It’s Scottish Book Week. I have a slightly cynical attitude to this ‘event’ I have to say. I am somewhat underwhelmed by the Scottish Book Trust if I’m honest. There are many reasons, for discussion at a later date. Suffice it to say I’m not a fan of those who use books in order to promote their own world view – (there will be much, much more from me in the next few months about the Scottish Literature/ Scottish Fiction debate and ‘who says what’s good’)- but what’s sauce for the goose etc, and so today I want to alert you to a FREE ebook for Scottish Book Week.
This is an ebook for anyone and everyone who has any interest in the Scottish Independence issue.
Published today in ebook format, the White Paper ‘Scotland’s Future’ is available free for all.
I tried to download it immediately it came out but it took me an hour to do so – I think the site was overwhelmed (which is a good sign?!) though of course I was worried about it being hacked – and imagining all the nay-sayers giving it ‘they can’t even organise a download, how could they run a country.’ All of which reminded me that perspective is everything. So I calmed down, and watched Alec Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon take questions from the hungry pack of journalists (all of whom appeared to have been able to read, digest and come up with their ‘spin’ on the document with a frightening speed!! Do you detect the slightest degree of cynicism here? )
Then after I’d watched the live streamed ‘launch’ and listened to the questions (the usual questions, the usual media ‘spin’ and ‘soundbite journalism’ through which one has to wade) I went back on the site and downloaded it. And reflected that this is possibly an attitude of mind one might get into in an Independent Scotland. It’s not all about ‘smooth’ operation. It’s about being US and doing it open and transparently and giving the maximum number of people the opportunity to engage. Sharing and talking and discussing and engaging. And taking it seriously for once. Taking some responsibility for ourselves.
I have downloaded it, but of course I have yet to READ it. But I WILL read it. As everyone living in Scotland should. Certainly as anyone with a vote in the Referendum should. This is without doubt the most important White Paper you’ll ever read (or not) in your lifetime after all. And the Scottish Government have done what they can to get us to engage. Now it’s up to us. Those of an independent spirit will hopefully take up the challenge.
I can’t help but think that at 600+ pages it surely should shut up all those who keep going on about NOT BEING INFORMED. How much more comprehensive do you want it? How much easier can they make it? It’s a free ebook for goodness sake (and online and downloadable pdf and doubtless you can front up for a paper copy if you really can’t engage with technology)
Of course there will still be those who complain about what’s in it – already I’ve heard the whining about ‘how can you say what will happen in the future when you may not be the government of the future’… it’s so tedious. The same voices who say BUT YOU HAVEN’T GIVEN US INFORMATION are the ones who cry BUT YOU CAN’T PREDICT THE FUTURE.
No folks, it’s right. No one can say with CERTAINTY what will happen in the next 10 years. There is NO security in life folks. None. So you either live in fear or you take some responsibility for life.
For me personally there is one certainty. A country that is afraid to be Independent doesn’t deserve to call itself a country or a nation. It’s true, if we don’t make our own choices, others will make them for us. Whether you are SNP or not really doesn’t matter. The first stage of the argument is simple and beyond party politics. It’s a basic question of how you see your rights as a human being.
1) Do I want to be part of an independent country?
Everything else will follow from that. I am a great believer in MAKE A CHOICE then MAKE IT THE RIGHT CHOICE. If/When we are independent we will have to work to make Scotland the place we want to live in. All the politics and economics and social policy and constitution and everything that goes to make up a modern society will be up for negotiation and we will ALL have invested in it. For me it’s a moral and emotional investment NOT just an economic argument. I want to be a proud member of a nation which has ‘backed itself’ enough to be independently self determining. Even if we all determine to be Labour, or Tory (sorry, you will have spluttered your coffee there I know!) or Green or whatever. This is so much bigger than party politics. It’s about us. Our society. Which is what we make it. It’s who we are and what we believe in. Beyond politics. Beyond economics.
I for one get very depressed when I think that the ‘settled will’ of people in Scotland might be NOT to be Independent. That’s so far beyond embarrassing it’s scary. And that’s why I’m prepared to stick my head above the parapet on this issue and encourage people to think hard about this. 300 years ago when the Act of Union was put in place MOST people didn’t have the opportunity to vote on the issue. This time WE DO. The ordinary, average, Scot in the street had independence taken away from them without a by your leave. Maybe with the promise of ‘better together.’
And we are the generation that has the opportunity to reclaim this independence. Whether you see it as righting a wrong or whether you simply see it as sensible for a country to be self determining doesn’t matter. You shouldn’t be voting on short termism but of course there is no future certainty. Thinking we’ll be ‘better together’ or better off in the short term is that kind of thinking that set the Union up in the first place. ‘I’m all right Union Jack’ is not a phrase that sits comfortably with me.
‘They can take our lives but they cannot take our freedom’ said that well known Scot Mel William Wallace Gibson. But they did! And now we have a chance to take it back. Will we take it? Or does being Scottish mean no more than daubing a saltire on your face and singing Flower of Scotland? Whatever you think about the economic and political ‘benefits’ of the last 300 years, just remember – there is NOTHING better than self-determination. Painting your face bright blue and singing is not the same thing folks. It’s not ‘real’ independence.
I remember how exciting it was when the Berlin Wall came down. When the Soviet bloc ‘disintegrated’ and the small countries got back their independence. It doesn’t matter whether your country has been part of a communist ‘dictatorship’ or a capitalist ‘democratic union’ – it’s not freedom. It’s not independence.
Independence is about assuming responsibility – about making our own decisions and sticking with them and making them work - that’s what’s at stake here. This referendum is our chance to regain some self-respect as a people/country/nation (the word is pretty irrelevant – you either feel this or you don’t) . And it is the legacy we will pass down. I don’t want people 300 years from now to hate me for denying them independence. And I certainly don’t want to live out the rest of my days in an un-free country however well off I am economically.
So if you feel ill informed, stop complaining. Read the White Paper. It offers the SNP vision of a future Scotland. You don’t have to agree with their ‘vision’ in every respect, but you owe it to yourself to at least get informed about the argument and think seriously about what INDEPENDENCE means to all of us.
And remember as some other independent nation (I think it’s the Australians?) says ‘You’ve got to be in it to win it.’
Happy reading folks. And spread the word. It’s not Harry Potter or Walter Scott but it’s possibly the most important ebook you’ll ever read.
EPUB for most e-reader devices and apps (ISBN: 9781784120702)
MOBI for Amazon Kindle (ISBN: 9781784120719)