I am passionately in favour of an independent Scotland. Seems like a no-brainer to me. Scotland is a country. It has its own laws, its own institutions, its own customs and culture, its own education, healthcare and so much more. The people of Scotland can and should manage their own affairs.
The people of Scotland always vote in a socially democratic way. Scotland hasn’t sent a majority of Conservative MPs to Westminster since Anthony Eden’s 1955 win; and that was only 50% (36 of 72 seats) and UKIP have never gained more than 3% of the vote here compared to 10% in England.
Why continue with the old, cruel, wasteful ways of doing things? Scotland has natural resources aplenty with renewable wind and tidal energy and fresh clean water.
And of course there is oil and gas. Just as the right thing to do is leave the oil in the ground and transition away from fossil fuels to a sustainable future so, surely, we have a world-changing opportunity to turn away from the wasteful, exploitative and polluting practices of meat, fish and dairy?
Unkindness is costing us the planet
Industrial farming and fishing cause biodiversity loss, they contribute enormously to the production of greenhouse gasses and they gobble up our precious water resources. You might think that last one is not much of a problem in Scotland and my overflowing garden pond would concur, but it certainly is in the places where they grow vast quantities of soya beans to feed the livestock.
A global study by Oxford University’s Livestock, Environment and People project found that the damaging environmental impact of a high meat eater was 70% more than that of a low meat eater overall. The impact of vegans was 75% less than that of high meat eaters for greenhouse gasses and 34% less in terms of biodiversity.
I’m not letting regenerative agriculture off the hook. There is no evidence that carbon can be stored in aerated soil (unlike in peat bogs or salt marshes). It simply gets cycled through the soil. It might fit with our romantic notions of a bucolic way of life, but the end result is still a wasteful use of the land which could either used for crops or returned to a wild state of trees and shrubs which do help store carbon.
Live with the nature, don’t exploit it
Farmers need to be subsidised. Why not pay people to live on the land and carefully steward it? Livestock farming takes up an inordinate proportion of the land with regenerative farming taking up even more space than industrial farming. Agriculture as a whole uses about 70% of Scotland’s land area.
As for grouse shooting—don’t get me started, it belongs in the history books along with bear-baiting and cock fighting. At least 12% of Scotland’s land is taken up with grouse moors. The Common Weal have identified more than eight better and more profitable ways of using grouse moors from solar arrays to horticulture, from eco tourism to affordable housing, built to ‘passive haus’ standards.
The problems of fish farming are well known from disease to overcrowding to pollution caused by fish-feed and faeces. The environmental devastation caused by enormous trawler nets is despicable. Let’s leave the fish alone. Allow the oceans heal themselves, re-wild the land and become the world’s first plant-based nation.
Scotland can make a better way forward
You may laugh, Scotland. The land of haggis and Cullen skink. Why not? They laughed at the first people who thought you could educate a woman. I remember relatives in South Africa telling me that I just didn’t understand the complications of their society and apartheid would never be ended. In my own lifetime cinemas used to be full of tobacco smoke! I know I am battling thousands of years of religion and culture telling us that meat is normal and natural but our land could be much better used for arable cultivation, fruit and veg greenhouses heated by our vast renewable energy resources instead of miles and miles of claustrophobic pig pens. And oat milk! Why on earth in the home of porridge are we not making gallons of oat milk?
A tipping point for social change
How would a plant-based society be achieved? I would suggest a transition away from livestock farming and fishing using a Land Value Tax whereby things you want to discourage are taxed more than things you want to encourage. This would have to be a gradual process, just like the process to wean ourselves off oil & gas. The Scottish Government could ensure all meals financed by them were plant based in schools and hospitals and so on, and education would be absolutely key.
I would love to see Scotland forge a new, kinder identity and I only need about 25% of the population to come with me for a tipping point to be reached.
There’s a guy near me, the Vegan Skinhead, who makes the most incredible vegan haggis, vegan black pudding, vegan scotch pies. We are resourceful. I’m sure someone could come up with a vegan Cullen skink!
Why not Scotland? Why not be the first planet-kind culture and transition away from fossilised ideas?
Recommended viewing: Regenerative Beef: Legit or Climate Scam?: George Monbiot. The Proof with Simon Hill.