An Open Letter to Scotland: So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish

B001Dear Scotland,

In Douglas Adams’ book “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”, all the dolphins leave earth just before it is annihilated.  Their parting message to the humans: “So long, and thanks for all the fish”.

I think that’s pretty apt for our current situation.

Scotland, we are on the road to ruin here.  It’s really time for you to run, and save yourselves.

As we all know, there are more panda bears in Scotland than Tory MPs – yet you have endured the Tory-led coalition along with us.  This seems enormously unfair – as a nation, you have roundly rejected the principles not only of conservatism, but neoliberalism full stop.  This was seen in your rejection of New Labour for the SNP.

It seems patently clear to any observer with half a wit that you are at heart a social democracy. Your population rally together en masse to vote for social democrats, and reject political parties who fail to live up to social democratic principles.

This puts Scotland both geographically and politically alongside Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland. Small nations whose ambitions are not about some expression of geo-political might, but instead creating a prosperous, democratic, egalitarian and equal society at home.

These are nations that grant individuals and enterprises the freedom to offer goods and services – but not gamble with the fundamentals on which its citizens and economy rely; health, education, shelter, energy, water and so on.

And because the success of such nations is so dangerous to those who promote the opposite – they tell you its impossible for you to achieve.

Scotland, you are showing us the way right now.

The apparent and growing majority of you willing to “Vote Yes” and make a stand for democracy are doing so in the face a “Better Together” mainstream media that has thrown everything at terrifying you into a No vote.

They say you’re too small to do it on your own, despite your economy being £2,300 richer per person than the rest of the UK, outstripping that of Japan, Italy and even France.

They say that once you leave, you’ll be gobbled up by speculators and corporations.  Yet, Iceland, with a population of just 300,000 was able to repel the debt merchants of the US, UK and western world in order to ensure that bankers, not tax payers footed the bill for the Financial Crisis.  Scottish taxpayers shackled to the Westminster political system suffered the opposite.  The executives who caused the crisis made off with bonuses, pensions and a life of luxury – while the public faced ideological austerity.

They say that if you leave, you can’t have the pound.  To hell with the pound. Create your own currency, call it the Macarena for all I care, you have it within you.

You’ve even got all three party leaders up there making nice, an impending war in Iraq and a Royal Baby thrown in for good measure.

In the face of all that, you continued to vote Yes.

So now, they’ve upped the ante. 

After many of you have already cast your vote, Westminster is changing the rules of the game – making promises we know they will not keep.  Even if they did, it wouldn’t be enough, because they cannot promise you that to which they are ideologically opposed.  They cannot promise to become social democrats, and they will not, as they have not, allow Scotland to become a social democracy within the UK.

If you want the power to fulfill your social democratic aspirations, you must become a free and independent nation.  That is what the Yes campaign understands.

Now, some down here in England are taking all this very personally.  They feel a sense of rejection or abandonment.  Some even go so far as to argue we shouldn’t support Scottish Independence because we’ll be left with a Tory majority.

Well England, that’s OUR problem.  We must address the flaws in our own voting system and levels of political awareness and engagement ourselves.  In fact, the exposure of these issues by Scotland’s secession may well force us to confront this issue in a more urgent, earnest way.  But bottom line, that is not a matter for Scotland.

Your nation is on the verge of a truly revolutionary event.  You have created for yourselves, the opportunity to transform your country socially, politically and economically, into something that expresses the will of your people. 

It’s not about a flag, a national anthem, or a currency – it’s about the ability to make the decisions that shape your individual and collective futures.

That is something for which it is worthy of making a stand.

If we English want the same – it’s on us to put the work in to achieve it.  Your lesson is something from which we should be taking deep comfort and inspiration.

I sincerely hope that come the 18th of September, a new era begins for an independent Scotland.

Let it signal “game on!” for an independent England – free from austerity, free from inequality, free from crony capitalism.

It’s time for Scotland to say: “So long, and thanks for all the fish”.

44 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Scotland: So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish

  1. What will you use for currency ? the Pound – would cost you if you think it’s free.

    Independence will have to be paid for in many ways.

    The Euro would fail you ! But then you could not join the EU could you without your own currency.

    Making that happen will not be free either.

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  3. As an English person living in Scotland, I absolutely agree with your central arguments – and I’m grateful for them. But the headline is unfortunate. There’s no “so long” to it. The current UK state is not coterminous with Britain, which is a group of regions and nations that will and should retain close ties. A self-governing Scotland can play a part in bringing about change across these islands. The NO campaign tries to equate voting against Westminster and for local democracy as voting against our neighbours. They are wrong. A vote for YES is an act of solidarity within and without; the beginning of a process of localising power and spreading a more just society, not the end of it.

  4. Thank you for this, I was beginning to feel all down south were thinking like dumped boyfriends. By the way, you will not be at the mercy of the tories, all elections for the last fifty years would have had the same result without the Scottish MPs.

  5. But we are talking about a yes campaign that has yet to produce real facts and figures and promises made that are not backed up by fact. Sure they promise a pension of £1.10.
    Will you really get the £1.60 as promised bearing in mind that this comers from the mouth of a politician ? Will they uprate those ex-pat Scots pensioners pensions which are currently frozen and receive no annual increases.ever from the UK state pension ?
    As I said in another article that was about the yes campaign, would you jump from an aircraft if you knew that there could be a problem with the packing of the parachute ?
    If it does not open then you are history.
    If the seal is not intact on a new pack of cards there could be many jokers in it.
    Go take that chance at your own risk.

    • Scotland would undoubtably be a very successful nation after gaining Independence. Every demographic points to that !… population,natural and human resources. It’s not difficult to understand .The only complication is that we are being governed by elitists who want to confuse and bully the people of Scotland in order that they may continue to bleed us dry ! 1.6 million people in Scotland understand this and it is only a matter of time before many more follow suit !
      Westminster has been exposed and will never be trusted again ! The only way forward for Scotland is Independence ! Then the rest of the UK can watch and learn how to negociate a fair deal from Westminster’s greedy politicians.

  6. Thankyou for your encouraging words but the quote from Douglas Adams is not quite apropriate. Given the fact that Heath sold out our fishing grounds and fishermen as part of the price of entry to the EEC, the thanks for all the bloody fish should be coming principally from Spain and it should be to all former fishermen in these islands, not just the Scots. Please remember that when we go and, more importantly, remember that it wasn’t the EEC that did that to you, it was the Tory Prime Minister which you had despite the fact that the Scots never voted for him.Sealgair

  7. Thanks for this. It’s always heartening when someone recognises that this is about democracy, the we don’t hate anyone. You and all of your fellow Englishmen and women, will always be our friends. I hope all goes well for you and that the momentum for a new politics continues across the British Isles.

  8. Thank you for your open letter. I’ve already voted by postal vote and have begun to fear that it was the wrong decision with the messages of big businesses moving over the past few days. Your letter reminded me why I voted yes and the main reason was because I hope that with independence I can live in a country where the needs of all it’s citizens are put first. Where we accept that thing might get worse, our lives may not be as comfortable as they are at the moment but in the end it will all be worth it so that those currently living in poverty can come out of it, stop relying on food backs, have the confidence to find jobs and once that hope is reinstated in our nation we will all be as prosperous as the few are just now. I truly believe it will be difficult for the first few years for all of us. I believe that those of us who live comfortable just now will have to tighten our belts, be less indulgent and the foreign holidays may need to hold off but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make for a more socially aware country where we look after one another and not just ourselves and our close friends and family (who are usually doing well and don’t need looking after.)

    Thank you for your support – glad you enjoyed the fish 😉

    • You want independence yet you want to join the EU which has imposed economic and social policy on the UK for decades.

      You expect free movement across the Scottish/English border, yet as an member of the EU you would have to accept migrants into your country from mainland Europe; this would mean the need for border controls.

      The devil’s in the detail and the details are not that forthcoming.

      • The devil is indeed in the details……we do not wish to join the EU we have been EU citizens for decades we will negotiate to continue our EU membership as a country independent from the UK. We already have migrants from mainland Europe and mainly they are an asset rather than a negative. Where you get border controls above those which we have now I really do not know.

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    • Hi Kai. Thank you for your support to Scotland . I am a Scot living near Tønsberg for the last 20 years. I agree with you ! Scotland could learn a lot from Norway. My dream is to see a Scottish version of 17 mai ! This is not anout money or hating the English , it’s about democracy and a fair society. Tusen takk !

  10. Good on Scotland to find themselves, look forward to Wales, separation, all in all, Westminster, and all what it stands for is a betrayal of people, having supported a process of controlling people by fear, increasing class division, creating scams of defrauding people of their hard earned wealth, through banking and so on.

  11. @ Nigel Drew: The 2015 general election looks a lost cause for the Tories, but if Labour only scrape a victory, and Scotland leaves the Union, taking 41 Labour seats with it, the labour government will struggle to get anything done, and will be forced into an early general election, in which the Tories could well get back in , and stay for a long time to wreak ‘Austerity’ havoc on the poor UK citizens, while awarding themselves large pay rises, while keeping everybody else’s pay in stagnation, privatising the NHS and just about every else which hasn’t been privatised, and generally making a mockery of the term ‘Democracy’.

    • Labour have already pledged to carry on the austerity policy of the tories and possibly make even deeper cuts. Westminster has 3 colours of tories now.

  12. Very well written and put. Very true, also. Scotland would be a truly democratic socialist republic if it votes yes. It will be interesting to find out. Would the sharks of Whitehall and Washington, leave it at that? Would Scotlands own ‘elite’ allow it to come to pass? As for Iceland and Norway , very brave constitutionally, but I just read figures today ( cannot verify them) from the Daily Mirror, that Norway has the fourth highest ‘Household Debt’ in the world (as a percentage of gross disposable income), and Iceland has the sixth worst government debt in the world ( as a percentage of GDP). Icelands debt , though is probably falling from some ridiculously high amount, from when they locked up the bankers, and created a new government. The worry is that with lots of economies on a knife edge, rocking the boat with a ‘Yes’ vote, may send the UK ( minus Scotland) economy back into meltdown, but may also drag Scotlands, and the rest of Europes economies down also. It could also reverberate on the fragile US dollar. Voting ‘Yes’ may be the singular most irresponsible vote ever ,as far as The UK economy goes. On the other hand, it might not. Is it worth the risk?

    • Gerfome, in a word, YES! It IS worth the risk. It’s worth it to Scotland, for the reasons given.

      But it’s also worth it for the rest of us, even if every one of the consequences you foretell was to come to pass. Currently the whole of the developed world is in a sorry state of paralysis under the heavy heel of corporate-controlled governments, and disappearing further down the vortex driven by the infinite greed of a tiny minority using tools such as the upcoming TTIP / TPP to squeeze and bludgeon us into ever deeper submission. There were many of us who hoped the GFC would halt their progress, or temper it at least, but far from that happening it now seems it was likely engineered to further their cause. From the threats and maneuvering emanating from the establishment when the YES campaign threatened to take the lead it’s obvious Scottish devolution is not part of their plan and is regarded as an obstacle to it, so chances are it will be in everyone’s best interest, except the Powers That Be. So I say bring it on!

  13. As an emigrated social democratic Englishman (in neo-liberal Canada) I have always mourned the possible loss of Scotland, which seems to be a sane and fair place, from my homeland. But this letter puts a more hopeful complexion on the prospect. I would still rather you stay and fight the neocons, but I will be less mournful if you leave.

  14. With a bit of luck a YES vote will cause meltdown at Westminster with none of them able to form a government….with the labourites short of Scottish seats and the tories decimated by the ukip swivel eyes. This is the best thing that can happen for the rump of the UK….a chance to get rid of all the tory boys in all those parties. It will be fascinating to see what will happen if Cameron tries to legislate to postpone an election because of the chaos caused by Scotland’s true self determination.

  15. Got to disagree with you on this one – the Scots ARE our people, not foreigners, not aliens, and we have stood together as one nation for three hundred years. Like you I don’t blame them for hating the situation that they find themselves in because of the political turmoil that exists in the UK, particularly currently and due to the conspiring of two political parties neither of which were actually elected to govern by the democratic voice of the people. BUT, nobody solves problems by running away from them, and the Scottish people – who I have deep regard for having spent several years living amongst them, and during a period of nine years serving in the Royal Navy spending most of that time based in Rosyth – are I believe being conned into removing themselves from the rest of us by a group of nationalists only interested in their own importance and spun by the exploits of some local heroes of a long-ago era best left in the recorded (and unrecorded) annals of history.

    I’m half English, half Welsh living in the west of Wales. There ARE Welshmen who feel strongly about gaining their freedom from the political bonds of the Westminster government, but the majority of my fellow citizens are not throwing in the towel and opting out of the UK; we have our own government – but with nowhere near the level of power enjoyed by the Scots. Northern Ireland has its own government, but again the level of power enjoyed by its democratically elected representatives is much lower than that of the SNP currently in Scotland. Likewise, the Irish folk aren’t champing at the bit to leave their fellow Brits behind in the rush to gain what they believe will be a modern day Utopia enriched by the wealth of North Sea oil. Sadly, it ain’t gonna happen and I think that we all know that. Do you REALLY believe that Alex Salmond is the kilted messiah come to save Scotland from the savage hordes of bankers and politicians south of the border..? And the countries you quote as having such wonderful prospects outside of any unitary organisation in Europe (except perhaps their own) have some of the highest costs of living anywhere in the world – and STILL have to trade with the rest of Europe.

    As I stated before, I so often agree with your opinions and comments in your articles, but in this instance I cannot do so: the Scots’ Yes-voters are possibly about to run away from their fellow Brits; not Cameron, not Osborne, not Clegg – the primary instigators of what is wrong with our four countries – not from the bankers and wankers who have dropped us into the pile of political and social ordure we find ourselves in – the innocents and ordinary folk none of whom have asked for this pile of crap or even voted for it in 2010…we don’t deserve it any more than the Scottish peoples do..! And if I could make one comment that just might change sufficient numbers of Scottish minds before the 18th September it would be: “Don’t give up on the rest of us – stay and fight together, just as we have done when necessary for the last three hundred years”..!

    • Your disagreement might be more persuasive if the way you characterise the campaigners for a Yes vote more accurately. To suggest we are led by a ‘group of nationalists only interested in their own importance and spun by some exploits of some local heroes of a long-ago era’ is, frankly insulting. As an Englishman, long resident in Scotland and involved in the debates and campaign over the past two years, I can help you to get a more accurate perception. Nationalism, even civic rather than ethnic nationalism, has been very far from the centre of the stage in the discussions at Common Weal, National Collective or the Radical Independence Campaign. It has not been an issue or the means of encouragement on Yes stalls. Neither has there been any raising of old heroes or old grudges. I am an academic historian and got involved in Academics for AYes, partly to be available to avoid any of those foolish games on either side. The only time I have had to do so was when Chris Whately wrote a ludicrously inaccurate piece for one of the papers, claiming that the Act of Union of 1707 was celebrated on the streets of Scotland! There has been much more interest in the opportunity for working within a system that has a much more representative form of democracy that the first-past-the-post constituencies (with added House of Lords), with much more attention paid to the future, when parliament is more accessible, where it is harder to hide and where politicians are more accountable, that is, not a dream built upon an assumption that politicians at Holyrood constitute a band of angels but that this systemic shift will make efforts to combat social inequities more attainable than they have proven to be through thirty years of my life spent trying to work through Westminster. I sincerely hope that independence would be a sufficiently strong kick up the parliament, as it were, to foster a serious re-evaluation for Westminster and maybe even an appreciation of the need for change there too.

      • Cattyclysm: I appreciate reading the opinions you give for the need for the Scottish people to move to a vote which may separate them and their country from the rest of the peoples of the United Kingdom. However, I still believe fully that this decision is unnecessary and remain surprised that Scotland should choose to escape from the clutches of the Westminster government by choosing to leave the UK and the rest of us behind. In spite of your protestations to the contrary, I remain firm in the belief that the drive for independence comes from a simple but driven sense of nationalism and what might be rather than from sensible thought for the future of the Scottish people. I sincerely hope that the move to independence fails.

        Miss Castello: Nowhere in my comments will you find anything that contradicts your statement – the Scots (why you should need to put it inside quotation marks I do not understand; Scotland IS the land of the Scots as far as I remember), the Welsh, the Irish and the English are each proud of their own identities, cultures and national histories and treat those attributes in separate and personal ways. That, however, has not stopped the four countries from being very successful on the world stage as a united entity for the past three hundred years without the need for any sense of “ownership” and independent nationalism for the greater part of that time.

        Verlaine101: Perhaps you might explain why Alex Salmond has publicly beaten the nationalistic drum so frequently during the period of time that the SNP have held sway politically in Scotland – and for long before…even originally wanting to fit the timing for an independence vote into a time frame when the life and death of William Wallace was to be celebrated. And why the Saltire has suddenly become so important as a symbol of independence rather than national pride..?

        Governments come and go, good and bad, five years following five years, but one has to wonder IF the current coalition government in Westminster had NOT appointed themselves to govern in the cruel and demeaning way that they have, affecting ALL of the inhabitants of the UK, would Mr. Salmond’s dreams of independence for Scotland have come this near to fruition..? What a sad reason for the breakup of the strong and durable relationship of the Four Nations…

        • Just answer me this question, then…

          Can you guarantee a better government in five years that will work towards a true social democracy with representation for all citizens?

          No, you cannot.

          Just because you are against something does not make your opinion gospel.

          You can refuse to accept reality…that doesn’t stop it from happening.

          • No, of course I can’t. But neither can you vouch for the fact that any other future Westminster government might not be so much better than this current one..!

            I’m not particularly motivated by biblical experience or a belief in religions of any sort, so of course my opinions are not “gospel”.

            As for your idea of “reality”: it only becomes apparent when historians are able to record its effects after a longish passage of time. Your country isn’t independent yet, so I think that perhaps you should wait a few years before you trumpet about the “reality” of independence for Scotland. My refusal is to accept that neither you or Alex Salmond have an accurately reading crystal ball to peer into to determine Scotland’s fate…

    • With respect but I think you are mistaken. The UK political system is sadly broken and needs radical change. That change will not happen if we just accept the status quo and do little more than whinging or setting up fringe groups. If an Independent Scotland is the result of the referendum it can, as far as I can see, only be of benefit to the rest of the UK too. As the vanguards of change towards a fair and just society it can only inspire those we leave behind in the union to actually make the changes they need to improve things.

      The Scottish Parliament has done a sterling job so far, protecting the people of Scotland from the worst of the neo-liberalism that has taken over in Westminster. Its track record is strong enough to demonstrate that given a fair settlement in any independence negotiations it can provide a bright and promising future for Scotland.

      The issue of Scottish Independence has been around for generations, possibly since the union began when we were sold a pig in a poke. Scotland has been ripped off by Westminster since before the ink was even dry on the declaration of the union. We are not a poor country, too stupid to take care of ourselves. We simply want what is ours by the right of self determination.

      Thank you Scriptonite for a thoroughly good article on the referendum.

      • Thank you for your full and very illuminating reply, TrinKats. I can appreciate some of your points of view and agree wholeheartedly that the Westminster government is a total disaster. However, I cannot agree that Scotland leaving the rest of the citizens of the UK behind in the rush for a separation from, primarily, a single failing coalition – because there was no hint of the need for independence for Scotland prior to 2010 except in the hearts and minds of the Scots’ nationalists, let’s be totally honest about that..! With all that we hear and read, you are about to take a leap in the dark, and what we hear and read is not ALL nonsense. There WILL be other governments, and your country’s move towards independence will, I believe, ensure that any bargain made with Westminster now MUST be kept. As a final point: what about the 800,000 Scots that work and live in the rest of the UK. Do you not care about their futures..?

      • The years that I spent in Scotland were during the early and late years of the 1960s, during nine years spent in the Royal Navy, all at either Rosyth or South Queensferry. I’m 71 years old.

        If you will look at the breakdown of the polls (most of them that give reasonably full statistics) you will note that Scots of my age are not in the majority voting Yes, neither is it their intention to vote Yes apparently. Therefore my recollections of Scottish folk are of people who do NOT want to break away from the UK. Okay, you’re correct: I DON’T understand many of the people of Scotland today – neither your motives, nor your abilities not to see beyond the end of Alex Salmond’s nose…I DO feel sorry for the 16 to 24 year-olds in your country though; that majority who show a disinclination to vote Yes who will bear the brunt of the future of an independent Scotland if YOUR choice is the wrong one…

      • I couldn’t tell you…but you have plenty of time to change your mind if you so desire, unless of course if you had a postal vote.

        …And I am aware of the debate up there: I read and I listen – and perhaps I might even know and understand a little of what is occurring more than you. Sometimes standing back from a situation and not being involved in the passion and devotion to a set of principles or personal motivations gives one a better insight than those fighting to gain ascendency over the opposition to their aims and objectives. A chance to consider ALL of the merits and demerits of a certain course of action rather than be blinded by patriotism or the need to win.

        Don’t you agree..?

  16. It;s wonderful to know that those of us who support Independence and are fighting for it because we demand a fairer and more just country are supported by the writings those such as yourself.

    Westminster has lost it’s way and it’s soul, this is apparent.

    We will join alongside the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland when they too demand a different type of governance.

  17. Great read and refreshing to see that it’s not about England it’s about how we Scots want to live. Thank you for understand but i do worry yours will be a lonely voice. the YES campaign is rolling along nicely and sooner or later the WM govt will realise they have lost. They have already stirred up ant Scot/English feeling.

    Maybe those down south will see it CAN be done another way.

    Again my thanks.

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