Spiders and Soor Plooms: The Fear Neuropolitics of Scotland’s Independence Referendum

robot ‘Project Fear’, ‘the politics of fear’, ‘blatant scare tactics’ – a few of the apprehension-related terms that cropped up regularly during the referendum campaign. Senior citizens were ‘scared’ into voting No because they were ‘afraid’ that their pensions would take a hit; ‘uncertainty’ over currency led some to believe that continued use of the pound could not be ‘assured’ with independence; the media trumpeted ‘warnings’ by corporate giants and financial ‘experts’; ‘grave dangers’ lurked around the constitutional corner – dangers that could only be ‘avoided’ by sticking with the ‘safer’ option of the Union. Why take the ‘risk’?

At times during the campaign, Better Together resembled the robot in Lost in Space – a great waving of rubber-sleeved mechanical arms, a whirring and shuffling and clanking, a stultifyingly repetitive and automatic ‘Warning, people of Scotchland! Warning!’ (Except that, in this case, the machine’s intentions were far from helpful.) No voters were robotically passionless in defending the Union, their outrage against the upstart Yes a choreographed Daily Mail -style sham rage. For the qualmpeddlers of automaton Britain, it was an affirmingly metallic moment.

Fear works. Just ask Blair McDougall. The outcomes of countless political campaigns have demonstrated that a frightened electorate is a malleable one. As H.L. Mencken put it:

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed – and hence clamorous to be led to safety – by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

To rob Scotland of its potential independence, the fearmongers had first to rob the vulnerable of foresight. Then – to replace it with ‘hobgoblins’ – they undertook some blunt-instrument, but oddly consensual, brain surgery.

When parts of a brain ‘light up’ during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning, what is actually happening is that blood flow correlated with cognitive activity has increased in that area. The huge electromagnets in the scanner pick up these small fluctuations in flow and, combined with radio waves, amplify them to a point where they can be imaged on screen. This is truly revolutionary. No longer is the human brain a ‘black box’ explorable only by observing its behavioural output or by slicing it up; it is now a non-invasively accessible system – a dynamic, complex, fascinating and beautiful one.

Which areas ‘light up’ most strongly when we are afraid? One area associated with fear response is a deep brain structure called the amygdala (plural amygdalae – we have one on either side of our brain). Many studies, including ones where monitored test-subjects were shown horror movies, have shown that correlated blood flow increases in this area when we are frightened. The classic explanation is that, in evolutionary terms, this area developed to process survival-dependent fight-or-flight responses. Following from this, the amygdala is associated with aggression. However, it’s also associated with more subtle activity such as assessing risk and reward.

Our societies are composed of networks of brains interacting with one another. Politics is a form of human interaction that should employ our ‘higher’ brain functions, but which often seems to trigger our basest responses. ‘Neuropolitics’ aims to understand political inclinations and behaviours in terms of their neurobiological bases: how do they arise in the brain? How are they conditioned? Undoubtedly, there’s an emerging, sometimes unhelpful, trend of tacking ‘neuro’ onto the front of existing disciplines. (One amusing tweet I saw recently, giving advice on zeitgeisty Twitter names, suggested, ‘Call it neuro– something, it works with everything!’) Nevertheless, the value of neuropolitics shouldn’t be underestimated: it lights up the way towards not only understanding cognitive biases but also to restructuring our political systems to mitigate the worst of their effects.

In one recent study involving young people, fMRI scanning showed a correlation between self-reported political attitudes and increased grey-matter volume in specific brain regions. Self-reported conservatives showed more volume in the area of the amygdalae; liberals showed more in an evolutionarily newer and ‘higher function’ region, the anterior cingulate cortex.

The cack-handed reporting of a psychological study showing a correlation between strength of reaction to a picture of a spider and strength of reaction to the prospect of Scottish independence clouded the core purpose of the study: to show that reactions in common to apparently-disparate types of emotion-response eliciting stimuli can tell us something about a person’s habitual means of judging danger and risk.

Obviously, we shouldn’t draw too many conclusions from such early studies. However, it’s hard to ignore the implication that conservatives are at least more likely to make their political decisions based on fears than are liberals. Setting aside genetic factors, regularly-reinforced, aversion-based thinking would certainly be more likely to strengthen neural connections in the amygdala than would patient, reasoned consideration of evidence.

This, then, is a neuropolitical hypothesis about why fear works in campaigns such as the independence referendum. Those who wish to stick with what they perceive to be the status quo are risk-averse and easily startled, because that’s how they tend to make their decisions. And this behaviour has, over time, consolidated the connections responsible for it. External risk-related ‘reinforcement messages’ from scaremongering politicians and ‘experts’ confirm biases and act as reward (cognitive soor plooms, perhaps) for the pre-set, conservative mind.

A recent survey by Unlock Democracy, reported in The National, appears to contradict this hypothesis. If, as the results of the survey suggest, only 1 in 10 No voters were convinced to vote that way by the arguments of Better Together, those reinforcement messages don’t appear to have been very effective. But the picture is more complex. One possibility is that BT’s arguments didn’t need to be convincing, because the vast majority of No voters had set their startle-addled minds rigidly against independence before the campaign even began. Those messages did, however, need to be present and in quantity in order to reach the required saturation level to achieve stasis. For the purposes of saturation, you can’t beat having the state broadcaster onside.

No voters see the situation very differently. Perhaps, as Carol Craig of the Centre for Confidence and Well-being suggests, the whole notion of independence is based on selfishness. This, too, is a neuropolitical hypothesis. Is there something in the minds of independence supporters that predisposes them to hoard resources for the exclusive use of their ‘in-group’, instead of sharing them with a wider ‘out-group’? There are certainly strong evolutionary roots to that kind of behaviour.

And cognitive biases work both ways. As Pat Kane discusses, ‘positive’ campaign messages also trigger (or reinforce) ways to relate, on a deeply personal level, to political actions ‘performed in the world’. Might our mirror neurons fire us in the direction of honestly-held but actually selfish mirroring actions as readily as empathetic, selfless ones?

It is true that we need to talk about what ‘selfishness’ means, what ‘sharing’ means, what ‘redistribution’ means. But it is hard to see how that conversation is progressed by covering up the size and nature of the resource-pool, or by screaming relentlessly from atop ivory towers that ‘trickle-down’ is the only way to get some of it to those in need. Specifically in Carol Craig’s case, accusing Yes voters of having a ‘holier than thou’ attitude, and talking of a ‘tartan gravy train’, is not helpful (and does nothing for any Scot’s sense of confidence or well-being).

Neuropolitics is here to stay. It works with all of politics because it is all of politics. It won’t be long before the mental states (and their underlying bases) of politicians and electorates become accepted topics of discussion in the media clamour of election campaigns. How long, then, before analysis of ‘beauty contests’ between candidates involves neural profiling? How great the impact of such profiles on our political decision-making?

The thickened amygdala, become our popular centrefold nemesis. Step forward, the well-turned cingulate cortex – your community, your nation, your planet have grave need of you.


Comments (34)

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  1. Brian Powell says:

    Interesting, i wondered on a previous comment thread if there was any political psychologists out there!

    The odd bit about independence supporters want to hoard and the noes attracted to sharing, is it all stops dead when we come to the vast resources being poured into London, and the huge wealth of financiers and tax dodgers.

    That is the biggest narrow hoarding of resources imaginable and noes were clammering for it to be recovered and distributed.

    In fact it was the Independence supporters who were the most vocal in pointing this out and saying the lack of any existing means to distribute showed that we needed to keep those resources, rightfully and ‘locally’ ours, and distributed where it was possible.

    1. Brian Powell says:

      ‘and noes were not clammering’

  2. Jane Paterson says:

    Fear the big stick that politicians and MSM like to beat us with.
    Maybe SNP should run a fear campaign. They certainly wouldn’t run out of ammo, given the terrifying goings on at Wesminster.

    I am glad that I have not read the article by Carol Craig article accusing Yes Voters of selfishness.
    The reality is that many Yes Voters work in caring professions or volunteer for charities. Whilst many no voters wanted no risk to the value of their homes or pensions.

    I wish I could meet the no voter that told me he wasn’t prepared to vote yes as he expected his property value would drop by 15% in an independent Scotland. His house is in the fracking zone because Westminster has sold the rights to the land under his home. That is scary.

    1. Am I the only person that finds the fact that the head of the ‘Centre for Confidence and Well-being’ is an unselfconfident cringer highly amusing?

      1. Jane Paterson says:

        I did notice and it made me laugh out loud, Trying to stay positive in this sea of negativity.

  3. muttley79 says:

    Carol Craig’s claim that the Yes campaign was selfish has to be measured against the fact that it was most successful in attracting the votes of the working class, and disadvantaged in Scotland. Is she really saying that the middle class, and those most privileged in Scottish society, voted out of a sense of solidarity with the rest of the UK? This group is generally not known for its left wing, solidarity-type politics. A more likely explanation is that many are British nationalists, or are both big and small conservatives.

  4. Political Tourist says:

    Fear works.
    A week out from the vote i’ll admit to having second thoughts.
    Luckily along with 1.6 million others i decided not to be bullied.
    Btw, i expect Project Fear to be back on again before next May’s election.

    1. muttley79 says:

      Project Fear has never gone away. Why else would Willie Rennie use FOI to find out how many civil servants have read Wings, and then the story appearing in the Press and journal? This is what unionism in Scotland has morphed into in the last few decades, one that is more concerned with smearing the independence movement, particularly the SNP, as being extremists, and out and out fascists and Nazis. This is at a time when more and more people are having to use food banks.

      1. Dean Richardson says:

        Project Fear has been used by the ruling classes since time immemorial, and they’ll most likely use it as long as there are people. It simply hadn’t been called ‘Project Fear’ until the recent indy ref in Scotland.

  5. oldbattle says:


    In my neebor’s garden is a dug.
    It stays there awe day, everyday
    This dug is feart o leaving
    Feart that it micht no be fed
    Feart it might no get water
    Feart it might get beaten, again
    Feart it might lose its collar and its chain.
    So it sits thirled to its kennel. Aieways in the dark.
    An it disnie even bark.

    1. jaxlek says:

      love it

    2. oldbattle says:

      Please allow me to explain that the poem above is adapted from an original idea by Bert Brecht

    3. mctankard says:

      The dug that ran awa’

      Every noo and then a puir dug comes aroon the doors,
      It’s an affa cratur, mucky an’ covered in sores.
      It must have been a handsome beast
      At some stage, at least.
      They say it wis well treated and fed,
      But thocht it could get a better bed,
      So ran awa’ for an offered bone,
      But now is sad, hungry and alone…..

  6. Scott Henriksen says:

    “Oh the pain, the pain!”

  7. This is a really tough Blog to reply to. On the one hand the writer is is talking about leading edge work in Decision Sciences, HOW we decide. Previously known as Behavioural Economics, where simple experiments would highlight BIAS in decision making.

    We, and not just Scots, make decisions in a most irrational way!

    It was interesting to observe how the NO campaign used fear, often just fear of the unknown.
    Where the “unknown” was a land called “Independence”.

    The NO land is the UK, with all its history of success and Failure. We were asked to ignore the UK’s multiple Failures, and instead IMAGINE failures which MIGHT occur in Independent Scotland.

    It is human nature that our nightmares have a bigger impact than our quickly forgotten dreams!
    On the other hand, HOPE always triumphs over fear.

    Martin Luther King wrote a speech “I Have A Dream” not ‘this is a nightmare’.
    He knew that HOPE would win over fear, even if it takes longer than we would like.

    On the other hand, we, The Independence Movement, have to recognise that we did not properly prepare the People of Scotland for independence. We did not use the Decision Sciences and Behavioural Economics as effectively as we should have done. As effectively as we will DO NEXT time!

    Hope, overcomes fear.
    We need to educate, to inform, and to encourage the People of Scotland towards Independence.
    And, overcome by discounting those who will argue against independence using fear.

    Independence is NOT an UNKOWN country. IT IS US.
    It is today’s Scotland, deciding and delivering our own future.
    Taking advantage of our Opportunities, overcoming our Challenges, as we have done since time immemorial. It is not being fearful and abdicating our future to others, who clearly have different interests at heart than ours.

  8. cattyclysm says:

    The use of scare figures and scaremongering has long been part of UK political discourse and often with a gap between the object feared and the reality of the threat. It has been operative in the ‘strivers vs skivers’ rhetoric and in the myth of health care tourists. Faith in its success is inherent in the response of the mainstream parties at Westminster to out-UKIP UKIP rather than empirically demonstrate that their targeted threats are a misrepresentation and that the sources of inadequate social services, job insecurity and poverty lie elsewhere. That is as much as to say that I find the identification of these tactics as an important element in decisions over the referendum broadly persuasive.

    However, there are also other, sometimes more determinative factors that persuaded some people to vote No and if we do not take them into account our efforts to persuade people to change will be less successful. The first element involves class. We should remain aware that there are well-to-do people who are residents of Scotland. We have over a dozen Tory MSPs. Many of them are voting in their own interest against independence. I may disagree with the values of such people but that does not make it accurate to see them as having been frightened into making such a decision. It is possible to be intelligent, engaged, well-informed and a Tory loyalist. Similarly, there were some on the left in Scotland who felt that voting for independence was a betrayal of the poor and the vulnerable in rUK, that a No vote was part of an expression of solidarity with the victims of austerity within other parts of this nation state. It was possible to vote No either because one benefits from the status quo, the former, or because one felt a responsibility to offer continued support to others south of the border more effectively within the UK that outside it.

    1. Gordon says:

      The Westminster government has been running this country under various political parties and has seen its populace degenerate into the most unequal society in the developed world, both geographically and by income differential. What on earth would make a left-leaning voter imagine that by remaining in the Union he will in any way effect change?
      We have an overstaffed, overpaid legislature, an unelected upper house, a parliament with mediaeval customs and practices, all run on the class/old boys’ system and 3 months hols/year It will never change.
      I heard an Aberdonian on Morning Call on the subject of food banks say that he voted NO because there were food banks in England as well (That makes it alright, then!) and he wished to help all citizens of the UK. Fat chance with Westminster, which has neglected the poor for the last 50 years!

  9. Paul M says:

    Good stuff. Yer man at http://newsframes.wordpress.com/ explores similar themes and topics.

  10. Andrea says:

    Fear continues…. and its working quite nicely with the Yes supporters. Consider the absolute media HOO HAH over the burning of a couple of copies of the Smith report thingy…. and the Yes voters are suddenly falling over themselves to distance themselves from the protest and decry the action. Nicola Sturgeon has (allegedly) promised a disciplinary procedure, and everyone is reacting as if someone was murder’d…. Yet it was only when the grassroots folks got together en masse …and said ‘we’re not buying this’ and took to the streets that the Unionist reporters retreated – so as not to inflame the situation. Not advocating violence – but for goodness sake …why are the SNP and the Yes movement dancing to the media’s tune yet again….

    Malcolm X said – no-one gives you power – you just take it……. that means thinking independently of the media’s take on things… or for that matter allowing a nominal leader to do your thinking for you.

    I loved the fun of the Yes independent movement. A Scotland-wide protesting the smith report could have been another opportunity to make fun …not fear.. A paper aeroplane day for the weans. A mass mulch with free compost fur yer garden. The media would have been fumin’ and spluttering …and apoplectic fits all round …would have rendered them speechless….which is no bad thing.

  11. Brian Fleming says:

    A very interesting article. However, the following quote invites comment:

    “No voters see the situation very differently. Perhaps, as Carol Craig of the Centre for Confidence and Well-being suggests, the whole notion of independence is based on selfishness. This, too, is a neuropolitical hypothesis.”

    It MAY BE a neuropolitical hypothesis. It IS CERTAINLY disingenuous, tendentious, totally specious nonsense. The notion of independence is certainly NOT based on selfishness. It is based on the reasonable argument that the people who live within a particular polity/political community/nation etc. are the people best placed to govern it well, with ensuing benefits for both themselves AND the world as a whole.

  12. Steve Arnott says:

    Excellent article, and glad to see i’m not the only one taking neuroscience and evolutionary psychology seriously. But what to do about it?

    “Those who wish to stick with what they perceive to be the status quo are risk-averse and easily startled, because that’s how they tend to make their decisions. And this behaviour has, over time, consolidated the connections responsible for it. External risk-related ‘reinforcement messages’ from scaremongering politicians and ‘experts’ confirm biases and act as reward (cognitive soor plooms, perhaps) for the pre-set, conservative mind.”

    This is precisely why I argued in more than one editorial and article for The Point magazine, way back in early autumn that the YES campaign needed to spend money big THEN – before the official accounting period – countering Project Fear memes effectively, because the longer the campaign went on the less open to challenge many would become cognitively. I argued that there was a particular need to reach those who didn’t use social media, because they were pre-dominantly getting this information from the mainstream media. That means bill-boards, posters, leaflets backed up by a hard hitting TV and radio counter-offensive from YES

    That that massive ‘countering’ campaign didn’t really happen with any consistency or application of resources is one of the primary reasons we came up short in the referendum this time.

  13. vronsky says:

    Why have you written:

    Senior citizens were ‘scared’ into voting No because they were ‘afraid’ that their pensions would take a hit; ‘uncertainty’ over currency led some to believe that continued use of the pound could not be ‘assured’ with independence; the media trumpeted ‘warnings’ by corporate giants and financial ‘experts’; ‘grave dangers’ lurked around the constitutional corner – dangers that could only be ‘avoided’ by sticking with the ‘safer’ option of the Union. Why take the ‘risk’?

    Instead of:

    Senior citizens were scared into voting No because they were afraid that their pensions would take a hit; uncertainty over currency led some to believe that continued use of the pound could not be assured with independence; the media trumpeted ‘warnings’ by corporate giants and financial experts; grave dangers lurked around the constitutional corner – dangers that could only be avoided by sticking with the safer option of the Union. Why take the risk?

    Is there something wrong with your keyboard?

    1. DR says:

      I expect the use of scare quotes is something of a pun. It also makes a serious point (and is pretty standard in the difficult process of writing about levels of cognition.) The highlighted words comprise a neuropolitically constructed narrative, rather than natural/logical responses to evidence. E.g. in reality, pensions took a hit immediately after the No vote, uncertainty over currency persists (is a constant of global capitalism), the degree of expertise possessed by those ‘warning’ was no greater than by those projecting neutral or positive change, and so on. In each case, the phenomenon was in fact neutral – change, and reaction to change – but the narrative characterised this neutral phenomenon in a particular way, and it’s that particularity the scare quotes convey. (This is a standard function of the punctuation, indicating that the identified concept is open to question in some sense? In this particular case, the question relates to whether x actually caused y, or instead tapped into a pre-existing and/or manufactured cognitive process predisposed to y?)

  14. In heaven love begats love, but fear is the parent of earthly love, and he who cannot bend to love, must be subdued by fear.

    As I am an atheist, I take heaven to mean a state of happiness.

    I feel the State has learned its lessons well from observing the mind control that religion has inflicted on the masses down through the ages. The art of spin has been perfected by our religious fore fathers. They have shown political leaders just how to sell the biggest lies enabling them to keep the people mesmerised and feeble.

    Although there were some hard core no voters, the rest were more like a benign herd, who were easily worried by the scaremongering stories into bolting for what they felt was the safer option of a no vote with extra powers. These same people will believe the lie that the Vow has been delivered, because that’s what their so called ‘betters’ are telling them. They will feel vindicated and subdued in the knowledge that they don’t need to think about any of this anymore.The fact that they still haven’t woken up to the truth yet, shows that living in a perpetual state of fear and ignorance is the norm for them.

    However, the fact that the Yes movement has not gone away, gives them the opportunity in their subdued state to maybe wonder if the Yesser’s are really onto something. The fact that the SNP membership has rocketed means that for many the blinkers are off. It will be interesting to see how things pan out at the General election. I guess I’m ever the optimist but I do feel the tide is turning.

    1. MBC says:

      There’s no success like success, especially for the herd. You are right that our perseverance and optimism will eventually erode their fear.

  15. I’ve been waiting for an analysis like this – anecdotally and totally non-scientifically I noted that among people I knew who were no-voters they tended to be those who struggled to use their creative functions,were creatively ‘repressed’ were risk averse, psychologically ‘anal’ in behaviour, used their set or perceptions political or value based as an inflexilble quasi religious ‘life code’ from which deviating would be more fearful than giving way to a challenge of those same beliefs.
    These are the personality and psychological traits I observed. And I emphasise (for the purposes of the Willie Rennie ‘Wings’ sleuth section of the Scottish Govt) they are not meant in any way as a denigration of those individuals described.
    I was very surprised by Carol Craig’s evaluation of the Yes No value sets. I didn’t agree with her. What is true is that the dependent default psychological state of many living in Scotland over the centuries of individual and collective impotence, have I believe, stunted collective emotional and psychological confidence development in us as a people.Allan Bisset is right in his analysis of Jockholme syndrome – why do you think the utterance of that brought down howls of outrage from the state press? We often reflect back at ourselves our impotent state which reinforces a vicious cycle of reward of that inferior state. And women who tend to be least confident, most dependent, most fearful of loss and most careful not to upset those who might do them material, psychological or physical harm would naturally because of the position and the back of the confidence stakes in society be most susceptible to scare mongering.
    What is remarkable is that so many broke out of the default strait jacket. And there is no going back for them which bodes very well for the next step. Its akin to discovering the world is not in fact flat – once you have that knowledge you can never go back to the old belief. That is the true transformation of the yes campaign. and again – true inner confidence in my experience breeds generosity – fear begets a mean spirit which is where I think Carol Craig got it wrong.

    1. MBC says:

      I agree with what you’ve said. Scots are naturally community minded but for historical reasons our communities have always been disempowered and fragmented. We never owned the land of our birth. We struggled to put down roots in any one locality and maintain a sense of belonging from generation to generation or to co-operate together in any sustained way. Our history is one of being shoved around by forces we could not control. The Highland Clearances, the closure of the pits. Of emigration, leaving, and longing. Of lack of any meaningful control of our collective destiny. You could say there were centrifugal forces pulling us together and centripetal forces throwing us apart. That has been the short story of our history.

      Contrast Norway. A land of poor peasants eking out a living in a harsh land. But free peasants, nonetheless, and practical and resourceful – much as we Scots are. But uniquely, able to make improvements generation by generation, and pass achievements hard won on to the next generation.

      So the Norwegians turned to each other, to their neighbours, if they needed help. There was nobody else to turn to. They became good at co-operation, and today they naturally self-organise. They do not fear one another, but naturally trust one another and easily combine to form solidarity whether it’s 32 part owners of a ship as a collective enterprise because nobody was rich enough to build one by himself, or whether it is local municipalities clubbing together to share in a hydro scheme.

      As someone of mixed Scottish and Norwegian parentage, I can tell you that temeramentally Norwegians are very similar to Scots. They have very similar traits as individuals. But their social history is entirely different. They owned their land, they never had the aristocracy. They grew in confidence and self-reliance but we have been plagued by self-doubt.

      Owning the land of our birth and challenging corporate power stalking is absolutely crucial to our social progress.

  16. Neil says:

    You could also explore the neuropsychology of how close identification with a group affects the brain whether it is a political grouping or in a sports one – say a football crowd. Does the brain react similarly in both settings. Does it incline them to trust leaders who make assertions that when they are in no position to make those assertions. Is this the same relationship that wolf packs enjoy with the alpha male? Does the reinforcing input of being in a group of like minded individuals echoing what they are thinking affect the neurological functions of the brain so it that feeds such emotions and hope and optimism and suppresses higher cognitive functions. I would be interested to read what the research has to say about these questions.

  17. MBC says:

    I have to say I was unconvinced by Carol Craig’s reasoning. She is an unreconstructed Old Labourite raised in the Marxist idiom that all nationalism = fascism and the SNP are therefore atavistic and regressive and not the true party of Scotland.

    She wanted to dress up her prejudices in the cloak of something fancy so came up with the spoof psycho-science to claim that Yessers were ‘selfish’ because we rejected ‘pooling and sharing’ with the rest of the UK. Implying that Noes were inherently broad minded, inclusive, and liberal with a social conscience. Yet as has been pointed out already on this thread, the majority of the Noes were the comfortable and the complacent and the majority of the Yesses were the poor and the dispossed.

    Sometimes the reasons people give for their views are not the real reasons.

  18. FairBairn says:

    I don’t believe that the older generation voted ‘No’ (allegedly) through fear (allegedly). I am retired, and the majority of the older people I met and talked to during my working life weren’t fearties.
    I also didn’t like the anti-Westminster stories. It’s mainly nonsense. In an Independent Scotland Westminster politicians would be replaced by Scottish politicians. I think, to most people, it’s the political class that is the problem, not their location.
    The referendum question was daft. We wouldn’t have been an independent country as we were depending on entry to the EU.
    Personally, I would like us to have more powers of our own but within a federal Britain, including a united Ireland, so the referendum question, for me, wasn’t relevant. It would have pushed Scotland in the wrong direction.
    Perhaps this was more in the minds of your so-called fearties. Make Scotland stronger by making Britain stronger
    Remember that the referendum was a victory for democracy, regardless of the outcome, which is a real advance for politics.

    1. MBC says:

      Independence would have pushed us in the wrong direction?

      Federalism was never on offer and never will be. It could have been on offer in 1707, other federal structures existed in the Europe of that time, but it was unacceptable to the English Crown and its ministers.

      The Union is an aberration that should never have happened, the product of an imperial age impacting on a feudal, pre-democratic early modern society. The first 40 years of it were subject to constant rebellions not quelled until after Culloden, and we have been arguing for home rule since the 1880s at least.

      There was a brief period 1750-1850 when the union was just about tolerable and accepted by the majority, mainly because the reach of the British state in Scotland was so limited. But even then, Blind Harry’s Wallace was still the most-read book in Scotland after the Bible. Scotland and England have been drifting apart since the late 19th century and but for two world wars drawing us artificially together we would have gone our separate ways long ago. There are now no longer any good reasons for the United Kingdom. it is an anachronism. Our empire is gone, our industry is gone, our nationalised assets are gone, our NHS is going. What is there about Britain to be proud of? Why do we have or need the UK? Security and prosperity are provided for by other transnational structures.

      The UK is simply the suppression of a minority (Scotland) by a majority (rUK) and this suppression holds us back socially and economically. Only habit, fear, and the inability to imagine a better future keep us tied to the UK.

      There is little loyalty or love of the British state in Scotland today.

  19. FairBairn says:


    “Only habit, fear, and the inability to imagine a better future keep us tied to the UK.”

    This is a place which I don’t recognise in the slightest. I don’t know who the enemies of ordinary people are, but social media, the internet and blogs such as this, and others, will inform a lot of people. More openness can only be helpful.

    I am a firm believer in democracy, having seen it in action, nationally and in a small scale in trade union activity and even non unionised workforces. It’s not perfect, but I havn’t yet come across a better system when a large majority take part. This happened in the Yes/No referendum.

    The country or the borders aren’t that important, a social conciense is. The majority of people are decent and helpful, therefore a system which recognises and encourages this will get support.

    The SNP are mistaken in thinking that the support for their party means support for Independence, I believe that they have a support for their socialist policies, which the Labour Party seemed to have forgotten. It may be that Labour will get back on track and become the party of the scottish working class again.

  20. Connor McEwen says:

    fur fecks sake thick

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