18) Unleash creative energy
“I believe that independence can only add to our potential and to release a whole new wave of creativity, ambition, confidence and pride. The evidence is clear – in the past 15 years we have become stronger economically, socially, culturally and globally.” - Alan Cumming, National Collective
Which seems more likely to inspire more and better plays and poetry, novels and art, music and comedy; more thrilling architecture, amazing computer games and cutting edge fashion? – a yes vote, or a no vote? I don't mean nationalistic yawns and electronic bagpipes; but inventing, composing and designing the future.
Writer Thorvald Steen knows his answer: “I think Scottish culture would absolutely benefit from independence. The London-based parties don't seem to understand how independence would strengthen the energy of the Scottish people, of Scottish writers and of Scotland's economy.” This, he says, was what happened in his own country, Norway, after its independence.
Or what about this: “The... myth is that the world contains only a handful of ultra brilliant people and that if one exhausts one’s stock of them, then one has lost one’s most important resource. Fifth century Athens, for example, produced in one generation some of the most important thinkers and writers of all time, geniuses like Plato and Euripides and Aristophanes. At the time, the population of the whole of Attica (most of whom were illiterate, of course), was about the same as present day Lowestoft. Humanity is swarming with geniuses. What matters is creating the circumstances to nurture them.” That's from my elder brother, Gilbert.
How do we create the circumstances to nurture genius? It seems intuitive to me, though I accept it is hard to prove, that where people have more collective say in their own affairs, where they are asked to collaborate in the building of a new country, where they are therefore more engaged in the world, they are more likely to think great thoughts. Tell people they “live in the early days of a better nation” and what kinds of wonderful things will they produce?
I know many brilliant young people in England right now who feel they live in a country which doesn't want their talents, which grinds them down rather than building them up. Many say they will move north if Scotland votes yes, so enthused are they by the prospect. There are times and places in history in which we all wish we had lived. Let's make Scotland in the years after 2016 one of them.
19) Save Scotland's NHS
"All the evidence shows tax is the fairest and most efficient way of funding health services. But the London-based think tanks are now suggesting that we introduce extra charges to see the GP or stay in hospital rather than funding our health needs through progressive taxation. Ominously, both the Chair and Chief Executive of NHS England have suggested they may have some sympathy to such calls. Such a move would drag down the amount allocated to Scotland too, leaving it little choice but to also consider user charges, which would be a disaster." - Caroline Molloy, editor, OurNHS
Whether it's a £10 a month user fee or a price tag on walking sticks, neck braces and crutches, the introduction of user charges in the NHS in England in some form or other is looking more and more likely. Scots shouldn't be under the illusion that devolution can continue to protect us from the destruction of the NHS forever.
The Barnett formula ensures that the taxes spent across the UK are distributed across the UK. If Westminster decides to increase spending on a service in England by a pound, then Holyrood gets a proportional increase in its funding. If Westminster cuts spending in England – as Labour, Tories, and Lib Dems have all committed to continuing to do, then Scotland gets less money.
If the NHS in England is privatised, and then some of it is paid for through a user charge, then less and less of it will be paid for from Treasury coffers. This means Scotland gets less and less too. And because they NHS is one of the biggest things Holyrood spends money on, it wouldn't be long before there were inevitably significant cuts to NHS funding in Scotland too.
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