I’m sick fed up of Westminster scrambles, aren’t you?
Scrambles, do you remember them? Or was that just an Ayrshire thing?
For those of you wondering what the heck I’m rambling on about, I’m talking about a wedding scramble. Still wondering?
Ok, imagine it, a bunch of us local kids gathered and at the ready outside the bride’s door, waiting for her father to step out and chuck a bag of coins our way. From that point, just as they hit the ground, it was a free for all as we dived forward to…well, scramble.
Scrambles measured the calibre of a wedding in Ayrshire. Who cared about the bride’s dress, or the fancy cars? It was the scramble that pure mattered. There we’d stand on tender hooks, waiting to see what spilled out of the scramble bag, hoping to at least be able to buy a packet of potato puffs, or even the odd spangle or two! Remember them?
On occasion, we were fair chuffed because there’d been enough for us all to grab a wee something, but more often than not, we’d be left frustrated and not at all happy with the contents of the bag.
Being tied to the UK Government feels a bit like a scramble to me. That constant frustration and disappointment at what comes out of the Westminster bag, and a Tory one at that. Contents in the form of distant decisions or governments that Scotland didn’t vote for, or who fail to reflect the people we are, and the paths that we wish to take.
Despite the valiant efforts of the SNP MPs to speak up for Scotland, recent times couldn’t highlight this more…the cold austerity decisions that push our people into poverty and suffocate our economy; inhumane benefit cuts and sanctions that fail to understand lives, and instead break them; those broken promises of ‘extensive’ new powers; being forced to house the nuclear weapons that we find so abhorrent; chipping away at our human rights; dragging us into illegal wars; and of course, the scramble of all scrambles…Brexit.
And now increasing numbers of us are left asking…How many more scrambles are Scotland’s people willing to endure? What holds us at the foot of this Westminster scramble bag?
My granny had the answer.
‘Put the big light on!’ She’d bellow it every time she burst into the living room. Low lights were depressing and she wanted the brightness of the big ceiling light that lit up the whole room and where everyone could see what was really going on.
In 2014, we switched a big light on. Our folks began to switch off from years of being talked down, and instead shone a big light on our resources and talents, and the rich natural wealth of our land. In a spirit of growing self-belief, eyes were opened to our potential and the realisation that it could only be fully realised when we were free from the mercy of Westminster scrambles. Grassroots movements of people rose up in the cry of ‘No more scrambles. Scotland’s people want to hold their own bag.’
You know the rest, and even if you didn’t, Ruth and Kezia are only too happy to remind you on a daily basis. Not that they’re fixated on independence or anything! Apparently, we were ‘allowed’ our referendum back then, to step out of our box for a while, and it’s now time to head back in and join with them in some warped rendition of Rule Britannia…because in those grandiose colonial minds, Britannia still rules the waves!
Fast forward to 2017 and that scramble is looking ever grim. We’re caught up in the middle of a hard Brexit that Scotland didn’t vote for, and the ugliness of inward looking, right wing values that stand in stark contrast to the people that we are. Across the world, there is wide respect for our international hand of friendship, and our welcome of all who choose to call Scotland their home, and who, without doubt, richly contribute to our economic and cultural growth. Who would want to change that?
‘It’s different this time.’ I’ve lost count now of how many times I’ve heard that, around the doors, on the stalls, and just in every day conversations. However much we’re screamed at for even daring to consider a second referendum, it’s clear that another big light’s being switched on and more folks are seeing for themselves the democratic deficit that exists and the different futures we wish to shape.
It feels to me that we’ve reached a point where we need to shine the biggest ever light on these Westminster scrambles, to see them for what they really are. Right now, without our independence, we’re looking at many more years of living in the low light of a Tory UK government, and no matter how many fluffy words come from the mouth of Ruth here, and her boss in London, it’s the same right wing, we’re creating a society for some, policies and decisions that will impact our people and our land.
Think about it, do we really trust their market focussed, trickle down to those in need policies, to actually do that? Do we trust them to treat the vulnerable in our society with dignity and lift them out of poverty through compassionate welfare decisions, or protect our stigma free for all public services? Do we trust them to respect the powers of our Scottish Parliament, and the democratic voice that it has given our people, in the hard Brexit road ahead? Or, let’s cut to the chase, do we trust them to care more, or know more, about Scotland than we do?
That’s the thing about being talked down for so long, you actually begin to believe it!
Before teaching, I was 10 years a civil servant in the Scottish Parliament. To this day, I can still feel the tanglible energy and hope in those early days of our own new modern legislature. It was to be a people’s parliament, close to us and built on our democratic voice, and it was my privilege over the years to watch the people of Scotland increasingly claim their parliament as their own. Even back then, everyone, no matter their politics, knew it not to be an event, but a journey.
Do we really want to shirk back into that low light? That’s really our vision for Scotland, to continue to sit at the foot of those scrambles? Not least, the hard Brexit one and all that it may bring, stripping us of the diversity we love, and the economic growth that it brings? Leaving us totally at the mercy of the UK bag holder? Isn’t it time to trust in our own decisions, our own resources, and to use them to compassionately empower all of our people, in the building of a fairer Scotland?
You know, we may be comfortable enough living in the low light, but shouldn’t there be a thought for those living without much light at all? Too many struggle across Scotland today, to make ends meet, to find a home, to survive in these days of increasing inequality…grabbing very little from a UK scramble bag that continues to decrease in real terms.
Our own Scottish Government can, of course, continue to do all they do in the topping up that bag, whether Scottish Welfare Funds, mitigating the bedroom tax, funding to protect our public services, or our limited new social security powers, but it’s all really just a tinkering around the edges when our potential can only be maximised by holding the actual scramble bag and having full power over our decisions and resources.
Theresa May has some alternative advice though. We, that would be the people of Scotland, should use May’s Council elections to reject independence. Translated, this means vote Tory. And who is going to stop them? Labour? I think it’s safe to say that after Corbyn’s cries of ‘Don’t Give Up’ and Khan’s ‘Don’t vote for independence, they’re all racists’, their demise is well underway. And anyway, many of these socially just minded members will actually take May’s advice and vote Tory…again!
‘Put the big light on!’ I can hear my granny still. So, look around, see what’s really going on, and maybe for the first time, let’s send out our own strong message…that we want to firmly and confidently hold our own bag. Scotland’s people are best placed to make Scotland’s decisions…and not at the foot of the scramble.