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We Didn’t Start The Fire

“Suppose my neighbor’s home catches fire, and I have a length of garden hose four or five hundred feet away. If he can take my garden hose and connect it up with his hydrant, I may help him to put out his fire…I don’t say to him before that operation, “Neighbor, my garden hose cost me $15; you have to pay me $15 for it.”… I don’t want $15–I want my garden hose back after the fire is over. ” Franklin D. Roosevelt

You reap what you sow.

I’ve just realised that one of the reasons why I’m so angry about the Westminster government’s handling of the fuel crisis and the wider Brexit omnibouroch is the language they employ. Like: we will “allow” five thousand temporary visas to mitigate the driver shortage.

“Allow”. Aye.

That word implies that there are hundreds of thousands of people desperate to help a place, one part in particular who voted to keep them out. In reality, those tens of thousands of EU workers did what any sensible person would have done in the face of othering and dog-whistle campaigning. They left. And if there’s an extra €500 a week and less hassle, who could blame them? I’m sure that being valued isn’t insignificant, either.

It occurs that you don’t “allow” lorry drivers to deliver your food and your petrol any more than you “allow” the fire brigade to save your house.

You don’t “allow”. You ask, you implore, and then you say: thank God. Cheers folks, I owe you one.

A different decision in 2014 would of course have saved us from all of this.

The first tragedy and embarrassment is that, without independence, Scotland – a proudly mongrel nation, to borrow from the great William McIlvanney – that relies so greatly and so proudly on foreign workers has no control over a hostile immigration policy entirely reserved to Westminster.

The second tragedy and embarrassment is that even with seven years and several mandates we have failed to bring about the self-determining Scottish parliament that would by definition fix this. Our continuing failure to do so makes us complicit.

The nauseous exceptionalism implicit in the language of Transport Secretary Grant Schapps is a significant reason why we find ourselves at such a sorry pass. Not a day passes but I think: is this as good as it gets? Can we not do better?

I believe we can.

I make no apologies for repeating myself.

We need three things: food, water and energy.

The argument for independence therefore isn’t “yes” or “no”. It’s even more fundamental than that.

It’s “who shall speak for Scotland”; or, in other words, who is best placed to deliver Scotland’s fundamental needs? The people we vote for now, or the people we haven’t voted for since 1955?

Let Scotland be Scotland. A modern independent Scotland that, when its neighbour is in trouble, never asks for the hose back when the fire is out.

Stay safe good people. I’ll meet you further on up the road.

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