War and/or Peace

Scotland didn’t have to be at war today. Granted, the situation would be different if we were independent already, and we don’t necessarily know what it would have been. But we didn’t have to be.

I’m not going to get into the arguments for or against military action against IS – there are arguments on either side, and I wouldn’t pretend to be an expert on the situation. In fact, I’ll openly admit that I probably know less about the current situation than a large proportion of the population.

If we’d voted Yes last week, could the UK Government have sent Scottish air force personnel to bomb IS targets? The legitimacy of the whole thing is already questionable, but how would that have panned out, using the defence forces and people of a soon-to-be foreign country?

But we are at war. Again. As part of the nation which throws itself into every conflict it can, more than any other in history. Having accidentally seen a ‘Britain First’ post on the subject yesterday, it’s clear that some are almost dripping with ‘pride’ at the thought. Imbeciles, every one of them. War is the ending of people’s lives, not a game.

The question people in Scotland should be asking themselves isn’t whether or not ‘Islamic State’ is a legitimate target. It should be why did we not take the opportunity to make up our own minds?

An independent Scotland could contribute to international missions, but would it not be better if we actually had more of a say, and had a greater ability to more directly hold our politicians to account if we feel they got it wrong?

It’s unlikely that many pilots will die over Iraq and Syria over the coming weeks and months – such is the nature of modern warfare these days. Fly in, bomb, fly out again – no matter how much backing IS does or does not have, they don’t have the same level of technology as the Western powers. They may take down one or two jets, but it’s effectively shooting fish in a barrel for the UK, US and others. And that’s the kind of wars we are taken into – not the places where our troops and hardware would actually be pushed to the very limits, but the areas where we can get in, use loads of ammunition, get out again in one piece and then order more bombs, missiles and bullets.

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The sad truth is that modern warfare, for countries like the UK and US in particular, is more about boosting sales of military hardware and keeping the arms trade happy than it is any more noble, human reason. If it wasn’t, why are our troops only ever involved in certain conflicts when there are loads of other crises around the globe that could warrant intervention, if an interventionist stance is what your government claims to have? But those are further away and probably harder – let’s just stick to the ‘easy’ ones…

Anyway, I’m not arguing for or against the current military operations, rather highlighting the situation we find ourselves in now, after Friday’s vote in the House of Commons.

I’ve broken down the vote below, and invite you to make up your own minds on where we are…

For:
Con: 276 (91 .1% of party)
Lab: 190 (74.8%)
LD: 48 (85.7%)
DUP: 8 (100%)
Alliance: 1 (100%)
Ind: 2 (n/a)
TOTAL: 525 (82.2%) [includes 2 tellers, minus 1 active abstention]

Against:
Con: 6 (2%)
Lab: 24 (9.4%)
LD: 1 (1.8%)
SNP: 6 (100%)
SDLP: 3 (100%)
Plaid: 2 (66.7%)
Green: 1 (100%)
Respect: 1 (100%)
TOTAL: 44 (6.9%) [includes 2 tellers, minus 1 active abstention]

Abstentions:
Con: 21 (6.9%)
Lab: 40 (15.7%)
LD: 7 (12.5%)
Plaid: 1 (33.3%)
Ind: 1 (n/a)
TOTAL: 70 (10.9%)

——

Results for the 59 MPs representing Scottish seats:

For:
Con: 1 (100%)
Lab: 23 (57.5%)
LD: 9 (81.8%)
Ind: 1 (n/a)
TOTAL: 34 (57.6%)

Against:
Lab: 5 (12.5%)
SNP: 6 (100%)
TOTAL: 11 (18.6%)

Abstentions:
Lab: 12 (30%)
LD: 2 (18.2%)
TOTAL: 14 (23.7%)

——

UK totals minus Scottish votes [580]
for: 491 (84.6%)
against: 33 (5.7%)
abstentions: 56 (9.6%)

Here are those percentages again, for comparison…

Scotland
for: 57.6%
against: 18.6%
abstentions: 23.7%

Rest of the UK
for: 84.6%
against: 5.7%
abstentions: 9.6%

So Scottish MPs still voted to go to war – I’m not disputing that. But it was on a very significantly reduced majority of 57.6% compared to the rest of the UK’s 84.6%. Four fewer votes and Scotland would not have voted for it. Four.

Votes against are also significantly different, with over three times more in Scotland than rUK. Similarly, the abstentions are significantly higher amongst Scottish MPs, more than doubling.

What I find rather interesting is that it’s not just the SNP MPs who made those figures so dramatically different – Labour’s Scottish MPs voted considerably more cautiously than their rUK party colleagues. Even the Lib Dem’s did too.

Of course, the situation would be completely different if Westminster politicians were elected using a system of proportional representation too. And would we even be voting for war if we’d voted Yes on the 18th?

Speculative? Yes, of course it is. I’m only highlighting the figures.

You make up your own minds and consider the possibility that we might not now be sending people to kill other people in some far off foreign land – whether that’s the right thing to do or not.

The Straw that broke democracy’s back

I’ve given in and subscribed to The Times for a month (just the one!), purely to access this piece: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/article4212654.ece

Here it is in full, with my comments after.

Let’s preserve our Union in law to stop the SNP pulling it apart
by Jack Straw

Now that Scotland has decisively spoken, after a campaign whose terms were set by the SNP for itself, we should follow the example of stable federated countries (the US and India, for example) and say: “This Union is now indissoluble.”

If independence would have been for good, so must the decision to stay. You can’t pull a living plant up by the roots again and again, and expect it to survive. Put this commitment to the Union in primary Westminster legislation. Of course, that could be changed but only by all the UK’s MPs. “Better Together” must mean what it says.

The promises of further devolution to Scotland will be honoured, and the settlements for Wales and Northern Ireland are being strengthened. Where does that leave England? Proposals for “English votes for English laws” are sedulously attractive. They have been repeated by David Cameron. However, I suggest that we English take a deep breath and examine whether they are remotely necessary, and even if they are, just how they would be put into practice.

This West Lothian question is, in truth, code for an assertion about Labour — that in government we have to rely on Scottish MPs for a majority. I am proud that Labour really is a unionist party (as were the Conservatives until their fateful decision in 1987 to use Scotland as a laboratory for the poll tax). But almost always, when we win a general election, we win south of the border as well.

In 32 years of Labour governments since the war, Labour has had to “rely” on Scottish MPs to remain in power for just 26 months (1964 to 1966 and March to October 1974). That’s including Welsh Labour MPs. But we also had more English MPs than the Conservatives throughout the Blair/Brown administrations, as well as in the 1966 and October 1974 elections.

The unique characteristic of this Union is that one component — England — has 84 per cent of the population. England’s population is projected to grow over the next 20 years by another 7 million — more than Scotland’s population of 5.3 million. This means that almost every issue that may look exclusive to England can have knock-on effects for the rest of the UK. Take the 2004 increase in tuition fees. It applied directly to England and Wales only. But its indirect effect went north of the border. The greater reliance on private funding of universities south of the border indirectly reduced the block grant to Scotland. Scottish MPs thus had a wholly legitimate stake in the outcome.

English votes for English laws has been tried before. Gladstone’s second Irish Home Rule Bill of 1893 came up with the “ins and outs solution”, in which Irish MPs at Westminster were to be able to vote on “imperial” matters, but not “domestic” ones. It was the Tory leader, AJ Balfour, who exposed its fundamental defects. The system, he said, “would carry the most serious evils in its train”. It would “threaten the ordinary procedure of parliament” and “shatter the cabinet system . . . if you never knew whether an issue was going to be identified as English-only or the UK as a whole”. After months of wrangling, Gladstone conceded. As Sir Malcolm Rifkind observed in 2006, creating “two classes of MP would be a constitutional abortion”.

If we now make a reality of devolution within England — where the real democratic deficit lies — and ensure a fairer share of the cake between the southeast and, for example, the north and northwest, much of the apparent attraction of two classes of MP will go. It’s certainly worth examining whether there’d be any role for an English grand committee to discuss “English” legislation but I suspect that even this might be more trouble than it was worth.

We do not, however, need to tie ourselves in knots about this. Politicians have a constant care for popular support. We’ve all learnt the excruciating lesson from the Conservatives’ “Scottish poll tax” debacle. We English should stop fretting. The Union, our Union, has been saved. It’s “asymmetrical”, it’s untidy. But, hey, it works.

[As justice secretary 2007-10, Jack Straw chaired the Labour government’s constitutional committee. He is MP for Blackburn]’

Jack Straw, demonstrating what he wants to do to democracy

Jack Straw, demonstrating what he wants to do to democracy

Em… right you are, Jack!

There are many things wrong with this piece by Jack Straw, but the title and related text are the most significant part, so I’ll only talk about that just now.

Jack Straw is currently an opposition MP – he doesn’t create government policy at the moment, although opposition MPs can still put forward legislation for the House of Commons to consider.

But he might not need that.

In this piece, Straw does propose something that will undoubtedly bring a sly grin to many faces in Westminster, particularly amongst the Tory rank and file, who are very much in a position to bring legislation to the fore. So this is dangerous.

What Straw is proposing is legislation which would see no part of the UK ever having the democratic right to secede. We would be locked in, with no say on the matter at all.

Oh yes, he provides a ‘concession’ in stating that he believes this could be overturned by the House of Commons, but what does that mean? That means that no matter how many people in any particular part of the UK wanted to leave, they couldn’t do so without first having this constitutional legislation overturned. They couldn’t even be asked in a referendum, like the one we’ve just had.

Mr Straw refers to the USA and India in this piece as countries whose constitutions don’t allow any part to ever leave, as if this is something we should be seeking to copy in the UK. Note that he doesn’t mention a certain close neighbour where this is causing major issues for people in part of it: Spain.

The people of Catalonia are massively in favour of independence, but the Spanish constitution does not allow for them to even hold a referendum. They’re having to hold an illegal referendum, arranged by the democratically elected Catalan Government, which the Spanish Government can simply choose to ignore – and that’s the line they’re taking. That’s what Straw is effectively proposing for here.

It is dangerous, it is irresponsible and, above all, it is fundamentally anti-democratic.

Our referendum question was not ‘Should Scotland be an independent country or always remain a part of the UK?’. The right to revisit the independence question at a later date, should the result have been No, was never taken off the table, and nor should it have been. Not even Cameron proposed that.

Every democracy, if they are true to the meaning of that word, should allow for the people to decide the status of their part of it, should they wish – whether that be a nation, a region, a county, or parts/groupings thereof. I include Scotland in that too, after we do become independent (if we’re ‘allowed’) – it would be hypocritical not to.

Labour are always claiming to be a progressive party, just as they claim to be a great many other things that they’re not. But this idea, if it is shared by others within the party, boots that word right out of the park.

Jack Straw, Labour’s former Home Secretary, Justice Secretary and Foreign Secretary – some of the most important and senior positions in government – is effectively wanting to roll back democracy with this proposal. He wants to take the will of the people out of the equation. And a large number of Tories will be readying themselves to jump right on-board with him, grinning from ear to Spock-like ear.

John Redwood, trying out Kirk's chair while he's on an away mission.

John Redwood, trying out Kirk’s chair while he’s on an away mission.

“I dinnae trust ANY of them!”

“I dinnae trust ANY of them!”

How many people do each of us know who have uttered those words, or similar? I bet it’s a few.

And who could blame them? Certainly not me.

We live in a society that seems to have grown almost blasé about political corruption: from MPs salaries spiralling through the roof while others see their quality of life plummet, through the expenses scandals [Hi there, Mr Murphy and Flipper!], to dodgy dossiers and Tony Blair’s government taking us into a war under false pretences – and these were supposed to be the GOOD guys!

It’s no surprise at all that many people simply refuse to believe a single word that comes out of any politicians mouth. I’m just surprised that so many still take politicians at their word at all.

But on Thursday, we have a unique opportunity to drastically – and that’s not hyperbole, it is drastically – improve our ability to hold politicians to account – to hold them to what they say, and to look them in the eye as they say it.

We simply don’t have that ability within the UK system. Just look at how many expenses-fiddling MPs are still at Westminster. Watch Tony Blair swan around the world, cashing in on his ‘expertise’ on the Middle East [no comment!].

That’s one of the core reasons to vote Yes – no matter what you think of the politicians on either side of the debate. We can give ourselves the power to boot them out if they fail us – and let’s not kid ourselves here, sometimes they will.

Independence doesn’t deliver us to a land where unicorns with gold horseshoes dance in cool streams of milk and honey – we never claimed that it would. I’m not a fan of honey anyway…

But it does put us in a place where we hold far more power over those we elect to govern for us.

There are many reasons to support independence, but for loads of us this whole thing comes down to three simple principles: democracy, responsibility and accountability.

Use your vote to improve those for everyone living in Scotland. Vote Yes.

What’s it all about, Alfie…

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When all is said and done, what are we actually voting for?

Strip out the fluff from either side. Put aside the rhetoric.

Try to forget for a minute those politicians you hate with a passion, on either side of the debate… this is neither about them or for them – they’re movable, temporary figureheads. That’s what elections are for.

What’s actually there?

The referendum next week is not about Scotland vs UK, or Scotland vs England.

It’s not even really about Scotland – it’s incidental that that is where we happen to be.

It’s about taking our right to vote – a right earned by countless people in struggles all over the world, throughout history – and deciding whether or not we want to build on that right that we have at the moment: to give it greater meaning and depth, with a better quality of representation, and on a more direct and accountable basis.

If you vote Yes, that’s what you’ll be doing. You’ll be saying ‘Our votes – yours and mine – they are important’. You’ll be voting to help everyone who happens to live in Scotland – from all personal and political backgrounds – achieve that.

And you won’t be removing that from anyone else to enable that: it’s not a finite resource, democracy – unless you take it right down to the individual level.

In fact, you’ll actually be helping our friends and neighbours in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, by taking our MPs out of their equation, leaving theirs to focus on what’s deemed right for their constituents.

If you say ‘No Thanks’ next Thursday, you’re not saying it to the SNP.

You’re not saying it to Alex Salmond, or to Yes Scotland.

You’re saying it to everyone who lives here. And that includes yourself.

You’ll be saying ‘No thanks, I don’t think my vote – or that of anyone else here – is important enough to shake things up a bit’.

I value democracy very highly indeed, and I am voting Yes – not for flag,  ‘FREEDOM!!’, or any sense of ill-will towards people elsewhere in the UK – but so that our voices, all of them, are heard that bit louder, and with more clarity.

And I’m voting Yes to modernise our system of democracy itself, ridding ourselves once and for all of the archaic Westminster system, where half of the parliament is run on a ‘jobs for the boys’ basis, and because those we elect to Holyrood are put there using a version of proportional representation, meaning that people have a much better chance of both being and feeling represented.

That, to me, is the key gain of independence: the bettering of both our democratic system and our democratic rights as individuals.

That’s why I could never bring myself to vote against independence. And that is why I urge you to think about what democracy really means, and to hopefully do the same.

Control

“Holyrood has full control of the Scottish NHS…”
– anyone in the No campaign

Let’s get one thing absolutely clear: to have full control of anything is to have available all relevant powers associated with whatever it is you’re talking about, which in this instance, is the Scottish NHS.

The Scottish Government, of whatever political flavour it happens to be – and by extension, the people of Scotland – never has all of the available powers over any aspect of governance, and for a couple of reasons.

The first is the simple fact that the Scottish Government has no control over how much of a budget it is given by Westminster.

In the event of the scrapping or amending of the Barnett Formula to the detriment of the Scottish budget, there is no right of reply. There is no meeting of ministers from both governments to discuss the whys and wherefores. The block grant is simply delivered to the Scottish Government, like pocket money.

Even with the still very limited tax powers proposed by the various unionist parties, that’s not full control. There is nothing in their proposals to guarantee any set level of grant, and with voters in England expressing their dislike of the ‘vast sums’ Scotland gets (although less than we contribute), how long would it be before the remaining block grant was tightened? Probably as long as the time it takes to get to the next election – ie, a year and a half.

If the government of Scotland cannot have full control of the revenues generated, how can it possibly have full control of all the things dependent on that funding?

The second, and to me, more fundamental reason, is the ever present danger that Westminster can, at any time, pull back powers from Holyrood.

As with the referendum legislation itself, Holyrood is only effectively borrowing powers from Westminster. What sort of national legislating body has to rely on the goodwill of another to do its job?

Let’s flip this around – although not in a Darlingesque manner.

The No camp have made much of the Scottish Governments proposed currency union, stating that such an arrangement would leave Scotland with, at best, only a small say on interest rates.

Actually, that’s giving them too much credit – they usually neglect to mention that our government would have any say at all, when there would clearly be Scottish input in some form, most likely on the board of governed at the BoE.

So, neglecting to mention that last part, they criticise this idea, claiming that it can’t possibly mean ‘the best of both worlds’. “That’s not independent enough!”, they holler, as if they’d be supportive of any other option anyway!

So not having fully independent control of interest rates wouldn’t be independent enough, but not having real full control of any unreserved matter is? Hmm…

Not having the ability to raise/lower/amend/scrap/introduce taxes, and indeed not having the ability to legislate for anything without the constant possibility that another government or parliament could suddenly remove that ability… that’s good enough?

That’s the position that Holyrood is in every day: it doesn’t have any control at all over reserved matters, and it only has partial, borrowed control of all of the non-reserved matters.

For a parliament and government to work to the best of their ability, and with the responsibility that should come with representing the people of a nation, the buck must stop not with another parliament or set of ministers, not with a house of unelected and unaccountable ‘peers’, but with them themselves and, most importantly, the electorate who put them there in the first place. The sovereignty of the people must be of paramount importance.

This, to my mind, is one of the major flaws of devolution, even ‘though I would never choose a return to the pre-1999 system.

The Tories propose making Holyrood more accountable and responsible by giving over a handful of tax powers. No, that’s just superficial crap – it does not address the fact that Holyrood will still be ‘below’ Westminster, and still not fully accountable solely to the people of Scotland.

The Scottish NHS is not, by any means, fully controlled by Holyrood. And nor are any of the other areas it has ‘control’ over.

It is the duty manager of the shop to Westminster’s board of directors. And that’s not good enough for either the parliament or the people. And that’s why it must be Yes.

We do not live in a nanny state

Contrary to what might be taken from the words of [usually] Labour unionists, Scotland is not a nanny state.

I’m not talking about the concept of the ‘nanny state’ in the same way as the Tories often do. I for one am not offended when the government tells us when things are bad for us. The role of government is partly, as I see it, to protect and nurture those who it represents. I see nothing wrong with that at all.

Unfortunately, most Tories seem to see the role of government as being a means to dismantle the state for personal profit. But I digress…

The ‘nanny state’ I’m referring to is, specifically, Scotland. Or rather, the image that Labour unionists would have us believe is our role – that of the conscience of the UK.

I doubt very much that Labour politicians go to Yorkshire or Cardiff and tell the people there that Scotland is the moral saviour of the UK. I’m quite sure they give them just as many meaningless platitudes as they do us.

But that’s what they’ve been doing here, during this referendum campaign.

“Don’t go, lest the remaining UK be lost to the Tory hounds for eternity!”

“They know not know what they do! Please, don’t dessert them!”

Forgive me, but I hadn’t realised we’d even applied for the position of ‘National Jiminy Cricket’ to rUK’s Pinocchio. I didn’t even know that such a position was either required or advertised.

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By Jiminy!

But the rhetoric from many unionist Labourites has been that it is somehow our (Scotland’s) DUTY to make sure that rUK don’t vote themselves into decades of selfish, right-wing government, be that through the Tories, UKIP, a coalition of the two, or some as yet unknown party.

Apart from being grossly insulting to people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – who, believe it or not, are quite capable of making their own decisions – it’s as big a pile of equine excretion as we’ve heard in this whole debate.

We, as a nation, do not exist to keep tabs on our nearest neighbours. Such a notion is preposterous, and to suggest that it’s a reason at all, never mind a good one, to stay in the union is nothing short of absurd.

Don’t get me wrong – I would really rather not see rUK vote for more years of right-wing governments, whose primary motivation is ‘ME, ME, ME!’, the dismantling of the [supportive bits of the] state, the acquisition of personal wealth and the scapegoating of minorities.

But if the people of rUK want to do that, that is their choice – just as we are trying to win the right to have our choices matter.

The unionists will often point to the number of Labour MPs in Scotland too, citing that as evidence that those in rUK will never vote-in a Labour government again. Thankfully, most of us know that this is also to be filed somewhere in between ‘br’ and ‘bt’:

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graphic from Wings Over Scotland

If rUK does vote for increasingly right-wing governments for a while, they’ll soon enough see them for what they are, and the left will regroup. Perhaps Labour will even rejoin them, once they’re over ditching their principles to chase the votes of the gutter press readers.

But that will be up to them. And it will be down to them to change it.

Scotland is not a set of stabilisers for the UK’s first bike. We have a right to choose how best to run our country and care for our society, and the rest of the UK is perfectly capable of cycling along on the road without us to stop them falling off. And so are we. Let’s join them and ride alongside, on our own terms.

Opportunity Knocks

For me, independence is all about opportunity.

Opportunity to raise the quality of our own democratic rights, making every future national election vote we personally cast significantly more important.

Opportunity to help create a modern, vibrant and inclusive nation, with fairness, equality and respect at the heart of its ambition.

Opportunity, not to blame anyone else or forget our neighbours or our joint past together, but to build better relationships with friends and colleagues in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Opportunity to step out into the wider world too, as a friendly, welcoming and internationalist nation, and to play our part and take on responsibility for the often difficult challenges the world faces together. Not through force and bravado, but through dialogue, debate and the building up and maintaining of trust.

Opportunity to help shape our wee bit of the world into something we can truly be proud of – not a flag or a national anthem, but a happier, fairer and more inclusive society.

Grand words, perhaps. But this is a chance – and a very rare or unique one at that – to start to achieve grand things. And it can, and must, be only the start of a process which sees all of the people who live in Scotland take part and use this democratic right we all have. A democratic right that we’re fortunate enough to enjoy, and we must always remember that.

Democracy and the right to vote were key themes in the last century. People gave their very lives for those rights, all over the world, and in some parts of the world, people in less fortunate positions than ourselves still do today.

We have other, more fundamental and inalienable rights of course, but democracy and the right to vote is, in my opinion, one of our greatest achievements as a species, possibly even the most precious human accomplishment to date.

But having the right to vote isn’t the end of the story, not by any means. As with independence itself, it’s merely the start, and can always be improved upon.

Take our right to vote in the context of this independence campaign, and the possibility of having an independent Scotland.

On a personal level, each and every person living in Scotland, who is eligible to vote, will automatically see their vote mean more with independence. That’s not an unfounded assertion or a distant fantasy, that’s fact.

Your vote, rather than being 1-in-46 million, becomes 1-in-4 million. Overnight.

Now, that may seem a rather vague and slightly irrelevant vague concept – such high numbers don’t mean much at the level of the individual, even if one is only a small fraction of the other. But it is an eleven-fold increase in the importance of your one vote. For every future general election. You make your vote mean that much more, simply by putting an ‘x’ next to Yes.

Similarly, the importance of your vote is also increased by the fact that, instead of electing one of 650 MPs to Westminster, you’ll be voting for one of only 129 at Holyrood. That’s another five-fold improvement in your personal right to vote.

Who did you vote for in the last House of Lords election? Oh that’s right, none of us did. It’s an unelected house, with no real accountability to us, the electorate. For people living in Scotland, that will be gone, overnight.

These are positive changes that aren’t reliant on what party wins the first independent Scottish general election, or post-referendum negotiations with the rest of the UK – they’re automatic, they will happen.

After our automatic gains with our domestic parliament, we then come to the EU.

Some people love the EU, others aren’t so keen. But that’s not the issue here, and it’s not the issue for this referendum. I’m not going to engage with scaremongering unionists on whether or not we’ll be in the EU – that’s been dealt with satisfactorily by plenty of experts already.

What is worth bearing in mind for this referendum though is the improvement in our say at the European level.

At the moment, Scotland has 6 MEPs, and the Scottish Government is very much secondary to the UK Government in dealing with and negotiating within Europe. They haven’t even been allowed to request clarification over our position as an independent member state, for example. And the UK Government refused to use its ability to seek that clarification.

An independent Scotland, with EU membership, is most likely to see the number of MEPs we elect more than double, to 13. Why? Because that’s the number that similarly sized states are allocated.

At the moment, the 5.3 million people of Scotland are represented by the same number of MEPs as the 450,000 citizens of Malta. That’s fewer people than live in Edinburgh.

Denmark, Finland and Slovakia – all of which have populations similar to that of Scotland – elect 13 MEPs each.

At the moment, we’re obviously considered part of the UK, and with the positive weighting system employed for European Parliament elections, larger national populations elect proportionately fewer representatives. That’s the way it must be, otherwise the whole system simply wouldn’t work at all.

But when you consider that most of our domestic legislation comes from the Scottish Parliament, it seems rather out of balance that we only elect 6 MEPs, and that the Scottish Parliament is effectively meaningless in Europe.

We can fix that with a Yes vote.

With all of these, we can redress the balance in favour of our democratic rights – in our favour, and for those that come after us.

Please don’t underestimate democracy, what has been done to achieve it and the improvements that we can make to it. Don’t waste this rare chance.