I was just sitting outside my favourite coffee shop when a friend of a member of staff came and sat beside me, falafel panini in one hand, peppermint tea in the other. An older guy than myself, probably in his fifties, and a little disheveled looking.
He started chatting to me, so I reciprocated. He was charming, polite, thoughtful, concerned both about what he ate and how we treat the planet and one another. A decent bloke, who it turned out, was homeless.
“I’ve been a bit of a nomad” he said, “…but all I need is a wee break… someone to let me use a wee room to get me started in a better direction. Five years out here now – can’t do it anymore”.
He wasn’t talking crap or dropping hints – he was just being honest.
We chatted some more about this and that, and then he said “…I’m hopeful for when we become a proper country again.”.
I mentioned to him that I was all for that and actively campaign for a Yes vote, and the chat quickly evolved into a discussion about the benefits of independence and the possibilities to create a better, fairer society: no nuclear weapons to pay for – the ones we don’t even want; the benefit of having people making decisions about the place they actually live in; the fact that Scotland is actually “stinking rich”, to quote a Yes voter at a recent BBCr5 debate – and the chances being that you probably wouldn’t know that from looking around you. These things and much more.
A charming and educated guy, with optimism for the future, despite having been down on his luck for so long. I have some experience of that myself, and it’s not easy to think positively in that situation.
Just think what a difference having the full powers that only independence provides can make for people like this guy and others like him. No, independence in itself does not address these issues, but it does give us the tools to do so. No longer will an endless succession of Westminster Tories, and Tory-Lites, line the pockets of the wealthy with the misery of the struggling. Enough of that.
We’re often told by the Tories and their imitators that we have slipped into a ‘something for nothing’ culture. No – we’ve been pulled into a ‘something for the misery of others’ culture by those selfish enough to continue to tweak it and improve it’s efficiency – to hell with the consequences for those at the bottom.
But we can put a stop to that next September, and thereafter. And there must be a thereafter, because a Yes vote is just the beginning. But without it, we are effectively pissing in the wind.