An Easterhouse Epiphany

goldie1We are sticking to the task. But that doesn’t just mean making difficult decisions on public spending. It also means something more profound. It means building a leaner, more efficient state. We need to do more with less. Not just now, but permanently.
– Prime Minister, David Cameron

This post is really a response to Liam Murray who wrote in the comments section of Pat Kane’s piece ‘A Revolution of Rising Expectations’ the following: “The entire ‘Yes’ campaign seems to be built on this one dull pedestrian premise – ‘vote yes and our politics will get a bit more left-wing’. I don’t object because I don’t share the politics (in many cases I do) but because it’s a p***-poor reason to upend our constitutional settlement, that’s all.”

It’s also provoked by John Major’s astonishing revelations this week that Britain is run by a privileged elite. It’s a very late denouement that has only three possible explanations: 1) He was too busy shagging Edwina Currie to notice anything going on around him 2) He’s mortally stupid to a degree previously unknown to mankind 3) He’s woken from a dream-like catatonic state only to realise some truths about the world.

Various titles were suggested for this article and we’re considering a regular column dubbed simply Austerity Unionism to track the direct link between gross inequality and our constitutional settlement and structures. We’re indebted to our new best pal on Twitter Joe Oliver (@joe_oliver) who said: “I do love that David Cameron delivered the message ‘Austerity could be with us forever’ in front of a huge gold throne.” Indeed he did Joe and you can read the whole marvel here.

Back to Liam and his plaintive plea – is the Yes vote reduced to a simple promise of more left-wing politics? Well, actually it’s about sovereignty, rather than any particular form of politics, but there are certain driving realities that are shaping the debate. That’s true.

Shelter tell us that there will be more than 80,000 children in the UK face spending Christmas living in temporary housing, details here. So in the sense that there’s a pressing driving need for social justice, then Yes the new Scotland needs to be predicated on a sharp break with the ideology that has shaped Britain for the last thirty years. If it isn’t, what’s the point?

The obsession with privatisation – which has most recently seen our Post Office sold off on the cheap – is another challenge for us to regain control over our economic commons – our collective wealth – and manage them for the benefit of society and not for the profit of a tiny elite.

If all this seems arcane to Liam – or any others – it’s largely because this logic has been so internalised it’s now largely forgotten, largely absent from public dialogue, slightly less in this strange northern outpost.

This won’t be easy as Aidan Moffett wrote this week:

We can be better. We can be BRILLIANT. It won’t be easy and it will take time, but a good future only comes from hard work. I’m not scared of it being difficult, I’m scared of my children being trapped in the same miserable system in twenty years’ time and blaming me for doing nothing about it. Independence is not a negative; it is – to my mind – the only positive way to achieve the future Scotland that most of us seem to want.

But to make this leap we will need to confront the corporate capture of society we have colluded in.

As George Monbiot:

It’s the reason for the collapse of democratic choice. It’s the source of our growing disillusionment with politics. It’s the great unmentionable. Corporate power. The media will scarcely whisper its name. It is howlingly absent from parliamentary debates. Until we name it and confront it, politics is a waste of time. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown purged the party of any residue of opposition to corporations and the people who run them. That’s what New Labour was all about.


These for me are the driving compelling reason for independence, not just for a ‘pedestrian left wing politics’ but for a restorative practice of social justice, a transformation of economic inequality and a reclamation of public ownership. You can’t deliver one without the other. For example you can’t get away from fuel poverty without removing the control from a profit-focused cartel. Ed Miliband’s ‘price freeze’ ruse was quickly shown to be a nonsense, despite widespread support in the media. Millions of people now face fuel poverty this winter whilst private companies profits soar.

The challenges we face require a new settlement – they can’t be grounded in an approach that feeds on a race to the bottom with zero hours contracts, mass precarity, a cultural war on the poorest and a loop of victory parades as succor. Nor should we believe the line routinely trotted out by those who oppose independence – that this will mean no difference – that views and values are really no different north and south of the border – and that no change is the best option.

As we prepare for RIC 2013 its clear that the appetite for big policy change is here and now – it’s the prize for any arty r new government willing to seize it.

Ten years ago Iain Duncan Smith cried in Easterhouse. Or so we’re told. Now he’s a bit more focused.

As Polly Tonybee writes Smith has shifted from a faux compassion to a stark brutality. Stopping benefits, driving people on to food banks, the bedroom tax and a slew of punitive cuts we’re just at the front edge of are transforming Britain from a country disfigured by inequality and poverty to one defined by it.

All this implemented by a government we didn’t elect.

As we focus on the campaign ahead, those who chose to vote No are effectively condoning this programme of austerity. How’s that for a dull pedestrian premise?

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  1. The challenges we face require a new settlement

    And a means of translating that requisite by carefully avoiding the terms that denote the theory?

  2. bellacaledonia says:

    Not sure what you mean Atypical?

  3. In order to nationalise – even just the four above – the government we choose in 2016 would have to be no bedfellow of big business. On top of that obvious obstacle – and if my interpretation of the new settlement is correct, ergo what is to the left of social democratic – for socialism to work, it requires general consensus. Centuries of institutional capitalism and failed models of the former means many recoil from the prospect of a centralised socialist system which would be hard to realise without the complete dismantling of the capitalist superstructure that we have at present. In my opinion, sadly, the pedestrian analogy will bare out unless the current system fails entirely, creating an environment for massive change. Unless of course, by some miracle, the political protagonists can come to a compromise.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      I agree, hence the Moffett quote. it will be difficult but it will have created an arena of possibility that didn’t previously exist. This is not to say that the struggle doesn’t need to start again, but it will have a different shape and a different context. I don’t know why you assume that socialism = a centralised system?

      1. I don’t know why you assume that socialism = a centralised system? I hadn’t considered a Scotland without Angus…,

        Or Fife:)

      2. Now dwelling on that thought. How would you avoid having a centralised system in a capitalist world without closing borders? There would surely have to be a coherent legislative base to deal with this?

  4. emorrison says:

    The big elephant in the room is the question of how an independent Scotland could escape from further privatisation when that is the way the world economy operates. It more than simplistic to see ‘the tories’ and ‘the uk govt’ as being forces of privatisation. Its myopic in fact and those who think that a yes vote could stop further privatisation are living in a nostalgic fantasy land. Neo conservatism is now a global system, enforced by the IMF and the world bank. Their austerity measures predate those we see now in the UK and on a global scale dwarf the penny pinching of the tories. Look at every country that has accepted an IMF loan and you will see the rush to privatise everything. Look at the enthusiasm with which SNP politicians bend over backwards to welcome the yankee dollar and in fact subsidise US corporations directly with scottish tax money (£12.8 million to Amazon). I cant see how waving a magic Yes wand changes the global economic system or our relationship to it, and if those in power in an independent Scotland push us closer towards getting ‘help’ from the US and help from the IMF then you can kiss Scotland goodbye. I vote yes, only on the proviso that as soon as we get independence we throw out the existing politicians that we have and set up an open, deep and difficult debate on how Scotland can differentiate itself from other small countries in the clutches of the IMF and the World Bank.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      “The big elephant in the room is the question of how an independent Scotland could escape from further privatisation when that is the way the world economy operates.”. Well, that’s true, but then you need to acknowledge the extent to which the current Scottish Govt has begun to repeal and overturn processes of privatisation. Not enough – not nearly enough – but enough to give an inkling of where we might go.

      1. Virgil_Caine says:

        There is also an inkling for something equally as bad – Trump, Murdoch, oil, lower business taxes, increased centralisation/further erosion of local gov, rampant Tartan Tories in the SNP escaping… just feels either way independent or UK, the battles on the other side, whichever way it goes, will still be the same.

        1. bellacaledonia says:

          The battles whichever way it goes will be the same. Of that there is no doubt. The question is will it be a battle on a completely different grounds. It clearly will. It will be on grounds where we can have expression and self-determination. Will we have to convince people of the need to transform Scotland? Yes.

      2. braco says:

        VirgilCaine and Bella,

        The problem we face, in making a start on change, is a lack of democratic control over those very levers of change.

        We have lived in a democratically impotent state for so long now, that our electorate has instinctively decoupled the act of ‘making regular democratic voting choices’ with the concept and expectations that actual corresponding social results will (or even should) flow from them!

        This is where all this, ‘what difference will it really make anyway’ shite is coming from. It’s really quite pathetic and defeatist, but certainly no accident.

        It is on the wane though, thank god!

        (Sorry posted in error at bottom of the thread. oops!)

      3. braco says:

        That was an inspirational article Mike. Many thanks!

        1. bellacaledonia says:


    2. ed says:

      I agree completely

  5. muttley79 says:

    I hope that the Yes campaign start to enlighten voters in Scotland as to the likely consequences of a No vote. One Nation Britain, or its Tory equivalent, means precisely that. The Tories and Labour will turn the screw on Scotland in the event of a No vote. No more free education, no more free at the point of service NHS, no more free prescriptions etc. What we will get is significantly less public spending, more privatisations, particularly of the NHS, and the return of tuition fees at between £6,000 to £9,000 a year. They will in all probability scrap the Barnett Formula and put Scotland on the ultimate ‘austerity programme.’ People who think voting No is the status quo option, with no adverse consequences, are going to quickly find themselves very mistaken. We will all pay a very, very high price if there is a No vote in the referendum. Looking at the last 30-35 years of UK politics that much is glaringly obvious.

  6. Douglas says:

    Great piece, Mike. I’d add two other elements to the picture you paint.

    One is the rise of celebrity culture, which Will Self described recently as the idiocracy, banishing most things meaningful from the front pages and the television screen, and undermining any serious news item which happens to make it there. If David Dimbleby has just got himself a tattoo, maybe the real news doesn’t matter so much anyway…

    The other thing would be the Snowden revelations, which constitute a watershed moment I believe. The budget of the secret services has actually gone up since the end of the Cold War.

    So you have a political elite with its own agenda, which is slimming down the State – even that metaphor is a kind of a concession to the status quo – in almost everything except security and surveillance, dividing up the national wealth among themselves and their fee paying school toff friends with a rancid nepotism which nobody even bothers to hide, and no real accountability either in parliament or the press, a few notable exceptions notwithstanding.

    All empires have created foreign enemies to keep the natives confused, but it is a question of time before they start looking for enemies within, and you could argue they started that some time ago with their targeting of the poor. The Miranda arrest is an ominous development in that regard.

    What name, then, describes the current system more accurately than the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie?

    My hope is that, given the last great Constitutional upheaval in these islands started in St Giles on the High Street in Edinburgh with the revolt against religious dogma imposed from the South, then the revolt against the austerity dogma can start at the other end of the Royal Mile, in a fully sovereign parliament.

    By the way, in terms of practicalities, as time goes by, I can’t see any alternative to having our own currency.

  7. florian albert says:

    If there is an appetite for big policy change here and now, this means there is an opportunity for a party to the left of Labour and the SNP. Is there any group on the left willing to create such a party ? There doesn’t appear to be.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      I can easily imagine a scenario where post-Indy – or even post-Indy fail the SNP disassemble and a new left-green coalition party emerges.

      1. muttley79 says:

        You think the SNP would disband after a No vote in the referendum? Really?

        1. bellacaledonia says:

          It depends on circumstances but I think realignments likely with either a yes or a No

      2. florian albert says:

        I think the notion of the SNP ‘disassembling’ is, to put it politely, a total non-starter. The present SNP is not, despite Alex Salmond occasionally playing to the gallery, a left wing or radical party.
        Why are those on the left so unwilling to engage in electoral politics ? They claim there is support
        for their ideas. I am very doubtful that this is the case.
        Groups like RIC, meeting every few months, are hard to take seriously politically.
        With regard to a ‘left’green’ coalition, it is worth noting that in the recent by election in Dunfermline,
        the Greens got fewer votes than UKIP.

      3. An Duine Gruamach says:

        I don’t know why people would think the SNP would disband on Independence Day + 1. Clearly it won’t, but over time I think people within it would drift away to other parties and/ or the SNP itself will take a more definite ideological orientation on the things that it’s more braid-kirk about now.

  8. muttley79 says:

    There is the SSP and the Greens. They are both to the left of the SNP and SLAB (although the latter are going in an increasingly right wing direction).

  9. Abulhaq says:

    (Radical) National Renewal, everything back in the pot, no preconceptions, no prejudices, no atavistic notions, no residual “Britishness” in other words a socio-cultural revolution undoing the cultural-existential damage of Scotland’s supine submission/ thraldom to the blandishments of Unionism. Independence without a recension, reassessment and revision of the rationale for our future as a free people would be half-baked. A Scotland fundamentally different from the present must be our aim. If we don’t scare the old establishment we are not on message.

  10. muttley79 says:

    Can’t really see the SNP disbanding or splitting in the event of a No vote. There would still need to be a leading party to push for independence. After all, the party would not have achieved its main objective and aim. A left/green coalition would lack the political experience and know how that the SNP has developed over the last 50 years or so. Also, left wing parties, such as the SSP, are prone to split.

  11. K1 says:

    ““The big elephant in the room is the question of how an independent Scotland could escape from further privatisation when that is the way the world economy operates.”. Well, that’s true, but then you need to acknowledge the extent to which the current Scottish Govt has begun to repeal and overturn processes of privatisation. Not enough – not nearly enough – but enough to give an inkling of where we might go.”

    I agree that the current Scottish Government is or seems to be in the process of dealing with elephants in rooms, (very fond of the term, very fond of elephants), but can I ask a probably naive question? What if the current Scottish Government isn’t elected post yes vote?

    What if under a newly formed coalition or one party dominant government those repeals and “processses of privatisation” that are currently under reform are repealed once again?

    Are we discussing here enshrining legislation into a newly formed ‘settlement’ or constitution that would effectively prevent this continuing or ever happening again, can we opt out of the “…great unmentionable. Corporate power.”?

    While I completely agree with the Aidan Moffet’s quote, how does it answer the question of obtaining this “general consensus” in the stark face of the reality of Atypicalscot’s point: “Centuries of institutional capitalism and failed models of the former…”?

    How with emorrison’s suggested proviso that we “…throw out the existing politicians…” and by doing so, how would that prevent douglas’s definition of our “current system” as a “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie” cyclically repeating itself over and over again with a new set of politicos?

    Is an inkling..enough?

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      An inkling’s enough for me. I see about me lots of people with ideas and a passion for social justice. Don’t you?

      1. K1 says:

        I do indeed, and am very much enjoying having my own little epiphanies along the way…liked the article btw 🙂

  12. bellacaledonia says:

    Good, thanks. We are voting for sovereignty, not a government, We have to have faith in ourselves and our collective nous. We need to stop being so passive and stop being so negative.

    Neal ASscherson has described the ‘SNP..building a new Hadrian’s Wall against the neoliberal tsunami that has weakened social justice & cohesion in England’ – but you’re right – it’s not enough on it’s own at all.

    1. K1 says:

      Okay. I am aware that we are not voting for a government. I do “…acknowledge the extent to which the current Scottish Govt has begun to repeal and overturn processes of privatisation. Not enough – not nearly enough – but enough to give an inkling of where we might go.”

      My questions don’t stem from any sense of lack regarding “… faith in ourselves and our collective nous.”

      I’m not particularly passive or negative, (not suggesting that you are characterising me in this way) but I agree we are burdened with some ‘traits’ as a people raised under historically difficult conditions that have formed what loosely could be termed as passive or negative outlooks.

      My questions stem from a particular way that I have of thinking through complex issues and even if I’m disposed to be of the same essential view as others, I’ve a tendency or capacity to want to get into the detail to discover where we really have solid ground with which to begin building any kind of bridges, whether that be in friendships or ideologies.

      So, if “- it’s not enough on it’s own…” how does one get that “general consensus” that is clearly required to radically alter the societal paradigm, or how does one get that paradigm into the consciouness of a “negative” and “passive” populace which may then transform into a new civic sovereign nation?

      Am I asking too many questions? (or the wrong ones?)

  13. bellacaledonia says:

    Never too many questions and your approach to get to detail makes lots of sense.

    People used to talk of a ‘minimalist’ and a ‘maximalist’ strategy.

    My aim this morning was to get the kids to school (minimalist) – my wider aim is to make sure they can read or write – and that will help them become fulfilled rounded functioning adults (maximalist).

    Will they get practice at reading today? Yes. Will that mean they can enjoy literature and develop analytic skills in the future? Yes.

    In Blossom Lesley Riddoch talks about democracy being a muscle we’ve lost the habit of using.

    How does one get that “general consensus” that is clearly required to radically alter the societal paradigm?

    By creating a critical aspirational society. By struggle. By education. By creating alternatives that work as options against the dysfunctional forms.

    A functioning democracy – where we get the parliament/government we elect is only part of this. Disarming the British state as a symbol of a new set of values is only part of this. Reclaiming our own culture and sense of selfhood – and the confidence that goes with that – is only part of this.

    But these are significant steps that will help create a very different landscape for the ongoing struggle to transform society. They are not a panacea, but they can’t be dismissed as insignificant either.

    1. K1 says:

      I agree, “they can’t be dismissed as insignificant either.”

      Do you not think that we already possess these aspirations within ourselves, that many have struggled and educated themselves and found alternative approaches that have retained their sanity amidst what has become dysfunctional ‘norms’?

      How do we re-engage with ourselves, with our own dysfunctional mindsets? We can, as you rightly point out take the steps in terms of governance; introduce sane policies that serve the needs of the many to rebalance the inequities set in motion by the few.

      The “…ongoing struggle to transform society.” surely minimally has to start with oneself. The maximally resultant effect is the society we find ourselves a part.

      There’s an old saying; ‘a man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.” We can educate to develop ‘analytical skills’, apparently that’s been part of our education for decades. What we can’t do is decide for others how, what, where and when they apply those skills.

      I think we must be underway in this transforming of ourselves, I think maybe that we will become the people and society we wish to be and see. I just like to acknowledge the shadow aspects.

      Thank you for responding to me, very much appreciate 🙂

      1. bellacaledonia says:

        The relationship between selfhood – community and nationhood is interesting, and yes it needs to begin ‘at home’. But actually – in my opinion – a lot of politics has got trapped in the personal, in the private and needs to reclaim the public, the collective, the networked …

      2. K1 says:

        Hmmm…there was some sort of survey months ago, a radio 4 thing, where they were trying to establish whether the truism that most people in the media have gotten into their positions/jobs because of their family connections, of course they discovered that just about everyone is their because of this. This is of course a very well known phenomenon. Sure, I even remember whilst growing up, the term ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, that ‘get’s you places’.

        This nepotism applies across all the niches in society, all the clubs, all the gangs, most certainly in party politics. So I’m taking your comment that it has become personal, private, to stem from that truism.

        The political narratives are maintained from the hand me down ideologies, the tried and tested routes, one generation to the next. Llalands Peat Worrier had an interesting article the other day about this phenomenon which he referred to as “epistemic closure”, he was contextualising Labour’s position in light of recent Dunfermline results, the term as he described; “… in its political application, the idea refers to the effect, when a party and its supporters load themselves up into the echo chamber, slam the door shut behind them, and turn the key in the lock.”

        This I suppose is the trap that we can all fall into, we surely have to keep vigilant and open and more importantly better educated about the subtle ways that we have become conditioned within our own echo chambers. It is too easy to fall into the same traps while undergoing transitional periods of transformation.

        So yes, I agree there needs to be more trust, honesty and that far more elusive quality, lacking in our current political system: integrity. Then we may just open the way for new voices to emerge, new ideas and new ways of participating in and shaping the communities that we want to live in.

    2. nnels says:

      A functioning democracy has community councils with powers, and the attendance of local communities from which democratic participation springs.

      A dysfunctional democracy is run by auto-elected career politicians who may as well be in the civil service.

  14. Gordon says:

    Just today, the energy companies announced that energy prices would run ahead of inflation for the next 17 years, the customers to pay for improvement and renewal of the dilapidated infrastructure of the networks. Have these companies not built a contingency for depreciation into their pricing? The corollary to this is that the consumer, having paid for the infrastructure, owns part of it and can charge rental for the use by the utilities of his part. If the shareholders want complete ownership of the energy companies, they should be paying for the capital costs of their fixed assets through a reduction of dividend or a dividend holiday.
    “The big elephant in the room is the question of how an independent Scotland could escape from further privatisation when that is the way the world economy operates.” Well, we could start by refusing to use taxpayers’ money on private contractors. If they wish to operate in the country they should sell their goods or services on the open market. Secondly, any good or service that is necessary for life or health should not be sold to private operators. Included amongst these would be water, energy and health services.
    Governments are notoriously bad buyers and the public ends up paying through the nose for inferior or rip off services: viz. G4S and the Olympics, G4S and tagging, hospital cleaning and PFI contracts.

  15. braco says:

    VirgilCaine and Bella,

    The problem we face, in making a start on change, is a lack of democratic control over those very levers of change.

    We have lived in a democratically impotent state for so long now, that our electorate has instinctively decoupled the act of ‘making regular democratic voting choices’ with the concept and expectations that actual corresponding social results will (or even should) flow from them!

    This is where all this, ‘what difference will it really make anyway’ shite is coming from. It’s really quite pathetic and defeatist, but certainly no accident.

    It is on the wane though, thank god!

  16. barakabe says:

    Our biggest problem as a society is the parasitic power of international capital; for Scotland in particular is this problem of proximity to such a Global financial centre as London- the market fundamentalist that have embedded their hypocritical ideology into the very fabric of all our institutions. They are hypocritical because the strategies that prop up so much of the parasitic infrastructure of capital is funded by public tax payers money- bailing out private banks, low taxation and tax relief for the wealthiest, low corporation tax, subsidization by governments, the ongoing use of public money to invest in private ‘enterprise’- there’s no equivalent from the private sector toward the public good. Well most on here know how the game works: Douglas’s post above describes the Westminster machine better than I can. The London elites, political classes and the media are irredeemably corrupted and broken- if Monbiot or others cannot see that then they’re either blinded by optimism, benighted, obtuse or just plain rogues.
    We have been offered an alternative to a system that will never work- yes its an alternative that isn’t perfect but its infinitely preferable to what’s on offer at present.
    As a people we’ve become so accustomed to transferring all our potential and faith to elites that promise us security, protection, some level of comfort that we’ve lost the capacity to see how they’ve robbed us- the price we pay for such a transfer of legitimacy is that we must give up our sovereignty, our natural rights and freedom.
    An independent Scotland must return our society to representatives who believe and respect the principles of democracy and who serve the peoples sovereignty and the promotion of their freedom.

  17. Nelson says:

    Mike’s article does seem to reinforce Liam’s comment. Anyway…

    I wish people would stop saying ‘the referendum is about sovereignty’. Whatever the outcome, Queen Liz 2 would still be sovereign with executive power of veto over any governmental decisions, as per Canada and Australia.

    Added to that, we could be a bit more left wing…

    Alternatively, freed from various toxic associations, we could be a bit more right wing.

    Personally, I think the second possibility seems more likely, but is strangely overlooked, probably because the usual suspects are mostly unionists, and don’t write articles on nat blogs.

    1. braco says:

      Liz 2 is The Sovereign. At the moment constitutionally, Westminster Parliament is Sovereign. After Independence, with the right written constitution in place, the Scots people could indeed become Sovereign.

      The proof of this is in the fact that post Indy, the electorate in Scotland would have the power to reject the Monarchy and form a Republic if they so wished. Something (along with all the other transformative policies being spoken about in this article and by activists) we patently are unable to do as an electorate in the current UK constitutional set up.

      That is ‘sovereignty’ and that is exactly what this referendum is about. Whether you wish folk would stop saying it or not.

    2. Douglas says:

      Nelson, what makes you think we might be more right-wing in an independent Scotland?

      I take it you are referring to the fact that so many Scots still vote Labour? What else could you mean?

      An understandable confusion if so, but most Labour voters are decent Social Democrats who refuse to believe the evidence in front of their eyes, still stuck in the pre-Blair era. If they happen to be over a certain age, it’s hard to blame them for that, old habits die hard.

      The Parliamentary Labour Party, on the other hand, are a parcel of Thatcherite rogues who have made a mockery of social democracy and betrayed 100 years of the fight for social justice in Scotland.

      As for Elizabeth II, remember, there never was an Elizabeth I of Scotland, so she’s I of Scotland and II of England….at least in theory.

      1. nnels says:

        In my opinion, the Labour voting pattern is a hangover from ’70’s & ’80’s class warfare, rather than actual politics. I have a feeling that the younger generation, unencumbered by those neolithic attitudes, is predominantly more right-wing than their parents.

        But the main evidence is that Scots will vote overwhelmingly for real-terms tax-cuts, and freebies for the well-off. This have transformed Scottish politics to the extent that all the main parties want to either freeze, or cut local taxes, without any wealth-based re-evaluation, as their principle platform. To that you can add the popularity of the extension of free safety-net welfare to the comfortably well off (something that is not part of ‘social democracy’ in any country that is famed for social democracy – it is just greed). These things (which drive politics in Scotland) really are the opposite of wealth redistribution, and really are very popular.

        As for Liz2 being sovereign, we have as much chance of changing that in Scotland, as in the UK, as in Australia, as in Canada. I doubt it is high on many people’s agenda, though.

    3. braco says:

      I think your last para, if truly representative of your analysis of the relative likely hoods of change in these countries, raises serious doubt over your powers of political judgement. For example, when was the last referendum on abolishing the monarchy in the UK?

      The point I made about the monarchy was not one about the likely hood of change anyway, but rather about the power to make that change if so wished. Not a difficult distinction to understand surely? So my point still stands.

      1. Nelson says:

        Personally, I have very little practical interest in the constitutional basis of the monarchy, mostly because the monarchy has not excercised their constitutional power. I think that is a commonly shared disinterest, which explains why there has not been a referendum on abolishing the monarchy, or on abolishing the monarchy’s constitutional primacy.

        As far as I am aware, only some Australians got sufficiently worked-up about it to have a referendum on the subject, and the Australians voted in favour of being the sovereign-of-the-day’s subjects.

        I was merely pointing out that no matter what the outcome of the referendum, Liz 2, or Charlie number-whatever would be sovereign, with us his or her subjects. That is the sovereignty arrangement.

        The assertions that ‘we would be more left wing’ by various on-line quasi socialists who have attached themselves to the temporary tow-line of the referendum for self-publicity purposes, is far more contentious than the issue of sovereignty.

  18. Douglas says:

    Nelson and nnels,

    I´m curious as to where you´re getting this idea that Scotland is more right wing than left? What are you basing it on? Just a gut feeling?

    If you look at the graph-poll on Mike´s article, it would suggest that people in Scotland are in favour of key industries being state owned. Which was the point he was making in the article, as I understand it. The Tories were voted in by the English electorate, not by Scottish voters. The Tories just privatized the Royal Mail, for example, something that few in Scotland voted for.

    If an independent Scotland, people vote for a party which calls for the renationalisation of, for example, the railways or the royal mail, that would be a move to the left, surely? From the figures Mike Small mentions above in his piece, that´s what it looks like most people in Scotland want. It would bring us into line with most of Europe, which is hardly a Socialist utopia of course, but put us to the left of the current UK.

    As for the monarchy, I would hope that we would get a referendum on that once we are independent. In any case, in our constitutional history, it is the Scottish people who are sovereign, not parliament or any monarch. That’s what the Declaration of Arbroath was all about, at least in part, which is why the Americans used it as an inspiration for the Declaration of Independence. .


    1. nnels says:

      I wouldn’t say that Scots are more right wing than left, I would say that Scots are more right wing than they appear in the media, due to Scots politics being swamped by vociferous left-wing characters like Mr Small, and the usual establishment dinosaurs.

      In reality, UKIP get more votes in Scotland than any party from the Rad Indy group.

      1. bellacaledonia says:

        You’re having a laugh. UKIP has never retained its deposit in Scotland despite extraordinary disproportionate media exposure, see for eg the number of times Farage appears on Question Time, almost double (11) the Dept First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (7).

        See here for a breakdown:

  19. nnels says:

    Bella, UKIP beat the Greens in the last bye-elections in Dunfermline and in Aberdeen. Both parties lost their deposits, if that counts for anything, but it is certainly a sign of what is to come in the MEP elections.

    1. Douglas says:

      Dream on, nnels,….carry on like this and you’ll end up wae a job at The Scotsman….

      1. nnels says:

        UKIP really did beat the Greens in the last bye-elections in Dunfermline and in Aberdeen.

        It is quite possible that people are currently more interested in leaving the EU than getting even larger fuel bills, and having their base-load electricity generated by wishful thinking. The Greens need to revert to being more practical, or they will only get votes from people who dream of living in recycled photo-voltaic wigwams, again, and join Tommy Sheridan on the subs bench.

      2. Douglas says:

        Nnels, you are unremittingly negative.

        UKIP are nothing in Scotland. I don’t know enough about the Greens, but when Farrage came, I would have put him on a bus and let him tour the country. I would have had him speak in every town square up and down the land, the YES vote would have doubled.

        People in Scotland do not have an appetite for Farage and UKIP, that is clear by all the polls. UKIP is where England is headed.

        Your attitude seems to be, “if an independent Scotland can’t fix the problems of humankind, then what’s the point?”

        Maybe you’re one of those Marxists who “point their deckchair facing history” (as Camus said of Sartre) and sit back and wait for the awakening of all humankind. I believe in taking small steps forward, and independence is a great opportunity to further a different vision of society. We can change things.


      3. nnels says:

        Douglas, Patrick Harvie is sitting in Holyrood because the Greens got 4% of the list vote. I think the chances of him losing his seat are pretty realistic, especially with rising fuel bills, and rising unrest about the EU – I think some Green voters are going to vote SNP/Labour and some Conservative voters are going to vote UKIP.

        It is all very much minority fringe stuff, but I think Harvie will be joining Sheridan on the sub’s bench for ex-token fringe Holyrood MSPs.

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