I started the Labour Voters for Independence Facebook page as an avenue for Labour supporters who believed in independence to voice their opinions away from the spectre of the party.
In the last six weeks, this page has had an enormous stream of support. I'm proud we have changed some people’s perceptions, I'm pleased that we have given the pro-Indy Labour voters a home to voice their opinions. In the last month, we have created our own website which, after just over three weeks, has had more than 10,000 hits.
In the coming months, we will continue to spread our message. We will be proud to join the independence march on September 22. Our aim is to gain enough grass roots support within our party so that we may be allowed to vote on Labour’s stance on the independence campaign and in the next two years we will continue to seek support from within our party.
We would also like to encourage everyone to enter the debate on our page, no matter what your stance on independence. A thriving national conversation is what is needed at this time and we are proud to play our part in this.
In the coming weeks and months, I along with many others will continue to argue the advantages for a strong Scottish Labour Party through independence. This, however, is not what I wish to write about today.
The case for an independent Scotland is one that affects all political parties, both for and against independence but it is so much more important than that. The supporters of a strong union, of which the hierarchy of my party are one, will tell you that we are better together, stronger united. They will pose the question of Why? Why should Scotland go it alone? Why should the Scottish people seek to break free from the safety and security of the United Kingdom?
With the UK in a double dip recession, cuts being made across all public services, the cost of living rising while wages stagnate, unemployment rising, more families scraping to make ends meet and one in five Scots children living in poverty my question to them is: Why not?
The argument over the benefits for Scotland of independence will continue to rage on until 2014 – would Scotland today be better or worse off as an independent country? But this is not the question we should be asking. The real issue is: how will Scotland fare tomorrow and in the future?
If we look and analyse Scotland today we can never have a real idea of what an independent Scotland can achieve. Take South Korea where I lived and worked for two years. Immediately after the Korean war, the South suffered great hardship. Yet through education, technological ingenuity and hard work South Korea became the thirteenth largest economy in the world and this was reflected in the confidence of the people who lived there. This should be the aim for all independently-minded Scots.
We as a nation have a great deal to offer the world, be it through tourism, or oil, our national dram and common sense. Yet it should not be limited to this. Our natural resources of wind and wave power mean we could lead the world in renewable energy. Our research facilities are some of the finest in the world; our belief in tolerance as seen recently by allowing gay marriage, can show the world a better way.
It is not an easy thing to grasp your nationality. It is in our minds that we can become great, in our ideologies of how people are treated, our sense of adventure and most importantly our ingenuity. We should always remember great Scots such as Fleming, Bell and Livingstone. But they should not be thought of in remembrance of what we once achieved, rather what we can achieve.
We have an opportunity which those in the last three hundred years never had. An opportunity to look forward to a free, independent, proud Scotland, one which stands shoulder to shoulder with the great and good of the world. That is more valuable than any political party.