Jil Murphy, founder of Thin Red Line Design in Edinburgh, tells the3rdimagazine why she’ll be voting YES.
There are many reasons why I’ll be voting Yes to Scottish independence on 18 September. A question I’m often asked is what my Yes vote will mean for my business. In truth, I find that a difficult question to answer, a focus too narrow and close to self interest compared with the bigger opportunity offered to our whole society through shared wealth, collective vision and ambition for Scotland, but of course the issues aren’t exclusive.
Within a business context, I understand that smaller can be more efficient, small businesses like mine can react faster to their external environment and the reality is that smaller independent countries can also react faster and grow their economies more efficiently too. If we look back over a fifty year period, similar sized European countries have grown their economic prosperity by 33% more than Scotland, we have to ask ourselves why that is, if we’re better together then why aren’t we better together now?
From a business point of view I also recognise the benefit of economic policy investment that generates greater wealth and well being. Supportive childcare will help get parents back to work, thus providing the double opportunity of creating more jobs within the childcare sector and as a whole, with more people – especially women – earning, spending and paying tax into the Scottish economy. A knock on effect of more women in the workplace would I hope, also address the frustrating issue of gender pay inequality, within a European context the UK has one of the worst records. Extensive childcare would have helped me immensely as I tried to juggle the care of bringing up three demanding children whilst establishing and running a business. Voters should know that within the UK we currently pay an average of 27% of our income on childcare compared to 5% paid in Sweden.
My business head has also acknowledged that independence is a practical, common sense solution that will allow business and government to work much more closely, addressing our low population, low pay, low pension, low productivity and inequality scandal. The UK is the 4th most unequal society within the developed world, where five families own the same amount of wealth as the poorest 20% of our population, where close to one in four children live in poverty, we also have low life expectancy and thousands rely on food banks. I highlight these areas of inequality and the practical solutions we could administer as a reason for independence not with a focus upon self interest but in the interest of all of us, inequality is a real inhibitor to economic growth and if we can start to address that with a new economic and political focus then all of us will be better off, my business too.
Scotland is a wealthy country, wealthier than the rest of the UK, we’re a net contributor to the UK, it’s true we spend more than the UK average but unlike the rest of the UK we earn more than we spend, yet we’re saddled with debt. We live in a resource rich country with a wealth of business sectors, an oil rich nation where many of us live in fuel poverty. If Westminster is our management team then they’ve failed to manage us well. The UK and Iraq governments are the only ones that didn’t set up oil funds, they continue to spend irrational amounts of money on nuclear weapons whilst at the same time administering deeper austerity cuts that affect the most vulnerable in our society.
We can’t address this imbalance within our existing democratic environment. Scotland is a minority within this political union, our 5.3 million population compared to the 63 plus million of the UK, Westminster don’t make policy decisions in our interest, they do what’s best for the majority and that will never be us.
I believe that Scottish Independence is the business, social and democratic opportunity of a lifetime. My vote is in the interest of all of us. Let’s predict our future by creating it; let’s always have bold ambition for our country, let’s trust in our own capabilities and vote Yes.