2007 - 2022

Looking for Lincoln

By Mike Small

Martin Kettle, quoting Abraham Lincoln, is getting all dewy-eyed and panicky:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Kettle writes: “When he ran for election in 1860 and gave that speech in 1861, Lincoln knew he had a country to save. I am not certain, in 2015, that either of the men about to contest the premiership know that they too have a country to save and rebuild.”

I’m not sure we want to remember quite every battlefield Martin, but we get the point. ‘All in this together’, that sort of thing.

Over at the Herald. Alison Rowat is less pompous: “Is there any chance of Mr Salmond ever shutting up?” she asks before descending into a fog of her own indignant stupidity. She’s clearly channeling James Kirkup of the Telegraph who asked plainly back in December: “Why won’t this man die?”

It’s a good question – and one that presumably will be settled over time.

There is a new sense of raw panic in the air.

Indeed Max Hastings is terrified over at the Daily Mail comparing the SNP to Stalinists.  In a spectacular foam-speckled rant Hastings writes:

How on earth has it come about, in a few months, that the referendum which was supposed to silence debate about the UK’s constitution for a generation, today appears instead to have triggered an avalanche? A string of factors, some blameworthy and others mere accidents of our times, have come together. It was, of course, a mistake for Cameron to agree to hold a Scottish independence referendum. Throughout the western world, electorates are fragmenting, becoming harder to manage or predict as voters abandon lifetime loyalties to big parties, and instead cherry-pick policies and factions that look pretty on that night’s supper table.

How indeed?

Three things leap out of this rage and fear-fueled spiel:

First I love the idea that the entire point of the referendum was to shut people up. That’s truly magnificent. Whilst hundreds of thousands of people engaged in democratic debate, often for the very first time, in a revival now (bizarrely) claimed as their own by some unionists, this was not in fact the intention. The intention, according to Max, was to shut you up.

Second he deems it a mistake for Cameron to ‘have allowed this to happen at all.’ Here we are getting nearer the true feelings of many reluctant democrats in the No campaign. What he’s suggesting of course is that the landslide election that the SNP won should simply have been ignored, and presumably repressed or put down. That could have been interesting and it’s good to have all these things out on the table, even in hindsight.

Third there’s the lovely image of electorates becoming ‘fragmented and harder to manage’. This clearly a problem and a terrifying one for Max and his readers. Can someone get Chomsky on the line?

But for sheer casual racism (exposing the underbelly of arrogance and self-importance) who can beat the utterance that: “Like the French and Greeks, the Scots seem immune to rational argument about their circumstances and prospects. They simply challenge the Westminster parties to declare who will pay most for their support.”

Setting aside the magnificent denunciation of civilizations that helped create much of the Western world, Hastings is in fertile ground here. Defining ‘the other’ as barbaric and incapable of thought has such a rich heritage I wonder if Max is aware where he is heading?

The phenomenon is well noted. See The Eclipse of Scottish Culture (Determinations) by Beveridge and Turnbull (1989), Tom Nairn (1977), or Frantz Fanon (1967) who all explore the idea.

Frantz Fanon (1967) writes: “Every effort is made to bring the colonised person to admit the inferiority of his/her culture.” Linda Cusick (Scottish Affairs, 1994) suggests: “Once self-doubt is created, resistance to foreign rule is weakened, while for the coloniser self-justification is achieved with a belief that were it not for his interventions the colony would slide back into barbarism.”

I’m not suggesting Scotland’s a colony but just that Hastings sort of language is regressive in cultural terms, and locks us into relationships of subordination and dependency.

We live with the cultivation of popular assent around some core ideas: ‘we are generally incapable’ is reiterated daily by consensus builders and the media elite.

An understanding of this process and a widespread conscientization may be one of the best outcomes of the referendum process as we begin to figure out who runs this place and how we can overcome them.

This diatribe of abuse wouldn’t be acceptable in reverse. It would be thought quite wrong to write that the English are ‘immune to rational debate’, to call the Tories fascists or to engage in the routine abuse that Scots voters are being subject to. This is now an everyday occurrence.

Bella will continue to bring rational argument to the table each and every day, in the French and Greek tradition, and will not be silenced by abuse from mainstream media, or threats or smears online from people who have defined themselves as being disinterested in the democratic process, the very one that they pleaded we should be a part of.

Comments (74)

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  1. Elaine Black says:

    δημοκρατία as the Greeks might say. Or, in plain English for Hastings: democracy.

  2. If only we had better orators we’d be happy to ignore the scandal of food banks, austerity, the attack on public services, rising inequality, and a generally corrupt Westminster establishment which isn’t interested in real democracy.

    Yes. Oratory. That would do it.

  3. habibbarri says:

    I like this article very much but, “… disinterested in the democratic process.” Do you mean uninterested?

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Maybe I do

    2. June Stewart says:

      Apparently in formal writing it’s best to use disinterested to mean impartial, and uninterested to mean not wanting to learn more or get involved 🙂

  4. Pam McMahon says:

    People like these, if indeed they are real people and not some kind of ranting collective with what they assume is a captive audience, are doing more for Scottish independence than we could ever do on our own.

    They paint big Butcher’s Apron targets on their chests every time they open their sad mouths, and taunt us to fire at them. Which we will.

    I forced myself to read this online. He says to his readers “It’s too soon to panic”. I think they went lepping over that standpoint a long while ago and are now wee panicked smudges on the far horizon. Hopefully these people will never come to realize that if they just kept their traps shut, we would have a lot less easy targets to fire at.

  5. Nice piece Mike. Years ago Mike Kettle replied, upset by my criticism, that his wife was Scottish! I remained unsympathetic and said that I didn’t care if he had a fucking West Highland Terrier.

  6. Martin Kettle that is

    1. I’m sure both wife and terrier find his regimen benign.

  7. acordinerbuchan says:

    The only thing I find interesting about the glut of stuff in the press today about the threat of a SNP landslide is what it tells us about the chances for constitutional reform while we remain inside the UK. What it reveals is that all those who talk about a reformed UK state, with some kind of overall settlement involving regional devolution in England, are engaging in wishful thinking.

    Academic studies on Westminster’s attitude towards the British Empire and towards Ireland show that interest in keeping control of territory has always been strong until there was any real threat that in doing so it would require a change at the centre. Whenever, there was a hint that to retain a territory would require some rearrangement of how things were done at Westminster then the establishment has invariably pushed for disengagement in order to retain things as they were. Northern Ireland is a case in point. When it was created no attempt was made to rearrange the British Constitution, instead Northern Ireland was almost treated like an overseas territory and allowed to do its own thing.

    That’s precisely what’s causing all this reaction to the latest polls. The Scots are threatening to have an impact at Westminster as the Irish did in the 19th cent. and that can’t be allowed, because the idea or rearranging things in Britain through a modern European type constitutional settlement is only spoken of to try to convince people to keep voting for the unionist parties. In reality it has never been an option.

    It is instructive to notice that the more pressure for change there has been in Scotland the more piecemeal new powers there have been passed over to Holyrood, in fact anything rather than look at the how the whole of the UK is governed. Because this is the habitual response of the UK establishment any idea that a reforming Miliband government would be any different is a mistake and a misreading of the Britain’s past.

    1. MBC says:

      That’s a fair point. But I can see their point. Which is, why should the majority change its arrangements significantly just to accommodate a minority?

      This is why the only rational and fair arrangement is actually independence.

      We have to get them to see this. The alternative is a permanent state of non-democracy in Scotland.

      What they need to accept is that Scotland and England have diverged significantly and if both are to have democracy, then it must be apart.

      1. Exactly. The reason I’m pointing out the historical record is because the usual response in the Scottish Unionist press is that independence isn’t necessary because Scotland can have the best of both worlds.

  8. JeanU says:

    Can this be sent to Max Hastings without delay.

  9. Juteman says:

    ‘we are generally incapable’ sound a lot like ‘genetically programmed’.

  10. Dan Huil says:

    Hysterical unionist diatribes from supposedly intelligent people. They seem to be increasing the closer we get to election day. They just don’t get it. There is only one end to this political and social change: a Scotland with its independence regained.

  11. John Page says:

    Great stuff…….Hastings comments were dreadful………..”harder to manage” was an almighty slip or supreme arrogance.

    We need to take every opportunity in every suitable conversation in the next two years to ask people…….why are they putting up with this crap?…….please take time to find out for yourselves…….and ask yourselves, like young Eireann………why can’t Scotland be a better place

    Project Fear was nasty…….and the process of trouncing Labour in May, getting a thumping SNP/Green/SSP majority in 2016 and breaking the Labour mafia grip in Glasgow in 2017……..will be really difficult.

    However, the simple prize of making Scotland a better place to live in will be worth it.

    And it is simple……no nuclear weapons, putting the environment and people before unregulated capitalism and seeing Scotland play a positive peaceful role in the international community.

    And whoever drink fuelled troll up at midnight who wants to explain how naive I am or how little I know about international economics……..don’t waste yer time.

  12. tartanfever says:

    Well said Mike. ‘Casual racism’ is a phrase I unfortunately find myself using more and more often.

  13. Frederick Robinson says:

    With all respect, Mr Small, although I am not particularly enamoured of ‘Westminster’ (that blanket phrase that enables/enabled Alex Salmond and his campaign to demean, as one despicable thing, 650 MPs – some good, some bad, some indifferent – elected by profoundly disparate constituents and constituencies), “any definition of the ‘other’ (in this case, ‘Westminster’, ‘England’, and almost anything/anyone other than ‘Scotland’, the SNP, and in particular A. Salmond and N. Sturgeon) “as barbaric and incapable of thought” has been/was during the Yes/No Campaign strictly the prerogative of First Minister Salmond (especially) and Co. You could well believe that south of the Scottish/English border lived an inchoate mob of woad-wearing Westminsterians. The fact that it’s a country 10 times the size of Scotland, with as many opinions, almost, as individuals, seems to have got lost in Mr Salmond’s nationalist view of the creation. And one must wonder how/why it is that 5 million Scots (even after a majority of them had explicitly rejected – on terms set by themselves! – the referendum for independence) now categorise themselves as blue-and-white Saltire-uniform-wearing non-entities. NB NOT ‘nonentities’: having lived there for 30 years, that is something I would never say of the Scots – but ‘non-entities’, individuals so lacking in individuality that they prefer to be classified as tribal SNP-categorised ‘Scotsmen/women’ before anything else?

    1. MBC says:

      Well we could say the same of Mr Kettle and the entire Westminster village in their opinions of Scots.

      What irks me most is their complete failure to understand us, and to even want to understand us, so convinced are they that they know everything there is to know about us.

      Apart from anything else, it makes me wonder what else they don’t understand that they are making no effort to understand.

      I mean, if they can’t even understand us, who share the same island as them, who’ve been in a union with them for 300 years, who’ve built an empire with them, fought and won two world wars with them, and speak the same language as them, what confidence do I have that they understand Europe, EU, Putin, the Middle East, that they justify their military actions on?

      It makes seriously question their aptitude for anything.

    2. tartanfever says:

      Odd isn’t it Frederick that you describe yourself as ‘not particularly enamoured of Westminster’ yet when anyone else criticises it, in this case Alex Salmond, you find it most repugnant.

      I’d appreciate some evidence to demonstrate the level of vitriol you claim the SNP show to Westminster and let’s put it alongside our known quotes from Scottish Labour politicians when they talk of ordinary Scots, not politicians, as ‘not genetically programmed’, a ‘virus’, and after the No vote ‘ they should be bayonetted’.

      Indeed, I can’t recall any SNP politician or member describing anyone as ‘Mugabe’ or ‘Hitler’ or describing Scotland as a ‘dictatorship’ yet these names were commonly banded about by the BBC, the mainstream press and unionist politicians of all persuasions to describe the SNP government.

      I look forward to your reply.

      1. Hugo says:

        Sorry Tartan it’s not Fwedewick, just a reply to congratulate you on this post.

    3. Robert Graham says:

      eh yer point is ?? try the simple language that most normal people speak just a thought

    4. Robin Ross says:

      ‘having lived there’
      Do you mean having lived in Scotland for 30 years? If that is the case, does it now mean you live somewhere other than Scotland, but out of your experience regard us all as some sort of lumpen mass.

      If I have interpreted your syntax correctly I would be interested in how you formed your opinion of us.

    5. SquirrelTowers says:

      Frederick, it is nothing to do with the MP’s it is THE SYSTEM, we rail against a system that is archaic, based on at best, 19th century ideas about governance, with its unelected Lords, Remembrancer, blinking sword lines in the carpets, in-house Archbishops and unregulated party funding. I despair, it is a bloated old tick that hardly ever changes and I want out of that particular system. I want a forward thinking modern democracy that doesn’t endlessly think that things should stay the same, because hey that’s ‘tradition’ and ‘tradition’ is a good thing, it has kept those Nazis/fuzzywuzzys/others in check and if its not like that help the sky will fall in…. which is I think Mr Hastings fear… ordinary people involved in government ‘yikes’

    6. Darien says:

      ‘This’ is not about Salmond or even the SNP. It is about which road the Scottish people wish to take.

    7. The Long Decline says:

      This is unutterable pish. You need to look at what is actually happening here. The UK is finished. Nothing to do with flags. It is all about people and the people are on the move. Sorry if you are upset about that.

    8. Shaun says:

      The demonisation of Westminster and the conflation of Englishness with Toryism, greed and Imperialism was a key part of the referendum campaign. Of course, anyone who isn’t a nationalist knows that the suggestion that English people, as one homogeneous group, are in any way different to the Scots, as another homogeneous group, namely that they’re less progressive and greedier, is laughable.

      1. What tosh! Who, precisely, has conflated Englishness with Toryism or suggest that the English are less progressive or greedier? Neither of these ridiculous suggestions played any part in the Yes campaign.

      2. FrankM says:

        You are talking utter rubbish Shaun. The referendum campaign did not conflate Englishness with anything. It is you who have brought Englishness into this. The campaign was about the System, as noted by ‘SquirrelTowers’ above. It was about Scotland running its own affairs. Stop inventing ideas to suit your own agenda. Your reference to knowing how how anyone who isn’t a nationalist thinks betrays an astonishingly superior attitude.

      3. SquirrelTowers says:

        Shaun its NOTHING to do with englishness. I should know as I am English and like many others who live in Scotland voted Yes in the indyref. The ON!Y people who brought up englishness were people supporting Better Together who kept telling me that Yes supporters were anit-english…sigh

      4. Hugo says:

        You could open your eyes and ears Shaun.

    9. FrankM says:

      Your highly emotive language adds nothing to the debate Mr Robinson. Where does your hatred come from? It is easy to read between your lines as the spaces are so wide.

    10. daviddynamo says:

      To Frederick Robinson, it is not a ‘fact’ that England is a country 10 times the size of Scotland – well, apart from on BBC weather maps. England’s population is 10 times greater, yes, but its land area is less than twice that of Scotland.

      This is important, not least because Scotlands population has been effectively stunted by WM neglect and misrule for centuries. I am hoping for a stronger Holyrood, plus a strong pro-Scotland team at Westminster, to rebuild our confidence and our industries.

      1. Gordon says:

        And Scotland’s sea area dwarfs England’s.

  14. James McHale says:

    I don’t think Max Hasting truly believes much of his anti Scottish diatribe and is pandering to middle England’s Tory vote and trying to frighten them into electing a majority Tory govt and keep out those marauding jocks.
    He deliberately misrepresents the FM wish to increase the public spend budget by £180b and it will all be heading north. I did note however the article was not carried in the Scottish edition highlighting my belief he does not truly accept the hyperbolic ranting because he knows we know better. His writing has the stench of project fear all over it.

  15. David McGill says:

    Will these people never learn?

    ‘O wad some Power the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!
    It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
    An’ foolish notion:’

  16. Colin Dunn says:

    ‘disinterested’ or uninterested?

  17. sleepyscribbler says:

    Superb article. What Hastings and too many of his fellow journalists fail to grasp is that every printing of their neo-colonialist claptrap adds votes for the SNP from Scots furious at such arrogance. On that basis this kind of patronising twaddle only strengthens the drive towards independence. Let’s have more of it: at least it gives a good laugh, given how out of touch such sentiments increasingly seem in the present Scottish political climate. You just wonder if any of thzese London-based columnists have ever met a Scot, let alone bothered to spend time here to find out what people are really saying and thinking. No, they just prefer to comfort themselves with the bizarre notion that the massive and still increasing political engagement of Scots (from both sides of the independence debate) is somehow, perversely, an indication of political apathy and ignorance. Ignorance there may be, but it’s not up here; rather it’s down in London in the cosy coterie of Westminster politicians and their journalist hangers-on who willfully choose not to recognise any political reality that doesn’t fit with their limited assumptions or their belief in their own superiority. Politics in Scotland has changed, probably forever, away from the atmosphere of disenchantment and distrust that still largely permeates our neighbours towards one in which people have begun to feel they can influence outcomes, and have confidence in the political process. I’d go so far as to say there are no longer any so-called ‘protest’ votes in Scotkand, contrary to what he implies.
    As for the retendum being just intended to out the lid on the independence debate, what a pity no-one told the Scots. We all took it very seriously indeed. It was, after all, about our future which we care about a lot — unlike, it would seem, Max Hastings and his fellow commentators who would all rather we just went away and stopped unconfortably upturning their assumptions and expectations. But we’re Scots. We’re naturally thrawn. And now we know our own strength we’re not going to change back to the old forelock-tugging acceptance of their political crumbs that they seem to expect as their right. Not now. Not ever.

    1. Corporatist Hell says:

      “away from the atmosphere of disenchantment and distrust that still largely permeates our neighbours”

      In fairness, this is bang-on. Notwithstanding anything else, I accept that one product of the referendum has been that many more people in Scotland genuinely feel they have a stake in the democratic process, there is a point in voting etc.

      The turnout in Scotland, while it might not hit 85%, will be at least 75%, and will certainly be higher than that in England / the rest of the UK.

      In England, the reality is that a great many people, who will still vote, will look at the elections and reflecting on whether it really matters, because capital, especially global capital is really in control.

      However, this does not diminish the problem faced by both Scottish and English voters. Someone up the page said they didn’t want anyone to waste their time talking about international economics.

      Unfortunately, whatever happens in the future, Scotland and England / the rest of the UK WILL be exposed to the ravages of globalisation and global capital. It is not good pretending that you can somehow ‘insulate’ yourselves from the world, no matter how resourceful your people or your land are. Because you can’t. Especially when, for example, Scotland has been so successful in attracting INWARD investment – which is a double-edged sword.

      I notice that the SNP have announced the withdrawal of their previous plans (as seen in SCOTLAND’S FUTURE) for a three point reduction in corporation tax (as Nicola tacks to port).

      The lesson of the 1970s was that the state is not and cannot be in control. The lesson of the 2000’s is that capital and markets (on a national or even supra-national scale) are not and are not capable of being in control either. Globalisation is what it is – a global phenomenon.

      And sometimes, ‘nothing works’. Look at Japan.

      What the SNP have benefited from through having a majority running a devolved administration is that – putting the right and wrong to one side for a moment – it has allowed them to take a unique position as both the ‘government’ and the ‘opposition’. They can claim every success as being purely down to them – and everything that goes wrong is the fault of ‘Westminster’.

      What will be interesting is:

      1. If it comes to pass, whether its confidence and supply or coalition** how the SNP then fare (practically and amongst voters) when they are suddenly the Government, and their ability to attribute anything that goes wrong to ‘Westminster’ is withdrawn

      (** I’m sure there won’t be a coalition, of course the SNP are not that stupid)

      2. How say at least 30 SNP MPs, many of them new and inexperienced, fare 350 miles away from the Mothership. And not just what forces are gathered to thwart them, but again when they actually become the Government, whether they can meet the undoubtedly high expectations of voters who have ‘sent a block of SNP MPs who will best represent Scotland’s interests. (Because who knows how that is defined by voters and what action they will expect / demand that is translated into … )

      1. John Page says:

        So when the deniers/imperialists are trounced in quick discussion on the facts, the Heartland Institute doom mongrels/experts on international economics come in to agree but then to say that human nature or the immutable laws of the free market mean that we are powerless and so we should remain passive…….

        Now that I have clear in my mind the pattern you guys operate, I will make no further response

        Keep up the excellent work, Bella…….you will be very much needed in the next two months.


      2. Corporatist Hell says:

        “So when the deniers/imperialists are trounced in quick discussion on the facts”

        There aren’t many facts out there (I never use the word). Stuff like the Moon orbits the earth which orbits the Sun is probably a fact; and then there’s a whole universe of opinions

        No-one is saying anyone should or has to remain passive.

        However, because of their perspective or desires you can shut your eyes and put your hands over your ears, and try to pretend that the world and the things they don’t like in it don’t exist. That doesn’t mean that the globalised world isn’t still there doing it’s thing, and it will be there when you have to open your eyes and uncover your ears again.

        And no-one – certainly not in the UK – is powerless. We (still) live in one of the most advanced and wealthiest liberal democracies in the world (despite its flaws) with free education (free university education in Scotland!) and healthcare.

        We have the power and ability to change our lives that in the grand scheme of things, most people in the world would love to have (hence the desire of millions of people to come here every year).

        I’m sorry if you feel powerless though.

  18. Snozzle says:

    Four years ago in a lecture for the Scottish National Trust about ‘The State of The Union’, Max Hastings urged “if we wish the Union to survive, we must put aside some of the perfectly logical arguments for diminishing the role of Scottish PMs at Westminster, and swallow some measure of Scottish over-representation”. He cautioned that “Should the Scottish people perceive their influence in the United Kingdom dramatically diminished, however ungrateful they seem for it today, I suggest that they would soon convince themselves that there is no longer cause for them to remain on board our ship of state.”

    So from this very honest Englishman’s point of view isn’t everything going just exactly as he hoped it would? The Scottish are still on board ‘his’ ship of state and about to elect our best women and men to come and help crew it. What can possible go wrong? Ready about – lee-oh!
    Full text here: http://www.maxhastings.com/2011/state-of-the-union/

    1. Snozzle says:

      Apologies I think this was nine years ago

  19. Darien says:

    “I’m not suggesting Scotland’s a colony”

    We are considered as such by our imperial masters; the clue is that only a colony or province could be ‘granted’ devolved ‘powers’. And much of institutional Scotland is still administered by colonials.

    1. What true friend would treat us like a cash cow and source of cannon fodder to be undermined and made to feel inferior and dependent.
      Not the kind of ‘friend’ I would choose.
      While I am an agnostic, I still pray thT these are the convulsing death spasms of a construct formed by dishonest methods for dishonest intentions.
      If you haven’t googled ‘Gordon Bowden’ I suggest you do so. Whilst I can’t be 100% sure the claims are true; if they are, the repercussions will be of historic proportions.

  20. 2 points here…

    Firstly, I think part of what has happened is that many of those who voted No as a result of Project Fear are feeling pretty angry right now and they are making up for (what they see as) a mistake last September by swinging over to the SNP now.

    Secondly, on this question of political rationality. What is constantly missed by these unionist writers is the way in which macroeconomic questions of independence are mixed with existential questions. So, for example, Simon Wren-Lewis has criticised the SNP for positioning themselves as anti-austerity in the general election when – in his discourse – an independent Scotland would have been forced into a much deeper state of austerity if there had been a Yes vote. But this triumph of macroeconomic discourse over the existential issues is simply absurd if you imagine, as a metaphor, a person in their early-twenties refusing to leave their parental home on the premise that their personal finances will be subject to “austerity cuts” if they were to become independent in that sense.

    1. Corporatist Hell says:

      “I think part of what has happened is that many of those who voted No as a result of Project Fear are feeling pretty angry right now and they are making up for (what they see as) a mistake last September by swinging over to the SNP now”

      By your own admission that’s conjecture, but I would genuinely be interested to see the results of a proper study into this.

      I’m sure there are some people in this category, but I think it’s quite a small number / proportion.

      My own ‘intuitive’ hypothesis is that there are many people who (especially now) have faith in and respect democratic process, and who’s view is something like ‘I voted No because I just wasn’t convinced, so I erred on the side of caution and voted No. I am always open to being convinced though, and If there is another referendum I will of course respect the will of the majority. So convince me’.

      I’d be genuinely interested to understand the size of each group (or of course a broader more systematic study of ‘where people stand post referendum and post GE 2015)

      Maybe we should ask Lord Ashcroft if he might be interested?

      1. MBC says:

        I’ve wondered that too. I strongly suspect that many Noes were soft Noes who voted on the precautionary principle, especially as Better Together were saying ‘You can have the best of both worlds’. And Project Fear was terrorising everybody.

        That wasn’t a vote for the Union of course, it was a vote for caution, and ‘better the devil you know than the devil you don’t’.

        My ‘evidence’ for this was my experience outside a polling station in Edinburgh. There was a group of us Yessers there, cheering and encouraging everybody on, and a No cohort a few feet away from us doing the same. 80% of voters ignored both of us. Some would give you an emphatic smile or thumbs up to indicate they were for Yes, and a few would likewise acknowledge the No group as brethren.

        So what I took from that (Edinburgh was 61% No) was that most were Noes, and most Noes were just doing a sort of grim, unpleasant duty, like putting down the family pet, that they had no enthusiasm for. I don’t think that many felt proud of what they did that day. And I think many may have since reconsidered their vote.

  21. Barontorc says:

    Now fellow travellers, where’s yon respect element gone to?

    Here we have a raving UK establishment nutter telling it as it is – honest Johnnie that he also is.

    Do we need much more compelling motivation to take our bat and ball home? When will enough be enough?

    We are seeing a manic implosive movement being writ large before our very eyes.

  22. BSA says:

    What a great article.

  23. Alex Buchan says:

    I don’t usually agree with Dan Hodges, in fact he said not long ago that there was only so much the English would tolerate. But today he’s shown himself to be the only London based commentator who understands how counterproductive all this stuff by Hastings and Major is.


  24. ScottieDog says:

    Lincoln also took on the financial establishment with his monetary reforms…
    Something badly needed today.

  25. MBC says:

    In political science, one keyconsideration of what constitutes a colony would be governance: that the colonial periphery, the subject state, has no representation in, or can influence the metropole. But the metropole can influence the periphery.

    Scotland is anomalous, in that we do have representation in the metropole. So technically our political relationship is not colonial.

    Except that our influence is, and has always been, a chimera. We only had influence and representation as long as we wanted exactly what England wanted. If our interests diverged, we could only put up and shut up. In the hope that our interests might soon re-converge, and it was only a temporary blip. You can’t agree about everything, all the time. That’s life. A compromise. Etc., etc..

    The problem is when we diverge over a long period of time, decades, without any apparent prospect of re-convergence in sight.

    Now that we might have the potential to actually influence the metropole, we see the true nature of the power relationship; and it is subservient and colonial.

    1. Darien says:

      And, devolved parliament = colony

  26. Samuel Johnson, Max Hastings. Funny how you never see them both in a room together isn’t it?

  27. On a lighter note didn’t Robertson make jam with a golliwog that was banned.Or was it Robinson.
    Rowat also made onions that were bitter.
    Was Marmite available in 1066?
    Pot and Kettle apply’s to Hastings.

  28. Fay Kennedy. says:

    Now what on earth could those three words suggest that needs to be moderated?

  29. Justin Fayre says:

    I can only assume it is an epidemic of unconscious arrogance that has swept England.
    I see that the sporting highlight of the year, the Rugby World Cup, is being trumpeted by all and sundry as being held in England.
    ‘England is proud to be hosting the World Cup’ proclaims the posters.
    Merchandise and advertising have all been printed with ‘Rugby World Cup – England 2015’
    This despite the fact that almost half the fixtures are taking place in Cardiff.
    Oh yes Cardiff the capital of Walesshire England.

  30. George Gunn says:

    It is true there are many more millions of people in England than in Scotland but unfortunately for them their political leaders come from a tiny elite minority. For the ruling class – and in England this is the reality – everything is falling apart, even the physical building of the Houses of Parliament is crumbling. Let us not use the usual liberal phrases here and argue that Scotland, by this elite, is not seen as a colony: it always has been. Drive north, turn left at Helmsdale and you are in the 19th century. Let us stay calm and focused at this time. The day after the election in May is the time to be bold and I hope the leadership of the SNP are up to it. I think Nicola S and a few of them are but I’m not convinced by the rest. The patricians in London don’t really understand what is going on. They will find out. Then we will find out what we have always known: that they care not a whit for democracy and only have “interests”. There is only one road open to the Scots: we have to make our own nation.

    1. Darien says:

      “we have to make our own nation”

      It will never be given to us that’s for sure, not by these people. Red and blue tories will join together in May and tell the SNP Scots majority where to go. Then Scotland will have no option but to “make our own nation”.

  31. ScottieDog says:

    Clifford is just another example of a neo-liberal buffoon. Ironically its his kind of journalism which undermines the union and you can see the ‘london provides’ mentality run through this kind of mainstream waffle. Ironically the only difference between the economic situation in Greece and here in the UK is that we have our own currency which like the euro is being expanded exponentially. It’s only a matter of time…

    1. Corporatist Hell says:

      “Ironically the only difference between the economic situation in Greece and here in the UK”

      Where is the ‘irony’ here – ?

      And honestly, you are in a world of your own here.

      The economic situation in Greece is entirely different to that in the UK. For which you should be thankful.

      Seriously, if you think there are any comparisons between whats going on in Greece, and the current position of the UK, you are seriously deluded.

  32. Clootie says:

    For those who campaigned in the YES camp the high point of the entire process was the recognition of what we shared in objectives. Regardless of Party(or no Party) the core values were established regarding the movement to a fairer society in Scotland.

    The main Westminster Political Parties and the MSM etc have all been seduced by the London centric world of self interest and greed.

    No Political Party is perfect but for me the choice is quite simple now – I want change. At present it has to come in stages.
    1. Independence – Only when we have the powers to implement change will we achieve a fairer society. It will never happen under the prostitutes of Westminster.
    2. Choice – In an Independent Scotland the other Parties will change focus or die. If they die then new parties will emerge. The SNP is the enabler but we will need the full spectrum of political opinion for good governance BUT by true “Scottish” Parties instead of branch offices controlled from London.

    The call for social change across the whole UK is often argued. We should face the reality and arithmetic – Scotland will always be outvoted by 10:1.

    It is your choice and that worries them. The engineered low voting turnouts and first past the post system are all con tricks to protect a very elite group of faithful servants to the neo-liberal elite.

    Westminster Politics when examined closely is simple. It is turns each with minor changes to suggest a difference. It is baying and shouting to suggest a difference. They apply minor tweaks to all the system and the other side tweaks it back following an election. e.g. Labour shouts about 50% tax rate when in fact it was only in place for a few weeks out of 13years. The outrage about the Tories reducing it to 45% when in fact that has raised more money for a full term of 5 years than the higher rate(40%) did in 13 years of Labour rule. However the real difference in change to the common man is the hidden tax rises, VAT etc, which all shades of Westminster governments use. Hidden taxes that focus on the essentials of living.
    As a percentage of income the poorest pay a crippling proportion of their income just existing.
    The austerity cuts target the same poor and already the three mainWestminster parties have signed up in agreement for more.

    Nothing MAJOR changes and the gap between rich and poor increases every year.
    They converge in the House of Lords into a seamless blob.
    They draw their leaders from the elite schools and Universities.
    They make a career Party choice based on opportunity not conviction.

    1. John Page says:

      Great explanation in simple concrete terms

    2. thats the same problem we have in scotland private schools where most of our own scottish elite come from

  33. Brotyboy says:

    ‘Bella will … not be silenced by abuse from mainstream media, or threats or smears online’ You tweeted earlier today about organised trolling. Please do tell.

  34. David Agnew says:

    I think the issue stems from the fact that the indy ref cast a light on a 300 yr old constitutional arrangement, that was, at its best nothing more than a convenient fiction. Its only ever worked when there were areas of convergence and when England kept its nose out of certain aspects of Scottish life. Whenever the two nations start to diverge on a series of issues, the old tensions pop up and the question of home rule is back on the table. Cue outrage and qualm peddling from commentators. Usually going straight in with, “why can’t the Scots ever be happy with their lot” and usually ending with “When their handouts dry up then they’ll fall in line”. It is a testament to the powers of pragmatic unionism that the whole experiment did not end up going the way of the Scandinavian union of 1905.

    This time however there is no party left Scotland that possesses that pragmatic vision. All that’s left, amazingly, are parties that seem to possess no better arguments for the continuation of the union than those espoused by the likes of Max Hastings. All this and the unedifying sight of the two main parties claiming that a vote for the SNP is really a vote for their rival.

    What is a Scot to do when confronted with such an idiotic proposition? It goes something like this.

    If I vote SNP. I am I really voting Tory or labour or so the argument goes.

    But…does it mean if I vote Labour instead – am I really voting for the SNP as well, like the Tories claim? If I vote Tory am I really voting SNP like Labour claim?

    How can I vote for either if they have identified support for the other is really a nationalist vote in disguise? Would Max Hastings be more at ease if I voted labour? – would be all right then? I voted Tory would he sleep easier at night? Or is it the fact that a vote for none of the above is what frightens him and Westminster the most. Is it a vote for a Scottish party that would not take an English party whip that has got these people literally drowning in fear?

    I think we can all see that the entire MSM and indeed Westminster is trapped in a classic “double bind” dilemma. It is also clear that they have no teddy bears to get them through the day. So its easy to understand why they lash out.

    Unionist pragmatism was based on the proposition that Scotland only had relevance if it voted for representation at Westminster – the party who gained the vote was irrelevant. This is what Colin Kidd was talking about, when he claimed that “Banal Unionism” was the glue that held the UK together.
    The last 4 years has seen the Westminster system take a hatchet to that and made it impossible for Scotland to ever fit in, regardless of who it votes for.

    I guess we can conclude that unionist pragmatism was always doomed to fail the moment they convinced themselves that Scotland had nothing to offer.

  35. Brian says:

    My wife is English!!! Having lived many years in England and now many years in Scotland, she sees the truth clearly…she is the strongest supporter of the SNP that I know.
    Great post, thankyou. This arrogant, borderline racist attitude, from the likes of Hastings and Major, will only intensify as we move toward May 7. We’re in for a bumpy ride.

  36. Mr T says:

    As a No voter I am appalled by what is being written and said by people who should have the brains to realise how stupid & offensive what they are spouting is.

    We’ll have an election. If there is no overall majority negotiations can start about which parties could form alliances – formal or otherwise – and what interests might be accomodated in return for forming an alliance.

    It would be perfectly legitimate for Ed Milliband (or whoever) to say that Labour won’t accommodate any interests that, in their view, would lead towards the breakup of the UK. If the SNP found that unacceptable they could walk. If they don’t then they could lobby for other Scottish interests to be accommodated.

    We’ll eventually have a government and during the parliamentary term voters across the UK will be able to consider how well the different MPs and parties have served their electorate. Then we’ll vote again.

    1. Mr T says:

      Clarify my first para. I’m talking about the John Major’s, Max Hastings’ etc. Not Bella commentators.

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