Sweet Release from Undecided Purgatory

MY PATH TO YES BETTERFour months ago I was going to vote Yes just because it’s what my father would have wanted. Three months ago I was on the verge of voting No. Two months ago I was undecided. Back in May I decided to announce on Facebook that my lack of a decision was not a personal failing but my considered position. I had too many questions to resolve in my own solitary head and so I asked my ‘friends’ to help try to convince me one way or the other. Why? Because I was to-ing and fro-ing with attendant mood swings and actually finding it hard to work or rest. Being undecided is a kind of purgatory and one made to seem shameful by those zealots who have never bothered to question their own position and have been YES or NO from day one, by some accident of birth. The undecideds were being bad-mouthed in the press and on social media and I was determined to elevate being undecided to a respectable position. Only a hardcore Calvinist or Maoist would say that it is evil to doubt so I wanted to convert more people to the Uncause.

When you are undecided people assume you are secretly a NO voter, and I think a lot of undecided’s will vote No, but for a different reason than the obvious one – they’ve simply not been properly engaged by the Yes camp. Yes campaigners could do well to listen to the tale of my own voyage from doubting Thomas to Yes voter to see how others could be won over.

Before I became “decided” I had to work out clearly what my opposition to voting YES was. The way I saw it, the only side that has to prove itself in a fight against the status quo are the challengers – the status quo doesn’t have to advertise or explain itself. The Better Together campaign was hardly in existence at that point but it didn’t matter. Those who believe in changing the status quo have a horrible tendency to actually make things worse and if I was going to vote NO it would have been because I believed the people behind YES were going to make Scotland poorer.

I had a gut feeling that something was wrong with a lot of the YES camp opinions I was hearing, not from politicians as much from my ‘friends of friends’ on Facebook and Twitter – the varying degrees of cyber nats – the majority of people who had added a little blue YES symbol to their social media profiles. So I posted some provocations on Facebook to try to rouse any dormant unquestioning dogma. At first I did some photo-montages –re-writing the words of the Yes and Better together ad campaigns. That was all very well, but it wasn’t debate.

better together incoherent

I didn’t care what the Better Campaign or for that matter what the Yes campaign said about life in the UK. I know fine well that we live in political and economic stagnation within the UK, that we’ve given up on alternatives to miserable austerity. I’m used to it, its been going on all throughout my adult life. It was up to the Yes camp to prove that things could be otherwise.

The first issue that came up for me again and again was the child-talk language of the official YES campaign. The circularity of the argument being putting forward on ads – the positivity of the word YES. So for example there were headlines which were almost ridiculously tautological – like ‘Yes campaign accuses No campaign of negativity’ – ‘the relentless negativity of the No campaign’ and so on. Which was not exploring political issues at all, but merely spelling out the relative meanings of the words Yes and No and plastering these across the skyline. This was then dumbed-down politics for the soundbite generation and worse still it was like the YES campaign had studied the American “positivity movement”, the endless ‘feel good about yourself’ rhetoric of the consumerist Self-Help market with all its idiotic ‘Say Yes to Life’ euphoria. “Feel good about yourself”, “Be all you can be” ‘Life is awesome”, “Happiness is a choice”, “Spread the happiness around” and so on. The Better Together campaign then started to ape the Yes campaign so both camps were outdoing each other to be more life affirming and positive. Disgusted, I hi-jacked and collaged another few advert images -but this still wasn’t debate.

both worlds

The history of this YES-talk positivity in America is on the political right – it’s an abandonment of the project which seeks government cures for social ills in favour of the privatized solutions of the big American self – “Be all you can be”. So this adoption of US style positivism seemed at odds with the left-leaning of the pro-Independence campaign. This enforced positivity also seemed to have very little to do with the Scottish psyche – which is traditionally negative, Calvinist, Nay saying – a condition much exposed by many of our poets (most specifically Fionn Mccolla, Iain Crichton Smith and Macdairmid). How could a dour negative culture like Scotland be jumping in the air with a big smile and yelling YES! It seemed forced and artificial, a betrayal of who we really are – like the YES campaign had hired a US based PR firm to invent chirpy campaign slogans. A kind of “smile your way to independence” movement (sponsored by Coke).

Buzzword positivity in politics is a bad thing. It’s the overtaking of real issues by idiot-friendly spin. Look at the use of the word HOPE in the Obama campaign. Has Obama delivered on his promise of HOPE? How can you? Hope is not actually a pledge to do anything. It’s a feeling. You might as well have political banners that offer “Happiness” or “Bliss”. This focus on ‘positive feeling’ reached nauseating levels with the “generation YES” development in the YES campaign in which young people with little understanding of history set about disseminating little more than images of the word YES – taking selfies next to large cut-outs of the letters Y, E and S and so on. It’s hard to say NO to young people who say YES – all that vitality and youthful Obama-ish HOPE, but for them the word Independence means little more than the independence they dream of when they move out of their mum’s house. The horrific end point of this I foresaw was that thousands of young people would vote Yes just because it was ‘nicer’ and more ‘awesome’ than the word No.

The focus on ‘being positive’ throughout the first months of the campaign was threatening to depoliticize the YES camp. On Facebook, I expressed some concerns about this and was accused by some of – you guessed it – ‘being negative’.

I was in danger of voting NO, just because I disliked the official Yes campaign so much. Thankfully, I came round, with the help of facebook friends, to realize that I could only really engage with the issues of independence if I left the official YES campaign far behind.

I got interested in the reasons why people with a long history of left-wing politics and engagement were going to be voting YES. After all, as I recall from the my left-wing past, the correct position to be on vis-a-vis independence if you were an International Socialist was to condemn it. How did all these people that back in the 70s saw the independence movement as ‘Tartan Tories’ splitting from the Internationalist cause, suddenly turn YES. As a former member of the Socialist Worker Party, and as a ‘Cultural Marxist’, then ‘Post Marxist’ I felt it was important to chart this, no matter what the outcome of the referendum, for historical reasons. Why did the left turn to YES?

So I posted again on Facebook with a ‘detourned’ version of a Yes campaign poster.


The wording ‘What would you say to living in an autonomous Socialist Republic that is an example to the world?” actually came from an amalgam of about forty posts I’d received in which people on the left repeatedly proposed that Scottish independence was a ‘new hope’ for Socialism, or the ‘last hope’. I got a lot of posts from people who’d hastily expressed enthusiasm for the autonomous republic I’d proposed and I discovered some shocking things about this popular position:

1) The ranks of the new YES movement have been swollen by floods of people who are escaping from disillusionment with other political strategies that they had tried and which have failed. These are people who care passionately about the following issues: Globalisation, the failure of the Labour Party, Global warming, Nuclear weapons, the failure of the Occupy movement, hatred of consumerism, the failure of wealth redistribution in modern democracies, the Global Banking System, the 1% versus the 99%, the alternative possibilities of a zero growth economy and so on. These people feel a sense of impotence politically and are drawn to the ‘blank slate’ ideal of a ‘new country’ – a more ethically pure country. One that can be anti-capitalist, pro-green, pro-civil liberties, pro-welfare, anti-nuclear and so on. A kind of ‘tick the boxes’ experiment in what a new state could be. Alarm bells started ringing for me when people like Billy Bragg, who don’t even live in Scotland, started announcing that Scotland could become a new functioning socialist state that could be ‘an example to the world’.


2) I saw a lot of what I would call ‘Blank Slate’ or ‘Panacea’ politics online, Left Yesser embracing the idea of ‘starting from scratch’. But there is no ‘blank slate’ when it come to politics. There is no autonomy from the global Neo Liberal economic system. You can’t have an ethically superior island floating within a sea of Capitalism. You inherit a mess of debts and pre-made deals that you are enmeshed within and larger forces determine what your social policies are, decide what and when you privatise. An independent Scotland could move from rule by Westminster to rule by the IMF and the World bank. As critic Stuart Kelly has asked “Independence from what?” A lot of Yes supporters have a tendency to reduce all the things that are wrong in the world to ‘Westminster’, as if once we are free from its governance we will be free to ‘start again’. There seemed to be a collective amnesia on the left about national debt and the coercive use of ‘austerity measures’ by the EU and the IMF. There seemed to be a naïve and whimsical collective desire to wipe away all the complex and painful history that other countries have suffered and to just ‘believe’ and be positive for once. Everyone who studied Marx and Engels (their critique of the utopian socialists and anarchists) should know that ‘going it alone’ by attempting ‘socialism in one country’ is doomed from the start.

3) Diagnosis does not mean cure. When debating with Yes-people on Facebook, I noted a recurring tactic. I call this the “100 wrongs always make a right” argument. Rather than engaging with the questions I posed, say: Will Scotland actually be wealthier? Where are the stats on remaining oil reserves? I would again and again be hit by a barrage of negatives about the “way things are”. So there’s unemployment in the UK, poverty, wage inequality and so on. To which I’d reply that listing the problems with the UK status quo (and in fact these problems are common to all developed countries) does not in itself mean that a separate Scotland would have the power or the right strategies to solve these problems. Listing 200 problems with Neo Liberalism doesn’t make it go away, not even if you scream your list. Witness the impotence of the now defunct Occupy movement or the failure of followers of the problem-lister Noam Chomsky to actually achieve anything other than more critique. The problem is threaded through many of the efforts of the National Collective who, too often, use anger, and list-like diatribes of ‘wrongs’ committed by the UK Govt as their primary debate strategy.

4) Apart from a tiny handful of ‘intellectuals’ and academics, Scottish socialists are, sadly, not educated in the long, complex and fraught history of socialism. Due to an unfortunate side-lining in history they are frozen in a nostalgia for ‘pure socialism’ and Old Labour and stuck in an opposition-to-Thatcherism that keeps the Scottish left trapped in a pre-1978 mindset. Socialism worldwide has been through decades of guilty self-analysis and reformulation since the failures of the 20th century and Scottish socialism has been left behind in a cul-de-sac. Some of the language used by the Common Weal, such as their notion of ‘Wealth shared in common” dates back to 19th century socialism. Socialism in Scotland is more of a nostalgic emotion than a real political position, it’s an “under-dog-ism” sustained both by Catholic Republicanism and a Calvinism that sees poverty as purity. It’s a highly emotive belief system and not ‘scientific’ or even much to do with the reality of economics. Scottish socialism is far too dominant in the YES movement, or is just the voice that shouts the loudest.

5) Publicly expounding left wing ideals as part of the political project for a new country is strategic suicide. Again see the left-wing shopping list of the Common Weal http://reidfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/The-Common-Weal.pdf. Capital Flight is an historical reality – Corporations, without fail, pull their billions out of countries which pledge to higher taxes and nationalisation of businesses. Companies have longer memories than the populace and can recall the 80% corporation tax of Labour’s Britain in the 1970s. A lot of the YES-Left are still busy promoting the many ways in which a new Scotland would be more equitable and striking horror into Scottish-based and global companies who in turn are threatening to move their operations elsewhere. That’s potentially billions leaving the country at the click of a mouse.


The Scottish Left and this romantic and amnesiac idea that Scotland could be ‘an example to the world’ were increasingly a reason for me to vote NO. Other people on Facebook told me that the reasons they would be voting NO was because they too feared Capital Flight and Scotland becoming a red-flag waving bankrupt country. Other No voters said that although the SNP were by no means Socialists, the very vocal Yes-left painted a punitive regime for business owners.

The YES-left could actually wreck the prospect of a YES win.

I was reminded of my old uncle ‘Red Sam’, union shop steward, who loved nothing more than putting up a righteous fight against the evil management before being thoroughly defeated. “The bastards beat us again,” he’d say and in some perverse way he was proud – proud to always be on the side of the virtuous and the oppressed and to never win. Subconsciously he never actually wanted to win, he loved the fight too much. It seemed to me that this might just be what the YES left were setting Scotland up for, and that there might even be a perverse part of the Scottish Psyche, that always dreams large and unrealistic dreams precisely so that it can be crushed. ‘Setting yourself up for a fall”. A behavioural problem of self-victimisation that has come from seeing ourselves as ‘oppressed’ for too long and growing to love it. (See Carol Craig’s The Scots Crisis of Confidence).

At this point my No vote was almost a certainty, but a couple of revelations came along. One was an engagement with Pat Kane, who got me onto Brazilian philosopher and politician Roberto Unger. Unger is a thinker of the left who says we should abandon the failed projects of Marxism, the social democratic compromise of wealth redistribution and the idea of ‘equality of outcome’. He offers one of the only viable alternatives to Neo Liberalism which is a more active and merged mixing of the public and private, freeing state institutions from ‘fixed’ roles and creating ‘social wealth’ through ‘innovation and experiment’.

“The key strategy is to combine freedom of commerce and governance at the local level with the ability of political parties at the central government level to promote radical social experiments that would bring about decisive change in social and political institutions.”

It’s a bit abstract but it was the first example of new thinking about how a country might re-imagine itself that I’d come across and it made me ask a question, a big one, the elephant-in-the-room question about Scottish independence – the unsaid and maybe even unformulated question: Why does an independent Scotland need to be “better” or more equitable than the UK anyway?

Why can’t it just be a successful Capitalist country that has exactly the same problems as other developed countries?

Sit with that one for a minute and ask – isn’t independence enough in itself? Isn’t self-governance the goal, irrespective of whether we are morally superior and more ‘progressive’ than other countries?

Try saying – Yes, to a more economically engaged Neo liberal country.

Why can’t a Yes vote be about generating ambitious amounts of wealth and creating a growing economy? Are we Scots so defined by our Christian/Marxist background that we despise all wealth?

Why can’t a Yes vote be for a more affluent country – yes and even one with a greater gap between rich and poor. Because for sure the rich/poor gap will close overnight when we lose the earnings of those who play the London Stock Exchange. We may even begin to miss that wealth disparity.

Why does independence always have to be framed in the context of a plan to redistribute wealth through the Govt? Why does Scotland have to be a Robin Hood nation and have government lead business?

That idea that you could actually fight for a Scotland which was more business friendly was a revelation to me. And as soon as I crossed that bridge I started doing as Unger said, asking different questions and trying to come up with innovative solutions.

You could cut corporation tax, cull the Quangos, make it easier to form public private partnerships. You could deregulate and remove the red-tape that stops many starting their own businesses. Throw out the need for trading licenses and all the Health Safety paperwork that cripples small companies before they start and was only brought in by big unions to crush competition. You could involve businesses in tackling long-term unemployment attempting hybrid solutions to a problem that the state cannot fix. Actually in all things, government could take its cue from what business is doing, rather than the other way around as has been the case for decades. That’s a very different version of a future Scotland and a fuller version of the meaning of the word “independence”.

“Entrepreneurial Scotland”, even saying it, will sound offensive to many Scots, but I can’t see how independence will work without a rebirth in innovative spirit, a huge growth in the private sector and a correlative shrinking of the bloated public sector.

Scotland is far too statist as it is, far too dependent on the idea of the paternalistic state. In many ways this is symptomatic of Scotland’s secondary position in the UK, it’s status as the ‘sick man of Europe’. It should be this idea that we always need help from above that we are trying to overthrow. We could easily make the mistake of replacing a shrinking UK nanny sate with an overblown, bigger and even greater daddy state in Scotland (and we signs of this already from the SNP with its intrusive Social engineering). To listen to the Scottish left and its tick-the-boxes list of reforms, a vastly expanded role for the state is on the cards. This would be transforming Scottish independence into Scottish Government dependence.

The Yes-left has ended up sounding more and more ‘statist’ and less for the free market. And this might be an accidental by-product of the ways in which the Yes movement has been initiated – it feels like a government directive from the SNP-led Holyrood and of course the SNP want to crave out a big role for themselves and to build a bigger government so they can consolidate power. I say No to that, but Yes to an independence that is bigger than that which can be contained or restricted by any government.

Yes to small businesses operating on every street. Yes to a home-grown deregulated economy that the state can barely keep track of.

My final decision on the vote YES, came, like it does for many, when I realized that I actually had a stake in the future. That I’d actually been passive and hooked into the old bad habit bred into us from a dysfunctional democracy to sit back and criticize and expect the worst. I realized that actually the fight was on and it wasn’t just against Westminster, but against the Socialists in Scotland who are in the process of hi-jacking the Yes campaign and who have actually been holding Scotland back for generations.

You can say Yes to a wealthy country with more entrepreneurs. You can say Yes to a country with strict immigration rules or with slashed corporation tax or with the death penalty. When you open your country to independence you will have to allow for other kinds of Yes that you don’t agree with. The challenge to the Yes-left is to broaden their camp to accept exactly the kind of people and political positions that they hate: Capitalists, bankers, pro-nuclear workers, business owners, freemarketeers, anti-immigrationists, global corporations, shop keepers, anti-gay lobbyists, Christians, pro-abortionists – the list goes on to include all of the dysfunctional plurality that makes up every democracy. If the Yes-left can’t accept these many possible versions of Yes then Yes will lose and the left will once again be able to sit back and say ‘the bastards beat us again. Aye well at least we fought the good fight for what we believed in.’

I don’t want that to happen. After three months of wavering it is now my conviction that voting YES is a viable option if the left can stop scaring undecided voters away. There’s still time for the left to be strategic and silence themselves in the name of the greater good, so we can let a pluralist Yes vote grow. I’ll be voting YES for a wealthy Scotland, an energized, entrepreneurial country that doesn’t scare foreign investment away and sometimes forgets that it has a government at all. A Capitalist Scotland – at least that will be the start – because, for sure, we won’t be able to achieve anything more ‘progressive’ until we can balance our books.


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  1. Wul says:

    Good point Ewan, and they have all spun through my head too. However, for me became a fairly simple question; Which option gives the better chance of creating a fair society?
    1) UK Government in London/Westminster? 2) Scottish Government in Edinburgh?

    1. emorrison says:

      Hi Wul, thanks for the support. I’m not convinced that the argument for Scotland being independent needs to have the usual ‘better’ ‘fairer’ ‘greener’ riders to legitimate it – this seems to make independence itself a secondary feature. Why not independence for its own sake, why do we have to qualify it with ‘because we will make a fairer society’. Would an independent Scotland that did not make for a fairer society still not be worth fighting for?

      1. Ian Kirkwood says:

        Even better point Ewan!

      2. ian foulds says:

        Let’s get Independence first and then the real work begins of shaping a Scotland to be proud of (whatever shape, content etc it becomes) – at least it is the people of Scotland who decide what it becomes

      3. Colin says:

        Absolutely, Scotland should be independent because we are our own country, populated by our own people.
        Give us independence and knowing what the scots are like, we will deliver a fairer, more equal country afterwards.

        The goal is independence, the prize is everything else.

  2. ecruden says:

    Honest question: if

    “The key strategy is to combine freedom of commerce and governance at the local level with the ability of political parties at the central government level to promote radical social experiments that would bring about decisive change in social and political institutions”

    why is the SNP’s “social engineering” so “intrusive”? Or does the Roberto Unger context make examples of “radical social experiments” that are not “intrusive”?

    As I say, genuinely an honest question. Very interesting article. x

  3. Graeme says:

    In which Ewan Morrison continues his entertaining (and no less self-regarding) attempt to be oblique, abstract, and thrawn in his voting rationale. In which he has thought for a long time and we shall (once again) read and listen. Fine. Good. I’ve thought for a long time too, and I’ve been decided for a long time, but hey, let’s not put that position across as legit or thoughtful. The problem is his enthusiastically neoliberalista-lite vision of a Scotland of unregulated wee shopkeepers (and – gulp – ‘venture capitalists’) is actually thoroughly conventional and a little unfamiliar with the history of neoliberalism, in which the theory is utterly battered by the reality of its prosecution and destructiveness across the globe, from social economy to environment. It’s as if neoliberalism never happened – and re-occurred in smaller states. As if it can be rescued in some way and made to work better, except with using all the same tools and points of rhetoric. It’s also somewhat contradicted by his points about the extra-national tentacles of the global capitalist economy. Also repeated here: the tiresome view that many folk who are ‘convinced’ are ‘zealots’. This paints a stereotypical picture of an abstractly conceived ‘left’, one that certainly exists in Scotland, but alongside new formations of left thinking, residual and emergent (and, yes, no doubt a backwash of the Occupy movement). There are lots of things to chew over here – and the attempt at an ‘alternative’ platform is to be welcomed – but the idea that we should just fetishize ‘business’, roll-up the state and not seek to reform it without neoliberalising it is as idealistic as the kneejerk “Yes” utopianism the article critiques as offputting and ‘unthinking.’ The use of Unger is also rather suspect, but I’ve said enough.

    1. emorrison says:

      Thanks Graeme – one of the problems we face here in Scotland sue to our entrenched ideas of being ‘left out’ and ‘dominated’ is the mythological idea that Neo Liberalism is somehow out there and we’re in some way separate from it or could be. Some even see this as a goal. I think Unger is saying we now have to work with Neo Liberalism and ‘free markets’ because it is the air we breathe now. We can’t separate ourselves from it. I think we should stop simplifying and totalising ‘free markets’ as something to oppose and start to look deeper at the very heterogenous and plural aspects of markets. The marxists have reduced it to a schematic monolith so they can scare us with it and ‘overthrow’ or ‘oppose’ it, but actually markets are much more complex and multifaceted and vary from country to country.

      1. Graeme says:

        Ewan – thanks for your response. It’s true indeed that there’s a functioning (and indeed convenient for left and right) myth that somehow Scotland has bulletproofed itself from neoliberalism. This myth is usually reproduced by virtue of a)its unexamined socialist ‘primogeniture’ and b) devolution. This has been torched by some (see the salient collection of essays *Neoliberal Scotland*, or indeed the – for me quite specious but not uninteresting – columns of David Torrance) on left and right – but clearly not loudly enough. (It’s interesting that literary fiction, since Gray’s Lanark, through Welsh and indeed in your own work, has long realised the neoliberal tendencies in Scottish society, but that’s another thread). However…I’m relatively sure, having recently put children through schooling in England, that in fact there are elements up here that have benefitted from *not* being fully (or even partially) marketised in the manner they have been over the border. But your larger point is about blanket approaches to the concept and structure of ‘the market’ and how that might be changed. It’s an interesting and necessary discussion, and I applaud you for generating it. (I’d buy – or maybe barter for – a “Don’t Get Malled” tee-shirt!) But this idea of a uniform and sovereign ‘free market’ has surely not only been created by unreconstructed marxists (I’m hereby declaring as a reconstructed one) it has also been reproduced by agents and agencies of the right for the last forty years and more, no? How does your notion of heterogeneous markets swerve away from TINA? You said it yourself, the singularity of the capitalist world system is an unprecedented thing in contemporary human life. It loves the notion that it appears everywhere pluralised. This is where I still think Mark Fisher’s work on *Capitalist Realism*, as a social and psychic state – and culture – that ingratiates and naturalises itself all around us, remains a salient one for Scotland as anywhere else. I’m blethering, so one last point, ‘plural markets’ can also be a symptom of a certain marketopic way of thinking that tends to occlude working conditions. Graeber here might help us, alongside Unger, no? On new formations of work and the arguments against credit and indebtedness. Plus, Kane’s (in my view quite neglected) stuff on play. Anyway, keep on keeping on. I like the reading and the disagreeing.

    2. Ewan Morrison says:

      Hello again Graeme. I agree with a lot of what you’re saying here. I think one of the reason why – as you say = “were not fully marketised” is just that we are in some ways cushioned from the open market by a UK that wants to keep us molly coddled (and dependent) while it takes the North Sea Oil. They’ve let us experiment with devolution to give us something to do and to keep us quiet. We’ll be in for a shock but a good one with independence and meeting our new landlords face to face.

      What I think has been entirely absent in debates about ‘Neo liberalism’ and Scotland – which as you point out have themselves been pretty rare – is how you deal strategically with the Neo Liberal world. I’d like to see a history of the countries coerced into taking ‘development grants’ from the IMF only to wake up to having their resources privatised so they can pay the loan back. It’s a real danger. We’re going to inherit a huge debt, who is going to loan it to us. The Bank of England? I’m sure the World Bank will appear very friendly at first.

      So yes, it would be wise for YES to be openly talking about these things. I could be wrong on this but I haven’t seen anything yet. Its a subject which is usually raised by the NO camp and then YES deflect it, with the usual “look at scandinavia” sidestep.

  4. Big jock says:

    I think there is a tendency to over complicate a decision whcih should come from the heart. I believe this is fundamentally about a feeling rather than disecting every possible scenario. Tommy Sheridan said he would vote Yes even if Scotland eventually voted Tory in the future. It’s not about what I feel or what I want its about democracy. Without independence there is not democracy.

    1. grumpydubai says:

      well said, Big Jock

  5. vronsky says:

    “Rather than engaging with the questions I posed, say: Will Scotland actually be wealthier? Where are the stats on remaining oil reserves? ”

    Your position sounds passive rather than undecided. It’s perfectly easy to find answers to questions like these through your own researches – and then you also have a researcher whose work you can trust!

  6. raickman says:

    Want stats on oil, and proposals for economic growth, follow the information coming out of here. The question is not will Scotland be wealthier, its how can Scotland be wealthier? Again see here. And so what if Scotland is wealthier, would we spend it wisely? I would argue a smaller more accountable political system, regardless of who is in power, will have more of an understanding and be more responsive to opportunities and needs of its population. Therefore policy and delivery would be better made. http://www.n-56.org/

  7. arthur thomson says:

    I’m sure your dad would be pleased to know you reached the right decision in the end. Maybe he was like me and just felt that being independent, providing that you can get the basic necessities in life, gives you a sense of self worth and self respect that is much more important than being wealthy.

  8. iain t says:

    I agree with the last para.

    Got there myself without chewing myself up inside.

    I agree that an appearance of too much left influence in the campaign will scare the “I’m all right, Jack” middle income, middle age undecideds. Let’s hope there aren’t too many of them.

    We’ll balance our books from day 1. I spent a lot of time checking the economics once I’d decided to vote Yes for political reasons – constitutional change & increased democracy. We do the latter on day 1 too, by ditching Westminster.

    I see no downside to Yes.

  9. Douglas says:

    Great stuff Ewan, VOTE YES – BRING BACK HANGING!!!

    I like it. I can see that taking off.

    Can we widen to include a YES appeal based on the restoration of public flogging/slavery/poorhouses/zero tolerance on witchcraft/ bear baiting and badger fights?

    1. Ewan Morrison says:

      This might be a better idea Douglas, than reducing the YES voting public to only those people who you agree with. The processes that you use to arrive at political change dictate what your democracy will look like. If you start excluding alternative and opposing views and expressing intolerance from the start then your new state is going to be authoritarian.

      1. Douglas says:

        Ewan, no doubt you are right, and if last night is anything to go by, we can expect a Tunnock’s Teacake to stand for First Minister, be swept to power, and begin a Reign of Tartan Terror, with folk obliged to wear the kilt, swear to the existence of Nessie and sleep on beds of heather under torture of Rod Stewart/Mull of Kintyre.

        I just want to live in a normal European country, that is my aspiration.

        Do the Spanish, the French, the Germans, and the Dutch make fools of themselves like the Scots do?

        Is there another nation on earth which revels in its own symbols of cultural oppression, barbarity, backwardness and defeat like the inhabitants of Kitshland?

        Clann MacCringe…get me out of here!

  10. ticktock says:

    Gave up on it when he stuck in his totally stereotypical bbc inspired slag off about ALL Scots being negative, Calvinistic etc etc blah blah blah. I’m sick of pricks like this.


    1. benmadigan says:

      so glad someone else was ticked off by all scots being negative calvinists etc i felt outraged when i read that!!!

      1. Ewan Morrison says:

        I’m surprised that the calvinist line comes as a shock to you. Were you exposed to the work of Iain Crichton Smith, Hamish Henderson, Tom Scott, or Hugh Macdairmid as a lot of their work deals with fighting the inner calvinist and opposing the nay sayer within – and they see this as very much ‘the Scottish problem’. See also the novel House with the Green Shutters. There’s a long and very respectable, in fact world renowned history, in poetry and fiction of Scots tackling their calvinist past and breaking free from it. Then again maybe this looms large for me as I came from 4 generations of Church of Scotland ministers and I saw the destructive force that calvinism has been in Scotland and the burden of guilt and joylessness that it placed upon us. It has also made us very rule based, strict and intolerant of exuberance or transgression in others. We are taught to ‘know out place’. I think this still persists to today and you can find traces of calvinism still lurking in very popular Scottish expressions – “That’s no for you son” “quieten doon” and even “aye right”.

    2. Ewan Morrison says:

      see my comment below to Ben Madigan, it was intended also for you ticktock. Thanks.

  11. Dr Ew says:

    People will arrive at 18th September via all kinds of paths, but in the end there are only three options – vote Yes, vote No or don’t vote at all.

    I only mention this bleedin’ obvious fact to emphasise the point I’m about to make: I’m very pleased you are intending to vote Yes, Ewan, but your tortuous journey to that conclusion doesn’t earn you any intellectual superiority or bragging rights over anyone else. I’m usually very interested in people’s stories of political development, but I’m afraid I find plagarists of the Pat Kane school of patronising, posturing verbiage… well, tedious.

    It may be a cliche to say Westminster is an institutionally corrupt mechanism in thrall to the City of London, but it is also true. Freeing ourselves of that will create an opportunity – no more, no less – to build a more democratic, balanced society. It won’t be Utopia or Shangri-la or Nirvana, but it can be a damn sight better than enduring the death throes of a spent empire.

    1. Ewan Morrison says:

      I agree with your last point completely but don’t be down on Pat Kane. Pat has come at this from many angles and knows his independence debate inside out. He is also utterly committed and willing to engage with undecideds in way that more than a few on this page are demonstrating that they are unable to do.

      I’m quite shocked at how many folk are being opposed to the idea of being undecided at all. Maybe you could explain why you think that is. To me it seems like an old remnant of the Church of Scotland’s position on ‘backsliding’.

  12. Juan P says:

    Pretentious patronising pish.

  13. barakabe says:

    I’m sorry to say it but I think this is a real dogs dinner of an article. I don’t even know where to begin, but I’ll give it a modest bash.For starters I’m not sure you won’t change your mind again, as you don’t seem so resolute to me, seem far to eager to simplify, mostly by labeling Yes voters & you just come across as someone who is a bit confused- for me you seem to be suffering from a pathological dose of wet blanket syndrome, symptomized by rank cynicism & putting down young people as somehow culturally illiterate- it’s a scattergun approach to offending as many people as possible.

    Even using the Daily Mail “inspired” invective ( a pejorative term loaded with so many negative associations) of “Cybernat” to describe yes voters on social media who put a little blue YES to their pic- some of the nicest most moderate people I know have done this & they don’t fit your description in any way. Provoking people on facebook to get a reaction- what’s that all about? Yes you’ll get nutters who will rise to the bait & this can be used as confirmation bias- so what? I cannot accept your description of the YES campaign using the power of “yes” as some sort of an American style “positivity movement”- I think the arguments have more substance than just the auto-suggestive capacity of its dubious Dionysian utterance- I really don’t believe many people voting Yes believe the word has magical properties. You also say the Better Together campaign has aped the Yes Campaign in terms of positivity- where was I when this happened? Was I hibernating? Are you on the same planet as the rest of us or have I just violently hallucinated the last two years? I would say the Better Together approach has been more American in style in terms of the extensive use of statistical modelling, psychometrics, buzzwords etc by the likes of arch wonk Blair MacDougall- as well as the monotonous & lazy employment of slogans such as “Better Together”, “Best of Both Worlds” etc they repeat ad nauseam- there’s nothing lazier than battering people into submission with sloganism. Also have you seen the marked & very obvious difference between the social media pages of, say Facebook, from the Yes & No sides? The yes side is distinguished by widespread & open debate, with many no voters chronically repeating said slogans, without censure; in comparison, the no sites, are defined by blanket censorship & tolerate no dissent whatsoever, even of the mildest variety.

    As for the “intellectual” content: “capital flight” is a well worn right wing strategy for resisting any limits on capitals unrestricted liberty; “Nanny State” is another hackneyed tool for rolling back the state & regulation. If I had a choice between a Statist nation with little or no poverty/inequality over a free market economy with massive poverty & swathes of inequality, I would take the former- & most people would. This is the reality you face & I say that as an Anarchist. How do we set the limits of the human cost from free market capitalism? Sweden, Norway & in particular Finland are all very Statist & yet they are among the most competitive nations in the Global market economy. Their citizens are also among the happiest on Earth. America is as close we will get to pure capitalism here & we see those at the bottom living with disgraceful slums, ghettos, gang-gun crime, people with little or no health care, poor education, virtually no child care, little opportunity- that is certainly not a road I want the UK never mind Scotland go down.

    Entrepreneurs are not going to make Scotland rich on their own, as they make up too few of the population at any one time. Among the encouragement of creative entrepreneurs we need to see productive companies competing in the free market, both private, public & co-operative led- whatever is best at manufacturing quality products & services & ultimately succeeds against its Global competitors. I really cannot understand how you can say that too many commentators take a “tabula rasa” approach to Independence in one breath then in another champion Roberto Unger’s radical social experiments- is that not a contradiction? Are you advocating the censorship of organizations like Common Weal as they jeopardize the Yes Campaign- for fear of capital flight? Neo- Marxist regulation? Edinburgher bankers trembling in the club house at the thought of leftist utopias- why not gag doe-eyed optimists like Robin McAlpine for threatening the venture capitalist shangri-la of tomorrows Scotland?

    “We might even miss the wealth disparity”- that actually made my mind hurt- did you actually say that? I think it’s very dubious of writers or even “experts” to spout ignorant benighted nonsense that is merely their own opinionated prejudice disguised behind superficial analysis & lazy thinking.

    1. Ewan Morrison says:

      Barakabe, you say ““capital flight” is a well worn right wing strategy for resisting any limits on capitals unrestricted liberty”. I’m afraid not, that makes it sound like its some kind of fabricated ideological tool to make people afraid of social democratic change. That’s not the case, Capital Flight is well documented historical fact that has wrecked many economies and caused slow death in others.

      Just answer me one thing. Do you think it is wise STRATEGICALLY, for the Yes left to reveal their true colours, lay out their agenda so publicly? For example the Common Weals pledge to increase taxes to redstribute wealth. Strategically, would it not be wiser to keep such things up your sleeve till such time as you had power in your hands to attempt to (influence govt enough) to enact them. Otherwise, and quite rightly so, many will say, sorry – highter taxes – this is not for me.

    2. Ewan Morrison says:

      RE- THE COMMON WEAL. I am not advocating the “Censorship of organizations like Common Weal”. Who would act out such censorship? I say instead that they have said and done enough already and it is time to hear from the other side of potential YES voters so, strategically the Common Weal may want to back off.

      A lot of what the common weal say is of value. Check out the Robin MacAlpine videos on youtube, but they seems to be almost utopian statists. How for example do you equalise wages across a free market economy? only by very strong and coercive government.

      1. barakabe says:

        Fair enough Ewan- if the Yes leftists & Common Weal folk were adept at strategic politicizing then they would definitely be better to keep their powder dry; yet again, maybe it’s the naivety, openness & the very lack of calculation that makes it such a breath of fresh air in a political domain dominated by arrant cynicism. We’re back to the problem of pessimism. Those who are very often cynical & who use pessimism as a weapon for resisting real change believe themselves to be “realists”- they speak of those with wider more optimistic visions as “naive” or “utopian”, when in reality they are merely going back to the very first principles of democracy, that we so often forget in our self-inflicted fog of cynical pessimism. Pessimism for me is the real enemy for building any decent ( never mind a great society) community- we ought to ask ourselves sincerely if we are overly infected by it & that in contributing to much of the debate that we ourselves aren’t merely serving to infect as many people as we contact. You only have to look at the morose narrative & melancholic mythos coming out of the mainstream media as a very accurate guide to our present cultural malaise.


        I apologize for my earlier misinterpretation & misunderstanding in relation to my comment about censorship- it was unfair- if we were being kind we could call a hermeneutic aberration.

  14. Gordon says:

    If you think that ‘the only side that the only side that has to prove itself in the fight against the status quo are the challengers. The status quo does not have to advertise or explain itself.’ I would advise you to stick with your final decision – vote YES. If you read Peter Arnott’s piece about a NO vote, it will represent anything but the status quo. To paraphrase: He says a NO vote from Scotland will tell the Westminster Parliament that we don’t want to be an independent country and that we want them to run all our affairs for us. Bang go all our devolved powers and Holyrood. will that be the status quo?
    You took a long time to explain all your agonising.

    1. barakabe says:

      That was another point I was going to make- about only one side having to prove itself- what a staggering unexamined assumption that is.

  15. How dare our young people express their political beliefs. Especially when they are not as clever as you.

  16. Big Jock says:

    I was trying to be polite.It sounds like a very fickle type of Scot we have here.Someone who isn’t instinctively Scottish.Someone who has to internally justify why they think and what they think of who they are.Just man up and get on with it.Its really not that hard.You either want to be run as sub nation of right wing England or you don’t.Get aff her fence and be your own man.

  17. Keef says:

    Jeez Ewan. it’s not easy making a Calvinist sound optimistic but you managed it. Lighten up FFS. If you’re voting YES I presume you do really want to win “proud to always be on the side of the virtuous and the oppressed and to never win” what shite is this?

    Ewan either shit or get off the potty. Incoherent self doubt like this helps nobody but the No campaign. Margo said “convince one other” and YES will win. You’re making a hard slog of it son.

  18. yerkitbreeks says:

    Gosh, that was hard work but you got there in the end. I suggest you were overexposed and overloaded, which can make it difficult to see ahead.

    I’m probably three times older than you, not short of a bob or two, and had time to actually read Scotland’s Future, with a top up of Blossom and Caledonian Dreaming. Didn’t take too long.

    Finally I saw first hand, by being in the audience of the finely tuned BBC prog from Kelso, how skewed social engineering had made our thinking.

    From then on YES was the only option. I know for me it’ll mean more tax, but that’s a relief as I don’t want to be labelled a ” 90 minute Scot ” like some of my rich friends in Aberdeen.

  19. tartanfever says:

    Opening line –

    ‘Four months ago I was going to vote Yes just because it’s what my father would have wanted.’

    Closing line –

    ‘I’ll be voting YES for a wealthy Scotland, an energized, entrepreneurial country that doesn’t scare foreign investment away and sometimes forgets that it has a government at all. A Capitalist Scotland – at least that will be the start – because, for sure, we won’t be able to achieve anything more ‘progressive’ until we can balance our books.’

    So basically you’ve made a journey from basing your vote on an emotional/family level to now sounding like Alex Salmond.

    Fair enough.

    No need for the novel in between.

  20. Brian Watters says:

    Ive always been a Yes voter but i tend to agree with the crux of what Ewan says i just didnt need (and possibly not capable of) the philosophic gymnastics to get there. I think we all have different visions of what an Independent Scotland can aspire to become and a fairly successful capitalist independent nation would certainly be good enough to get my vote. I think he is wrong to suggest that people on the left expect a socialist nirvana , im sure they are far more realistic than he gives them credit for.
    However I think we can do a lot better than fairly successful Independent version of the UK and again I agree with what Ewan hints at , if we try and base our “new” nation on ideological grounds we are doomed to repeat the manifest failing of the UK. A better way forward and puzzlingly radical way forward would be to adopt the politics of consensus and the politics of pragmatism.
    So id say ditch ideology in favour of what works for the benefit of Scotland
    It is certainly such a pragmatic approach that has seen the SNP gain the power base that they enjoy today, even though they have been accused of political opportunism on many occasions by their Tory and Labour opponents. I think its fairly obvious that people dont really care where a policy comes from , If the policy works use it if it doesn’t work ditch it , who really cares if it was originally a conservative policy or a labour policy or a policy from the other side of the world. People want good governance not ideological based dogma
    A government should be able to be business friendly and socially and morally just. It is the major failure of the UK state that we now somehow see these things as mutually exclusive. The smaller Northern European countries are not exactly raving communists but they enjoy social care and living conditions that are the best in the world , they are also better when it comes to retaining industry and creating jobs than we are in Scotland or the UK and they are relatively benign places for international companies to do business.
    Pragmatism is maybe what Roberto Unger is writing about , I havnt read his book , but certainly the huge advantage a small well run country has over a large badly run country is the capacity to change and adapt quickly to the changing face of global conditions.
    The truth of modern politics is that it is the socially just and well governed , smaller , more flexible democracies that create stability and more equitable societies. With this stability comes population growth , better infrastructure , inward investment , jobs , political consensus , fewer social problems , less crime etc.etc.etc.
    So maybe a bit like Ewan I look forward to a future Scottish democracy where all political parties act in the best interests of the Scottish people and not in the interests of their parties , one socio-economic group or some blinkered out of date failed ideology. It will definitely be capitalist but it will have what we dont have now , the capacity to evolve and aspire to be better than that.
    That’s why i’m voting Yes.

  21. Interesting read Ewan and I have concerns over the economic incoherence of some of my Yes voting left friends.

    I came to my decision from being intuitively Yes but not knowing why. I have been guilty of looking for foundations to place under my intuition but hope I’ve made a genuine effort to remain open minded. Always searching.

    I started informing myself in September of last year. My first concern was can we afford it. Business for Scotland convinced me that it was possible. If you can afford it the question becomes not “Why”, but “Why not”.

    I have sat in many meetings, heard many debates and read many articles online and off. I have real doubts over the future of an independent Scotland but I’ll vote Yes because it’s about power and where it resides. Who is most interested in the future of this territory? Those who live here. It’s in their interests. It’s in all of our interests. These last months I have seen an engagement with the issues. Debate. My local is like speakers corner. I’d like to see more of that. As informed a population as is possible.

    My priorities would be:

    A living wage. Business wants rich customers and poor workers. They fail to see that their customers and workers are one and the same.

    Land Reform. Too much land in too few hands and they’re sitting on it. No wealth creation, just accumulation. Land Value Tax will start the process.

    Education. The coming generations will create the future. I’d spunk everything we’ve got on creating free thinkers and they’ll create a future I can’t imagine. I’m very light on how I’d achieve this or even if you can create free thinkers. That’s a fairly wooly priority but I’ll put it out there all the same.

    To paraphrase the Woody Guthrie line “Left wing, right wing, chicken wing…….” I have little hope of our entrenched political ideologies leading us anywhere but to more of the same. Too busy throwing stones at each other. I see little evidence of new thought from the right. Common Weal had me interested for a while but not so much now.

    I’d best go to work before I talk myself undecided.
    We can walk pragmatically forward and make the required adjustments as we go.

  22. Michael says:

    That was shocking. Get this man an editor.

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