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The Referendum Q & A: Pat Kane

This is the latest in our series where eminent Scots explain their attitudes to Scottish independence and how they'll be voting.

Glasgow born musician Pat Kane is one half of pop duo Hue and Cry, as well as a writer and an activist. He was elected rector of the University of Glasgow in 1990 and is part of the advisory board for the Yes Campaign.

Which way will you be voting in the independence referendum?

I'll be voting "Yes" for Scotland as an independent country. 

What are your reasons for this?

I think we need the full powers of a nation-state to realise the kind of society, economy and culture that Scots want - regardless of what Westminster government is in power.

We have huge natural, human and productive resources in this lucky country - we can reduce our own levels of inequality, and contribute to making a better world, if we can make decisions with all the levers of self-government, rather than only a few. 

Have you always been aligned with this view?

Since about 1984, when I first met Joan McAlpine (previously my wife, and now MSP for Dumfries and Galloway), and publicly so in 1988, when alongside The Proclaimers I campaigned (as one half of Hue And Cry) for Jim Sillars in his successful bid to be a Westminster MP for Govan. 

Would you have a preferred a third choice, eg. devo-max or devo-plus?

For myself, I've never been interested in a third option on the referendum. It seems strange to want to have most of the powers of nationhood, but still rest some of the most important powers - around defence, or welfare, or macroeconomics, or sovereignty over energy resources - in Westminster.

The fact is that all the aspects of independence are interlinked. For example, control over defence, bringing down its budget to a much more reasonable size for a small nation with no enemies, releases billions of pounds of expenditure for use in the public sector in a much more constructive and developing way.

The same for energy, particularly in having the power to strike out for renewables, using our oil and gas returns to chart a different future. Let's have all the levers in the cab, not just a few. 

How do you define your identity?

I used to call myself a Scottish-European. But nowadays it's more like "Scottish first, the world next".

What are your views on Scotland and the UK’s relationship with the EU?

I came into independence politics from Jim Sillars' vision of "independence in Europe", and I still essentially agree with that. Europe is not the stable entity it once was, but I do believe that Scotland should aim to be a member-state within the EU - and play its part in trying to help correct the imbalances and unaccountability of European government structures.

I'm sure the combination of our territorial wealth in natural resources, and our constructive attitude, means that we will be able to join on good and fair terms. With the Euroscepticism that's gripping the Coalition parties at the moment, I think Scots have a clear option to say they want to be part of the European project with a "Yes" vote. 

What are your views on free tertiary education, health care for the elderly and welfare?

I'm proud of the Scottish Parliament for achieving the idea of these universal benefits in education, elder care and other welfare provisions - and I'm thankful that the SNP was elected to defend them.

We are making conscious choices to care for those who need to be cared for in Scotland - as opposed to the pitiless agenda of the Westminster coalition government. We will be able to provide social security at an even better and more profound level under independence, I am sure of it. 

Did the Olympic Games or the Diamond Jubilee in 2012 have any bearing on your opinion?

I enjoyed the opening ceremony from Danny Boyle - though I think, from the Jerusalem hymn at the beginning through to Isambard Brunel and David Beckham on a boat, it was much more about a positive, inclusive Englishness than a Britishness. Which is fine, and to be welcomed, of course! I'm pretty solidly republican in my sympathies, so I'd have to say the Diamond Jubilee had no impact on me whatsoever. 

What do you think of Alex Salmond’s plans for a written constitution?

I think they're excellent - and I also highly approve of some of his initial ideas about what could be in it, like the right to free education, or the right to be housed, or very precise conditions under which military force could be used. Scots (and Scottish thought) was central to the writing of the American constitution in the 1770s.

We should take this as an opportunity to realise our shared values in a binding document. We should also look at ways for popular and digital involvement in its composition - similar to what happened in Iceland recently. This is the kind of excitement that an independent Scotland will bring about. 

The Referendum Q & A: Shirley Manson

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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