Opinion

Welcome to our opinion page where we publish pieces from invited authors.

Election Statement

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Following the announcement of a UK General Election, many of our supporters have asked us whether we are going to get involved in the election campaign.

Scotland In Union is a long-term, non-party, grass-roots campaign to support Scotland’s place in the UK.  We believe that separating Scotland from the UK would harm people in Scotland and in the UK, and we know that people in Scotland neither need nor want another divisive referendum.

There are big issues at stake in the 2017 General Election, but SIU is not a political party, and we will not campaign on behalf of any party.  Our directors and staff have therefore agreed that Scotland In Union will not play an active role in this election campaign.  We will not be leafleting or running street stalls during the campaign period, and we will be reducing and adjusting the tone of our social media activity accordingly.

As a non-party campaign, it is not our job to give advice on how to vote in the Election, but we hope as many people as possible will vote, exercising their democratic rights and doing their civic duty, helping to choose our representatives in the UK Parliament.  We also hope that people will get involved in the campaign, supporting whichever political party or candidate they believe will be best for Scotland and for the UK. How voters exercise their choice, in support or opposition to one party or another, “tactically” or not over the issue of independence or any other issue, is a matter for them.

One of the practical reasons why SIU will not be active on the streets is that we know many of our supporters want to campaign for their chosen party. SIU stepping back from the campaign enables our people to get involved without compromising their own or SIU’s position.

So, you can expect to see a bit less of SIU on the streets, in the media, and on social media, until after 8th June – but rest assured that we will be very active after the election, campaigning as hard as ever for our main aim, making the case for Scotland in the UK.

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Our local elections should be about local issues

By Alastair Cameron, Executive Director, Scotland In Union

The council elections across the UK this year are hugely important.  That’s because our councils provide vital services on which we rely: from social care to roads, and from schools to recycling.  At a time of cuts to council budgets, and increasing demand for services, the hard choices our councillors make will matter to all of us.  It’s as important to vote in the council elections as in any other poll.

Many of our supporters have been asking about Scotland In Union’s stance on the council elections. Some people are suggesting that one way to support the UK is to run an ‘anyone but the SNP or the Greens’ campaign in Scotland.  The basis for this is that parties use local elections to build up their power base, attract new candidates and burnish their brands - which for some parties is all about the constitution.  It would be relatively simple to run such a campaign (‘use all your preferences, but don’t vote for any nationalists’, or something similar), but we won’t be doing that.  Indeed, SIU intends playing no part in the council campaigns.

Why isn’t SIU taking a position?  Quite simply, because we believe local elections should be about local issues.  Candidates who bang on about Brexit, or nuclear weapons, or UK policies, are unlikely to be focused properly on local issues  It’s also important that our local representatives in Scotland are prepared to stand up for us against the Holyrood government if they need to.  We don’t want to encourage local elections to be about constitutional division.  In SIU, we want to return to when politics is about improving lives, and politicians use the powers which they have at the level at which they operate; not a Scotland dominated by divisive constitutional wrangling.

We hope people across Scotland and the UK will get involved in the local elections, even if it’s just making the effort to vote and have their voice heard.  But as an organisation, SIU’s business is promoting Scotland’s place within the UK, not influencing the choices of local government, so we will not be participating directly in the council campaigns.

We will, of course, be continuing our pro-UK campaign throughout 2017 and beyond, using the resources funded by our supporters’ kind donations, and the time and effort of our committed volunteers - please keep an eye out for us on the streets and in the media.  But for the council elections, we urge everyone to consider local issues, and vote for the best local candidates.

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Let’s be less Flower Of Scotland, and more Scotland The Brave

A fantastic thing about the Six Nations rugby championship is the all-pervading sense of intense yet immensely friendly rivalry.  That friendly rivalry is felt most keenly at the Calcutta Cup match between Scotland and England.

In my youth, supporting Scotland in the Five Nations, it seemed a bit of fun to support any team – yes, any team - playing against England.  As I started to see and understand more of the world, that pettiness wore off.  But I still sang Flower of Scotland proudly, without thinking too much about it.

Of course, I hope that Scotland triumph at Twickenham this year.  But I find myself increasingly turned off by Flower of Scotland.

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The reality gap

by Graeme Pearson

After nearly 40 years in the police, countless interviews and court cases, I reckon I am fair judge at spotting the gap between what people say and what is the truth. 

In many ways, it was perfect training for my time in politics. I thought I had seen it all when it came to stretching the truth until the Scottish referendum.

You can see why Alex Salmond and Donald Trump once hit it off. Neither man lets facts or reality get in the way of their political project. On currency, the economy, oil prices, Salmond was prepared to say anything to get his way in 2014.

Clearly, he taught his deputy well. Since the decision to leave the EU last year, the gap between Nicola Sturgeon’s rhetoric and reality is getting wider.

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Alastair Cameron: Why are the SNP so bad at running the country?

Why are the SNP so bad at running the country?

By Alastair Cameron, Scotland in Union

Nicola Sturgeon asked us to judge her on her education record. The verdict arrived this week from independent assessors, PISA (The Programme for International Student Assessment) and it wasn’t good.

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St Andrew's Day - Guest Blog by Wesley Hutchins

St. Andrews Day is quite obviously Scotland’s national day; it is in honour of the country’s patron saint and as such, it is a day for people to commemorate in the manner they feel to be appropriate, with music, food, and dance. It also marks the beginning of late fall and early winter festivals in Scotland, including Hogmanay and Burns Night.

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The UK: A Strong Commitment to Foreign Aid

Some places are more fortunate than others. We are lucky to live in a safe and prosperous country, and should do what we can to help others. However, we also have to recognise that our own resources are not infinite, and that is why we must make sure that our contributions are as effective as possible.

The SNP have recently pledged a great deal of money for climate change and flood aid.  Whilst this makes for good headlines, there could be better ways to help. By working with the UK departments set up to promote international development, the nationalists could ensure that they are not just giving away money for others to spend, but actually making a difference on the ground.

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How working together can make a real difference.

We are all concerned about the future of our planet. Levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere have undoubtedly risen above those of the pre-industrial era, and global temperatures also appear to be on an upward trend.

However, we are also lucky to live in a time when these problems can be recognised and addressed. For example, food crops can be modified to better withstand drought or pests, which allows vulnerable people to have more food security while at the same time reducing our impact on the environment. Fewer people go hungry than ever before.

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Britain after Brexit: Toxic referendums and territorial constitutions, by Professor Jim Gallagher

Referendums are held up as the gold standard of democracy. After a state regulated and funded campaign, the people make a decision, which government then honours. But referendums can go toxic: two different pathologies can produce anti-democratic outcomes. The Brexit referendum suffered from both, but paradoxically it opens up opportunities for quite radical changes to the UK's territorial constitution. So Scotland has the chance to avoid compounding the UK's errors with another potentially toxic vote, and instead it and the UK can settle on a constitution that most Scots can assent to. This paper suggests what such a deal might look like if political leaders had the courage to make one.

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Why Brexit Would Be Good For Scotland, by Anthony Rush

In declaring that Article 50 will be invoked before the end of March 2017 the Prime Minister has given the Eurocrats a need to negotiate a deal with the UK by early 2019.  There should be no doubt, however angered Eurocrats may feel about the outcome of our referendum, some European members would invite the wrath of their people if they permitted the UK to exit at the expense of their trade with the UK and our Commonwealth partners.

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