Sunday, 16 December 2007

Independent Future

Yes, the flat is still in disarray after our recent ceiling disaster - but this story is worth taking a few minutes to pass comment on.

It certainly is good news that support for independence is growing, and it is interesting to note the even higher levels of support among younger people. It does remind me of a conversation I once had with somebody about this. When I asked them if they supported independence, they replied, 'well, about 20 years ago I would have, but I'm too old now.' [The emphasis is mine of course] I thought that comment was interesting on a couple of levels. Firstly, that the individual associated independence with being younger, and seemed to suggest that they no longer had either the energy to make it work or the capacity to care anymore. Secondly, I thought it was a very bizarre way to look at the world - that just because you are getting older, you don't care about what happens to younger generations.

Having spoken to a lot of pensioners about politics over the years (especially when I was doing research on pensions), I don't think the view above is common among older people. I had many a conversation with people campaigning for higher state pensions, who were very clear that they did not want that increase to come at the expense of childcare, or help for students, for example. As an aside, they were quite happy for higher state pensions to come at the expense of daft plans for ID cards and dangerous nuclear weapons...

Anyway, the point I am trying to make, is that lower support for independence among older people is unlikely to be because they care less about Scotland's future - after all, most have children and grandchildren.

I don't know how to explain it, other than to note that the increased support among younger people would seem to indicate a generational shift in attitude towards the union in which Scotland finds itself in the 21st century. A union that, to many, seems to have outlived any relevance it may have had. But in the context of globalisation, and the development of supranational bodies like the EU, then self-government becomes a must-have. The nation-state is the entity through which we engage with the rest of the world. For people growing up in modern Scotland, the limits of being classed as a 'region' within the wider UK state are becoming clearer - particularly when small nations like Malta have more say in the EU than Scotland.

But just because the benefits of independence seem to be clearer to Scotland's younger generation, this doesn't mean they will be the only ones to benefit from a future in which Scotland is independent. Independence will give us the powers we need to build a better future for our nation and everyone who lives here, and it will take time to build some of the more lasting foundations for success. But there are many things that we will be able to do almost immediately with those powers, such as introduce a Citizen's Pension - a policy that would benefit every pensioner in Scotland.

I do hope that, in the same way that Scotland's older citizens demonstrate their concern for younger people, that those young people who support independence will inspire Scotland's older generations to ensure that they make a positive contribution and leave a lasting legacy for Scotland - and choose independence.

1 comment:

Grumpy Old Man said...

Don't they just grow up, realise a little bit of political reality, appreciate that Britain is not a bad place to live, and leave behind the independence-led notions of milk and honey, or oil and whiskey...