive on their own.
I’ve had enough of Labour people who have taken Scottish voters for granted over the last four decades. I lived in an industrial part of Scotland where the Labour vote was overwhelming and I totally understand why the so-called People’s Party was so commanding.
Tories were regarded as corporate toffs imposing poor conditions on the down-trodden working classes and Labour were allegedly the champions of the working man. We lived in a council house and my parents scraped a living from poorly-paid and physically-demanding occupations – although they would not have described what they did as ‘’occupations’’. In their eyes, they had work – work enough to support their two kids, pay their rent and put barely-sufficient food on the table.
Holidays, cars and savings were for other folk – we barely got by financially and life was a constant struggle for them both, something that was reflected in their ill-health and early deaths. But while we didn’t have financial security, what we didn’t lack was love, support and their ambition for my brother and me to do better.
Mum and Dad were both hugely intelligent and resourceful, but without the opportunity to improve their education – working class people didn’t go to university, but instead went down the pit, like my ancestors, or into factories. There was no minimum wage then and the prospect of buying their own home was outlandish and impossible. And the Labour party was against the very thought – ‘’all property is theft’’ – and prolonged the class war. Private properties – houses – weren’t for the likes of us. Labour did nothing for us and we were told that this was ‘our place’ – a shabby, damp and unmaintained council house – in life.
Our parents’ many sacrifices for us meant them going without, so that we could have – my brother was the first McAllister to go university. That meant our parents worked long and arduous hours to keep us both supported and my brother and I are grateful to this day – their efforts and dedication resulted in us doing things of which they could never have dreamt.
My dad burst into tears when I showed him a house I’d been able to buy – but was typically unwilling to accept that it was his and Mother’s hard work, sacrifice and ambition for us that allowed that to happen.
So consider the issue – the Tories care little for Scotland, and Labour relied on their traditional support to keep them in Parliamentary seats and councils across our country. But the electorate eventually got fed up with their arrogance and it was interesting to see the faces of their candidates at the 2011 election results (I was working on the BBC overnight results programme) as Scots had decided enough was enough.
They might argue that the Nats have pursued purely populist policies since then to ingratiate themselves with the Scottish public. So are free prescriptions, free further education and a council tax freeze bad thing when UK governments have left us in the biggest financial downturn since the war?
Look at what the unionist parties have done in the past and ignore their promises of more powers after a no vote. In the 70s, Labour deliberately silenced a report by the respected Gavin McCrone who said that Scotland could become an immensely wealthy country if we retained the tax benefits from North Sea oil; the unionist parties have said there will be a review of the Barnett Formula (ie, it will be slashed) if we vote no; Johann Lamont has betrayed Labour Party core beliefs over health care (didn’t Bevan, create the NHS so working class, Labour voters would get help free at point of delivery), has called for the end of universal benefits (wasn’t that also a Labour policy)? and has called Scotland a ‘’something for nothing’’ society?
Osborne, Cameron and Clegg have decided we now won’t get our pensions until most people will be too old to get back anything like they paid in (although this is hugely because of the financial maelstrom caused by Brown, Darling, Blair and the rest).
So if you want to have your children educated while incurring huge amounts of debt, want to pay for your medicine, want our oil money to be squandered as it has in the past, want to work until 67, 68 (or could it be more before you get the pension you’ve been paying into for decades)?, want to see London suck the financial lifeblood out of Scotland, want to see your vote in UK elections have little effect on the outcome and not get the government we as a nation voted for, want to continue the democratic deficit, then vote for the status quo.
Me? I know I’m not voting for Alex Salmond, I’m voting for self determination, the right to enjoy a more equal society in a country rich in resources, a country with a sound financial future as recognised by independent agencies and a country where I know my young son can fulfil his potential alongside a proud and independent nation. Join me.