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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Salmond Leap

I'm getting splinters on my arse. I've spent so long sitting on the fence as far as Scottish independence is concerned, it's even embarrassing me. In an effort make it clear where I stand on the issue, here it is. I'm not sure. Economically, I'm not convinced it's the best thing for us. On the other hand (yes, I do realise I'm starting to sound like Rep Tevye), I'm not absolutely sure it wouldn't be a good move.

One half of me feels there's strength in numbers in extremely difficult economic circumstances. However, I could also argue that at the moment we're tied to our neighbours, who are managing to mismanage the economy in a very major way. Perhaps cutting the bonds would free us up to pursue innovative economic policies. It's certainly possible to turn a small nation into a place where the population is happy and the standard of living is high. It would be a laudable ambition to aim for standards such as are found in Scandinavia. I could even argue that the high levels of taxation and cost of living found in these nations might be a worthwhile price to pay for having a decent country to live in. How much I'm actually paid is not nearly as important to me as I get older as how well I can live. I mean by that, for want of a better word, how happy I can be.

Take the phrase 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness'. How much true meaning can that have in an ever more aggressive capitalist, free market economy, which sees those less able to take care of themselves sink ever further down the ladder? How good can I feel about myself if the plight of others means nothing to me? Does hard cash and acquisitiveness really make one feel good?

I realise I've digressed a little, but if you know me you'll know I'm an intellectual butterfly. What does matter is this. I'll be 54 years old in a month's time and I've never lived in a country governed by any party other than  the two who seem ever more identical. I've never seen any economy other than one essentially controlled not by elected officials, but by appalling little men in coloured coats screaming at each other on the Stock Exchange floor. I've heard some inventive ideas on improving our lot, but they're always stifled by vested interests. Why do we allow the wealthy to fool us into thinking they have our best interests at heart? Do we really believe they care whether we succeed, or are happy? As long as we let them convince us that we need to leave the 'professionals' in charge, I don't believe anything constructive will change.

So back to Alex and his intrepid crew. Seriously, it's not that I think he's the Messiah. I don't think I'd enjoy having a pint with him, although if he were buying it would help. It's just that you never know whether something will work until you try it. He at least has something of a track record in trying to keep some promises, unlike all the others we've tried, who uniformly backtrack on manifestos time and again. This is far from being a SNP political rant. I'm very far from joining any party, much less the SNP, but I do think there are practicalities to electing leaders. The greens are not going to get elected and the Monster Raving Loony Party dream died with Lord Sutch, so it seems Alex is the best alternative. I'm ready to give him a crack.

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