February 2, 2012 by Nash Riggins
Ed Miliband has at long last spoken out against Alex Salmond’s proposed independence referendum – and unsurprisingly, he had nothing nice to say about Salmond or his Scottish Nationalist Party.
Speaking in Glasgow, the Labour leader attempted to match Salmond point-for-point regarding why Scottish independence could spell ruin for all; yet in doing so, Miliband only perpetuated the mulish worthlessness of the entire debate. Calling Salmond’s nationalist ideas ‘divisive’ and ‘reactionary,’ Miliband’s line of attack repeatedly claimed that Mr Salmond must not care about the elderly or infirmed south of the border, as he appeared so gung-ho to abandon them via independence.
First off, a tip-of-the-hat to Mr Milband for realising that an independence referendum is, by nature, ‘divisive.’ As for labelling Salmond’s political stances reactionary, this observation is far less astute. Nearly every political move that Salmond has made since his party’s rise to power has been intransigent by nature – independence being the most blatant example. He doesn’t care that it spells financial ruin, and he sure as hell doesn’t seem to care that it will cripple any sway his people may have otherwise held over the international stage – indeed, the latter is more or less his primary argument.
While Salmond may whole-heartedly believe that because Scotland was the first part of the UK to instigate a smoking ban, that makes his country a ‘progressive beacon,’ it would serve his obstinate nature well to think again. After shipping off the Clyde’s stockpile of nuclear warheads and joining a pestilent European Union, what is left for his independent, ‘progressive beacon’ but to sink with the rest of the small countries of Europe? Scottish voters will find it far less appealing to provide their youths with a free education once their taxes have been raised to an obscene amount in order to pay for establishing their own NHS and inactive military. Indeed, any funds that would have otherwise been spent ‘being progressive’ will simply be dumped into failed institutions such as the Royal Bank of Scotland (great investment, right?).
Scotland already has so many devolved powers from Westminster that its Parliament can do virtually whatever they want, such as providing social wages for public sector workers or decreeing minimum prices for alcohol. As far as the average citizen is concerned, daily life is already governed almost exclusively from Holyrood – which appears to expose this upcoming referendum as merely ceremonial by nature; however, ceremony can prove to be a dangerous weapon should the wrong hands attempt to wield it.
Foreign investment has already taken a nosedive because of the possibility of this 2014 referendum, which is no doubt going to initiate another upcoming credit-crunch throughout the UK. Business is woefully attempting to bounce back from the follies of the housing markets and big banks, yet Alex Salmond appears willing to ignore the obscene amounts of money being thrown at these issues simply because he wants his tiny country to realise its potential in the realm of egalitarian politics. It’s hardly even stubborn – it is an honest-to-God waste of everyone’s time.
As a particularly heated Ed Miliband so aptly questioned: “What is the most urgent task facing us today? Putting up a border across the A1 and M74? Or the task of creating a more equal, just and fair society?”
Miliband is a damn fool to presume that Scottish voters will be swayed so easily by his assumption that Alex Salmond must not care about poor people simply because he wants independence from the UK; however, he poses a valiant question that the world’s media simply refuses to ask: don’t we have better things to be doing right now?
Alex Salmond should be focused on problems in his country that are actually worth solving, yet instead he chooses to continue a relentless campaign to sink his own country with a cultural charm that spells disaster for everyone’s pocketbooks. What’s worse, his referendum may even prove successful, thanks to Scotland’s ever-increasing population of ‘neds’ whose political foresight doesn’t go far beyond the phrase ‘fuck the English.’ There is nothing progressive about riding on the coattails of a population whose cultural identity is constantly attempting to eclipse its own political prowess and economic ambitions; in fact, it’s just kind of sad.
There are real problems worth tackling in Scotland, and its politicians owe it to those who voted them into office in order to make decisions based upon the best interests of their constituencies – not based upon the emotional impulses of their First Minister. We shouldn’t bite off more than we can chew – aand with any luck, near history may even fall down on its knees and thank voters for avoiding the folly of Salmond’s 2014 Independence Referendum.