TINA Lives

The thing that scares career politicians that have overseen the closure of minds, options and political differences over the last thirty years is people stumbling across the possibility of real change. The cybernat stories that have been splashed about all week are not really about political dialogue, pretty much everyone knows there’s nutters out there and pretty much everyone knows that just acting abusively is going to ultimately backfire and harm your own cause. It’s not about dialogue and it’s going to fail as an attempt to frame the debate, particularly in light of revelations like this.

No, it’s an attempt to shut down voices, it’s a return to TINA:

There is no alternative (shortened as TINA) was a slogan often used by the Conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. In economics, politics, and political economy, it has come to mean that “there is no alternative” to economic liberalism—that free markets, free trade, and capitalist globalization are the best or the only way for modern societies to develop. According to TINA, economic liberalism is the only valid remaining ideology. Cabinet minister Norman St John-Stevas, one of the leading “wets”, nicknamed Thatcher “Tina”.

What the unionist campaign is confusing is people making people who are making the case that ‘things could be improved’ – holding out hope, aspiration for a democratic settlement and challenging the status quo with hatred.

As today’s ICM polls shows significantly, this is beginning to have some impact. The reason to feel positive about this poll isn’t the momentum for Yes it’s the reasons given for this change:

• Increasing numbers of people believe a Yes vote will benefit Scotland’s economy
• A significant rise in support for Yes from women
• Rising numbers of people believe a Yes vote will lead to higher pensions
• A growing belief there will be more equality in an independent Scotland
That’s what scarey for them.
The cybernat stories aren’t the only sign of panic as the polls shift, nor are the disgrace of the British Govt using the Foreign Offices Devolution Unit to try and badmouth our country around the globe. Key opinion writers are entering the debate, like Iraq-apologist David Aaronovitch (‘We should not ask whether the Iraq invasion was ‘legal’ – we should ask whether it was ‘good‘).
Aaronovitch has got himself in a right old sweat, foaming at the mouth about the very possibility of aspiration for change in The Times. He wrote: “The Yes campaign is sophisticated and fights clear of the old anti-Sassenach stuff that used to characterise some nationalism. No woad or bare bottoms, but rather a constant suggestion that – sadly – the Scots are one thing and the English are another, and that they are becoming less alike.”
This disgraceful attempt to articulate and describe what’s self-evident in policy differences is clearly unacceptable to the media elite. Having had our attention drawn to it we were already to respond. Thankfully there’s no need as Iain Macwhirter does such a fine job in the Sunday Herald today, in an article which not so much skewers Aaronovitch’s diatribe as eviscerates it he writes:

Scotland remains as resistant as ever to not only Faragism, but also Conservatism. Yet, this apparently self-evident truth has come under challenge recently by London-based commentators, who resent the idea that the Scots are somehow more right-on than voters in England. The Times columnist, David Aaronovitch, last week took Scottish writer Lesley Riddoch to task for peddling such ideas. He’s even invented a word for it: “othering”, which apparently means making arbitrary, moral distinctions between Scots and English people.

Aaronovitch thinks we’re just hiding our woad behind a gloss of liberalism. So, for the avoidance of doubt, let me make it clear that Scots are no better or worse than English people, morally or in any other respect. This has nothing to do with genetics or national character, but political culture. It is simply that there is no significant party of the political right in Scotland any more.

The Tories were wiped out in Scotland in 1997, and remain profoundly unpopular, with only one MP. They were only saved from oblivion by the creation of the Scottish Parliament they opposed, and even there they have made virtually no progress despite being led by an attractive and intelligent young woman who happens to be a lesbian.

This difference in political culture pre-dates the referendum and the Yes Campaign, and it isn’t really to do with nationalism.

Cowdenbeath was a disaster for the SNP, but it’s one that it would have predicted and will be more than offset by the Yes polls coming in. It represented another nail in the coffin for the idea that the mysterious UKIP would creep northwards bringing its half-baked comedy fascism.

The reality is the very independence debate has killed TINA forever and is opening up a stream of new ideas and forces on a sea of possibility. You only ever hear about Cybernats, not Digital Republicans or the new civic voice of optimism based on hope not hate that’s engaging with ways of taking us all forward. That’s what’s really happening, that’s why we’ll win.

Comments (24)

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  1. ‘othering’ a phenomena that has some justification at least in the environmental sense.

    There is a collective understanding of Scottish that is different to English, Welsh or Irish, it’s historical granted, but Tina help re-invigourate the sentiment by isolating Scotland as the poll tax guinea pig. the effect of which still gels my generation in the main at least.

    This being another circle to square in the compendium of British equality. Therefore, it’s not so much the destruction of the Conservatives in Scotland as much as there inability to reflect the benefits of their policies to a greatly disenfranchised society relative to the prosperity of policy benefit in the south of England.

    Once bitten twice shy.

  2. DougtheDug says:

    The thing that scares career politicians that have overseen the closure of minds, options and political differences over the last thirty years is people stumbling across options for real change.

    I would say that the thing that scares politicians most of all is an electorate that is politically engaged and aware and that has moved away from the mainstream media for its information sources.

    “Cybernat” is a term which is used to try and isolate independence supporters and to encourage the idea that they are not part of mainstream thinking and their opinions should be discarded.

    It’s not about abuse. It’s the fact that most of those labelled as “cybernats” are the demographic politicians fear the most. Those who are politically aware, engaged and who are not locked into the mainstream press or BBC for their news and opinions.

  3. Imagine if Westminster could be trusted to be open and honest? ha ha only a joke.

  4. Whilst Cameron is insisting the referendum decision is one for Scots, he is at the same time instructing a department in the FCO to push the message to other countries in the world that Scotland should not be accepted into international circles as an independent country.

    Westminster cannot be trusted, either in the campaign or in assertions that some form of additional devo will be on offer when we gullibly vote no. Those who still believe a Westminster government of whatever shade of blue will deliver any additional powers should consider how one stance has been widely professed, with apparent hand-on-heart sincerity, while another is sneakily pursued behind backs. Retaining power is all, irrespective of how it is achieved. Democracy doesn’t come into it.

    The John Barrowman farce is merely another example of the low regard in which democracy and the Scots are held.

    With the Scottish Parliament already held in higher regard than Westminster, these should strengthen the message that Westminster cannot, and should not, be trusted.

  5. Ishbel says:

    Et tu, Aaranovitch? “…woad and bare bottoms…”? Oh dear. Or should I say Oh, Deerin? That unnecessary jibe is right up there with Deerin’s recent comment about “…kilted bum-barers who bellow ‘freedom’ whenever an English person hoves into view…”

    What levels are these so-called journalists sinking to these days? Surely it’s quite enough to make even the staunchest unionist vote Yes.

    As for the Foreign Office spreading propaganda: this comes as no surprise whatsoever. The very same thought crossed my mind just a few weeks back when I was browsing the German/Swiss/Austrian media to see how they were covering the issue, and was struck by the uniformity of the statements, all of which seemed to come straight from the BT playbook. Arguably the worst offender was Theo Sommer, politically influential editor-in-chief of the highly respected (?) centre-left (?) weekly newspaper DieZeit (and member of the Bilderberg steering committee, btw), who trotted out every single BT stereotype and scare-story, including “oil is running out and then they’ll have nothing left but whisky” / “won’t get into the EU” / “subsidised by England” etc. etc.

    Here’s the link. You don’t even need to understand a single word of German to recognise “illusion” in the headline:


    1. Abulhaq says:

      The Economist, The Guardian, The FT….Sommer did not go far from the establishment stable for his data. Essentially about England and the EU, the article is a worthless piece of junk. He knows nothing about us, has probably never been here and parrots the usual Unionist colonialist tripe. Du bist voller Scheiß Theo!

  6. Ishbel says:

    Forgot to add:

    “The reality is the very independence debate has killed TINA forever and is opening up a stream of new ideas and forces on a sea of possibility”

    Yes – that’s my take on the Cowdenbeath result exactly. People are actually coming around to the idea that they have the power to shape the political landscape themselves. And that is surely a good thing in an independent Scotland.

  7. James Coleman says:

    “Cowdenbeath was a disaster for the SNP,”

    Oh I wouldn’t go that far. After all it was a by-election after 6 years of SNP Government, in a Labour stronghold many of whom must have voted SNP in 2011. And one excellent result from the election was the canvassing returns obtained by the SNP in re of Independence. It asked 11,727 local residents how they intended to vote in the independence referendum and 41% said YES, 36% said NO, and 23% said UND. And if the UNDs are ignored a notional referendum result of 53.2% YES, 46.8% NO is achieved. Unscientific maybe but another straw in the wind.
    I am sure with the growth of Labour for Independence over the next 8 months these results will actually be attainable on Sepemeber 18th.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Fair comment

    2. Michael says:

      A disaster for the SNP? On whose terms. Goodness the Lab vote was down on 2011 and the SNP vote was down almost exactly in line with turnout. There was no evidence of switching which would be a disaster. Surely it was a case of the result being a foregone conclusion – this is Lab’s safe seat after all – and SNP voters just feeling there wasn’t any point in coming out. Lab as far as we know had tons of data on voters locally, used it effectively and got their vote out. But that’s it they didn’t get anyone to switch and made no progress on the votes they already had. More complex than the result suggests.

  8. Abulhaq says:

    Scottish independence will shit-shock Europe. It may initiate the end of the repetitious, tired “auld capitalist sang”. Along with the hoped for radical Catalan independence our recovered sovereignty might well signal a totally new political order in Europe. One in which the conceit of the anglo-american worldview is finally put in its proper place, a skip somewhere in Davos. Yes, Mr Aaronovitch we are “other”. Consequently we are dangerous, to left, to right, to centre, to conventional thinking.

  9. muttley79 says:

    I do not think Cowdenbeath was a disaster for the SNP. It is a Labour hold, in a low turnout, at a quiet time in the political year. The by-election was held in tragic circumstance as well. To be honest, I reckon that the turnout at the Labour for Independence meeting in Glasgow was more significant.

    On the cybernat issue: I think it is purely down to the fact that the No campaign do not have control over social media and the internet. You could argue that the key methods that Unionism has relied on to rule Scotland have been conditioning and control. Conditioning has come from the people of Scotland having been denied a proper education about their own culture and history for hundreds of years. This has slowly been changing in the last few decades. Unionists have been intent on denying the people here a significant opportunity to think about the status of Scotland, particularly in regards to other small European countries. The independence referendum has normalised the idea of an independent Scotland. Once the normalisation of independence occurs, Unionists cannot credibly ever again portray it as a romantic, nationalist fantasy. The importance of this cannot really be overstated. For decades the main agent of independence, the SNP and its supporters, were portrayed as eccentric, romantic, often bigoted outsiders to the legitimate mainstream of Scottish politics. This too has been utterly overturned as well. Hence Unionists in Scotland are now only left with their increasingly aggressive, panic-stricken scare mongering, and abject negativity.

    Due to the fact that referendum process has finally broken the political conditioning of a significant number of people in Scotland from accepting that we should have an inferior status to similarly sized European nations, Unionists and their proxies in the MSM have been seeking to regain some dominance and control. As we have seen in the last 5 years or so they cannot control the internet and social media. Therefore, all they have left is their rich donors from the British establishment and the MSM in the UK (which are still powerful forces). Hence, we get the desperate and shameful tactics of the Daily Heil. Irrespective of the result in September, Unionism in Scotland has become almost completely hollowed out, with literally no vision for the future of Scotland.

    Lastly, Mike I am not sure you can say that TINA has been killed forever by the independence referendum. If we vote No, then TINA will be back, and with a furious and avenging British establishment behind it…

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      What I mean is that TINA operates best if there are no outlets for ideas and for people sharing information. Prior to social media and citizen journalism is was arguably easier to do that. Think of Diomhair. I think its far less easy for information to be suppressed now.

  10. Paddy Scott Hogg says:

    Quality stuff Mike! Great read. Keep it coming…………

  11. douglas clark says:

    If you control both print and televisual media you think you will win. The rise of the world wide web has undermined that paradigm. One way to deal with that is to monster anyone who uses it agin the status quo. That is what we are seeing now. And it is by no means local, it is global.


    I am no politician – I say what I think most of the time, which would be anathema to anyone with political ambitions. For instance that the whole of Better Together consists merely of those with vested interests or who have similar ambitions in running us as a stepping stone to power and influence on a UK stage or perhaps beyond. My kind of language does not sit comfortably with the folk it is directed at. They react, perhaps not to me, but to the idea of it that is out there, and as we have seen with the cybernat jibe, they react by telling us it is we who are wrong, not them. We are wrong, they are right in their ambition and their self interest and they have two legs of the media stool to sit on. But the third, that damned internet is as shoogly as fuck. Thus the only media that allows, more or less unfettered access to Joe Soap is villified because Joe Soap or I do not have a background in University debating societies where calling someone a liar is an intolerable sin and telling lies is allowable?

    How did we get to this impassé between what people say and what politicians expect of them? Politicians expect more of us than we can realistically expect of them.

    Legacy politicians – you know who I mean – have been insulated for far too long from an electorate they no more than tolerate – they prefer television studios and soft questions to any version of a ‘hustings’. It has become a game for these people. Indeed exposure to the public is avoided at all costs, the ‘Subway’ incident, the Clydebank night with Jackie Baillie was it?

    If DougtheDug is right, and it is highly persuasive:


    then they must know they are lying to us. They must assume that we are so uninterested in the minutae that they can get away with a headline rather than an analysis. This is not adult, this is being persuaded which washing powder you prefer by a 30 second sound bite. However, it is not just the rash that the washing powder may give you, it is losing your home and perhaps the will to live.

    Jim Murphy encapsulates the whole problem with this idea of non-participative democracy.

    In brief he has told us that we are not good enough for him.


  12. yerkitbreeks says:

    I guess it’s too much to suggest that the Westminster commentators should read the Claim of Scotland ( serialised in Wings ) to get a bit of background

  13. Aaronovitch is really very similar to Putin in his reaction to challenge via the new media. And when exactly was the woad and bare bottoms phase of Scottish nationalism? I’m sorry I missed that. Oh…, I see. He didn’t enjoy Braveheart. Well, apart from Patrick McGoohan as the psychotic Edward I, it wasn’t much of a film.

  14. Fay Kennedy says:

    There is a big difference between Scotland and England. Isn’t it always the same that the big yin over rules the wee yin. So we must always stand up for ourselves. The Independence outcome will have effects in places not even considered before .Even here in Australia where there is division between republican side and the monarchy at the possibility of changing the constitution to include the Aboriginal people.The whole notion of the British Commonwealth will be disrupted in ways not known. So Tina will be challenged. Everywhere it seems these are interesting times and the winds of change are blowing. Scotland has given much to the world and may even be the precurser again to a different kind of political system where the people can live in dignity and pride. It’s time for a discourse of vision and dreams rather than the same old dreary drone that it canny be done. To give honour where its due and follow the words of Alisdair Gray and live as if we were in a better country.

  15. Reblogged this on Bampots Utd and commented:

  16. Looby Dopp says:

    I disagree with Iain MacWhirter’s statement about there being no significant party of the right in Scotland. We have Labour and they’ve just come top of the poll in Cowdenbeath.

  17. florian albert says:

    The most interesting thing about the recent Cowdenbeath by election is that over 84% of votes went to either Labour or SNP. On social and economic matters, there is little or nothing between them. Equally importantly, neither is radical.
    There was no left wing candidate in the by election. Even the Scottish Greens failed to out up a candidate in a constituency where there has been serious environmental pollution.
    UKIP won only 3% of the votes but it is 3% more than the left.
    When the left opts out of electoral politics, it is left with journalist Mike Small commenting on journalist Iain Mcwhirter commenting on journalist David Aaronovitch commenting on journalist Lesley Riddoch.

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