The Paradox of Unionism

UKG3By John S Warren

The Cuthberts’ Paper published here “Smith Commission: why the economic and fiscal arrangements need to be changed” (26th May) is an important reminder of the real nature of the key issues that face Scotland now. I would urge everyone who has not already done so, to read the Cuthberts’ article (which combines acute economic understanding, with the insight of insiders into the administration of government in Britain); to read it in order to understand why neither the present Westminster Government proposals, nor the Smith Commission proposals, which the new Scotland Bill (2015) is alleged to represent, can be acceptable to Scotland as they stand. The Cuthberts’ paper predates the publication of the Bill, but I do not think the Bill now offers anything to diminish the Cuthberts’ specific concerns.

I am, in particular, in complete agreement with the perceptive and critically important proposition presented in the Cuthberts introductory remarks, as follows:

“1. …. …. we argue that satisfactory implementation of Smith depends on implementing a properly federal system at UK level.”

As I understand their analysis this need for a federal solution informs most of the serious difficulties thrown up either by Smith or Barnett.

The problem is that Westminster continues to see the whole question of British government and of the government of Scotland as a specific case of “devolution” (the term still used in the Queen’s speech); and thus as a matter of narrow, traditional, uni-directional Westminster political patronage being granted to Scotland to solve an acute but passing problem; rather than facing the obvious and urgent need for root-and-branch reform of the British State, which is implied by the Cuthberts call for federalism. Radical reform is now long overdue in our threadbare State; a State that is slowly, but only too surely, becoming discredited in the eyes of a thoroughly alienated public, in spite of the current Westminster parties badly misreading the signals provided in the 2015 general election.

There is at bottom very little in that election to reassure the Conservative Party about its own long-term future, in spite of winning it. General Election turnouts since the millennium have settled in the mid-60% range (none of the five elections since 2000 have reached a 70% turnout), compared with turnouts of 70%-80%+ consistently, almost invariably throughout the politically engaged 20th century (with World War I, unsurprisingly providing the only exception).

In 2015 David Cameron is supported by only a few points more than one-third of those who voted; but the turnouts have been in long-term decline and he is in fact supported by only 24% of the British people; less than 1-in-4. One-third of the electorate is so alienated or politically desensitized by the sheer superficial, spin-doctored, cheap awfulness of British political discourse that they do not bother to vote at all. What has any of it to with them? Why would they vote? Mr Cameron, you and your party impress few, and inspire none. The best case to be made for Cameron now occupying 10, Downing Street would be to say that clearly, nobody cares; through alienation, neglect, indifference or downright despair, he has acquired accidental, and slightly suspect, squatting rights of No.10.

There is, of course one obvious British exception to this brute electoral fact: Scotland. I wonder why?

The Scotland Bill (2015) follows earlier Scotland Bills (for example 2012) that have been overtaken by events, politics and history. There is a wearisome sense of Westminster repeating the same mistakes endlessly; ‘deja vu’ meets ‘groundhog day’. Indeed, the 2015 Bill provides no comforting assurance that this new Cameronesque, newly ‘mandated’ collection of Westminster Unionists understand any better than the notably inadequate and inexpert past Westminster Unionists, how to ensure or preserve the future of the Union. This is not helped by The Daily Telegraph (Friday, 29th May) proselytising the Bill and dismissing the Scottish Government’s criticism of its failure to deliver even the Smith Commission proposals; with the Telegraph citing the approval of “senior legal figures”.

The Bill is 76 pages, including Schedules; explanatory notes are published separately, presumably to enhance the inconvenience of the experience for the general reader. It is turgidly (if not badly) drafted as an aggressively and unapologetically arcane legal document, without making even the smallest gesture towards context, or comprehension; or acknowledgement that any member of the public may wish to read or adequately understand the contents, without undertaking painstaking, personal, forensic research. This is a very bad political move in the post-Referendum age.

As a text the Bill is unreadable as a stand-alone document, because its sense depends on a veritable plethora of preceding Acts; as is too often the conventional drafting procedure in Westminster. For example, Part 1, sections 1-11 of the Bill make reference to various sections of the Scotland Act 1998, into which the Bill’s individual provisions (perhaps a sentence, phrase, or even single word) are to be inserted; with complementary excisions. It is not possible to understand fully the contents of these provisions unless the Bill and the referenced Act(s) are read together; and of course no effort is made by Westminster to provide the consolidated output of the relevant Bill/Acts for the public to read (incidentally Part 2, ‘Tax’ is no clearer to read than Part 1, including tersely drafted amendments to the Income Tax Act 2007; and I shall go no further here than Parts 1 and 2 of this deeply obtuse text).

I take my hat off to the lawyers cited by the Telegraph, who have undertaken the rigorous and careful, detailed scrutiny required, and even pronounced on the success of the Bill; all impressively accomplished within 24 hours of the Bill’s publication. This is not, however a triumph of explanation, analysis or vindication; for it is not sufficient for the rest of us, merely to offer the argument that success is achieved by satisfying a cosy group of interested lawyers, in order to make the Telegraph’s doubtful case; an ‘argumentum ad verecundiam’ in which the authority rests on a legal ‘opinion’, and thus a deduction far short of certainty, either in law or logic. Rather the Telegraph argument points to the systemic failure of Westminster to meet the challenge, to rise to the communication requirements of the age in which we live, to demonstrate the wisdom of Westminster, or to prove the mettle of those who drafted or approved the text. What should Westminster have done? Speak in clear, plain terms to the public, or take the consequences. The influence of lawyers on the drafting of the Bill is (necessary, but) bad enough; the idea that lawyers (of all people) provide sufficient final authority on the content is frankly risible.

On Barnett, I have one point to add to the Cuthberts’ thesis. The Barnett Formula is not quite what it seems. Not all Government expenditure is caught by its provisions; either ‘de jure’ or ‘de facto’; as a matter of fact, it is possible for Governments simply to avoid Barnett. Indeed London is effectively a vast Barnett bypass (and even where there are Barnett consequentials, it bypasses most of England). Within England 85% of all spending on infrastructure is allocated to London and the South-East, with 80% devoured by London alone; The population of Greater London in the 2011 census represented 15.5% of the population of England. Thus:

  • London takes 80% of England’s infrastructure investment, to serve under 16% of England’s population.
  • The rest of England takes 20% of England’s total infrastructure spend (but this includes the South East, which alone receives one quarter of the 20% residue), to serve 85.5% of the population.

This quite extraordinary, frankly ludicrous bias against everyone living outside London impacts seriously on the economic growth prospects of the whole country; with a greater impact the further from London any country or region is located; Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are located on the periphery of English regions that are themselves infrastructurally under-resourced. It is an appalling indictment of investment decision-making that is supposedly in the ‘national interest’; which has come to mean investment exclusively London’s interest first, last and everything in between. And this miserable set of half-hidden outcomes that serves London at everybody’s expense rests firmly at the door of Westminster, and its repellant, incestuous, highly political relationship with London and the City of London. This is quite obviously politically unacceptable, and bad economics, but this pernicious effect persists and it grows like an uncontrolled ragweed, polluting and strangling our politics to this day.

At the same time its effects explain much about the farcical (if it was not dangerous) property bubble that sustains the continued complacency of a London population which is conditioned to be neurotically obsessed with property ladders; and whose prosperity notably rests less and less on actual work. Work which is merely a treadmill-mortgage-feeder conjured by an optimistic banker with a screen and a flash-line in instantly created money; no doubt borrowing the basic treadmill idea from some lurid, post-modern, dystopian vision of ‘Metropolis’; borrowing short and lending long to build a pyramid of credit resting ultimately on the vicarious ownership on borrowed money, of an overpriced house in a wildly distorted “market”.

The call for federalism is fundamental if these issues are to be addressed at all in Britain (no other mechanism has the power to change at a deep enough level), although it is important to recognise that Westminster has a recalcitrant, arrogant, ingrained resistance to facing the depth of the problem this call made by the Cuthberts reveals for the nature of the way politics and government is conducted in Britain; or of embracing more than palliative change, without understanding that such an inadequate response as Unionists currently advance is only appropriate if Westminster has already accepted that the Union cannot be saved, but is in a terminal condition; and indeed, whether Unionists (consciously or unconsciously) are already discounting an extinction event. This approach to the problem by Unionist politicians is not helped (assuming Unionism’s consistently bad political judgement is not intentional and cynical) by the real interests of the political parties, which are not co-terminus even with their own somewhat one-eyed interpretation of the British national interest; not least through party political vested interest, both individually, but more invidiously, collectively: an overarching commitment to what I term the Westminster Cartel. In short, Unionists are currently Unionism’s worst enemy.

I categorise the matter in this way, because I think this allows us to focus on the underlying nature of the problem; not least because almost nobody in Westminster adequately recognises the risks, or has the impartiality to view the matter from a wider, inclusive British perspective. In this sense Westminster suffers from a paradoxical mixture of responses; complacency and blind denial.

 

 

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  1. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    I have no idea what federalism does for Scotland that independence doesn’t do better and quicker.
    Can anybody explain to me why we should aim for less than what we almost achieved last September?
    Federalism is an impediment, not a step towards normal national sovereignty.
    Functioning federalism is impossible in the UK context unless Scotland is reduced to the status of Yorkshire or the West Country.

    Confederalism (a voluntary sharing in some areas of sovereignty by already independent states – like the Nordic Union) represents a serious opportunity , however.

    1. John says:

      I totally agree federalism is totally unworkable. Scotland would be held back and still controlled by the much larger England. With independence we can still work together but would not be prevented in working to our strengths.

      1. MBC says:

        I agree with both points above about federalism. It’s a complete non-starter. Why on earth should we, 8.3% of the UK population, seek to impose an unsatisfactory solution which 45% of us who voted for independence don’t even want, on the majority of the UK, which they do not want, merely to keep the Union going? That would be undemocratic.

        The tyranny of the minority is no better than the tyranny of the majority.

        There is a compelling logic to independence which there is not for federalism.

  2. Gordon Guthrie says:

    I fully agree with your conclusions that the biggest enemy of the union are the Unionists. The union has been in crisis substantially since the Northern Ireland crisis of the late 1960s and the Unionist response to that was to isolate NI from the UK and pretend it was all a problem over there.

    The admission by Better Together that they could not build a positive vote for the Union – only scare off voters from Independence (which they did successfully) moved the crisis to a new level.

    There is still no recognition at Westminster of the scale of the crisis – it is still ‘everything must change so that everything can stay the same’ in as far as it applies to Westminster.

    We are now in the end-game.

    1. ben madigan says:

      agree Gordon – it looks like the end game.
      A federalist UK is a non-runner in my view for many reasons, some of which i outlined here https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/squaring-the-circle-what-no-means/
      John pointed out above “such an inadequate response as Unionists currently advance is only appropriate if Westminster has already accepted that the Union cannot be saved, but is in a terminal condition;”
      Background reading of various and diverse sources and reports has led me to the same conclusion – Westminster knows Scotland has gone, NI has one foot out the door and is pushing with the other and so London is focussing on consolidating power in England and Wales

  3. leavergirl says:

    As Derrick Jensen once said, civilization is a system where cities steal from the hinterlands. This is not just the problem of London, and I bet it goes on in Scotland as well to a smaller extent. I would need a more radical analysis to get to the bottom of it.

    Good luck with the federalism. It works so well in Switzerland, but nobody emulates it. I wonder why; I bet the elites don’t like the Swiss system, despite all evidence of how well it works.

  4. Darien says:

    The English Tories can stuff their Scotland ‘Colony’ Bill (2015). Ditto federalism, even if it wis on offer, which it isnae. Like Calman, Smith has proven to be inadequate and flawed. Scotland’s only option is independence, otherwise we remain Westminster’s plaything colony.

  5. Andrew Reid says:

    The key point about the Smith proposals is that they were primarily motivated and designed by Westminster unionist parties only has the short term aim of catching the nationalist enemy within in various fiscal traps, for example provide power to uprate benefits, but only by means of the toxic income tax, which no UK Chancellor has raised in 40 years (other than the temporary 50p rate). Smith had nothing to do with the best interests of Scotland.

    The other main consideration is that Westminster is incapable of reforming itself in a way that would give up power and undermine the political/financial/media/military establishment – just consider the House of Lords as living/dying proof of this incapacity. Federalism would have to be dragged out of them.

  6. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    leavergirl

    A form of federalism works in Switzerland because of the approximate parity of size of the component parts.

  7. Bob in the Whuns says:

    Another excellent piece on Bella. Superb John.
    In their Citadel of Power Mr Cameron is all about power for the sake of power and he and his lovely anti-democratic cronies have it all at their command. I say anti-democratic because the elites see themselves as born to rule as their landed forefathers did. They are the Neo-Feudal elite who are the real enemy of democracy.
    The real context historically of political power broking is that the British state is a Cartel of Wealth and Power that exists purely for the emolument of the already rich elites and they will concede nothing until they are compelled to for their own survival. Look at the democratic reforms in British history. It took well over a century to obtain any form of democracy. The word ‘democracy’ was an evil creed to the Empire elites and that very mindset inhabits the rattling empty skulls of the Conservative party today. They took centuries to provide a minimalist ‘democracy’ where the power is reserved in the parliament, NOT THE PEOPLE and the Queen retains sovereignty kindly giving permission for the Parliament to conduct its business.
    We Scots are still the ‘seditious Scots to crush’ to Cameron’s crew and they will yield nothing till they must. Look at Mr Redwood the anti-European moron who bleats for an English parliament! He wants what Scotland has, he says! By God I wish I could give him and his ilk what we have! Westminster to me is a corrupt den of iniquity where lobbying (bribery by another name) is open all hours for cash payments etc and normalised. They make FIFA ‘corruption’ look like a weekend picnic. And they jump at every chance to support the Neo Liberal elites of America even when it is blatantly obvious they are up to Geo-political games purely to benefit big business ie their friends.

    Every PM since Thatcher has aided and abetted the suppression of the Westminster paedophile scandal to protect the important elites and their establishment friends who orbit the Westminster elite and I have no doubt that Mr Jim’ll Fixit Saville was so in with this Westminster Cartel and its sick perversions that he was allowed to get away with so much sickening behaviour because he knew of the Westminster elites who were as sick and depraved as he was.

    Patronage and crumbs from Westminster’s table is all that the Smith Commission and the new Scotland Bill provides. It is an insult to the People of Scotland who were conned by the Vow. It falls short of the promised Vow and by that very fact, ipso facto, the Westminter Tories have reneged on the Vow and should forfeit their referendum victory forthwith. Its time the SG told the Tories that their Referendum victory is forfeited and a re-run will take place next year.

    1. william Steele says:

      Were the rerun to take place next year without a sufficient groundswell of Scottish desire for independence we would lose again. Independence would be kicked further into the long grass. We need to be patient and wait for the effects of the continued implementation of Tory ideology on our people, especially the middle class. When they begin to feel the pain, then we’ll have that groundswell. Too many of the working class have swallowed the cool-aid, drinking it from the mainstream media, and the most deprived people in our population are just too beaten down down to have the self-confidence and energy to provide that groundswell. A 50% vote for the SNP is not auspicious.

  8. MBC says:

    I think we need to start the Yes campaign all over again and urge the wavering Noes to join us to achieve a critical mass and push for independence. I never really expected anything to come of Smith, but in my more optimistic moments, when I fondly imagined there would be a minority Labour government, with a large SNP contingent, I hoped that Smith might be improved to the point that it could have been a good staging post to eventual independence.

    Now that the Tories have total command of the UK, more or less perpetually, with the boundary changes due to come into force in 2020, and Labour and the Lib Dems finished, that scenario has entirely disappeared, and the new Scotland Bill is so transparently a stitch up.

    The Tories surprise win has totally changed everything. The new Scotland bill blocks us at every turn. The Tories are going to force us and trap us into impose austerity.

    This calls for a total re-think. I think the Yes campain as an extra parliamentary non-party political movement has to re-urge independence and use the 56 majority as a springboard to re-negotiate independence.

    The unexpected Tory majority and the demise of the UK non-Tory parties fundamentally alters everything.

  9. Les Wilson says:

    By all accounts, this is a deliberately constructed case of smoke and mirrors.
    It emphasis’s that this Union, is not a “Union” in any accepted meaning of the word.
    It exists as an old legacy from another age. It will remain that way until the people do something about it, and that process may already have started.
    Not only is Scotland being treated as inferior fools, they apply the same criteria to many
    regions of England. It cannot go on, it is all starting to creak louder. In Scotland we are waking up,
    other regions of the “UK” may follow sooner than the elites imagine.

  10. James Dow says:

    Could there be anyone alive that does not realise that the union is dead, within or without the UK. I live in Australia and get the occasional whiff off that sickly sweet smell from the decaying carcass that is drifting around the world, polluting real nations.

  11. jdman says:

    I am constantly bemused by the assertion that Scotland will have “the most powerful devolved government in the world” can the elaborate on that and let us plebs know who we are being compared to?
    I genuinely cannot fathom what other countries have anything close to a system like the UK, and the nearest I can get is Greenland and Hong Kong, anyone?

  12. Sam Mitchell says:

    Federalism is the continuation of the union… a tinkering aided by the lawyers & civil servants who obviously have spent a considerable amount of time ….drafting by clever use of the English language ….. a position where we are still under the patronage of wm…. a situation of which you have clearly illustrated in your expose…
    Federalism has only worked when there has been a fair & equal distribution of the wealth & assets… which as you point out … at present are heavily in favour of London… & I can assure you that this will not change.
    Germany had Federalism imposed after WW 2… when the country was effectively flattened & had 50%? of its population removed from the Bonn Gov. sphere of influence.
    Canada has each of its Federalist component parts squabbling amongst each other in no direct harmony and with an underlying separatist movement. In some ways similar to the division between Holyrood & wm.
    The only clear & fair position that should be taken is Independence… a total break….
    Federalism wasn’t proposed when the other ‘colonies’ finally achieved their own freedom. Therefore it should not be entertained as a ‘solution’ to Scotland seeking a more accountable form of governance..

  13. maxi kerr says:

    This is like watching a crap movie,one that has a problem with continuity and an ending that has you scratching your head wondering “what the fizz! is going on.
    Remember,they will give us little of real value to work with.
    ps. the movie would be called -All or nothing at all.

  14. Dave Leslie says:

    A genuine question: “The Barnett Formula is not quite what it seems. Not all Government expenditure is caught by its provisions; either ‘de jure’ or ‘de facto’; as a matter of fact, it is possible for Governments simply to avoid Barnett. Indeed London is effectively a vast Barnett bypass …” – where can I find an explanation of what ‘identifiable expenditure on services’ actually covers? Wikipedia seems to offer a rather limited and possibly one-sided view (?)

    1. John S Warren says:

      Westminster prefers opacity, therefore you perplexity is the fairly attributable to the deliberate intention of Wesminster. I would suggest two sources for you. First, the Cuthberts, who understand it best as economists, and Jim Cuthbert as a distinguished Civil Service ‘insider’. In their well-informed opinion on government processes; provided in ‘How the proposed changes in the NHS in England will have serious repercussions for Scotland and Wales’ (December, 2011).

      Second, Professor David Heald wrote about the Barnett Formula Bypass technique in a ‘Memorandum to The Barnett Formula – Select Committee on the Barnett Formula’ (March, 2009: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200809/ldselect/ldbarnett/139/139we14.htm). This can be found in the House of Commons Library on-line at HOCL 01/108. Hear is sample of Heald’s argument in 2009:

      “in-year [funding] allocations to UK departments for services in England out of the Reserve do not generate formula consequentials for the Devolved Administrations [DAs]. Increases in expenditure in England might be structured in ways that avoid being categorised as comparable expenditure” (Section 2f).

      I hope this is helpful.

      1. John S Warren says:

        Apologies for the over-hasty writing, with bizarre spelling mistakes. ‘Hear’ for ‘here’. I hope nobody here hears that …..

      2. stephy says:

        Thank you – I will certainly be reading these 🙂

      3. Ian says:

        Great article. Thank you.
        The Barnett bypass for ‘in-year’ funding allocations is a new one to me.
        As you said the opacity is deliberate.
        Are there any monetary figures for this?
        My real question is by how much might this hidden spending modify the oft-stated difference between public spending per capita in scotland and England (and London as separate case)?

        1. John S Warren says:

          It is complex, it is opaque and the figures are not readily accessible; or perhaps available at all? We need fewer rhetorical flourishes about Barnett from politicians and more thorough examination of the facts. The facts are of course not easily examined.

  15. John S Warren says:

    I should perhaps make clear that I have not challenged the idea of independence. I cannot speak for the Cuthberts, but the proposition they presented, and the point I followed in the above article was quite specific: “satisfactory implementation of Smith depends on implementing a properly federal system at UK level”. This is about Smith, because that is where we are. I appreciate this seems a “dry” subject, but I cannot stress too much the dangers of ignoring the politics that is actually coming down the line, for objectives that are not going to be satisfied immediately.

    The SNP is not leading the politics of Scotland: the people of Scotland are leading the political agenda. The SNP leadership has, I suspect alone among the political parties, understood this fundamental fact and acted accordingly. In the referendum a remarkable 45% voted ‘Yes’, a politically significant result, but not enough to bring independence. Within eight months this same Scottish electorate (without the youngest referendum voters) elected 56 SNP MPs (out of 59) to represent Scotland in Westminster.

    The Scottish people have rejected independence immediately, but mandated overwhelmingly the SNP to represent their interests in Westminster, and advance their practical interests there. This, I submit was both deliberate and politically astute on the part of the electorate, who have proved themselves remarkably sophisticated.

    Tommy Shepherd MP, in his eloquent, measured and gracious maiden speech in the House of Commons expressed his and the SNP’s clear understanding of the political implications of the Scottish electorate’s purpose in sending the SNP to Westminster. I urge everyone to listen to that speech on BBC Parliament, or YouTube, or wherever it can be sourced. The SNP is playing a long game, but a game that is ultimately being run by the Scottish people.

    The reason that the Cuthberts (and the SNP) are right to concentrate on Smith, is that Smith was a hastily cobbled deal, motivated principally by majority Unionist political politicians and parties on Smith, almost all of whom have since summarily been swept from their seats or power (not least, we may surmise for their cynical, self-serving exploitation of Smith).

    Be in no doubt, Smith, as the Cuthberts are wisely warning us, is not intended to serve the interests of Scotland. I would submit, rather that Smith is being used by Cameron, seductively to offer a suite of powers which he knows very well is constructed to inhibit and constrain the freedom of action of any Scottish government (which most of the Smith Commissioners had hoped would be a compliant Unionist government rather than an acute SNP government), but powers that subtly serve the interests of Westminster and the ‘status quo ante’, and will tend to undermine the SNP. Indeed, I am confident that some Unionists now nurse the secret hope that the SNP will embrace Smith, raise taxes and squander the confidence of the Scottish people on the poison-chalice of deliberately isolated and exposed income tax powers.

    Federalism (or Confederalism for that matter) is a counterweight to the cynicism underlying the Smith offer, but at the same time it does not harm the prospects for independence, for those who aspire to complete the political process with that final destination. Federalism however probably reflects the current political aspirations of the Scottish people, as best we can interpret this from the real behaviour of voters (rather than relying solely on the speculative expression of the politically predisposed). The Scottish people are in charge, and will decide on the final destination.

    1. MBC says:

      As evidence of it being a stitch up, Ruth Davidson is gleefully and transparently goading the SNP to ‘put their money where their mouth is’ and raise income tax next year if they want to spend more on welfare. At the same time as Osborne proposes reducing spending by £12 billion on July 8th (equivalent to about £1.2 billion in Scotland, or the entire annual health budget of NHS Lothian). She hopes that the new powers will arrive in February 2016, in time for the Holyrood elections. She and Mundell are confident they have sprung a trap which the SNP will fall into, and that Scottish voters will reject tax rises and vote for low tax Tories.

      The SNP government seems caught between a rock and a hard place – Osborne will cut spending, whilst at the same time the SNP can maintain welfare at current levels – provided they use the new powers to raise taxes – and, the Conservatives hope – will face electoral defeat at Holyrood next year.

      I had previously quite liked Ruth, but now her goading and her gleeful upbeat confidence that she has the real power behind her (Cameron, in control of the UK) has suddenly caused me to utterly despise her.

      But could this backfire? Does Ruth really think that the Scottish electorate are going to thank the Tories for springing a trap like this?

      Do you know what it reminds me of? Horrible, I know. But it reminds me of how Russian boyars thought it was a great way of humiliating their serfs by treating them like naughty children if they ever ‘failed’ in any of their serfly duties, by, for instance, making sons thrash the backsides of their ‘errant’ fathers as a punishment.

      When she was gleeful like that it just reminded me of that kind of imperious, autocratic, and humiliating bullying of the Russian boyars towards their serfs, that degree of petty abuse of power, and I suddenly felt utter loathing and fury against her and her entire party.

  16. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    David Leslie
    “Indeed London is effectively a vast Barnett bypass”

    Exactly. A marvelous way to make a hugely significant point.

  17. Gerry Robertson says:

    We can all talk endlessly about the pros and cons of this but the bottom line in the short term at least must be FFA. If as the Unionists predict and they are serious about preserving the Union this will result in economic meltdown and surely will kill off thoughts of Independence for many generations to come if not for ever. The danger and dilemma of course to Westminster is quite the reverse and will show Scotland can be very prosperous and they will no longer be able to use the fear factor in any future referendum which must surely be on the horizon. The SNP should be shouting this from the rooftops which will go down very well with the English press if as they have long maintained the Scotland is a financial drain.

  18. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    FFA is just another form of dependence the degree about which we can argue and beg endlessly.
    That is of course the plan.
    It is a misnomer anyway as you cannot really have FFA while being responsible for paying for things you do not agree with like Trident renewal or illegal invasions about the world – aka defence and foreign affairs left at Westminster.
    The only genuine FFA is independence.
    Independence is the simple and uncomplicated constitutional terminus

    1. Gerry Robertson says:

      FFA would always be a simple stepping stone to independence but without these financial levers to promote a healthier economy we will have limited scope to overcome the economic fear mongering that will inevitably raise its head again.

      1. Dave McEwan Hill says:

        FFA is not a stepping stone. It is an impediment. We will not get it by supporting it. We may get it as a concession however to try to derail us in the case of growing support for independence

  19. Robert A. Harman says:

    It is possible that in the long run the recent Tory win will hasten Scottish Independence. In the short term things may/will be worse for Scotland but the cruel, callous blind indifference of Westminster will be the undoing of the Union.

  20. arthur thomson says:

    I am a lifelong supporter of independence but I would not want to see it happen against the wishes of the majority of the Scottish people. That would be self-defeating. I believe that more and more people are seeing that the Britnats have nothing but lies and deceit to support their case for the union and that this is why the GE result in Scotland was seismic. The proposals for further devolution will, in my opinion, be seen for the fraud they are and I anticipate that they will backfire on the unionists. But how is this going to happen?

    The post by John S Warren and the work of people like the Cuthberts’ is invaluable in informing us of the web of deceit being spun by the Britnats but few of us are going to be able to get an in depth understanding of it. But we don’t need to. It is enough to know and to spread the word that our adversaries are at it again. 56 MP’s have been sent to Westminster to represent Scotland’s interests and in my opinion, crucially to confront the corruption of the Westminster system. It is the continuance of the lies, corruption and deceit by the Britnats that will ultimately persuade the Scottish people that there is no future in such a union. The recognition that we have within our ranks people of substance who can expose what is happening and offer better alternatives will give the people the confidence to seriously consider the alternative of Scottish independence. A big decision for many of our people. We have to keep talking, expose the lies and be patient.

  21. MBC says:

    It’s bizarre to me that a Conservative government would wish to impose dependence on a group of competant people who aspire to be self-supporting. It runs contrary to all the best traditions of conservatism.

    I hope that our new SNP MPs can make that point forcefully across the green benches and appeal to Conservative sentiments.

    However, it does not run contrary to the best traditions of British imperialism, which is to control most of the earth, in the interests of power alone, even if unprofitable.

    Separating British imperialism from English Conservatism is one thing they can do to improve the narrative and aid mutual comprehension.

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