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Wither UK?

Britain’s Global Influence Undermined by Scottish Independence Call

by YVONNE RIDLEY

Posh lad George Osborne headed north of the Border this week to tell the Scots how lucky they are to be ruled by Westminster.

That’s a bit like sending a Sunderland supporter into my native Newcastle to give a lecture in the hallowed grounds of St James’ Park about the finer points of the beautiful game!

Few on the south side like or trust the Chancellor of the Exchequer so I would question the motives of those who dispatched him to the North in the expectation he would receive a rousing welcome.

It’s already well known that there are more pandas in Scotland than Conservative MPs and now that the female in Edinburgh Zoo continues to show positive signs she’s pregnant it looks as though the only endangered species here are the Tories.

I say ‘here’ because this is where I made my home a couple of years ago and as a member of the Geordie Tribe I reckon we’re close enough to hold a valid opinion on independence.

In fact I’m quite sure, following the ruthless Tory-inspired destruction of the North East’s shipyards, coal and steel industries that if the vote for independence was extended 100 miles south it would be seized upon enthusiastically with both hands.

The boss class in the south has never done any favours to northerners and I expect most Scots feel exactly the same but at least they have a chance to do something about it now.

I can’t believe anyone was taken in by the nonsense which came tumbling out of Osborne’s mouth when he said Scots would be £2,000 better off if they voted ‘no’ in next year’s referendum.

Like all of the figures coming out of Westminster they need to be scrutinized very closely. My man with the abacus says the sum of £2,000 is per household and would not be realized for a full 30 years; in other words Osborne is promising Scots the square root of nowt.

Bearing in mind the appalling state of the education system in England he might be able to blind folk on his side of the Border, but in Scotland where there’s a superior system in place and no such thing as university fees it’s not that easy to pull the wool over the eyes of canny Scots.

Here’s a figure to consider though – it will cost £25 billion to replace the Trident nuclear system … imagine the extra burden to taxpayers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland should Scotland’s 5.3 million population opt out not to mention the mind-boggling costs of installing a new nuclear facility if the Prime Minister still wants to dine at the same table as other nuclear powers including America, Russia, France and China.

Not content with using dodgy maths, Osborne also claims that the United Kingdom could boost real incomes by as much as four per cent after 30 years … not convincing at all from a man who gets his monthly budget predictions wrong and failed to see the double dip recession coming.

Seriously, if the Westminster crew were that sincere why have they waited until now to plan a bright future for Scotland? The truth is while Northerners have often been regarded as an afterthought, Scotland hasn’t even appeared on their political scanner.

Traditionally the North and Scotland have been viewed as Labour strongholds so the Tories never really concerned themselves with our lives other than to loot, pillage and then destroy the once lucrative heavy industries, livelihoods and communities.

Eton-educated Osborne even said Scotland’s trade would collapse without the UK … the truth is Scotland would be a lot better off today if his ilk hadn’t taken an axe to the shipbuilding, mining and steel industries.

And if the Tories had worked out a way of siphoning off the oil, gas and whisky and shipping the Edinburgh Festival off to Chipping Norton they would have done it by now.

Labour has always taken the North and Scotland for granted and, since the toxic introduction of Blairism, the region has become even worse off.

It’s little wonder the Scottish National Party has done so well. The formula is simple; the SNP puts Scots first and that is something none of the London-based politicians can do, or even promise to do.

Now we are being told we are better together. Does anyone seriously believe that? I don’t see any of the dominions, colonies, protectorates or other territories which cut themselves free from British rule queuing up to return to once the largest empire in history.

If Scots do cut themselves free from the yoke of Westminster rule it will mean an end to nuclear weapons and all that it costs the Scottish taxpayer to keep the British PM dining at the table of the G7 and G8 countries.

It would mean an end to legislation designed to extract more money from the pockets of the working classes and those who can least afford pernicious inventions like the divisive bedroom tax. Cutting off the ball and chain that is the UK, Scotland would be able to continue to maintain a free education system, free medical prescriptions and guarantee the survival of the National Health Service here at least.

Having already stood up to America on several issues in recent years, Scotland has shown it is prepared to punch above its weight and will not be bullied by superpowers or cajoled into foolish military adventures demanded through so-called special relationships.

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill stood firmly by his decision in August 2009 to release the terminally ill Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi to Libya on compassionate grounds. US president Barack Obama reacted angrily at the time as did the US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, this was further exacerbated when Scottish ministers later refused a demand to attend the US Senate hearing in July 2010.

And under the present Holyrood government there is no way Scottish lives would have been wasted or used as cannon fodder in Iraq or Afghanistan for imperialistic wars built on lies and deception.

The referendum is all about putting people before politics and that’s something the war-mongering, sleazy, expense-fiddling, out-of-touch cronies and posh kids in Westminster know nothing about.

Scotland’s withdrawal from the union will expose fully something many of us have known for years: one of the world’s oldest political democratic systems no longer exists. Britain is being ruled at the moment by a cabal of over-privileged rich blokes who form a coalition government not one single person voted for in the last General Election.

Come Referendum Day, my advice to the Scots is: “Get out now while you have a chance.”

Yvonne Ridley is a British journalist and a patron of Cageprisoners.