The basic and most important reason for voting Yes is that only independence will enable us to extend and complete our democracy. The proposition is simple. Collectively, we, the people who live in Scotland will be ones who will do the best job, over time, of making Scotland a stronger, fairer and more successful country. Full democracy means that we will have to take responsibility for our relations with the rest of the world. This for me is one of the more exciting prospects that will come with independence. For it is only with independence that Scotland will be able to fully participate in and contribute to all the international bodies that are relevant to us and our future.
To some extent this already happens. Usually missed by our Britnat friends, Scotland is already an independent country in most sports, with our own, direct representation on the key world and European federations. No-one, not even those in the No campaign questions this. Political independence will mean we can build on this experience and secure our own, direct representation in all the other international organizations that interest us.
Some will be obvious and pretty uncontroversial, such as joining the United Nations, World Health Organization, World Trade Organizaton, the European Union etc. Others will be a bit more controversial, such as joining NATO. However away from the big world and continental bodies, an independent Scotland will be able to join some of smaller, regional organizations. Two immediately spring to mind – the British and Irish Council and the Nordic Council. With Scottish independence, the British and Irish Council will have the opportunity to become a more important and meaningful body, representing as it will three sovereign states, alongside the devolved administrations of Wales and Northern Ireland. Perhaps the time will come for England to be represented in this council.
The Nordic Council is still a bit of an unknown entity in Scotland. Despite the best efforts of Lesley Riddoch and Nordic Horizons. Yet Scotland has a lot to gain from closer co-operation with our Nordic neighbours. I wrote a post about this way back in 2009, which you can access here. As I wrote then Scotland should apply for observer status with the Nordic Council irrespective of the result of the referendum. Independence of course will mean we can opt for full membership. The key point is that with both councils, Scotland has much to contribute and equally, much to learn from the experience of our neighbours. The great advantage of independence and the chance to join other groups is that this sharing and learning will no longer be filtered by the lens of Westminster and London.
Freeing ourselves from this Westminster/London centric view of the world will be one of the major benefits of independence. And not only at official, governmental level. Independence is likely to have a major impact on the media in Scotland, both print and broadcast. Whatever becomes of the BBC post independence, the big, big advantage for all of us it that it will not be British and will no longer be run from London. We badly need a broadcasting service which is open to developments around the world and does not automatically treat what happens in England as of prime significance. As many commentators have pointed out Scotland is much closer to the European norm in education for example than is England. Our broadcasters should reflect this and keep us more informed about how education and other public services are delivered and financed in the rest of Europe as opposed to using England as the preferred benchmark. While our Nordic neighbours would seem obvious territory for greater coverage, I am sure we can learn from developments in countries as far away as Australia, New Zealand, Venezuela etc. Once free from looking at everything through the filters of London, everything becomes possible.
Changes in broadcasting are likely to happen almost immediately after a Yes vote. However the print media world may take longer to change. Though change it must. Detailed coverage of Westminster politics will soon cease to have much significance in an independent Scotland. This should open up new possibilities for Scottish based and hopefully, Scottish owned newspapers. Other relatively small independent countries, such as Denmark, Ireland, Switzerland etc all manage to sustain quality newspapers which combine in-depth coverage of national developments with good coverage of international affairs. Who knows, some of our budding journalists might welcome the chance to cover changes in Germany, Scandinavia, France, Canada etc, instead of just toddling down the road to London. We desperately need a media which informs us of developments from around the world which are relevant to the key issues in Scotland. A responsive and responsible Scottish media may be one of the most welcome if unexpected benefits of a Yes vote.