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Its time to make our own way as an independent nation

As my knowledge and understanding of independence evolves, so does my frustration at how complicated the issue is being made into.

As someone from the Asian/Indian culture, I have grown up in extended families and have found it to be a mixed bag – both rewarding experience if the communication is open, transparent and the ethos is the same to support the family unit and meet the needs of each of the individual members whilst maintaining a healthy equilibrium, to the complete opposite, when one or two family members are contributing more on every level to trying to keep the family on an equal keel, but due to the other members not pulling their weight, and manipulating the situation, communication breaks down, that no one listens or wishes to be heard and there is complete and utter meltdown leading to open conflict and separation.

In both situations, there comes a time when it’s the healthiest option to strike out on your own. You can do it with the good wishes and open communication on how to divide assets and share knowledge and advice on how to set up your new home.  Or you could create maximum drama leading to expensive court cases, mudslinging and right down embarrassing behaviour. But the outcome is the same, only in the second case,  you strike out on your own but knowing it will take a very long time to rebuild that trust and communication.

It translates across to how I see the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK.  Yes Scotland are building a picture of hope and vision, being open, transparent, and communicative, and showing the bigger picture of how Scotland could flourish as an independent nation, with a healthy relationship with the rest of the UK, but are being met at every turn with a barrage of negativity, abuse and downright lies by the opposition.

If one side repeatedly says ‘let’s sit down and talk’ to be counteracted by ridicule, it makes the process longer. It also makes Yes Scotland look like the more mature of the two campaigns, progressive and outward looking, with the Better Together lot looking jaded, holding tightly onto tradition and values which are no longer practised by their own political elk, based on fear and misunderstandings and lies. It’s time to talk. Let’s get down to business and talk independence.
We the people of Scotland are owed at least that much common courtesy.

By NN Riaz

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A lesson in Independence – Munawar Yousaf

I am now in my sixties, but I was just a young lad of 12 when I came to Scotland from a small town near the city of Multan in Pakistan. Munawar_Yousaf_1Obviously it was a huge change of culture and environment, but the local kids were very friendly, and it didn’t take long for me to settle in to life in Glasgow.

My mother had high aspirations for all her children and she was constantly urging us to do our best.

I took on at an early age the idea that if something is worth doing you should do it well and in doing so raise the benchmark for yourself and for others. I think her  influence was key in my decision to  become a civil engineer, then 28 years ago when I was made redundant to join forces with my younger brother and set up our accountancy firm Yousaf and Co.

But there were other important guides in my life at that time, and one in particular I shall never forget. My Maths teacher at Bellahouston Academy, was an Englishman who had moved north of the border to teach. He believed passionately that Scotland should be an independent country, and that passion transferred to me, and many of his pupils.

Looking to inequalities in other parts of the world, he believed that if resources such as tea, coffee, iron, gold and diamonds were processed in the countries of production, those nations would not still be classed as third world countries.  And he felt very strongly that the people of Scotland were being denied control of their own natural resources such as its oil fields, fishing and shipbuilding industries.

In discussing this unfairness and disadvantage with his pupils, he allowed us to develop a much larger world picuture than the view we received from our sanitised history books.

Being a Scottish independence supporter from Pakistan wasn’t exactly common back then. Most people of the Pakistani community living in Scotland at that time were staunch Labour supporters. But my sibilings and I saw that someone born and bred in England, like my maths teacher, could consider himself Scottish, and we asked ourselves why can’t a Pakistani born person who lives in Scotland consider himself Scottish too? My support for an independent Scotland has never wavered since that time.

I’ve always felt there is an imbalance in the way Scotland has been treated by successive Westminster Governments. In the 1970s I saw the steel making factories moved from Central Scotland to Sheffield, the car manufacturers shut in Linwood, coal factories closed and the ship building industries decimated. Then in the 1980s, the effect of the Thatcher years, where Scotland witnessed some of the worst unemployment this country has seen, are being felt even today.

I have now lived in Scotland for 48 years, this is my home and where my loyalties lie. I want decisions that affect my children, and future grandchildren, to be made by them and the rest of the people of Scotland, not some distant Government they cannot relate to.

I look to countries such as many of those in Scandinavia with small populations and see how well they’ve done since becoming independent.  Being a small country actually gives us specific advantages over our larger neighbour.

A smaller population means developing services and putting beneficial ideas into practice will be, in many ways, much more manageable.  In an independent Scotland we will be able to roll out services quickly ensuring the people who need them the most getting priority.

The advantages of being able to make our own decisions on every level, is the greatest benefit for an independent Scotland.  A country run by the people of Scotland for the people of Scotland. It’s time.


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