We recently asked our supporters to send us their thoughts for our 'Tell us Your Story' campaign. The response has been fantastic and this week we have started sharing these stories with everyone.
Here is Scotland in Union supporter Robbie MacNiven with his short story: Drive for 'Yes2' has collapsed
Last September, Scotland In Union hosted an event at which Canadian journalist Peter Scowen spoke about the damage caused to Quebec’s economy by the threat of independence, and the ‘neverendum’ which persisted until the nationalists lost power there.
Here in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has recently revised her plan to try to call ‘indyref2’ by 2019, but still says she will attempt to bring one forward at the time of her choosing, telling the BBC that she thinks it will be before 2021. Welcome to Scotland’s own neverendum.
The neverendum effect harms Scotland. It distracts elected representatives from the effective use of devolved powers; it perpetuates the divisions of the 2014 campaign and it has a chilling effect on business confidence.
I have recently spoken with a small business which is closing in Edinburgh and focusing on the North of England; a senior executive in a Scottish-based bank saying his company would move south if there was independence; and an investment professional who can point to deals which were going ahead despite Brexit, but are now on hold following Ms Sturgeon’s referendum announcement in March.
Of course these are anecdotes; of course they are anonymous; and of course I am more likely to be speaking with pro-UK businesses. But the doubts are there.
The cases I cite are unattributed because many businesses are reluctant to speak out. This is a mystery: when it is in the long-term interests of owners, customers and shareholders to support stability and free trade, why don’t more businesses speak up?
One response is that “they don’t want to lose a third of their customers”, but businesses with strong brands and sound models need not worry. A few extremists might get upset, but speaking up for the UK has done Tunnock’s and Barrhead Travel no discernible harm; and nor has manufactured outrage at union flag labelling dealt a mortal blow to Hovis, or forced Tesco to discontinue raspberries as a product line.
Another explanation is that businesses worry they will lose custom from the Scottish Government, or that they might be treated less fairly if they take a stance. While direct evidence of this may be hard to find, I’ve spoken with business owners who express that concern, and say it keeps them quiet. The good news on this front is that the SNP’s dominance of Scottish politics is waning, which should encourage greater frankness.
So, what can businesses do? First of all, they can speak out directly – as Ross McEwan, CEO of RBS, did at their 2016 AGM, saying RBS would relocate its HQ if Scotland left the UK. Others should follow this lead.
Smaller firms can also lobby their trade bodies and industry groups. And these bodies can be bolder in representing the majority of Scotland’s employers, who contribute most to the economy, rather than lapsing into silence because of a few vocal nationalist members.
We have seen signs of this at the UK level, with business groups taking clear positions on the kind of Brexit their members want. It’s now time for the main businesses and business groups in Scotland to speak up about the neverendum.
Alastair Cameron is Executive Director of Scotland In Union.
This article first appeared in The Scotsman on July 2017.
One of Scotland in Union's most prominent supporters, Conrad Ritchie, has made this video for us to share.
Please share this clip with your friends and family.
If you would like to send us your own clip then please email us at email@example.com
At Scotland in Union we want to hear your thoughts on why you believe Scotland is better off as part of the UK.
There are many different perspectives that we are looking for, such as political, cultural, rational or even emotional reasons, either way it’s totally up to you.
We are looking for this to be in the form of a short essay or perhaps even a short video clip, again it’s totally up to you.
At Scotland in Union we want to allow our supporters the chance to use our platform to air their views and feelings about how they see the current political climate.
All we ask is that all responses are sent to us directly and that they are not from a party-political standpoint, and no derogatory language either, of course. Let’s keep it clean and to the point.
If you want to send us your short essay or video clip then please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and one our team will get back to you as soon as possible.
Responding to the First Minister’s statement, Graeme Pearson, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said:
“This was an opportunity for the First Minister to show real leadership and put the interests of the Scottish people ahead of her party’s.
“Instead, she has shown outright contempt for public opinion, cranked up the government’s grievance machine and signalled she will be putting all her efforts into exploiting Brexit to achieve independence.
“The General Election confirmed what poll after poll has shown – the people of Scotland do not want another referendum on Scottish independence. The First Minister’s failure to accept this shows how desperate and out of touch she has become.
“In the face of this endless drive to break up the UK, Scotland in Union will continue to make the positive case for Scotland remaining in partnership with our friends and neighbours.”
There can be no doubt she intends to keep spoiling for another referendum. Her failure to remove these threats today is a sign she is prepared to risk our country’s future on her party’s obsession.
In the face of this endless drive to break up the UK, Scotland in Union will continue to make the positive case for Scotland remaining in partnership with our friends and neighbours.
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As part of the United Kingdom Scotland enjoys relatively low levels of taxation, but high levels of public spending. It is because we are part of the United Kingdom that we can enjoy these elevated levels of public spending. If Scotland was to separate from the United Kingdom, it would have one of the highest deficits in the world. This is mainly due to some very costly social policies under devolution, such as free tuition fees, free care for the elderly and of course no prescription charges. Obviously, none of those mentioned are “free’” as the money comes from taxation.
The Scottish National party likes to use the above social policies to show how “progressive” Scotland is, and how different it can be from the rest of the United Kingdom. Though these policies are only viable under a devolved budget, as part of the United Kingdom. The Scottish government’s own figures have stated that Scotland has a large deficit, in fact it is the largest in Europe – proportionally bigger than Greece’s. Therefore, if Scotland was to be separate and establish itself as a new state, deep cuts to social spending would have to be implemented to balance its budget. In fact, it wasn’t too long ago that John Sweeney of the SNP warned us about these dangers in a leaked document.
It is quite clear that when the SNP boast about their popular social policies under devolution, they are making the case for staying part of the United Kingdom, because the social policies the SNP boast about would not be possible under a new Scottish state.
The SNP talk about “social justice”, yet all the evidence suggests that breaking away from the United Kingdom would entail far more austerity – this would cause more social inequality. It is progressive to talk about Scotland staying part of a successful United Kingdom; it is progressive to say that we should work together to overcome the social issues that we currently face; It is not progressive to suggest that we should break away from the United Kingdom, and enter an unknown situation which has far more risks than it does benefits.
The SNP’s argument from splitting away from the United Kingdom, is that we would be better off. The SNP doesn’t realise that many Scots know that we are economically more secure as part of United Kingdom. The SNP can attempt to skew the reality; that we are better as part of United Kingdom, though it will not work. The reason that it will not work is because most Scots know the facts. Though it isn’t just about facts and figures, we are a family – the emotional case for staying together is also quite apparent and it isn’t something that we should underplay.
I will always say to my family and friends that we are more secure as part of the United Kingdom, we shouldn’t allow party politics to verge us away from the significant issues at play here, such as education and health. The SNP need to start getting on with their day job of running Scotland, not splitting up the United Kingdom.
By William Nisbett, Glasgow
The United Kingdom is more than just politics, it’s our country. The UK was formed over 300 years ago and is one of the most influential and prosperous countries in the world. The United Kingdom has been so successful because we worked together as one to build up the country that we have today. The Nationalists are divisive, they want to break apart the United Kingdom.
The most effective way to deal with social issues is not to break apart, but to work together to try and sort out the real issues that matter; not separating the United Kingdom. The SNP have been in government in Scotland for 10 years. It is time that the SNP took responsibility for their failings on education and many aspects of the health service. If the Nationalists spent most their time tackling the failings of the education system, instead of separating United Kingdom, then maybe would have an education system that works. The OECD has ranked as Scotland’s education system the lowest it has ever been.
The SNP like to blame the United Kingdom for many of Scotland’s issues, though it is time they started taking responsibility for themselves. The SNP has cut council budgets, yet at the same time spending towards Scotland has increased – doesn’t this tell us that the SNP cannot manage the financial responsibility properly? The SNP must stop focusing on the constitution, they are systematically neglecting the governance of Scotland. As more devolved powers come to Scotland with that comes far more responsibility. If the success of devolution is based on the education system in Scotland, then we should be worried.
Now, Nicola Sturgeon would like to use this General Election to bolster up support for another divisive and costly referendum on splitting up the United Kingdom. Imagine if the SNP focused the same amount of attention on an independence referendum, as the education system, maybe it would start to improve. It is not right that we go backwards into another divisive referendum, Scotland has had enough. Therefore, the majority must be heard, I say NO to another referendum and yes united Scotland.
It was once said that the 2014 referendum was ‘once in a generation’ vote, that’s clearly just not the case. Many Scots like myself are concerned about the deep uncertainty of an SNP government. It’s also why businesses say that they’re more concerned about another referendum on splitting up the United Kingdom, than the UK leaving the European Union. The economic uncertainty caused by Nicola Sturgeon is damaging Scotland, we are basically stagnating until we know what she has planned – this is unacceptable.
The SNP don’t have a credible plan for Scotland leaving the United Kingdom. They don’t have a currency plan, they won’t tell us who the lender of last resort will be and they don’t tell us how they will tackle the largest deficit in Europe, and one of the biggest in the world. As part of the United Kingdom Scotland enjoys relatively low levels of taxation while receiving the same levels of public spending as Scandinavian countries. It’s clear that it’s not the United Kingdom holding Scotland back from prospering, it’s the SNP government who are constitutionally wrangling us. There are many people who are confused, worried, and angry – again, this is unacceptable.
To finish off this blog, I will say it again – we cannot cope with the SNP holding Scotland to ransom. It is also not viable for them to continually blame the Westminster government for devolved issues that aren’t functioning properly, the media needs to hold the SNP government to account. It’s a shame that once a proud part of the United Kingdom has become associated simply as the SNP – because for many, being Scottish wasn’t about splitting up the United Kingdom, it was about being proud of being part of a strong United Kingdom, while being proud of being British and Scottish; equally. We must now unite together and ensure that we oppose another divisive referendum for the sake of the Scottish economy, our livelihoods and the future generations of not only Scotland, but the entirety of the United Kingdom; because the separation of the United Kingdom will not just affect Scotland, but it would be detrimental to the entire United Kingdom.
By Samuel Jones, Edinburgh
On a recent trip to Denmark I visited the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde. This museum houses five Viking ships recovered from the bottom of the fjord; a pretty impressive display of Viking ship building and seafaring expertise. Possibly even more impressive is that the visit to the museum begins with a short film about the technological aspects of recovering the ships from the seabed.
Why so impressive? The film is entirely in English, with no Danish subtitles, and entirely filmed, produced and edited by a UK company, courtesy of BBC archive material. The visitors to the museum appeared to be exclusively Danish, apart from myself and my two companions, yet they obviously found it completely unremarkable that the introductory film should make no concessions whatsoever to native Danes who do not speak English. Do such people exist?
It was yet another example of the extraordinary influence of the language of the United Kingdom. It is standard across Europe to find English in use as the universal language for all foreign visitors. This was the first time I have seen it used to the total exclusion of the native language. How lucky are we to be native speakers of English? I have seen adverts in the Glasgow Underground asserting that learning Gaelic could be the route to improved job prospects. With the world domination of English I find this assertion hard to believe.
But it isn’t just our language which has conquered the world. Our culture is very dominant, too. The introductory film was a completely UK production, based on BBC excerpts. I am not convinced that a similar museum in the UK would turn to another country to make such a documentary. Our creative skills are widely admired and the BBC is viewed as a reliable source of information. Presumably the Danes disagree with Nicola Sturgeon on the merits of the BBC?
By Carole Ford
In a world of such uncertainty, change and at times downright turmoil, there is much to be said for recognising the value of what we have. For many, feeling a part of the United Kingdom is an innate and natural thing. We consider it, and all the parts of it, as our home, so in a very tangible way the UK plays an important part in defining who we are.
Historians can tell us how the UK and its people came to be shaped, through good times and bad, including wars and sometimes dramatic social change. Equally, economists can explain the financial flows between each part of the UK, so that at different times in our history people all across these islands have shared in its resources and prosperity.
In the diverse worlds of science, the arts and sport, there are numerous examples of how the interchange of ideas, skills, expertise and funding have enabled some of the greatest achievements of the whole of the UK, as well as each of its constituent nations.
In the sphere of enterprise, the great businesses that have thrived here, across the generations and more recently in the newest of start-up businesses, invariably find their success dependent on the potential offered by the UK market as a whole, as well as its place in the world.
Then there is tradition, culture and those individual characteristics that speak to some of the uniqueness of the parts of the UK, but then together form what the world imagines when it thinks of us as a whole. This is symbolised in a Union flag comprised of the crosses of St George, St Andrew and St Patrick, with each part depending upon the others to form the whole.
Yet as important as all these things are, for the individual the UK tends to mean so much more. In Scotland, most people have family, friends, colleagues or customers of their businesses, in the rest of the UK. Standing on the Scottish border watching cars and trains going freely too and fro, and airplanes overhead, it is so obvious that we are all part of one great nation state as well as part of the distinctive country that we choose to live in. Our loved ones and those we care about might be spread far and wide across these islands, but we draw comfort from knowing we are all part of one overall entity. There is an interdependency that families and friends can rely unquestionably upon, that also exits amongst the peoples living throughout these lands, recognising kindred spirits in our fellow citizens, no matter their race, creed or background, built simply on a common belief in who we are.
For me, being part of the UK is as much personal as about location, giving me a sense of belonging to a wider and greater endeavour, that has tried over the generations, to make a positive difference in the world. I believe this has been demonstrably and overwhelmingly a good thing.
Keith Howell is a business consultant. He lives in West Linton, Scottish Borders and blogs on www.nupateer.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
Scotland in Union has now reached 31 campaign stops as our tour of Scotland’s 32 council areas draws to a close, with only the Western Isles still to be visited by our Campaigns Manager Andrew Skinner.