One of the great things about being a Modern Studies pupil, is that it is an evidence based subject, from which, one can draw conclusions. They may not always be right, but it is a subject that should help you to create opinions and be able to back them up with concrete facts. In light of Nicola Sturgeon's essay promoting Scottish independence, here's my view.
Independence is a platform, from which better things will come. Supporters of Scottish independence, including myself, believe this, and believe that nations have a right to self-determination. The right to be the final arbiter in the matters that directly affect you. But for me, the most important value of independence is that it provides a blank canvas.
People make assumptions of what our country would be like after independence: taxes would rise; budgets would be cut; we couldn't afford it, the list goes on. However, who dictates who will govern our nation after independence? The people. The manifesto pledges of one particular party against another, would decide the elections. Scottish parties would directly implement Scottish policy.
Scotland has been a leader, internationally, as a devolved Parliament, at a detriment to the support for independence, seeing as people like the status quo. The Mental Health Act 2003; Alcohol Minimum Pricing Act 2012; The Smoking, Health and Social Care Act 2005; Community Care and Health Act 2002; and The Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill, all of which are laws or soon to be laws that have been passed in the Scottish Parliament, acclaimed internationally, and copied by the rest of the UK, in most circumstances.
Are people content with what the Government in Westminster are doing? No, and they have every right to complain, seeing as the Scottish people didn't vote for that Government. Are the people of Scotland happy that the Coalition is imposing severe austerity, at the expense of growth, across the UK? I believe not. How can a political party, who has fewer Members of Parliament in Scotland, than there are Pandas, possibly claim to represent the interest of the Scottish electorate?
Independence would enhance the democratic process in Scotland, increasing the accountability of Parliament, and ensuring that the government elected by the people of Scotland makes all of the decisions affecting Scotland, in Scotland, for Scotland. The Scottish people - following a yes vote in 2014 - could elect a government in 2016 who promise to reverse the most austere cuts in the history of UK politics in favour of promoting economic growth. And, they could pick a party who would continue to provide universal services, like tuition fees, rather than get rid of them.
Scotland can afford independence. In Scotland, we have £1 trillion of untapped oil sitting in the North Sea; 25% of the European Union's capacity for offshore renewables; a booming whiskey industry; a vibrant tourist industry; and a resilient financial sector, a diverse economy I believe. Despite what Alastair Darling might say.
Scotland can also make savings from leaving the UK. We would save £50 million annually, simply from not having to fund Westminster's parliamentarians with expenses and wages. We could make further potential savings from trident, and use our £8 billion share of those monies, to fund infrastructure projects or lessen inequalities, promoting social equality and justice. More importantly however is this: Scotland gets 9.3% of UK spending, but generates 9.6% of UK taxes. When we take into account all parts of the financial equation, spending, revenue and borrowing, this means we contribute over £1,000 per household more than 'our share'. Over the last 6 years Scotland’s finances have been stronger than the UK. And over the past 30 years, we have had a relative surplus of £19 billion.
I have delivered leaflets for YesScotland, campaigned on my local high street, and attended meetings to promote Scottish Independence. Why? For I believe, that Scotland, is different to the UK, politically, and that only separation can help Scotland reach its full potential. I want to promote my vision of an independent Scotland: I want to see a country free of nuclear weapons. A country that is an integral member state of the European Union. A country that promotes growth and inward investment, not one that isolates itself by leaving the EU. A country in which future generations can receive world-class education, for free. A country which promotes social equality and focusses on reducing inequalities, rather than widening the gap, by hammering the poor and cutting tax for the rich. A country where the welfare state and the NHS flourish, not one where they are being cut and wrongly tampered with.
To those who say Scotland wouldn't be any different as an independent Scotland, why not? Independence is an opportunity to shape the future, it is a new beginning. Embrace it, make the most of it. Independence what you make of it.
By Ronan Valentine