Garthdee Debate

Opening & closing statements for indyref debate, Inchgarth community centre, 21 August 2014.

60 second opening statement.

Lots of words have been exchanged about this referendum. But just for a moment, I’d like you to think about deeds rather than words.

Over the past 30 years, Westminster has sold off public services, creating higher bills for ordinary people, and bigger profits for shareholders. The Royal Mail was the last to go, and the English NHS is next on the chopping block.

The current government is forcing the poor to pay for bankers’ mistakes through benefit cuts, workfare and the bedroom tax. At the same time, they give tax cuts to millionaires.

What do these deeds say about Westminster priorities?

I’m not a member of any political party, and looking objectively, Scottish priorities seem different.

The Scottish government aren’t perfect, but over the past 15 years they’ve managed to take NHS related private contracts back into the public sector. They’ve abolished tuition fees for higher education and eliminated prescription charges. They’ve set aside money to ease the effects of the bedroom tax.

I come from a country where access to medical care and higher education are based on ability to pay – or willingness to get into inescapable debt. I don’t want Scotland to go down that route. I want to protect our public services and improve the quality of life for everyone, not just millionaires.

That’s why I’m campaigning for a Yes.

2 minute closing statement.

I wasn’t born here but Scotland is my home. We’ve got an amazing opportunity to improve people’s lives, and it starts with a Yes vote. Independence won’t solve all our problems but it will put solutions within our reach.

What’s the point of a strong economy when so much wealth and talent gets sucked into London, when thousands of people are dependent on food banks?

We don’t need to send our hard-earned tax money down to Westminster to be wasted on nuclear weapons and illegal wars. We don’t need to accept welfare sanctions and benefit cuts for our most vulnerable citizens, while giving tax cuts to the rich. We don’t need to watch our public services disintegrate under the weight of cuts to our block grant. We don’t need to stay in a system with an unelected House of Lords, where Scottish votes are only 5 in 60 million. We can take matters into our own hands.

It will not be easy. Transitioning to independence will take time, and patience, and hard work. Negotiations with the rest of the UK will make a divorce layer’s head spin. There will be new structures and systems to set up, a new constitution to write. But for the first time in 300 years, the people of Scotland will have control over their own affairs.

We will always get the governments we vote for. Our political culture will be more vibrant and diverse, and more responsive to the needs of the people of Scotland.

If you take a look at the campaigns, it will tell you all you need to know. The No campaign is dominated by political parties and millionaires. They are strong in the mainstream media, but weak on the ground.

The Yes campaign has become a movement. The diversity of groups is staggering – youth for Yes and pensioners for Yes. Women for Yes. Asians, Poles and English people for Yes. Farmers and business people and artists and academics for Yes. The movement covers the political spectrum and has taken on a life of its own. Thousands of people who have never been involved in politics before are reading, writing and talking about the referendum. They’re out knocking on doors in all weather, volunteering their time and energy to create a better future.

This is what the new politics of Scotland can look like.

It starts with a Yes vote.

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