(Lack of) Food for thought

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Not a wholly original blog today – stats & video are taken from “The Canary”

The stats below all have links and at the bottom is the link to a gentleman called Peter Stefanovic who is a campaigner and lawyer. He makes arguments that most decent people would support but no-one seems to be fighting for them.

Regardless how you are thinking of voting, please don’t fall for the apathy that some media outlets are already peddling. Ever time we get a chance to vote we should use that democratic right to it’s fullest. This is an opportunity to make your voice heard. If we all moan that nothing ever changes it’s because too many people aren’t voting.

We need to encourage everyone to get out for both the local and Westminster elections and have an impact. If you don’t believe me just look at the Brexit vote – well over 10 million people didn’t vote. That’s madness! Those people could have easily changed the vote either to Remain or to securely stamp Leave rather than the paper-thin difference we ended with.

This is a real turning point for the UK – and not just about the EU. We have had a Tory led government since 2010 and an SNP led Government since 2007 and both north and south of the border things are getting worse for our valued public services and servants. We are looking the other way at Europe and wondering what will happen there while behind us Education, Health, Mental Health, support for Carers and the Disabled are being eroded. Not enough money is being provided and where money is coming in it’s not to the people who so desperately need it. The poorest in the UK are miles behind those at the top – we are one of the richest countries in the world yet we are failing too many people.

Vote – but think carefully before you do and ensure your vote is for a positive change and a strike for hope in a world where too many are being left behind.

  • 400,000 children are now living in poverty, a figure which rose 100,000 in 2015/16. 67% of those are from working families.
  • Food bank usage has risen, with over half a million people reliant on just the Trussell Trust for food packages.
  • In two reports, the UN heavily criticised the Tories for “grave” and “systematic” violations of disabled people’s human rights. The government, meanwhile, has severely cut their benefits.
  • The past year has seen strikes by junior doctors, rail workers, teaching assistants, library workers, and other public sector staff. Their pay increases have mostly been capped at 1%.
  • National debt has increased by more than 50%.
  • Homelessness has risen by 54%.
  • Corporations have seen tax cuts [pdf] while the tax gap is around £120bn per year.
  • The NHS has seen a real terms cut in the amount of money given to it per patient. While the amount of NHS money paid to ‘independent’ companies has more than doubled to £8bn a year.
  • The government has cut the number of people getting social care by 26%. And it has cut £50m from children’s mental health services.

JD

Omnishambles

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An utterly useless clusterfuck of a move today by Despicable May. I wonder at what point she decided, “Well the world’s on the brink of a nuclear winter, our traditional allies are putting distance between us because we asked for a divorce and the UK’s devolved administrations are all at loggerheads with Westminster – let’s have a General Election to bring us all back together!”

In which sane part of the land is that even an idea – never mind a good one? It comes of course with a huge amount of baggage and politically the public are confused to what to do. Do Labour Voters who support Brexit vote Tory or UKIP for the first time in their lives? Do the Remainers return to the Lib Dem fold even though Fallon is as wet as Corbyn during a wet t-shirt contest? Does it really matter how Scotland votes?

It appears to me that there is no positive outcome to this election. Starting with the Tories –  if they gain seats as predicted, then Brexit is not just Hard but Granite – a majority would leave backbenchers without the ability to frustrate and hold its own party to account. We would be looking at a possible exit without a deal as we know these things could take up to a decade to finalize and we have 23 months. May would be bolstered and would march into Brussels thinking she had a mandate – but the figures from the EU referendum don’t change because of a General Election, it’s a different vote altogether.

She assumes that because the other parties are weak that she’ll automatically be put back in, but she has to be careful. The 52% of the country who voted to Leave the EU are not all right wing voters. All other parties (apart from the SNP) have said they respect the decision but want checks and balances the other end of the negotiations. To many this seems like a fair thing to do and her hardened stance that she and her government have the final say may come across as dictatorial and unreflective of the uncertain mood in the country.

Labour must be both loving and dreading this. On one hand Corbyn could be out on his ear and we’d get a stronger leader. His ideas are good, he’s just not the man to deliver them. A more public service friendly, compassionate and thoughtful leader he has been – but his charisma is now on watchlists as it hasn’t been seen for years. The upside could be they pull back in the working class vote lost to UKIP but the mixed messages on Brexit could be their undoing.

Where the have an opportunity is by fighting on traditional Labour platforms – the Health Service which is in crisis, education being damaged across the whole UK, tax cuts for the rich, abolition of support for the most vulnerable and disabled – these could be winners if they get their message straight. Will they? I doubt it. £10 minimum wage seems unrealistic and considering that the front bench can’t agree on very much would see a very divided party pushed front and centre. Do we need that as a government at such a difficult time as we live in?

The Lib Dems are frustrating. Tim Fallon is a worse leader than Uncle Jeremy for me. Regardless of your opinion of Nick Clegg and his coalition with the Tories I think hindsight has shown us that actually he did a good job of keeping the rabid right-wingers at bay during his time as Deputy Prime Minister. They have sensible ideas just as Labour do, but I find it difficult to buy into them as they struggle to be heard above the noise.

UKIP are racist, misogynistic, sexist, thugs that don’t deserve the inflated the platform that they continue to get from the media. It’s an embarrassment to this country they have had the airtime they have considering their only MP is no longer in the party. But they could make an impact if the North of England tip to the right as they did in the EU referendum. Labour really are the only alternative for many voters, but with such a weak leadership many might look to UKIP to ensure money is taken from the EU and given back to the UK. In my humble opinion, I do think this is the end of the road for the party – what do they stand for now? They got their wish and unless the LIb Dems become the government the other two main parties agree that leaving the EU will happen.

SNP are in a strange position as well – they can only really lose in this election. Consider where we were last May compared to where we are now – leaving the EU and on the edge of the break-up of the UK. Around a third of SNP voters wanted to leave so that may well impact on their votes and the rise of Ruth Davidson as a sensible voice north of the border could see the Tories take away some of those yellow patches on the map. I can’t see Labour or the Lib Dems doing much damage in Scotland, but if they did it would start to bring into question Surgeon’s decision to demand a second Scottish Referendum.

So where does all that leave us? Potentially even more split than we were after the 23rd June 2016 and the EU referendum. With the country divided and uncertainty ahead will we stick with the shambles that is May, Boris, Hammond and Davis or bring in a potential coalition of Uncle Jeremy, Tim-liberal-but-bland and the SNP?

A rainbow coalition? No, just storm clouds ahead.

JD

The Power of Apathy

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There’s only been one topic of conversation in the classroom since Tuesday’s US Election – “What do you think of Trump becoming President?” And rather than rant, rave and have a go at the dusty pumpkin dildo I have given them all this talk which I feel is worth sharing with everyone.

This is your fault. Not directly but you are part of the problem. If I ever ask you about your opinions on politics you laugh and say you don’t watch the news or read newspapers but you did see something funny on Facebook about Trump. Some of you can’t even tell me the name of the Prime Minister or Chancellor. And I’m aware that this has always been true to a point with teenagers – but the difference now is that apathy has grown up with the last couple of generations and we face Brexit and a Trump presidency as a result.

We have a sway of people who would rather vote for Ed Balls on Strictly Come Dancing than for Ed Balls as a politician. From the comfort of our home we can be armchair pundits on events in the world and vote for pretty much anything by a tap, swipe or email address. We can sign petitions and share memes on things we feel strongly about from politics but actually go out and vote? No thanks – what’s the point?

The point is this apathy and “What difference will it make?” attitude is perfectly shown by this week’s election in America and the Brexit vote. Not only were millions of people sitting at home not bothering to vote but when you look at the overall figures of who could have voted and the outcomes the truth becomes painfully real.

In the EU vote:

UK Electorate eligible to vote – 46,501,241

Voted to Leave – 17,410,742

Voted to Remain – 16,141,241

Spoiled Ballots – 26,033

Did not vote – 12,949,258

In the US Election:

US Electorate eligible to vote – 231,000,000

Trump – 60,071,650

Clinton – 60,467,245

Others – 6,180,868

Did not vote – 104,280,237

Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m no maths whizz but these stats show two things: Brexit was only voted for by 37.4% of the UK and only 26% of Americans voted for Trump. So they didn’t carry the day; it wasn’t a landslide victory and despite what politicians tell you it is not the will of the people – it’s the will of those who voted for whatever they are advocating.

I know this is common sense, and I’m also aware many will be shouting at me that this is how democracy works and not voting is still taking a stand. That’s where I call bullshit.

Not voting, not caring enough to put a cross in a box, pull a lever, press a button is a disgrace. Today we celebrated those who have given their lives so we can be free to enjoy democracy and our communal view is gradually becoming “So what?”

I’ll tell you what – look at your payslip: tax, National Insurance and pension payments. Look at your kids – schools, child benefit, tax credits. Look outside; roads, street lights, police. It’s not difficult to understand that everything we do is driven by politics and if we don’t care or can’t be bothered then when the police numbers drop and the local A&E shuts and the street lights are put out at night to save money and your kid’s school is threatened with closure don’t you dare suddenly decide to get involved, because you’re too late.

You should have been paying attention and shouting when the politicians at local, national and international level were standing with a manifesto on which they wanted your votes. When they take office don’t just sit there and accept that life has to be this way – challenge the status quo or a decision you think is unfair or unjust. We have become lazy and indifferent.

Why?

Because they don’t listen to us? No probably not to the dozen people who took to the streets or the hundred thousand who signed an online petition. Why would they. But if you fill their inbox and postbox with questions and requests for information and clarification then they are truly accountable. Just because they are elected doesn’t mean for one minute they are finished with us.

That’s the attitude we seem to have now. Not good enough.

If there is a vote coming up you need to ensure your MP, MSP or MEP knows your views – that’s their job to represent you, even if you didn’t vote for them.

It is a self-fulfilling prophecy to be apathetic about something as important as politics because if you don’t care, then why should the politicians? They know they don’t have to turn up to debates or speeches if you are never going to check/ask/need something from that decision.

Brexit and Trump happened because people felt they had something to vote for – a voice that echoed theirs. Yes, part of the problem with Brexit is it’s hard to stir up passion for the status quo but you will lose it if you don’t stand up and say something when it really matters. And yes Clinton wasn’t the most palatable candidate we’ve ever seen for the Democrats but with the choice they had surely it wasn’t beyond the wit of the more than one hundred million voters to make sure it wasn’t The Donald.

I look at the current situation in politics and wonder why our leader of the free world is a reality TV star with no experience. I see our Foreign Secretary in the UK as that idiot that was funny (for the wrong reasons) on Have I Got News For You. I see 1960s cartoon character Nigel Farage leading the charge for Brexit and befriending the day-glow fucktrumpet billionaire.

Is this what we have become? A world who will only vote for the same people we can vote for on TV, tweet from our smartphones or Facebook Friend? If it is then we need a new revolution where policy matters. Where people matter – not frivolous personalities and stupid soundbites. Where policy matters – not redundant rhetoric or quiz show appearances.

We need to stop this cycle of apathy because you just need to see how fucked up 2016 has been – and we caused that. You and Me. Sharing a picture on FB is not enough. Setting up or signing an online petition is not enough. We need to step away from the virtual world and start living in the real world again where there are real dangers and issues.

The rise of the KKK. The need for the hashtag BlackLivesMatter in 2016. The amount of Food Banks in the developed world. The wars in Syria and Yemen and Iraq and Afghanistan. The refugee crisis in Europe and Africa and the Middle East. The gap between Rich & Poor expanding like never before.

I know, I see the irony of me putting this on a blog. I’m as guilty as those I’m complaining about in many ways. But in others I’m not. I always vote. ALWAYS. For local, Scottish, UK, EU elections or referendums. They matter. They really matter and will have an impact on your life. I joined a political party for the first time this year. not because I agree with everything they say, but because i believe in the core values and want to help shape the ideas they produce. I want my kids to grow up in a country and on a planet that gives a fuck.

If you are still apathetic then I don’t know how else I can convince you. But when you see the images of Russia moving further into Ukraine; see more violence against those who have emigrated to our country; see the dismantling of the only healthcare many in the us have; the images of the melting ice caps and you shrug your shoulders – then you deserve what you get.

JD

Be careful what you wish for…

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So it’s done again until 2020…or 2017 probably after the EU referendum. As a liberal-minded unionist lefty it’s not a great result for me either way today: SNP up here wanting to separate the union and the Tories down there ready to screw everyone even more in the next five years. It’s the first election I’ve voted in that has left me with little to be pleased about.

SNP

The historic win has to be recognised and as long as we have the first past the post system. But there are a few things to remember here, the SNP are the opposition party in Scotland to Labour and finally they won – it’s been a long time coming. Also it’s not a vote for another independence referendum, although that will come, but it does shake up the system which is maybe not a bad thing. However Nicola Sturgeon has to be careful what she asks for – recently she’s moved from wanting “full fiscal autonomy” to “fiscal responsibility”. While it might seem like semantics the two are very different.

“Autonomy” means we are left to run our own money – raise it and spend it with no Barnett formula, whereas “Responsibility” gives Sturgeon a safety net. Why would she need it? Well with current oil prices and no grant from Westminster we’d be anything from eight to ten billion pounds short in our budget. Where the SNP have to be careful is if they ask for it, it’s in the interests of the Tories to give it to them just to see it fail and get rid of the SNP possibly for a generation. While some may like to see the SNP in real trouble, it would mean the poorest in Scotland would suffer most.

Labour

Where do you start? Well I’d start at the point where Ed Miliband got elected as leader of the party. No one outside the unions wanted him – the public was expecting his brother to get the job and he would have had a much better chance than Ed yesterday. The reason? The lurch to the left. A return to the tribalism that kept the party out of power for eighteen years through the eighties and nineties.

Labour under Blair – regardless what you think of him – were a party that a majority could get behind. While it had an eye on working for everyone, it could also work with business and the banks. As much as we hate the banks we have to accept that we live in a capitalist model and until we – as a country – change that centre left is the best position for the Labour party. Weak leadership, no presence on the world stage, ideas with no substance and a man who let’s be honest we’re pretty glad will be gone. There’s no space for “pity politics” when they are in charge of our money and lives.

What next? Well for me Andy Burnham has always come across really well. Honest as Ed was but with more substance – and he’s not part of the political elite so he’d do well with the “working family” Labour claims to stand for.

Lib Dems

I have a soft spot for the Lib Dems, despite allowing tuition fees and the bedroom tax, they will be remembered for making the last five years almost bearable. If you don’t believe me write yourself a note saying “Remember the Lib Dems?”, stick it on your fridge and in about a year’s time you will be wishing someone was in the cabinet holding the Tories back from more cuts to the poorest in society, tax cuts for the richest and biggest businesses, and a lack of moral backbone of any kind.

Nick Clegg was not a monster but happened to fall foul of the “Black Widow” coalition – they were devoured by their mates after they screwed them. Should he have teamed up with the Tories? Well I don’t see how they could refuse in all honesty – a chance to implement their ideas and policies was too good a chance to miss. And they did deliver on raising the tax threshold by £5000 meaning most part-time workers or those on minimum wage didn’t pay any tax. I hope they bounce back stronger for the experience.

UKIP

Can fuck off

Tories 

It’s going to hurt. No two ways about it. For the next five years the belt-tightening will leave most of us with a permanent ingrained mark round our middles. Twelve billion pounds of cuts and a national debt that increased by half a trillion means no one will escape. And if track records are anything to go by we know that the worst off will face the biggest struggle. Foodbanks increased by a factor of more than ten in the last five years and around 900,000 people used them last year. Further cuts to benefits regardless of need, the removal of the Disability living allowance and reduced Child Benefit won’t bother the 1% super rich – but will impact on you and I.

Then there’s the biggest danger – Europe. This is the key to where we will be by 2020. Here are the two options:

1. Cameron negotiates a new deal and wins a referendum, decides to retire as Prime Minister and Boris steps up to the plate without the electorate getting a say.

or

2. Cameron negotiates a deal, but loses the referendum. This then will spark a second referendum in Scotland for Independence as we are Europhiles north of the border. With the prospect of fish, farming and oil being impacted it’s easy to see the Yes side winning.

And my fear is the latter is more likely.

Over the next five years I honestly think we could see a massive constitutional nightmare all because Cameron lurched right to call UKIP’s bluff. Redwood, Mitchell and other Eurosceptic Tories have already been on TV making warning noises.

While I will always respect the democratic process – and the shoddy first past the post system that left the Greens, UKIP, Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems ridiculously under represented according to share of vote – I do think that with polar opposites either side of the border, we could be looking at Cameron being the last PM of the UK, and being the man who broke it.

JD

One Scotland

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I’ve been avoiding writing anything about Thursday’s result because if you say anything at all people are still raw and disappointed or vitriolic and relieved. How do I feel? I’m glad the vote went the way it did obviously. I made it clear I wanted to maintain the Union we share with the other countries in the UK – but for me it may have been Westminster’s last chance. Next time, and there will be a next time, I may not vote the same way.

Before we go any further I’ve had several things on social media I wanted to comment on and rather than do it a hundred odd times I’ll say them here:

1. The so-called vote fixing and piles of votes in the wrong piles etc. Here, from someone who is involved in such counts are the facts about the conspiracy theories:

  • Point 1-the guy who is accused of filling in votes is filling in a slip of how many in that bundle & then elastic bands it!(standard counting procedure)
  • Point 2 – the Yes votes on the No table, it was confirmed on live TV (cleverly cuts out before this) that these bundles were yet to be split – therefore they were still mixed bundles & the table was only used for space until it was used for its real purpose!!
  • Point 3 – the woman who is accused moving Yes votes to No – looks to me like she realised she’d put them in the wrong pile then corrected them.
  • Point 4 – bundles being emptied out of boxes with elastic bands – Postal Votes!! They are closely monitored & counted then re counted along with normal votes (less margin for error don’t you think)!

So all the “Recount” and “Rerun the Referendum” petitions need to grow up accept the decision of the Scottish people. There are so many observers at the counts there is little to no chance of 400,000 votes being hidden, changed, lost etc.

2. Alex Salmond’s stepping down. I did ask the question during the counts if he would step down if he lost by around 10 points, because I believed he’d done all he could. I’m not going to make a big thing about it but I’m not a fan of the man or most of his politics. But you have to respect what he has achieved in his political life. In 1992 he was ridiculed and laughed at by the establishment – today that same establishment has been rocked to the core by his achievements and his legacy could well be the federal UK.

3. The “45” gang. Grow up. Seriously, we are all one Scotland who need to accept the decision. Now this doesn’t mean I expect you to stop wanting or campaigning for Independence but the line is now drawn under Thursday’s vote so can we move on to the more important issues facing us, the UK and the wider world.

4. George Square last night. No I don’t approve, condone or like that group of idiot last night who were setting off flares, shouting abuse and using Nazi salutes. These people are idiots who don’t deserve our attention or the air time they have been given. I’m glad the Police have already rounded up a lot of them and through CCTV and other surveillance they will find a lot more. I would say that both sides need to stop these kinds of “public protests” and move on.

5. All those who have said that they are embarrassed to be Scottish need to get a grip of themselves. I am hugely impressed, proud and amazed by the Scottish people and what we have done with grassroots groups springing up everywhere – bringing people together to discuss the most important issues facing our society. We need that passion and interest to continue through into next year’s General Election and the following year’s Scottish Elections. Both Yes and No should be proud of what we achieved – true democracy.

6. Finally the Future. “They’ve already broken their promises” etc. No they haven’t. Yesterday a paper was published by Gordon Brown and once Parliament returns it will be seen. That’s part of the promised agenda.

So what does the future hold? Well that’s up to us as a nation. We have been offered further powers which Westminster must deliver or else there will be retribution at next year’s elections. We have also heard that England, Wales and Northern Ireland are to get further or new devolved powers. This is the start of a possible federal state – the best outcome in my personal view. Each individual country should make its own decisions and then come together to debate and vote on issues that effect us all. The West Lothian question is simple – vote on your own affairs. I know the Labour Party won’t like it because they need Scottish MPs to help them with English votes but this is too important to play party politics with. It means more co-operation and less of the “Punch & Judy” bollocks we’re all fed up with. Suck it up Ed and do the right thing.

I want all those new powers delivered to the Scottish Parliament as promised because for me and many others we voted on Thursday on Trust – misplaced many in the Yes camp have argued. This is their last chance to get it right, because next time – and it’ll come very soon if they renege on their promises – will be a very different outcome. Yes would romp home. But there is another Referendum that could decide things before that. In 2017, if the Tories get in again next year, we’ll have an In/Out vote on the EU. Scotland needs to be part of the EU, so if that goes against us then you might find there’s another Home Rule vote.

Lots of “ifs” at this stage but it shows that the next three years are hugely important ones in the history of these isles. If we spend all our time distracted by Thursday’s vote we may well miss the other important decisions on the horizon. We need to stand now as one Scotland and ensure the powers are delivered then we need to stand together on the issue of Europe because the Tories and UKIP will do everything they can to get us to vote No.

So let’s put our differences aside, stand and work together for the good of our country. Hold your views freely but don’t let them divide what is a strong and brilliant country.

JD

Dear Yes Voters

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I get it. I understand your aims and objectives. I see that you want that Independence from everyone and want to thrive on your own. To be ruled from within and make your own decisions, successes and mistakes. In the romantic sense of Independence I’m with you. Where we have to go our own ways is the day-to-day reality of living and working in Scotland if it were to become independent.

Please stop calling it scaremongering is someone point out there might be an issue with Independence because if we lie to ourselves about what this country could and should be we start on the wrong foot straight away. It’s not going to be easy; negotiations where one party has 5 million behind them and the other has over 60 million people there is a real chance that we won’t walk away with the deal we need. It’s not about oil or politicians or financial institutions, it’s about us as a people.

I hate the fact we have food banks in this country too, but independence won’t solve that. I hate that the minimum wage isn’t a true minimum wage, but independence won’t solve that. I hate the Tories too, but just because you have your own independent parliament doesn’t mean you will always get the government you vote for – only 25% of people voted for an SNP government at the last Scottish Parliament elections but the way the vote worked they became the majority party – so was that what Scotland “wanted”?

Independence is not a magic wand that will solve all of societies ills – in fact according to most independent sources and experts it will be a difficult journey that will take a long time to sort – if it ever does. I like the idea of this utopia painted by Alex Salmond and can see the appeal of it, but I am too long in the truth to think that one vote changes the world – see Blair 1997 and Obama 2008 as prime examples. Do you remember waking on that May morning in 1997 with the first Labour Government for 18 years and the expectations we all had. Now with hindsight it was terrible at times. It started well with good intentions but…

It’s not wrong to want the best for your country and I would never argue that it wasn’t – but think about this: 97% of eligible voters in Scotland ave registered to vote on Thursday, what if they all voted all of the time for all of the elections? What if that was echoed across our neighbouring countries of Northern Ireland, Wales and England – wouldn’t we have the parties and politicians we wanted then instead of a 0 – 50% turnout. The vote for real change has been on offer every time the polls have opened – how many of you the Yes voters have taken that opportunity? Have you not bothered because you didn’t like what the main four parties offered?

You could have voted for other parties, for independent candidates – hell, you could have stood yourself. This is not the ONLY chance we have of making Scotland better and the kind of country it has the capacity to be – don’t believe those who tell you this is the chance of a lifetime because we could have another referendum whenever we wanted – preferably one where the nation was united in its aims rather than the divided and unhappy state it is currently in.

While you have every right to vote Yes, I would ask you this: It is genuinely the best option for Scotland right now at this moment in time with economies still recovering from the international fallout of the toxic debt and sub prime mortgage issues? Is it a positive step when half your countrymen & women disagree with you? When the uncertainties outweigh the knowns of tomorrow and the next three decades? I love Scotland and its history, culture and people – my No vote makes me no different from you, I want the best for us all.

Think on this – we’ve got to this point without a single shot being fired. In terms of getting the possibility of independence this has been a triumph for the UK and Scotland. In my opinion the timing is wrong and we are too divided in opinion to go ahead with it now. Let’s start a real conversation that means we can start agreeing on more that we disagree on and have this referendum again in the future when Scotland is actually ready for it.

Voting yes will not solve all the problems, it will cause many more in the short to medium term – this time I’d suggest you vote No to ensure that next time it’s a resounding Yes instead of the whisper we have now.

JD

Dear No Voters

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It’s time to stand up and be counted – don’t worry about the bully boy tactics of Alex Salmond and his cronies, you have every right to express your opinion. We are proud to be Scottish but also proud to be British – they do not own the Saltire in this referendum, nor do they have a monopoly over everything that is great about this Country.

And that’s an important point: we are a country already with a devolved parliament. We already have powers to change this country and with a No vote you will get more; safer, faster and stronger powers whilst still having the family of the UK together as one. We have to stop listening to those who say that every piece of news against independence is “scaremongering” because most of it isn’t at all – if giant companies like Shell, BP, John Lewis, Asda, and Lloyds are warning us there will be a negative impact on us, then maybe we should listen – they have nothing to gain from getting involved otherwise.

To be constantly shouted down by the Yes camp because we’re pointing out the issues that independence will bring is wrong. Pointing out that we could be worse off financially is such an important consideration in this vote. Consider your mortgage, your kids ability to go into further education, your parents and grandparents pensions and care, the price of your weekly shop, the pound in your pocket – these aren’t “scare” stories, they are the reality you and I will have to face every day after independence. For how long? Well we don’t know. Most analysts are saying it could be between twenty and thirty years until things sort themselves out and for me that would take me up potentially until I’m 66 years old – I don’t want to spend the three decades struggling to make ends meet in a volatile country.

We also know that Scotland has a bias towards the Central Belt in policy and budgets, do you really believe that will change in an Independent Scotland? Look at the difference in time scale or the New Forth Road Bridge compared to the length of time we’ve waited in Aberdeen for the mythical bypass to be built. We know that with the majority of the population being in Edinburgh, Glasgow and everything in between that they will get the most attention – so how is this any better for those who live north of there compared to being governed from Westminster?

I was chatting with a Better Together campaigner yesterday and he said many No voters were scared to put up posters or speak out about their voting intentions because of the attacks both verbal and physical that an idiot minority of the Yes camp decided were necessary. By the same token there have been those on the No side who have over stepped the mark and I’m not advocating that either; but be heard, be seen and be strong. This is our country and our voices and opinions count just the same as any others in this week of the vote.

We are realistic about oil, industry, currency, finance and everything else – it’s not about patriotism, it’s about wanting a country we love to continue to be strong as part of a bigger picture. So stay strong, put up your no posters and help Scotland continue to be a strong and important place to live and work in.

JD