Scots protest against a bedroom tax imposed on them by London.(Brian McNeil)
As I left Palestine to study in Scotland, I felt that I had left one of the most politically interesting regions in the world to arrive at yet another. In less than 18 months, people in Scotland will be heading to polling stations to decide on the future of their country — whether to stay in the union or become an independent entity that determines the future of its own people.
When I arrived here I had a shallow idea of what the question of Scottish independence meant for the people of Scotland, but today I find myself in a position fully supporting the notion of Scotland becoming an independent nation. Scotland has been a place that I’ve been quite fond of for a while before I even arrived: it is one of the most beautiful and scenic countries in the whole Northern Hemisphere. A personal favorite is when the Israeli ambassador to the UK and other Israeli diplomats describe Scotland as “enemy territory” — that is due to great efforts by groups like the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Scottish Jews For a Just Peace, the We Are All Hannah Shalabi student network, and many others who refuse to be silent and brand injustice as normal.
Being too fond of Scotland is not the reason that makes me support independence. It is a reason that makes me care more for Scotland and strive for what people here see as bringing a better future for their country. It is important to highlight, as well, that support for independence here doesn’t stem at all from an ethno-centric form of isolationist nationalism. It has nothing to do with a Braveheart- themed nationalism. Rather, is a form of social contemporary nationalism which spurs from a desire to create a fairer country that embraces everyone, and looks towards the world as a partner in this already globalized world.
When I first shared my views on Scottish independence with my dad, he asked “Why are you not pro-unity? Isn’t there strength in unity?” This sentiment is what I’ve heard from many who see weakness in an independent Scottish state. But this is not what independence is about. An independent Scotland is an idea that offers a real hope for a better future for Scotland; a smaller country that cares for its people, as well as being a better citizen of the world.
Today, the Scottish voice is often marginalized by a centralized government based in London. Scotland has laws and welfare reforms being imposed upon it from Westminster: an example is the bedroom tax being imposed upon Scotland, even though 91 percent of Scottish members of Parliament opposed it.
For 35 years of the past 50 years, the Scots have had a Conservative government, even though they haven’t voted for it. An independent Scotland would have a fairer representation of people, and it would give the Scottish a voice to determine their own policies on the domestic and international arena.
On a global scale, I tend to see Scottish independence as a positive force affecting the whole world. We can’t strictly say that Scottish independence is a continuation of the twentieth century fight against Western imperialism, as Scotland historically has been a major benefiting partner in the British Empire. But we can say that Scottish independence would provide a window to counter forms of neo-imperialism and give Scotland a chance to become a positive citizen of the world.
Independence would provide Scots with a chance to make their government’s foreign policy live up to what they want and see as acceptable, rather than being dragged around by a Westminster-dictated foreign policy which has largely been influenced by the US and is deemed unacceptable by most Scots.
Even though the current Scottish Government has been able to slightly lighten the damage Westminster governments have had on Scotland, an independent Scotland would mean that a better future for everyone living in Scotland is possible.
Independence would mean better representation. It would mean giving the people a voice and the ability to act on the international field as they deem acceptable. People in Scotland don’t deserve to suffer the damage inflicted by a government they didn’t choose.
A longer version of this article was published on the National Collective website.