Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Say Yes to change within yourself


And so the day approaches.

A day when we have that rarest of opportunities to make a decisive mark in active pursuit of the better, fairer, democratic and, above all, more compassionate society.

After all the words, all the debate, one simple question is now before us: do you want the basic right to run your own affairs?

From that proposition, and from an affirmative answer, all else can be addressed, politically, economically, socially and on myriad other levels.

From currency options to fiscal arrangements, pensions to passports, none of this, despite every fear-fuelled warning thrown at us, is beyond our collective capability to negotiate, organise and resolve. The only real obstacle is fear itself.

This great moment is like a small team making it against all the odds to the World Cup Final, with the shining prize right there for the taking, the immense chance, for once, to be heroic winners rather than valiant losers, using our elevation to help build the just society.

This can be a newly-inspired community of people, one that rejects austerity, banishes poverty, secures our NHS and truly cares for others. It can be a community that earnestly cherishes our environment, and allows us to rid our beautiful landscape of those appalling nuclear weapons.

But the change we want cannot just be centred around issues like taxes or oil. It's about self-respect.

Real change has to be about the alteration of our mindset, from one of conformist acceptance to that of assertive intent, the deeper belief that, if we win this historic contest in the face of every form of establishment chicanery, it really is possible to advance in the confident, exciting knowledge that we most assuredly can take meaningful control over our own lives.

What a stimulus that would be, not just for us in this newly-forming collective, but for those we care about beyond this little piece of earth, who will find similar, progressive inspiration in seeing such a resilient people prevail.

The last, desperate round of intimidation and bribery tells us so much about the establishment and its motives. But it's not just that these 'promises' are cynical and illusory.

Independence of any kind cannot be promised, sold or given, it's something we aspire to and realise as our fundamental right.

I don't want Westminster's 'new powers', or to be sold Better Together's baubles or, in the final analysis, to be handed my/our independence. It's not anyone else's to promise, sell or give. It's ours to take by right.

Independence from an abusive partner doesn't depend on the abuser granting the abused release from that relationship. It involves the abused finding their own conscious liberation, determining their own right to realise a non-abusive life.

And just as we rightfully seek emotional independence, so we can strive to escape other dominating forces: the sovereignty of corporate power, the nightmare of neoliberalism, the degradation of our planet, the mind-twisting propaganda of our elite-serving media.

That same assertion of rights comes before us on September 18. If we take it, the outcome must ultimately be for the inclusive benefit of all people. Let there be no hatred or recriminations, whatever happens. Let's hope we carry not just the vote, but the integrity of the vote. And to those now-reflecting Labour friends in particular, just think what a rejuvenated force you could be with your new independence.

It's also about the process: the getting there, the ballot-box moment, and the ongoing struggle for real change. All of that involves a sense of independent mindfulness, the act of truly being the change you want to see. Again, none of that has been given, granted or permitted. It's been fought for, crafted and made possible by an evolvingly energised people.

It's a community of concern, inhabited by you-and-me folks, on the streets, chapping doors, talking to our neighbours, having this wonderful, civilised 'rammy', the desire for a true participatory democracy driven by our own passion and positivity.

It's the assurance of being part of an outward, inclusive and open-hearted political-cultural community, taking sustenance from the joyful, independent creativity of those like National CollectiveBella Caledonia and Common Weal.

It's about our down-among-the-people writers, musicians, actors and poets, like Liz Lochhead, James Kelman, Irvine Welsh and Alasdair Gray, Peter Mullan, Ricky Ross, Loki, Eddi Reader and many more.

It's having other great, strong women for people and independence, like Elaine C Smith and Lesley Riddoch - in the spirit of Margo - 'sticking up for us' like our 'big sisters'.

It's about the likes of Kevin Bridges, Greg Hemphill, Limmy and Frankie Boyle keeping it all irreverently humoured and pressing us tae see ourselves.

That spirit of honest scrutiny, that enlightened voice, hasn't the slightest taint of nationalism, dark or cringing. As Billy Bragg, epitomising our enduring comradeship and solidarity, so brilliantly articulates, it's a mature, self-examining and giving civic identity.

It's about radicalising all of our minds. It's about using our politics for generous ends. It's about ending the despair of foodbanks rather than succumbing to the blackmail of corporate banks. It's an organic movement that's intent on taking that which already belongs to us from those who have wilfully denied it. It's about pointing our sails and showing the way.

Beyond all the debating points, this is an intellectual, moral and humanitarian case for independence that's never been remotely grasped by a sterile No campaign. In disseminating so many fear-laden, negative messages, it has no real comprehension of why, deep-down, people reject Westminster's patronising second-hand 'powers' for actual powers.

The real difference lies with a Yes movement that's not fighting against something but aspiring to create something of our own making, something qualitative, better and new, the most empowering act of hope overcoming fear.

As the inspiring character speech from David Hayman expresses it:
"So yes, welcome to my great wee Scotland, wae its thistles and ragged edges and uncertainties - we don't even know what the weather's gonnae be like in hauf-an-hoor, let alone what our nation will be like in a decade. But at least it will be oors, shaped by us with our values and our humanity. And we're no mad. We're just tryin' tae do the best we can, cause we've given ourselves a chance, a once in a lifetime chance, an empire of the hearth and the heart. And the world's no gonnae fall apart. We're just takin' responsibility for who we were, who we are and who we can be."
And, in the end, that's what it comes down to: a small act of beautiful, responsible and confident faith in your own good, inner self, one that can have great, caring and lasting effect for others.

With your passionate hearts and with your independent minds, say Yes.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Indy Glasgow in pictures - Yes to a real democracy

 Buchanan Street, Glasgow, yesterday.
Just inspiring.




Freedom Come All Ye! 

Friday, 12 September 2014

Independence - taking the 'Renton test'

Paul Mason asks whether those trying to stave-off independence for Scotland can address the 'Renton test'.

Mark Renton is the anti-hero from Trainspotting who in a landmark scene rails against his country's subjugation, alienation and lowly identity.

'So the Renton test is simple: can your argument sway somebody like this fictional kid? Can you even put it into language he can have a conversation with you in?'
Mason is largely right in seeing an absence of mainstream parties able to have a real 'conversation' with those like 'Renton'. That's obviously true of the Tories, but much more damningly the case with Scotland's 'heartland' Labour party. Beyond standard platitudes and urgings to 'defeat the Tories', it has no meaningful language, assurances or vision to offer 'Renton' or any other parts of its 'core constituency'. 

It's not just that they and the wider UK establishment can't comprehend or relate to him. It's the fear of what he might become, how his awareness gets transformed from alienation and animosity to assertive and optimistic radicalism.

The establishment don't just want the British state maintained because it suits entrenched interests around the political-business status quo. They're terrified that independence sows the seeds of something more 'dangerously' alternative on their very doorstep. That won't come immediately with a Yes, but it's a substantive, longer-term worry.

The fear is even more cringingly apparent with the Labour Westminster elite. I watched a news piece where a young girl took on Miliband while he was doing a grinning selfie during his stage-managed visit. She asks (I paraphrase): 'How can you defend all that spending on Trident while I cannae get a house to live in?' He grinned some more and looked awkwardly away, a perfect encapsulation of Labourite distance and abandonment. A politics apart.
Many of those alienated people are now being politicised outwith that sterile party politics, as we're seeing through the street politics of Radical Independence. The many thousands now registered to vote, many for the first time after being 'lost' in the system, aren't about to trek in anymore as Labour fodder.

I'd love to see Irvine Welsh do a Trainspotting follow-up - hopefully under independence - charting Renton's journey, how another generation has been discarded by New Labour, and whether the present one will have opted to 'choose life' through an assertive Yes for real change.

Encouragingly, Welsh now sees much greater promise in the new political generation. Essential reading, I'd say, for Paul Mason and visiting media others trying to 'find Renton'.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Banking on corporate blackmail - resist the fear and safely deposit your Yes

As that parcel of rogues, Cameron, Clegg and Miliband, head back to their Westminster bunker, the last, desperate love-bombing has given way to a last, desperate wave of corporate intimidation.
And make no mistake, despite the blind panic, this is still all concerted establishment action, a political, corporate and media network throwing everything and that kitchen sink at our momentous Yes movement.

Scottish actor Martin Compston provided a suitable summary on Cameron's union-saving visit: 'Gone are the days when the Bullingdon Club can come up here and tell us what to do'. That applies just as much to carpetbagger Clegg and Tory clone Miliband.

It applies, likewise, to those Labour-ermined Lords Prescott and Robertson, with their hypocritical appeals for 'class unity' and warnings to stay nuclear for fear of Putin 'threatening' the UK - maybe he's after our Irn Bru. Sometimes you wonder at the contempt they really must have for people's political intelligence.    

Now come the financial cavalry, with RBS, Lloyds and Clydesdale Bank making 'contingency plans' to depart Scotland in the event of a Yes outcome.

Isn't it remarkable that after causing such mass economic and social misery through their shameless greed and crazy speculations, these institutions now have the audacity to effectively tell people how to vote?

Not very in keeping with all those warm, homely telly and cinema adverts showing friendly local banks, gushing about how much they cherish our country and our life-long custom. And like that whole PR whitewash to make us forget their criminality, we're seeing the same blatant manipulation of public sentiment over the referendum.

Three things to note here.

Firstly, they're bluffing, just as the Westminster cabal are bluffing about negating the proposed currency union. We've heard a lot of this 'high-stakes' intimidation before from the likes of Standard Life. It's simply facile to believe that where there's profit to be made, companies like RBS and Scottish Widows won't be there doing precisely that, irrespective of where they happen to be re/registered or domiciled. It's facile also to believe that the financial and political establishment would be a willing party to any such destabilising business climate - like the very banking crisis they've sought so desperately to crawl-out from.

Secondly, contrary to BBC and other media-hyped hysteria, business - the financial sector or otherwise - is not planning any kind of serious exit after a Yes outcome. Indeed, a mass spectrum of business - small, medium and large - has already declared for Yes. Most of these institutions are only talking about relocating headquarters, rather than shedding jobs. But still we're bombarded with a staggering mass of BBC and other media headlines focused on Better Together 'business fears' and the 'financial voice' for No.  

Third, and most importantly by far, whatever their intentions, whatever their leanings, the issue of independence simply cannot be determined by big business. We have, as the highest priority, our political rights to secure: the right to use our votes for a parliament we want, a politics we choose.  From there, we have our economic rights to invest in: a mass of the population needs to be removed from poverty; we have our privatisation and TTIP-threatened health service to protect; we have the historic opportunity to rid this land of the obscene and massively costly Trident. All that and much more comes well, well ahead of bankers', or even shareholders', interests, particularly bankers that have already stolen so much public money and are still being bailed out.
It's incredible to think that families are surviving on foodbanks and children malnourished due to the austerity agenda caused by bankers' greed. And now, with their culprit chief executives still being gifted hefty bonuses, they're blackmailing us to say No.

Imagine that people could be cowed into believing this set of distortions, driven by fear to relinquish our rights and priorities. Imagine losing this prized moment, our future, to a set of grasping, promiscuous moneychangers.    
Well, here's something much more reassuring to bank on come 18 September. They don't have a vote. We do. It's our democratic right to decide our political future, not theirs to frighten us into corporate submission.

Theirs is not a message of protection and certainty. It's about the security and stability of vested interests, from oil to banks to 'healthcare'. 

And with that comes an encouraged mindset of selfishness: the 'me' and the 'mine', rather than the 'us' and the wider good of others. Certainly not all No voters are driven by 'the self' - we all wish for a little personal security - but, unlike the collectivist, outward and progressive motivations of the Yes case, much of the No message helps foster a regressively inward fear and selfish individualism. 
However big business decides to act, and it's a safe bet it will be business as usual, you can be sure that the wider world of capitalist volatility, market mayhem and 'financial jitters' will continue just the same, rewarding the rich, afflicting the poor. Be much more realistically afraid of that mammonic misery and corporate control than the spurious fear of 'uncertainty' and 'instability' being peddled by this privileged elite and their establishment cronies.

Don't fear a running of the banks, just consider the darker costs of them running you.

Good people of Scotland, go safely deposit that most valued piece of paper, that most moral currency: your wee humanity-imprinted Yes.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Ten days to save archaic Britain, or rip it up and start again

The No establishment are in deep panic mode, screaming that there's only ten days now to save 'our cherished union'. Ten days for the 'best of British nationalism' to stand up and be counted.
Not, for the BBC and our 'leading' media, ten days left of healthy, vibrant debate on the deep problems many now see in that archaic, warmongering union. Not ten historic days in which to assert our democratic opinions and rights.
Just ten angst-ridden days in which to rescue a failed state, a failed politics, a failed economics.
A small selection of the noble call to arms:       
The BBC dutifully announcing the 'crisis', in its review of press output, without, of course, any mention of its own establishment part in hyping the 'emergency'.

The Independent's front page: 'Ten Days to Save the United Kingdom'.

Fraser Nelson and the Spectator urging us to save the union with a rush of persuasive letters to misguided Yes voters.

Alan Cochrane of the Telegraph ordering everyone to pass around felt tip pens and make improvised No window posters: 'Now's the time to stand up and be counted'.
Hughie Green with the original Stand Up and be Counted. (Okay, Hughie's gone now, but I'm sure he'd be readily invoking his 1977 classic in these darkest days for the union.)

Tim Stanley at the Telegraph proclaiming that same emotional nationalism: 'To save the Union, we have to say it out loud: Britain is the greatest country in the world'.

Will Hutton declaring Scottish independence as, no less: 'the death of the liberal enlightenment before the atavistic forces of nationalism and ethnicity'.

And, of course, with perfect timing, The Pregnancy (as presciently suggested by our 'Yes seer' at Bella Caledonia).

We even had the Guardian ask: 'Will the new royal baby save the Union?'

Perhaps not, but maybe Gordon Brown can. The man who wrote the cheques to 'save' (read, slaughter) Iraq has now been 'recalled' to save the UK with his 'promise' of 'new powers' - forget the purdah, the media have - if we all just cut the Braveheart stuff, vote No and put our trust in those benign ConDemLab saviours.

Just think, we really can now have The Best of Both Worlds. With all those dreamy prizes on offer, why would we even think about having real, confirmed powers in nine days time?

Maybe because of interventions from leftists like Owen Jones who, while berating the establishment as solely responsible for this state of affairs, declares his faith in 'federalism' and the fascinating idea that neoliberal New Labour can still be transformed into something radical.

Jones often claims that he's 'not here to tell Scotland how to vote'. But this kind of opinion piece, pitched significantly at Labour supporters in Scotland, serves the same establishment-upholding purpose: to prop-up a collapsing UK state; and to foster the illusion of Labour as a party of left deliverance.

As Ian Bell notes at the Sunday Herald, this is the same Labour party under Miliband which voted for a Tory benefits cap that will see another 345,000 children thrown into poverty, and which slavishly follows the ConDem's relentless privatisation of the NHS:
Even if you can make the bet that Labour can fend off Ukip, prevail against voting habits in the English South, suppress its own worst instincts and see sense amid the austerity mania, you are left with a question: when did Miliband's party last deserve to be called progressive?
 For Bell:
Nothing progressive can come from a party bent on such a course. Nothing that party offers, circumscribed by expediency and electoral calculation, matches the opportunity for Scotland of independence. You can have Miliband's remote hopes. Or you can rip it up and start again.
For George Galloway - alas, it's the same false faith choice of a Labourite rescue and that old clarion call to hold the union: 'Ten days left to save Britain and unity of people of this small island. Now is the time for men women [sic] who believe in that to step forward'.

It's not just the blatantly reductionist portrayal of an intoxicating Yes movement as 'nationalist', or the fallback to rogues like Brown and that old Labour clique, it's the poverty of the No left's political imagination, that toxic refusal to look beyond the SNP, or Salmond or the White Paper, to contemplate the creative potential of a new left-directed politics, for Scotland and the rest of the land.

As an antidote to all this atavistic Brittanica, referendum bribery and Labour apologetics, how energising it was to read Irvine Welsh's leftist essay on the real case for Yes, all wonderfully infused with a true appeal to Labour supporters.

Reflecting on the cringe of old patriotic infantilism and spurious 'nationalism', Welsh observes the pleasing advance of a new political and cultural maturity:
I’ve been greatly inspired by the post-devolution generation, and their pragmatic thinking on the issue of independence. I believe they have enabled an emotionally backward and immature country (as all countries, by definition must be, when they are governed from elsewhere) to grow up and move forward. It’s this generation who have given us phase three of the independence debate: beautiful, wonderful phase three, which says that it doesn’t matter who is to ‘blame’, the important thing is to fix it.
Welsh also mulls the Blairite project's annihilation of old Labour through the post-war period and the now lost gains of Bevanite social democracy:   
All that has now gone, and the Labour Party will not be bringing it back. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were no aberrations; they were the natural progression of a movement that has ‘evolved’ from its radical roots into a centre-right focus group-driven party of power. Now, on a policy level, they chase middle England votes, while lecturing working class people on their ‘duty to vote’ (Labour), in order to ‘keep the Tories out’.
He also puts paid to the old 'class abandonment' argument:
An anti-independence argument, repeated in the discussions with my old Labour-supporting pals, is one I’ve consistently heard down the years. It contends that we have to ‘stand alongside our comrades in England.’ I agree wholeheartedly, but fail to get how ‘standing alongside’ somebody involves trudging to the polling booth every five years and sheepishly sending down a cluster of political class lobby-fodder careerists to Westminster, who then continue to preside over the transfer of resources from the rest of us to the super rich.
Instead, for Welsh, voting Yes offers an opportunity to promote meaningful democracy, practical solidarity and real internationalism:
I believe that our joint aim should be to make these islands the home of a batch of healthy, vibrant democracies, instead of a chess piece in the saddo G7/militaristic ‘sphere of influence’ games of the power brokers: those war-mongering (never war-fighting) cowards and their pathetic groupies in the privately owned media. Let this happen in Britain, in Europe, across the world. That’s internationalism, not preserving an elitist, reactionary, pomp-and-ceremony failed UK state, which has over the last thirty-five years systematically crushed every single gain that non-privileged people in this country have fought for. 
If you're one of those conscientious Labour waverers, let that timely, inspiring piece, rather than Jones's false manifesto, seep into your progressive consciousness these last nine days.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Galloway, street crimes, war crimes and the referendum

The attack on George Galloway in a London street is a despicable act of violence.

The 'word on the street', coupled with Galloway's own account of his alarming experience, suggests pretty clearly that this brutal assault was carried out by a far-right Zionist, aggrieved at Galloway's ever-admirable defence of Palestinian rights and condemnation of Israel's crimes.

Of course, had this been a Muslim beating up David Cameron or any other senior politician on the street we would be reading relentless headlines about an 'appalling terrorist attack'.

Indeed the very absence of mainstream political and media condemnation of the attack on Galloway should be making us more street-wise to such establishment bias.

As Seumas Milne tweeted:
Lack of mainstream condemnation of assault on @georgegalloway shameful - who doubts a Muslim assailant would be charged with terrorism?
I wish George well in his recovery, and hope this never inhibits him from speaking his mind on this or any other issue.
However, in that same, open vein, something else requires to be said about George's own claims about 'violence and intimidation' with regard to the Scottish referendum.
Just hours before being attacked in London, he tweeted this:
I'm warning Alex Salmond now; I will hold him responsible for any attempt to wreck my #JustSayNaw meetings and any physical attack upon me
Even allowing for a certain heat and hubris in the debate, it was a ludicrous statement for Galloway to make. Is he really saying that Salmond should be held to account for anything that may physically happen to him? 
There's no denying the animosity being expressed by some over the referendum, evidenced by some nasty tweet exchanges. But this is of minority proportions and negligible significance to the real, civilised and inspiring debate going on just now all across the homes, halls and streets of Scotland - and particularly on social media.
Galloway also defended No campaigner Jim Murphy after the Labour MP complained about being heckled and subjected to egg throwing. Alas, this kind of activity only assists the No side, as we saw with a gleeful Murphy - never short of aggressive language himself - and a service media hyping the incident as some kind of 'Yes-orchestrated' act. In contrast, a man has just been convicted of threatening to kill Salmond in a menacing tweet, with barely a word from the BBC.

Like Galloway, Murphy has a right to express his views on the streets. But so do those opposing him - all the better by resisting counter-productive abuse.

They and others also have a right to amplify more important aspects of Murphy's political CV: that he eagerly supported the invasion of Iraq, and that, as past chair of Labour Friends of Israel, he remains deeply complicit through his visits and associations with the Israeli state. With that warmongering record and over two thousand souls slaughtered in Gaza, these are things Galloway might be mentioning when he's defending Murphy's street rights.

Brian Wilson, who shares George Galloway's Just Say Naw stage, was also a trusted Blairite and dedicated supporter of the war in Iraq. That's another valid issue for public airing.
In a tweet following the second Salmond-Darling debate, Galloway also said this:
Urgent: to the leaders of No Campaign: better put me, Gordon Brown Jim Murphy Helen Liddle and John Reid at the head of this campaign. Quick
Truly amazing that you would mix with so many warmongers - including @BrianWilson1967 Very sad to see, George #indyref 
Galloway didn't respond. But readers can confirm for themselves the warmongering record of every one of those named here, Murphy and Wilson included. 

George Galloway cites his political differences with such people. Fair enough. But his ready endorsement of them is still remarkable. Galloway has rightly indicted Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell as Iraq war criminals. Are Brown, Reid, Murphy and others any less culpable or exempt from that indictment?  With such an appalling stain on their political characters, are such figures, like my own MP Tom Harris, even fit for public office?  

Having respectfully noted my differences with George Galloway over the referendum, I wish him good healing and continued, safe presence on every street.

This great independence debate and the wonderful, radical possibilities it's generating, is far too important to have it maligned or relegated to cheap abuse.    

In these exciting days and approach to September 18, there's a much more hopeful word on the street: Yes. Here's to the making of a better, more tolerant and compassionate society. 
George Galloway gives a first interview account of the violent attack upon him by an "absolutely fanatical Zionist" and poses these questions:
"If a Muslim fanatic supporter of Hamas had attacked, say, a pro-Israel MP on the streets of London, would this story now be rather bigger than the story about the attack on me? Would the charge have involved terrorism? And I think any fair-minded person would conclude that the answer to both of those questions is yes." 
Further update
George Galloway tweets about his return to Westminster:
Labour leader Miliband just passed me, struggling on the stairs with my walking stick, looked straight at me and walked on without a word...

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Allyson Pollock: independence as an emergency operation to save NHS in Scotland

Please read and spread this vital article as widely as possible.


NHS expert: only a Yes will save the health service in Scotland from Westminster cuts

One of the UK's leading experts on the NHS and its funding has said a vote for independence is the "clearest way" to defend Scotland's health service.

Allyson Pollock, professor of public health research and policy at Queen Mary University of London, warned reforms in the NHS south of the Border could result in "serious" consequences for Scotland by translating into reduced funding through the Barnett formula.

Her warning seriously undermines claims by Better Together spokesmen, including its leader Alistair Darling at last week's final TV debate with First Minister Alex Salmond, that devolution protects the Scottish NHS from the creeping privatisation south of the Border.

She said a Yes vote would free Scotland from the "stranglehold" of the Westminster Treasury by allowing politicians to control public finances and NHS policy.

Her comments support Salmond's assertion that any cutbacks in England could hurt the health service in Scotland. In last week's debate he warned that, while the Scottish Government has operational control of the health service, it was a "serious problem" to be without financial control of it. Darling accused the First Minister of "scaremongering".

Pollock, who is a leading authority on the implications of privatisation for public services, said: "In the absence of any reversal of neoliberal policies in England, the clearest way to defend and promote the principle of a public NHS is to vote for Scotland to have full powers and responsibilities of an independent country."

Government critics have raised concerns the NHS in England is on a path towards an American-style healthcare system. Central to this has been the Health and Social Care Act of 2012, dubbed one of the most radical plans in the history of the health service, which included encouraging greater involvement by the private sector.

Pollock told the Sunday Herald: "Although people find this extraordinary and can't believe it, the Health and Social Care Act of 2012 has abolished the NHS in England as a universal service. The NHS is reduced to a funding stream and a logo; increasingly all the services are going to be contracted in the marketplace.

"It abolished the duty on the Secretary of State for Health to secure and provide comprehensive healthcare; that is a duty that still holds in Scotland, but doesn't hold in England. If the basis for a national health service has changed so markedly in England - if there is no duty to secure and provide universal healthcare - then what will happen is (public) funding can be withdrawn, and private funding will take its place. If you are closing services and reducing them, people only have two choices - to go without care or pay privately."

Pollock criticised politicians in Scotland for not taking more of a stance in opposing the act when it was going through Westminster. She added: "Scotland is very vulnerable because of what is happening in England - and any reductions in funding for England will translate through the Barnett formula to Scotland."

The Scottish Government has stated that in the event of independence, NHS services will not change the way health services are delivered. Funding for health care in 2014-15 is £12 billion, which the Scottish Government says includes an increase in funding of around £285m as a result of Barnett consequentials arising from increased spending on health in England.

At the heart of the debate over the NHS is how this will look in the future - and the potential for increasing privatisation in England is not the only concern.

Dr Willie Wilson, chair of the pro-independence group NHS for Yes, which has around 300 members, said another issue was the £25 billion of cuts which Chancellor George Osborne has said will have to be made after the election next year to "balance the books".

"If we vote No, then we are faced with what Osborne has promised of £25bn additional cuts," he said.
"There is no way Scotland's voters can wait until the Westminster elections and think they can avoid getting these cuts."

Wilson also queried whether the Barnett formula would remain in place in the event of a No vote. Last December, David Cameron said a change to the formula was "not on the horizon", but in June, accountancy expert Professor David Heald of Aberdeen University told a committee of MSPs that debate over the amount of spending Scotland received would be likely to re-emerge if there were a No vote. Wilson added: "If Ukip and the Tories are forming the next government after 2015, I'll bet the Barnett formula will be swept aside."

Health unions in Scotland, which are remaining neutral in the referendum, were reluctant to directly comment. A spokeswoman for the British Medical Association, said: "The BMA has opposed reforms in England. The model of the NHS in Scotland is the closest to that of the BMA's own policy and we absolutely support the principles of an NHS that is publicly provided and publicly delivered."
However, a spokesman for Better Together said remaining part of the UK would ensure the "best of both worlds for our NHS". He said: "We benefit from the strength of the wider UK economy to pay for our NHS. If we leave the UK then the experts at the impartial Institute for Fiscal Studies say we would need tax rises or spending cuts worth an extra £6bn."

He added: "The SNP's scare stories on the NHS are the biggest lie of the campaign. The health service in Scotland is fully devolved. Only the First Minister can privatise the NHS here or cut the budget. Spending on health has increased in recent years. Even SNP Health Minister Alex Neil has now admitted that."

Figures from the UK Government show the proportion of the NHS budget spent on private providers in 2013-14 was 5.9% - compared to 2.8% in 2006-07. It claims increasing competition is focusing on who can provide the best quality of care and includes not just private providers - with the NHS and charities also able to tender for contracts.

The Scottish Government spends the equivalent of around 1% of the NHS budget on private healthcare, which it has said is used mainly to help meet waiting list targets. Concerns have been also raised the NHS across the UK could be impacted by a new EU-US trade deal, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which would allow public services to be open to private competition.

Alex Neil has said he has written to the UK Government to make it clear the health service must be excluded from the negotiations. A UK Government spokesman said: "The NHS is a national treasure for the UK, which will always be there for everyone who needs it, funded from taxation, and free at the point of use. There is an NHS constitution for England which sets out that health services are based on clinical need and not an individual's ability to pay."

He added: "Spending on healthcare from private-sector providers only equates to around 6% of total NHS expenditure -only 1% more of the NHS budget now than in 2010. NHS funding in England has increased by £12.7bn over the past four years. Over the whole of this Parliament the increase to Scotland's health spending is more than £1.3bn as a result of Barnett consequentials from increases to health spending in England."