2007 - 2021

The Messenger


Gerry Hassan’s article ‘Message to the Messengers’  chimed with several recent outbursts exploring discontent in the wider movement in the post-referendum political landscape. As the fallout of defeat and a subsequent lack of focus deepens accusations of ‘Scottish Peronism’ (‘Jacobites and Jacobins: the problem with Yes fundamentalism’ ) and other commentaries speak to discontent and fear of the Yes movement morphing from a positive and radical one to a narrow nationalist one.

Whilst a self-reflective and self-critical perspective is essential, much of this analysis seems mired in a fearful and confused outlook, with remedies that lack depth or insight.

In many of these commentaries there appears to be a fear of a latent unidentified power. The themes expressed over and over are of a lack of sophistication and the most consistent accusation is of ‘populism’.

Ian Gillan writes that: “by othering the opposition as un-Scottish, the SNP are seeking to shut down any voices other than their own, plus some unthreatening fellow-travellers”.

The recurring pattern is a mimicry of the right’s critique of the Yes movement as a nascent fascist one. There is no ‘shutting down’ going on but there is a growing consciousness about the inequality of constitutional power relations, the role of the British State and the crisis of the corporate media and public broadcaster.

These are areas which the British left has been traditionally uncomfortable with.

In idolisation of Gordon Brown Ian Gillan continues : “Brown was a key figure in the rebuilding of the Labour Party in the 1980s and 90s. He was a heroic figure in Scotland and beyond. He was. And he dominated Whitehall in his time as Chancellor, bullying Blair relentlessly to get his own way on public spending. The result was a transformation in the state of our public services, unquestionably for the better.”

This kind of strange ahistorical Fan Club Socialism offers another insight. Many of these commentators have a Labour hinterland and their sharp critique loses credibility when the solutions put forward amount to evoking a sort of folk memory of the Labour movement.

Gerry Hassan’s 12 point programme needs addressed alongside the ‘Peronism’ allegations.

He asserts that: “The pro-union majority did not vote out of selfishness, false consciousness or other reasons which can be dismissed. Instead, like independence voters they were motivated by a huge variety of reasons – all of which are valid.”

This is a bold and strange comment, which lacks authority.

It’s clear that to dismiss people on the basis of a false consciousness is an easy and dangerous mistake. But it is equally evident that huge numbers of No voters voted out of perceived financial self-interest. You can shy away from calling that selfishness if you like, but that is what it is. Is this valid? Are all reasons valid? In the often confused mindset of the No voter, I fail to see why ‘all reasons’ are valid. Equally not all reasons for voting Yes are valid. Some, on both sides are shallow, confused, embittered or just based on a completely false premise.

However, Gerry is quite right to say: “It is a common trait of bad politics to pose the world as you want to see it, rather than it is, and then build your perspective from this.”

That is a problem for the independence movement and it’s one we need to overcome. Engaging with dialogue with No voters and exposing our own movement ideas to self-reflection is absolutely essential if we are to win anything.

Hassan continues heroically to dispel myths and dampen energy: “in parts of the independence movement there are unrealistic expectations of political change” and “Any radical politics has to have a sense of what is possible, to push it as far as it can, to understand timescales and how these dovetail with strategy. And critically it has to understand the political culture beyond its own boundaries – in the Scotland which voted No.”

Actually one of the breakthrough experiences of the Yes movement was to think beyond the possible beyond the day-to-day, that is the sign of a radical movement, to create an opportunity to see potentiality beyond the present social structures.

Hassan’s arguments are peppered with a forced iconoclasm and a return to a regular trope, that of a sweeping critique of ‘the left’ that combines a fervent urgency that’s mirrored only by a distinct vagueness. In ‘dispelling myths’  Hassan seems to hover above the movement and the nation like a contemporary Brahan Seer.

As one commentator put it: “It’s a conservative trait going back at least to Edmund Burke to dismiss progressive movements with reference to the psychological malfunctions of some of their members. You can endorse the spirit of the movement and it’s progressive historical role without expecting that all of the people involved will hold progressive or scientific views on every front.”

He is perhaps on stronger ground examining the strength of the No turnout, pointing out that No mobilisation created: “The highest turnouts were in the most affluent and pronounced No areas: East Dunbartonshire 91%, East Renfrewshire 90.4% and Stirling 90.1%”.

But even this seems also a churlish analysis, ignoring the massive obstacles of engaging the disaffected and seemingly ignorant of the on-the-ground campaign and victories of RIC and the wider movement.

In a final sweeping chorus Hassan concludes:

“There can be no final destination for any truly radical politics, and particularly, a radical independence politics. That means challenging conventional wisdom on the independence side, not listening to the most siren and certain voices, and instead nurturing a set of spaces and resources – comfortable with pluralism, dynamism and even doubt. That after all is what a rich ecology and culture of self-government would look and feel like. Finally, what of the future? First, Scotland has to be understood as more than a series of competing tribes: Yes and No, pro-independence and anti-independence, nationalist and unionist, SNP and Labour. The undercurrent of this is an attempt by partisans on each of these sides and camps to reduce every opinion down to two perspectives and a politics of two tribes. Everything revolves around the question: whose side are you on?, and who do you most trust to look after Scotland?”

At Bella we have and will create spaces for competing voices and open up to listen and learn from all parts of society, but, as Osborne’s economics policy threatens to restructure the basis of British society, there is no place for bland academic vagueries denouncing conviction. Yes party-political tribalism may be a dead-end but actually, there is a destination for ‘independence politics’, it’s called sovereignty. It may be a milestone on a longer journey to the sort of society we aspire to, but is an absolute necessary point on that journey in the attempt to defend against the assault of the austerity union.

A ‘a rich ecology and culture of self-government’ would be a fine thing, but we haven’t achieved that yet. Confronting the realities of political opportunism and betrayal isn’t ‘tribalism’ it’s a necessary and vital act. Making a distinction between unionists and democrats isn’t a false binary it’s part of the new language of a new movement that is growing not dissipating in energy despite our loss.

Asking ‘Who do you most trust to look after Scotland?’ is a key and crucial question we face.


Comments (157)

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  1. IAB says:

    I read Gerry Hassan’s articles and really stopped in my tracks when he denied that the British State was a failed state. He can quote whoever he wants but the British State is the dying embers of the Empire that was hell bend on absorbing all around them. It has retreated to its last castle of Westminster and uses the media rather than armies to wage its war to protect privilege and ‘social norms’. The last shreds of Scotland’s connection to Britain were severed by Thatcher when she destroyed the nationalised industries and concentrated all power in London. Blair and those who followed him kept it going. I would agree that the 45 is a myth – it’s nearer the 52 by now. The growth of political involvement in Scotland is heartening and it’s finding its feet. The leadership is able and the direction is becoming more focussed day by day. Hassan needs to get out on the street and out of his books.

    1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

      I think IAB is falling into the kind of self-delusion which Mr Hassan is warning against – it is, essentially, ‘the straw man’ fallacy, which we learn about in philosophy classes. The British state is NOT a failed state. There are many of these across the world and ours is no where close to these. The functions of the state are carried out by pretty conscientious public employees and ensure that life goes on.

      However, this is different to saying that the state is as good as it could be for a substantial majority of the population. The state in the UK has always primarily served the “Establishment” and has been run at the senior levels by its members and those whom it recruited. However, actions by trade unions, by political groups, political decisions following wars have shifted the state at times away from serving the Establishment to serving more of the rest of us. Things have swung in both directions, and, at this time of ‘austerity’ (i.e. for the great mass of us!) we are witnessing the Establishment shifting wealth and power back to itself.

      What the referendum in Scotland did was shake the confidence of the Establishment and, to some extent, it is ‘circling the wagons’ around Westminster. With people in England beginning to realise that the 45% of us who voted YES, maybe had a point, then we are in a position where the tide might begin to flow back to us.

      If it does, and I will do what I can to make it flow, we will still need those people who work in the many institutions of the state to continue to do their jobs effectively to ensure that we can all ‘work as if we are in the early days of a better nation’.

      So, let us use language properly. Being realistic about the Establishment does not mean being overawed by it. It simply means recognising that services are still being delivered (albeit with increasing difficulty) and also recognising that the Establishment still has some fearsome powers, and, because they insulate themselves – in their private schools, clubs, societies, estates, etc – from most of the rest of us, they are unconstrained by any feeling of a shared humanity with us. Baroness Jenkin with her porridge comment demonstrated that they view the rest of us as not fully human and, in the final analysis, the Eton Rifles will fire as if they were on the grouse moors.

      1. Bothy Basher says:

        Excellent, realistic comment, Alasdair.

        ”they view the rest of us as not fully human” – well perhaps not as extreme as that, but unfortunately we are allied to a country with a deeply unconscious cultural imperialism. The English, a remarkable nation, have many excellent qualities and in some areas outpace us, but their assumption that their culture is by default the superior one is tiresome.

        That said, there are Scots who indulge in the same imperialism but reactively, with their ”Here’s tae us, gey few and they’re a’ deid”.

      2. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

        The UK is a rogue state, both nationally and Internationally. At this time the bile of illegal wars entered into as the USA’s puppet, is easier to understand.

        What is less obvious is the fact that the UK has operated a trade deficit for 31 consecutive years culminating in the issuing of gilts to foreign governments to the tune of £2.5tn. The UK’s National Debt may be circa £1.4tn but the total debt is circa £3.9tn.

        The British Establishment has not made any attempt to redress this dire situation. Not because they’re stupid, but because The City of London makes as absolute fortune out of this position, As everyone has to contribute to the redemption repayments, austerity will be a permanent feature.

        When the cuts really hit, post 2015, the implications of the NO vote will only then start to sink in.

      3. lawrenceab says:

        Brilliant comment! Will stand the test of time.

      4. IAB says:

        Civil servants will follow the instructions of their employer and the mechanism continues. When I commented on a failed state I was referring to a union that no longer served its four nations. Empires rise and fall and we are in the dying embers of this one. Your comment ‘ .. the Establishment still has some fearsome powers, and, because they insulate themselves – in their private schools, clubs, societies, estates, etc – from most of the rest of us, they are unconstrained by any feeling of a shared humanity with us.’ supports this.

      5. Clootie says:

        Perspective – If you are one of the working poor having to use a foodbank then you are living in a failed state.

      6. cynicalHighlander says:

        @Alasdair Macdonald

        I don’t accept your prognosis that the UK is not a failed state when it fails the majorities of its peoples aspirations through its lack of democracy whilst proclaiming to be a full democracy because it has an MSM which is complicit in this assertion. eg. When your police force are kitted out in battledress as is happening over the border it shows full scale dictatorship in the making under the pretence of protecting the national interest.

      7. cynicalHighlander says:

        I forgot to provide this link.

        The Five Stages of Collapse

    2. Bothy Basher says:

      ” The last shreds of Scotland’s connection to Britain were severed by Thatcher when she destroyed the nationalised industries and concentrated all power in London. Blair and those who followed him kept it going.”

      Yes IAB.

    3. Gary says:

      How can the British state be a failed state when 55% of Scots voted to remain as part of the British state? Time for a reality check….

      1. IAB says:

        Look at the reasons before making this comment and then look at the more recent polls

    4. Patrick Hogg, Biographer of Robert Burns says:

      Agree! Well said.

    5. British State is a huge black hole…………sucking the life out of everything around it.

    6. 45 was always a myth, not least because the proportion of the total Scottish electorate which voted Yes was less than 38%. (That said, less than 50% voted No; hardly good news for supporters of the British state.) Your assertion, however, that “it’s nearer the 52 by now” is utterly fatuous and rather proves Hassan’s point. Unless you’ve somehow polled at least 85% of the Scottish electorate, you can’t possibly place such a specific figure on the pro-independence “movement”.

      1. Hi Paul

        Surely IAB doesn’t have to personally poll 85% of the population to arrive at that conclusion?!

        The “nearer 52% by now” must refer to the polling that shows support for independence continuing to increase (just as it did over the course of the referendum) e.g. http://scotgoespop.blogspot.co.uk/search?updated-max=2014-12-15T17:43:00Z&max-results=10

      2. IAB says:

        Justin – you beat me to it

  2. kate says:

    hassan’s piece is almost impossible to differentiate from an establishment response to Yes movt until last few sentences. its publication in the Scotsman i think can possibly be attributed to fact it seems to give support to the unionist dismissals of indy movt , most insidiously because of its implied & outrageous acceptance of mainstream media as a real & reliable avenue of information in an essentially fair referendum contest. MSM journalists feel their authority under threat internationally. how fortunate to be able to publish views by a known independence supporter that accepts journalists as providing trustworthy information & a mirror of factual reality/truth rather than significantly false or misleading information as the mirror of politicians press releases & media owners directives. On both hassan’s & the general unionist reading the indy movt seems to be presented as having achieved close to nothing. nor is an alternative path discussed.

  3. Johnny D says:

    Hassan’s role it seems is to deliberately stir the pot and make it muddy. Rarely do I read anything he writes and feel I now understand the issue better. I do however often develop a headache and a feeling that nothing is working well for the left or Scotland. Close anaysis of his arguments tend to reveal little substance beyond vague opinions littered with truisms and nonsense in equal measure. Well done Mike for taking apart some of his most ludicrous points – “- all of which were valid’!!
    Generally Hassan’s writing lacks coherence or direction. He raises a series of questions with no answers other than his repeated mantra “we need to talk about this everyone.”

    1. John Page says:

      Johnny D
      I am so glad you wrote this. I have followed Hassan closely in recent months and initially thought I just wasn’t well informed enough to understand his position….but I unfollowed him from Twitter last week because I was finding him to be boring and repetitive. No doubt he won’t be devastated by this but at least I won’t have to experience his negativity

      1. Johnny D says:

        Good move John Page. I’ve avoided him too because he adds nothing of value as far as I can see. MSM support him because he’s a stirrer. He does well for himself feeding off the divide and rule policy.

    2. cynicalHighlander says:

      Hassan has a problem called Labour and he thinks that they aren’t Tories so they must be good sadly a lot of other peoples thinking as well..

  4. daibhidhdeux says:

    To his questions as to to whose side one is on and who do we most trust to look after Scotland? The answer is simple, the informed citizens of Scotland.

    Perhaps, this prospect is the one which causes such almost spinal reflex fear in the Unionist establishment and amongst its proxy voices in the MSM for it seems to foretell their collective fate of being consigned to the electoral tumbrels and a Siberia of irrelevancy reserved for the British state-oriented commentariat by an electorate that is genuinely educated rather than Pavlovian trained (especially so given the narrow squeak they experienced last September)?

    Maybe Gerry Hassan needs to re-read Paulo Friere’s classic “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” or even the writings of MacLean, Connolly et revolutionary al to grasp the difference between a populace seduced by mindless populism and one losing the scales from its eyes and asserting its educated sovereignty?

    It seems to me that what we have witnessed and continue to witness is a shrinking in popular numbers who knee-jerk subscribe to the mindless populism and mawkish sentimentality – often, in reality, brutal – of the British state and an upsurge of critical awareness by a growing number of folk as to what the true nature of the British state is. Thus, the continuing and growing drive to re-assert the sovereignty of the citizens of Scotland via the re-assertion of our nation’s independence as a force for good at home and the world at large – something which I reckon even Friere would have been stunned at given its scale, its openness, and current momentum.

    Lastly and in the face of this Scottish Enlightenment popularly and critically resumed and reclaimed and including the self and other actors in our ain body politic in addition to the wider world we all inhabit, I wonder if his concern about the two tribes polarizing danger is not only a bit re-heated in addition to being a bit over-egged? Also, to chuck a popular music analogy into the stew, I cannot help but wonder if his concern owes more to, I think, Adam Ant’s British mega hit “When Two Tribes Go to War” rather than to any meaningful realities on the ground?

    Whatever the source of this “worry”, it does also strike me for the pungent smell about it of establishment wishful thinking and hoping for a divide and rule scenario – one for which they have plenty of form in practicing – and which would give them a pretense for robustly intervening in: A very dangerous thing to even inadvertently manufacture whether in Scotland or elsewhere, and one, I trust, he does not seek to encourage. Unlike him, if this is the case, I believe the people of Scotland – a few diehards apart – have now risen above this discredited auld tactic

    Anyway and whatever ones take, current events south of the Border seem to indicate that the unraveling of this always asymmetrical Union has gathered a life-force of its own.

    1. Doug says:

      PS – credibility fail – Two Tribes was a ‘Frankie goes to Hollywood’ hit, not Adam Ant But a good resonse nonetheless. Hassan is increasingly looking like a failing (and aware of it) apologist for a state of politics that doesn’ exist. Another one of the ‘luvvies’ who doesn’t understand that when 44.7 % rejects the current establishment.. that’s not just a protest vote.

  5. Fiona says:

    Seems to me that those of us who support independence need to face up to some facts: at least that is the conclusion I have come to. Before the vote I genuinely believed that the Scottish people wanted different things from those in rUK, primarily in England. Many who opposed independence denied that and I have reluctantly come to think that they are right.

    Those who voted No voted for foodbanks, trident, increased poverty and inequality. That is precisely what the majority of English voters vote for. There is a great effort to pretend that is not so, and voters pass the buck of responsibility to others, whether that be government, big corporations, the unions…whatever. Anything but accept that they get what they actually want: yet despite the flaws in our democracy the reality is that the rightward shift is what a majority in England actually prefer. And now it has been demonstrated that it is what the majority in Scotland also prefer.

    I am unimpressed by those who argue that they voted No because they thought that things would get worse if we secured independence. Nobody could believe that, given that we have been assured that austerity is to be extended within the union, and that is by design. That was perfectly plain before the vote. It is true that things might not have got better in an independent Scotland: but there would have been a chance. There is none within the union

    All of that depends, of course, on what you mean by “better” and by “worse”. A majority of our fellow citizens do not think that ensuring our people can feed themselves without recourse to charity is “better”. That is the reality, and it shames me.

    I have no time for the idea that there are diverse reasons for voting yes or voting no. Certainly people have different priorities, but it really is binary. We are dual in our nature, I think: we are both selfish and altruistic in equal measure. At different times one or other is in the ascendant but both are always present. For 3 decades we have behaved as if only the selfish component of our nature exists: and that is right wing perspective which is so widely accepted by now that people who would at one time have been ashamed to impoverish their neighbours now wear it as a badge of pride in their tough minded realism. People who recognise the reality and the necessity of cooperative instincts are now those who are shamefaced, fearing they are being naive, or woolly minded.

    The question always comes down to “who is “us””, in my view. We know the neoliberal answer and have done since the days of Thatcher. The Scottish majority agree with her, it is now clear. So we will condemn our fellows to desperation, and we will ultimately reap the whirlwind of civil unrest and/or war.

    We have made our choice. It is not irreversible. But let us not pretend we were duped without our collusion. We decided to live in a neoliberal state, and there was an alternative.

    1. Bothy Basher says:

      Yes Fiona!

      I wish I’d written this.

      ”Those who voted No voted for foodbanks, trident, increased poverty and inequality. That is precisely what the majority of English voters vote for. There is a great effort to pretend that is not so, and voters pass the buck of responsibility to others, whether that be government, big corporations, the unions…whatever. Anything but accept that they get what they actually want: yet despite the flaws in our democracy the reality is that the rightward shift is what a majority in England actually prefer. And now it has been demonstrated that it is what the majority in Scotland also prefer.”….

      ”…..We decided to live in a neoliberal state, and there was an alternative.”

      Sadly, this is hideously true.

      1. bowanarrow says:

        Can I just say….WONDERFUL…!!!!
        If the vote had been NO I would agree but I will always believe that the Scottish people voted yes. I cant believe that Scots, when given all the fact, would vote no for an Independent Scotland. It is something heart felt rather than logic I`m afraid.

    2. aplinal says:

      Thank you, Fiona. You have echoed my thoughts here. Whatever we WANT to think of our fellow Scots, enough of them CHOSE to vote No. They were not forced, they were not coerced, they made a decision. They can not even argue they were mistakenly ill-informed as the alternative arguments were all available if anyone was seriously interested in finding them out. They were simony not interested enough in their own country to do the most basic of research, relying instead on a proven propaganda media outlet – the BBC.

      “We” on the YES side were not robbed of the vote, our fellow Scots (and I assume many – most? – of the English living in Scotland) CHOSE to leave us, their family, friends and children at the mercy of the Westminster elite. (By the by, I am half English and say this without rancour, but as an observation).

      When next time comes, as I think it will in the next 5 years, we will have to have prepared the ground far better.

    3. davidb says:

      I dont see how this opinion squares with the knowledge that it was the over 65 demographic which overwhelmingly voted No. They grew up in the post war era when State ownership and welfare stateism was the order of the day. They depend on welfare for much of their income. The only obvious thing which marks them apart is their reliance on the Ministry Of Truth for their “information”. Are we to believe they are unreconstructed Thatcherites? Their generation wiped that Conservative Party out electorally in Scotland.

      Almost all other demographics – able to do their own research and thus become better informed – voted Yes.

      I subscribe to a right of centre neoliberal economic view. But I campaigned for, still campaign for, and have always believed that my country should be independent.

      1. Bothy Basher says:

        ‘Davidb said ”I subscribe to a right of centre neoliberal economic view.”

        On the basis of ‘know thine enemy” I accept your comment

        But you are indeed the enemy within, to coin a phrase from the neoliberal who vandalised my country – and England – and who corruptly enriched her henchmen at the expense of society. You will remember with relish the ”loadsa money” insults shouted at unemployed workers long ago. We are saddled with the same embezzlers of our wealth today, of which you declare yourself to be one.

        As the enemy within, I think you’d have richer pickings in a UK state. So I question either your motives, your sanity – or your honesty.

      2. MBC says:

        Sorry Fiona, I cannot agree with your point that No was not a spectrum, and that all Noes were right wing people who were happy with foodbanks and Trident. Yours is a severely reductionist analysis not borne out by my experience. I know quite a few Noes who were not in that category. In fact, almost all of them. The Noes I know of voted No because they felt afraid of what independence would mean for the most vulnerable, which in many cases were themselves; or else they voted No for absurd ideological reasons such as a Marxist belief in internationalism. A good few felt it was selfish to leave the UK and not support comrades and especially family members in England. Intellectually absurd arguments, of course, but genuinely held on positive ethical grounds, and not on grounds of self-interest.

        Where I will agree with you is that I do think there is something called ‘middle Scotland’, and this is larger than we thought it was. Middle Scotland is comfortably off and doesn’t feel that bothered about Scotland as a nation or as an identity. A good many are English born or would describe themselves as British or as much British as Scottish. I would estimate that perhaps as much as a third of the No vote – 650,000 people – are in that category, but most of the rest voted No because of a residual belief (against all the evidence to the contrary) in British solidarity.

      3. davidb says:

        @ Bothy Basher

        It is not left wing to believe in your nation’s right to self determination. My stand is one of principal.

        As presently we make common cause – both preferring our affairs to be our own affair – I welcome your support. However there is no period in the history of Scotland where we have been particular outliers in European thought. I would therefore feel safe to assume that post independence we would become a multiparty democracy. There are no socialist republics anywhere west of the Urals nowadays, so I would be fairly confident we are not likely to be going down that road.

        However, the economic model pursued in an independent state is a matter for those who live here. It is nothing to do with our colonial overlord what path we chose. After independence we will be on opposing sides, but for now, lets stay focussed on securing Independence Day.

      4. Bothy Basher says:

        ”it was the over 65 demographic which overwhelmingly voted No. They grew up in the post war era when State ownership and welfare stateism was the order of the day. They depend on welfare for much of their income. ”

        You are indeed a value-less, shabby individual. The people you sneer at paid for the so called ‘welfare ‘ you look down on. You ridiculous person – if you insure your house for fire, do you not claim when it burns down? That’s the cold calculation which you like – the ”cash nexus”.

        The people you dismiss with contempt built the country which you feed on, louse-like. They also saved you from fascism and in Scotland tried to save you from the neoliberalism you adore. They worked all their lives producing the wealth which others appropriate, only to see you sneer at them for providing for their future needs. How dare you?

        In the words of neoliberal, sociopaths who you no doubt admire – get on your bike -you are the enemy within.

      5. davidbsb says:

        Bothy Basher

        And where is this assumption of sneering at those who by being fed a diet of propaganda picked the wrong path? I replied to a comment which presumed that the No voters were self interested and longed for a less caring society. I give them the benefit of the doubt regarding their motive. And because I do not subscribe to a heavy handed state directed model of economics which has never worked anywhere it was tried, you presume to read into that I have some imagined contempt for those people?

        Aye I have a low regard for ill informed No voters, but I am willing to understand that they were sold a pup and while that does not forgive their actions it may explain them.

        And off you go jumping down my throat and making wild assumptions and allegations? I may well assume you have spent the day beating Santa to the sherry, but I would not be so casually insulting to you to say that here.

        Relax. We both want independence. We just have a minor difference of opinion as to the best economic system to deliver the most benefit to the greatest number of Scots. But any system which directs our output to a colonial power and it’s elite is certainly not in either of our interests.

      6. Alistair says:

        Bothy basher, the very extremest left wing attitude that scared a fair proportion of No voters into making their choice for fear an independent Scotland being run by people like you. I’d go as far as to say that you may be a unionist plant to achieve that effect. Either that or you lack key social skills. Get over yourself.

      7. jacquescoleman says:

        73% of the English “demographic” voted NO. And they comprise nearly 10% of the population Scotland.

      8. joseph O Luain says:

        With contrarians like you running around the place, MR DAVIDB, I doubt whether the Independence movement can reach any useful analysis of of its current position.

        Perhaps I’m just pissed off with you because in my experience unfathomable, perverse commentators, such as yourself, who “subscribe to a right of centre neoliberal economic view” have always proved to be my political enemies.

      9. Fiona says:


        It is a truism that the “over 65 demographic.. overwhelmingly voted No”, based, I think, on Ashcroft’s and Yougov’s polls after the vote. But that is a dubious conclusion when you look at the figures, and it is interesting to revisit that now. It is a part of the neoliberal agenda to divide and rule: and an intergenerational division is a very familiar part of their narrative in many contexts, not just in terms of the referendum. It is no accident that the class divisions are played down while the age divisions are emphasised. It suits their TINA story very well indeed.

        Nor is it reasonable to lump “over 65’s” into one group. So far as I am aware there is no scientific basis for doing so: it is mere ageism. Someone aged 66 is no more likely to think like someone aged 86 than someone aged 26 is likely to think like someone aged 46. Yet all groups under the age of 65 are separated into clusters of 10 years, and all over 65’s are lumped together. If you have evidence that this is legitimate please point me in the direction of it, for I have seen nothing

        Someone aged 86 did not grow up in the post war era, as you assert. Such a person was born in 1928 and grew up in the 1930’s, in the same kind of neoliberal world we see today. A person aged 66 was born in 1948 and the world could not have been more different from the 1930’s.

        Your use of the word “welfare” betrays your position, which you freely acknowledge later in your post. Nothing at all wrong with that, of course, but I doubt that many who grew up in the post war period would naturally use that word, and the political baggage it imposes. it is a part of the process of changing perceptions, certainly: a pure propaganda move, which is effective for all age groups over time.

        Neither do you show that those who are over 65 do not use the same sources of information that everyone else does. In another part of the forest we are told of “silver surfers”, and a great many do in fact have both time and resource: many of the people who post at wings are over 65, for example. I do not doubt there are fewer as a percentage than in younger demographics: but it is not enough to have access: you have to use it. I see little evidence that younger people use the internet to research political positions as a matter of course. Do you have evidence that they do? It is plausible, but is it true?

        According to Yougov, 34% of those aged over 65 voted Yes: Ashcroft reported 27%. All that tells you is that the polls disagree.

        Compare the class difference they found: Per Yougov 41% of ABC’s voted yes, while 50% of C2DE’s did. Ashcroft reported 44% and 47% respectively. Again little agreement. But what is certainly true is that these are far bigger functional differences than those based on age: because this split applies to the whole population.

        You are engaged in a process of interpreting history according to your neoliberal values, it seems to me. We all tend to do that, so that is no criticism. But i do not think you have established your point, and so it is a question of the narrative we will apply in the future. I do not propose to accept it without question because I do not think it is true. And the story we tell, the interpretation we accept, is profoundly important

        If you have done your own research I will be interested in reading what led to your conclusion. In the absence of that I am inclined to think that you cherry pick from the plausible stories presented by the media: and, ironically, that makes you over 65, on your own argument. Perhaps you are……….

    4. Frank M says:

      Excellent post Fiona.
      The majority did, indeed, vote no in the clear knowledge and understanding that it would mean the status quo, austerity, neo-liberalism and all. There is NO chance of things getting better in the Union and, as you say, this is by design. Thank you for a very clearly defined post. Please accept a cyber hug from me.
      Like Bothy Basher, I wish I had written that, but it gives me great pleasure that you did.

      1. liz says:

        This is a reply to Fiona but there was no reply button below your post.

        I have no problem with your comment except the YouGov and Ashcroft polls is like comparing apples and oranges because they used different age ranges.

        Which in itself was quite interesting because it altered the voting % of each age range group.

  6. Clootie says:

    Gerry Hassan was never a supporter of Independence. His articles were always a lure to sidetrack people towards his beloved Labour Party. He still sees the Party of 30/40 years ago through his rose tinted glasses.

    I’m sorry to be blunt but I always found his articles to be shallow and manipulative of YES voters. He believes in the original Labour Party of united workers across the World. He is entitled to that view and I can praise it. However the Labour Party are now part of the right wing Empire of the UK.

    The social change he and I desire will not be delivered through Westminster and certainly not by Labour.

    1. jacquescoleman says:

      “I’m sorry to be blunt but I always found his (Hassan’s) articles to be shallow and manipulative of YES voters. He believes in the original Labour Party of united workers across the World.”

      And long winded, boring, and never sayinf anything of real substance to boot.

  7. MBC says:

    Mike, you are a far better writer than Hassan. Your articles are sharp and well constructed and they lead logically to a conclusion. Hassan’s metier is banal and confused; he bases very little on hard fact and evidence and everything on generalities which cannot be supported. Plus he quibbles constantly with this and that, he is like a windy blast that blows here and there, getting nowhere.

    As someone once said, Hassan will take hundres of words to say something that could be contained in a single sentence.

    Reading between the lines, I think Hassan is frustrated by the continued strength of the Yes movement and the fact that it shows no signs of returning to Labour.

    In trying to open up fissures he is fighting shadows. He has no clear sense of what is going on in Scotland.

    I find Kate Higgins’ and Lesley Riddoch’s regular reports about meetings and events they have attended far more informative.

  8. Bothy Basher says:

    While Scotland does not determine its own affairs, we see the oil price crash without fuss from anyone in Britain. If the City of London were threatened with collapse we’d hear MUCH more about it.

    This is because the US, its satellite NATO and the Saudi Arabian dictatorship (both terrorist states) have conspired to destabilise Russia (with all its democratic deficit and terrorism in Chechnya) on the price of oil . This damages Scotland, yet I have yet to hear any politician, Scots or English condemn this economic/military conspiracy for what it is..

    Russia is being demonised like before (as the USSR) as the neo liberal US seeks new villains alongside the usual targets.

    And Scotland, home of US/UK submarine missiles is crippled by its refusal to manage its own affairs – and as its economy is crushed.

    Scotland is a second hand country and deserves to be,

  9. Darien says:

    To give Gerry Hassan his due, he has warned about the pitfalls of merely exchanging a British Establishment for a rather similar Scottish Establishment – both following a neoliberal agenda. As well as cleaning out the political class, which is what voters are gradually doing, a clean out of the Establishment leaderships would be no a bad thing. The SNP Government should be starting that process now, but they seem rather slow on the uptake. These people remain the ‘enemy within’.

    1. Clootie says:

      What version of YES was neoliberal? Did you read the aspirations expressed by so many. Having won the referendum do you think that movement would have tolerated a neo liberal agenda?

      1. Gary says:

        Staying in NATO. Sharing the same currency with a neo-liberal economy. Reducing corporation tax. Refusing to say anything about the public ownership of railways, gas and electricity. That all sounds rather neo-liberal to me…

      2. Darien says:

        “What version of YES was neoliberal?”

        If you read my response you will see that I am referring to the ‘Establishment’, not the political leaders or ‘Yes’. Even if a Yes vote had won the day, the unionist-oriented Scottish Establishment would still be in post – that is the point eloquently made by Gerry Hassan. These are the people who are in charge of most of our life, from local and central gov, NHS, military, police, universities, to quangos and public agencies galore. And don’t forget the legal system…..

    2. cynicalHighlander says:

      That is what the unionists wanted people to believe that SNP voters were Moony cult clones ignoring the fact that independance was only being offered by the SNP so we had no other choice.

      1. Bernicia says:

        Or the Empirical evidence that the Scottish government in holyrood has followed neo lib/ new labour policies, especially over the last seven years (go on name a single redistributive policy?) what about the SSP/ Greens?

  10. Barbara McKenzie says:

    When I see these patronising, masturbatory, navel-gazing articles on Bella Caledonia (and there are too many of them), I go and read Wings or Andy Wightman or Lesley Riddoch for clear thinking about real issues, which a real contribution to the question of Scottish independence.

    1. Bothy Basher says:

      Which ‘articles’? Which are ‘too many’? What are ‘real issues’?

      You avoid precision and fatally undermine your own point – whatever it is.

      Sh*t or get off the pot.

    2. MBC says:

      Agree about the need for clear thinking about real issues. Well said.

    3. sarah says:

      I agree, Barbara. It’s like being back in Labour-apparchik-dominated Scotland, where you either bought the false narrative or endured sneers and exclusion. Some comments here are shameful.

      “Wearrapeeple” is not a considered response to those who voted NO, Nor is an attack on their characters, assumed motives or understanding of the issues. I voted YES, but have no difficulty in seeing and acknowledging the legimitate concerns of friends, family and neighbours, who for various reasons, voted NO.

      1. Bothy Basher says:

        Sarah, It’s not just you but what is it about Tories which makes them such bad spellers?

        Can you share with us which ”comments are shameful”?

        I thought your comments were shameful of course but you will soon tell us of your views.

    4. jacquescoleman says:

      Hear! Hear!

    5. Darien says:

      “navel-gazing articles ”

      Hardly. The last couple of weeks especially has been a great read on Bella, so well done Mike. Even the ‘No’ contributors have brightened the day for Yes not least as we have now seen the lack of depth of analysis in their arguments. Bella is by far the leading site for brief articles from a variety of usually expert contributors (recent No contributors aside). Wings is mainly for polling analysis plus Rev Stu tends to dominate the text. However I see them as complementary, not competitive. Newsnet seems to be on a go slow but still adds to the mix. Aside from Wightman and Riddoch, don’t you read Bateman and Craig Murray etc?

      1. Barbara McKenzie says:

        Are you saying that Bateman and Murray indulge in the kind of stuff that I am objecting to on Bella? I don’t think so – mentioning them only strengthens my position.

        Obviously there is some first-rate stuff on Bella, and I enjoy anything from e.g. the Cuthberts. But since the referendum there have been several articles of the same ilk as Hassan’s and the reply from Mike Small. Some people can see their point; I and some others think they’re c**p (it wasn’t me who said something about Bella disappearing up it’s own arse, but I rather wish it were).

      2. Darien says:

        Barbara, if you don’t like what you are reading on Bella, by all means go elsewhere and read something else. I hear The Scotsman still publishes Lesley Riddoch.

      3. IAB says:

        The last few weeks have changed me from an occasional Bella reader to one who checks the site every day. I found the No voter articles interesting and the introduction of Gaelic articles refreshing.

  11. Bothy Basher says:

    MBC said to Fiona

    ”Yours is a severely reductionist analysis not borne out by my experience. I know quite a few Noes who were not in that category. In fact, almost all of them. ”

    MBC – while it’s sort of interesting to read your anecdotal experience, it is no basis on which to form a view, even for you.

    You also said ”A good many are English born or would describe themselves as British or as much British as Scottish. I would estimate that perhaps as much as a third of the No vote – 650,000 people – are in that category…”.

    What is this tosh, ”I would estimate”? Where on earth do you get these idiosyncratic ‘estimates’? Please stop dressing up your babbling opinion as objective research. The situation is too important, too serious, for you to play shallow adolescent games.

    Bella offers a forum for the likes of you so don’t abuse that democratic impulse by your…..stuff.

    1. MBC says:

      And I believe you’re an ex-pat no longer resident in Scotland? You said so on a previous thread.

      1. Bothy Basher says:

        What does that say to you, if true?

        What do you ‘believe’ – if anything but self?

      2. MBC says:

        So you’re not denying you don’t actually live here?

  12. Bernicia says:

    ‘Actually one of the breakthrough experiences of the Yes movement was to think beyond the possible….???’

    ‘…Hassan’s arguments are peppered with a forced iconoclasm and a return to a regular trope, that of a sweeping critique of ‘the left’ that combines a fervent urgency that’s mirrored only by a distinct vagueness…”

    Begining to wonder if the next time I check Bella Caledonia website all there will be is a blank page after having completely dissappeared up it’s own arse?

    1. Doug says:

      Heartily agree – what about the obligation on the communicator to talk in a language that is that of the audience? And, he seems to be saying that the voter who informed themsef got it wrong. The Labour Party and Gerry still seem to think they are the intelligentsia leading a revolution.. to more Austerity.

    2. Bothy Basher says:

      You’ll be there of course!

  13. MBC says:

    Regarding my previous post, re Riddoch and Higgins, there’s a bit of a gendered pattern emerging here.

    Women Yessers are just gettying on with small practical domestic scale measures to build a fairer society, the kind of charitable civic initiatives and voluntarist activities that Scottish women traditionally always undertook.

    Men Yessers however are being eaten up by a sort of impotent angst. These angry people want perfection and they wanted it yesterday. Worse, they want somebody else to give it to them. They are impractical types living in their heads. Guys, stop fretting, we need a plan here, some practical action. Time to get on the case.

    What a contrast with Norway where males have an intrinsic practical bent. This comes from a historic legacy of empowerment, where males were free and autonomous and landlords few but where males depended on co-operation with each other to achieve common as well as individual ends. We didn’t have this in Scotland and the passive-aggressive thinking pattern of paternalist expectations we inherited from it needs to change. There is nothing stopping us now but ourselves.

    Why don’t you guys stop fretting and just get together and go out and do something useful, like form a co-operative building society to build new eco social housing at affordable rents? Why don’t you run this on a not-for-profit basis? Assemble craftsmen willing to invest in the scheme, find shareholders, lawyers for Yes, business for Scotland, etc., etc., and just start literally building the bricks and mortar of the new Scotland that we all want?

    Whose permission do you need?

    1. Bernicia says:

      Well said! getting tired of whinney impossiblists who behave like they live in North Korea. You want change and social justice, go do it, stop waiting for a government to do it for you!

      1. Bothy Basher says:

        Yes Bernicia, there’s no such thing as society.

        Some poor teacher taught you to read and write but you failed to make the effort on spelling. Horses ‘whinney’ but people whine.

        Go change this and don’t expect government to do it for you.

    2. Fiona says:

      Per the Ashcroft and Yougov poll after the vote, women were more likely to vote No than were men. Ashcroft reports that 47% of men voted yes compared to 44% of women: Yougov has 51% and 42% respectively. Was there a similar difference when Norway gained independence?

      I am really not impressed by the generalisations you make about Norwegian males etc: it is a form of sexism in itself.

      Nor are you making much sense in stating that people should act together to establish such things as building societies as if that can be done outside politics and the state. It is a reflection of the atomism which is part of the neoliberal agenda. I do not think that Norway runs its building societies in that way, though I am very willing to learn how they do it, if they do.

      As to what permission do we need to do as you suggest? Well most of Scotland is in private hands, and so we need landlord’s permission. That is not true in Norway and I know that the Norwegian government has supported rural areas through government regulation of land use and ownership. That may be a small part of their arrangements, I do not know enough about that: but I do know that they reversed the depopulation of rural areas after they took that intitiative in the late 1950’s. Up to that date they had seen the same pattern as Caithness and Sutherland. The pattern continued in those areas and reversed in parts of Norway which were geographically similar, once the changes in the law were made.

      I do not think that you have established that individualistic action is either possible or effective, anywhere. What you call practicality seems rather to be a romantic neoliberal dream.

      1. MBC says:

        There’s nothing to stop it Fiona. The finance is there. What is needed is the will, the social grouping, the ideas, the determination, the plan. A change of thinking. Scotland is too used to the paternalistic model of somebody big and powerful being the only possible agent of change; the government, the local council. Never ordinary people working together. That thinking needs to change. We can do it.

      2. Fiona says:

        Reply to MBC

        You made a plea for practicality, which is a good idea. But there is nothing practical about your response here.

        You assert there is nothing to stop it and that “the finance is there”. Where is it, specifically? What about the pattern of land ownership? How are individuals or small groups to change that? Why do you characterise democracy as “paternalism” by, it seems, definition? To me government at all levels ought to be the mechanism through which we implement the “will……the plan”. It is the social grouping in and of itself, if we choose to make it so.

        We moved away from the “charity” model for good reasons. It doesn’t work. It is much favoured by the neoliberals for that very reason

        So tell us, MBC, how is your plan “practical”? Put some flesh on those bones. Exactly how do we set up your model of building societies, as a starting point?

  14. Bothy Basher says:

    Your antique views are either dishonest and troll worthy, or bereft of any kind of value. Either way, they’re laughable and adolescent.

    I think you’re a windup merchant but no-one is getting wound up.

    Even then , your racist/genetic/sexist views are repugnant and have no place in my Scotland .

    Tell us more about the homo-erotic ideas littering your post, eg ”Men Yessers however are being eaten up by a sort of impotent angst.” The personal invades the political, eh?!

    Where do you get your statistics? Do tell.

    1. bowanarrow says:

      Thank goodness I`m on your side…… 🙂

      1. Bernicia says:

        But homophobic views are Ok???

  15. McIntosh says:

    Sorry to enter this debate late. seems to me that the UK is not a failed state. it would have been if YES had won but in gaining a No majority it showed its strength vertically in controlling a majority of the population in Scotland and the rUK and horizontally by mobilising pressure from other states on its behalf against self determination.
    We can also see its strength in its ability to operate a fiscal-military apparatus to rein in what it defines as disruptive and sectional interests and mobilise a majority, including Labour and trade unions, behind shared legend, myths and national projects which provide it with legality and legitimacy.
    And while it is not a failed state it is still marked by uneven development. So some domains of activity like military expenditure are highly articulated while others like basic public goods languish. It is a state which wants to become more effective by being lean and mean – soldiers and border controllers – to restore order and address effects rather than causes.
    We should treat Gerry’s comments as a useful, constructive antidote to our over optimism about the future – 92,000 SNPers, 3,000 RICers, 17% lead over Labour. All Hell will be unleashed in the next 5 months. Murphy will have the support of the media, every SNP mistake will be highlighted and exaggerated, every fall in oil prices made to seem a permanent critique of self determination. The existence of a crisis of the Establishment in Scotland does not mean it cannot be resolved in its favour yet again.
    The value in Gerry’s comments are that they diffuse sentiment and passion, remind us that we need to respect our opponents, show that we need to cross boundaries to continue to progress, work out how to use the power we have, explore the experience of No voters and negotiate with them on how to move forward. He highlights the need to accept in others what you do not understand – how could any nation vote against self determination – and so give dignity and strength to your own position.

    1. Marga says:

      So controlling and reining in its population is one of the signs of a successful state?

      1. IAB says:

        You beat me to it Marga

  16. Jim says:

    Hassan and others are simply trying to help the movement sustain itself, rather than rot away in a pit of bitterness. It has to evolve and learn from it’s mistakes. Your response, aside from a couple of grudging and minor concessions, seems to be: “Naw we did it perfect mate. Was the fuckin MSM and MI5”. The pendulum is already swinging away; while “the 45” whine, troll, and dwell on the past, Murphy (hang him etc) is making SLab positive, amiable, forward looking (scoff, mock… keep in mind that many voters are susceptible to slick media conditioning, as you would no doubt agree when it comes to the BBC’s role in the ref. They don’t have to become “socialist” again, they just have to look like it, as the SNP does). You can believe your own propaganda, or you can see the very real possibility of an even modestly resurgent SLab denying the SNP the means of holding another referendum anytime soon; all they need to do is prevent them from gaining an absolute majority (which is very difficult to achieve unless there is no effective opposition like in 2010.). But you’ll just keep using the same failed strategy, compartmentalise yourselves, and continue being belligerent and/or condescending to the people who need to get on side if independence is to be achieved. Genius. One last point: hyperbole should be avoided; it makes you look like callous fuckwits. Somalia is a “failed state”; the UK is a functioning state. People die trying to get to Europe. By all means moan, but try to do so with a sense of perspective.

    1. Barbara McKenzie says:

      Anybody who reads Wings over Scotland or the National or most commentators on the question of independence know that there is no relation between your comments and reality. The ‘movement’ as a whole is not rotting away in a sea of bitterness – it is dynamic and very much focused on major issues, especially the reasons for independence and how to discuss and present them . Keeping a watching brief on misinformation in the media, for example, is not wallowing in bitterness but a legitimate part of a political campaign.

      A lot of research is being done on the way that the media, the BBC and other organs of government played an active and dishonest part in support of the No campaign. Publication of this kind of research is designed to make it harder for them to do so another time. It is very important that commentators continue to notice, and feel and show outrage at, examples of blatant dishonesty both during the campaign and forward.

      I cannot say whether this muddying of the waters is deliberate or just bankrupt journalism, but essentially articles such as Hassan’s, together with Mike Smalls’ reply, just waste everyone’s time, regardless of some very good comments above.

      1. Barbara McKenzie says:

        Rude of me not to include the many good articles and comments on Bella Caledonia in my first paragraph. Sorry!

      2. Marga says:

        Mike’s articles do not “waste everybody’s time”, mine for one.

    2. IAB says:

      First time I’ve been called a callous fuckwit (been called worse but would have preferred gallus) but I can’t really feel offended as you made me laugh hard with the comment ‘Murphy (hang him etc) is making SLab positive, amiable, forward looking’ Thanks

  17. jacquescoleman says:

    Methinks too many commentators on this site have been infected by what I call the American Piece Disease (Gerry Hassan is already afflicted). It is the condition where bullshit is King, meandering nonsense is put forward as ‘erudite’ comment, big unneccessary words are used, and of course whole paragraphs are used where either one word or at most a simple sentence would do.

    PS Mike. I do not include you in that description.

    1. Johnny D says:

      You could’ve said that in a sentence surely. ‘Stop the American bullshitting everyone and keep it short and snappy.’ There. ; )

      1. Johnny D says:

        Eh… Maybe better as ‘Everyone! Stop the American bullshit and keep it short and snappy.’ Just in case you’re American jacquescoleman.

    2. Bothy Basher says:

      ‘the American Piece Disease ” (sic) – is that when mould forms on your bread after it’s been too long in the packet?

      Sorry that people used too many ” big unneccessary words ‘ (sic) . Maybe you should be clearer about what bothers you and in the meantime, up your linguistic game instead of asking others to dumb down?

      1. jacquescoleman says:


      2. jacquescoleman says:

        True, was a reply to Johnny D.

      3. jacquescoleman says:

        “up your linguistic game instead of asking others to dumb down?”

        Why not just “put up or shut up”.

      4. Bothy Basher says:

        ”Why not just “put up or shut up”. sez Jacques. You really have to do better than this.

  18. Bothy Basher says:

    Are you davidb, or davidbsb? Make your mind up and I might respond. But I might not.

    Alistair said
    December 20, 2014 • 23:07
    Bothy basher, the very extremest left wing attitude that scared a fair proportion of No voters into making their choice for fear an independent Scotland being run by people like you. I’d go as far as to say that you may be a unionist plant to achieve that effect. Either that or you lack key social skills. Get over yourself.”

    Well Alistair your unsupported opinion about left wingery that scares people is totally without foundation or you’d give me evidence. If you don’t give evidence then apologise.

    Me – left wing or a unionist plant? God help you, make up your mind. When Burns wrote ”sic a parcel o’ rogues in a nation’ , surely he anticipated folk like you?

  19. Chris says:

    I would like to see the independence movement try and hook up with No voters that want real devolution. If the UK claims capable of addressing key social problems in a mature way, let’s see if they can walk the walk. I don’t mean Murphy, but maybe less vitriolic members of Labour. The Lib Dems have been particularly disappointing, but I knew many that want real federalism, for them to get behind the Smith proposals and not agitate for a more serious constitutional settlement in the UK has been a massive disappointment for me. Maybe the Green Party and England and Wales would be a better place to start. Even the Tories seem to be more approachable on these issues (albeit it because they would control Westminster).

    What about asking these people to contribute? Try to find some middle ground between these groups. Of course, I think independence is the way to go… but, I do know a lot of people that genuinely want to see real change and just think that independence is too radical.

  20. Mike’s final line:

    ‘Asking ‘Who do you most trust to look after Scotland?’ is a key and crucial question we face.’


    And there’s a glaring corollary: whose analysis/commentary do you most trust?

    Would Gerry Hassan be placed higher/lower on any list compiled now, compared to, say, two years ago?

    Plus ca change an’ aw that, eh?

    Boring, boring, boh-ooh-ooh-ring shameful bawbaggery from Hassan.

  21. Bernicia says:

    In response to Bothy Basher…. Scotland does have had a government…and can affect society. All I see is blame westminster, but let holyrood off the hook? why?

    1. JBS says:

      No-one will be letting Holyrood off the hook. The Scottish government is composed of politicians, not saints.

      Scottish independence is coming. It is inevitable. Get over your fear, and move on.

      Don’t cry for me, next door Nobore.

    2. Chris says:

      Scotland does not have very much power and Smith was designed to try and ensure it will never have any power.

      It is another example of the kind of immature politics that we get from Westminster. Scotland is given a paper tiger parliament in order to stop it providing genuine opposition in Westminster. The entire debate on Scottish independence, immigration, and the EU are just caricatures from the minds of Fleet Street/BBC journalists.

      The fact of the matter is that politicians in Westminster and their campaigners in the national press simply do not want to be held account for decisions that are actually made in Westminster. Show me Jim Murphy answering anything on his own voting record and past behaviour, explain the smoke and mirrors and vitriol resulting in the most confused Smith proposals (do you understand the point of them these proposals? Why not devolve the whole of income tax? Why only parts of VAT? Do you even know which parts?), the wars and foreign aggression, Trident renewal, and the idea that austerity/right-wing politics is the only viable economic policy and so any alternative take its rightful place on the fringes of the Guardian and New Labour.

      If those types of issues could be dealt with in a serious way and not just idiots rehashing soundbites, maybe clamour for proper constitutional settlement will subside.

    3. Bothy Basher says:

      Bernicia – of course you see ‘blame Westminster’. Of course some people take a simplistic view which I for one don’t agree with – I say the blame comes to Scotland for its ills.

      Your problem is that you select such mistaken views to protest about and then perceive them as typical. Think about this point, and if you even partially agree, then change. Try to see the bigger picture.

  22. AnnA says:

    What is nearer the truth with regards to the referendum vote is that “The have nots” ie low income families voted convincingly YES as they wanted something better than what they had or have. The better offs voted NO as they were happy with what they had.

    Unfortunately for Scotland they were the ones that ones that came out and voted in their droves in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and the well off rural communities whilst the two Cities that they YES vote was relying on failed to turn out in high numbers.

  23. Gary says:

    Gerry Hassan offers substantial criticisms of the yes ‘movement’ after the referendum. I’m beginning to sense that the yes campaign is beginning to unravel, quicker than I initially thought. I seldom come on this site these days – mainly because it’s repetitive and from reading the comments section there is a definite ‘group think’ going on. The yessers now feel like a group of people talking to themselves.

    1. Darien says:

      “yes campaign is beginning to unravel.”

      Yes are now consistently polling well above 50% and folks are piling into Yes parties. That looks more like consolidation than unravelling to me. It is the unionist arguments and parties that are unravelling post ref.

      If this site is so bad, can you point to a good ‘No’ site? Or even any ‘No’ site?

      1. IAB says:

        Any MSM media site unfortunately

    2. jacquescoleman says:

      Come, come now Gary. Wasn’t that supposed to happen on 18 September? And here we are 3 months later going strong and getting stronger. You are on the wrong film set with the wrong script.

    3. Bernicia says:

      Despite protestations of plurality, i always felt Yes was a strangely closed shop. The National collective framed their articles under the heading ‘collective thinking’ without a wiff of irony. Any real debate was fobbed off with stock polemics. i remember walking through the meadows and talking to some of the Yessers in festival mode, all utopian positvity and meaningless slogans ‘we’re for fairness’ ‘hope not fear’. Given that i shared most of their politics (who couldn’t) I couldn’t figure out why I felt alienated. Then I kept thinking about Kundera and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting which I read years ago, the part about the group dancing in a circle and how he was expelled from the circle for doubts…the after word goes like this:

      ‘It was a period of collective lyrical delirium …. People like to say: Revolution is beautiful, it is only the terror arising from it which is evil. But this is not true. The evil is already present in the beautiful, hell is already contained in the dream of paradise and if we wish to understand the essence of hell we must examine the essence of the paradise from which it originated.’

      Perhaps a little over dramatic but everytime I posited a doubt which was not opinion but an unquestionable fact…’That Norway has a Conservative/ right wing coalition government’ or that Norway is Privatising it’s health service, or that Sweden is the model for the Gove’s Free Schools or that monetary policy is controlled by the central bank (BoE) I was dismissed and countered with sophistry or evaision – as though I was spoiling the dance and trying to break the circle. The same when I posited the hypothetical, what if independence makes things worse? Again the mere possibility was met with scorn and dissmissed. Or answered with, it won’t be better imediately but ultimately… It was the lure of the group, emotion and feeling elevated to the status and value of truth.

      1. Chris says:

        I would take it seriously if it were not for the fact that Yes were campaigning against Better Together, who were largely represented by present and future Lords and very wealthy individuals (JK Rowling?). You want plurality? I’d take a coalition of CND, feminists, socialists, minority parties, and environmentalists any day of the week over a Tory-Lib Dem-Labour pact.

        I would love to say there was some sort of ‘lure of the group’, ’emotion’ or ‘feeling elevated to the status and value of truth’ (seriously, WTF?) in Better Together. There was no group, its (reported in the press) emotion was one of helplessness, and there was no feeling of elevation (‘smart-people’-know-austerity-is-the-only-way-so-just-accept-it-and-remember-world-war-two). That’s the problem with Better Together. The referendum is over, get over it. Enjoy a debate between Miliband, Farage, Cameron, and Clegg. Why don’t you complain about that?

        Of course, there are discourses to be had – probably along the lines of devomax or creating quasi-independent structures. But it won’t happen. That’s not ‘cybernats’ its down to a baying, vitriolic press and PR-obsessed politics that started under New Labour and is continuing under the Tories. Bella Caledonia does not compare to the media moguls, and to even suggest that a few lefties in Scotland are at fault for anything here ignores the world we live in.

      2. John Page says:

        You remind me of the contributors to climate discussions and moocs who accept that man made climate change is real but endlessly point out that there is nothing that can be done about it because of human nature and the fact that there is no alternative to free market capitalism……greenies are self deluded and engage in optimistic groupthink
        You seem to be suggesting that there is no realistic alternative to rule from Westminster and that you are better informed and insightful than all the naive Yes people you met over the Referendum period
        I know why I support and read Bella……..because I find Mike’s writing particularly enjoyable and informative and because it will make me more informed to campaign effectively in the upcoming elections in 2015 and 2016. I am going to work my socks off.

        Gerry Hassan (remember what this thread is about) presumably gets paid for his negative output, but why are you here? (That’s a rhetorical question………)

        I have had enough out of this discussion. I have had it confirmed that my instincts about Hassan being irrelevant were right and that I will body swerve anything with your name on it in the future

        Thank you

      3. Marga says:

        In Catalonia we are told that if you don’t have your own nation (basically your own army) you have to fight for what you do have and what you want with tooth and nail. Words, symbols and gestures are your main defence. Hence accusations of extremism.

        Deciding to criticise the have-nots (the Yeses) for extremism is easy from the establishment (the haves) but is a rather counter-intuitive standpoint.

      4. Bothy Basher says:


        There’s much I’d like to answer in your post, but the format here makes that too cumbersome. So I’ll have to make do with less precision.

        First, on a personal note, your spelling (!) and lexis suggest that you are from England, maybe the north of England, as does your username. No problem about that (I say you are most welcome in Scotland) . But you might want to declare? It does affect the debate.

        When you ‘posited the hypothetical” of course you got the sloganistic responses you did. And if some limited individual Yessers replied with an emotional, wooly response, why do you characterise the whole Indy issue on this? It won’t do you know. When in England, I have personally encountered anti Scottish racial abuse but I dont suggest this is typical – that would be tacky and wrong.

        Forget Kundera – as with the Yes views you encountered, you are seeking support for your existing views and pretending to yourself that this is verification. You are feeding your own bias in other words. Kundera’s group dancing thing and the expulsion of the dissenting voice is as old as human existence. Don’t build on that as a new revelation- please. You’re blaming the Yes campaign for human weakness – stop it.

  24. Steve Arnott says:

    Save us from pseuds like Gerry Hassan who has essentially been regurgitating the same stuff for years, with the same ‘right on’ post Deleuzian key phrases, about ‘spaces’ and ‘doubt’. He represents a strain of Scottish political thinking that is the cerebral equivalent of the Scottish cringe. Somehow, we can only be doing honest mind work if we pessimise ourselves up into a frenzy and splurge out a new critique of ‘the left’, the movement’ or whatever every few weeks. It’s tiresome and bereft of any engagement with empirical reality.

    The Yes movement in not unravelling, or fragmenting – its engaged in strategic, tactical and even programmatic discussion on the best way forward. I attended an Inverness YES Alliance meeting at 5pm, yesterday, the last saturday before Christmas. Leading YES activists from the SNP, other indy parties and non-party YES activists were in attendance. We had a vibrant discussion which left everybody buzzing and are meeting again in the New Year to plan our way forward. Similar meetings are taking place up and down the coutry.

    And yes, in the real world of austerity, continued Westminster rule and a bankrupt Scottish Labour Party it is a case of ‘which side are you on?’

    1. Gary says:

      Bizarre post. I don’t quite understand the point about ‘right on’ Deleuzian phrases but it’s interesting that instead of debating Hassan you resort to insult.

      As for yes not unravelling, I think sceptics will need more convincing of this than the fact that you went to a meeting to discuss tactics in Inverness.

  25. I went right into one when I saw how many levels Gerry Hassan was wrong on in that piece. So I’ve knocked out a blog post on it. Your comments appreciated:

  26. john young says:

    If we are ever to achieve independance we have to understand that a whole tranche of our country are at heart “unionists” and will entertain no debate at all about the subject I would say 30/40%,have you ever tried to enter into dialogue with any of them it is very frustrating to say the least,this is a huge hurdle to overcome along with the total media bias/misrepresentation,for me we should abandon all/any party politics the remits being to narrow and inflexible,being a country of 5mil it shouldn,t be beyond us to elect a proven forum of men/women to run our country,all major decisions being open and above board,other lesser issues being by regional forums,there are concils in England that have larger populations to deal with,it shouldn,t be beyond our ken,this for me would be closer to true democracy,my political thinking has always been to the left this doesn,t/shouldn,t have me think that those on the right cannot make the same contribution as myself of course they have.I would nationalise the utilities to reduce the cost on business,we have to try to create an environment that will help to create good sustainable green jobs.

  27. johndwm says:

    While the article appeared to make some valid observations in critique of the Hassan article – my concern is the premises it rests on seemed pretty questionable – ultimately equating independence with democracy and union with the opposite (Oh that it were so simple!) – also acceping the assumptions behind the SNP anti- austerity rhetoric – since SNP are themselves curently imposing austerity through their policy of bleeding the local authority and therefore vouluntary sector budgets by freezing the council tax and bleeding the NHS through their prescriptions policy.

    1. Chris says:

      The SNP cannot impose austerity. All you are saying is that council tax should be higher in order to found voluntary groups. Fine, make that point. The SNP or any Scottish Government can only raise a small amount of taxes (even after Smith), and it would be ludicrous to equate that with the cuts going on in England.

      1. johndwm says:

        Freezing the council tax year after year has skewed the budgets of local authorities causing a much morre significant austerity factor than you imply. Okay its not in the rhetoricbecause the rhetoric has to be anti UK and anti UK parties. Whaether or not SNP claim to support or oppose austerity is irrelevant to this fact.

      2. johndwm says:

        In fact SNP have gone even further than the Tories did under Thatcher in controlling locally authority spending through centralised control of council tax.

      3. Bernicia says:

        And we’re back to not facing reality…Any currency union would have imposed greater austerity through the conditions of the fiscal pact dictated by the BoE/ Tory govt. This would have included limits on tax and spending/ borrowing and deficit reduction (like Greece). Sterlingisation would have meant no lender of last resort,expensive borrowing and would have required very prudent public spending in order to apease the creditors, if at all possible…Own currency ditto + public spending cuts to facilitated build up of currency reserves. If you want a different policy to austerity…a bit of Keynesism, then it has to b done at a UK level and requires voting Labour.

      4. JBS says:

        And there we have it. If you don’t want continuing austerity, vote Labour into power at Westminster. Except that’s not what’s going to happen, is it?

        Ed Balls:

        “…I am afraid we are going to inherit a very big deficit. Our commitment is to cut the deficit every year. We are going to do so in a tough but balanced way, and as part of that I have said to my departmental colleagues they are going to have to plan on cutting spending, not just in 2015-16, but every year until we get the deficit down.”


      5. Chris says:

        I am not disagreeing (or agreeing) with the idea that an increase in council tax (or any other tax) would allow for (very very modest) increased expenditure in some sectors. Likewise, the centralisation of local authorities was just as bad as Labour. My understanding was that the SNP actually gave more control over how local government can spend its budgets (Labour tend to prefer ringfencing spending, England still do as far as I am aware) as they did not trust their (own) local authorities to spend local budgets competently.

        That is one conversation, but to equate that with Thatcherism is ludicrous (council tax was effectively introduced by Thatcher not removed or cut – the poll tax anyone?). Austerity is based on the whole budget not marginal gains that could be made from increasing council tax (and presumably reducing the grant that the SNP increased to compensate for the loss of council tax). It would be like blaming Glasgow Council for the cuts that are being passed to it. It is simply not true to say the SNP (or any Scottish Government) could reduce or increase public spending to implement a keynesian policy – they would if they could, clearly. You simply do not understand austerity if you are just asking people to vote for Labour.

        The problem in England is precisely the opposite of what you are describing. It is cuts from the centre that is hitting poorer local areas particularly hard because council tax alone cannot fund large public services that are needed in poor urban areas in the North. In fact, the whole narrative about Tory localism in England is based on the idea that rich, Tory-voting local authorities should not subsidise poorer ones.

        Voting for Labour only becomes feesible if they actually acknowledge these basic facts instead of attacking a provincial, minority party agitating for real change (Labour are not) on vacuous grounds, and start demonstrating that the things people wanted from the Yes campaign will be dealt with. At this stage, after so many broken promises and failures (Lords reform anyone?), only actions can speak louder than words. I see no benefit to voting Labour apart to an increasingly small number of career politicians that seem so demented, you might as well vote Tory.

      6. Chris says:

        In fact, Keynesianism is based on spending based on the economic cycle across long periods of time, the Scottish Government simply cannot implement such a policy with current powers. This is what made Brown’s “end of boom and bust” rhetoric particularly embarrassing. It went against Keynesianism, who argued that spending should be increased in a downturn and reduced in the upturns.

  28. Monty says:

    Yes and have been copied by the Cameron govt who saw how popular it was. The difference is it fitted the Tories ideology the SNP only did it just because it would be popular. Sadly this popularism went too far and has resulted in the gradual decline of the NHS and education in Scotland as investment and new thinking would not result in an instant boost in the opinion polls. The SNP need to now get down the slow, difficult task of addressing this before it is too late if they can.

    1. Fiona says:

      @ Monty

      I am not at all sure what you are proposing. Can you state just what you think should be done? I am not a fan of regressive taxation, but the council tax is just that: it needs more than an increase, if that it what you are suggesting.

      So far as I can see there is only one pot of money. Whether we experience austerity through increased tax or through cuts to services makes no difference to the overall picture, though it is important in terms of who experiences that austerity.

      1. Fiona says:

        @ Bernicia

        You make a number of statements and it would be nice to see some detail.

        “Any currency union would have imposed greater austerity through the conditions of the fiscal pact dictated by the BoE/ Tory govt.”

        How much greater would the austerity have been, assuming you are correct? We are certain that this westminster government intends to impose a huge amount of austerity: what would be the difference (in terms of numbers) if we had voted for independence and agreed a currency union. Why would that difference exist? How would the Westminster government impose “greater” austerity, assuming that an independent Scottish government would have had more control over fiscal policy and could thus have at least pursued the Keynesian goal of job and wealth creation even within a currency union?

        ” Sterlingisation would have meant no lender of last resort,expensive borrowing and would have required very prudent public spending in order to apease the creditors,”

        Why would it? The uk is in enormous debt, and yet it borrows at very low rates. Scotland is in a far better economic position and so it makes no sense to presume that there would be a premium on borrowing. But if you are correct then how do the numbers compare? Scotland in that situation would start with no debt at all. How much would the Scottish government have to borrow, and at what rate of interest? How does the interest you envisage compare with what we pay now to service UK debt?

        “Own currency ditto + public spending cuts to facilitated build up of currency reserves.”

        Why? This is the best option, IMO, and I see no reason at all why it would result in the outcome you envisage. A sovereign state does not need currency reserves so long as it borrows in its own currency: if that were not so then the UK would be paying very high interest on its debt, given that in the ” it is like a household budget” narrative of the neoliberals, the country is a basket case. The story is plausible until you open your eyes: but it obviously does not work like a household budget and it couldn’t.

        “If you want a different policy to austerity…a bit of Keynesism, then it has to b done at a UK level and requires voting Labour.”

        Are you sure you understand Keynesianism? The essence of his position is that it is not like a household budget. Nulabour does not believe that and will not take that stance in Scotland or in the UK. They have made that very plain. Voting Labour ensures that neoliberalism continues. There is no substantive difference between them and the tories. None. At. All.

      2. jacquescoleman says:

        Reply to Fiona.

        Excellent riposte to Bernicia’s fanciful statements. She/he is clearly an English Labourite.

      3. Bernicia says:

        Usual nonsense Yes economics…1) fiscal control/ monetary policy – the whole point of independence- (value of currency, how much liquidity and so on ) is set by the central bank..in a currency union that would be BoE in cooperation with the rUK govt. Indy Scotland would have no fiscal autonomy to grow the economy or shrink it and as the economies diverge it would banjax Scotland due to asymetry. 2) In order to use the currency there would be strict conditions on tax and spend…the rUK is not going to bail out a profligate Scotland (why should they?) 3) Uk has low rates due to the size of econ and sorry but cuntries without central banks tend to find it hard to borrow money as there is no one to pay it back if everything goes tits up. The precident examples, in central america of dollarisation (pointless due to differing size of econs) is that without a central bank borrowing both personal and public is massively restrained…how do you provide a generous welfare system in those circumstances? (why the neolib Adam Smith institute thinks it’s a great idea. 4) I assume the rate of borrowing would be similar to Argentina 5) why do you assume Scotland would have no debt even with Sterlingisation? Part of UK debt would be inherited. 6) All soveriegn currencies require reserves as part of the basis for their value and no currency is independent but subject to the value of other currencies. Why the Americans get the huff with the Chinese. + hope nothing goes wrong!!! cos there are plenty Georges Soros’s out there who would swoop to make a killing out o short selling a new Scottish currency. Remember black wednesday? 7) It is possible to pursue both Keynes and cut the deficit at the same time. It a question of structural targeting. This is Ball’s plan. (not great but better than the low tax/ low regulation SNP model we were given.

      4. Fiona says:

        Reply to Jacquescoleman

        I have no idea whether Bernicia is english or a labourite. I don’t think it necessarily matters. My post is genuine. A number of asssertions were made with no underpinning explanation as to why those assertions are credible. That makes them the same as the project fear approach.

        It is possible there are reasons for coming to those conclusions and if there are I want to know what they are: because I do not think they are true. If I am wrong I want to know why I am wrong and it is that which has been missing from all of the No statements I have seen and researched so far. Assertion is not enough: there has to be an argument I can engage with.

        Someone upthread said that many no voters just refused to discuss the issue and that is also my experience. I conclude they don’t have a reasoned position. I am still hoping for more honesty and more rationality from them, however. So I am hoping for true engagement. The person’s nationality is irrelevant to that, and their political allegiance is of interest only insofar as it leads to reasoned analysis.

  29. David Agnew says:

    “First, Scotland has to be understood as more than a series of competing tribes: Yes and No, pro-independence and anti-independence, nationalist and unionist, SNP and Labour.”

    Dial the clock back to around 2009 and Hassan was writing this sort of thing about Labour and the Tories. He has always sought to reduce the political scene in Scotland to one of tribalism. He then positions himself on the sidelines, tut-tutting and more or less saying this won’t do. All he has done here, is to simply change the names but the content is mostly the same. Here the fight is between labour and the SNP ( At least he realises that the political landscape has changed), but he puts the SNP and the YES camp in the role of the conservative party. Hassan, then simply projects the failings of the NO camp to make a more compelling voice for union and places it at the feet of the yes voter. He compounds the error by then saying it is the YES camp who are shutting down debate. The yes camp have been trying to have a debate with anyone about this for the last 4 years, and were constantly shut down. It seems the only ones avoiding debate was the no campaign. Through simple sophistry he reduces this argument to a basic “Yes but, No but” slanging match between the two camps. Hassan then attempts to assert that the no vote was selfless. Well that frankly in utter nonsense. Look at the no campaign. There was no appeal to selflessness. It was an appeal to self interest through a stead diet of fear, uncertainty and doubt. In some cases, there were ridiculous attempts to paint yes voters as the sort of people who didn’t love their children. Also who can forget the nonsense about the St Ormond Street hospital for children.

    This is the point the penny drops and you realise what Hassan is doing. He is trying to portray this frustration and anger with how the No camp achieved its goals, as somehow petty and reckless. He is then casually tossing accusations at the yes camp for blind tribalism, to sort of guilt trip us into silence. Followed by some demand for a reflective pause and basically push the reset button, as it is clear that radical movements have no purpose. Tell that to Keir Hardie, he would laughed in Mr Hassan’s face.

    In the end Hassan is admonishing us to ignore, or better yet, forget how the Union was saved. But if the means to the end ultimately informs and defines what you achieve, what does this really say about the Union? What is it going to become and stand for because of the negative campaign of Better together?

    Its a question Hassan won’t, can’t ask. So instead he wonders why we haven’t given up and gone away yet.

    The question “Who do you most trust to look after Scotland?” will in the coming years be a far more compelling and radical argument than Hassan is willing to contemplate.

    1. Chris says:

      This is what annoys me the most. No won, I accept that. We are back to the usual politics, with the Lib Dems far less radical. The Smith Commission is meant to neuter the debate stone dead. We now seem to be facing a Labour ‘debate’ about how progresive they are because Jim Murphy wants to increase council tax by 2%, and how this will save public services from austerity. It is completely ridicolous, and for Hassan to join this chorus is really quite sad. I thought he was quite good up until now.

    2. Fiona says:

      Reply to Bernicia

      “1) fiscal control/ monetary policy – the whole point of independence”

      Unless you are a faith based neoliberal that is not the “whole” point of independence, as many here have pointed out. Self determination is not confined to economics. However it is an important thing, that is true. But the reduction of people to “homo economicus” is part of the neoliberal project and it is romantic nonsense. It is not those who oppose this ideology who are unrealistic.

      Turning to your more specific statements. You appear not to understand the difference between fiscal and monetary policy. Perhaps you have merely expressed yourself badly so what would be helpful would be if you laid out what you think those terms actually mean. And then show that what you say is true.

      It is true that monetary policy is arguably set by the central bank, though that bank’s independence is largely illusory under current arrangements. But let us assume for the sake of argument that you are correct. You have not answered my question. Why would austerity be worse in Scotland in those circumstances? The policy currently in place is that which is set by the BoE in cooperation with Westminster. So without scope for change for the Scottish Government, as you say would be the situtation, there is no reason at all to suppose that the austerity imposed would not be exactly the same. Please explain why that is not so, since you assert it. Without scope for an economically different path there is no reason why the economies would diverge: and indeed they have not under precisely those conditions at present: as the No campaign have repeatedly pointed out, we have a currency union now.

      Then you say the . ” Uk has low rates due to the size of econ” Another assertion, which appears to be your very own. How does that work? Can you demonstrate that size is the crucial factor? Because the evidence I have read does not support your proposition, and I see no reason why it should. Interest rates are not related to the “size” of an economy for the simple reason that the determinants of those rates under current economic wisdom are ratios. Not that I accept that so called “wisdom”. It is really amusing to see how they attempt to explain away the facts by adding in further assumptions in order to save their model when it doesn’t work. It is exactly like the introduction of epicycles to preserve Ptolomeic astronomical theory from yielding to the observed facts. Oh for an economic Keppler, or at least a Popper

      See, as one example, this IMF paper


      “sorry but cuntries without central banks tend to find it hard to borrow money as there is no one to pay it back if everything goes tits up. ”

      Evidence? Rationale? That makes no sense whatsoever within the terms of neoliberal economics, because central banks don’t have any money of their own, and nobody believes that they do. Banks don’t pay off the money: people do. That is what austerity is all about. The reason the UK has low rates is very simple: it has a sovereign currency and that is nothing at all to do with the BofE. Quantitative Easing is just printing money by another name. Certainly the mechanism is through the central bank, but the substantive point is the sovereignty of the currency. Which is why Scotland should have an independent currency, IMO. And why that is inevitable in the long run. But it matters not one whit in the short term. Nor is there any reason why the people should take responsibility for debt run up by private banks, yet that is what most countries did. Compare Iceland, if you are concerned about the apocalyptic predictions of the consequences of not doing so.

      “I assume the rate of borrowing would be similar to Argentina”

      Why not Ecuador? Why not anywhere else? What are the similarities between Argentina and Scotland which make that a reasonable comparator, in view of your statement that such comparisons are “pointless due to differing size of econs”? Do you read what you write?

      “why do you assume Scotland would have no debt even with Sterlingisation? ”

      Because that is the legal position and without a currency union there is no reason to make the concession of accepting part of the debt, which was offered as a quid pro quo for that outcome. There is no doubt about that at all: Scotland has no debt because it is not in a position to borrow at present.

      ” All soveriegn currencies require reserves as part of the basis for their value and no currency is independent but subject to the value of other currencies. Why the Americans get the huff with the Chinese. + hope nothing goes wrong!!! cos there are plenty Georges Soros’s out there who would swoop to make a killing out o short selling a new Scottish currency. Remember black wednesday?”

      I do remember black wednesday: and I remember that the conventional wisdom that such reserves can stabilise a currency turned out not to be true. As it is not true in Russia today. You seem to be rather muddled about this aspect as well.


      ” It is possible to pursue both Keynes and cut the deficit at the same time. It a question of structural targeting. This is Ball’s plan. (not great but better than the low tax/ low regulation SNP model we were given.”

      No, it isn’t. You really don’t understand Keynes, so far as I can tell. I noticed above that you mentioned “a bit of Keynesianism”. Presumably you believe in “a bit pregnant” as well?

      1. Bernicia says:

        1) Fiscal policy is governement spending and tax rates and inextricably is linked to monetary policy. CU would require a ‘fiscal pact’ limiting spending to maintain fiscal prudence as part of the deal. e.g) Growth and Development Pact in the Euro/ Troika conditions. means fiscal policy would not in reality be independent. – austerity would be a condition givent he debt. (see greece/ portugal/ Ireland/ Spain and look at their unemployment figures.

        Although due to the asymetry in econs, there may not be any need for a fiscal deal/ controls as it would be implicit in the fact that Scotland’s fiscal policy would probably have to mirror that of the UKs due to th BoE setting monetary policy. – the problem of divergence. Plus if Scotland continued to borrow and overspent/ there was another crisis, the BoE would be under no obligation to bail us out.

        Either way it isn’t independence.

        2)Central banks do have money…they print the stuff./ they also buy government bonds to lower and raise interest rates/ control inflation.

        3) Economies that are not politically unified tend to diverge…hence the tension in the EU. Borders do matter when it comes to trade/ especially tax rates. Canada/ USA is a good example.USA and Argentina shows the dangers of pegging and Asymetry.

        4)You are confusing a central bank with a commerial private bank. The difference between BoEng and BoScot etc.

        5) I fully agree that it is shameful that the tax payer pays for the proflgacy and stupidity and greed of banks and another reason why I voted No. Gordon Brown is right. The only real way to prevent the same thing happening is through global regulation, not national. UK can be a part of this due to size of econ and importance relative to investors.

        6)Ireland is a much better comparison than Iceland.

        7) UK is an optimum curency area, (Euro isn’t, why GB had his 5 tests to keep UK out) a seperate currency would impoverish Scotland due asymetry and the highly interconnected nature of the econ with England. Makes no sense what so ever to have own currency…although you are right, true independence requires it (is there is such a thing as true independence in the global econ?)

        8) ‘Because that is the legal position and without a currency union there is no reason to make the concession of accepting part of the debt, which was offered as a quid pro quo for that outcome. There is no doubt about that at all: Scotland has no debt because it is not in a position to borrow at present.’ ???

        not sure what this is meant to mean? That Scotland won’t need to borrow? how will it finance public spending?

        9) Reserves are generally maintained by countries for meeting their international payment obligations — both short and long terms, including sovereign and commercial debts, financing of imports, for intervention in the foreign currency markets during periods of volatility, besides helping to boost the confidence of the market in the ability of a country to meet its external obligations and to absorb any unforseen external shocks, contingencies or unexpected capital movements.

        10) Black Wednesday happened due to pegging. The BoE was powerless to devalue the pound due to ERM. Eventually it left after speculators started short selling it so the real value fell dramatically. This could happen to a Sterlingised Scottish currency.

        11)Keynes. It is possible to increase public spending thus stimulating the econ in key targeted areas, while continuing overall cuts reduce the deficit. George Osborn is ideologically cutting everywhere in the public sphere while cutting taxes to grow econ. He is a grade A bastard! The problem with the UK is the structural debt. 5% of econ disappeared in 2008.

        12) And finally….there is a difference between classical lib economics (adam smith/ricardo) and neoliberalism (a very overused and nebulous term. Contrary to popular understanding neoliberalism requires heavy handed governement intervention to constantly clear the ground for new markets. The constant creation of new markets to prevent the collapse of the old market due to a lack of wealth redistricution requires intervention in the form of tax cuts/ privatisation. This process has led to ‘Turbo capitalism’.

  30. john young says:

    All the itty bitty arguments about austerity or any other points the core is or should be who is best suited to run our country,is it an elected body of Scots that live and work in the country or is it an unelected body from another country,a body that is wholly unrepresentative of that country a body that knows little and cares less.Only one answer for me,YES whether it is better/will be better/never be better now or forever the outcome is on ourselves.For all those that voted NO did they consider it to be a level playing field absolutely not so stop gloating,the representation could not have been more biased and one sided.Thank God there are at least 1.6mil souls with a braver more insightful oulook on life.

    1. Darien says:

      “..or is it an unelected body from another country”

      This is not far from the truth. Scotland’s unionist-oriented meritocracy and establishment lives on no matter who the politicians are at Holyrood or Westminster. That is one of Hassan’s key points I believe. The face may be Nicola, but this is not the face of Scotland’s senior civil servants, quango leaders, judges, universities, churches, military, police, private schools, aristos, big landowners etc; i.e. the people who really run Scotland.

      1. Chris says:

        Oooft. Let’s break that down: One can only ever hope to reproduce Westminster on a smaller scale. Presumably you’re arguing that we can’t actually reform Westminster, that we are always going to be stuck with a ‘ruling class’ (so it might as well be the British one for some reason). Since completely dismantling and creating something new will simply reproduce the same problems as before, we must maintain the status quo for some reason.

        So there is no hope for reform? Or is there something special Britain can do that will allow it to reform itself, that an independent Scotland would be incapable achieving alone?

        Lemme guess, it involves voting for a corrupt, idiotic Labour politician… it does, doesn’t it?

      2. Bernicia says:

        So anyone who disagrees with Yes is English. I’m from the Borders, last time I checked was in Scotland. So much for civic nationalism! The mask slips.

      3. JBS says:

        “A Yes supporter called me English, which just goes to prove what I’ve been saying all along, that all supporters of Scottish independence are ethnic nationalists who believe that they are superior to the other peoples of the UK!”

        Looks like there are now three things in life that are certain: death, taxes, and the constant drip, drip, drip of unionist slurs.

      4. Bernicia says:

        Isn’t the point made that civic nationalism didn’t descriminate based on birth or ethnicity? If so why make the distinction at all? Besides, all nations are contstructivist and are works in progress (as Bendict Anderson and most ‘cultural nationalists’ – Alisdair Gray/ Salmond) for example are well aware. They are not insoluable ancient entities/ primordial truths, thus they need constant reinforcement. This is in itself ethically neutral until it starts to negatively ‘other’ the neighbour. Most people are at ease with some form of national identity, but also realise it’s limits in terms of both individual/ group identity Celtic and Rangers are just as powerful as Scotland, a is gender, sexuality, class and so on. Awareness of this is the very reason for the repeated emphasis on the ‘civic’ nature of Scottish nationalism as there was the SNP realisation that the process of defining Scotland by demonising England was counter productive and, well, just looked bad and didn’t sit well with many who they sought to define as Scottish first an foremost (same with Gordon’s Britishness and why it failed). So the nationalists replaced ‘England’ with Britain/ the UK state and Westminister to provide the ‘other’ and the impossiblist contention that UK could never be reformed. Contrarily it posited that Scotland would upon independence be a blank canvass and would therefore automatically be better (from a left wing perspective). The problem with this is that any state can be reformed, and thee was no empircal evidence to back up this assertion (they could basically say what they liked as it never had to be proven). They did this (especially Alex Salmond in the knowledge that there was the likely probablity that indy Scot would be more or less neo lib just under a new flag. So to deflect from this had to revert to primordial appeals once again which are fundamentally ethnic in composition . It had to rely on the ‘myth’ of Scots being more fair and ‘social than rUK (aka the English).

        Which is Empirically dubious as John Curtice pointed out http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/sites/default/files/files/scotcen-ssa-report.pdf

        Brief conculsion of results.

        1. Scotland is more social democratic than England –
        but the difference is only modest.
        2. However, Scotland has become less – not more –
        social democratic since the advent of devolution.
        3. As a result, the gap between Scotland and England
        has not widened at all. Rather, opinion in Scotland
        has moved in parallel with that in England, leaving
        the difference in outlook between them largely

        ‘….devolution has not served to widen the gap
        between English and Scottish public opinion on some
        of the central issues facing governments today. To that
        extent at least, accommodating Scotland within the
        framework of the United Kingdom looks to be no more
        difficult a job now than it was a decade ago.’

      5. JBS says:

        And there it is again – all forms of nationalism equate to ethnic nationalism. What sophistry.

        You have said, over and again, that you don’t like generalisations. It strikes me that you are perfectly capable of making some gross generalisations yourself, when it suits you.

      6. Bernicia says:

        Yep, the British establishment is also the Scottish establishment.

      7. JBS says:

        I’m thinking about asking Bella to add another category to its Indyref 2014 Awards, and, of course, I have a nomination within that category.

        Best Post-IndyRef Campaign Tactic – Not: Bernicia, who wants Scottish independence supporters to vote Labour, and who thinks that the best way to persuade them to do so is to accuse them of being racial supremacists.

    2. Bernicia says:

      Six of one half a dozen of the other, frankly I could care less how progress is made, indy Scot or UK. I voted No precisely because weighing up the two options I judged that social justice stood more chance within a unified UK than a small Scotland who would have to compete asymetrically with a larger neo lib England, but who knows maybe they would have surprised everyone and shown the way to a neo lib Scotland?… the weakest argument of Yes was the ‘fairly concieted tosh’ that ‘scotland would show the way’. The state construct is less important than the ideas that constitute the state. And by virtue of size the UK has a beter chance of change in the face of globalisation than a small country does. Name me a single country the size of Scotland that doesn’t have a right wing government and isn’t pursuing free market liberal reforms to public services? UK/Scotland same thing.

      1. Bothy Basher says:

        Bernicia said

        ”I judged that social justice stood more chance within a unified UK than a small Scotland who would have to compete asymetrically with a larger neo lib England”.,

        The evidence is clear and overwhelming that your view is ridiculous. I feel you are simply out to stir the pot from your English point of view. You are saying that an extremist Tory led UK offers more chance of social justice in Scotland? Go down to a food bank, or a homeless shelter, or Govan – and tell them that.

        Don’t make me laugh!

        You’re at it, Bernie. Stop the silly games.

  31. Bothy Basher says:


    – I assume you can’t change things but it is hellishly difficult on this website to be clear to whom we are responding. It also murder to understand who others are answering.

    Even then, a remarkably good forum.

  32. Bothy Basher says:

    Thanks Bella

    It was good of you………….

  33. A really helpful article with some great follow up comments (in particular Steve Arnott’s and David Agnew’s). The “distinction between unionists and democrats” is a very good way of expressing the distinction between those who say we cannot make a better society and those in the Yes movement.

    . . . but there’s also a fantastical group of comments here echoing the Hassan theme by telling us how there is nothing on these Yes threads except for Yes group think (even as they congratulate each other for pointing this out) or that Bella is a terrible place to exchange views (even as they exchange views) or that we don’t listen to No voters (after a week where there has been some exceptional thinking in the comments sections in response to articles by No voters). The ongoing presence of the No thinkers here and on many other sites (often dressed up as the “I really regret how bad we the yes movement/ Bella/ etc have become”) makes it clear that the No-mentality hasn’t won, but is aware that it has bought some time only by digging a much deeper hole for itself.

    Great work Bella – more power to your elbow as one key strand in the very strong rope we continue to weave, much to the MSM’s embarrassment as they retell their fibs.

  34. Steve McCarthy says:

    I think it was Fiona who posited the theory that NoVoters voted for Trident, austerity etc. it was immediately challenged as a falsehood. Personally I see it as a useful theory as part of an overall strategy for the type of Scotland many of us want to see, an independent but global and just country.
    If we accept, and I recognise this leaves me open, that people who voted no did so deliberately and knowledgeably then Fiona’s point has relevance. For if they voted deliberately and knowledgeably then they must have been aware that the outcome of their vote contributing to a No victory would exactly mean Trident and austerity. They would be in no doubt that some of our people would be sent to fight unjust wars. Clearly a no vote like a yes vote as opposed to an abstention is a deliberate vote.
    The importance of this theory lies in the knowledgeable part. Critics of this theory claim that there are many reasons why people voted No. Clearly this is true, we all have substantial anecdotal evidence that shows multiple reasonings for voting No. This does not negate the fact that as No won the day so too did the politics of Westminster.
    But in the fact that people allowed Westmister to win I believe lies part of our answer. If we worked on listening more effectively to the various reasons for allowing this to happen we could have the information required to affect change. Within this group there will be people who are not prepared to countenance any argument for Independence.
    There may well be people of the Left who believe that Independence offends Marxist sensibilities. My limited experience suggests that this group collapsed in size in the last few years. That argument has been played out but may need refining and publishing again.
    There is a group that may or may not be a large group that were worried about financial concerns whether it was pensions, the pound, Europe or oil. I suspect I will be strung up for this. But the White Paper just wasn’t strong enough. It left holes that were exploitable and exploited. Nobody is going to tell me that we don’t have the brains to tighten this up. There should be no holy cows in this period. Financial theories brought forward in this period need careful analysis not knee jerk rejection that proves how clever the rejector is.
    There are also people who just don’t like change. They may even be fearful of change. We all know people like this and so this group may be quite large, again I don’t know if it is or isn’t. If we could support these people we might have the numbers to go for it again. We need people who understand psychology informing us how best to support these people. Instinctually I believe that this is the group we have to work on most and with which he have most to gain.
    Essentially if we see the No vote as being diverse we should be able to strategise effective campaigns to target change. But I totally agree that voting No voted for Trident and austerity and all that Westminster stands for. Whilst this is precisely the reason some voted No I seriously doubt it was the the reason for most. The consequence but not the reason. Therein lies our window of opportunity. Find the people who do not support Westminster yet for whatever reason voted to maintain it. Find them and talk to them.

    1. IAB says:

      I would totally agree with the suggestions in your last paragraph. Chatting to people during (eg) food bank collections is a relaxed method of turning the tide, showing people the caring side of the Yes voters and doing sometime for those who have fallen on hard times. It’s by positive action we will succeed.

      1. Bothy Basher says:

        The Communist Party had great success where I lived in the 50s by aligning themselves with the people especially on rents and housing.

        However, I understand that it’s the poorest in society who are the least likely to vote. If true, I find that unacceptable.

        It was certainly the case for the UKIP voting clowns in Southend who had never previously voted till they got a party of bigotry to vote for. But that’s Southend and not Scotland.

    2. Bothy Basher says:

      Yes Steve

      When you say ”I suspect I will be strung up for this” you simply continue with your take on Project Fear. A perfectly valid point.

  35. Big Jock says:

    Hassan is simply wide of the mark when he says that all no voters have a valid reason for the way they voted, and they were not selfish. There was an element of I’m alright jack on the no side. The ones that say things are pretty rubbish, but I don’t care I have a mortgage and kids. To hell with everyone else, or creating a better country. This was a selfish vote, because a vote for your country is not about your job or personal circumstances. It’s a combination of patriotism,egalitarionism and democracy. The no voters voted no to maintain their mediocre existance, and to maintain the class system that keeps the poor in poverty and the wealthy in mansions.

    Then there were the ignorant and ill informed. The ones that read the Daily Mail, and believe that Scotland is unique in being the only country in the world that can’t be self governing. Then there are the anti Scottish bigots who are British to the core and monarchists who worship at the elites feet.

    Gerry your critique was disappointing,dishonest and apologist. The reason we are still in this failed union is down to selfishness of our fellow country men and women.

  36. John Souter says:

    All these contemplative pondering’s are all-right, if you have a full belly – my gut feeling is Scotland is now aware it’s belly is rarely full and even when it is, it’s not with any thing truly nutritional.

  37. Bothy Basher says:

    Yes Jock. We’re to blame for our situation. The longer we blame others the longer we’ll stay as we are. It’s not Westminster’s fault we’re timid. And we’ve known that Albion is perfidious for a very long time. And we aye had a parcel o’ rogues oorsels.

    Here’s tae us, wha’s like us? Gey few but they’re a’ self governing.

  38. johnny says:

    Gerry Hassan and his ilk are the reason I no longer have an interest in politics.

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