This week the coalition-installed Iraqi regime creaked under the pressure of Sunni Islamist insurgency, Gove stepped up his ideological war in British schools and multi-millionaire JK Rowling conjured up an argument for the austerity union. Suki Sangha argues that while the news from Britain never seems to get any better, a Yes vote allows us to make our own headlines.
Sunni Islamist militias have captured Mosul, the third largest city in Iraq, bringing the country back into a state of open civil war. It is 11 years since the invasion of Iraq and 13 since the beginning of the ‘war on terror’- a war which for so many people of my generation marked that moment in time when we became internationalists. We saw the skies of Baghdad light up from the bombs sent down by the British Government. We saw the effects of the depleted-uranium bombs that were dropped over Fallujah.
At school we were taught a false narrative about Britain’s role in the world. A story which teaches children of the great adventures made by this so called “great nation”. We were taught about kings and queens and of far-away places, but missing from these discussions is the truth about the global theft, fraud, violence and murder of Britain’s imperialist history. A British empire which is responsible for the suffering and death of millions of people across the globe. Britain has blood on its hands and the blood never dries.
JK Rowling’s support for Better Together is a stark reminder of the detachment of those who have wealth from those in working class areas up and down Scotland who are tirelessly campaigning for a yes vote. Missing from Rowling’s support for a ‘united Britain’ was a discussion about poverty, inequality and democracy. Britain is the 8th richest country in the developed world and one of the most unequal. Rowling contributed £1 Million to the claim ‘UK OK’.
David Cameron and his minion Michael Gove want to instil “British values” into British schools. They want to teach our children about ‘freedom’, ‘tolerance’, ‘respect for the rule of law’, ‘belief in personal and social responsibility’ and ‘respect for British institutions’. Let’s address the hypocrisy head on.
Freedom – British politicians want to preach about freedom when our foreign policy is directly responsible for the curtailing of freedom for people the world over.
Tolerance – supposedly Britain is a tolerant place to live. A place where the government sends vans travelling around minority ethnic communities telling people to ‘Go Home!’
Respect for the Rule of Law – the concept will be peculiar to anyone who has lost a loved one through police brutality or murdered whilst in police custody.
Belief in Personal and Social Responsibility – at a time when MPs continue to fiddle their expenses and where bankers and chief executives walk away with millions in bonuses.
Respect for British Institutions – respect for governments we didn’t even elect. Respect for decisions made by a cabinet of millionaires and ratified by a mighty ‘House of Lords’ who have not the faintest idea of the daily struggles of ordinary people.
As a woman from an ethnic minority background I am being asked to choose between a Scotland which I know will welcome the contribution of those who choose to migrate here and a Britain which I know scapegoats migrants and ethnic minorities. As a young trade unionist, I am being asked to make a choice between a Scotland which we can shape and a Britain in which every mainstream party proposes an agenda of cuts and further curtailment of worker’s rights. If being better together means more austerity at home and war abroad then we demand better, we deserve better.
Voting yes in the independence referendum is not about nations and borders. It’s not about unrealistic expectations and socialist utopias. There is a reason why thousands of people are for the first time being inspired to get involved and participate in politics. It’s the fact that at the very heart of this debate about Scotland’s constitutional future is the idea that ordinary people shape politics.
The news from Britain never seems to get any better. A Yes vote allows us to make our own news.
By Suki Sangha