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Showing posts with label YES Scotland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label YES Scotland. Show all posts

Saturday, 27 September 2014

2014 AR – After the Referendum: Where are we at?

It’s over, and we lost. Or did we?

Confession time – I expected to be devastated after a NO vote, but in the event, I wasn’t. My immediate reaction was one of relief, which baffled me and left me feeling ashamed of myself. I watched the ecstatic NO groups celebrating and the tearful YES groups staring bleakly into space, my heart went out to them, and the question returned – why don’t I feel like that?

THE RESULT

In the years leading up to this moment, my biggest fear was not that we would lose – it was that we would win with a narrow majority after a polarised campaign, and the new Scotland would start in very troubled times.

Even with my scepticism over UK’s motives and methods, the scale of their unprincipled onslaught in the final weeks staggered me. It also convinced me that if we won, it would be by the narrowest of margins and that we would be subject to intense pressures to ensure that our new Scotland failed.

Any Government that was capable of perverting the apparatus of the state to secure their ends -  e.g., Treasury, Whitehall, the Civil Service, the ‘think-tanks’ – and was willing to engineer a possibly criminal leak of information to media from a board meeting in progress - i.e. RBS - that was calculated to destabilise the markets – was capable of anything. The last minute Big Bribe was the final evidence.

Although I would have rejoiced in a narrow win, and fervently hoped that Scotland could make independence work against this wall of hostility, the gnawing, subliminal idea took root that maybe the time was now wrong.

In the event, the outcome was decisive for NO – Scotland had rejected its independence, rejected its chance to make history and had acted out of fear or complacency – or both - rather than vision, confidence and hope.

The attack by an organised mob of male thugs brandishing Union Jacks and throwing flares at a mixed sex group of YES supporters sharing their grief in George Square, Glasgow – my native city, and a city that had voted YES – underlined my fears.

But a recent tweet of mine summed up my view of validity of the result. While accepting its democratic reality, and feeling bound by it, my feeling was -

How can a referendum outcome based on news management and intimidation of voters by vested interests be the "settled will" of Scots?

Judging by the immediate reactions to that tweet, and the subsequent number of retweets in the hundreds (more than anything I’ve ever tweeted, in over 43,000 tweets), that view resonated with many of the 1.6 million Scots who voted for independence.

YouGov post-ballot poll - with a sample three time the normal size (3,188 voters) - showed fascinating stats on how people voted (if you accept poll validity).

74% of those born in rUK voted NO. By definition, that includes the very large block of English-born residents in Scotland. 51% of voters born in Scotland voted YES. Those stats alone trigger interesting speculations, but I won’t offer opinions on them that I can’t substantiate.

Analysed by party support affiliation, 27% of Labour and 29% of LibDems said YES, but only 8% of Tories. Of the five demographic bands, four were majority No vote – only the 25-39 group voted YES – 55% of them.

20% of those who claimed to be SNP supporters vote NO.(Related findings came from poll after 2011 Holyrood SNP landslide – not all SNP voters were YES supporters.)

REACTIONS

Initial reactions (my subjective impressions from media, online comment and direct contacts) ranged from despair and grief through bewilderment from those who had been in denial at polls - preferring to believe instead that a YES majority was being hidden - to real, visceral anger and feelings of betrayal.

The latter emotions were raw online on Friday morning, with wild accusations of betrayal  of the young by the old (prompted by Ashcroft poll of young voters) being flung about including by one high-profile activist who should have known better, as if exacerbating the tension already present within many families would offer a constructive way forward.

I was aware that for the essentially secondary online activists, the betrayal would be felt less keenly than by the dedicated, exhausted and by now potentially demoralised front-end activists from the streets, the doorsteps, the public place and public meetings. They were the ones who had shifted the polls so close to victory – and they had not had the offset of mini-celebrity, visibility, networked contacts and in some cases much more tangible benefits that others had received – perfectly legitimately – to cushion the shock of the result.

Similar considerations may be applied to those who had been salaried for all or part of the campaign – the politicians and the YES staff.

I say these things, not in any spirit of criticism, but as a recognition of a harsh reality in all politics: that, of necessity, the security of paid political professionals and the economic and career gains of a minority rest on the unpaid work of an army of dedicated and usually unrewarded and often unrecognised body of activists. 

These were the supporters of YES who were, in addition to giving of their precious time and energies, were also engaging in repeated acts of incredible generosity, crowd-funding all sorts of worthy, valid, and in some cases, absolutely vital initiatives that made significant contributions to the greatest grassroots campaign ever see in British politics.

But the most incredible contribution of that group was then delivered in a matter of days after the ballot – the massive and entirely unexpected surge in SNP membership, (unparallelled to my knowledge in British politics) from around 25,000 to well over 62,000 at the last count, now exceeding the combined membership of the other Scottish parties and overtaking the UK-wide membership of the LibDems.

In the midst of the chaotic responses to the NO vote, and the burgeoning of a rash of online groups clustering round the magic number of 45, this was a great cry of endorsement for the SNP, accompanied by a steely resolve to not just support the party that had taken Scotland so far towards achieving its independence, but underline Alex Salmond’s recognition in his resignation speech that the great democratic and re-energised Scottish body politic was now less in need of leaders, but still in need of politicians and a party that would carry their agenda forward – the sovereign Scottish YES people.

WHERE ARE WE AT?

I’d planned to offer my perceptions of that key question in this blog, but having already expended over 1200 words on reviewing reactions, I feel that I would test the stamina of my readers for the moment.

But I’ll be back tomorrow or early next weeks, because I have a lot more. to say.

I’ll close with my blog motto - Id dico quod ego morior - non habetis audire, which is in Latin to make it sound more profound than it really is, and to give an entirely spurious gloss of learning to my ragbag reality – “I say what I must – you don’t have to listen!”

Saturday, 13 September 2014

My response to an email on a Blair Jenkins/Jo Coburn Daily Politics interview

DIRECT EMAIL TO ME TODAY

I recently came across the Bella Caledonia website and have been reading a few articles. 

I was born in Glasgow and lived there until I was 21, when I moved to London. This was in 1978, when the IMF had to bail out the UK under the Labour government. The point of my email is not to discuss party politics or the Referendum, but to take issue with your description of the above interview.

Blair Jenkins is described in almost saintly terms, rising above the endless interruptions of the interviewer. That isn't what I saw from the extract on your website. He certainly remained calm, but refused to answer the question that he was asked regarding how Scotland would deal with the panic that would arise in the markets in the event of a 'Yes' victory. That was the reason for interruption by Jo Coburn.

The other interviewees were given their allocated time to put forward their point of view. I wasn't aware of any 'spluttering' or 'raving' from any of them. They were each interrupted by Jo Coburn while they were speaking. I think Jo Coburn was even handed and each individual made their points well.

Looking through the BC website, I'm left with the impression that all the contributors are preaching to the converted, so they can employ insults to anyone with whom they don't agree. I think the arguments have to be won on their merits and not by insulting and demeaning the opposition.

Regards

Clair (surname witheld by me – happy to publish it if Claire so wishes!)

Claire,

Thanks for your email.

The question "How would Scotland deal with the panic that would arise in the markets in the event of a 'Yes' victory" is a loaded question. No politician or political activist, indeed, no sensible person would answer it, because it is pejoratively loaded with a negative assumption - answering involves accepting  a false premise.

I have spent my life as a professional negotiator - I am an expert at framing, asking -and answering questions. This question type is known to American negotiators as the "Have you stopped stealing apples?" question and to UK negotiators as the "Have you stopped beating you wife?" question.

Competent interviewers don't need to plays such puerile games - they elicit information more successfully by properly framed questions.

The Scottish referendum debate has been characterised by the most disgraceful behaviour of any media group in any democratic country in the world. The BBC - and especially their insulated metropolitan commentators - locked in the Westminster Village bubble, have been particularly egregious in this.

Blair Jenkins is a senior media journalist and manager by profession and background - he is not saintly - he is a calm, courteous man who knows his profession. He has transformed a group of volunteers from an enthusiastic, but uncoordinated group into the greatest political campaign Britain has ever seen in its long, disreputable history. Right now, some 35,000 of them are active across Scotland to secure our country's independence on the 18th of September.

It's a neck and neck race, and on Friday morning we'll know the democratic decision of the Scottish electorate. I hope it is a YES, and if it is, I will give Blair Jenkins my heartfelt thanks and congratulations for his pivotal contribution in making Scotland the world's newest independent country, joining the family of more than 200 independent countries across the globe.

regards,

Thursday, 28 August 2014

20 days to go - a few thoughts on #indyref state of play

Only 20 days to go - it's hard to believe. The campaign seems to have been going on for ever, but like everything in life, suddenly the event is upon you – there’s all the time in the world, then suddenly, there’s little time left.

It's very hard to predict what the outcome will be.

If the polls are to be believed (poll of polls average) YES will lose. There's no doubt that there is a very  fearful  NO constituency out there of Scots over 55 who fear change, fear uncertainty, and cling to the status quo, even though the risks are greater in remaining in UK.

There's also a hard core of selfish Scots - the "I'm alright Jock" complacent group, with no thought for the vulnerable in our society.

Set against that is the totally unique nature of the Scottish Referendum. There quite literally has been nothing like this - anywhere, ever.

A peaceful, democratic process by an ancient nation that was never conquered, but entered reluctantly, but voluntarily into a partnership with a larger nation 307 years ago, with many of its ancient institutions still functioning - its legal system, its church, its education system, its own NHS (since 1948), its own Parliament - and vitally, a mass YES  movement, the largest in British history, totally unprecedented, that has catalysed ordinary people across society and political divides, ethnic origins, age and sex demographics into political and constitutional awareness.

A referendum turnout of over 80% is expected to vote, and crucially, this will include people who have never voted before in their lives, and people who were never registered to vote.

Pollsters do not poll voters with no previous voting record, so this group, size unknown, is not reflected in poll results. Additionally, this group exists predominantly among the working class and the deprived, which is where YES has its greatest support - for obvious reasons.

YES has a huge army of foot soldiers, campaigning daily across Scotland, not just stuffing leaflets,  but carrying out their own polls on voting preferences. These results, together with an equally unprecedented attendance at political YES meetings across Scotland, with village halls packed out, all present an encouraging picture.

So there's all to play for!

Monday, 25 August 2014

John Swinney’s 10 Key Strengths on which independent Scotland can build

Ten economic strengths on which an independent Scotland can build:

‪Scotland’s Food and drink industry has a turnover of £13 billion a year

‪Our tourism industry generates more than £6 billion a year

‪We have more than 20% of Europe’s fisheries catch

‪Exports, from manufacturing alone, are worth around £15 billion a year

‪Life Sciences employ 16,000 people and turns over £1.9 billion

‪Our Creative Industries generate more than £5 billion a year

‪We have more universities, per head in the world’s top 200 than any other country

Scotland has a quarter of Europe’s offshore wind and tidal potential

‪Scotland’s ICT sector contributes around £3.6 billion annually to the economy

‪Inward investment from overseas is at a 16-year high

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Letter to a friend in England about Scotland’s independent future

A friend in England who takes a keen interest in Scottish affairs, and has lived and worked in Scotland, said that I should not expect too much from independence, and that it might not be Shangri La. I replied as follows -

REPLY

Whatever an independent Scotland's future is, it will have a few certainties -

1. It won't have weapons of mass destruction based in its waters, threatening the environment and the largest population centre in Scotland.

2. It won't have to bear the cost of the irrelevant weapons system.

3. It won't have a support a proportion of the corrupt, inflated and undemocratic House of Lords.

4. It will have located in Scotland a large number of a offices, functions and services with associated jobs that we currently pay for, but are located in S.E.E.

5. It will have a defence force that is truly a defence force, not an attack force, one that is proportionate to our needs and to real threats, not the "induced paranoia threats" required to justify the armaments industry and grease the lucrative revolving doors between the MOD, private industry and government.

6. It will prioritise its spending and use of resources on the needs of the people, especially the poor, sick and vulnerable, however limited its budgets and resources are.

7. It will continue to run an NHS that is free at the point of need, and not privatised by the back door to line the pockets of politicians and their partners in private healthcare.

8. It will recognise its role in protecting the environment and the planet, not pay lip service to it while despoiling it.

9. It will maintain an education system based on ability to learn, not ability to pay.

10. And lastly, whatever it does will be done to itself, by itself, with the governments it elects - every time, not the ones chosen by rUK. In a word, it will be an independent  nation.

I'll settle for that.

regards,

Peter

Friday, 27 June 2014

Why I’m voting YES on September 18th 2014

This appeared in National collective’s newsletter of today’s date, 27th June 2014.

Peter Curran: I Want A Just And Equitable Society

I’ll be voting for an independent Scotland in 2014 because, from 1997 onwards, four watershed events led to a shift in my political perspective and loyalties and inexorably to the conclusion that only the full independence of Scotland would meet my criteria for a just and equitable Scottish society.

They were the election of the Blair/Brown Labour Government in 1997, 9/11 in 2001, Afghanistan, and the Iraq invasion in 2003.

These four events crystallised doubts that had existed since the mid-1960s (with older roots) on nuclear disarmament, the real nature of the Union and Scotland’s place in it, of Britishness, the Labour Party’s core beliefs in multi-lateral disarmament, membership of the UK in a context of internationalism and the Westminster system, and Scottish Labour’s belief that they could influence Westminster as representatives of Scottish voters while sustaining an internationalist perspective and values.

My perspective of British and UK industry and commerce, the financial/banking sector and the military/industrial complex and its influence on democratic governments widened dramatically after establishing my own consulting and training business in 1988, after many decades in industrial management. These fears also crystallised from 1997 onwards, and the likelihood of a financial crash was evident to me from the millennium year 2000.

I had never entertained romantic ideas about Scotland, and I was – and still am – the antithesis of a blood-and soil-nationalist.

But I do believe the ancient nation of Scotland has, in its history, culture, scientific and intellectual achievements and political and social values, created a 21st century social entity comprised of Scots old and new, from a widely diverse range of backgrounds and ethnic origins, that exhibits values and beliefs about politics, the rule of law, the role of representative government in a democracy, the role of a nation state in the interdependent global community and the rights and obligations of its people that, in their totality, can only be satisfied in a sovereign, independent state.

As someone committed to live and work in Scotland, I want a just and equitable Scottish society, not just for myself but for all those similarly committed to the geographical entity called Scotland. I also want a just and equitable society, not just for myself and those who are part of Scottish society, but for all peoples across the globe – but I now believe that any influence, however small, that I and other residents of Scotland can have on that wider global objective can only come from within a nation state.

I believe that true internationalism begins with, and must be rooted in nationalism in the autonomous nation state.

I believe the nation state that can deliver the closest match to my political and social values is Scotland, and that the state of which I have been a member all of my life, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is a manifestly failing and dysfunctional conglomerate – the rump of a vanished empire – that cannot deliver those political and social values to any of its component nations.

What do I want from my nation state?

I want it to abandon, totally and unequivocally, the irrational obscenity of nuclear weapons, for which no intellectual or moral case exists or can exist in my view. (Given that premise, the strategic case is irrelevant to me, but I believe it is totally untenable even if the moral conditions are ignored or denied.)

I want it to be close to a truly representative democracy, close to the people, with a national constitution that protects their fundamental and sovereign rights. The UK in my view is demonstrably not such a democracy, given the unelected House of Lords, the current role of the monarch and the web of inherited and awarded undemocratic privileges that flow from such a monarchy.

I want a close but flexible association politically and for mutual defence with my European, Scandinavian and Nordic neighbours, but one that leaves the final sovereign decisions with my nation on armed intervention in the affairs of other nations outside of any such alliances.

I want an economically successful nation where the rewards of success are equitably distributed, and the price of economic success is not at the expense of the people’s quality of life and the natural environment.

I believe that the UK fails these criteria, has always failed them and will never match them, and that the Scottish unionist parties are impotent in Westminster to change that.

I will not regurgitate all the complex arguments and rebuttals that makes me believe Scotland has the people, the values, the will, the capacity and the resources to be the nation I want it to be. I’ve listened, evaluated and made my decision, as other Scots, old and new, must and will finally on September 18th 2014.

Peter Curran
National Collective

Friday, 16 May 2014

Alex Salmond – the most popular political leader in the UK–but not with Daily Record and Better Together–or Jim Sillars!

 

Hard to escape the conclusion that this interview is just part of a Better Together, Daily Record-fuelled "Get Salmond" last ditch initiative, doomed to failure as all the others have been. That's because they're based on three false premises, i.e.

1. All YES supporters like Alex Salmond.
(They don't - large blocks of them don't want him as a leader of an independent Scotland - but they recognise the main reason they will have a choice at all on the future of their country is Alex Salmond - and they'll vote YES).

2. Alex Salmond is unpopular.
(He's not - his popularity rating are higher than any other Scottish or UK leader, and higher than most EU leaders)

3. The YES campaign's success is totally down to Alex Salmond.
(It's not - it's down to hard core, passionate commitment across of range of political parties, organisations and individuals, all working dynamically in a wide range of initiatives and grassroots organisation for a YES vote.)

Given that something upwards of 45% of Scots say they are No voters at the moment, it would be a minor miracle of at least 32% of them didn't like Alex Salmond.

But if Better Together really believe that the undecideds and No voters contain 32% who are only held back from voting YES by a dislike of Alex Salmond, then they have real trouble in River City!

What the increasingly desperate faux concern addressed to the First Minister to change his style is based on is a transparent attempt to knobble a style that has been spectacularly successful.

    Sunday, 4 May 2014

    JOURNALISTS, NEWSPAPERS AND MEDIA – and my expectations of them

    I expect journalists to be objective, but not neutral. I expect news reporting to be factual, and not to spin the facts, but I do not expect balance, e.g. if there are ten facts that day for one side of an argument and five for another, I don’t expect the journalist to trawl for another five facts to achieve ‘balance’.

    I expect a sharp distinction to be made between news reporting and commentary. I never expect neutrality, only objectivity. I expect individual journalists to have a viewpoint and an interpretation of events. I accept that entire newspapers and magazines have a viewpoint, a position, and editors that identify with that position, providing they observe good journalistic practice in relation to factual reporting and veracity.

    I deeply distrust newspapers and periodicals where the viewpoint is that of the owners, rather than the journalist.

    I am not, and never have been a journalist, and I have never worked for a newspaper or magazine in any capacity, nor in media. I believe strongly in a free press and media, especially in print journalism and public service broadcasting.

    Sunday Herald 4th May 2014

    Thursday, 20 March 2014

    The mob hysteria of the Westminster Unionist MPs – Scottish questions

    The mob hysteria of the Westminster Unionist MPs grow as the polls narrow, moving towards a YES.

    There are calls, some heartfelt, most deeply hypocritical, for a more respectful independence debate at this crucial point in Scotland and the United Kingdom's history. Whatever the outcome, Scots will live with it and with each other, amicably and respectfully.

    But the shame of sessions like these will never die - Scottish MPs attacking the aspirations of at least 40% of their fellow Scots in the most contemptuous and often factually inaccurate manner, ganging up on the lonely, but dignified six nationalist MPs waiting for their release from this chamber of a failed democracy into commencing their great task of building a new Scotland.

    Say YES, Scots, and never be subjected to such offensive, patronising and contemptuous behaviour ever again.

    Saturday, 8 March 2014

    Ius Naturale – the Referendum and pre-negotiating positions

    THE REFERENDUM

    Some of the ideas here come from a two-year old blog – I’ve pulled out the essence that I believe is still pertinent.

    The Act of Union was a treaty between two independent kingdoms. It doesn't take two to end a treaty or an agreement, it only takes one, either by negotiating the terms of exit - or unilaterally. The ius civile and the ius gentium are undoubtedly relevant, but so is the ius naturale, especially after 300 plus years. If the UK Government wilfully misunderstands this, and continues to act like the Romans in decline, then the Scots will become less civil and move towards acting naturale - take note, gentlemen ...

    Independence is a beautifully simple concept, and needs no complex definition - it means a nation doing its own thing, in every aspect of its affairs. Full fiscal autonomy doesn't need Ming Campbell's version of the Steel Committee to tell us what it is - it's independence in everything except the ultimate sovereignty of Westminster, foreign policy and defence, the nuclear deterrent and membership of the EU and the UN.

    If you really expect us to blow our negotiating hand in advance of the referendum outcome on the detail of the negotiation that will inevitable follow, dream on, UK. But by all means set out what you see as the detailed agenda for that negotiation, and we'll let you know what we think of the items that might be up for discussion. Most of them are self-evident as heads of negotiation – have a read at Scotland’s Future if you’re as bereft of ideas as you appear to be.

    And lastly, Alistair Darling, David Cameron, George Osborne, Alistair Carmichael – and Gordon Brown(?) - if you want to go down in history as statesmen, rather than as pompous windbags, you might consider addressing the issues in an adult, statesmanlike fashion. Try and act in the spirit of the ius naturale. The Roman Empire first began to negotiate seriously when it was near to collapse - maybe the UK can make a better job of it in similar circumstances ...

    We know what side you're on - the UK's side - and you know what side we're on - Scotland's - and England's and Wales's and Northern Ireland's. Talk calmly about the issues that lie ahead and stop your ridiculous posturing and grandstanding - it cuts nae ice wi' Scots. Frankly, it gie's us the boke ...

    Wednesday, 26 February 2014

    Business for Scotland present evidence to the Scottish Parliament Economy Committee

    Peter Curran note

    Business for Scotland, non-party, and committed to Scotland’s independence, have done vital work on their website, on YouTube, in the media, to the Scottish Parliament and through public meetings throughout Scotland. They have made a vital - and perhaps a decisive contribution - to demonstrating the business case for Scotland’s independence. I reproduce this recent example with permission: my thanks  to David Bell of Business for Scotland.

    Scottish parliament

    Today Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, Chief Executive of Business for Scotland will present research to the Economy Committee at the Scottish Parliament regarding the prosperity of an independent Scotland.

    The session begins at 10.30am and also includes Marie Macklin of Klin Group, Jim McColl of Clyde Blowers and Dan Macdonald of MacDonald Estates.

    The evidence session can be viewed live on Democracy Live as it takes place from 10.30am.

    Business for Scotland submission

    The Economy Committee is currently conducting an enquiry into Scotland’s Economic Future Post-2014. This has involved taking evidence from a range of sources concerning the economic opportunities of independence and challenges ahead.

    Business for Scotland provided evidence in three key areas: Scotland’s current position of economic strength; the substantial cost to Scotland as a result of UK debt repayments; and Scotland’s position as a leading global exporter.

    The submission was published in full on the Business for Scotland website.

    Summary of evidence

    It can be summarised as follows:

    11

    1) Scotland has a rich and diverse economy. This includes multi-billion pound sectors ranging from construction, tourism, manufacturing, life sciences, financial services, research and development, the creative industries, energy, fishing and agriculture.

    2) An independent Scotland will prioritise the interests of business in Scotland following decades of Westminster prioritising the distinctive interests of London and the South East. This includes the opportunity to create a simpler tax system that supports Scottish business; reforming the labour market to improve employer/employee relations; encouraging migration to Scotland to balance Scotland’s unique demographic needs; and supporting Scottish exports globally through a Scottish diplomatic and trade service.

    3) Business for Scotland research using historical GERS figures has proven that Scotland has paid over £64 billion of unnecessary UK debt interest repayments over 32 years. Had Scotland been run as an independent country over the period, it would currently have a substantial fiscal surplus and not have been in debt.

    4) Recent figures from the Global Connections Survey demonstrate that Scotland is one of the world’s top exporting nations. This strong trading position is another key indicator of the ability of Scotland to be a successful and wealth independent nation. Scotland’s exports were worth nearly £100 billion in 2012 alone.

    Thursday, 6 February 2014

    David Cameron panics, wraps the Union Jack around him – and Alistair’s naebodies Darling …

    Scottish Labour's partner and pal in Better Together, David Cameron, terrified by the polls, by today's Spectator article, and by the prospect of debating with Alex Salmond, clutches at the straw of the 2012 Olympics, Team GB and Britishness, and plans to wrap himself in the Union Jack. It may prove to be his political shroud.

    "Oh, Danny Boyle! Help me with another spectacular! Can we have Alistair Carmichael in a kilt parachuting on to Lord's Cricket Ground, singing Rule Brittannia? A couple of Royals? Maybe another baby? Are there muffins still for tea?"

    The other Alistair is now nobodies Darling. Derided by his own side, a joke to YES campaigners, he seems set for the dustbin of history. Maybe Johann "wee things" Lamont can help, if she can escape the mud flying from the Unite/Falkirk debacle?

    May you live in interesting Scottish times, Dave - Eton was never like this...

    And a couple of golden oldie flag-wrapping disasters!

    Sunday, 19 January 2014

    Eight months from today – the birth of a new nation, or something else …?

    Eight calendar months from today, Scotland will know if it’s going to be an independent country or remain a region of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    Eight months from today, Scots will wake up either to the realisation that they have made history and are privileged to be present at the birth of a new nation -  one that they themselves have created - or to the realisation that a pivotal moment in history has passed, and they have decided to reject a unique opportunity, one that will not come again in the lifetimes of many of them.

    Eight months from today, Scots parents and grandparents will know whether they have bequeathed to their children and grandchildren a new nation, with a chance to make a new and better future, or have left them in an old, tired, corrupt nation and in subordination to the last vestige of an old failed empire.

    Eight months from today, the young will look at their elders and know whether they have given them autonomy and hope, or whether, driven by personal fear of change and selfish motives, they have denied them that autonomy, that hope, and have denied them their future.

    Eight months from today, either the world’s nation will be beating a path to Scotland’s door, fascinated by the birth of a new world nation – in fact, the rebirth of an ancient nation – or will be shaking their heads in bewilderment and thinly-concealed contempt for a people that elected to reject their independence.

    What happens eight months from today is in your hands, Scottish voters – you have the chance to make history or let that chance slip away like sand through your fingers, to be blown away for a generation, and perhaps for ever.

    Make the right choice

    The right choice is to vote YES

    Monday, 13 January 2014

    Scottish Defenders of the Union – complex and varied in motivation and belief

    Over the last month, I have been exposed directly to a fair sample of the infinite variety of the Scottish (defined as resident in and committed to Scotland, regardless of country of origin) defenders of the Union and advocates of a No vote, through a more or less random series of contacts.

    As our intrepid YES doorstep campaigners and politicians know far better than I, direct contact yields insights and perceptions that can seem more profound than print and media exposure to more structured arguments. But they can be dangerously misleading on occasion – so I proceed here tentatively, and with many reservations and qualifications. I make no general claims – what I have to say is subjective and reflects only one - and perhaps unduly narrow – perspective. Here are the variants I have encountered, in some cases dominant and seeming to almost define the position of the individual displaying them, in other case simply one aspect of a complex and often conflicting mix. The list of course is not, and never can be comprehensive.

    SOME ANTI-INDEPENDENCE  VOTER TYPES

    The Patroniser: Independence? It will never happen – it’s Salmond and the SNP’s obsession – has always been a minority sport, as shown again and again by the polls. Two-term SNP Government elected? Simply a local reaction to last days of UK Labour, incompetence of Scottish Labour, the Crash and the Coalition – slap on the wrist for UK – will return to normal UK voting at referendum and in 2015. Give it up, mate – it’s a lost cause …”

    A brief discussion with Patronisers quickly reveals that they have little conception of the arguments for and against independence and are sadly deficient in facts and key dates. Overall mode – complacency and reluctance to be confused by argument or hard information.

    The Cringer: “Do you think Scotland’s big enough to run its own affairs? We haven’t got the people – just look at Holyrood – they’re all mediocrities in a wee, pretendy Parliament.  It would be all kilts and heather, Braveheart and tartan dolls. And the oil’s running out, there’s no real industry. All the real talent has left long ago – anybody with any sense heads south or emigrates. We couldn’t even run the Bank of Scotland – it caused the UK crash and we had to be bailed out by England. “

    As in all classic Orwellian-doublethink, the Cringers don’t see themselves as inferior - or ready to head south or emigrate - and any current examples of Scottish success in running things can be dismissed by either claiming it’s an aberration – or down to UK involvement and help. Pointing to Scottish success in the past is either put down to Braveheartism or to the benefits of the Union. Overall mode – embarrassment at Scotland and Scottishness, complacency that their personal repudiation of Scottish competence somehow explains them being exempted from the criticisms, and the belief that it ingratiates them with UK power and influence.

    The I’m Alright Jocks:I’ve got no complaints about the UK – it’s done alright by me. I bet it’s done alright by you too! What have we got to complain about? Yes, there’s been a bad patch since 2008 crash, and difficult things have had to be done, but we’re on the way back up. The poor? Hungry children? Pressures on the sick and vulnerable, the NHS, unemployment? There are no poor people! Have you seen any?

    Growth in food banks? All exaggerated, and what do you expect – some people will always turn out for a freebie! I don’t see any deprivation or poverty near me. Most of those in trouble are in that state because of their fecklessness – they can all afford phones and iPads and holidays abroad on benefit. Too many scroungers, too many immigrants abusing NHS and benefits. My parents didn’t have much, but they scrimped and scraped to educate me, and I’ve done all right.”

    There’s an element of the I’m Alright Jock callousness and denial of reality in all unionist types, but the above summarises the core ‘arguments’ in their most basic version. Overall mode: Denial of deprivation or blaming of the poor, belief in urban myths, blame, and utter callousness about the less-fortunate.

    The Fearful: “The risks of dismantling a 300-year-old union are too great. These are dangerous times – we need the security of belonging to a larger, more powerful grouping. On defence, security, international clout, trade with other nations, we need the backing of UK. Duplication of services, inevitable in a newly-independent nation add extra cost and the risks of settling-in problems.”

    Often mainly rational, albeit with an element of irrational fear, the Fearful will listen to argument and can be persuaded, providing their logic-based posture isn’t simply a rationalisation for deep-rooted, emotional opposition. A simple test is whether or not they’ve at least looked at the White Paper and/or are amenable to examining its argument. If they’re totally dismissive and contemptuous of it, they are probably a lost cause in the immediate term. Overall mode: The status quo of UK may not be perfect, but it’s the devil we know. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

    The Emotional Scot/Brit: “We have over three centuries of co-operation, a shared cultural and commercial heritage, we have fought and died together in wars for freedom, and justice. The links of family – kith and kin – cross all national boundaries. I don’t want my children and grandchildren to be foreigners, to have to stop at border points. We will lose a fundamental part of our identity – not to mention our shared institutions, e.g. BBC - if we rip the union apart.”

    This category exists with subtle but important variations, e.g. are they Scot/Brits or Brit/Scots – which identity is regarded as more significant? The Emotional Scot/Brit mindset can also be part of other dominant modes, indeed it can represent a residual, buried emotional mindset in some marginal independence supporters! Some are actually seeking reassurance on these points. Their fears can either be factually removed by the truth - e.g. on boundaries, border posts – or are logically inconsistent – e.g. pointing out that we fought and died together with other independent nations in wars for freedom and justice, and the majority of wars were imperialist, unjust, and in some cases, illegal. (The Emotional Scot/Brit is often present in Don’t knows.) Overall mode: There are important, unquantifiable family and emotional ties that bind us, and it is a huge risk for the stability of the British Isles to sever them.

    The Internationalist Multilateralists:

    “Nationalism is inherently divisive – bigger is better, economically, socially and for powerful defence. Ultimately, I favour world co-operation across boundaries, and I believe all men and women are brothers and sisters, and are equal, regardless of social class, economic or ethnic background, but meanwhile I support the UK, despite its appalling imperial record of exploiting other nations and ethnic groups for centuries, and its current record of Parliamentary, police and press corruption, its gross inequality and staggering gap between rich and poor, its inherent distrust of and opposition to trades unions, its House of Lord comprising over eight hundred unelected peers, ennobled variously because of birth, being bishops on one church, large donors to political parties or being failed, but loyal politicians.

    I am morally opposed to nuclear weapons of mass destruction, and would never be the first to use them – however … (and here comes the buts and the caveats) … but in a still unstable world, with unpredictable rogue regimes, I believe it is vital to hold on to our nuclear weapons and to our nuclear alliance with those countries – our allies - who got them first, resisting any attempts by other countries to get them (that’s called nuclear proliferation, by the way!) because we can be trusted with them but they can’t.  Of course, I’m committed to nuclear disarmament for the whole world, but only if every other country goes first – that’s called multilateralism.

    As I said, I would advocate only using them as a deterrent and would never use them first, if at all, but I see no contradiction on being part of a nuclear alliance, NATO, that has a first-strike policy, and is dominated by the only country in history to have used nuclear weapons twice against cities in a non-nuclear country, Japan, and in a then non-nuclear world.

    The various close misses of nuclear Armageddon over the last sixty years or so I dismiss as unfortunate aberrations caused by periodic gross incompetence of military or civil authorities, greedy and amoral industrialist or lunatic politicians – including at least one President of the USA

    I suppose in summation, I regard it as deeply unpatriotic of Scottish independence supporters to want to be rid of weapons of mass destruction located without their consent near to their largest centre of population, posing an ever-present threat of nuclear accident, pollution, and of Scotland being a first-strike target by the lunatic foreign dictators our whole case for WMD is predicated on.

    Overall mode: Utter idiocy, moral bankruptcy, venal hopes of profit, career and preferment – almost certainly a Scottish Labour politician in UK power structure. With a tiny number, a faint hope that the corrosive effect of their amoral sophistry is beginning to weaken the rotten foundations of their strategically and morally untenable position.

    Sunday, 12 January 2014

    A YouTube comment on my channel from an anonymous ‘Gordon’, attacking Wings and Newsnet Scotland

    I received this as a pre-moderation email on my YouTube channel for a video in response to a comment by Geoff Huijer who is not anonymous. I thought it warranted being posted on my blog for a wider audience.

    It suggest a Better Together spinner, and a No campaign that’s getting very worried by the success of YES online, especially the fine job being done by Wings over Scotland and Newsnet Scotland. The idea that the prompted any-indy outpourings of the Treasury somehow have intrinsic validity and objectivity is laughable.

    YouTube comment

    Gordon

    +Geoff Huijer You write that as if it's somehow an open and shut case that independence would make us better off economically.
    The McCrone report was written in 1974 and has no relevance at all to economic predictions about what independence would achieve in 2014, particularly as UK oil production peaked about 15 years ago. Two of the other sources you've listed here are essentially mouthpieces for the Yes campaign: Wings Over Scotland, a blog run by someone who made his name writing about computer games on the Sinclair Spectrum, and Newsnet Scotland, a hopelessly biased pressure group masquerading as a neutral attempt to inform the public. Neither of these sites have any economic standing and you could just as easily point at organisations that do have genuine economic credentials, such as the recent reports by the Treasury, or the report by the IFS which stated the exact opposite (that we'd be worse off after independence) - and I'm fully aware you'll no doubt find these biased as well, but they're at least in the ballpark of being neutral assessments. To compare them with a random blog set up by a video games journalist is pretty nonsensical.
    The truth about the economic case is that nobody really knows whether we'd be better off or not. The Yes side seem to think that you can win that argument by just pointing at tax revenues relative to expenditure and claiming we'd have more money to spend as an independent country. That's flawed for several reasons:
    1. It ignores transition costs, which can effectively write off any gains from independence for decades. Even if independence was in our long term economic interest, a short 3 year period where we have to eat transition costs could push those gains back by as much as 30 years. That's been demonstrated conclusively by academics like Robert Young (who has nothing to do with the independence campaign and wrote the bulk of his research long before a referendum was even on the agenda) yet nobody sees fit to mention it.
    2. It ignores the benefits of pooling resources and makes the baseless assumption that secession is a zero sum game where one side necessarily benefits more than the other. No economist of any standing would accept that.
    3. It ignores issues such as the rate of interest we'd pay on our debt, given it's fairly reasonable to expect a country with a smaller backstop to guarantee its debt will have to pay a higher rate of interest on its government bonds (and if we don't have the Bank of England acting as lender of last resort in a currency union then that would be exacerbated even further).
    4. It ignores issues such as pensions, where on current trends we'd be expected to pay more due to our population ageing faster.
    We could list countless other examples, but the key point is that you can't simply point at taxation revenue relative to public spending, ignore every other relevant factor, and claim that there's a clear economic case for independence.

    Tuesday, 7 January 2014

    Scottish Better Together parties can’t deliver more powers to Scotland – and Westminster won’t. Devo negligible, zero or minus

    As anyone who has followed my blog and tweets over recent years will know, I have argued every aspect of the devolution/more powers versus full independence arguments, and have expressed fears – and often astonishment – that the complex implications of the shifting currents of voter opinion and preferences on devo within UK, full independence, and the missing second question are being avoided or argued inadequately.

    The way this argument is handled will impact crucially on the way the Scottish electorate will ultimately resolve this, faced with a simple YES/NO choice on September 18th 2014.

    Although there seems to be a dawning recognition of just how this question will dominate the debate in the months remaining - and some evidence that both YES and No campaigns have at least grasped the essentials - there is still a flabby sogginess in the YES (and SNP) arguments, and continuing failure of media commentators and TV political news anchors to ask focused questions. This is allowing Better Together to pump out a miasma of vague promises to deliver more powers, without a shred of evidence of exactly how they could do this.

     

    So let me reiterate again what I see as the fundamentals, with a plea that all parties to the public debate fully present and explore them, and that media commentators ask the key question again and again.

    CORE ARGUMENTS

    The Scottish Parliament exists only by the grace and favour of the sovereign UK Parliament under the Scotland Act, and its limited powers are  in the gift of Westminster. They can be amended, curtailed or withdrawn at any time by the Westminster UK government. Scottish MPs can vote against this but have not got the power to block it, given the massive disparity in their numbers versus rUK MPs.

    In the lead-up to the Edinburgh Agreement, all polls and virtually all expressions of opinion by Civic Scotland indicated a majority for more powers for Scotland – devo max, devo plus and other variant – while remaining within UK, i.e. with defence and foreign affairs remaining under Westminster. (There is an inherent contradiction in this preference on defence and foreign affairs with the Scottish electorate and Civic Scotland’s wish for a nuclear-free Scotland. A WMD-free Scotland cannot be delivered under such devolution.)

    The Scottish Government was open to a second question in the 2014 referendum, offering not just a binary choice between full independence and status quo, but a question on more powers within the UK. Civic Scotland was highly vocal in support of a second question.

    (There were formidable, but not insuperable problems in framing such a ballot paper – or papers – and even more formidable problems in evaluating the various possible vote outcomes. During this period of the debate, the political parties and the media showed a spectacular naivety and ignorance in addressing these complex issues.)

    The 2nd question veto

    The second question was effectively vetoed by David Cameron and the Better Together Parties, and their negotiator, Michal Moore, was mandated to treat this as a deal breaker in the Edinburgh Agreement negotiations.

    The reason advanced by Cameron and the Better Together axis was that the will of the Scottish electorate had to be determined with absolute clarity on independence before any question of more powers could be addressed. This was a patently specious and self-serving argument, given that the will of the Scottish people seemed evident from the opinion polls and Civic Scotland.

    The real reason – in my view – was that if a second question was offered and proved decisively to be the preferred option, the UK Government would be under major pressure to deliver more powers – and they had – and have - no intention of doing so.

    The power realities of Scottish Better Together and Westminster parties

    Scottish Labour, Scottish Tories and Scottish LibDems can have their little think tanks, commissions, etc. under various exciting and pompous titles, they can  pass resolutions at Scottish party conferences, they can make recommendations to their London party masters, they might even conceivably reach a core consensus – but they cannot deliver such powers.

    Only the Westminster parties can decide whether or not to include all or any of these recommendations in their 2015 general election manifestos – and they won’t, because to do so would be electoral suicide, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and God’s gift to UKIP.

    Here’s my analysis again from a recent posting on Scotland-US.

    • The only mechanism by which more powers can be delivered, now or after a No vote, is The Scotland Act. It has already delivered a dribble of powers after the Calman Commission. The Scotland Act leaves absolute control with the Westminster Parliament over Scotland’s devolved powers: it created the devolved Parliament, it has the power to vary its powers by adding to them or subtracting them. It has the power to end devolution and dissolve the Parliament by vote in which non-Scottish MPs massively outnumber the 59 Scots.

    • In other words, until and unless it votes for full independence, Scotland is wholly dependent on the grace and favour of the British Parliament for its Parliament and any powers it has.

    • There are powerful voices in the Commons and the unelected Lords who have always bitterly opposed the creation of a Scottish Parliament, regarding devolution as the thin edge of a wedge that would end the Union. There are a growing number of voices in England, notably the local authorities who bitterly resent what they see as Scotland privileged status in the Barnett Formula

    • There are strong voices, encapsulated by The West Lothian Question – coined by a Scot, Tam Dalyell – that questions the ability of Scots MPs to influence English legislation on purely English matters by their votes in Westminster, while English MPs cannot influence devolved matter in the Scottish Parliament. There are moves to reduce the number of Scottish MPs in Westminster. There is growing resentment in England and Wales about what they see as Scotland’s privileged position under devolution.

    • To grant more powers to Scotland after a No vote, or even promise them before one would be greeted with outrage by the English electorate and the Welsh Labour voters. It would be political suicide in the 2015 UK general election for any party that promised or committed such powers.

    • The Scottish electorate do not trust the UK on promises of more powers after a No vote in a referendum, because they have already reneged on just such a promise in 1979 after a referendum – they have form!

      But the decisive argument for Scots is that, had the UK Parliament and government any intentions to consider or grant more powers, they would not have opposed the second question in the Scottish referendum addressing the wish for devo max within UK revealed in poll after poll.

      Alex Salmond and the SNP government were willing to consider such a question and option, offering a middle road between independence and the status quo. The resolute opposition to the 2nd question – a deal breaker for the Edinburgh Agreement – by David Cameron and all the UK Better Together parties – told the Scottish electorate all they needed to know – that a No vote, far from producing more powers, was almost certain to produce a clawback of powers and a £4 billion reduction in the Barnett Formula.

      The Scottish electorate know that a No vote, in addition to attracting the astonishment and thinly veiled contempt of the world for a nation that rejected its chance to be independent, would result in either devo zero or devo minus.

      Only independence will deliver to Scotland and the Scottish people the freedom they need to determine their future in this uncertain world and the challenging times ahead.