Jammy Smears


Before May 2011, no unionist (other than Wendy Alexander perhaps) had any inclination for Scotland to hold a referendum on independence. Since then, however, they have been clamoring for the referendum to come along as soon as humanly possible. They treat it as some silly little question, a hindrance to talking about the proper issues, and this has never been more true than since the unionists started saying they would offer Scots more devolution, but not until we got the independence question “out of the way”.


As someone who has wanted independence for Scotland ever since I was old enough to realise that Scotland wasn’t like other countries, I find this really insulting. Independence is not a quirk. It’s not a phase we have to get past, and it’s not some deranged idea that the rest of the country has to go along with just to humour us weirdo nationalists who keep harping on about it, a punishment for being stupid enough to give the SNP a majority. Believing that your country should have the same powers as any other country is a genuine and credible position to hold. The fact that unionists cannot see this speaks volumes about how much they fail to grasp the nub of the issue, and perhaps explains why they still don’t understand that the “jam tomorrow” approach just isn’t good enough. “Oh, are you still banging on about more powers? Well okay, say no to independence and we’ll sort you out with something. What powers? Oh I dunno, income tax or something. What do you mean that’s not enough? Look, we’ll sort it out later. Now if you don’t mind, we still have some nationalised industries to privatise, so run along, there’s a good chap.”


It’s annoyed me for a while, but it became particularly annoying when I watched some of the Lib Dem conference highlights on Sunday (yes, I know I’m strange). Charles Kennedy – a man who has often been seen as the one saving grace in the current Lib Dems – was telling the conference that it would be completely hypocritical to complain about the SNP not properly defining independence while at the same time failing to tell the electorate what this post-referendum “further devolution” that unionists speak of will be. Unionists would do well to not put this down as the rantings of a drunkard and actually listen to the man, because he is completely correct, and it is their only hope of beating independence. However, the words of activists interviewed by the BBC suggested that he was speaking to an audience that didn’t want to hear. One of the activists – a poor deluded fellow who thinks the Lib Dems are still the party of Home Rule – was putting forward a motion to debate the merits of having home rule (or whatever unionist ruse Ming Campbell is going to come up with) put on the referendum paper. But his two colleagues were resolutely against this proposal, using the same tired expressions of getting the independence “out of the way” first, and the same illogical logic that Scotland needs to throw away its only bargaining chip before trying to get more powers. Imagine a Mexican stand-off where one combatant suddenly throws his gun away, yet still expects to come out on top. That’s basically what unionists want us to do.


I just wonder what Lib Dems would think if people talked of holding a referendum on federalism and getting it “out of the way”, so we can get on with the proper grown-up stuff? Then again, I suppose that’s exactly what happened with the AV referendum, which was a textbook example of why you don’t rush a referendum and try to “get it out of the way” instead of debating the issue thoroughly. Do Lib Dems (and those pro-AV Labourites) not understand this point, or do they understand it only too well and this is exactly why they want us to “get it out of the way”?


Either way, their continued usage of this style of language gives us no reason to think they are in any way serious about wanting to give Scotland the powers we want, the powers we need, and more importantly, the powers we deserve. It’s fairly obvious their only priority is “beating” the SNP. What a way to serve the people.


I’ve got news for these sort of people: independence will not go away just by treating it as a silly little obsession of a deluded minority. Treat the debate with respect, or else if the referendum is defeated we will just be right back here in a few years. This is not the sort of issue you can pay lip service to in order to shut people up. We don’t need the independence question out of the way – we need it to be answered fully and thoroughly, after a properly informed debate. It’ll never go away otherwise.

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  1. vronsky says:

    Déjà vu. La Fontaine:


    Kennedy won’t last long. I actually thought I wouldn’t be able to complete that sentence as he’d have gone already. To oppose independence credibly you’d have to do it from the Left. Sort of Catch-22 there – the only credible Left is the SNP (oh, I know, but it’s a start).

    1. Colin Dunn says:

      I wouldn’t bet on that. A tweet from Charles Kennedy today . .

      “Looking forward to making an upbeat case for staying in the UK family . . ”

      And a few weeks ago he tweeted “I hope to play a full role in the anti-separation campaign, but still in early stages!”

      I expect that the unionist camp know he’s one of the few credible and articulate figureheads they have, especially after Darling’s dreadful performance on TV last week.

      1. bellacaledonia says:

        I look forward to that too. Nothing at all against the guy, just not sure if he has real credibility beyond ‘nice guy to have a pint with’.

      2. Frank Garden says:

        Or a Dram or three

  2. James Morton says:

    And yet to listen to Willie Rennie claiming the Lib Dems are the Guarantors of change and also added – “And when Scotland does vote No to the SNP plans then we Liberal Democrats will have an important job to do in taking the country forward.”

    I don’t he or anyone else in what is left of the lib Dems in Scotland are listening to Charles. They are too busy charging off, with their heads held high, their banners unfurled and heedless of the cliff edge their leadership is taking them.

    You won’t get any credible or sensible debate out of them when they spout nonsense like that.

  3. 1. This post could use some serious formatting

    2. I agree with the sentiments entirely, and would add that they demonstrate the very real problem at the root of the unionist, particularly Labour, argument: they have convinced themselves that the Scottish people have been taken in en masse by Salmond’s magic box of tricks, otherwise known as the SNP frontbench.

    In some respects, there’s some credence to it. Even diehard nationalists would struggle to prove that the SNP’s overwhelming majority in May of last year was a ringing endorsement for independence itself. The starting position after that election was very much the Scottish people saying “ok, you clearly aren’t a bunch of nutters; we like what you’re doing in government; but we reserve the right to say no to Scottish independence when you ask us”.

    Hence the SNP’s campaign to convince people, rather than consolidate support. But the unionist parties have taken that to an illogical extreme, deluding themselves that this entire campaign is a popularity contest between them and Salmond. Witness Malcolm Bruce’s vein-popping, mouth-frothing balustrade against the idea of “letting Salmond win” at the Lib Dem conference.

    1. Doug Daniel says:

      The Lib Dems really need to be listening to guys like Andrew Page, who is very scathing in this article here about his own party, particularly Malcolm Bruce and his utterly ridiculous conference speech. I am absolutely amazed and appalled that Bruce said the following:

      “South Sudan, Republic Srpska, South Ossetia, Kashmir, Basque Region, Catalonia, Chechnya, Greenland, North Cyprus, Transnistria… Do we really want the world to break up into a growing list of tiny countries nursing their grievances through the international community”

      How dare he describe the self-determination movements of these places as “nursing their grievances”? This is utterly, utterly disgraceful. It just goes to show you the unionist mindset – BIG IS BEST, SMALL COUNTRIES DON’T MATTER.

      They really need to get over this idea that independence is an Alex Salmond vanity project. It’s not, it’s the culmination of decades (300 years, even?) of work from many, many people. Their belittling attitude is genuinely insulting.

      1. Doug Daniel says:

        I’m just one big formatting FAIL at the moment…

  4. bellacaledonia says:

    Sorry about the formatting, should be better now.

    I agree about the Salmond obsession. Feintly embarrassing of Lamont I thought who’s whole speech seemed dedicated to the FM. On the other hand there’s a real need for other people and movements beyond the SNP to emerge…

    1. Doug Daniel says:

      There really is. I’m particularly bewildered by the way the Greens seem content to let the SNP do the legwork and just occasionally chip in to complain about them not doing it how they would do it, with moans about the monarchy and corporation tax. I think I’ve seen Patrick Harvie on TV speaking positively about independence once, perhaps twice at a push, and for a grand total of about ten minutes. Both of those were more about highlighting the weaknesses of the devo-whatever arguments than making a grand case for independence.

      A great shame, because he’s the only party leader in the UK who doesn’t look out of his depth in comparison to Salmond’s oratory, and should be playing an important part in showing that independence is NOT just the SNP’s plaything. Of course, it suits the broadcast media to pretend it is…

  5. gavin says:

    Its been my opinion for some time that the Unionists will play the Douglas-Home card for all its worth. Rennie has the brass neck to say “listen to the people”, thats the last thing HE wants! There will be NO serious enhanced devolution at the end of this. None of the Unionists will give up Westminsters economic and political hegemony (and that includes the “fake federalist” Libs ) lightly and they will be able to rely on the connivance of the MSM to achieve their ends. I have wavered between one question or two but now believe we MUST have two to flush out these people. At the end of the day the main driver for most Unionists is the cushy life of a Westminster regular. See the utter panic of people like Malcolm Bruce as the prospect of ermine fades.

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