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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Backing independence for the greater good

This opinion piece is almost 10 years old

Gavin Corbett hates kilts and doesn't vote SNP but here he explains why he's a proud member of Third Sector Yes

Gavin Corbett
Gavin Corbett

I’ve worked in the voluntary sector almost all my adult life. The people with whom I work are sparky, creative, full of energy, young (well, younger than me, anyway) and passionate about what they do.

They are, in other words, very like the people who are making the running with the yes campaign. I am ecumenical enough to acknowledge that the no campaign has a case to argue, but, it is tediously lifeless stuff. All the vibrancy, creativity, energy, seems to lie with the yes side.

I’d know what to expect if I walked, with my yes badge, into a golf club (although, golfers for yes please prove me wrong!) or the boardroom of an oil company or a bank. We already know that the wealthier a person is, the more caught up with possessions and the more conservative they are, the more likely they are to vote no.

In contrast, walk into a room of people involved in creative industries or those driving change at societal or community level, and the talk is much more of yes. The boardroom barons may be for the status quo, but the social entrepreneurs I speak to beg to differ.

I’m backing independence because it is about who I think is best placed to navigate through an uncertain future

So, given that profile, the voluntary sector should be awash with people lining up to vote yes, right? Well, there’s certainly lots of support but “awash” would be inaccurate as yet. Part of the reason might be allegiance to one of the political parties who have aligned themselves with no. But more significant, I think, is the extent to which the voluntary sector’s talents (and therefore successes) are drawn from across the UK and beyond.

That’s not a barrier, of course. I share a room with a Yorkshire man and Zimbabwean woman, both of whom are staunch yes backers. But I do understand why people who have chosen to come here and make Scotland a better place may still have misgivings when yes is confused with nationalism.

Well, colleagues, count me among your number. I’m Ayrshire born and bred, but my support for independence has nothing to do with nationalism. I don’t like kilts or saltires, cannot remember (and don’t care) whether the Battle of Bannockburn was in 1314 or 1413 and think Flower of Scotland is a woeful dirge. What’s more, I’ve never voted SNP.

I’m backing independence because it is about who I think is best placed to navigate through an uncertain future.

So, there are three messages from me:

  1. Yes, is about choices. It is not about the SNP and it is certainly not about Alex Salmond. Nor is it, therefore, about the SNP’s policy preferences on lower corporation tax, greater exploitation of oil, or retaining a hereditary monarchy. Or any number of other things with which I disagree. These are choices for elections after a yes vote. 2014 is about who gets to choose.
  2. Yes is what is good for Scotland’s relationship with the rest of the UK. With the steering wheel in our own hands the policy choices don’t get any easier and mistakes will be made, but they will be our mistakes. That depressing Scottish habit of blaming London or Westminster will be ditched, allowing our relationship with our friends across Britain and Ireland to mature.
  3. Yes is what is good for the rest of the UK too. It is only when we travel to Denmark or the Netherlands or Germany that we truly appreciate how weird and out-of-step the UK has become these last 30 years: the levels of inequality we tolerate, the extent of the dead hand of global finance, the clinging to out-of-date technologies. The re-forging of relationships within these islands is the only spur that I can see to rethink Britain in a way that turns its back on the new right experiment. If not yes, then what is that spur? A changing of the guard at Westminster?

I sometimes say to people I’m 100% yes. I’m not and I’m inclined to mistrust people who tell me that they are. Doubt is the product of thought. On balance, the misgivings I have are significantly outweighed by the opportunities I see: for my children, for the community in which I live, for Scotland – and for Scotland’s relationship with the rest of the UK.

I believe that others see these opportunities too.

Find out more about Third Sector Yes



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Mary O' the Colonies
almost 10 years ago
Well done Gavin, right on the button. I am fed up saying a yes vote is not a vote for Alex and Nicola but a vote for us to decide our future for ourselves. And our only chance to have a forward looking country that has a constitution based on principles of social justice and valuing diversity.
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John Simon
almost 10 years ago
This piece is well written from a point of view of a campaigner - who has the hope that an Indy Scotland would increase the opportunity for left values being more to the fore. But that is a different debate all together to whether an Independent Scotland would actually benefit the Third Sector.Like so many of the issues in the indyref debate there is a lack of clarity on what would happen in iScotland, with further devo or with the Status Quo - no one has a crystal ball.However, I am disappointed that apiece entitled "Backing Independence for the greater good" doesn't actually address any of the issues that Third Sector organisations ought to currently be examining through Due Diligence - because the bottom line is the impact on their service users who are generally vulnerable people.for instance what happens to:1. The 884 Cross UK charities who are actually amongst the largest in Scotland employing the most people and providing £100m's of services?2. The allocation of charitable money which is drawn from across the UK for many charities (and yes it is the case that the SE of England gives enormous amount to charity which benefits Scots)?3. The ability to access UK wide Trusts (the overwhelming majority of which are based in England)?4. The relationship with large UK companies (overwhelmingly English based) which currently provides £ms to Scottish charities?5. What tax regime in an iScotland would the Third Sector operate in?6. What would be the regulatory regime for charities be in an iScotland?7. What would be new rules defining a 'charity'?8. What happens to the considerable number of Third Sector who are under a Royal Charter?9. What happens to the staff of Third Sector Organisations pensions? especially those in cross-UK organisations?10. how will an iScotland impact on the ability to apply for EU structural funds?I didn't see any of this answered in the White Paper, so like so much of the debate we are left looking a puffs of smoke and crossing fingers on a wing and a prayer..Given the Third Sector responsibility is for it's clients we really need hard fact and not whimsical and vague aspirations for a better world.John
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Andrew Findlay
almost 10 years ago
"We already know that the wealthier a person is, the more caught up with possessions and the more conservative they are, the more likely they are to vote no."So only selfish, materialistic, reactionary people vote No?Whereas admirable people who are "sparky, creative, full of energy, young (well, younger than me, anyway) and passionate about what they do." will all vote Yes.I am an "undecided", and I don't want a debate based on crude moral stereotyping.I also have a feeling that the "depressing Scottish habit of blaming London or Westminster" would not be ditched, it would just become blaming Holyrood.
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