Rhiannon Spear: Scottish independence used to be an alternative - now it's a necessity

SNP Youth co-convener Rhiannon Spear says Scotland has been placed in an impossible moral position by the UK Government

INDEPENDENCE for Scotland has gained far more weight in my mind recently. It is becoming the only light at the end of the hell hole of a tunnel that is 2017, and it’s only February. 

In 2014, independence was about choosing something different: an optimistic and exciting alternative. I no longer view it as an alternative, but as an absolute necessity.

As the conversation and political climate changes around us, so too must our arguments, rhetoric and the way we conduct ourselves. With substantive material change since the 2014 referendum, we should hold no reservations in asking the question again. It is basic democratic accountability. 

As the conversation and political climate changes around us, so too must our arguments, rhetoric and the way we conduct ourselves.

In the wake of Brexit, politicians have had free rein to do and say whatever they like, and backtracking and U-turning have become common occurrence. Reflecting back on Project Fear’s campaign of 2014 there is very little left to which they can cling. 

Those who voted No to protect their place in Europe only to be dragged out two years later against their will is just the tip of a very large iceberg. Other promises, such as protecting the UK's Triple-A rating, the safeguarding of human rights, and to be treated as an equal partner, are crumbling as each day passes. Every one of the No side's arguments are looking very different in the harsh light of 2017. 

The European referendum was a clear demonstration of the differing political climates in Scotland and the rest of the UK, and it is just one area where we have seen our arguments change entirely. 

Having an open and healthy debate about the future of our European membership would have been welcomed in Scotland. We were looking for a real debate that wasn't tarred by xenophobic and racist sentiments. Scotland rejected the nature of the EU referendum before we had the chance to really debate the content of it. 

There is no longer any question over whether or not Scotland would be able to join the EU, despite what Sunday morning BBC presenters would have you think. Now, the focus is on the Tories and the onus is on them to tell us what the plan is if we continue to stay within the UK. 

Read more – Poll: Support for Scottish independence at a high as hard Brexit looms

We know these plans are far from forthcoming as there aren’t enough people in Whitehall or hours in the day to have the discussions that are necessary to come up with a plan. It’s no longer poor policy and incompetence, it’s gross negligence. 

The status quo has also changed and remaining within the United Kingdom has become increasingly impalpable. From the prospect of creating lists of EU workers, to seeing Scottish MPs silenced in parliament and given less time to speak than their English counterparts, topped off with our prime minister holding hands with a fascist tyrant and groveling for trade deals on the other side of the atlantic - this is now the reality that we are faced with day in and day out. 

For me, last week brought this to a head when the true nature of Tory Britain was laid bare when the Tories quietly announced the end to the Alf Dubs scheme that would see the UK play its part in the European refugee crisis by taking in up to 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees. 

The last time I wrote for CommonSpace was after I visited the Calais refugee camp. I had gone there to help and I left with so much love for humanity, in the knowledge that people are good by nature and that outwith the confines of our governments we can improve each other's lives by working together to create a society that benefits all.

The Tory government feels differently. Their response has been to turn their back on lone children in desperate need of a home, capping the intake of unaccompanied refugee children at 350. They numbered over 1,000 before the camp was closed, and due to our lack of action it is now estimated that over one third of these children have gone missing. 

Of those that are accounted for, their experience often includes violence and rape, highlighted by new legal proceedings being brought forward on behalf of the Dunkirk’s Legal Support Team. 

In the wake of Brexit, politicians have had free rein to do and say whatever they like, and backtracking and U-turning have become common occurrence. Reflecting back on Project Fear’s campaign of 2014 there is very little left to which they can cling. 

These are not economic migrants, they don’t even know what they want to be when they grow up. They want a safe place to lay their head at night. They want the security and future that Theresa May has denied them. People are getting up in arms about Trump’s wall yet we fail to remember that we built our own wall last year along a motorway in France. This is the reality of what we are wedded to in the UK.

In the current political landscape, independence is a no brainer. It’s time to keep the heid and move forward with a confidence that will carry historic No voters along with us. We have some big questions to answer, but really the onus is on the UK Government to tell us why we should stay and to prove to us that they want us to. 

We have spent the last two years living with the reality of a No vote and support for independence is rising. There is only so long a populus can live in fear. There is only so long you can feed people the same lies before they start to ask questions for themselves. 

There is only so long you can live under such an abhorrent establishment before you decide that independence has to be better than this. 

Picture courtesy of Number 10

Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is. Pledge your support today.