2007 - 2022

One Shot- Independence or Nothing

The last few days have been a remarkable display of kack-handedness, arrogance and sheer stupidity on the part of Unionist politicians.  Attempting to seize the initiative on the Scottish Independence Referendum, Cameron set out a range of parameters under which he was prepared to consider allowing the kind of question that he liked to be put to us at a time of his choosing, considering that we should be grateful for his benevolence of considering us worthy to be asked such a stupid question.

“It’s very unfair on the Scottish people themselves, who don’t really know when this question is going to be asked, what the question is going to be, who’s responsible for asking it. We owe the Scottish people something that is fair, legal and decisive. So in the coming days we’ll be setting out clearly what the legal situation is…”
The sound of jocular laughter could be heard all the way from Dumfries to Orkney.  It is clear that the Tories haven’t noticed but with the Scottish Parliament as an alternative authority in Scotland we can no longer be treated as a colonial outpost, its governance to be tagged on as an afterthought at the end of a sporting arena walkabout in the Imperial Capital.  What Cameron really owes us is reparations for the oil money that has been snaffled through the past 30 years, the return of the coastline which was stolen from us in 1999 and a full independent investigation into the death of Willie McRae.
They then wheeled out Michael Forsyth, who presided over Scotland with the contemptuous air of a colonial governor and used the Scots as labrats for the Poll Tax (pictured) introduced in Scotland a year earlier than England.  A more insensitive choice of spokesperson could barely be found – a tangible example of how the Tories fundamentally don’t understand Scotland and should be let know where near the place.  I mean what next?  Iain Paisley drafted in to thump the table and announce “Scotland says NO“?  Norman Tebbit announcing independence will lead to border guards on the cycling lanes?  A wild-eyed madwoman dragged out to announce that she is not negotiating the sovereignty of Scotland with anyone?
This whole thing has been so badly handled its as if the Unionists know something we don’t.  Have they secretly been burying nuclear waste the length and breadth of  Scotland in anticipation of the schism and are planning to build a lead version of Hadrian’s wall just as soon as they get rid of us?
Eventually a modicum of  coherence was injected into the unionist agenda by Michael Moore, who actually came across as if he knew what he was talking about.  Unfortunately for him, Alex Salmond – a master of the art of statecraft – was busy announcing the timing of the referendum to an assembled awestruck presspack.
Part of the challenge thrown down by the UK Government was a two option referendum. Independence or nothing.  Here, for possibly the first time ever, I am entirely in agreement with the Unionists.  Devolution-max/unionism-lite  gives us no control over the position of Scotland in relation to the world, and one of the strongest reasons for the breakup of the UK is that internationally the UK is a rogue state.  No matter how devolved, a Scotland which is still part of the Union will always be at the beck and call of Westminister and will lend legitimacy to its international bullying.
It is for the forces for Independence to rise to the challenge, we owe it to ourselves to have confidence in our ability to govern, to hold our place in the world and to build fraternal relations with the post-UK on an equal basis.   A three option referendum leads to all kinds of difficulties – some will vote for unionism-lite on the basis that it is the best we are going to get; some as a compromise position through self-doubt and lack of confidence; some through a desire to hold onto the union in the face of the independence movement’s rapidly gaining pace.
The campaign for independence then becomes fractured, with a pragmatic position being taken by some independence supporters, allowing the unionists to paint the desire for independence as ridiculous extremism and making a fall back position available for the unionists giving them an opportunity to split the independence movement.    The threat to use the courts to undermine Salmond’s referendum call, may well be a portend of things to come, with UK law used to undermine self-determination in the event that we still find ourselves hitched.Should we end up with unionism-lite, we may find ourselves tied into the union for generations.   The narrative will be established – twice Scotland has been offered Independence, and twice they have rejected  – no need to ask again.  The independence movement must have confidence in itself and in the Scottish people.   A clear choice is required: Scottish Independence or the Union.

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  1. Alex Grant says:

    Whatever we do we can’t end up with nothing. If we do the retribution will be swift. They will scrap Barnett possibly take away powers and do what the Canadians did to Quebec. At 62 I would like to live to see independence but I can’t contemplate the alternative. We have got to where we are inch by inch and I think a guaranteed devo max eg Channel Islands (not sure what they have to be honest) to give more time to win over the fearties, leaving Westminster wth Defence etc could work? They’d soon f**ck that up and off we go again. End of story!
    To be honest independence with 51% would worry me. Just short of it with 80% Slam dunk!
    Especially if we get control all income and expenditure incl energy?

    1. Alex Buchan says:

      I’d like to congratulate you for saying that. You can get a lot of flak from others I’ve found for daring to be realistic, but the polls in no way supports the idea that independence could get any higher than 51% if it ever got even anywhere near that. What tends not to be acknowledged by those who like to take a more macho approach to independence is that it doesn’t rely entirely on us in Scotland. You can only pull the elastic constitution of the UK so far before it snaps at some hitherto unexpected point. The UK is actually in many ways more like the EU than a normal modern state like, say, Germany or France. It’s more like the EU in that it’s got all these tensions between its member nations. If Scotland got Devo-Max it would put a lot of stress on the rest of the set up that currently exists, and if England ever managed to get its own parliament, separate from the UK parliament, the UK state’s days would be numbered. I don’t claim to know what the future holds or how possible a yes vote in the referendum could be, but, like you, I think it’s irresponsible to risk an outright defeat for all the reasons you set out.

      1. mhairi says:

        There has been no real campaign for independence. The SNP barely mentioned it in the last election preferring to concentrate on a “safe pair of hands” narrative. Latest polls show only 53% against independence, with a notably older profile of voters in favour of the union. The next two years will see the impact of the Westminster cuts together with a continuation of an increased feeling of national self-confidence, all the while looking at England, where their schools are being ruined, their hospitals sold off, their ill unable to afford prescription and their rich coining it in.

        Independence is winnable, but we need to believe in it.

      2. Alex Buchan says:

        All good points, but there’s been even less of a NO campaign, plus the NO campaign can rely on the solid backing of all news media. I want independence, but nobody has even won independence by putting their collective heads in the sand.

  2. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Independence with just 51% will do just fine.
    Devo max is a trap for the unionists being set brilliantly by the Eckmeister. We know that a huge swathe of the Labour Prty in Scotland would like to be able to scramble onto it. Once they publicly support it they can’t go back to status quo. They are now in an unholy alliance with the Tories who are not going to allow Devo max to be on the ballot paper.,They have about three times as much support in Scotland than the Tories who are denying them their refuge. What fun!
    the Devo max issue is abiut to tearthe unionists apart.

    1. mhairi says:

      Interesting theory.

      Not entirely convinced, but yes, there is a good chunk of Labour that would back Dmax/Ulite.

    2. Siôn Jones says:

      If devo-max gets on the ballot paper, the SNP have transformed the argument into -” Do we want Trident on Scottish territory?” and ” Do we want Scotland’s youth to be sent to die in foreign wars not of our making?” Makes independence seem a lot more likely to me.

  3. Alex Buchan says:

    The idea that it is the unionist parties that want Devo-Max on the ballot paper seems bizarre to me. It makes me wonder if I’ve been in a parallel universe in the last few days. Nothing would please the unionists more than a straight Yes No vote. I wonder why?

    1. Siôn Jones says:

      Both John Major and Henry McLeish – arch unionists both – have advocated devo max recently as being the only hope of saving the union.

      1. Alex Buchan says:

        Oh? So David Cameron, Michael Moore, Johann Lamont, Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie are just prentending. They want devo-max on the ballot and this is just a very very clever way to get Alex Salmond to do it. Give me a break! Unless we are going to have a serious discussion, then what’s the point of blogging? I want to work out what’s going on, get a better handle on things, etc, not play silly games.

  4. MryMac says:

    Great post. My reservation is that many people seem to be more comfortable with devo-max, although I myself would prefer independence. It seems undemocratic if this option isn’t offered on the ballot. Plus I am scared of the consequences of a ‘no’ vote. In this event, I think Westminster would run Scotland into the ground, and we would be so broken it would be a long time before we got to a place where we could campaign for Independence again. Not so if Devo max was an option. Going for independence or not is riskier.

  5. bellacaledonia says:

    For the sake of clarification Devo Max could be rebranded in the forthcoming debate as “The Retain Trident Option”. This may help focus attention on the difference between Devo Max and Independence, since the main debate between the two camps on economic powers has been resolved.


    1. Alex Buchan says:

      We’re in a crazy situation where all three of the unionist parties are rubbishing devo-max as a vacuous, nebulous diversion, while people like Alex Salmond and Nichola Sturgeon argue the democratic principle that it should not be ruled out, and what are we doing? Rallying to that defence of the Scottish electorates right to have as full a choice as possible? Oh no! Were joining the three unionists parties in rubbishing devo-max.

      Cant we just keep track of what’s going on and realise that the time for arguments against devo-max is once the principle of whether it should be included or not has been settled. Otherwise we just cause confusion on our side. We need to be a lot more focussed and disciplined than this.

  6. Aucheorn says:

    A straight YES/NO on Independence would be riskier, but does anyone believe that Westminister would deliver on DevoMax. My God they’re taking powers AWAY from us under Calman. We would all have grey haired weans waiting the on the UK to give up any thing, especially a cash cow like Scotland’s resources.

    1. Alex Buchan says:

      Whether they delivered or not is not the issue surely. With this kind of thinking we are doing the unionists work for them.

      If we have a straight yes no vote and we lose the unionist parties, inside and outside Scotland, will say “The nation has spoken and has affirmed its desire to remain part of the UK. This is the settled will of the Scottish people expressed democratically and we as politicians now need to ensure that that settled will is not endangered by more scheming by the SNP so we are going to initiate legislation in Westminster to secure Scotland’s long term place in the union against further attempts to destabilise it.

      If devo-max is on the ballot and it is voted for none of that can happen. Scotland’s relationship to the rest of the UK remains an on-going issue still to be settled. If we lose a straight vote the UK government will seize on that to say “the process now has to stop. We all have to start working to make the union work because that’s what the public want”. If devo-max wins the process cannot stop until Westminster eventually either gives devo-max, or we vote in another referendum for independence, which could justifiably be called because of Westminster’s refusal to grant devo-max.

      It’s not about what’s the best outcome; we know what the best outcome is, it’s about the best way to proceed and how to ensure that the process towards independence can’t be blocked through using a yes vote for the union (because that’s what it will be) to justify putting the constitutional issue into deep freeze (because that’s what the unionists will do if they win- and they will be in a very strong position).

      1. Aucheorn says:

        I know exactly what you mean, a NO vote terrifies me.

        Who is going to put the “Retain Trident Option” on the ballot ?
        Will the SNP be forced to because nobody else will ?

        My fear is that to get a majority for Independence over RTO and the status quo will be harder. We have get more votes than the other two combined. I don’t have the faith in my fellow countrymen to take the sensible option

  7. David McCann says:

    A two vote option would be my choice.
    Do you want a sovereign independent Scotland?
    Do you want a dependent Scotland in the UK?

    Devo Max or Lite could be added if it spells out exactly that that means retaining Trident and all its arsenal of weapons in Scotland.

  8. Siôn Jones says:

    Two vote option under STV would be the fairest option, the one most likely to deliver the result that best reflects the will of the Scottish people.

  9. Siôn Jones says:

    Sorry – that should have been three question option under STV. . .

  10. Ray Bell says:

    Devo Max and Indy Lite are stalling options.

    British unionist realists, esp. business want this option so that they have time to adjust, and settle things.

    The Brits stalled other moves to independence, it helps them move their people out, and create the set up that they want to rule the country after they’ve left.

  11. Andrew says:

    Evening all, having read the comments both here and on other sites i am drawn to the conclusion that most people don’t understand the devo max/FFA/indy light scenario, i understand only to well how easy it is to get caught up in the details of what has been happening over the last few days but i would ask that people take a step back and think clearly through the above scenario,” i say scenario as they are all one in the same”.
    Let us start at the beginning,how would devo max/FFA/Indy light change the current set up of the UK? i think we can all agree that it would, at the most basic level it would take control of everything apart from defence/foriegn policy away from West Minister control,leaving all else in the control of the Scottish goverment,Agreed?
    Now let us pressume for a moment that West Minister needs to stay in control as it cannot financially afford not to,”this also seems to be widely accepted,they want us for our resources argument”.
    This puts the the argument for devo max/FFA/Indy lite in prospective, to lose the financies is to lose everthing,without them everything else is pointless ,if we accept that then the logical stratagem is to create a scenario were that is the prize that is sought, but not overtly so.
    How to create the scenario,thats actually the simple part, after 300 years of union even on the best of days most people would hesitate to fully jump, even if they new it to be the right choice, but if they are offered a third way, a way that seems to go most of the way but still has some connection to the old system them that is the way most will choose.
    This third way is to most an extremley sensible way to go about the change they desire, why would it not be, it’s not full out Independance and it’s not the status quo, this is the beuty of the scenario, you create the need for devo max/FFA/Indy light whilst campaining for independance, you draw your opponents to support this, if you support it once you support it always other wise the electorate regard you being unreasonable and hypocritical.
    Where we are now,we are at the point where unionists are denying the electorate any change, even the change that the voters themselves see as one that is not unreasonable.
    If i can make the point that in fact, Independance on the ballot paper is irrelevant, if devo max/FFA/Indy light are on the ballot, that is what people will vote for, when they do, by default of loosing control of the financies West Minister will say if your going that far then you might as well be Independant,” of course the finance part will not be said as the final straw that ended the union”.
    So although you were campaining for Independance the other gives you it anyway.
    Check mate.

    1. Alex Buchan says:

      What you’ve outlined in my opinion is correct, but not for the reason’s you give and therefore the strategy can’t be as you set it out. The reason that the British State cannot grant devo-max is not primarily financial but because it is against the whole tradition of Whitehall and especially the Treasury to give away that much control. Because it’s contrary to the UK set-up it would probably have untold knock-on effects not just in terms of whether Wales and N.I. should get the same, but in how to deal with demand’s for English devolution. In effect to grant devo-max to Scotland could be the end of Westminster as currently constituted. Because it is far more of a threat to the existing Westminster set-up than you suggest, none of the unionist parties will ever campaign for it and by the way by rolling everything together as “devo max/FFA/Indy light” you’re demonstrating why it will be easy for them to dismiss it because they will say no-body knows what it means. Is it devo-max or Indy lite? This is exactly how Jim Murphy dismissed it in the interview today in the Guardian. But because the UK government will never agree to it you’re right in saying that a vote for devo-max will mean that Scotland will get independence as a result eventually. This is the important point and you’re rfight to point it out.

  12. moujick says:

    My personal opinion is that we need devo max on the ballot paper. Two reasons which have pretty much been covered above but I’ll re-iterate anyway.

    1) A no vote? This would leave us with 2 terms of an SNP government, including one as an unprecedented minority in a proportional parliament with nothing to show for at the end of it and the devolution process stalled for a generation.
    2) Devo max on the ballot paper turns the debate from yes/no to Independence in to the genuine debate that exits in Scotland between Independence/Devo Max. The crux of this is therefore Trident/Iraq and other foreign wars etc. My guess is that if you can frame the debate in this way enough people who want Devo Max would swing towards Independence for Independence to win. This is why the Unionist parties don’t want Devo Max on the ballot.

    1. moujick says:

      sorry, should read “unprecedented majority”……

  13. John Souter says:

    My opinion on the Devo Max option, other than it being at the moment a possible known of unknown substance; is that by 2014 the affairs of Westminster may be so dire the option will become irrelevant.

    After all it’s Westminster who wanted the process speeded up.

  14. Morag says:

    I realise this is now a very old article, but I didn’t see it before. I’m utterly baffled by the last paragraph. “… twice Scotland has been offered Independence, and twice they have rejected…”

    When is/was the second time in this scenario? If the writer actually thinks the 2014 referendum is the second independence referendum for Scotland, I’m afraid that’s the credibiliy gone, right there.

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