“For me, independence is about autonomy, allowing Scotland to meet success and failure on its own merit and not point an embittered finger of blame at anyone else”. These aren’t the words of a dyed-in-the-wool independence supporter, but rather a very recent convert who is no longer able to “tolerate a Tory government prepared to treat devolution with blatant contempt”.
You might recognise these welcome and salient words from the brilliant news yesterday that the former Daily Record editor, Murray Foote will back independence the next time we are asked the question.
What makes this intervention significant is that Murray was the mastermind behind the Daily Record’s famous “Vow” that made a last-minute “case for staying together in the UK”. Historians may well debate just how big an impact this had in Yes falling short in 2014, but it’s undoubtable that it did play a role in carrying No over the finishing line.
The key line in that Vow, which its signatories Cameron, Clegg and Miliband (and their successors) gave little regard to was “the Scottish Parliament is permanent”. Today, the entire Conservative Party is guilty of trying to weaken and undermine the parliament Scotland voted Yes to overwhelmingly in 1997 and Labour and the Lib Dems are sitting on their hands doing nothing.
Nicola Sturgeon says she will update the country on plans for an independence referendum in the autumn, when it’s likely the details of what will probably be a hard Brexit are revealed.
The Scottish Greens could not be clearer in our commitment to campaigning for an independent Scotland. We’ll continue to make the case that the current constitutional crisis, and the decision by the UK government to unilaterally abolish the principle of devolved consent, greatly increases the urgency of giving the people of Scotland control of our own future.
That being said, there is more than one pro-independence parties in Scotland and we can’t rely solely on the SNP to provide a vision of Scotland’s future that’ll win a majority. Our own Jobs in the New Economy report argues that, by focussing on delivering low-carbon improvements across the energy, land-use and industrial sectors, we can create over 200,000 new green jobs.
We already know that similarly-sized small countries are successfully implementing progressive economic, social and environmental policies that Scotland could match, but only as a fully independent member of the international community and the EU.
The SNP’s Growth Commission has taken too many lessons from a right of centre economic agenda and does not offer the transformative alternative needed if we’re to inspire the people of Scotland to choose a better future.
New Zealand Green MP Gareth Hughes is right that Scotland should be looking to his country's new forward-looking, progressive model, rather than the previous dead-end agenda which the Growth Commission has drawn from.
Our reaction to the Growth Commission report begins with the longstanding Green critique of growth economics itself. Everlasting growth in a finite world and a fragile ecosystem under extreme pressure is neither achievable nor desirable. Even while it lasts, growth alone tells us nothing about how fairly wealth is being shared or how unfairly the social and environmental burdens fall.
Economic growth is placed at the heart of the SNP’s independence report, but earlier this week at the launch of the National Performance Framework, the First Minister quoted Bobby Kennedy’s famous words that GDP “measures everything except what makes life worth living”. I hope this contradiction is an indication that the SNP already accepts the limitations of this version of independence.
Where we already have broad agreement with our pro-independence counterparts at Holyrood is that leaving the EU and the single market will hugely damage our society and economy and will put at risk a vast range of critically important environmental protections, from clean air to food production. We’ve said this time and time again individually as MSPs, as a party and with one voice as a Scottish Parliament, but still Westminster refuses to listen.
Of course, the UK government likes to pick and choose which referendum results to cite in defence of ignoring Scotland’s wishes. They often reference the 52% across the UK who voted to leave while ignoring the 62% in Scotland who voted overwhelmingly to remain.
Time and time again we hear how Scotland voted against independence and that the matter is settled. I can assure readers of The National that it is not settled and like Murray Foote, we’ll remind the Tories that 74% voted for a Scottish Parliament in 1997 and that they can’t treat it with “blatant contempt”.
Converting a former Daily Record editor is a major coup for the Yes movement, but he still only has one vote. Let’s now get out and persuade, in a friendly way, that Scotland’s future is best served free from the catastrophe that awaits us in Brexit Britain.
This article first appeared in The National.