I’ve Decided to Vote Yes by Ewan Morrison

Ewan Morrison is one of the most celebrated and innovative of novelists to emerge in post-Devolution Scotland. Winner of the 2012 Glenfiddich Writer of the Year, the 2012/13 Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book of the Year, and an acclaimed film-maker to boot, he explains here some of the reasons why, after much soul-searching, he has finally taken the plunge and decided to vote Yes.

Ewan Morrison

Ewan Morrison

I’ve Decided To Vote Yes

Not because I buy into any of the retro leftist idealism that seems to please the majority of Yes voters I know, but because I think its important that Scotland stops blaming the UK for its woes and tries to survive as an entrepreneurial capitalist country. I vote Yes to force a change in the Scottish psyche away from Nay saying, resentment, and ‘prolier than thou’ righteousness. I vote Yes to begin the cull of turn of the century unreformed and uncritical socialist ideals that have been holding this country back and scaring away investment. Thanks to all the great friends and adversaries who have engaged me in debate over the last month of skeptical enquiry and put up with the pains of debate. May it continue.

One of the problems facing an independent Scotland is changing ingrained behaviours (and I don’t mean getting the government to socially engineer a change in consciousness). Over and above the general change in tone that is going to be required to move away from self-defeating negativity and the two-faced self-loathing that keeps us tied to a Westminster that we loathe we are going to have to start seeing our economy differently – not as some top-down phenomenon that is remote to most of our lives but something that we all engage with and take part in and ‘grow’. We have to become involved in building our own businesses, from cottage industries to hi-tech. The biggest hurdle at the moment is the almost total lack of venture capital in Scotland. I cite my own experience in books, films and media as an example – the brick wall of the lack of venture capital has impacted on the making of a feature film (written by myself) in Scotland and creating an innovative ‘book app’. This meant that in the former case money had to be found outside of Scotland and that in the case of the second the project had to be abandoned. I have experienced venture capital in other countries and it is a dynamic force for wealth and talent generation.

I’ve come across businesses in Scotland from laser designers, glass makers, publishers and media makers, who all have complained that the lack of venture capital in Scotland has forced them to drastic measures which include relocation; selling their concepts because they can’t afford to manufacture prototypes and joining the waiting list for govt subsidy which when it comes is too little, too late with too many arbitrary bureaucratic strings attached .

The lack of venture capital in Scotland means time and time again that people have to go cap in hand to the government and this has bred a culture of state dependence and failure among small enterprising businesses in Scotland. Government never picks the right projects and never invests enough because it cannot take risks or be seen to be taking risks. It backs mediocrity. One need only look at the tragic and well concealed track record of the ironically titled quango ‘Scottish Enterprise’ to see evidence of this systemic failure.  An employee told me three years back that over 90% of all businesses invested in fail.

Relying on the government to replace the missing tier of venture capital has become an engrained habit in Scotland. Government funds come out of the tax payers pockets and spending such funds does not grow the economy but only further empties public coffers. Furthermore the government are not the right people to be asking to invest in innovation. We are lacking an entire tier of money-wise venture capitalists in Scotland, who are willing to stomp up a million towards a business idea that they think will fly. The notion of venture capital is foreign to Scotland and it is going to hit us hard when we try to grow our own economy by ourselves.

Where is Scotland’s wealth, and why do adventurous and innovative businesses not benefit from the risk taking of venture capital? The answer is another example of how the clichés about the Scottish mindset are true. Scotland does have wealth but the wealthy in this country secret their wealth away in very conservative forms of investment – pension funds, mortgage funds. These are not really risk-taking forms of investment at all and are cowardly and stingy, offering only a few percentage points more return than the interest rates of any actual bank. The rich in Scotland are mean and they keep their money secret and to themselves, they don’t take risks with it, they are not enterprising with it, and the last thing they spend it on, at the moment, is reinvesting in Scottish business start-ups and innovative ideas.

This is a mindset problem that a new Scotland is going to have to address. I say Scotland and not ‘The New Scottish Government’ because we are already far too dependent on government, far too statist. The new Scotland should be a powerhouse of invention and venture, and should have to be reigned in by Government, not the way we tend to see it at the moment, as utterly dependent upon government and government hand-outs, that are only there to replace the lack of financial trust we have in our own people.

What I’m proposing here may sound punitive, it may sound like a Robin Hood tax, but I’m saying quite the opposite. I don’t want the government to get its hands on the wealth that lies hidden within Scotland, I would like the wealthy to reinvest it in their own country. This is not even an issue for government but a question of decency and ‘putting your money where your mouth is’. If you have wealth and you are going to vote Yes you should be looking to reinvest your wealth within Scotland. If you do it wisely enough and you back the right horses, you might earn a lot more in return than you would hiding away your wealth. In fact I’d go so far as to say that among the wealthy within Scotland it would be an act of hypocrisy to vote YES and then fail to invest venture capital in growing businesses within your own country.

We need a better word for Capitalism in this country, one that is not tarnished with guilt. One that means shrewd businesses investing in the future and taking risks. Why is risk a bad word? Are we stuck in the penny-pinching cliché of the Calvinist counting his coppers in the dark? After all what is a YES vote but the biggest risk we have taken yet. At the moment the only capital that is being risked is social capital – people. It is time for the wealthy in Scotland to invest in their own country.


There are so far only 22 investor groups in Scotland – 5 are backed by Govt, 5 are UK wide and based in England. They are listed here:  Investor Groups and Angel Communities in Scotland

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  1. Whether we lean to left or right Scotland needs a radical rethink. Government, enlightened (interpret that how you will) and innovative government, has a formative function here. The old order marked by its quasi-colonial mind-set is no longer viable. We know what is wrong. Rising from the supplicant posture is the first and alas for many the most psychologically challenging action.

  2. arthur thomson says:

    A refreshingly different perspective. I am certain that ‘Business for Scotland’ is a vital part of the campaign for Yes. I hope a lot of people read your post and think positively about it. A renewed Scotland will have the advantages that accrue from having a diversity of cultures, some of which bring a strong entrepreneurial tradition. Together the Scottish people can build a society which is both enterprising and egalitarian.

  3. David Agnew says:

    I think capitalism is tarnished as it failed so catastrophically that it required tax payer bail-outs. It has also developed a sense of entitlement to public money that would shame a beggar. Risk is a dirty word in the UK as it involves public money being squandered for little gain. In the UK the mantra in the city is “nothing succeeds like failure”. We have seen in the last 10 years the biggest transfer of wealth from the public purse to private companies, and we have little to show for it. What we need to end is a culture of failure that has become so endemic that when they fail, they still expect to be paid.

    True entrepreneurship doesn’t really exist, as the big bucks are in gov contracts for running public services on a cost plus basis. The ATOS contract alone has cost the UK more money than it was meant to save. Camerons big idea is to pay Glasgow £500 million over 20 years for “investment in jobs” while cutting £250million a year from Glasgow’s budget. There simply is no opportunity in a demented plan like that.

  4. Scottie says:

    Funnily enough, there is nothing ‘free market’ about the uk economy. A corporate run govt allows it’s banks to create as much money as they like offering them the safety net of the tax payer when they fail.
    Socialisation of losses, privatisation of profits.

    1. Pete Bradley says:

      Maybe an independent Scotland can make its private sector something of a true ‘free market’ economy, something better than what the Divided Kingdom has to offer. (It seems to me that an independent Scotland would be able to offer an improvement on the DK in near enough everything.) The idea of Mr and Mrs Public picking up the tab for some private company’s failures while said company is happy enough to accept any profit is simply repugnant, not to mention hypocritical.

  5. Scott Borthwick says:

    I am very glad that Mr.Morrison has decided to vote yes, but I am afraid he doesn’t have the first idea about venture capital in Scotland. For one thing, the Scottish Enterprise Seed Fund, Co-Investment Fund and Venture Fund (now administered by the Scottish Investment Bank) is such an innovative and successful model that it has been studied and copied around the world. The ‘Government’ does not in itself make the invesment decisions, but co-invest with angel investor groups and have had some spectacular successes. MTEM, Wolfson Electronics, Optos for example.

    He also appears to misunderstand the relationship between the different funding groups and types of funding available in Scotland (‘angels’ and venture capitalists are very different beasts). If he is lumping ‘venture capital’ into a single definition, from giving someone £10,000 for proof of concept work (with a high failure rate) to investing £4m into an established start-up to drive them towards a global impact then he has singularly failed to understand the funding challenge of taking an idea and building it into a successful business.

    Finally, far from there being ‘only 22’ investor groups (a pretty significant number for a country of this size), there are many more. I don’t see Alida Capital listed in his link, or Apollo, Barwell, Bradenham, Equity Gap, Gabriel, Grampian Biopartners, Halo (Northern Irish, but do invest in Scotland), Kelvin Capital (backed by Jim McColl), Lancaster Capital and others. This list does not even cover the proof of concept, start-up capital and follow-on funding provided by universities around Scotland to help commercialise their research. This is an extraordinarily active part of the Scottish economy and believe me, many rich Scottish people are quietly doing exactly what Mr.Morrison is calling on them to do whilst accusing them of hoarding their wealth. Perhaps Mr.Morrison should do a little more research before launching into the polemics.

    1. Scott Borthwick
      Perhaps you can explain two things, if venture capital is so active in Scotland
      1. Why does Scotland still not have a film studio after 20 years of attempting to build one. The reason is a total lack of Scottish match funding.
      2. Why does Scottish enterprise have such a high failure rate?
      Perhaps you can outline the sectors in which you see venture capital performing an active and successful role ?
      And can you give me some statistics on the failure rate of businesses backed by Scottish enterprise.
      To correct you on your above statement, state bureaucrats within quangos do make decisions on the allocation of funds and the determining of the application criteria in the first ace are determined by these people and not by businesses themselves . As regards the role government plays in encouraging enterprise in Scotland Id like to hear what you make of two Scottish Quangos giving £12.5 million to the foreign monopoly Amazon, while in the same time frame four Scottish publishers went bankrupt. Perhaps you could let me know if Scottish enterprise was involved with that as u know the funds passed through the govt and one of the quangos was Visit Scotland.
      You can also let me know how you would designate your job? Do you work for the govt or have dealings with Scottish Enterprise. I believe that where someone speaks from is as important as what they say. I speak from the position of someone with my own business in Scotland who has constantly been to by entrepreneurs in the culture and hi tech sectors that they simply cannot access venture capital in this country, one if the reasons being that it is caught up with so much government red tape.
      But please try to ask my questions above. And thanks for your contribution.

      1. Scott Borthwick says:

        Hi Ewan,

        Many thanks for your response. I will start with your last question. My recent background is in corporate law, specifically advising small, high-tech start-up companies on raising finance and also occasionally acting for angel groups who are investing in these companies. I do not work for Scottish Enterprise, but many of the deals I have advised on have had a SE co-investment led and negotiated by the private investors. I am currently self-employed and am working with the commercialisation department of one of Scotland’s top universities.

        I have also worked as a writer and musician. I do therefore have a great deal of sympathy for your position as regards a lack of support for creative endeavours in Scotland. I’m not sure the blame can be laid entirely at SE’s door for this though. I’d have thought Creative Scotland may have a case to answer here. I’m not trying to be pedantic, rather I am agreeing that quangos are not working in this sector. It’s possibly more the case that SE won’t invest in a film studio because they take their cues from private investment groups who tend to shy away from film investment and Creative Scotland probably lack the budget, vision and and ambition that such a project requires.

        In short (and this was perhaps the focus of your argument), investment in creative industries could be eligible for government support via matched funding, but they need to be led there by private investors. The question we should be asking ourselves is therefore how do we convince the private investors that there is an attractive enough return for them to put their money into these sectors?

        I’m not sure where you got your SE failure rate figures or definition from, so I can’t comment on that. SE give money to companies in many different ways at different stages, so ‘failure’ is a nebulous term. Indeed, given companies can wind up profitably before they start trading, failure may even be indefinable. I can say that no SE investee company I was involved with during my time in private practice became insolvent, but I would never report that as a 100% success rate. Some are profitable, some are not. Some just barely survive from funding round to funding round whilst others quickly go on to greater things.

        I don’t therefore have statistics on failure rates, but SE do publish their annual report (http://www.scottish-enterprise.com/about-us/what-we-do/our-performance) and they have a list of investee companies. (http://www.scottish-enterprise.com/about-us/what-we-do/sib/sib-investees). I’d guess if you contact them directly, they could give you further statistics. The Accountant in Bankruptcy also publishes statistics on corporate and personal insolvencies. The most recent statistics can be found here: http://www.aib.gov.uk/scottish-insolvency-statistics-2013-14-quarter-4-0.

        I think it’s terrible that Amazon received such a significant subsidy from government, especially as I believe that better quality and possibly more plentiful jobs could be created by supporting smaller and more innovative companies. On that point I hope we are agreed.

        If there is a problem in attracting investment in new ventures in this country, it may have a lot to do with the fact that many of the active investment groups are heavily committed to re-investing in companies they have previously invested in as those companies are struggling to attract bank finance. I’m not sure the investment groups, SE or the Scottish Government can take too much of the blame here.

        There is a great deal of activity in the medical devices and healthcare sectors, both of which are very capital intensive. The renewables sector is burgeoning. I agree there needs to be more investment in all sectors and hopefully with independence the Scottish Government can find innovative ways to encourage more private capital into early stage investment.

        I apologise for the length of this reply, but you did ask for a significant amount of input.

    2. Scott , you site three companies MTEM, Wolfson and Optos as examples of companies who have grown through Venture capital. And you are right in this but this is all work being done in the same very small specialised hi tech sector and Two of these companies began from work conducted within edinburgh university and funded by that institution and that institution in return received a great deal of government funding. These are hardly examples of bold, risk taking venture capital. We need to see VC taking place right across the spectrum of business – in manufacture, fashion, catering, design, transport, agriculture and the arts.

      It seems to me that you are arguing for the continuing existence of large quangos like Scottish Enterprise and not making a substantial case for the thriving culture of VC that you say is already there. As such you are at cross purposes as if there was already a strong culture of VC in Scotland there would be no role for Scottish Enterprise. Please admit that it us precisely the role of Scottish Enterprise to encourage a financially risk averse country to be more enterprising.

      1. Ewan Morrison says:

        Scott Borthwick
        Thanks for your long and considered reply. We seem to be in agreement on many points. Yes, it is a lack of match funding investment from the private sector that has led to Scotland failing to have a film studio and this lack of private investment runs through many sectors. You are right to point out that the majority of VC is around medical and healthcare business – and that VC tends to gravitate towards businesses that have already shown to be profitable.

  6. setondene says:

    Absolutely spot on comment from Ewan. I’m fed up with listening to people blaming London – let’s get off our backsides and sort out our own mess.

  7. Matt Seattle says:

    I wish to float the concept of a balance between the interests represented by Common Weal, Business for Scotland and the Greens: social justice, entrepreneurship and care of the environment.

    Look after each other, take care of business, look after the planet.

    A threefold dance, each leading in turn and in tune. **** ideology, let’s dance.

    1. Matt, I’m not sure how people with private business interests and those who fundamentally oppose caution can ” take care of each other”. I do think though that since they have a common goal they could agree to drop their differences and think strategically. This on the left would do well to at least talk in more business friendly ways for the time being rather than putting on this anti-business demonstration. It makes no strategic sense to scare Scottish businesses away from a Yes vote.

  8. yerkitbreeks says:

    Thank you for that list. I took the tax-free cash from my pension and wanted to invest most of it in Scotland.

    No go with the two I approached – the proposed bike chairlift at Innerleithen and the West Coast oyster “ranch”.

    I’ll try again via your link.

  9. Andy Nimmo says:

    If I’m totally honest I have to admit to a ‘niggle’. I imagine an old style Labour Party winning the first election and drowning in anti business dogma. I’ve listened and read Robin McAlpine and think his blueprints and models are wonderful but…….
    Do we really need an Election in 2016.
    Couldn’t we go back in time and create a Camelot. A Round Table approach with elected members from all sides of the current Yes Scotland spectrum to drive our new country forward.
    Ach I know I haven’t thought it through yet but nevertheless……..

    1. Matt Seattle says:

      That’s pretty much what I was trying to say, Andy

      1. Andy Nimmo says:

        Oops sorry Matt. .Had my post ready to send…..Watched a couple of horse races on TV then hit send button…You must have posted in interim…
        True what they say then…’Great Minds Think Alike’

  10. Drew Macleod says:

    Glad to see Ewan is voting Yes though I don’t agree with his reasoning. It is greed and suffering that has always tarnished capitalism!

  11. sosolidshoe says:

    Trickle down economics are a demonstrable failure for everyone except the ever-shrinking elite who are the only true beneficiaries. While you voting Yes may help us get independence, I won’t be glad to be on the same side of anything as someone who supports a system that is a byword for impoverishment, cronyism, and corporate corruption. I highly suggest you have a read of “23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism” by Ha-Joon Chang; maybe if an advisor to the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, UN, European Investment Bank, and a fellow of CEPR lays out exactly why your ideology is unsupported by evidence and unsupportable ethically, you’ll find it harder to dismiss than coming from us “prolier than thou” types.

    1. So would you see independence as a way to start a kind of independent socialist republic? Or a country that us an example to the world in its socialist economy and values?

  12. Matt Seattle says:

    I was also going to mention the ‘trickle down’ lie, and there are things I am uncomfortable with in Ewan’s article.. If being inspired by Robin McAlpine makes me a retro leftist idealist in his eyes I couldn’t give a —-.

    I wanted to keep it simple, also I was offering a hand to Andy Nimmo, not saying ‘I thought of it first’ – I didn’t think of anything, I was echoing the old old idea expressed by ‘in place of strife’. Recognise different **legitimate** interests. Greed is not one of these, but entrepreneurship in the service of something better than greed does seem to be – doesn’t it?

    1. Ewan morrison says:

      The trickle down effect works in every business. Film for example has a trickle down effect from the initial budget of x million to the casting agencies, agents , the crew, the trainees , the caterers, the wardrobe dept, down to location fees and payment for indigenous facilities houses. Then you have cinemas and tourism around a popular film and merchandise. The trickle down effect is clearly why the whole thing works. Most businesses operate like this. Fordism for exams is based on the notion that a worker earns enough to buy a ford car. The only way you can claim that the trickle down effect does not work is if you look at all of society and include the long term unemployed. There is a chasm that separates them from the rest of the working population and this chasm has not been solved by either left or right. This class is the exception to the rule and does not disprove the rule that the trickle down effect is the very foundation of all businesses. Look at any single business and you see the trickle down effect in operation. It is only when you put on the Marxist goggles and adopt the stance that there should be a plan for all of society that you can see that business does it touch the longterm unemployed. You say the trickle down effect for society does not work, I say that the idea if a top down plan for society is an even worse idea and has never worked .

      1. Fraser says:

        As a resident of Wellington in New Zealand I can tell you how the trickle down effect from the film industry works. It trickles down from Hollywood mostly into the pockets of the NZ directors and producers who behaved with the utmost venality and dishonesty in conspiring with the Tory government to completely remove the employment rights of everyone working nationally in the film and TV industry while the Hollywood studios succeeded in duping the same government out of further multi-million dollar tax breaks than they were already getting (there’s government subsidy for you).

        I am sure the presence of the film industry in Wellington has had a beneficial effect on property values in the suburbs of Miramar and Seatoun and has kept a few cafes and restaurants in business and has unquestionably provided some employment for indigenous technicians, artists and actors. This however has come at the cost of their right to collectively negotiate fair conditions of work and pay, uniquely among industrial sectors in New Zealand. Much of the employment is also transient, drawing in temporary talent from overseas, and it all booms and busts with productions which ebb and flow like Wellington’s tides. Living conditions in the poorer parts of Upper Hutt are remarkably unimproved.

        I say all this not to argue that a film studio in Scotland would not be something of a good thing, but to point out the shortcomings of using it as an example of the supposed benefits of ‘trickle down’ economics, which others here have in any case pointed out are as fictitious as Hobbits’ hairy feet. A Scottish film studio akin to Wellington’s could undoubtedly act as a springboard for a lot of Scottish creative talent which would be nice, but it wouldn’t transform Rutherglen into Beverley Hills. A few McMoguls would get filthy rich and a lot of lighting technicians, actors, make-up artists, CGI geeks and key grips would get screwed out of a decent wage in return for their dedication to the glamour of the silver screen.

  13. biowrite says:

    Ewan, firstly you are just plain wrong in saying that the trickle-down effect exists in reality and not merely as a piece of neoliberal propaganda. I am astounded that a man of your undoubted intelligence can somehow be ignorant of the huge and widening gap between the few super-rich and the rest of us. Here are two videos on this for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPKKQnijnsM

    …And here’s one on why the super-rich should be taxed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBx2Y5HhplI

    Secondly, you are posing a bizarre false dichotomy between ‘free-market’ capitalism (the quotation marks are advisory as this is, in reality, as unfree and as top-down as you can get) and what you seem to think is the only alternative to it – a top-down economy of the sort seen in the old Soviet Union. Look at the numerous ideas for organising bottom-up societies and organisations, such as those put forward by Lesley Riddoch (smaller local authorities, for one thing), those manifested in Porto Alegre (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/sep/10/participatory-democracy-in-porto-alegre), and those championed by David Erdal (http://biowrite.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/erdal/) who advocates employee-owned businesses rather than share-issuing ones, and presents a significant body of evidence to back this up. Furthermore, some ‘top-downism’ (or state intervention) is very helpful for business success and, in fact, is what lies behind many of the biggest and most successful businesses in the world. Ha-Joon Chang in his book ’23 Things They Don’t Tell About Capitalism’ provides abundant evidence of this.

    1. Ewan Morrison says:

      Bio write. There are two developments in the last thirty years that have completely redrawn the picture of society. The first is a class of long term unemployed now entering the third or in some cases fourth generation (and within the same families), and there is the rise of speculative capital as a phenomenon which is larger than GDP. The people who play the market in the city of London and play with 300times the GDP of the UK are no longer really connected to the rest of us, their wealth does not trickle down, unless you include hotels, sandwiches and prostitutes. So yes, in this sense you are right, the big players are cut off from the rest of society. But so too are the ultra poor. Neither the welfare state nor the wealth of the nation is having any effect on these people. But for the rest of us within the economy, those who make and trade and pay for things that we use, the trickle down effect is very much in evidence. Please read my note above about a typical film shot in the country and the way the initial investment of £1million spreads out. I fear you are throwing all the babies out with the bathwater if you fail to understand how wealth is created and how it naturally is shared out through everyday processes.

    2. Ewan Morrison says:

      Porto Alegre is now being championed as the way forward for representative democracy. Interesting how many times I see this cited. Does this mean that the left has now moved away from the other trendy third world ‘solution’ to all the ills of capitalism – the one that was championed a decade ago? Does anyone remember Chiapas, the Zapatistas and Subcondante Marcos? I guess that didn’t work out so we’ll whitewash another piece of failed leftwing history and set our sites for the first world, once again, on some romanticised minority in the third world. Marx really would be ashamed of the way that westerners look to what he would have seen as teleogically backward countries for salvation. The article which everyone sites on Porto Alegre in the Guardian is very short and very short on facts. It is also written by someone from the now failed Occupy movement. Maybe we’d like to bury that bit of left wing history too so we don’t have to deal with facts of History and the unintended consequences of our (good) intentions.
      David Erdal’s points are interesting though and this is the direction we should be moving in to have a mixed capitalist economy, so thanks for the link.

  14. Assuming we elect to quit the anglo-scottish union in september any open-minded future government will have a world of economic models to choose from. As a small country we ought not to be in thrall to any one option. Balancing the public and the private for the greater good ought to be possible. The pragmatic ought to score over the narrowly doctrinaire. It will be a true measure of just how far we have ditched the old ways if we become more imaginative, more catholic in our approach to politics, to economics and anything else that underpins our status as a sovereign nation. If that means a degree of experimentation, why not.

  15. barakabe says:

    Alasdair I think the OO would need a lot of persuasion to embrace a “more catholic in our approach to politics” ethos to governance. I think other posters have answered my own questions regarding this article, so I will not go over what has already been said by others. My impressions of the writer is that he has been indoctrinated into the market fundamentalist ideology that is now established orthodoxy of UKplc- it’s clearly evidenced in the intolerance to consider alternative possibilities, an inflexibility shared by all ideologues. In my experience ideologues are very empirically resistant and can effectively ignore any data that contradicts their belief system- this article is heavy with dense confirmation bias. It seems that anyone who may disagree with market fundamentalism is a Marxist, leftist, communist, collectivist ( USA variety), insert pejorative label where applicable. How do the ideologues successfully ignore the banking crisis, tax payer bailouts, the quantitative easing fiasco, widespread corporate/banking fraud, the interchangeability of big business/government…the list is endless to be honest. We have lurched so far to the right in the UK that even moderately “radical” proposals such as financial regulation, public control of basic services or higher tax rate for the super-rich threatens to label you as a quasi-communist zealot. The biggest problem we face with corporatism and the privatization of the public life is that it is endangering democracy itself: we have three massive stories in Scotland that have received little or no coverage from the mainstream media. One concerned the potential draft of a constitution for an independent Scotland, the second was the potential governments plans for the re-industrialization of national infrastructure and the last was the most recent one of Professor Sir Donald Mackay’s £8 billion oil revenue projections- none of these massive stories barely registered on the radar of the Scottish media- private concentration of wealth into small elites misappropriates power and weighs it in favour of their narrow interests- that cannot be good for society as a whole.
    In my opinion ideology all ideology is potentially damaging, whether market fundamentalist or Marxist, as it is founded upon a limited set of fixed ideas that condition human experience. Marxists for example don’t allow for the privatization of anything, or believe in any form of entrepreneurship; market fundamentalists refuse to consider nationalization as in any way beneficial or accept government regulation in finance to curb the worst excesses of human greed. In short all ideologies allow for certain human possibilities and exclude others so that we end up with a great imbalance in any given society. An independent Scotland would do well to move away from all Right/Left binary ideologies and promote a more flexible pragmatic model approach to governance grounded in reliable empiricism- an alternative model that experiments in new ways of doing things and values those methods that work and discards those based merely on assumptive prejudice.

  16. Ewan Morrison says:

    I agree with you entirely that “An independent Scotland would do well to move away from all Right/Left binary ideologies and promote a more flexible pragmatic model approach to governance grounded in reliable empiricism.” to take you at your own word, why then do you show inflexibility towards the market economy and the idea of Scotland being a successful country within the modern global economy? Surely it would be pragmatic to accept that we live in specific time in a specific economic paradigm and that to be successful within that we would have to work with what we have an accept the situation.

  17. barakabe says:

    I certainly don’t have any objections to Scotland becoming a success in the Global Market Economy- what I disagree with is crony capitalism, rampant corporatism, systemic banking-financial fraud, & all the other neo-con hypocrisy that props up most of our market economy. We need radical improvements and an alternative to the present corrupt model (that increasingly serves the rarefied “insider” elites)- something along the lines of Sweden as an exemplar, certainly in terms of a smallish Northern European state that ranks more than competitively in the Global Market & very high in the context of institutional transparency. We also need an overhaul of our banking sector and how capital is supplied and circulated via financial institutions- Germany is a superb model of Banking efficiency that we would do well to learn from, especially in its emphasis upon localized “safe” banks supporting small to medium sized business to prosper with proper prudent securitization. If we were to accept what we inherit from the present dysfunctional UK model ( if pragmatism is accepting what exists, a definition I don’t agree with) then what would be the point of Independence if we are merely repeating the same cataclysmic failures of the past? IN plain terms: the financial collapse was complete meltdown and the banks would have went bust without tax payers ( PUBLIC MONIES) funded bailouts. This is not capitalism. The banks should have been allowed to fail. That is capitalism & without that necessary corrective what is it we actually have? Other Northern European nations with a more consensus driven, politically mature & history of institutional reform than the UK, such as the Scandinavian nations, Belgium, Holland and even Germany, have all achieved greater levels of economic-cultural balance and better levels of social cohesion- this tired cynical aping of Americana crony capitalism has not been good for British society in general. If you believe Chicago School Economic orthodoxy is capitalism & the only type “progress” we can make in the Global Market place then there really isn’t much I else I can say- for all evidence shows that it has been an abject failure.

    1. emorrison says:

      You said: “If you believe Chicago School Economic orthodoxy is capitalism & the only type “progress” we can make in the Global Market place then there really isn’t much I else I can say- for all evidence shows that it has been an abject failure.”. No I don’t believe that that is the case, but since this is the dominant mindset in the world at the moment Scotland has to play along with it. There is no such things as an autonomous island – a fairer society – within the neo liberal sea. You have to play by the rules that exist. Otherwise, if you refuse, you are excluded from the game. I’m not talking about ideal situations and I’m well aware with all of the faults of Neo Liberal paradigm but we have to be pragmatic. You seem to be harbouring this very popular idea that scotland could lead the world – is that not in short – what you are saying?

  18. Harley Smith says:

    Venture capital doesn’t work very well anywhere in Europe, let alone the UK. I doubt Scotland would suddenly become an all-singing, all-dancing Silicon Glen packed full of shiny, happy and generously risk-taking billionaires after secession. Europeans are famously cautious with their cash. How can Scotland expect to suddenly overcome this? If it hasn’t happened in London, Cambridge, Paris, Berlin or Barcelona, why Glasgow or Edinburgh? Also, I have met a million people who claim to have an innovative app – very few of whom make any money. Why can’t you just build it yourself, anyway? People seem to manage it down south, where life is much more expensive.

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