Friday, 21 March 2014

YES Scotland public meeting

A packed public meeting last week heard from three speakers outlining the positive case for an independent Scotland.

Held last Thursday (March 13) in the Nethermains Community Centre, Kilwinning, the meeting was addressed by Alex Neil MSP of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Richie Venton of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) and Jeane Freeman from Women for Independence. Ms Freeman was an advisor to former Labour First Minister Jack McConnell.

Alex Neil, Cabinet Secretary for Health in the SNP Scottish Government, told the meeting, “The Independence Referendum is not about a vote for the SNP. It’s a YES/NO vote on the question ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’

“If we vote ‘YES’, the 2016 Scottish Election will decide who forms the first independent Scottish government for the following four years. If we vote ‘No’, we get a Tory Government – irrespective of who wins. That’s because even if Labour were to win, they can only win in England by adopting Tory policies - and if somehow we could get a ‘real’ Labour Government, then a few years later we’d have the Tories again undoing any good work that had been done.

“There’s no chance of Scotland voting for a Tory Government. So it’s either a ‘YES’ vote and the government we vote for, or a ‘No’ vote and permanent Tory government.”

Mr Neil, originally from Patna in East Ayrshire, listed some of the powers already held by the Scottish Parliament and showed how different Scottish policies were delivering for the people of Scotland, adding, “It works in Health and Education, so think how we would benefit from the same approach to pensions, social security, illegal wars and nuclear weapons on the Clyde. With independence, we can end the worst acts of right-wing Westminster governments, like the Bedroom Tax.”

Richie Venton told the meeting his experience as a trade union organiser and campaigner had convinced him that a ‘YES’ vote and independence are vital to deliver an improved standard of living for ordinary people rather than millionaires, noting, “Not since 1955 have Scots given a majority of their votes to the Tories, but since then we’ve suffered 34 years of Tory rule, with the Poll tax, the decimation of our industry and now the Bedroom Tax.

“Independence will allow us to shape a better future and a much-improved standard of living for ordinary people in this country. Scotland is extremely wealthy – the OECD says we would be the eighth-richest country in the world – and we will be more credit-worthy than the rest of the UK. Yet we are stuck in the fourth most-unequal country in the world, with the human catastrophe of 870,000 of our men, women and children living in poverty, and an absolute majority of these are in work.”

The veteran socialist campaigner said, “This ‘YES’ campaign is wider than the SNP. Voting ‘YES’ doesn't make you a Nationalist: it makes you a democrat, ensuring the Scottish people can elect the governments of their choice from 2016 onwards.

“I welcome much of the SNP Government’s White Paper, such as commitments to end the Bedroom Tax, remove Trident nuclear weapons and transform childcare, but independence also provides the opportunity to embrace trade unions and embed into a national constitution the right for workers to organise, as well as a national minimum wage of £9.00 an hour for all workers and trainees.”

Another public meeting organised by the pro-independence YES Scotland campaign will take place on Monday (March 17) at 7.30pm in the Lounge, Main Street, Largs. Speakers are Annabelle Ewing MSP (SNP), Patrick Harvie MSP (Scottish Green Party) and Ivan McKee (Director of Business for Scotland).

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