Thursday, 18 September 2014

A Londoner on Voting YES

There is a lot of misinformation in the press about the YES vote. Some people think it has to do with blind patriotism and xenophobia but the reality seems more converse to that if people inform themselves better on the politics of the question concerning whether Scotland should go YES or "No thanks".



I guess before I go on, I should "disclose" that My Mother's was Glaswegian Scots-Irish, but I honestly do not identify as Scottish and never have. My grandfather died when I was 9.

Technically, I am half Argentinian, half English in terms of where my folks were born. I was born in the UK but I do not "feel" English, not Argentine either and really, the Union Jack to me represents something other than me, as well...

I do however "feel" like a Londoner. I identify as a Londoner. I am a Londoner, I suppose... As a Londoner, I find that my friends tend to be black, white or brown, but certainly not any of them are red, white and blue (not times when they are feeling well, anyway!)

Moving Up

I have lived in Scotland since 2009 and during the time between now and then, I have come to observe some stark differences between the capital here and the one I grew up in. Some good, some bad. Either way, it is largely because of those differences I have seen during my time in Scotland, that I will be voting YES today.

YES - Scotland Banner

Jobs

The first thing I noticed when I moved up here, was that everyone was white. That was a bit of a culture shock for me, especially at times when I would (very rarely) hear people at bus stops winging about immigrants. What immigrants? Who is taking all the jobs, now? What all 5 of them? More to the point, what jobs have they been taking?

That is a difference you notice between the capitals. In Scotland: There aren't many jobs generally, really. Not decent ones anyway... In London, availability of decent jobs does not seem to be such a striking issue for the people who live there.

Many Scottish University graduates seem to end up having to go to Birmingham, London or Manchester which seems a shame... So, as time draws near, I have had to wonder myself why are there no jobs in Scotland or rather, why are there no jobs offering decent pay/terms in what is clearly, such a wealthy nation?

Scotland's Wealth of Opportunity: £5 Billion - Aerospace Defence,  £32 Billion - Rural and Highland Economy, £1500 Billion - Oil and Gas, £10 Billion - Tourism, £9.3 Billion - Chemical Industries, £2.3 Billion - Economic Impact of the Historic Environment, £7 Billion - Financial Services Industry, £17 Billion - Construction Industry

A lot might blame the recession or the "national dept" and call it "a sign of the times" but I doubt that is solely to blame for the phenomena.

Transport

Let's look at Scottish transport networks, for a moment:

  • It takes the fastest train 4 hours to get to London from Edinburgh on the train and there's one every half hour. 
  • The fastest to from Edinburgh to Inverness is 3:24 and there is one every hour. 
  • Edinburgh is 405 miles (a seven hour drive) from London 
  • Edinburgh is just 155 miles (a three hour drive) to Inverness.

Now, maybe my maths is rusty but does that not seem a bit... Well: Crap? More so, because that is one of a myriad of infrastructural deficits which I have seen concerning the Scottish transportation "system", to date.

The Capital

Let's have a more local look at the Lothian Bus map for Edinburgh:

Lothian Buses - Map

The first thing to note is that it is practically impossible to get from one end of Edinburgh to the other without having to bus to the city centre. Also note, the distinct lack of night buses.

There are no tubes in Edinburgh, so I cannot talk about the state of those. There are however, two train stops. One at Edinburgh Waverley (city centre) and one at Haymarket. The one at Morningside was closed years ago (back in the 1960's, according to Wikipedia) and is not in use for passenger travel anymore.

NHyeS

Getting a GP to refer you to a specialist could be pretty easily done when I first landed, here which made the service notably different from how things are in London, where you have to fight tooth and nail to see any kind of specialist.

In London, the NHS is pretty s*** all round, to be honest. I saw a woman giving birth in the A&E waiting room of Lewisham hospital when I was just seven years old and this is just one of several incidents I have borne witness to in London which to me, suggest a certain lack of quality in the service provided down there.

Tory Cu#ts

Ahem, typo of course.. I meant to say cuts, naturally... Unfortunately since the Tories got in, I have noticed a clear and steep decline in the Scottish heathcare system in the capital. The first (and only) ADHD clinic in Scotland was pretty much shut down shortly after the elections, for one. I work with disabled people so I have witnessed the changes can impact people first hand, in various ways. One example is my friend, Ryan Bryden who is C5 tetraplegic. If you have a moment have a read about Ryan's story, please do (and feel free help him out if you have any of that, to spare). Ryan is just one of many in Scotland who are solely reliant on the NHS and charitable support during what can only be described as the slashing of health and welfare services under a Conservative government which Scotland did not vote for and which seem to most severely impact who are most vulnerable and leave those least in need, unscathed...

Edinburgh and Scottish Culture

Some things of note, about Edinburgh and Scottish culture that I prefer to that of my home town:

  • People form an orderly queue at the bus stop
  • People form an orderly queue at the bar
  • Pretty much everyone knows, is related to or is a boxer, themselves
  • It's a lot less of a hazard prone trip to the shops (speaking as a female)
  • Homophobia does not seem to be nearly as common here (again, speaking as a female - correlation between this point and the above one, I reckon)
  • Passers by will intervene if someone is getting given trouble by someone else
  • Crack cocaine is not a visible presence on the streets of the capital
  • When people are being friendly, it's because they want to be friendly rather than because they are about to attack you (i.e. in Scotland when a person wants to attack you, there tends to be fair warning ;-))
  • People tend to respect their elders
  • People don't tend to vote Tory or UKIP (which for the record, implies that Scotland has not been nurturing the culture of hysterical insanity about people on benefits, immigrants and those on disability that England seems be nurturing, at present)
  • People are more politically aware (go figure ^)
  • Bus drivers wait until the elderly are sat down to start driving the bus
  • People move out the way to make room for the disabled spots on buses rather than "tutting" and frowning at the mere prospect
  • The Edinburgh Fringe
  • The Edinburgh Film Festival
  • The history was not bombed away during wwII
  • The Scottish Mining Museum
  • Ginger people are treated just like everyone else (they have hell of a time in England)

Oh and ... It's one of the most beautiful places, in the world:

Scottish Landscape


What If...?

There is an atmosphere of fear about what "might" happen if Scotland gains its independence which makes little sense to me. Whilst I can concede that there are a lot of unknowns in a YES vote, since the truth is we simply cannot say how it will pan out, really. Only the 2016 elections can decide that really... Yet, whilst Scotland may not benefit from a YES, its very unlikely to improve significantly with a "no thanks" or it simply would not be in the state that brought it to this referendum, in the first place!

It follows that Scotland's chances of economic growth seem to be greatly increased if it has a government which is accountable to its people (now, there is a surprise). As things are Scotland does not have that at all, to my mind. The core Infrastructural deficits in here do seem to be responsible for the vast pockets of poverty in this very wealthy country, simply because Westminster controls Scotland's tax revenues and they are seemingly uninterested interested in putting those taxes back into nurturing the growth of Scottish industry, services and infrastructure.

So, whilst I am a Londoner, I feel I can proudly vote YES today for Scottish autonomy tomorrow and hope the rest of country does this too, so it has a fighting chance. The rest is up to Scotland. (hopefully) not Westminster. Time will tell...

Besides all that stuff, it would be absolutely glorious to see David Cameron's face, if YES were to get the majority vote :-)