Unedited version of my column in Scottish Sun on Sunday 6th October 2013
I shared a platform this week with Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at a packed out meeting in Leith.
Back in the eighties when we were both at Glasgow University, she was an ardent nationalist and I was a born and bred Unionist from Liverpool.
If anyone had told the obnoxious Bolshy young Asian chasing Tories around campus that one day I would be arguing for an Independent Scotland, I would have probably thumped them with my copy of Socialist Worker.
My desire for independence has been a gradual change, accelerated with the birth of my children and thinking of their future.
Since my first General Election in Scotland in 1987 I have dreaded every election result as have most Scots. At the age of 45 I have never known Scotland to have voted for the Tories in significant numbers.
Today we have more Pandas in Edinburgh than we have Tory MPs, yet we have to put up with a Tory Prime Minister wrapping himself in the language of Margaret Thatcher, urging us to vote no to save the UK.
He patronisingly referred to the First Minister of Scotland as his Pen Pal and devoted just 54 seconds of his 49 minutes speech to Scotland.
That attitude symbolises the smarmy contempt which many in Westminster have long held for the people of Scotland or its elected representatives.
He claimed he wants to build a “land of opportunity for all” based on an American-style economy.
But you cannot build a land of opportunity for all ‘on the ruins of one million more children living in poverty’.
The campaign against Independence calls itself ‘Better Together’ I prefer to call them ‘Bitter Together’ in essence a coalition of Labour, Tories and mini-me Tories married to each other for better or worse, with nothing more to offer than a lifetime of austerity, misery and cuts.
But to be fair to Cameron he did tell one truth, this is a land of opportunity for a select group of people- the super-rich who are not just surviving but enjoying a massive increase in their wealth by 30% to a total of £336 billion-the biggest increase in over 22 years.
When Cameron said “What’s to stop us?” that was the scariest part.
Do you seriously believe that Miliband can stop Tory Dave and even if he did would it not be just a paler blue version?
Many now question if staying part of the United Kingdom will protect the NHS, services, the Royal Mail and pensions.
If the Cameron has his way then the best elements of the Union will cease to exist. Getting rid of one Tory MP will do nothing to alter the fact that Westminster will decide what happens.
Let’s be clear September 18th 2014 is not about voting for Alex Salmond but about deciding whether we are ready to govern ourselves.
It is already accepted that Scotland would be the 8th richest nation on the planet if we went it alone, so pleading poverty is just a red herring by the ‘no campaign’.
If we vote ‘Yes’ next year there is one cast iron guarantee-
Westminster will no longer have the power to dictate what we should think, create or produce. From welfare to warfare, from employment to foreign policy we will have the right to decide our destiny.
Of course independence must be a means for the bigger dream, the ending of poverty, ignorance and inequality of opportunity.
A yes vote can turn such a dream into realityshaping our country and our families’ futures for generations to come’
SARWAR- GOVERNOR OF PUNJAB
I attended a dinner earlier this week in honour of Mohammad Sarwar along with 3000 other people.
Sarwar Britain’s first Muslim MP for Govan is now the Governor of Punjab in Pakistan and responsible for over 91 million people.
No matter one’s political views nobody can deny his family’s tremendous fairy tale of rags to riches.
Even he could not have predicted as he fought a bitter selection battle within his party for his seat Govan in 1996, that one day he would be selected as the Governor of Punjab, whilst his son Anas would become the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.
Sarwar has always been a down to earth man, never forgetting his roots or the people of Glasgow that made him- such skills will stand him well, arriving at a critical time in Pakistan’s history, a country torn apart by bombings and corruption, with over 50,000 killed in terrorist attacks and one of the poorest countries in the world.
He has made education for every child in Punjab his number one goal. I wish him all the best, if he achieves only that (although I am sure he will achieve much more) then the young children of Pakistan can look to a brighter future beyond the blood, sweat and tears of their parents.