I AM 74 years old and have a decent pension and own my house. So I am a dyed-in-the-wool Tory Unionist, right? Wrong! I have placed my cross beside SNP since I was able to vote, voted Yes at the last independence referendum and will certainly do so at the next one. Why?

I grew up in the east end of Glasgow which back then was a staunchly Labour domain. Then I slowly realised that our “representatives” would only turn up once every election, wave their hands about, promise the earth and disappear back to cosy Westminster till the next election.

Because of my working life, business travelling, bringing up a family and so on, I didn’t think very much about Scottish independence, however. Until, that is, the 2014 referendum and the various promises and Vows that were made to us – especially to remain in the European Union – and broken immediately after the No vote.

Poor Wee, Stupid Scotland

One of the main put-downs to the idea of Scottish independence is that Scotland is “too wee, too poor and too stupid” to stand on its own feet and so needs the broad shoulders of the Union to survive. Let’s consider those notions.

Too Wee

Are we “too wee”? Here is a selection of countries that have gained independence recently, with their GDP growth rate (in 2018) in parentheses (all but the last have joined the European Union):

  • Estonia (3.9%)
  • Latvia (4.8%)
  • Lithuania (3.5%)
  • Slovakia (3.7%)
  • Azerbaijan (4.7%).

Contrast those figures with Scotland-in-the-Union’s mere 1.4%.

In fact, there is another advantage to being “wee”. That is, the rapidity with which decisions can be made. I have personal experience of that in two (smallish) countries where I’ve lived: Norway and The Netherlands.

Here in Scotland, it can be seen in the fact that we introduced the ban on smoking in public places a full two years before England did. And of course, we have established the minimum price of alcohol regulations which England has not got around to yet. Both those have shown significant improvements in public health.

Too Poor

Depending on which figures you read – such as the discredited GERS statistics, or the Barnett formula – we may appear to be poor.

However, according to the Office for National Statistics, Scotland (with 8.4% of the UK’s population) has 34% of the UK’s natural wealth, 26% of renewable energy generation and 90% of hydro-power.

We also have 90% of its fresh water, which will become increasingly important in coming years as the planet warms up. Among all countries, an independent Scotland would be one of the most wealthy in natural resources.

Too Stupid

Scotland, with four universities that are among the best 200 in the world, boasts a population that is the most educated in Europe.

An adjunct to this was our previous membership, now cancelled by the Tory government, of the Erasmus scheme which enabled students to expand their life experience outside of the purely academic. This level of education feeds into our many accomplishments in the science and technology sectors.

Why leave?

So, why should Scotland leave the Union? After all, according to the Unionist parties (there is little difference nowadays between the Tories, Labour and the also-rans), we are so poor that we are a drain on the UK Treasury and England is always supporting us (without us ever saying “thanks”).

However, they love us so much that they are so desperate to hang on to us for our own sake.

Really? A Tory party that is so loving that it has cut the UK’s contribution to world aid, allowing more third-world children to starve? That is so loving that it fought in the courts Scotland’s attempts to introduce children’s rights to our country? That is so loving that it stole our rightful revenues from oil and gas production when hydrocarbons in exploitable quantities were discovered under our offshore waters in the 1970s?

That is so loving that it used the Scottish people as mere guinea pigs to experiment with for its hated poll tax? That is so loving that Scotland hasn’t voted them into government for 60 years? That is so loving that it forced us to leave the European Union, despite us having voted overwhelmingly to remain?

The National:

No, it is sheer greed that makes the Tories hang on to us – greed for our oil revenues, greed for our land resources, greed for our nearly green electricity production and, soon, greed for our water resources There are, I think, three additional, overpowering reasons. The first is that they need our deep waters to park their unusable, accident-prone and in fact illegal nuclear weapons at Faslane near our largest city, Glasgow. While nation after nation has signed up to the UN’s Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the Tories actually voted to increase the number of those extremely dangerous, useless and unusable nuclear warheads parked in our waters.

The second overpowering reason is the Tories’ likely approach to countering the imminent crisis of a global warming “tipping point”. They, of course, organised COP26 in Glasgow this November. And what do you think happened? Boris Johnson dared to come to Glasgow, waved his arms around and proved to be an embarrassment to his country and to Scotland. Then he left, returned to his Westminster cave to do … precisely nothing.

Meanwhile, the Greens in Scotland will, I hope, keep pushing the SNP in the right direction to attempt to avoid this climate crisis. And after independence, they will have sufficient power to make effective changes in reducing Scotland’s remaining negative impact on our environment.

THE third reason is that England, under the Tories, is clearly moving to the extreme far right. Consider their xenophobic, inhumane and in some ways illegal treatment of refugees under their hostile environment, introduced by the unfeeling previous leader of the Home Office (Theresa May) and its current inhabitant, the Wicked Witch Patel. Consider next the Tories’ various attempts to destroy democracy: from trying to prorogue Parliament, to attempting to reduce the powers of the courts and the Electoral Commission, to interfering with the Freedom of Information Act, to requiring voters to show photo identification at elections, to asking school children to sing a ridiculous song about One Britain One Nation. (I thought that that song should have ended with a coda of “Heil Boris”!)


The mammoth in the room is, of course, Brexit. I have given up trying to understand why English people voted (just) for the UK to leave the European Union, which – apart from its economic benefits to us – has largely kept the peace on the continent after its previous war-torn centuries.

On the other hand, voters such as Scottish fishermen may have thought that there were good reasons for doing so, to increase the size of their fishing grounds. They fell for Johnsonian lies and were promptly dumped when the ink on his Brexit “deal” was barely dry.

And now our Scottish farmers will struggle and fail because of the trade agreement to import beef and lamb from the other side of the planet while increasing the pollution of the oceans and contributing to global warming.

Some Scottish readers of this may be among those who voted to leave Europe. However, if Scotland has a referendum on the topic, I trust they will accept the voters’ choice – a choice that was denied to us by the Tories.

Fear of Change

Of course it is natural to be fearful of changes in life – getting married, having children, moving away from home – since such changes are not without some risk. Nevertheless, nearly always, such changes prove to be beneficial. So you may think that there is a much higher risk associated with Scotland’s leaving “mother” Britain. However, since the last World War, some 34 new nations have left the entity they were previously tied to (many from the British Empire) and NONE have regretted it and tried to return.

ALSO, if you are young – say in your 20s – what the purpose of the United Kingdom and Westminster is, especially if your life has mainly been spent while the Scottish Parliament has been in existence.

If you are considerably older, you may still be attached to the idea of “Britain” and have memories of wartime Britain, the battle thereof, Dunkirk and D-Day – memories that are replayed ad nauseam by the Tories in attempting to keep the Union together (in lieu of better ideas).

But, in the words of the song, “That was yesterday. And yesterday’s gone”. A modern, progressive country like Scotland should be looking to the future, not to the past. Personally, I already feel that I am living in a different country from England. I simply do not understand why English voters could vote for Brexit and an ostensible clown like Boris Johnson and his Tory government.

Sadly, now that the Labour Party is largely defunct, they will have to live with the consequences for decades. There was a time in the distant past when I felt proud to be both Scottish and to be British. Now I am twice as proud to be Scottish and I am disgusted to be British.

Scotland must regain – not gain – our independence. And really soon. Being tied to a Tory government that is composed of squalid little men (and the Wicked Witch of the Home Office), that is sucking our resources out of us, that has not just mismanaged the present pandemic but has used it to fill their back pockets and those of its cronies with taxpayers’ money, is just not good enough for me nor Scotland. Is it good enough for you? Your children? Your grandchildren?

I think not.


Between 1947 and 1948, George Orwell wrote his masterpiece “1984” in Scotland. I keep thinking of one of the novel’s most striking phrases if Scotland fails to achieve independence soon. To paraphrase it: “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a Tory boot stamping on a Scottish face – forever”.

If we vote “No” at the next referendum, Scotland will stay wee and will become poorer. And we will have proved that we are indeed stupid.

The statistics used in this essay were taken from Scotland the Brief by Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp. Copies are available at www.businessforscotland.com/shop