Is Sanity About to Break Out?

General Election 2015
By Peter ArnottAs I write, Ed Miliband has just declared that the Labour Party will not enter in to a coalition with the SNP. Given that the SNP took this off the agenda some weeks ago, one might think that this doesn’t really matter. It was shrug towards the obvious, a recognition of reality of the banal variety.And so it was, probably, but I do think that there is something deeper going in in the silences in-between the words.

First, of course, in strict parliamentary terms, no one needs to do a deal with anyone, formal ort informal.  As John McTernan has just tweeted, the SNP MP’s, however many there are, will have the simple right to vote with or against whatever majority administration it formed…Labour or Tory.
Again, nothing strictly speaking new there.  But in putting things so pragmatically, I think I detect some symptoms of change, real change, in the stance of the Labour Party that might demand a creative response from those of us who voted Yes, and continue to believe that genuine autonomy for Scotland is the best possible start for a renewal of the weary project of democracy in great Britain. Today had an opinion poll which showed that 60% of the UK population now believes that radical constitutional change is coming, like it or not. So I think it falls upon those of us who wanted such change all along to behave with some generosity and imagination.  It may be that things have changed as profoundly in the last week or so as they did the week before the referendum.

Let’s consider the evidence.  It already seems that last week’s spectacular display of Jockophobia – from Alan Massie’s classical references, to Max Hastings fighting them on the beaches, and from the more down market “wrecking ball and random brown person” pictures in the Sun’s two page spread to the James Bond Villain posters the Tories put out about Osama bin Salmond – was smoke and mirrors. It turns out that the most important words spoken about Scotland in this bizarre bifocal UK election were those that Ed Miliband said at the Labour Scotland event the weekend before last.  Sure there was the wee lassie in the tin hat stuff, but from Pained Ed and Creepy Jim, what did we hear last weekend in the vein of Nat Bashing and Border Controls?

Nothing. Not a thing. It was like the SNP didn’t exist.

Now, it was possible to interpret this silence as a variant on what has been Scottish Labour’s strategy since 2007 – namely, if we pretend the Nats aren’t there, maybe they’ll go away.  Indeed the sticking your fingers in your ears, shutting your eyes to any semblance of reality and going “LaLaLaLa!” has been, effectively, the noises made in the Westminster village all week.

Nonetheless, Patrick Wintour in this morning’s Guardian is reporting..that is, it is now being allowed to be printed, it is being made known by “reliable” sources..that the UK labour Party doesn’t really want to continue with the fiction that 30-40 SNP MPs elected by citizens of the UK can just be treated as if they aren’t there.

Cynics among us might think that this outbreak of reality watching is conditioned on the accident of UK electoral arithmetic that finds the UK parties in an apparently immovable  statistical dead heat that shows no signs of shifting.  Skeptics may say that this moment of clarity is only arising because despite the new energy and professionalism that the Murphy/McTernan/McDougall team has undoubtedly brought to the Labour message there is still nobody paying attention to it.

However, no matter where it comes from, it cannot be gainsaid that a little window is opening up for us here, a window perhaps exemplified by the respectful and welcome piece that Labour’s Kezia Dugdale wrote in today’s Record defending Hamza Yousaf from the careless, chortling golf club bigotry of David Coburn.

It may be that none of these three are standing for election right now, and that this allows them more room to express themselves, (Indeed, Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie have also done well) But is it too much for me to hope that in this “room”…in this “civility”…there might be the beginnings, just the beginnings of a more constructive atmosphere in which people of good will can discuss the future governance of these islands, whether we call them the Atlantic Isles or not?


I think that if the Labour Party are really showing signs of relinquishing the defensive redoubt they’ve essentially being occupying for the last eight years, that there needs to be a reciprocal flexibility in the world view and public language of the other side. Not that I’ve been exactly innocent of tribalism, but again, for sound democratic reasons it may be that in these last few weeks before the election, we should be making ourselves a little psychological room for what’s going to happen after the shouting and bawling.

The binary simplicity of Yes and No as alternatives, the crassness of the question, admitted of unquestioning and un-nuanced enthusiasm on one side and negativity on the other.  It also paradoxically allowed us to get past complexities in a way that our new circumstances simply won’t allow. It feels to me like it’s time for some grown-ups to get a room and start talking about how we’re actually going to make this work, both in terms of governance, and in terms of a future direction that we can all live with.  I think we can rely on parliamentary arithmetic to shift the Politician’s discourse to some constructive engagement, but I think that Civic Scotland…that strange beast whose nature really did fundamentally change in the course of the referendum campaign, needs to screw the nut, as it were, and inform the public conversation with precisely the nuance and precision and bravery that politicians , it being the nature of their trade, avoid.

Labour are abandoning the public demand that the SNP, in  the wake of defeat in the referendum, voluntarily cease to exist. So we, on the Yes side, have to reciprocally concede that the Unionists, who won the referendum, aren’t just going to step out of the way of whatever historical juggernaut we think we’re driving to a destination we have never quite had to specify.

My over arching point is that what happened last September was that when we became sovereign for those few hours when we could vote on our own collective destiny, we became sovereign forever. Our future became our business.  Irrevocably.  That seems to be the reality that is sinking in to be met by silence in the ranks of the Labour Party and the screaming heebie-jeebies of the UK media. But what we on the Yes side need to accept is that the NO vote, paradoxically, by being a vote at all, meant that in some definitions of the word, we are independent already (in the sense of “not-dependent”) and that we got what we wished for….but what we wished for turns out to be wholly unlike what we wished for. The Yes side did not get a mandate for constitutional change.  Rather, the politicians got a mandate for real change that it is taking some time for them to interpret.

And I’d like to state here and now that I think a lot of Jim Murphy’s rhetoric about acknowledging the need for change is a serious struggling attempt to cope with this demand.  And that triumphalism on the part of the SNP is a serious misinterpretation of what just happened.  We did not give them a mandate to continue just as they are…the mandate was for a change that we expect them to to take part in.  It is a tearing up of the rules, not just for the Unionism that existed pre-referendum…but for “nationalism” as well.  The challenge to the SNP of their pyrrhic victory is just as serious as is the challenge to Labour.  (To be fair, Nicola Sturgeon too seems sensitive to the shifting new reality).

At the risk of making myself unpopular, I always thought that when Better Together accused us of not just of not being ready for the realities of “independence”, but of not really knowing what that WAS…they had a point. I think the reciprocal gesture towards reality on the Yes side is some serious consideration now of dropping the word entirely. What we want, after all, is autonomy…what we want is to enshrine the principle that it is the people of Scotland from whom all political power should proceed.  And that if we choose to pool that autonomy in certain areas with others, then that is a democratic choice that proceeds from Scotland as a political entity.  I don’t actually give a bugger what we call it.  The principle of choice proceeding from the individual citizen and grouping of citizens to the appropriate practical and democratic level of governance is what matters…call it nested autonomy, call it what you like.

We are all of us in a new situation and it is not just the ritual responses of the establishment that look tired and tetchy.  For example, the SNP was fully involved in the Smith Commission, and the horse trading involved in coming up with those proposals was entirely to do with a strategic attempt to contain change rather than embrace it and make it work in the interests of the good government of Scotland. And it felt irrelevant, like yesterday trying to pretend it was today.

Having said all this, there are people whose Westminster Kremlinology and electoral algebra I deeply respect who think this is all fluff and gibberish – that the Tories will form the next government as a minority with an informal C&S deal with UKIP and the DUP and those sons of fun, the Lib Dems. That it’s already done and dusted.

Well…maybe…but doesn’t that increase the obligation on the progressive forces on this island to find a new way to get ourselves together…not as rivals for the territory, but as allies? It also may well be that the flexibility I’m arguing for is too little too late and will be scorned and that therefore the only way to achieve real change is with a constitutional hammer blow…like another referendum…one day…but I think we need to engage positively in the meantime and act as if we had faith that the recognition that change is inevitable will lead the UK as a whole into pragmatic, friendly conversation.  Anyway…that’s for another time. Positivity today!Right now I think the SNP could do worse than declare now that they are happy to take part in the Constitutional Convention that Labour have proposed.  I think we should look for a model of governance for these islands that might actually work, and I think we should be prepared to abandon preconceptions of what that might look like, attempting to derive first principles in a set of ideas on identity and autonomy that come from looking forward into the 21st Century. After all, “independence” was always a condition , for Scotland, that was more wished for than actual.  We are all going to stay living on the same small set of islands no matter what the rhetoric of the nut jobs of Brit-Nattery and Scot-Nattery alike.

We were endlessly declaring on the Yes side, that this wasn’t about identity anything so much as it was about defending the values of social democracy in a hostile and difficult world.  We believed,that Scottish autonomy was the most positive and internationalist way in which we could play a positive part in the struggles of the centuries to come.  Time to act as if we believed it.  Time to act like the grown ups we said we were. Time to get a room.


I wrote this piece because it seems to me that if the penny is finally dropping with the Establishment that the status quo in untenable…and their reaction is to have the screaming abdabs in print, then smiling in sweet reason seemed to me the best way to respond. If we take a serious look at what kind of Union might be sustainable in our changed circumstances, this is not because I think such a thing is desirable in itself, or even possible, but because to make the case for “independence” requires eliminating a properly, positively thought through alternative first. The fact that no one is doing that from the NO side (yet) meant I felt it was up to me to make a first stumbling stab at it. We live in a small country where opinion is divided down the middle next door to a big country where the penny is only just dropping that there is some serious stuff to think about I am dead certain that the way forward has to include creating a consensus about the future with both. I don’t think the Unionists help by shouts and threats. I really don’t think it helps to shout and threaten back.

Comments (106)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published.

  1. MBC says:

    I think the Lib Dems hold the key to all of this as much as the SNP.

    The incumbent government will get the first chance if there’s a hung parliament.

    But I can’t for the life of me see that Labour + SNP + Plaid + Greens + Lib Dems will be fewer than the 325-6 seats needed to form an alternative government. Who knows, maybe Sinn Fein will even come to the party, if they think the DUP has a chance of UK government. In such circumstances they would have a duty to defend their voters by taking their seats at Westminster.

    1. Corporatist Hell says:

      The Lib Dems and the extent to which they ‘survive’ as it’s being put, IS the key to all this (if by ‘this’ you mean the formation and composition of the next UK Government)

      Lib Dems are not going to go into some ‘rainbow coalition’ if it includes Labour.

      Sure, they’ve made their own mistakes. But they see what a disaster area the Labour Party are, and what a liability they would be in power.

      The next Government is going to be Conservative / Lib Dem / DUP coalition, and I am going to stick my neck out and say they will get to the magic 323 needed to avoid being voted down, or even the technical majority of 326.

      Honestly, what the SNP should do is take their new powers (which in many respects are greater than those found in other ‘federal’ approaches in the world), try them out, test their limitations, see to what extent they satisfy (or dissatisfy) Scottish voters.

      But they won’t, they’ll be stamping their feet, complaining, causing as much disruption (while the UK economy recovers) as possible, blaming everyone else for everything and anything, and declaring any successes as entirely the product of their own visionary genius (i.e. the same as they always do)

      They won’t be ‘getting a room’, its not in their nature.

  2. Brian Powell says:

    What? Are we supposed to just say, “that’s OK then”?
    There isn’t just the No vote, there is the content of the No vote, what was done and said to make it happen. There wasn’t a great argument full of substance we could consider. There was vilification, shabby politicking, and sleaze from Labour and the co-workers.

    1. Hugo says:

      Let’s not forget the levels of deceit,scaremongering,media manipulation etc. The constant disregard for normal debate and discussion, the establishment, the treasury, major corporate bodies are all guilty of conspiring to block any attempt at Independence by any means,that includes all of the above !
      I would also urge people to ensure that they are registered to vote in May, because having experienced their previous work, I do not trust the “system” at all. Ask Alex Neil whose registration was denied last week.Alex had to go through the process again, and has yet to receive confirmation that he is in fact registered.Better to be safe than sorry….make sure you are registered.

      1. Corporatist Hell says:

        On and on and on with this.

        Both sides had every opportunity to state their case – and to use whatever means necessary to achieve their aim. Neither side is whiter than white nor blameless in all this.

        We are fortunate to live in the age of the internet, where almost infinite information and opinion is available to just about everybody, at the touch of the button, from the ‘mainstream right wing media’ to sites like this one.

        Your destiny was in your own hands. Your decision would have been respected.

        It turned out more people made a different choice from the one you wanted.

        Bloody democracy eh? If only everyone would just see sense and do what you want.

      2. jacquescoleman says:

        To Corporatist Hell

        You don’t sound like a person who lives in Scotland so why are you trolling here? Haven’t you got an election to win in England?

  3. Barraload says:

    An interesting argument that needs developed. Does it mean however the nationalists being willing to drop independence as a condition of any discussion about a new social democratic movement that seeks to change things for the better of everyone who, as you say, live together on these islands? The same goes for change in the EU. Do you do more for the common weel by staying in and seeking reform, however difficult, rather than stomping off into isolation.

    1. muttley79 says:


      Why should independence supporters and voters stop trying to achieve Scottish independence? I gather from your post that you are a unionist. I actually would support a deal between Labour and the SNP after the general election if it was possible. However, provocative posts like yours do nothing in terms of trying to find common ground. It suggests you have learned nothing about politics in Scotland over the last 20 years or so.

      1. Corporatist Hell says:

        What on earth is ‘provocative’ about Barraload’s comments?

      2. Barraload says:

        Insofar as i have an ideology I’m not sure you could sum it up – or denigrate it – by calling it unionist.

        I favour free movement of people in the EU which makes me European I suppose. In the current polity which is the UK I worry about the plight of many people, but fail to see why the plight of those in the northern part called Scotland is different from those in Newcastle or Wales.

        I merely suggest that a debate about re-organising the UK is not helped by starting with an unconditional demand for independence for Scotland. In fact there is no point of trying to improve anything if that is the attitude.

        I think the nationalist approach to debate is unwavering and narrow and that is why I tend to fear and object to nationalism in all its guises across Europe. You cannot negotiate with nationalists unless they get the one thing that obsesses them which is to redraw the boundaries based on some cultural, ethnic or racial bases which seems to run contrary to the idea of being European. I’m for joining countries together and not tearing them apart

        So I no doubt will be criticised on the grounds that the Scottish version of nationalism is in fact internationalist. Well that is Janus faced to me; when it comes down to it I’d vote for Britain in Europe and trying to change it to realise the original vision of Europe. A nationalist however will always put their country or region first above the greater good of the rest.

      3. muttley79 says:

        The desire for his/her opponents to stop supporting independence. I thought that was obvious.

      4. muttley79 says:


        By your logic you should be supporting a single European state. Somehow I do not think you do. As for your desire to get people who support Scottish independence to quit doing so, I fail to see how that is democratic, in fact it goes against the UN Charter, which enshrines the right of self determination. British nationalists are very noticeable for their refusal to admit there is any such thing as British nationalism. When they refer to nationalism in the UK, of course they mean Scottish nationalism. They refuse to admit their own nationalism to the point of absurdity.

      5. jacquescoleman says:

        To the unionist trolls who are infecting Bella. Why don’t YOU give up your notional ideas that Scotland is better as a member of the UK. In light of current rabid attacks from the English media and WM politicians it doesn’t seem like it to me. I believe Scotland would be better as an Independent country when we could leave all that behind us.

        And please stop using BIG Words to try to make your points. They don’t convince anyone. There is still no substance to your arguments.

    2. ian says:

      No!No!No! They have had over 300 years to get their act together and as soon they get us back in our box it will be back to business as usual.Independence is the only end game to give us complete control over our own country.

    3. Gordon says:

      In a campaign event to mark 2 months to polling day, Head Boy, David Cameron warned his fellow prefects and pupils: “You could end up with a government led by Ed Miliband propped up by Alec Salmond and the SNP. You could end up with an alliance of the people who want to bankrupt Britain and the people who want to break up Britain”. The whole school was wondering what wag had furnished him with this succinct and stinging witticism. Nick Clegg reiterated the warning at his party conference.
      ‘Break up Britain!’ It’s a bit late for the SNP to have a hand in that. Britain has been irreversibly broken by successive governments whose politicians never stray beyond the M25 over the last 50 years with the final shattering blow delivered by the Head Boy himself.

      New Statesman 11/08/2014 says …….’one size fits all policy for economic development in the UK deprives Scotland of the economic levers… set the economy on the right path to recovery.’ The same applies for the regions of England. Arguably, putting the brakes on the whole economy because of an overheating London economy stunts growth in the rest of the UK. The London economy is continually fired by infrastructure investment that dwarfs that in the rest of the country. This in turn feeds the multiplier effect that keeps the prosperity motor running.

      London has become a City State that runs its own economy at the expense of rest of the country. It has become separate from the rest of the UK. London and the City have ’broken up Britain’. The crash and this Tory government have only completed the process.

      London swallows 500 times the amount/head of transport infrastructure spending as does the North East of England. Add to that infrastructure spending on the arts, culture, and various national events like the Olympics and you get an even more unequal picture. It’s no wonder Alec Salmond at the New Statesman Lecture in March 2014 likened it to “a dark star, sucking in people, resources and energy.” Another quote from the New Statesman: ‘If the deracinated plutocrats who gather in the capital seem unconcerned about the relative poverty in much of Britain, it is because they live within the walls of Versailles.’ In other words, to those at the food banks, LET THEM EAT CAKE.

      ‘Just 13% of the population produces 22% of the nation’s wealth.’ – The New Statesman 28/08/2014. Aye, but they neglect to mention – they blew it all again in 2008. That the City contributes to the British economy is a debatable point. They take real money, earned by individuals and companies adding value to goods and services by ingenuity, intelligence and sheer sweat and use this to earn dodgy money by gambling on the currency markets, betting on stocks and shares and dishing out dubious pension, life assurance and other insurance ‘products’ with screeds of small print to better enable welshing. How do you earn money from a hedge fund? Do tell. Quite a lot of our hard-earned readies end up sticking to fingers down there enabling the Porsche dealers and yacht manufacturers to flourish. The other thing I’d like to know is, if the City is making all this money by gambling, who’s losing it? Or are they making it on the backs of us all in industry and commerce adding value by our efforts to their stocks?

      London £3,095/head, North West £460/head, Yorks and Humber £395/head, North East £263/head.
      Crossrail to receive 9x the funding for rail in the 3 northern regions of England combined. Just to get the boys from Canary Wharf to their computer consoles in the City.

      London – £36 billion, which is equal to the investment in whole of the rest of England except the South West, which has the dubious pleasure of being given a nuclear power station.

      Spend/head on all publicly funded infrastructure.
      London £5426, North West £1248, Yorks and Humber £581, South East £502, East Midlands £389, North East £223. Source: IPPR/GOV, UK.

      I cannot find the equivalent figures for Scotland, but I’m betting that they are not far off the equivalent sized English regions. With this unfairness, how can we compete for any inward investment and keep our youth in work and in Scotland? Only by running our own affairs. How many more generations are going to suffer penury while the Westminster government deigns to allow some infrastructure development to the north? It’ll be the 22nd century before HS2 reaches Scotland. I think we could order our own affairs much better than Westminster and unfortunately for the rest of England, they cannot sue for independence. Scotland can.

  4. Love the outbreak of adulthood and, and the acceptance of the usefulness of letting some of the nonsense condemn itself and recognising the usefulness of being prepared to sit down together, after all the shouting and jostling.

    Also important that the SNP recognises the contingency of its current massive support, and concedes the importance of sitting down with the Greens to develop a grown-up attitude to both the challenge of social justice and climate change and to questions of party hierarchy, representation and discipline.

  5. daviddynamo says:

    That’s all well and good, Peter/Bella, but I still don’t have my Scottish passport yet. I’m stuck with using my UK one.

    Yes, I want better governance, but I also want international recognition of my different, Scottish, nationality.

    1. Barraload says:

      Is that not recognised culturally in many ways already. Why is your Scottish nationality defined only by political separation from the rest of the UK and Europe?

  6. The difficulty is that the only progressive force in England – the Green Party of England – is not yet strong enough to make a substantive contribution, electorally.

    While there is a faction in the British Labour Party that could be described as ‘Progressive’, it has long been in the shadow of the Blairites. You can’t dance with yourself. Well you can, but it’s no fun.

  7. alistairliv says:

    A scorpion asks a frog to carry him over a river. The frog is afraid of being stung during the trip, but the scorpion argues that if it stung the frog, both would sink and the scorpion would drown. The frog agrees and begins carrying the scorpion, but midway across the river the scorpion does indeed sting the frog, dooming them both. When asked why, the scorpion points out that this is its nature.

  8. andrew>reid says:

    What a seriously naive piece of writing to suggest that an outbreak of peace and positivity by unionist politicians comes from anywhere but a cynical realisation on their part that the increasingly racist rhetoric of some of their cheerleaders was endangering their electoral chances even more amongst people they see as potential voters in Scotland.

  9. Gordie says:

    ‘I think the reciprocal gesture towards reality on the Yes side is some serious consideration now of dropping the word (Independence) entirely. What we want, after all, is autonomy…what we want is to enshrine the principle that it is the people of Scotland from whom all political power should proceed.’

    OK, Peter, I’ve changed my mind. All I want now for Scotland is Home Rule and a 9% share in the war on terror.

    1. CJK says:

      Unfortunately Peter seems too keen to get back on good terms with Labour. To read so much into so little and be prepared to give up so much for it seems beyond foolish to me.

  10. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    In one word. Nope.
    Or as they say in Catch 22 “Death to all modifiers”
    Put them to the sword if we can do so. These cheating, lying,nasty, self serving political incompetents deserve nothing less.
    There is no place for them in any new Scotland.
    That’s the politica lreality

    1. Barraload says:

      These cheating, lying,nasty, self serving political incompetents deserve nothing less.

      That is the welcome that awaits everyone in Scotland that disagrees with you then

      Welcome indeed to the dark side of nationalism

  11. Frederick Robinson says:

    I begin reading these posts, and each time (possibly/probably mistakenly) give up in despair. Ed Miliband is ASKED, during not one, but a good many interviews, whether Labour will work/go into coalition with the SNP. How he manages to suppress his frustration at the repeatedness of the question amazes me. It was put very well by another Labour representative (female), equally irritated: ‘It’s like being asked, as you crouch down on the blocks to start the Big Race, what you’ll do if you come second, or third. You set out to WIN.’ Just as the (I suspect, but may be wrong) optimistic prospect, in the article, that the ’30-40 SNP MPs….cannot be treated by Labour as a fiction’. Has Peter Arnott never read Shakespeare’s ‘Henry V’ or about Agincourt? You don’t set out giving all the credit to the opposition. the SNP certainly don’t; but for some reason expect everybody else to do so. With the result of the REAL General Election, as against the endless shadow-boxing of polls, then it will be possible to see clearly what can and can’t, has to and doesn’t need to, be done. All the rest is wind, smoke and mirrors.

    1. ELAINE FRASER says:

      just like being asked over and over and over again ‘whats your plan b?’

  12. AlexM says:

    I struggle with the notion that we have to step back from independence, or that independence is not really an option on a small island.
    Look at the Irish Republic, not a perfect state but still a more social and in some ways very successful independent nation. Smaller than Scotland. I lived there for 7 years, and nobody would suggest a union with the UK despite all the economic difficulties and political shenanigans before and after 2000.

    1. Corporatist Hell says:

      I don’t think anyone in the UK would suggest a Union with the Irish Republic after all the economic difficulties and political shenanigans.

    2. Barraload says:

      Blimey the models nationalist offer seem barmy; be like the ROI or Panama. Really???? You wonder why the country voted NO. Not out of fear, stupidity blah blah blah but because the idea of independence was ill thought out and badly presented – and that after the SNP had ages to prepare for the debate.

  13. bearinorkney says:

    Not having it I’m afraid. The Rubicon was crossed a while ago. Let’s all sit round a table and thrash out a deal like the gentlemen we are? Too much has been said in the last few years for it ever to be forgotten how we have been treated. We have an army of Scotswomen at our back and they aren’t going to be stopped by some conciliatory words from Westminster. We also want a vast chunk of the oil money stolen from us over the last forty years, paid to Scotland in restitution for the lies, calumnies and general double dealing we’ve had to put up with for many years. Total surrender is required from Westminster. It’s the least Scotland deserves.

    1. ian says:

      Agreed, only one thing needs mentioned the “Mcronin report”.How different all our lives would have been had this report been common knowledge, but every goverment since has hidden it from view,unforgivable!

  14. John Page says:

    Instinctively I don’t like this……….I can’t see any arrangement with Miliband in power where he will give up on Trident………

    So keep up principled opposition in Westminster…… a landslide in Holyrood in 2016 and kill off Labour in Glasgow in 2017. A reborn left in Scotland can join with the Greens and the SNP to work as best it can for Scots while pushing for Independence

    Exploit a second General Election or a Referendum on the EU

    Why work alongside a Jim Murphy? A Henry Jackson Society member who pledged unconditional support for Israel at the weekend!

    Just exercise patience. A key element in the transformation of Scottish political life is the obliteration of this cabal and the emergence of an Independent Scottish Labour Party cleansed of its existing cadre of talentless Blairites.

    1. Corporatist Hell says:

      There isn’t going to be any kind of arrangement with Milibean. The next government will be a Conservative / Lib Dem / DUP coalition.

      Good luck with your ‘reborn’ (hard) Left in Scotland. There is no more appetite for that in Scotland than there is in England – except you’ve got a few more nutters with slightly bigger placards and slightly longer banners to wave around.

      Referendum on the EU- only slightly more Scots (45%) than people in England. (40%) actively support the EU, in both cases less than half. If the UK leaves the EU, Scotland will be a willing partner, walking out hand in hand. You will be as much to blame as anyone (though of course you’d still to try to blame everyone else.). Don’t try and tell me Scotland is some nation of Europhiles – it isn’t. In the same way that Scottish people are only marginally less hostile to benefit claimants and immigrants.

      “An Independent Scottish Labour Party”. Is this the ‘new mass socialist party’ that the hard left keep going on about? That about 1% of the electorate are interested in? Good luck with that.

  15. Clachangowk says:

    “careless, chortling golf club bigotry of David Coburn”

    I am a member of a golf club; does that mean I am bigoted like David Coburn?

    1. David says:

      Only if It’s the same one as Coburn, to paraphrase Marx(Groucho) “I won’t be a member of a golf club that would have Coburn as a member”

  16. Clive B Scott says:

    Interesting contribution. Doubt if sitting down with the Westminster set for a reasoned conversation will get you very far at all. Westminster is fundamentally and irredeemably corrupt and the concept of Britain is broken beyond repair. We need a large contingent of SNP MP’s to go to Westminster with a mandate to settle up, not settle in.

    1. ian says:

      Well put the thought of anything else makes me feel sick.

    2. Dr Ew says:

      You took the words right out of my mouth, Clive B. Spooky.

    3. This. Time to go. But I take Peters point in his addendum. Arnott – do your editing before you post your articles. Honestly, and a writer an aa!

  17. connor Mcewen says:

    I’ll say it again” Caw Canny” better together with SNP,GREENS,Plaid.

  18. “what happened last September was that when we became sovereign for those few hours when we could vote on our own collective destiny, we became sovereign forever. Our future became our business. Irrevocably”


    All the talk of coalitions and confidence & supply and who will win the GE2015 is like froth on the waves, compared to the fact that the tide has turned and we know (we, all Yes votes and increasing numbers of No voters know) that we hold the power not the politicians.

    I take your writing as meaning: how can we enable the rest of the population across these islands to know that they can take back that power if they choose to? And I still think that – whether a minority Labour Government with SNP support, or the much less likely a Labour/ Tory unspoken alliance – that if we continue to insist on that fundamental reality that we are in charge then we’ll be independent from Westminster/ City of London sooner than we dare hope, and more than that, the rest of these islands my soon be independent from them too.

    The independence referendum called the bluff on the establishment, and the establishment did not respond with reason and deep understanding, but with empty threats and hollow meaninglessness dressed up in the trappings of the Emperor who has no clothes.

    Not long now, not long.

  19. leavergirl says:

    “The principle of choice proceeding from the individual citizen and grouping of citizens to the appropriate practical and democratic level of governance is what matters…call it nested autonomy, call it what you like.”

    Yes. But consider that doing that via parties may also be something that has outlived its usefulness.

  20. Craig says:

    Labour have offered nothing. Never mind any olive branch there is not even an olive. Labour have a lot to prove they are changing. A few weasel words and you treat it like “the vow”. Westminster parties will say and do anything to gain power therefore I will not trust labour until after the election results and there’s a chance of a SNP/Lab confidence agreement. Sorry but your words fall on deaf ears for the moment.
    Personally, I think the SNP and Labour should keep their distance from each other at the moment. rUK voters who detest the SNP would be more likely to consider voting Tory rather than Labour should their favoured Labour be seen to be too cosy with the SNP. Trust me, the media will push even more heavily ‘anyone but the SNP’ and therefore Labour must stay neck and neck with the Tories for the SNP to come into play.

    1. Corporatist Hell says:

      “rUK voters who detest the SNP would be more likely to consider voting Tory rather than Labour should their favoured Labour be seen to be too cosy with the SNP”

      Yes – this is one of the things that is moving the polls to the Conservatives, and may yield the Conservatives some of the key marginal seats.

      Also more and more people are making their minds that they just don’t want Milibean / Balls. Again this will be a key factor in Conservative / Tory marginals.

      ” Labour must stay neck and neck with the Tories for the SNP to come into play”

      Conservatives steadily creeping ahead in the polls for the first time in three years. Conservatives will be the largest party, and will form a coalition with Lib Dems and DUP

      The SNP will not be ‘coming into play’ in terms of forming the government (though they will when it comes to matters pertaining to Scotland)

      1. Craig says:

        I agree there has been a little bounce back from the conservatives but will it be enough? At present I cannot foresee the Conservatives getting enough seats to allow them to set up coalitions. I think they will get slightly more seats than Labour but will still be short. I suppose we will have to wait and see. In regards my earlier comment about people detesting the SNP, I think unfortunately many actually don’t know enough about the SNP and are just going with the rhetoric from MSM. I think the Leaders debates will help further soften attitudes to the SNP. It should also not be forgotten that a recent poll found 58% across the UK would be happy for SNP/Lab to form an agreement to govern. But as I said, we will have to wait and see.

      2. lawrenceab says:

        It is win-win all the way for the SNP. If Tories (possibly + unsavory allies such as UKIP) win, their harsh City/Corporate Capital favoring policies will but strengthen the cause of independence.

        If Labour wins, it will require SNP support, and SNP will gain some valuable devolution concessions including – this I pray for because it is vital given what we suffered during indyref – devolution of broadcasting. Maybe also Crown Estates.

        If Labour have the opportunity to win power but forfeit it because they refuse to accept SNP support, thus ushering in a Tory Govt., imagine how that will play out in Scotland. The SLAB branch will be decimated and SNP totally vindicated for having tried to ‘play by Westminster rules’ but been slapped down.

        If, God help us, the Establishment Westminster parties circle the wagons against the insurgent parties to protect their power & privilege by forming a LabCon coalition, resentment in Scotland will propel SNP to even more power.

        I don’t see a scenario where SNP lose …

  21. Peter Arnott says:

    Thanks all for the reactions to the thought experiment. I think we on the Yes side do need to challenge ourselves once in a while.

    1. Craig says:

      Peter you have written many great articles and no-one should forget that. I recognise you are offering a food for thought article here but as the gentleman above stayed, it is in the scorpion’s nature and hence they should not be trusted until we know the sting has been removed.

      1. Peter Arnott says:

        Give me a suggestion as to how we remove the sting? Might not being open and relaxed and confident help with that? I think we have to smile and present what Scotland wants as being in the best interests of everyone on these islands. We lost the referendum but we’re winning the campaign. And to dismiss any possibility of democratic, progressive change in England is a counsel of despair. We ain’t going to row Scotland into Scandinavia. We need to be friends when this is done.

        1. bellacaledonia says:

          You might be right Peter – but what is this aversion to conflcit about? Is it pragmatic?

      2. muttley79 says:

        Peter, with the best will in the world Scotland is not going to become independent when we all join hands together, and sing Kumbaya My Lord. I am not sure what you are talking about here. This is about power and control, over who governs Scotland. Frederick Douglas said that “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” This is very much the case with the British state when it comes to Scotland. To be honest I am perplexed that you seem to think we can tickle the British state into submission. Do you support independence or not? Would you settle for something far short of that? I do not know why some people in Scotland, seem to think in their view, it is our task to save England from itself. This is a nation of over 50 million people. The electorate in England consistently vote for Tory governments. Why should voters in Scotland view themselves as saviours of England? It strikes me that that is incredibly arrogant, and not very democratic either.

      3. Craig says:

        Firstly, broadcasting must be devolved to ensure a balanced and fair Scottish news output. Yes, this will not prevent the continued onslaught from the TV and written media south of the border but it will at least be a start for those receiving information within Scotland.
        Secondly, rather than wait for the other parties (mainly Labour) to change, the SNP can force them to by dragging them to the left. If Labour do not change and continue to mirror the Tories then they will be opening themselves up to being rejected by Scottish voters much in the same way as the Tories are now. This will open doors for the SSP, Greens and possibly even a new Scottish Labour party to completely fracture itself away from the London one e.g. Labour for Indy. Wouldn’t it be great to get a new Labour Party which went back to its roots for Trident removal, NHS remaining public, real social justice etc. We all know Westminster only makes concessions to Scotland when it has no choice. Only by pushing for change will we get change and not have to wait for it.
        Labour know they must make concessions to the SNP, if they allow the Tories to continue in power they will never be forgiven. If they don’t offer concessions then they will be unable to govern without the SNP. If the election has to be recontested in a few months because of this and England then overwhelmingly votes for the Tories then again the Scottish people will see they have been stitched up and the clamour for Independence will be more surreal.

    2. Ben Donald says:

      Oh, I’m sure you’re right; but like this, seven weeks from polling day, in the midst of the most strategically important battle in a hundred years?

      1. maxi kerr. says:

        Peter, we will always be friends with the normal people down south. Its the elitis’t scumbag crowd who have run our country for centuries who we will never take to our bosums, as they and their ilk are not like us…NOT LIKE US…never forget this as they don’t care about any of us and by nature will do us and our families great wrong without any remorse. We can and must make change.

    3. Corporatist Hell says:

      I enjoyed your article and its absence of polemic, thanks.

  22. bringiton says:

    For Scots to get anything close to fiscal autonomy will require a big change in the way Westminster operates.
    I have seen no evidence that Westminster is capable of making any significant changes in that respect.
    Largely,what happens after May will be down to the British Labour party,will they parley with our Scottish SNP MPs or ignore us?
    Whatever the outcome I think we can expect complete resistance from the English parties to anything which results in radical change to their cosy political world.
    However,if they wish to continue the facade of being one nation,Better Together then they are going to have to make some compromises or be seen as completely Anglo centric political parties.

  23. bowanarrow says:

    I feel as if I have been running a gruling race that has lasted for generations, only now to find, just as I am about to get into the lead, that my compeditor is now saying, “you dont need to win this race, we will let you win, as long as you are willing to share your victory with us”. No, I dont think so.We are now seen, by the westminster administration, as being on the verge of success, to win the race, to achive our goal. They, on the other hand, have ran out of strength and energy, and are now on the verg of colapse because this is the first time they have not been able to nobble their opponents. We are on the home stretch and I for one want to win this race, INDEPENDENCE is the first prize and I for one, want to win.

    1. Barraload says:

      I am among the 55% that hope you lose but admire you for trying.

      1. muttley79 says:

        Really, as far as I can see you have been going on about how we should stop supporting independence. That does not sound like someone who admires our efforts to change our nation.

  24. macart763 says:

    I don’t mind holding an adult conversation with anyone. Hell, I don’t mind holding a childish conversation for that matter.

    In this instance? Respect and trust would be essential on our part as voters…

    … instinct and muscle memory kicking in dictates neither is possible at this time and perhaps for some considerable time to come. What they were prepared to do to their own electorate, what they continue to do.

    The SNP may have to deal with them post election and in return for concessions even ensure that Labour forms a government, but confidence and supply married to the use of extremely long handled spoons has to be the order of the day.

    1. Corporatist Hell says:

      “The SNP may have to deal with them post election and in return for concessions even ensure that Labour forms a government, but confidence and supply married to the use of extremely long handled spoons has to be the order of the day.”

      Not going to happen. Next government will be Conservative / Lib Dem / DUP coalition.

  25. Barontorc says:

    Peter, why should we challenge ourselves?

    Have we not, over so many years. been doing just that and as we were accepting vows and promises that all’s well, just keep on truckin’ we were being shafted left, right and centre?

    The worm’s turned my friend. There’s no need to accommodate Wasteminster’s excesses longer than we have to, that point’s been reached.

    There’s an almighty implosion coming very soon within the whole union cabal as they vie for tory-minded votes and Labour is toast, and the irony is, they set the whole mess in action.

    The UK is finito!

    There cannot be a united Parliament with Scottish MPs barred from voting on all and any matters?

    Who can tell what will impact on Scotland in the future?

    Sir Gus O’Donnell – the UK’s former head civil service honcho, has already breached that dam and talked about the ‘democratic illegitimacy’ that’s looming.

    Whiles, very, very stoopid Sir Nick MacPherson has been tilting at windmills to preserve the empire and Sir Jeremy Heywood has been getting his troops all hot and bothered as they got well into the forbidden territory of politics and partiality to ‘win’ the Referendum for the UK.

    Do you think we are nuts, Peter?

  26. liz says:

    This could work but asking Labour to change is too much for them.

    They lied, cheated, threatened, worked with the tories to stop independence,.

    Post indy they are lying, cheating, threatening and working with the tories to prevent the SNP, if they get in with sufficient numbers, having a positive say in the running of the UK.

  27. Sooz says:

    Trouble is, you’re expecting behaviour from people who over the last two to three years have done everything they can to undermine Scotland and the SNP. Miliband’s silence may simply be down to the fact that he now knows how negative this constant SNP-bashing really is and how it jars with the public. It doesn’t mean he’s having an epiphany.

    I’m more than willing to see if Labour and others are willing and able to put aside party politics and come to the table with the aim of finding compromise and a better political relationship, but as I haven’t seen that kind of behaviour demonstrated by them before, nothing persuades me that they will suddenly pass round the biscuits and invite us all to be mates. I think that’s wishful thinking.

    Nicola is the one who invited cooperative politics when she stepped into office. Ruthie was the only one who has even attempted to do that.

    1. bjsalba says:

      Anything involving McTernan by so much as a speck of dandruff is suspect.

  28. madjockmcmad says:

    There is currently a thought experiment being lead by the LSE on what a UK Written Constitution should look like via public involvement. I was involved with the exercise but have removed myself from the activity simply because by the end of last week I realised that the majority of English contributors could not see past the political myth of ‘Magna Carta’ and when combined with the political and media campaign against Scotland over the last 14 days, plus the comments under the articles in the Guardian and Telegraph that there is no real interest in understanding where we are as a UK Parliamentary Union, the constitutional and legal nature of that Union or why it is at breaking point.

    The question becomes how will the Union hold together while the necessary change away from a London centric system of governance, designed to protect the City of London and other corporate vested interests, to the exclusion of the majority of the UK electorate, is negotiated?

    The political awareness cycle between Scotland and England is asymmetrical, the Scots are two years ahead of the English electorate in thinking about what Scotland should be like and how to achieve this aim courtesy of Commonweal, National Collective, politically orientated blogs and a high level of discussion in the pubs and on the street. My experience of the LSE projects leaves me with the sense those politically active in England are still thinking about what they do not want (more austerity, a collapsing NHS, increasing poverty) and not about what they want from a future UK political system.

    Under the present Union settlement the UK Parliament can not bring forward legislation to create a federal or confederal UK because it is outwith the legal and constitutional powers of the UK Union Parliament. Any solution will have to be a fudge unless the two recalled sovereign parliaments of England and Scotland can agree a federation settlement. The most realistic solution will be to create a devolved English Parliament with all the same powers as Holyrood.

    The problem then arises – just what is the point of a UK Parliament in this situation? All the remaining functions of a UK Parliament would be just as effectively dealt with by a ‘Council of the British Isles’ to look after issues of ‘common purpose’ such as the defence of the British Isles.

    So if we send 50 SNP MPs to Westminster on the 9th of May we will expect them to fight Scotland’s corner, reaffirm our wish for more progressive politics: are we also sending them to renegotiate the Union settlement in an environment where the two main parties are seeking to cling onto what they hold at all costs?

    Is it right to place this expectation of negotiating a new Union on their shoulders in an environment which is fraught with a fevered, near hysterical anti-Scottish message?

    The ‘No’ win in September was in the expectation that there would be a new devolution settlement for Scotland and that settlement would be full fiscal autonomy. Cameron torpedoed that on the 15th of September with his utterances on EVEL. Labour put another hole in this particular boat with their behaviour over the Smith Report recommendations.

    The expectation is for the SNP to seek to hold, which ever party forms the government, the UK Parliament to its promise whether it ever meant the ‘Vow’ or not. If it is clear the UK Government is not bringing forward legislation to to meet the ‘Vow’ in full, the Scottish people will be asked what they want to do; stick or move on.

    Ms Sturgeon has offered an olive branch to the progressives in Labour, the Greens and Plaid in today’s London speech. She made clear on national television the SNP at Westminster will seek alliances to stop and reverse the current austerity mayhem which is hurting the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

    Tuesday’s frothing at the mouth or otherwise headlines in the London media and on the BBC will indicate just what the British Establishment’s view is of the SNP’s offer. The initial rumbles are already indicating within Labour, the feeling is Miliband has sold the Scottish Labour MPs down the river to shore up the vote share in England and get him into Downing Street. The real question then becomes has he done this with the intent that the loss of the SNP hating Labour neanderthals in Scotland will make it easier to cut deals with the SNP on a confidence and supply basis?

    1. Corporatist Hell says:

      I agree with everything you’ve said except:

      “Ms Sturgeon has offered an olive branch to the progressives in Labour, the Greens and Plaid in today’s London speech”.

      Asking for more money for social programmes and ‘infrastructure’ (I’m not entirely clear what she meant), whether it’s to be shared across the UK or not, when you already have your own devolved administration (which is about to get more devolved / transferred powers) is not an olive branch.

  29. johnny come lately says:

    I really do get tired of hearing expressions like “us on the yes side and them on the no side”. It just proves that divide and rule is effective. Yes didn’t lose the referendum. Scotland lost the referendum, all of us yes and no. All of us were the losers.
    We, who want meaningful political change (and that includes many who didn’t vote or voted no), really do need to develop a new language when discussing politics so that our conversations, opinions and discussions do not repel others. We must remember that all exchanges must begin and continue on the basis that we all are Scots with an opinion instead of a’ them and us’ mentality.
    As for Millebands weasel words. Labour like the Tories and the Libdems are toxic and all three parties are acute symptoms of everything which ails these islands. However I do think that the SNP should be open to a national convention on home rule alongside a true Scottish Labour party. I feel that if a new truly Scottish Labour was formed then the other unionist parties would follow.

    1. Corporatist Hell says:

      “really do need to develop a new language when discussing politics so that our conversations, opinions and discussions do not repel others”

      Yes, dropping ‘traitors’, ‘cowards’, ‘weaklings’, ‘quislings’ etc. would be a terrific start.

      I mean, my own brother (who will tell anyone who cares to listen how clever he is and how many pieces of paper with a qualification and his name on he has) on the day after the referendum joined ‘the 45%’ and proclaimed himself and his fellow 45ers ‘proud Scots’ (i.e. the 55% are shameful, and should be ashamed).

      He’s a f*cking secondary school teacher.

      1. John Page says:

        I am sure that now that you have had time for reflection this morning, your above post will be a source of regret.
        I don’t share your views, find your intemperate contributions to be rather mean spirited but must express concern that your pattern of behaviour indicates real personal unhappiness.
        You might be right about absolutely everything you post on here but you really should give it a rest and reflect on what is making you so unhappy.
        Are your posts really about politics in Scotland and the UK or are they about your brother who won’t communicate with you……
        Look after yourself

      2. Corporatist Hell says:

        I’ve reflected and I don’t regret it. I regret once losing my mind and moving to Birmingham for a year, but I don’t regret stuff like this.

        My brother was down the other week actually to see my little boy, and he was fine. He even admitted that he was milkly amused at my proposal that all 55 or whatever SNP MPs should be required to wear tartan bunnets with red pom poms on at all times in the House. Then he made me listen to new music by the Prodigy, which was terrible.

        So we’ve done better than the 250,000 people in Scotland that Survation estimate have ‘permanently’ fallen out over the referendum – that’s 5%, or one in twenty, of the adult (over 16) population.

        What a positive, engaging, energising process its been.

        Apparently about a quarter ‘never’ want to go through the referendum process again.

        Who’s fault is all this? Oh yes, of course, “Westminster”.

        Thanks for your concern though, I’m touched, and you’re a reassuring exception to my experience of finding those on the hard left the most bitter, uncharitable, mean spirited types around.

      3. John Page says:

        I have not the slightest idea what your remarks about the hard left are about.
        But to have reflected on the disparaging comments you made about your brother and then to have made the “clever” points about the nature of the IndyRef process and the Survation Poll suggests that you really would benefit from giving this a rest……..

  30. Peter Arnott says:

    If we present ourselves and our argument for the future openly and without preconditions, we’re stronger going in, we’re less easy to dismiss, and in a stronger position if we are dismissed. Remember that in the UK context we have a long way to go even to get the basic information of who we are and what we want through the distortion and indifference of the media. We need to be confident enough to be open, relaxed and positive. The article is an experiment in that kind of thinking. It is possible top be positive because we are winning.

  31. Miliband had to make this no coalition statement. SNP have played this strategically, as is their style. There was only one or two comments by Sturgeon of working in C & S with Labour a good few weeks ago, when the polls started looking good for SNP.

    What followed was a ramping up by MSM, and the Tories to use this as a stick. I watched Grant Shapps on Neil’s programme screeching ‘Salmond in the cabinet’ last week, and even Neil chuckled, and said SNP would never sit in a UK govt. And they wouldn’t, no matter how difficult it is for people to believe that some politicians have principles.

    Now it is very clear that if Miliband gets the chance, and won’t work with SNP, they will finally put the last nail into their coffin, and allow their tribal hatred to overrun any principles they have left.

    Murphy was on Sky this afternoon, looking robotic and beaten, parroting, vote SNP, get Tory, so if you think anything has changed, you need to visit Wings more often.

    SLab are not fit for purpose, even their own group said the IQ of their WM MP group would increase dramatically if Curran lost her seat. They have taken their position in Scotland for granted for generations, and have become bloated, lazy, lacking in intellect and any semblance of competence. Their performance during the referendum will not, if ever be forgotten, but they are arrogant enough to think we should.

    They would be bloody lucky to even have the SNP giving them any support.

  32. emilytom67 says:

    We have to take into consideration all Scots and all of their aspirations “united we stand and progress”.There is a solid bedrock of Unionists they have been there from before the reformation,it will be extremely difficult to get around/over these.We have to come up with a vision of a Scotland that is pragmatic/forward looking,there has to be away of lightening the burden on all of our society no able bodied person should escape contributing to the commonweal,the utilities have to be taken into public ownership whereby business can benefit through a reduction in overheads,this I believe could help them employ more people.The cost of housing could/should be reduced as should transport.We have to try to “break the mould” and make it a more equtable society for all.

    1. Corporatist Hell says:

      “the utilities have to be taken into public ownership”

      Why? The UK still has some of the lowest energy prices in Europe (though its the sharp increases over the past few years that have caught people out).

      There is also greater clarity in billing, and an effective online switching mechanism. Not a perfect market, not as well functioning as say broadband or mobile phones, but not too bad.

      Imagine what would happen if energy were nationalised (and overheads – and other costs increased substantially)

      What are your plans for ‘reducing the cost of housing’ and ‘reducing the cost of transport’, by the way?

  33. Telling people to “grow up”, because you disagree with them, is itself infantile. It’s the teacher’s pet’s equivalent of “nur nur nee nur nur” or “yah boo sucks”.

    And arguments based on the idea of ‘sophistication’ – much the same thing, btw – are actually likely to be weaker than essentially simple ideas. Both in logical principle (Ockham’s Razor) and in everyday discussion. This becomes clear in this article when the clumsy and meaningless ‘nested autonomy’ is recommended as an aim.

    Yep, that’s gonna go down just great on the doorstep:

    “Hi, do you have six hours to spare? We’re seeking your vote for nested autonomy for the people of Scotland and some of their progressive neighbours, and we’d love to explain what it is…”

    Talking of things that might just take six hours… my last blog post dealt (at vastly excessive length, and featuring some very unsophisticated swearing) with these things as they relate to current Scottish politics. In particular, I noted that it would be unfortunate if the Scots followed Gerry Hassan’s suggestion of coming up with a different word in place of independence, and explained why:

  34. MBC says:

    I wasn’t clear as to what you were actually proposing here.

    We lost the referendum, but not by a long shot. But more importantly, we won the argument. No tipped 55% for pragmatic reasons; the unionist side made it perfectly clear that they would be as obstructive as possible over the currency issue. We Yessers thought it was bluff, and figured they would have to yield to common sense; a large part of the No vote was that these voters either believed Project Fear or weren’t willing to take that risk. But enthusiasm for the Union there was not, on either the Yes or the No side. A small cohort possibly were in favour. The rest of the Noes were just not ready. It was too much of a risk. Better the devil you know.

    But the real reason that the union cannot work on a more co-operative basis is simply the logistics of the arithmetic. We are 8.3% of the population of the UK, and 11% of the wealth. We are practically invisible. As a nation we can claim to be legally equal, to have equal legitimacy with England. But as population share within the UK we can’t hope to have any real equality or influence – it would be as undemocratic for a minority to dictate to a majority as the other way around.

    So any continued co-operation is just going to continue the old patterns. The only way for us both to have democracy is separately.

    I would be open to us continuing in a defence and security union though, as long as Trident was removed from our waters and we had control of everything else. But that’s a personal view. However a large number of Scots want rid of Trident altogether, and not just to England. They would not want to be part of a nuclear armed state.

    1. Peter Arnott says:

      I think you’re right. I wrote the piece because it seems to me that if the penny is finally dropping with the Establishment that the status quo in untenable…and their reaction is to have the screaming abdabs in print, then it smiling in sweet reason seemed to me the best way to respond. If we take a serious look at what kind of Union might be sustainable in our changed circumstances, this is not because I think such a thing is desirable in itself, but because to make the case for “independence” requires eliminating a properly, positively thought through alternative first. The fact that no one is doing that from the NO side (yet) meant I felt it was up to me to make a first stumbling stab at it. We live in a small country where opinion is divided down the middle next door to a big country where the penny is only just dropping that there is some serious stuff to think about I am dead certain that the way forward has to include creating a consensus about the future with both. I don’t think the Unionists help by shouts and threats. I really don’t thin k it helps to shout and threaten back.

      1. Corporatist Hell says:

        “We live next door … to a big country where the penny is only just dropping that there is some serious stuff to think about”.

        Definitely. Awareness that we are the most centralised state in Europe, and that maybe this is neither the best nor a sustainable way forward, beyond those who are already interested in in this kind of thinking, is starting to rise.

        Whether by design, belief or just necessity, the Conservative Party are at least giving a nod of recognition to this in the very small baby steps towards devolution in Greater Manchester.

        The Labour Party, by contrast, remain stubbornly and resolutely fixated with command and control from the centre.

        Re. devolution within England, Ed Balls has said ‘ok, maybe, but we’ll got at the pace of the slowest’. Which is no good to anyone, and certainly no good to me in Manchester.

        I do not want a Labour government come May. As things stand they are part of the problem, not the solution (and civic leaders in Greater Manchester increasingly see Labour (as in the Labour Party) as part of the problem.

        I am not a tribalist though, and I could vote Labour again – if they become part of the solution.

        Is there any consensus about the way forward or where there is common ground between places (alongside the inevitable competition)

        Glasgow has now joined the Core Cities group, i guess.

      2. MBC says:

        I did watch a video clip from Financial Times in which a Unionist did attempt to work this out. His solution was that we in Scotland would get FFA, the House of Lords would become an elected chamber, a kind of Senate representing all UK, and the House of Commons would become the English Parliament.


    2. douglas clark says:

      We, very probably, lost the referendum on the basis of a unit of currency. We are said to be thrawn and difficult bastards who scoff in the face of reason. When Nobel Laureate economists say one thing, we go ‘Aye right’ with the outcome that the pound, something I couldn’t care less about, becomes a ‘hostage to fortune’ issue for a lot of our compatriots. Reasoned discussion, as you would expect from Nobel Laureate Economists is gainsaid, it is a battleground and not subject to reason. So, we are told, stuff your Laureate, stuff your years of research and knowledge, we the UK government will indeed cut off our noses to spite your face, that is the power that we have, so, see you Scotland?

      We were not to be allowed to retain a unit of currency say the politicians. This is unfortunate for the aforementioned economists, who offered advice, in good faith, but it is par for the course with an elite under threat.

      I was in Ireland a while ago and the Euro seemed to allow economic transactions, like buying a pint of Guiness or their very poor offerings of pub food. It did not appear to be a ‘make or break’ issue for the Irish, but it was built up to be that issue for us.


      We, for some unfathomable reason, and I include the SNP in this, saw it as essential that we secured it.. Why was that allowed to happen? In past years I have exchanged lots of currencies to enable transactions in foreign lands. It is not something I get emotional about. I do not cry as I exchange a pound for some drachma, or more recently Euros, What is this strange attractor – the pound – other than another example of our imperial masters mind set?

      Next time around we should say from the beginning, that we will have our own currency, no ifs, no buts. Equally, I have no issue with us joining the Euro.It is just a bit of paper or metal that allows us to exchange goods and services. Frankly, I couldn’t care less whether the queen is on it or not.

      This is all heresy for a UK is a bright beacon for the world / we are all better together in the pre-defined accounting unit point of view.

      UKOK NO. .

      1. Mr T says:

        IMHO the currency issue was simply the most visible sign that the Yes movement could not articulate a) how the transition process would work (as an example HMRC have spent £10bn / 10 yrs on the Aspire upgrade to the tax system. Yes couldn’t give any plans for how long /how much our own tax system would take), and b) the answers to the ‘big risk’ questions such as the future for financial services, the Euro and indeed the currency question – and it’s not ‘what currency would we use’ but ‘why would that currency model be suitable for a 1st world economy with a joined at the hip trading relationship with our neighbour’.

        I’ve no doubt that many here will disagree, but remember that the Edinburgh No majority won the referendum on its own. Stop concentrating on how green the grass is on the other side of the fence and concentrate instead on how we get to the other side without shredding our trousers and you’ll gain support.

      2. Economaster says:

        About fifteen years ago I made the huge mistake of writing a dissertation on Optimum Currency Area for my degree, and became far too intimate with Robert Mundell, the gold Standard, floating currencies, supply side econ, growth and stability pacts and demise of Bretton Woods/ Federal reserve imprudence, stagflation, capital flows and on and on….

        I remember the period as extremely traumatic and have subsequently made efforts (including professional help) to come to terms and live with the jarring memory, and attempt to forget everything I learnt (I now work as bar manager) – those dreadful, tedious, sweaty hours spent in the library at George square while from my fourth floor vantage point I could gaze wistfully out at the carefree, nubile first and second year women’s inter mural (ultimate frizzby!!!) teams frolicking in skimpy shorts and tight hockey tops, in late spring and early summer sunshine below on the meadows…..ahhhhh to be young was very heaven!

        And I was doing well, had been of the OCA for at least a decade! until the blasted Referendum!!

        Even at effing bus stops people were spouting forth their opinions on the importance of currency, natural trading partners, exchange rates, synchronized business cycles, tax uniformity, divergence between monetary and fiscal policy….bastards!

        And most of the time they spoke utter, utter bollocks! In frustration I lapsed, fell head long into the spiral of decline trying to come to a decision over the possible options for an independent Scotland – the would they or wouldn’t they let us keep it?

        I came to no conclusion and now live in a skip, sleeping under a discarded Yes saltire and on a No cardboard palcard for the chill.

        Bloody referendum!

  35. Robert Graham says:

    A trapped rat is the most dangerous sort and this Rat / Snake that is the Labour party needs to be kept at arms length ! i agree with your comments on the referendum it came to soon maybe 5-10 years to early we really were not ready and allowed things like the currency to be used to beat us about the head .this UK establishment have not not been around for so many years without learning a few things we underestimated the force we were trying to overturn maybe next time we will be wiser and if we need to sup with the devil spoons and very long ones come to mind ,slowly slowly sometimes works

  36. Wull says:

    All we wanted was autonomy, was it?
    And what exactly does that mean?
    What kind of ‘autonomy’ are you talking about?

    How do you get an ‘autonomous’ foreign policy without first becoming an independent country?

    There were many sound arguments for independence. For some of us, the most compelling was to prevent Scotland from ever again being complicit in the UK’s illegal wars. This included preventing potential future war crimes by getting rid of the nuclear weapons we have for so long hosted and harboured on our soil. And for what? So that successive UK governments can continue in their illusion of being a ‘great power’, and keep ‘punching above their weight’. Why should they – sorry, we (because ‘we’ are in there too, fully part of the UK!) – be ‘punching’ anyone? And it’s no good kidding ourselves on that the tens of thousands of civilians killed in Iraq, and so many others elsewhere, are ‘Tony Blair’s fault’ and not ours. As if we can wash our hands of it: we were in there too; it was done in our name as well.

    And if we want to carry on being members of a cowboy state that behaves in that way, irrespective of international law (and oblivious to common sense / common humanity / common decency), then we have to take responsibility for our own craven decision. Even as we sit a few years later in our snug little comfort zone. Having failed to take the chance to break up that failed and belligerent state which we apparently benefit from and enjoy being part of, the UK.

    If Scotland only achieves ‘autonomy within the UK’, which is what this article seems to be promoting, it will mean that Scotland has no ambition to have any real say in such issues. It means we abdicate all responsibility for them, when in fact we could have a real influence, if we could be bothered to get passionate about it and get off our backsides. By accident of geography, this little country of ours just happens to be strategically very important.
    But if our ambition goes no further than ‘autonomy within the UK’, well … At 10% of the population, with an equivalently feeble representation at Westminster, we will just let the rest of the UK and their two main parties decide these things for themselves, and for us.
    As if we don’t exist – which, in fact, we won’t!
    Instead, meanwhile, we’ll just take the extra cash that we imagine ‘(full fiscal) autonomy within the UK’ will give us, and be cosily happy.

    So let’s just sit back, and munch our increased portion of crisps – the great fruits of our full fiscal autonomy? – and watch more and more sport on our bigger, better and increasingly sophisticated television sets. Portrait of a Scot as a dumbed-down couch potato! We will have everything we want in our ‘little Scotlander world’: Enjoy! And let the big boys, and the big parties down there in the BIGUK get on with the ‘real world’. After all, that’s no concern of ours. BIGUK (and its friends) can bash up whatever it wants: we’ll just watch it on the telly, wash our hands of it, and pretend ‘it wisnae me!’

    Because all we wanted really, according to this article in Bella, was ‘autonomy’: that is, ‘autonomy without responsibility’ Truly, ‘the best of both worlds’!
    Who elsewhere on earth would ever dream of such a thing? Who deser ves it? Who strives for it? Who thinks of it as an ‘ideal’? Only the complacent and the self-centred, surely.
    Or, to put it another way, the permanently adolescent.

    Scotland has lived in this state of permanent irresponsibility for too long – the independence movement was and is a most welcome sign, at long last, of a hunger and thirst to get beyond that stage. Growing up is such a good thing to do.

    The one argument that was given far too much prominence during the referendum campaign was this: ‘we will all be 500 GBP better off if we become independent’. Not just because it was fatuous and dubious, and quite possibly untrue (who knows?), but because it was not worthy of anyone’s vote. It was not a moral argument of any kind; it was even the very opposite of such a thing. And counter-productive, for it provided no basis for anything.
    If independence had been won on such a shaky premise, it would have disappeared again just as quickly. Washed away in the flood when the going got tough, as it inevitably would at some stage …. only to find that there’s no one tough enough to keep going. Independence can’t be built only on a desire for gain; there also has to be a readiness for sacrifice where, or whenever, it might be required. No point in building a house (never mind a whole country) on sand!

    In fact, anyone who wants independence just for a measly 500 extra pounds in his pocket is showing that he doesn’t know what freedom is, and doesn’t want independence anyway.

    I am not saying that money does not matter, and for the poorer sections of the community it matters hugely, something that should be concern to all of us, whatever our circumstances. A fairer redistribution of some kind is badly needed, a top priority. But to say that the only thing the Yessers really wanted was Full Fiscal Autonomy, so as to become a bit better off, is to belittle them. It is also to misunderstand what the whole campaign came to be about, and what it galvanised in people. Finances matter, but it wasn’t just a financial thing: it went far beyond that.

    The article above is the most disappointing I have ever read on Bella. I can recognise that it takes some courage to say some of these things on such a site, but that doesn’t give them any extra value. What is ill-conceived remains ill-conceived; what is likely to cause confusion does not magically become illuminating because it can claim to be ‘courageous. And even if here and there it does contain some occasional better ideas, which could eventually be salvaged from the wreckage, this does not make the ship seaworthy.
    It simply won’t sail.
    The timing also strikes me as unbelievably naive. Labour is maneouvering might and mane (and using any lie that will do) for its lost voters, which it wants at all costs to win back from the SNP. This article plays into their strategy, hook, line and sinker. It even presumes that because they have stayed silent about something they have actually said what the author of the article wants them to say. Please note: they said, precisely, NOTHING. NOTHING at all. That does not amount to ‘something’: it means exactly what it says: they said ‘nothing’. Nothing in the least bit even similar to the words and attitudes that the article puts into the empty mouths of Millie-and-Murph on show at their stage-managed Conference. These ‘I’m-not saying-nothing’ mouths …

    Just because Kezia Douglas opposes the racist bigotry of someone from UKIP – who wouldn’t? – does NOT mean that she and her Labour chums have suddenly become good, reliable friends and companion of the SNP. They want to get hold of the SNP’s votes. That’s all.
    This kind of article could be taken to suggest there might be no harm in letting them have their way. As if a vote for a Labour candidate might be just as good as a vote for an SNP one. No harm at all – except Scotland will then have no voice in the UK, be sure of it.

    If you still need to be convinced, just look at the latest video electioneering outpourings from Jim Murphy. There has been no ‘sudden conversion’. Murphy will say anything to prevent the impending Labour meltdown in Scotland, and save his own skin.

    Miliband, by contrast, will work with the SNP if he has to, to gain power. He’d rather not but, in the end, he might even find it congenial. More pleasant by far, I would imagine, than working with the likes of Murphy – who, I am given to understand, is not exactly his closest buddy …
    Shedding his Scottish backbenchers might not be such a disaster after all. Having to work with the SNP will give him an excuse to avoid certain policies he is not genuinely convinced of. It could even be a liberation for the poor man!
    But if the two of them were silent at their conference, leaving the traditional knockabout Nat-bashing to others of the more neanderthal dunderheid variety, you may be sure that this was only a tactic. In terms of substance, it was fundamentally meaningless.
    Bella should know this …

      1. douglas clark says:

        But you have, what we used to say, “above the line” posting rights. For some unobvious reason that makes you more important than below the line commentators. It is always thus Peter.

        Perhaps it is the nature of on-line commentary.

        I have always felt a tad weaker in responding to even a poor piece that was atl (above the line) than a fellow commentator btl (below the line).

        Frankly, I think your ‘piece’ was poorly thought out and a frank denial of where we are at. But there you go, You are above the line and I am below. Same as it ever was.

  37. What’s ah the fuss about if Scotland is a liability to UK gov get rid.if they dinnae want to get rid.l pose the question why.simple

  38. arthur thomson says:

    I on the Yes side constantly challenge myself – as I am sure many others do. In particular I challenge myself not to fall into the trap of ever imagining that abusive people can’t smile and say ‘nice things’ – it is just how they con people. The abuse of power has become the definitive characteristic of British politics. I on the Yes side am not assuming that there is going to be a rout of SLAB at the GE. I hope there is but I won’t be surprised if there isn’t. We must be resolute, pragmatic and most importantly lethal, in dealing with whatever transpires. The only thing that abusers understand …

  39. Ken waldron. says:

    A bit of silence from those Labourites most at risk from a Jockophobia blowback: Murphy & co, and we are to read that as maturity and respond appropriately? Deary me…
    What will be (if they get there)…Labour’s strategy be on rewarding confidence & supply as a minority government?

    “…The Herald understands that Labour MPs have been briefed that their party would also reject an informal arrangement. MPs have been told that Labour would not offer the SNP policy concessions as part of a so-called “confidence and supply” deal. Instead, Labour will seek to secure SNP votes by accusing the party of backing the Tories if it votes against a Labour minority government.”

    So if true essentially a repeating loop of the 79 mantra. If that’s the gamble the SNP better be ready to play hardball from day one: its party suicide to get caught in ritual humiliation with no payoff and after the debacle of the Smith commission I can’t see Labour offering any more than slops.

    1. douglas clark says:

      Well, firstly they have to be in a position to dictate, they love that. It is a denial of reality, but there you go.

      Murphy is at his best when he is ‘telling’ us something self evident to his good self and passing it down from the Mount. It matters not about the truthiness of the flavoursome sweetie, all that matters is the sincerity, perceived by oor Jim of the voters gullibility, something that has served them well for 50 years or so.

      It does not work anymore, and in his darker moments he knows it.

      The real politic is a tad different. If they do not play ball the confidence and supply which would apparently be a secret deal, falls apart and the opposite occurs. Thus another election.

      I suppose most folk want stability before revolution, hence the pathetic result last year, but I would assume that the blame for any collapse in any government would be blamed 100% on the SNP, whether they were new born innocents or not. It is the Westminster game to ascribe evil to any opponent they might have.

      They have played their pathetic games for centuries, they are quite good at it. It is a pathetic skill set, equivalent to trickle down economics in it’s vapidity.

  40. douglas clark says:

    So if true essentially a repeating loop of the 79 mantra. If that’s the gamble the SNP better be ready to play hardball from day one: its party suicide to get caught in ritual humiliation with no payoff and after the debacle of the Smith commission I can’t see Labour offering any more than slops.


    Another election in a few months time? Or just the threat of it? Labour are weak minded and will, probably, have lost their Scottish base. They may be willing to compromise on the minor, to them, issue of FFS, but not, I suspect on Trident. Whether the SNP play hardball on Trident or not will be my measure of whether we are seeing a ‘new politics’ or not. I am of a geneation that wanted Polaris out of the Clyde.

    The SNP better come out of this squeeky clean, for that would give them the narrative of “we tried to play their game, and look what happened”. Playing along with crooks and criminals, that would be the Conservative Party, has not served the Liberals at all well. Playing along with Labour could destroy the SNP if they are not, very, very careful.

  41. douglas clark says:


  42. david agnew says:

    I think the real questions, that no one seems prepared to discuss is how, having narrowly kept Scotland in the Union, did the Westminster consensus botch it so badly? No one is asking why labour is set to be the biggest loser in Scotland. No one is asking why pragmatic unionism has failed.

    There seems to be a couple of posters who are quite chirpy at the prospect of the tories being in charge for another 5 or 10 years, and seemingly quite pleased at the prospect of the SNP being effectively frozen out. How the union can continue in that state of affairs is going to be on everyones mind come May 8th.
    You know, its ok to be a “unionist” and be appalled at what’s happening without thinking you are giving succour to those who believe in independence. And asking those who voted yes to forget it, need to forget it. Thats not going to happen – its not how democracy works. We wouldn’t have political parties if everyone packed up their bags after a defeat.

    The response of “just vote labour like we used to” or make a huge about face and start voting tory – simply isn’t going to happen. The tories lost the trust of the Scottish electorate long before 1997 and have done nothing to win it back. And Scottish labour has done a fuckton of damage to UK labours credibility while losing the trust of a majority of its core vote. You are asking a lot of people to choke down on a lot vomit to consider supporting the likes of Murphy or Ruth Davidson, just so we can be accepted again and not monstered as an existential threat to the very fabric of the UK.

    The image I have of the recent crop of unionist supporters here, is that of someone happily cutting a branch a yes voter is sitting on, oblivious to the fact they are sitting on it also. If Westminster tries to lock out the SNP and ignore Scotland. We are all going to suffer for it. Yes and No alike. That is nothing to gloat about or be happy clappy about.

  43. Dr Ew says:

    Back in early 2013 I attended a family function and ended up in a long, exhausting face-to-face discussion with a senior Labour figure of our acquaintance. Hadn’t seen him in years and though not a bad person, it was clear many years of Labour politics had armoured him with a deeply cynical and condescending line of argument. As a former Labour member (now a Green) he was prepared to indulge me a bit and a few drinks loosened his guard just enough. The focus of our debate was that I couldn’t believe they were not going to put up an amendment to the Referendum Bill creating a third option: Devo Max. They could have defined it, made it progressive, made it “The Labour Option”, and coasted all the way to victory and a massive resurgence of the party in Scotland. No, no, no, he said – this’ll kill the Nats, once and for all. They’ll have shot their bolt, he said, for confronted with the reality of independence they’ll be lucky to get 25%. Giving the Devo Max just gives them something to work with and we’re not in the business of doing that. But isn’t Devo Max what the majority of people want? I asked. Don’t be naive, said he – most folk don’t have a clue what they want.

    I read your article with interest, Peter, but one phrase kept coming back to me: The only thing Power respects is Power. 40-odd SNP MPs might be a big step in the right direction but it’s nowhere near enough to bring true concessions from the Establishment. I no longer want to be part of the corrupt, rotting carcass that is the British State, and independence has to be the clear objective. Without it we and our new SNP tribunes will go the way of the socialists in the Labour Party – compromised and cosseted until it is subsumed into the irredeemably corrupt corridors of Power.

    For at least three decades every action of Scottish Labour has been to some degree calculated to “end” the SNP. Like Wily E. Coyote chasing Roadrunner their elaborate traps have smacked them on the face, pushed them off cliffs and snared them, even if it took several years for many of the traps to spring. Now they face being crushed by Acme’s 16-ton weight in the shape of the post-Yes independence movement morphing into an unstoppable SNP vote. This time Wily E. may not rise from the the dead, but it’s up to us to make sure the SNP don’t become kilted Coyotes. Your counsel would, I fear, take us straight to the Acme shop.

  44. douglas clark says:

    Och,I’ve commented too much on this thead.

    I should have just done this:

    Is Sanity About to Break Out?


    1. Peter Arnott says:

      You are more than probably right…

      1. Economaster says:

        Cheer Peter for being reasonable and making a very well considered post!

        I voted No eventually (cos of the blasted OCA and very real danger of monetary/ fiscal policy divergence and other dodgy econ stuff in a very small country next to a much much larger one upin who we would be beholden) and a because of a fundamental truth that seems to be glossed over in the narrow binary polemics of the debate. Who cares about Labour, SNP, Cons, Lib Dems, Greens etc…

        There is no real independence any more as far as the nation state is concerned. Even the civilization states like the US and China and India are not independent. They can only act on policy in so far as the other acts. We are bound to one another like never before. This isn’t to say the nation state is obsolete – far from it, but simply to recognize its limitations and the changing nature of power and who actually forms policy. Most governments are technocratic in nature, they manage the global system the best they can for their citizens (well sometimes- in the bankers case it was for themselves…but lets remember they were bankers in New York, Hong Kong, the Bourse, Switzerland, Shanghai, Moscow etc..all doing the same thing). This is the inescapable bigger picture that seems to get dismissed in the debate. In truth all independence would have done (with Scotland being entwined with the UK – 70 % trade, integrated markets for nearly all old and especially nascent new industries such as renewables or the new tech of the Oil and Gas, marine engineering supply chains..biotech also…) is shift the pretense of power north of the border. Financial markets would still dictate capital investment, cheap wage labour elsewhere would still make industrial policy for low end manufacturing impossible…shifting global capital would dictate welfare policy and public spending as it would hold govts to ransom on corp tax, the tax havens for business would still be open (you can register a tax free company in Delaware with less ID than it takes to open a library account!) the rUk tax system – due to asymetry would dictate Scotland’s smaller tax system etc.

        An Irish mate of mine shrugged when asked about it all…and pointed out that Ireland has never really been independent. Since the good Friday agreement, the Irish have had defacto dual citizenship with the UK and most wouldn’t change it for the world, due to the benefits. In fact most bankruptcies after the Irish collapse moved to England as there passport allowed them (as with only UK citizens) to declare then wait a few years then write it all off. The Irish govt can do nothing about it!

        So the iniquities of Westminster are not uniquely British but universal and apply to nearly every government on the planet (except North Korea maybe but even then…) It is the global system and interconnection that created the iniquities at Westminster, not some inherent failure of domestic systemics. (give it time and Holyrood, if independent would be exactly the same)…In China, the debate is the same as here, at the core of government (I worked out there for a while) there is a battle between those who want greater liberalization of the econ and those who want greater internal control of the global and redistribution (Xi ji Ping is the latter, as was Bo Xi Li – but he’s in prison now).

        Despite the rhetoric, there was nothing apparent to me to suggest a different power structure in an independent Scotland what so ever. Just parochial differences.

        So Peter is right. The real debate has to be beyond Yes or No now, it has to be beyond Westminster or Holyrood and more about ‘nested autonomy’… do ‘we’ ‘the people’ regain control over our lives. And to rise to this challenge ‘we’ must shed old dogmatic allegiances to identity politics and rise to complexity away from binary solutions… multi level government in which both the local and the transnational can be empowered etc…for me this requires opening our minds to all the potential models on offer….especially constructs of federalism/ con federalism… as this will be much more efficacious in generating wealth, security, society and constructive cooperative progress. Scotland’s wealth is intractably linked to both England as an entity but also a shift in power north away from England/ London, (in fact not just to Edinburgh, but to the North of England.) This is where the future lies…and it’s begun with core city regions/ constitutional convention….the penny really has dropped.

        It’s simple Scotland relies on England. We have to find away to live with them while also wrestling power away. We cannot run and hide in the mid Atlantic but must offer solutions that empower everyone. The best way for Scotland to win, is to empower Yorkshire/ Lancashire/ West Country, All these regions could easily also be countries. History has nothing to do with it (American, Australia, New Zealand…etc) They all have GDP’s the same as Scotland, and populations the same.

        It’s may seem vexed but empering England is the way to further empower Scotland.

        Off soapbox….!

        Cue natty nae sayers….

      2. david agnew says:


        No nation state is truly independent? Economically? that’s possibly true up to a point. But not being Politically, culturally sovereign over their own affairs? Not sure if that is something I can agree on. History flatly contradicts it as well. Your argument is too vague and has a worldview that is way too simplistic, when in truth it’s 1001 shades of grey, complicated, messy and with maps drawn and redrawn with lots of borders.

        your post reads like a request to forget the notions of nation and national identity and embrace a British identity, which is curiously free of any national baggage. Its an argument I have read before and don’t believe for one minute. Of course you don’t address the issue of what happens when the pragmatic politics that have enabled the union fail and the parties that represent it lose popularity. What party are we supposed to vote for now? If the not the SNP then who. Which party embraces your ideas?

        You argue rhat we should abandon identity politics? And embrace what exactly? The power resides with Westminster, like it or not. The majority of those MPs represent the various regions of England. They are already empowered. In fact when asked if they wanted regional assemblies or town mayors – the north of England said no thanks. Who then is Scotland going to empower and how can it do so, if it abandons its identity to be a nondescript, non-national region? I mean that’s what it seems you are asking people to seriously consider here.

        How do we “wrest power” from the centre if the very idea of Scotland voting for a Scottish party that does not answer to an English party whip, is giving the likes of Cameron a dose of montezumas revenge? One reason it won’t work is that what you are arguing for, is for Scotland to become a region, Scottish in name only trying to empower the north of England, despite the fact that we have no powers to do so. This is done in the hope that we could then get the powers that ironically would be needed for the first part of your plan to work.

        Another reason your plan won’t work is that the English do not have any problems being English. In fact they consider “British” and “English” to be interchangeable and the same. Remember that westminster argued that Scotland had been extinguished as a nation while England remained. This is not the argument of a system that is uncomfortable with its identity. For your plan to work, you’d have to get the English to agree to being extinguished as well. The act of union may have stated its intent for that to happen. But clearly no one ever bothered to do it.

        Lastly – what you are in fact arguing for is balkanisation of the UK. Read your history, that never ends well.

        yours sincerely

        Natty Naysayer

      3. Chin Scratcher says:

        The economaster has a point as did Jim Sillars. There is no real independence with monetary union. The levers required to mitigate externals shocks, spread the wealth, generate wealth are dependent on monetary policy (money supply, interest rates, currency value, price stability etc) being convergent with fiscal policy (tax, public expenditure, wage levels and investment.) If the two diverge then everything goes tits up, especially with an asymmetric relationship e.g) rUK being so much larger than Scotland – just like Germany and Greece. The Scottish economy, would find itself in a situation like Greece where when it need public investment and a lowering of interest rates to boost the econ in times of recession or at a different point in the econ/ business cycle, they would only be able to do the one thing while rUK did the other for their interests. So you’d end up with massive public debt and investment drying up and high unemployment and greater econ contraction. This is why central to EMU/ euro/ Mastrict was the growth and stability pact – 3% of GDP cap on the national deficit.(that no one really paid attention to – except the Irish) Scotland would have to impose ‘strict fiscal prudence’ upon itself to keep business north of the border in line with what was going on to the South and to boost growth would then have to rely on other means. e’g) the Irish model of low corp tax offset by a private credit binge….and eventually collapse. This is why the SNP policy is not (as many believe) anti austerity but with the parameters of that proposed by Labour and Cons. It’s a cigarette paper between them all TBH. Sturgeon actual suggestion is 0.5% increase in public spending (peanuts!). It is more about politics than economics. More about being seen to be remaining to the left of the others…it is not Keynes!

        The best way to defeat austerity is to decentralize within the structures of the UK – to form some kind of mutually beneficial federal system where all constituent areas of the sterling currency zone have equal weight. Independence (even though in the heat of the moment I voted Yes) is no answer to Scotland’s problems…neither is FFA without changes to the overall power and political structure across the UK…power needs to be diffused in England also. Then each area can pursue more independent policies in real terms. Rather than symbolic.

      4. Corporatist Hell says:

        @ Economaster and Chin Scratcher.

        My GOD. Not one but two people with the absence of isolationist delusion and globalisation denial at once.

        Are they like buses? Can there be a third? There are more like you up there?

        Spot on about cigarette papers. I saw a great graph (sorry, don’t have a link online) in a presentation by Nick Harries from Reform plotting departmental spending limits as a share of national income under policies of the time / government from ’99, highlighting ’10 – ’15, then showing what The Conservatives have done Vs what Labour ‘said they would have done’ if elected in 2010. They are almost exactly the same.

        An independent Scotland would have had a longer, harder slog than the UK as a whole still faces.

        I don’t think either an Independent Scotland or rUK would have ended up like Greece though. (Thankfully) the situation in Greece, and the problems they have to deal with, are nothing like the UK.

        And now Nicola is demanding ‘an end to austerity’ i.e. a bit of money to be thrown around, so it looks like she’s riding in on a white charger as the saviour of the disenfranchised the champion of ‘ordinary people’. Pointless, meaningless populist posturing.

        And people living in England are waking up to the possibility of a Populist, slightly authoritarian Leftist coalition of Labour, SNP, Plaid, Green, and whoever else they can scrabble together.

        Not going to happen. People in England are waking up to what’s going on, including in those key marginals.

        Next UK Government will be a coalition of the Conservatives, Lib Dems and DUP.

        @ Chin Scratcher – what influenced you to vote Yes in the heat of the moment? Just something deep down inside?

  45. P!k2 says:

    Strange definition of “sanity”! The place for such talk is after May 8th, when Labour – far from a “progressive force” – have been suitably chastened.

  46. Iain More says:

    The idea that Labour will be any position to form any kind of Government after May GE is laughable. I do love the way Cameron is playing to the xenophobic Mwiddle and Working Cwasses of Englanshire though by suggesting every chance he gets that there could be a coalition between the Labour Party and the SNP. Meanwhile I will be reaching for the off button on the remote.

    I honestly think that constitutional conventions have had their day. How can the SNP, Scottish Greens and Scottish Socialists sit round any table with individuals who are fast becoming anti Scottish bigots and neo fascists, if indeed they aren’t already there in that land, it isn’t going to happen.

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.