2007 - 2022

A Sense of Belonging


Image by Stewart Bremner


By Mike Small

This morning Scotland is a pariah state, disenfranchised, with a proscribed party on the verge of a landslide victory. You think the union survives that?

Ed Miliband last night effectively cut Jim Murphy loose by declaring he’d rather see a Tory government in power than accept the support of a party he shares much in common with.

By saying: “If the price of having a Labour government is a coalition or a deal with the SNP then it is not going to happen” he may be playing hard-ball to appease swithering southern voters, but he’s given the death-knell to Scottish Labour, probably after ruthlessly assessing they were near-death anyway.

He’s also colluded in sending out a signal to Scotland. It’s received loud and clear.

The problem is that the democratic ‘crisis’ we’ve been hearing shrill hysterical whining about for the last few weeks isn’t the real crisis we are faced with. England has no democratic crisis, being able to ALWAYS elect the government it wants.

The real democratic crisis we are facing is: what happens if the polls are right and Scotland elects 59 SNP MPs and faces another Tory government? That takes us into very new and potentially very dangerous territory. This would be a crisis of legitimacy like no other we’ve seen before. It’s unclear that the slow-footed unionists would have the nous to cope, or even that the temperate and measured SNP would know how to act.

A parlour game of ‘Who would be the Secretary of State for Scotland in a Tory free country?’ last week elicited ‘Annabel Goldie’ and ‘Michael Forsyth’. But it’s no laughing matter.

The message couldn’t be any clearer. From the days (not so long ago) when Ross Kemp and John Barrowman pleaded for us to stay are far behind, and Scotland is being edged out of the political process day by day. There’s an incredible sense that we don’t belong here any more.

To put it simply: how we vote won’t matter.

This is an English election now.

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  1. Spot on, Miliband, Cameron & Clegg have done more to galvanise the Scots & revitalise the Independence campaign than the SNP could ever have done. People are far more politically savvy post indy ref and will not be duped again.Westminster leaders have displayed a staggering level of naked contempt for the opinion and democratic right of Scots electorate. I sincerely hope Scotland does elect 59 SNP MPs. Ignore them at your peril Miliband/Cameron. You would spark a constitutional crisis and set in motion forces that would result on an unstoppable fast track to full independence leaving them with nothing but the rump of their rotten empire.

  2. Clootie says:

    I think the drive against Scottish MPs is a critical one. The message is clear – “We want you to stay PROVIDING you follow the establishment rules”

    In a democracy you should be able to vote for a party that best aligns with your personal values. If enough people share your views then that party will gain influence. It does not matter if it is UKIP, Green, SNP or even the BNP. The people have a right to express their opinion.

    The two party system is finished. The Westminster elite club has run its course. We need a fair PR system which represents the views of the nation (be it Scotland or UK).

    The SNP are much, much more than an Independence Party. The Party represents the desire for a much fairer society. Unfortunately England does not have such an option and at the moment and the elite do not want that highlighted to the public. Labour only appear left in comparison to UKIP and the Tories. When judges against the SNP or their founding values they justify the new name of “Red Tories”

    The LibDems are a lost cause trying to be all things to all people. The reality is that the Party is very much a part of the establishment. The discussion to elevate Danny Alexander to the Lords to keep him in power demonstrates this clearly.

    1. ldocksey says:

      Only one thing you’ve got wrong, Mike – England does NOT always elect the government it wants. It gets what it gets because of 1) money and land-ownership and 2) the first past the post system which is geared to favour money. In the past the Tories have fiddled here and there with the constituency boundaries. We are offered a referendum on the one PR system that Cameron knew we would vote against. We are never offered referenda on subjects where we would deliver an unwanted verdict that went against the Tory view of the world.
      Admitted the English have been supine politically. We are conservative people – with the small ‘c’. We have been brainwashed into leaving it all to ‘government’. Etc. etc. But the tide of anger rising against the status quo, even here in Tory Dorset, is beginning to make a noise. Despite the media singing from Westminster’s hymn sheet, more and more of us are now fully aware that it is Westminster that is the problem,
      We are way behind Scotland but if Cameron gets back in and makes yet more welfare cuts I can foresee riots like the poll tax riots happening. I had much rather have debate than violence but last night Miliband demonstrated how little any of them are prepared to listen to the people and to talk to people – it was like a kick in the teeth. I don’t support Labour any more than the Tories but it was clear that both Scotland and England (they never mention the other bits of the UK!) are being condemned to a very nasty period of unrest – simply because they won’t any of them recognise that the old system, the ‘establishment’, is going down the toilet and that they have to deal in a grown up way with moving into a different future.
      And here is a little story to demonstrate just how slyly Westminster rules:
      Years ago, during the ‘winter of discontent’ and the country-wide power cuts ending up in the 3-day week which was disastrous for small businesses, I was self employed, working at home, making costumes for the BBC’s and ITV’s classic dramas. On the very first morning when the 3-day week regime came in, there was a knock on my front door. It was a special courier who’d come all the way from London to deliver a bright red government notice giving me permission to work 24/7.
      It was, of course, absolutely necessary to keep churning out the TV entertainment, to keep idle people sat in their front rooms watching the box. How else to prevent them from going out onto the streets and storming Westminster???
      Good luck Scotland, in your independent future, which is now pretty well guaranteed.

      1. Dave says:

        The alternative vote is not a proportional system

        1. ldocksey says:

          Indeed it isn’t PR, but for the majority of non-think English, that’s how it was sold to us. Same sort of manipulation as only allowing the single question in the Independence referendum. Trouble was (for Cameron), if Scotland had voted for maximum devolution the natives my side of the border might have got restless and started to ask for some!

          1. Good insight, Idocksey, and really nice to see someone down south writing with generosity about our journey. I do know many support our cause, and realise we want to get at WM, and not anyone south of the Border, who are also suffering.

            I really do hope the whole of the UK can benefit in due course, but it does seem many are still sleepwalking, or lured by UKIP, as the anti establishment answer! It would make no sense at all for Scotland to see its neighbour struggling, so keep spreading the word.

            Miliband must be taking orders from that t··t Murphy now, with this latest farce, still all good for our cause.

      2. One Baw Shaw says:

        England does NOT always elect the government it wants.

        – in recent history it absolutely has.

        We are offered a referendum on the one PR system that Cameron knew we would vote against.

        – people were just too tribal / stupid to understand it.

        2) the first past the post system which is geared to favour money.

        – absolute rubbish, FPTP and current boundaries have (and continue to) favour the Labour Party. The Tories are going to be the largest party in votes and seats (and ‘geographically’ is the largest party, though that’s not very relevant) but still won’t command a majority.

        Though it might be you’re another one who believes that the reason the fanatics like TUSC, SW or whoever you support get about 1% of the vote due to an ‘establishment’ conspiracy (whereas really, no-one outside 1% of the electorate is interested in these parties)

        We are never offered referenda on subjects where we would deliver an unwanted verdict that went against the Tory view of the world.

        – Err, there’s a fairly important one likely to come up in 2016 or 17.

        We have been brainwashed into leaving it all to ‘government’.

        – Or, lots of people have been comfortable with the situation until now (increasingly plurality clamours for PR now, admittedly). And, lots of people get on with their own lives, want to get on with their own lives, want minimal state interference, and aren’t so craven as to look to and expect the state to run their lives and solve their problems.

        more and more of us are now fully aware that it is Westminster that is the problem,

        – Even the Tories are looking towards decentralising now. It is the Labour Party who are the problem.

        if Cameron gets back in and makes yet more welfare cuts I can foresee riots like the poll tax riots happening.

        – another mad leftie who thinks that exhorting civil unrest is a good idea, that you won’t be caught up in it, and because you are one of ‘the good people’ or somehow ‘one of them’ they won’t come after you, or will somehow pass you over.

        Though if there is any more civil unrest like in 2011, this time it won’t get going, because this time the troublemakers will be smacked down early – and hard.

        I don’t support Labour any more than the Tories

        – hard left nutter, thought so.

        t was clear that both Scotland and England (they never mention the other bits of the UK!) are being condemned to a very nasty period of unrest

        – more vicarious fantasies of violence. Pathetic.

        they have to deal in a grown up way with moving into a different future.

        Would that be ‘it will be better this time’ Socialism, the approach that has been a disaster everywhere its been tried? No chance.

        Good luck Scotland, in your independent future, which is now pretty well guaranteed.

        – Can’t come soon enough. My only regret is that I’ll have to wait 5 – 10 years during which we’ll have to endure endless and increasing whining.

        1. Fiona says:

          I heard of some else who allegedly had only “one baw”. Are you by any chance related?

        2. ldocksey says:

          hard left nutter, thought so

          Dear oh dear – no pleasing some people!
          But – I am not a nutter, nor a leftie, hard or soft. I do not wear labels and I won’t have any attached to me, I do not and have never belonged to any political party, I am not an ‘ist’ of any kind nor do I base my beliefs on ‘isms’.
          On the other hand I do believe in peace, dialogue, justice of all kinds, and mostly, I believe in being polite!

          PS not being too familiar with Scottish words I had to look up ‘baw’. Are you related to Hitler, as in Colonel Bogey?

        3. JBS says:

          Oh, well, get yourself some earplugs and you won’t have to hear it, Corporatist Hell.

          However, if you do happen to hear any faint background noise during that period, it may be the sound of cheering, not whining…

          1. Oh right, is Mr one bad also Corporatist Hell? Thought the level of bile sounded familiar right enough.

    2. Annette says:

      England DOES have a party that campaigns for a fairer society. The problem is that the Green vote has not reached critical mass – yet.

  3. Fiona says:

    There is nothing new here at all. Scotland has often not got the government it votes for, and it has not provoked any major crisis: most scots seem to have accepted the view that the UK is one state and that the elected government, of whatever stripe, is legitimate. I do not think that has necessarily changed, because I am not convinced the rise of the SNP is based primarily on “nationalism”, however defined.

    What I do think is that labour turned into tories, and very slowly the scottish people began to understand that they should treat them as such: and so not vote for them. I do not know how it took so long, that has always puzzled me. But I think that is where we are now.

    For decades any left leaning voter in the UK had nowhere to go. The fiction of choice was maintained with the collusion of labour and the media. That a leftist constituency still exists in numbers is demonstrated by the language deployed by the labour party across the UK: and it still convinces some, particularly in those parts of the UK where “there is no alternative” is still true.

    The neoliberal project has been very successful, in shifting what is laughably described as “the centre” and by narrowing the range of possible debate. They have presumed that shift is permanent, and are outraged that it is now being challenged effectively in scotland. That is the root of their hysteria, I think. For many of the elite they really do think that other views are “lunatic”, or, as Mr Blunkett stated yesterday, “not rational”. They relied on the “spiral of silence”, though perhaps not consciously: and that is what the SNP has broken in Scotland. That has been hidden from the rUK electorate, but it seems clear that when the message is directly communicated to them (eg in the leaders’ debates) they find much to agree with: just as in scotland, Ms Sturgeon understands this, very clearly. It was very refreshing to see three leftist parties who were prepared to challenge the unspoken premises behind the neoliberal orthodoxy: a big change from Labour, who accept those premises in their entirety and then seek to tinker round the edges of what follows from them. False premises can never lead to right answers, no matter how impeccable the logic of the argument and conclusions which are founded on them

    On that basis we cannot be surprised that Mr Miliband has taken the position that he has: he is a part of that neoliberal project, without question, It is naive to imagine that the elite has any respect for democracy: they have been dismantling it for decades in favour of plutocracy: and by now that is almost openly acknowledged, much of the time. We are never going to change that easily, or without a major fight: too much is at stake, and it is at stake globally, not just within the UK or within Scotland.

    What is surprising is that he is prepared to risk his core support in england and rUK. Labour is only a major player so long as they are seen as a genuine alternative to tory rule. We see within Scotland what happens when that perception changes.

    Mr Miliband seems to have made two calculations here: the first is that an appeal to the “swing vote” in england requires him to accept that alliance with the SNP will damage his electoral prospects there. That is in line with the media narrative of illegitimacy, but more importantly, the hysterical headlines about how far left such an alliance would be. If, as he thinks, England is essentially tory, that is a danger wrt to those voters: and they may be lost to him if he makes a deal with the SNP. What he does not seem to understand is that in making that calculation, he is likely to lose his own core support. We have seen this happen in Scotland, so it should not be hard for him to grasp that danger. But somehow he has convinced himself that cannot happen. Perhaps he believes that we really are two separate countries with very different aspirations; in this I think he is wrong, however. It is a measure of how far out of touch with his support he actually is: a consequence of hanging out in the Westminster bubble, perhaps.

    His second calculation is that firm ruling out of any deal, coupled with the threat of another tory government in consequence, will persuade enough Scots back into the labour fold. We have heard this ad nauseam from Mr Murphy, but perhaps they believe it is much more convincing from Miliband. Maybe they think that their loss of support was predicated on the idea that they “must” make a deal with the SNP. His intention to refuse a chance of government rather than make such a deal is expected to frighten the electorate in Scotland: it might even work.

    But note that it rests on the notion that there is a substantive difference between labour and tory. Ms Sturgeon accepts that, as do most scots, I think: but all think that the difference is “not enough”. It was enough to encourage the SNP to offer some kind of support, however. What Miliband has done is to remove that difference in its entirety. If he means what he says, there is no point at all in lending him any support whatsoever. Therefore I do not think that Scots will come back to labour in numbers. I could be very wrong about that, but not in the long term, I think.

    The main positive impact of a high number of SNP MP’s at Westminster is not in the exercise of power, though that is important at the margins: more devolution might be granted, though I doubt it will be much. But what Ms Sturgeon understands is that there will be a strong voice: and that voice will speak for Scotland and for the disenfranchised progressives everywhere else. The range of debate will widen and many people will like the fact that what was seen in the leaders’ debate will happen day and daily within parliament. It will be distorted by our media: but it will be heard and people will recognise that for the first time in a long time there is a serious alternative. That will come as a relief and as a source of optimism and empowerment, just as has already happened in Scotland.

    An engaged electorate: the neoliberals’ worst nightmare.

    That is the prize. An independent Scotland is for later. But let us not pretend that it will be easy, nor that a great many Scottish people do not actually prefer that outcome: they would rather have a better UK, and have turned to the SNP quite simply because they have despaired of that possibility. These are the “devo max” people, I think,

    For myself, I do not think we can change the UK because I honestly believe that the differences between the two populations are irreconcileable at base. The doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty v sovereignty of the people, while abstruse, is a measure of that difference: So I want independence whatever the outcome in the next few years But I do not wish the best to be the enemy of the good. I can live within a UK which is not plutocratic, and I hold a shift in that direction to be a prize worth having,

    Independence does not come easily. We can hope it comes without violence. But we need to recognise this has been a long process so far and it will be longer yet. No matter. Mr Miliband’s announcement helps it along, I think. That will do me, for now

    1. Jim Bennett says:

      Fiona, great post, thank you!

    2. Dave says:

      Impressive analysis. Thank you Fiona

    3. Douglas says:

      A lot of that I agree with, Fiona, but not your notion that the SNP offer an alternative to neo-liberalism. They do not. Where does it say that in their manifesto?

      They talk of “ending austerity” but certainly not neoliberalism….

      If you want to end neoiberalism, then you need to come up with a whole new party, and a coherent programme, not one couched in the hackneyed Marxist jargon of Tommy Sheridan, Colin Fox and Robin MacAlpine who are still going on about socialism and the hallowed working classes, who by virtue of their historical preordained “scientific” role are meant to be the agent for societal change, something they have not been in a long time, if they ever were…

      .. we are in a new era. The 90% against the 10%….we need a new language.The neoliberals are constantly refashioning their language – the new word is “austerity” for an extremer form of neoliberalism – the Left has largely failed to do so. Which explains why it has been on the backfoot for decades.

      By the way, neoliberalism started in in Chile in 1973 with a violent bloody and brutal coup against Allende who thought he could fundamentally change society by democratic means, and who ended up blowing his brains own out. Thatcher’s heroes, Pinochet and the Chicago Boys were right behind that….

      Neoliberalism has used ruthless State violence on every single occasion it faced a challenge, from wherever, from the miners strike to protesters in the Okupy movement to demonstrators in Spain and Greece…

      You can draw the conclusions you want from that, I know what mine are….you won’t get rid of neoliberalism through the political process…you need a pacific and mass resistance movement based on civil disobedience….

      1. Fiona says:

        I think you misunderstand my position, Douglas. It is my fault, there are too many issues to explore fully in one post, even though my posts tend to be long

        I do not think that the SNP are free of neoliberalism. I do not know, actually. And that is because the neoliberal narrative had become so pervasive that a direct challenge to it root and branch would not be taken seriously in the current circumstances. You would spend all your time trying to expose the unquestioned assumptions it rests on ( I have experience of that wearying process) and never get to the point

        What I did see in the leaders’ debate was a direct challenge to the austerity narrative: and that came from PC, Green, and SNP. It was not a seamless challenge: they have differences. It was not a complete challenge, for example it did not skewer the debt/deficit narrative, but rather paid tribute to it. But it did point out that one need not deal with debt and deficit through austerity, and indeed it is damaging to do so. That was at least refreshing in the parlous state of economic and political debate as currently conducted.

        It is distasteful to many on the left, but it is important to “start from where you are” in politics, if you are serious. That limits what can be done even if your analysis is sound. And I am willing to believe the SNP analysis is not wholly sound: after all they swim in the same water as the rest of us and we have been “brainwashed” by neoliberalism for decades. It is hard to peel away the plausible soundbites and the couthy proverb-type explanations like “economy like a household budget”. We are all victims of hidden and unexamined stories of that kind: I do not think anyone is by now utterly free of them: I am certainly not, though I have worked hard to try to understand this stuff.

        I understand that the left have failed utterly to make an effective alternative in language and concepts which are readily accepted. But I do not agree with you that we need a whole new analysis divorced from class, if that is what you are arguing. The neoliberals don’t have one: and they are not different in kind from the “capitalist class” central to the socialist understanding. It is in fact a part of the neoliberal project to present that as “outdated”: and the idea that we should spend our time reinventing the wheel suits them very well. The “third way” is ever present, and it is always, and everywhere a tool of the hard right: just like “we are all on the same side” and ” we are all in it together”. And it is always a big, fat lie.

        Capitalism uses state violence when it suits them, there I agree. But they do not always do that. The post war consensus was one example where they did not, and we enjoyed a period of progress towards greater equality at that time. It did not last very long, for people forgot what it was for. But it can be done. What is crucial to that possibility is to grasp that that kind of consensus does not deny the opposing interests inherent in the society: it accepts them. It decides that no class can get all it wants and that there will always be conflict of aim and execution. The trick is to find some compromise which we can all live with.

        Sadly the use of the word consensus leaves open the way for the pretence that “we are all on the same side” and so the right bide their time and take their opportunities as they arise. As it happens their maniacal pursuit of their class interest is doomed to failure, IMO, just as any totalitarian positions is: and that is because their claim to work with the grain of human nature is fantasy. We are not the greedy bastards they project upon us: nor are we the utopian cooperators promulgated by some on the left. We happen to be both, all the time. A sustainable situation needs to recognise that and deal with it somehow.

        Well that is what I think, anyway

        1. Douglas says:

          Fiona, you’re right, posting BTL makes it hard to make any nuances.

          The SNP are a neoliberal party in my opinion, not unlike Blair’s first Labour government.

          First there was social democracy which lasted until Thatcher, then there was neo-liberalism from 79 up until the great crash, now there is Austerity, which is hardcore turbo charged neo-liberalism, neo-liberalism taken to the next stage, and which is the new paradigm, make no mistake…from free dental care for all in 1979 to one million foodbanks in 2015…that’s a long journey…

          True there are many differences in other areas where the SNP are much more progressive – Trident, House of Lords, no illegal foreign wars etc….but they are pretty much like that Blair-Brown Labour Party which won a massive landslide in 96 in terms of their view of society, which everybody got excited about at the time. A left of centre neo-liberal party….

          In any case, it is a separate issue. The people who run this country, Ed and Dave and Nick, are so completely stupid that together they have managed to undermine the party which was the key to saving the Union, paradoxical as that sounds. By governing with the SNP and giving Scotland devo max, the Union was assured for a generation.

          But if voting SNP makes no difference – through no fault of the SNP – then of course people will look for alternatives, just give them time..expect the desire for UDI to skyrocket for example…

          All of this happened in Ireland a century ago…but Nick, Ed and Dave would have only got English history at Eton I guess…

          1. Fiona says:

            I think we are using “neoliberal” in different ways, Douglas. Austerity is a part of neoliberal economic theory, a consequence of the theory not a development of it.

            I accept Arnsperger and Varoufakis central tenets as a basis for describing something as Neoliberal: their paper is linked here


            If you accept those overarching principles then I do not think the SNP meets the criterion of Individualism nor that of instrumentality, in full: though I think Blair’s government did indeed accept those propositions

          2. Douglas says:

            Essentially you are right with your definition Fiona, austerity is part of neoliberalism, no question. but the fact is that the nomenclature the right uses is always changing in an attempt to bamboozle people and with much success, and to always move the goalposts further to the right…

            …my brief schema above (brief or reasons of space) attempts to make the point that the main parties and the media have now got everybody talking about austerity…and the SNP talking about anti austerity…

            …and if austerity is the consequence and furthering of neoliberalism, as we agree it is, and not neoliberalism itself, and the SNP are non a neo-liberal party, why is the SNP not cutting to the chase and arguing against the Thatcher/ Regan neo-liberal Revolution of 1979/80? A Revolution which was tested on the people of Chile and Argentina, countries turned into laboratories, human beings turned into specimens, after violent, murderous coups?

            I think the nomenclature is fundamental, and the origins of neo-liberalism, extreme, violent, ruthless, and bloody, are important to understanding the current situation. By arguing against mere austerity, you are effectively endorsing neoliberalism…

            In any case, the SNP is a broad kirk, that we know…but you can’t keep the Pound and claim you are going to undo the near worldwide phenomenon which is violent, bloody and murderous Neo-Liberal Revolution of 73….

          3. Fiona says:

            Once again we do not disagree in the essentials, Douglas.

            Absolutely agree that they change the language to suit, and then, amusingly, try to characterise a charge of neoliberalism as merely a “boo” word without meaning or substance. I know pretty accurately what it means, as in the link above, and that is the way I use it. It is quite important to be clear and to try to counter the manipulation of language which does indeed seek to “bamboozle” people.

            I think I have given my view as to why the SNP are not challenging it root and branch: either the do accept some of it, as most of us do even when aware of what it means and what is wrong with it at bottom – it has many many tentacles and it is hard to see them all as part of the same beastie, so pervasive is it; or they do know, but judge that the narrative is so entrenched in the public mind that it is not possible to attack it root and branch without alienating voters who believe what they are told and think anyone who thinks otherwise is loony.

            Neoliberal narrative took years of sustained work to become embedded in the way it has. One cannot reverse that overnight, even if that is your aim. Such is politics

            To me it is not illegitimate to progress in relatively small steps. Opposition to austerity finds purchase with many because it is something they experience and suffer from: the tale to be told against it is reasonably simple to grasp as well. As I said, this is like proverbs: how plausible “look before you leap” sounds till you meet “he who hesitates is lost”. This is all like that. It is a shame we have to do this as soundbite, or near enough: but I do not see any alternative. One truly sad thing is that a liar with an agenda can be persuasive in that way: an honest person cannot because the truth is not amenable to soundbites.

            Where I absolutely agree is that we cannot keep the pound on independence. It is fatal to the independence of any country not to have a sovereign currency, and this was a fundamental policy error from the SNP, to my way of thinking. I suppose they believed it was a case of “don’t scare the horses”, but it is worrying that they did not recognise the implications: it didn’t do them any good in any case, but that is hardly a sufficient answer to such a monumental mistake.

          4. muttley79 says:

            When you say the SNP are neo-Liberal what are you referring to; the policies of the party, the views of elected representatives and the members? It seems a very black and white view to take. I thought one of the distinguishing features of neo-Liberalism was the privatisation of public services. The SNP have resisted this in the NHS and Scottish water.

          5. benmadigan says:

            “…from free dental care for all in 1979 to one million foodbanks in 2015…that’s a long journey…” this post illustrates the gap between then and now that Douglas is talking about

    4. vikki deas says:

      Brilliant post so well put.

      1. Fiona: “We are not the greedy bastards they project upon us: nor are we the utopian cooperators promulgated by some on the left. We happen to be both, all the time. A sustainable situation needs to recognise that and deal with it somehow.”

        Douglas: “from free dental care for all in 1979 to one million foodbanks in 2015…that’s a long journey…”

        Thanks to both of you, really helpful back and forth, and clearly you are both right: “this is like proverbs . . . “look before you leap” sounds [right] till you meet “he who hesitates is lost”.

        Why not get in touch offline and put a Bell article together in the form of a dialogue?

    5. Graeme Campbell says:

      Excellent post! Couldn’t agree more.

  4. Graeme McCormick says:

    Are Milliband’s comments an indication that a government of national unity may be formed by Labour and the Tories

    1. ldocksey says:

      The way they’re going it is more likely to be a government of national disunity!

    2. Mary says:

      That’s what I’m worried about :-/

      1. benmadigan says:

        since i saw the rise in support of the SNP from last autumn onwards I have been convinced that when the chips were down we’d have a LAb/Con national coalition “to save the Union” and corral the SNP outside government. Labour + Conservatives will hold the majority of seats in England (greatest population block), have similar policies and will work together

  5. I strongly disagree with the closing statement in the leading article. How we vote on Thursday matters more than ever. Milliband’s statement last night is his VOW to the good people of England, and we all know what that’s worth.

  6. Pam McMahon says:

    Fiona, good comment, much of which I would agree with. I don’t concur that “most Scots” would accept that “there is a substantive difference between Labour and Tory” however, unless you are speaking in historical terms. There used to be a massive difference back in the day, but now both parties troop through the lobbies hand in hand to vote for the same agendas and “most Scots” are fully aware of that, including Ms Sturgeon.

    If the Westminster system intends to disenfranchise our entire nation and its electorate and function as a banana republic, I can only hope, as you do, that independence eventually comes without violence. The establishment in all its guises, appear to be making that prospect less likely by the day.

    1. Fiona says:

      Well, I hope I made it clear that I believe there is no “difference that makes a difference”. Nonetheless a decision to offer some level of support to labour but not to the tories must mean that the SNP sees a difference, and I think that many (perhaps most, or I may have overstated) scots also see such a distinction.

      Nothing hangs on it, however. Maybe we just differ in how we perceive the pace of realisation.

  7. Douglas says:

    Correct, Bella, what does happen in your scenario whereby we return 59 SNP MP’s to a parliament where they are not recognised as legitimate, and England votes Tory again?

    Thinking hats on, folks….

    It can’t just be party politics, it can’t just be, “wait and see if Labour get in a few years later”, because Labour are now as much a pariah party as the Tories are….

    What CAN the SNP do at Westminster even with 59 MP’s….?

    Today is May Day, right? The perfect day for thinking about the question you pose, Mike Small….

    1. Gino123 says:

      Labour will still require some sort of deal although maybe not with SNP. Being in government is one thing . Getting policies through is quite another.

  8. Darien says:

    “we don’t belong here any more”.

    We never belonged there in the first place. Westminster has always been a foreign parliament for Scots.

    Miliband let the cat out the bag last night – what he said implies that Labour and Tories will allow the party with most seats to form a minority gov, and the other will offer support in key votes – budget cuts, ‘SmithDeutscheBank’,Trident etc. That renders the SNP (and Scotland’s people) irrelevant. It leaves two choices for Nicola’s MP’s: 1. take the insults and cuts for another 5 years, or; 2. walk out of THEIR parliament.

    1. Darien says:

      2. walk out of THEIR parliament…..and declare independence.

    2. Gino123 says:

      Labour will not be in Parliament unless they get their Queens speech through. SNP do not necessarily need to.vote it through. A simple abstention of all SNP MP’s would stop this. SNP would still be able to hold their heads high as their stance would be that they did not vote against it. However they would vote against a Tory Queens speech. Play the game as the WM parties play it.

  9. Frederick Robinson says:

    I love the way ‘Scotland’ (at the last count, 51% pro-UK, 46% against, according to the SNP self-selected version of what is a ‘Scotsman/woman’: some I know down here in England thereby no longer Scots) thinks that ‘England’ gets the Government ‘it’ wants. Have you been watching the debates? There are almost as many opinions as there are members of the public. Aren’t there any individuals in Scotland any longer?

    1. Fiona says:

      Are you reading the comments here?

      The idea that either population is homogenous is largely coming from the Westminster politicians, and from the MSM. They are the ones who are pushing “scottish tail wagging the dog”; and EVEL. In contrast Ms Sturgeon has made it perfectly clear that the SNP do not believe in one seamless english electorate. Hence her focus on speaking for the progressives throughout the UK.

      Nonetheless it is clear that England does get the government it wants, in the sense that it is large enough to ensure that the party which wins in that country is generally elected. Obviously it is not the party which commands support in every region of england, necessarily. But it is my impression that most people in england really do feel english first and so see that outcome as legitimate. I know there are those in yorkshire and cornwall and elsewhere who are not so satisfied: and there is a small body who would like to see regional assemblies as well. But they seem to be few, or am I wrong about that?

      You are clearly not engaged in the same political debate as me. I wonder why our perceptions are so different

    2. MBC says:

      How are the English really viewing Miliband?

      1. Fiona says:

        Meaningless question for reasons I outlined above, or so I think

        1. ldocksey says:

          A lot have been encouraged by the right-wing media to think him geeky and odd. At the moment I’d say neither he nor Labour gets that much respect BUT he is preferable to Cameron in that he is not so juvenile in his behaviour, or so purse-mouthed stubborn. He’s probably more intelligent than Cameron. And though his speeches and House of Commons performances are not exactly good, he is far better at communicating with people face to face. Not nearly so arrogant. Last night’s performance was a bit out of character.
          But is any of that worth voting for? No idea.

  10. Douglas says:

    We need – okay this is probably premature, neither the place or the moment – a Scottish Civil Rights movement post May 7…led from the left, but the new left, not the old left which turns millions of people off…

    If you approach change from the point of view of civil rights, then it becomes very detailed and concrete.

    We live in a society which is completely irrational in terms of rights. What good is the right to vote if you do not have the basic right to a house and a living wage? Try voting when you’re homeless and hungry…

    What good is the right to freedom of speech if you do not have the right to a decent education? And can somebody explain to me the logic of a society which allows for the right to abortion but not assisted suicide?

    For me it’s rights based more than class based, though obviously class is an important factor which explains why some have more rights than others….but you need a broad and wide movement: the 90% against the 10%.

    1. If you do put together an article with Fiona (and my apologies if this is not a welcome suggestion) can you include in the dialogue the contrast between a rights-based and class-based response?

    2. Tina Feedgie says:

      Scottish Civil Rights movement. Now that, Douglas, seems to me to be an excellent idea.

      It removes the “SNP/Nationalist” headline and the loony lefty connotations, both of which repel as many as people as they attract – it casts a much wider net and lends a sense of credibility/believability.

      It’s not premature in my opinion, it’s the perfect time. All we need now is a catchy acronym …

  11. junius45 says:

    @ Frederick Robinson, the guy wi nae baws! 🙂

  12. Paul McKearnon says:

    Or you could vote Labour if ‘they share a lot’ with SNP and get a MAJORITY Government!

    1. Fiona says:

      Err….*thinks hard*….nope

  13. HerewardAwake! says:

    Looks like we’re all in for a rocky ride then, whatever happens. I’ve been trying to remember the last time this sort of thing happened but can’t, so its back to basics. Wiki says that ‘If no party has an absolute majority, the leader of the largest party is given the first opportunity to form a coalition’ which leaves it wide open. But how many opportunities to form a coalition would take place before a demand for another election? Nobody knows, so if Labour do refuse to horsetrade with the SNP and let the Tories in we are all in very unknown territory and the UK could rapidly become unstable and perhaps even ungovernable. I heard somebody suggesting the possibility of a loose agreement between Labour and Tories to maintain the status quo, but the consequences of that do not really bear thinking about. In the meantime English thoughts about Milliband? As far as I’m concerned I would vote for the devil himself to remove Cameron, Clegg and the Tories, who I detest, but I’m sure many would not agree. If only we had a proper constitution. I do hope the Queen is getting plenty of rest this week!

  14. Fed up with the Lies and Propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

    ” but he’s given the death-knell to Scottish Labour.”

    There’s no such thing as ”Scottish Labour ”, it’s like the Scottish BBC or the Royal Bank of Scotland, it’s just a plaque on a empty building in Glasgow and Edinburgh, the headquarters are in London.

  15. Fed up with the Lies and Propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

    The two woman holding up the poster ” We Love Scotland ”, and So long as you behave yourself and vote Lib Lab Con if not, get lost.

  16. Geoff says:

    What absolute drivel

  17. Douglas says:

    Mutley, in reply to your post above where we have run out of space…

    I agree that it is difficult to characterize the SNP today with the intake of new members and certainly there are plenty people I know in the SNP who are anything but neoliberals….I am talking about the SNP programme for a post indie Scotland and what the SNP have done since they came to office. I compared them in my post above to the first Blair government, which was also against privatization of the NHS and, for that matter, abolishing the House of Lords….

    The neoliberal believes, in a few words, that the market always knows best, even after the greatest crash ever, bar none; that the individual is more important than society, unless, of course he thinks differently than a neoliberal thinks,in which case he is a crank; that growth is always good, even if it leads to massive climate change and the destruction of 1/6th of the world’s species and a water crisis; that wealth trickles down rather than bubbling up; that short term profit is better than long term well-being; that the crazy abstract idea of “the market” will take care of everything, just like the Marxists believe that the Marxist dialectic of history will take care of everything…oh aye, and that “hard working families” are more important than, say, those with health problems, disabilities or just plain bad luck.

    Neoliberalism is a bunch of phoney, mumbo-jumbo nonsense which is used as a convenient excuse to justify rampant greed of the few at the expense of the many. It is based, on the evidence available, on violence, on State violence, not on any end results…. Growth, growth, growth, they say. We need DEGROWTH and a RADICAL REDISTRIBUTION of wealth. I see no sign of that in any SNP manifesto.

    The IMF, the World Bank and the EU are all institutions of neoliberalism.

    On the matter of the EU, when you see what the Troika of the EU, the IMF and European Central Bank have done to Spain, Greece and Portugal, exiling millions upon millions of citizens, destroying families, literally killing the old and the sick with their policies, then the “idea of Europe” pales into insignificance.

    The gorge rises at what that trio of criminally stupid organizations has done to the average European citizen. The south European middle class have been brutally liquidated. Coming soon, to a cinema near you….

    1. HiltonTongs says:

      David Harvey who calls himself a Marxist would probably agree with most of what you say and in particular your argument for a zero growth economy (limits of capitalism).

      The SNP are a populist front against on aspect of austerity and they obviously have more than a few contradictions and skeletons in their closet. Imagine the uproar now if a Westminster Government sold a slice of the NE of Scotland coast line to a vicious American tycoon. They rally against the injustices of a corrupt larger state but say nothing of how undemocratic and corrupt the European Union is.

      I don’t expect them to have radical detailed policies at the moment but somewhere along the line its 100 thousand members will decide if their analysis of how the world works will be scrutinised and held to account or not.

      1. Douglas says:

        Agreed. The SNP have to keep their base broad. I have no quibble with that.

        Just please nobody tell me they are out to fundamentally change society…they are out to fundamentally change the relationships between Scotland and England, and there, I agree with them mostly.

  18. ian says:

    England will only begin to change and appreciate there may be a better way when they have an example right on their doorstep.I have long given up hoping that the electorate south of the border will wake up and change things for the better for all of us.
    There is only one outcome i have any wish for.

  19. John allan says:

    That’s exactly what Labour is hoping you will say. And therefore people will vote Labour instead of SNP. Scaremongering at the highest level. Watch this space after 7th. Watch him change his mind very quick.

  20. benmadigan says:

    has anyone ever wondered how labour voters in England will feel if (numbers permitting) Milliband refuses to work with the SNP and steps aside in favour of a Conservative government?

    1. Fiona says:

      Yes. See my first post on this thread. IMO he will lose his core vote, as has already happened in Scotland. And that will be the formal death of Labour in the UK. It died long ago, but has not yet lain down. If that happens it will, I think

  21. john henry says:

    Hear the proclaimers are doing of new version of letter from america, dedicated to jimmy two-crates and slabour, “when you go will you send back, a letter from oblivion, east renfrew no more, glasgow east no more” etc etc, tee hee, chortle chortle, jelly and ice cream.

  22. Lochside says:

    Milliband has articulated the ‘National’ question quite clearly: we are not equal partners in the Union. We never were. The velvet glove of ‘Better together’ and ‘Shared resources’ has been peeled back to reveal the reality of English supremacy.

    Three hundred years of attempted subjugation of our laws, languages, culture and identity as an ancient nation has elapsed. Before that 400-500 years of attempted invasions and takeovers. People are beguiled into seeing history in only socio-economic terms. From the Act of Union, England dragooned our people and resources into world domination. They had a willing aristocracy in Scotland and a subsequent mercantile class ready to join in the ‘enterprise’.

    But at no time were we ever equal partners. As the post war ‘British’ cohesion of welfare State and wartime camaraderie has collapsed through Neo-Liberal economic Capitalism, always underneath is the force that never spoke its name: ‘English Nationalism’. Despite its ugly appearance with Thatcher and the hooligan football proles/National Front. It was denied as anything other than aberrant.

    Yet as those economic forces have grown in the ascendancy, they have brought to the surface the horrible atavism of this inward, brutish and selfish nationalism. Conversely, in Scotland the same forces have brought out the inevitable response of a colonial oppressive regime, a desire for freedom and fairness.

    The reason that the Tories collapsed in Scotland was not that they were believers in Capitalism, but that they would defend their craven allegiance to Greater England to the death. Labour in the Referendum did the same and will pay the inevitable price for it.

    A slim majority of Scots represented that colonial cringe along with the majority of English/British residents. The latter being essentially a product of this imperial mindset have demonstrated its reality by overwhelmingly identifying with Brit/England against the country they have chosen to live in.

    That is regrettable but explicable. However, as Ireland’s history demonstrates even the Anglo-Irish eventually saw the light and joined the indigenous people in their struggle against England’s domination. Labour, Tory and Liberal parties are finished in this country. They threw their lot in with the Imperialists and they will pay with oblivion. However, with Independence ,the original founding precepts of those movements will re-appear with different names and different leaders but with an allegiance to the people of Scotland ,not to external masters who have no business meddling with our civic polity.

    1. Darien says:

      Pretty accurate I would say. And this English nationalism was critical in the referendum:

      “by overwhelmingly identifying with Brit/England against the country they have chosen to live in.”

      English folk living in Scotland accounted for the 10% difference, at least.

  23. oldbattle says:

    Might I suggest that Bella ask Fiona to write a ‘lead piece’ on the ‘dealing with neo-liberalism’ without please please forming another left party/movement/front/project.

  24. johnmoss2014 says:

    Just a thought…what if Labour could only get the SNP’s support providing Ed Milliband does not become Prime Minister?

    Just a thought….

    1. Robert Graham says:

      with you johnmoss2014 they don’t want SNP mps in their parliament so why not cause bloody mayhem disrupt everything starting with Mr ED as PM he isn’t a PM he is a manufactured puppet ,The press and media in general dont give a toss about anything over their border so why even try to be nice & reasonable moaning & sulking in the corner like idiots use their rules against them

      1. johnmoss2014 says:

        I could not have put it better myself, let slip the dogs of war 🙂

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