2007 - 2020

Caledonian Kaleidoscope

One Nation LabourLooking at UK Labour’s Leadership Election through the wrong end of a tartan telescope (Caledonian Kaleidoscope?) my first thought is that, rather like the UK General election just past, whatever is happening seems to be going on on Mars. It demanded an effort to recognise that these things matter more than as a matter of detached concern for the neighbours. Then Owen Jones pointed out on Sunday morning that the Observer, in several worried think pieces about the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn actually winning the leadership election, and what Labour’s chances might be of denting a Tory Majority in 2020…never mention Scotland once. So it seems that even labour’s House Sunday has been digging a conceptual ditch along the Southern bank of the Tweed. Scotland is written off to the degree of not its fifty odd winnable seats not even being worth a mention.

And the depth of the crisis facing the left in these islands become clear. Labour can’t win ANY election without offering hope of something better than the economic brutalities and ideological idiocy of market nihilism. They need to offer hope and a paractical prospect of being in a position to deliver on hope/. And they clearly don’t believe it of themselves any more than the electorate in Scotland did in may. They can’t offer a hope that they don’t have themselves. The sense of doom and drift feels inescapable. With Scotland gone, the British Road to Socialism has finally led into the sucking mud of terminal despondency. Liz Kendall waves the defeat of any distinctive Labour Values like a flag over her head. A vote for Liz is an act of existential suicide. Yvette Coop[er is a half conviced technocrat with the air of having backed the wrong computer programme. Andy Burnham imitates them both but in an “authentic” accent. He wears his class like Cooper wears her motherhood…as a meme. And to elect the old fashioned bourgeois radical Jeremy Corbyn as leader may make the endlessly exploited and shat on membership feel better, but the Labour Party after nearly a hundred years as a potential party of government in the UK, looks from here to be abandoning the ambition of power in the unitary UK.

We have long lived with the paradox of the need for a principled and powerful opposition to power at least looking as if it is capable of taking power itself in order to be effective. And there will no doubt be those who will blame us for taking away the last glue that held the shaky broad church of St Albion’s parish church together. But if UK Labour need us that much, then UK Labour was already doomed. Or that we have looked to the SNP as a substitute for something that seems to lack all credibility. That this lack of credibility seems, according to the research published over the weekend, to be shared all across the UK, is more to be lamented than celebrated, even from the most narrow sectarian viewpoint of the SNP. After all, you can’t make progressive alliances if there really is a terminal break in communication between the aspirations of the electorate and their would be representatives.

In the short term, one can easily see scenarios where in the event of a Corbyn victory, the Parliamentary Labour Party simply refuses to recognise the result, and where some new version of the SDP split off as a minority to eventually be subsumed into the Liberals. But that was a minority of Labour MPs who made the split back then. In this case I think it would be Corbyn who be left with a rump of fifty or so MPs and that the other 200 would either coalesce around a charismatic centrist (who isn’t visible yet but might be Alan Johnson, say…) or just fall apart where they’re sitting. Even if it is the comparatively “safe-pair-of-hands” candidates of Yvette Cooper or Andy Burnham who end up in charge of the Titanic, it takes a colossal effort of optimism to envisage either of them steering the Party past the looming Iceberg of electoral indifference next time round.

The deeper cultural problem of which all this is the symptom rather than the cause is the malaise inherent now in the very project of Progress to which both the SNP and Labour theoretically subscribe. The very culture of a combined trade unionist collectivism combined with a progressive social liberalism that made their success possible was itself only a by-product of optimism in the culture itself. And it is cultural exhaustion, the death of hope, the end of the future, that is hobbling the left all over Europe right now. There is only one law and one truth, say the Merkels and the Camerons…and here it comes, crashing onto your head like an anvil in a Tom and Jerry cartoon.

Which brings me to the nub of the matter. Time to put down the tartan telescope and get hold of the microscope.

Scotland’s different, we say. The SNP are genuinely socially democratic. Given half a chance, we’d introduce all manner of yummy progressive social policies. Oh really? Said the NO campaign last , year to the electorate? Do you really believe that? …and we lost the vote. Hope lost to fear.

We have to face the possibility that our assumptions of the greater appetite for social equity we detect in our fellow citizens is conditioned by what David Torrance has identified, I think correctly, as a rather ugly Scottish penchant for exhibiting our moral superiority in the comfortable certainty of never having the power to back that up. never to have to put our taxes where our principles are. The same psychological trap that makes for cosy Unionism..the ability to blame other for what benefits the Scottish Middle Class as much as it does the English, combined with the positivist echo chamber of the invisibly shrinking Yes campaign that is already visibly fragmenting, may be leading us astray. I also recognise from Good Old Labour Days the way that the SNP and its supporters, myself included, tend to circle the wagons in the face of criticism and dismiss all doubt as a tool of the enemy. We may be in danger of substituting a very Scottish “Big Man” client-ism to the Labour hierarchy to the SNP. Defensive deference to our defenders may be one of our defining cultural characteristics for all I know. .

It seemed self evident to me last year that when asked to chose between Hope and Fear that one was bound to choose Hope, as one would choose Life over Death. But I am living as part of a wider set of cultures than that Yes or No aspiration can encompass. And in the UK and in Europe, to hope seems culturally hopeless.

Are we just kidding ourselves up on our Misty Mountains? Is New Scotland Cloud Cuckoo land? We know what “Better Together” said about that, and we were stunned at their negativity, at the poverty of their arguments which all seemed to boil down to “No point. Don’t try. All doomed. Have a drink”…(which always seemed to me an authentically Scottish attitude.)

But we are coming down now to a new set of tactical realities in a new sense of normality. And a normality which does not include the UK Labour Party as at least a POSSIBLY positive contributor to the cultural life of these islands is not one I can comfortably welcome in the same way I welcomed the doomed time-servers of Scottish labour tumbling down in May.

We must learn to navigate new waters. And it may be that our celebration of maiden speeches and a popular first minister are about to shown as insufficient.

Comments (59)

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  1. MBC says:

    Oh dear, you are full of doom. Ideas, ideas and policies are what is needed.

  2. muttley79 says:

    It seemed self evident to me last year that when asked to chose between Hope and Fear that one was bound to choose Hope, as one would choose Life over Death.

    I am really not sure why you would frame the independence debate in this narrow fashion. It was always likely that the Yes campaign would not get over 50 per cent in the first independence referendum in Scotland. You have to remember that support for independence has previously been stuck at around 25 per cent for that last five decades or so.

    Having said that the direction of travel in these decades has been clear, and that is to more extensive Scottish self government. This has all occurred at a relatively fast rate in historical terms, and it was probably this rate of change which counted against a Yes vote last year, given the conservatism of many parts of Scotland, particularly the establishment here. But the signs are good going forward overall.

  3. Broadbield says:

    There’s an excellent reply to that piece you link to at the end by Alasdair Galloway. Yes, what is needed is ideas and policies and for politicians to lead and not follow what they assume to be public opinion, which usually means what the right wing gutter press demands. On tax, for example the SNP should explain why taxes need to rise, especially on the well off and business. It’s a choice: do you want better public services which everyone pays for, or do you want everything privatised so that only the rich can afford good services?

    1. Shaun says:

      Campaigning on raising tax isn’t, historically, a very successful strategy. Quite frankly, I think a lot of people feel taxed enough as it is.

      1. Broadbield says:

        OK, so you’re happy with the Tory agenda?

        Kate, below, mentions many of the things that need to be done. But what we need first, is for politicians to be honest. The Tory and Labour agendas are to shrink the state, enrich the wealthy and to hell with the poor. Until Thatcher/Reagan the UK had a top tax rate of over 80% and prior to that it was in the high 90’s – and postwar the UK had it’s most successful economic performance and inequality was at it’s lowest. CEO’s didn’t award themselves obscene levels of pay, banks didn’t gamble in the casino and the finance industry was much smaller and more tightly controlled. We need to go back to more progressive taxation, which means the better off paying more, more controls on finance and banking, not less as Osborne intends, bringing utilities back under public control and a real attempt to redress inequality and restoring social welfare.

        Politicians need to be honest and lay out what the options are and do some leading rather than meekly following the agenda of the Mail and Murdoch.

  4. John Mooney says:

    Dear God you have not suddenly been afflicted by the “Scottish” cringe epitomized by the likes of Torrance the self appointed “Expert”on all matters SNP,by all means be critical of SNP policies but spare me the faux “Scottish”concerns from the verbiage spouted by the likes of unionist plagiarist such as Torrance!

  5. Jams O'Donnell says:

    What a load of toss! Just away an put yer head in a bag right now, and save us from the awful experience of reading any more of this sort of depressing sharn. It’s not in any way realistic or even informing. If we all go about with this sort of muck in our heads we may as well put on the old shackles again ourselves, save Westminster the bother.

    1. John Page says:

      I am with you, Jams…….this was total crap. The put down of the maiden speeches was disgraceful.

      I have complete confidence that we can do much better without Westminster……..and hopefully the writer of this squalid piece will feel better about his 2p worth of saved taxes while we get dragged into more wars, watch the unions screwed to extinction, the poor crushed and vilified, Scotland’s economy stultified and our kids driven to emigrate

      I have never been so angry about a Bella article.

      John Page

  6. Les Wilson says:

    In this piece it seems you are unsure, and what hand you want to bite. Negativity thrives, THAT has always been our problem. However, as we gain a footing, there is always someone ready to pull the rug and help the doomsayers.

  7. Dunderheid says:

    It seems to me your groping towards the realisation that other than independence, whatever you might sincerely believe in, the SNP don’t. They might say so and mean it briefly, but if the greater goal of independence is served by saying they believe in something else then they will.

    And there’s my ultimate problem with nationalism, the things I believe in, I believe, perhaps naively, not because I think they are best for me, or my family, or my ethnicity or my nation but because they are best for everyone. I don’t have to compromise that belief system to serve some “greater good” for some artificial construct that has little meaning in the modern world

  8. FraserP says:

    I understood this article less the second time I read it than the first. If, as seems to be the case, Peter Arnott is agreeing with the points in Torrance’s article then he needs to get a grip. Torrance does his usual trick of attacking straw men beneath his customary veneer of reasonableness which disguises his utter stupidity in finding policies which promote job creation incompatible with social responsibility. You’re listening to an arch-Tory criticising the SNP for not being left wing enough?

    And as for the ‘comfortable certainty of never having the power to back up’ morally superior policy positions, pardon me but my impression is that the SNP and the Yes movement in general was and is pretty deadly serious about taking full responsibility for Scotland’s future. What’s changed about that? Hope may have lost out to Fear last year, but that wasn’t Scotland’s bottle going – Fear gave itself a 30 yard start in the 100 yard Referendum dash and won it by the proverbial baw hair. I know whose bottle was going and it wasn’t ours.

  9. kate says:

    Supposing real change is possible – looking towards indy ref 2 where are the debates on possible future scottish currency? Greece re euro/drachma shows, as did indy ref 1, how big an issue currency is for people psychologically & in practical terms. it also shows that fear surrounding which currency and the stability & supply of currency is a realistic fear, not a unionist fiction. In Scotland’s case partly because it seems likely from indy ref 1 that london will disrupt & undermine an independent scotland’ s currency if it can. There is even less room to fudge the issue after Greek/EU discussion of being forced out of a currency and the earlier talk of england refusing to share the pound. people need to be persuaded currency is secure well in advance of any new indy ref dirty war.

    re real change in future distribution of wealth, ie. progressive taxation, higher wages, ending state subsidies to private education, affirmation action re class disadvantage etc – under independence it seems the plans are not on the table or in public debate in scotland,, although land redistribution is. As in england it is likely scotland’s poorest will not turn out to vote unless these plans appear, unless the incentive to vote is clearly there. Support for monarchy is not compatible either with a believable anti austerity party ( or a true austerity one) or the aim of an egalitarian society. This is also a major credibilty gap.

    Old labour left values are more or less incorporated in those of the SSP, Left Project & similar groups. Labour is like a traditional brand name where the product sold no longer contains any of the original ingredients. Everyone knows this and a lot of people have stopped buying it, but it still has an english following. If this hollowed out shell of old reformist Labour – no longer even capable of embracing minimalist reforms – regains legitimacy in Scotland everything will be back where it started quite soon.

    1. John Craig says:

      Full marks Kate,
      a simple statement of what is required to go forward without all the “learned” tosh that’s our daily diet.

  10. DaveM says:

    There are a few interesting ideas in this article, but they are poorly developed and not backed up with much evidence. In addition, it’s not been proofread. The language is awful in parts and it’s littered with typos. Why does nobody bother to check these things before publication here?

  11. Scav says:

    I cannot comprehend the level of cynical whinery needed to compose an article like this. As though any attempt to set the bar of modern civilisation higher than “Dickensian Omnishambles” must be decried as utopian by any serious-minded pundit.

    The nature of progressive politics isn’t set in the cast iron of the industrial revolution or the ugly concrete of the 60s. Progress isn’t a shopping list of historical dogma, it’s moving forward from where we are now, rather than being stuck where we’ve been put by others, or falling backward into mistakes we already know were a terrible idea on all previous occasions.

    And it is very clear that one of the first steps that need to be taken in Scotland is to obtain the autonomy to move forward at all. Independence isn’t about nationalism per se, it doesn’t give us automatic Scandinavian social democracy. It’s a simple engineering methodology to remove one salvageable part from a broken machine so it can be repaired separately, subdividing a problem into smaller problems to make it tractable. That might be home rule, FFA or independence.

    But in the wider UK, this attitude that you can’t fight the inexorable descent into corporate feudalism and somehow remain electable is toxic bullshit. A principled leader (such as maybe Jeremy Corbyn, we’ll see) wouldn’t just make the Labour membership “feel better”. It would mean there was actually some point in the millions of disillusioned voters voting Labour again. It would mean we had an effective opposition party in England instead of a de-facto one-party state.

    This whole article erases those millions of voters, north and south of the border, in favour of an imaginary sociopathic swing-voter in a marginal Labour-Tory seat, holding out his fat hand and asking “what’s in it for me?” That’s not the reality I see in Scotland, with >50% anti-austerity votes on a huge turnout, and if it was the reality in England, maybe Labour could have won by chasing the sociopath swing vote? The results of that experiment are in.

    Time for a different one.

  12. Graeme Purves says:

    I wonder whether any of David Torrance’s effusions on Scottish politics will ever be viewed 10 million times?

    1. John Page says:

      Belter!

  13. Kathleen says:

    Lots to think about as always, thanks.

    ““No point. Don’t try. All doomed. Have a drink”…(which always seemed to me an authentically Scottish attitude.)”

    Lovely summary of BT, as good as “too poor, to wee, too stupid”, but not comfy with it being called “authentically Scottish”.

    A foreshortened future, reaching for a damaging painkiller and turning your anger and despair on yourself and your family, all so you can keep your head down, and keep going just another wee bit longer – all that looks to be common in people living under colonisation or any extreme longterm democratic deficit.

    It’s how we’ve lived and died under these conditions, so yes it’s become part of our culture, like it has for people all round the world, but I feel it’s not useful to call that”authentically scottish”, without qualification, and keep on locating the pathology within our own psyche, like they want us to.

  14. C Rober says:

    1.Currency

    Until this a tackled and a proven concept then there will be no independence , being tied to a ECB or the BOE is not an option.

    As the EU has shown with countries with similar or 2-3 times more population of Scotland without a mechanism to devalue , or print money if your on that side of the argument , then we cant go it alone…. it really does boil down to that one thing , currency.

    A fiscal union with RUk is perhaps a better option for Scotland , and indeed for England , but not when the fatter banker drives an economy unevenly weighted to the services as its dominant industry – which will just reduce income , not drive exports for the smaller partner. Just like today with FrancoGerman being weighted in Manufacturing vs REU affecting its smaller partners in the EU.

    1. dunderheid says:

      The problem is that there is no currency solution that doesn’t involve a painful reality check

      Option 1: Allowed (by no means automatic) to inherit UK EU membership and join euro…economic and fiscal policy effectively sub-contracted to ECB and Germany
      Option 2: Inherit UK EU membership and allowed (by EU and rUK neither of which is a given) to retain pound…economic and fiscal policy sub-contracted to BoE and Westminster….basically Devo-Max without the representation
      Option 3: Leave EU and create own currency – true independence but at what cost – trade barriers to rUK and EU, increased interest rates due to inherently more risky debt, becoming a very small fish in a big shark infested pond

      1. Scav says:

        Missing option 4:

        Instant access to European Economic Area like Norway, probably Schengen free travel area because nobody actually wants to add economic friction.

        Formal EU membership if and when we want to join, unless we happen to inherit it, in which case OK why not. This is a nation/treaty-level thing. Scottish, UK and EU residents of Scotland are already individually EU citizens, and this maybe can’t be revoked anyway, so for most people, it won’t make any difference. The legal situation for businesses trading with contracts already under EU law might be the same, but ask an actual lawyer about that one.

        GBP remains the de-facto main legal currency, because there is no reason or way to prevent this from happening. EUR is accepted in most places as a secondary legal currency to encourage trade and tourism.

        Existing Scottish notes become the Scottish pound, initially pegged to GBP. Their current values are already backed by assets held in the BoE, and these assets can’t simply be stolen by rUK, so they stay as valuable as they were before.

        Scottish government creates its own lender of last resort, backed by oil reserves, land (including sea) and renewable energy, so the banks can print more Scottish notes backed by that. Since Scottish per-capita GDP is comparable to rUK and these resources are large compared to the population this is not a high-risk investment for lenders.

        WHEN IT IS DEEMED USEFUL, the Scottish pound floats separate from GBP. The option to do so or not to do so can be taken at the convenience of Scotland, not at the command of Westminster.

        Remember, nearly everything Project Fear came out with was a lie. In practice, EVERY member of the EEA including rUK will want a successful neighbour to trade with not a failed state on their north-west corner.

        There are countless other options and permutations of them. I agree we need to present a good solid plan and backup plan before the next referendum, because the British state is painfully uncreative and will definitely hammer away on the things it thinks worked last time. But to imply we don’t have ANY good options is an extraordinary claim that requires evidence.

        1. dunderheid says:

          Access to EEA needs unanimous approval of its members…rUK being one of them and they are under no obligation to accept us

          And whos going to stop the BoE taking the assets if they are so commanded….British courts?…the EU?…IMF?…UN? rUK would still have veto power in all those organisations and anyway who’s going to care enough to go to the wall for us over a still G8 economy

          The EU treaties are quite clear…unless you have a pre-negotiated exemption membership of EU means automatically membership of euro. This is why Greece is immolating itself at the feet of Merkel…there is no mechanism for it to leave the euro and not also the EU. So we’d either have to accept the euro or attempt to negotiate our own treaty exemption…a negotiation in effect with rUK and their veto

          Scottish GDP/head may be comparable to the rUK but its total tax base isn’t and nor would Scottish debt be a particularly attractive bet given it would either have to accept its share of the sizable UK debt hobbling it from the start or even worse repudiate it. Oh and becoming a petrocurrency is another fantastic plan especially at $50/bbl and dwindling reserves..but i forget renewables will save the day.

          And if you think you will have the choice when you will float the currency you’re dreaming. A currency peg is nothing but a big target to currency speculators and the minute any divergence between the Scottish economy and the rUK is seen they will circle greedily….and it will not be pretty…ERM? Argentinian peso?…ring any bells?

          As for not wanting a failed state in its north west corner…pretty sure they didn’t want one in the south east corner either but in the end the calculation was they’d rather that than directly harm their own interests…if it came to Scotland the same calculation would apply.

          1. Scav says:

            Rejection of Scotland from EEA makes no economic sense to the very interests you refer to, especially in the situation where the status quo is that it’s already inside. There’s no upside to that for anyone, rUK included.

            Theft of private bank assets by the BoE is a ridiculous scenario: these are not the funds of the Scottish parliament, they are assets owned by the note-issuing banks themselves. You think repudiating Scotland’s share of UK debt would be bad for our financial credibility (even though that’s technically not our debt and would be subject to negotiation), but are prepared to suggest that? You might as well say we should give up now because otherwise they’ll send the tanks in and bomb our airports. Don’t be a zoomer.

            The value of nationalised oil reserves in the ground is much higher than the tax revenue on selling and burning oil at current market rates via private companies. You’d be using mineral wealth to back part of your credit-worthiness, not pissing it away like Thatcher did.

            What I’m suggesting isn’t technically a pegged currency. It would be more or less the arrangement we have now but with control in different hands. Scottish notes aren’t real GBP at the moment anyway, but are just used as though they were, within Scotland. Ultimately what makes a banknote valid is general agreement to accept it in return for stuff. That validity is not exclusively in the gift of the BoE or Deutsche Bank.

            But if you doubt that, ask yourself: how would GBP itself become invalid in Scotland, if we kept accepting and using it? Nobody’s going to raid your bank account and swap your savings for sweetie wrappers.

  15. C Rober says:

    Exacly what I meant , currency , it is the no1 question that needs answering , everything else stems from it , pensions , nhs and so on , not just exports and imports.

    Thanks for the input , you both have put the argmuent to the test , without any definite answers for the SNP , indy would always be a pipe dream ,and just a way for politicians to remain in power and wealth.

    Devo max although Scotland could not devalue to suit exports , with the BOE in control , it could use its corporation tax and other powers to redress the problem.

    IF England votes to remove itself from the other Union , the EU , then through Scottish indepdence its companies could just use the system with Scotland as a hub , much as other companies do to reduce tax paid in the uk today.Remaining in the EU as part of the artist formerly known as Uk , without having to reapply and join the currency , is the best for all.

    I am sure there is a back door for the Tories in Westminster for the EU ref for exactly that scenario , large English companies dont want to lose billions in easy EU exports including higher importation taxes etc.

    Scotland could well be the next Jersey , IOM , Andorra or Lux and aided to break free of the Uk union in such a situation , but ironically with the pound they said it could not use , which really meant “unless its for our benefit more than yours” to grant it.

  16. iain taylor says:

    Anything spouted by Torrance will be self serving anti SNP. It’s how he makes his living off the MSM. Newspaper articles, TV appearances etc. Were he to change, the offers would dry up PDQ.

    It’s true that many voted No because its safer to whine about what London does to us than to take responsibility for ourselves.

    But for the positive ones among us – 45% plus – lets carry on being unashamedly positive and showing leadership.

  17. Dunderheid says:

    To Scav:

    Negotiation is not about what is the best result you can obtain but about what you are not prepared to lose. In any negotiation for EEA entry who has most to lose if Scotland stays out…Scotland or rUK. Don’t you think rUK might use that to negotiate for let’s say Trident bases, or more advantageous marine borders or even local Indy referenda in Orkney and/or Shetland…

    Also I don’t think you understand the concepts of fiat currency and fractional reserve banking…you can use any currency you like but if there is nothing guaranteeing its value then it isn’t worth the money it’s printed on. So if BoE says to any UK registered bank that it will not guarantee the assets and more importantly the debt linked to its Scottish operations then we might as well start using sea shells to go shopping….look at Greece…if currency was a simplistic as you claim why don’t they just say screw it we’ll keep using the euro whether you want us to or not

    As for oil…reserves are reserves whether they are extracted by the state or privately…nationalisation won’t magically supercharge millions of years of geology and create more oil. And those reserves can only be used to guarantee a currency at the value they might fetch on open market and right now and for the foreseeable future that price would not buy you advantageous lending terms

    1. MBC says:

      Stranger things may happen. The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands have their own currency.

      1. C Rober says:

        Much as I argued during the indy ref , they are crown dependencies , there is quite a few that still used the quid , The SNP at Westminster should be tabling the removal of these dependencies , if Scotland couldn’t use it then they too are invalid for its use.

  18. arthur thomson says:

    With regard to the original post, it is interesting how so many ‘on the left’ can’t get away from their obsession with the Labour Party. The Labour Party exploited Scotland for years. They took on the role of the establishment’s boot boys in Scotland. They suppressed, depressed and despised anything that could remotely encourage the natives on their Scottish reservation to get a life. They were the pits. They were unscrupulous and utterly detestable. My ONLY interest in the state of the Labour Party is how it can be exploited for the benefit of the people they have systematically shafted for the past 50 years. That begins with getting Scotland out of a thoroughly nasty ‘British’ union. The good news is that increasing numbers of Scots are seeing the Labour Party for what it truly is and are moving towards a realisation that independence is the alternative. The only good thing Labour ever did for Scotland – because it was in their self-interest to do so – was to make people aware of how nasty the Tories are. So that is a job we don’t have to do.

    With regard to some of the negative comments above on the currency issue, the average person is going to be highly aware that they will not be playing a direct role in deciding what currency an independent Scotland will use. That decision will be taken by a Scottish Government which is advised by a team of economists. The only part the currency issue will play in a future referendum will be that it will be used by the media to try to intimidate. Just like Dunderheid is trying to use it to intimidate. There will be no referendum until it is clear that it will be successful for those who support independence. In those circumstances the electorate will see it for what it is – an exercise in intimidation and an added reason to disassociate from the British state.

    For my part, I do not accept the apparent pessimism that those ‘on the left’ are apparently experiencing. I am still thoroughly enjoying the fact that the Scots have actually booted out a whole collection of cynical unionist MP’s. Next step to continue to lift the heads of our people and then walk away from a thoroughly abusive relationship. The Scots are not too wee nor too stupid to negotiate their way as an independent nation.

    Finally, I am not at all impressed by the philosophy that the Scots have no right to improve their lives unless and until the same can be provided for everyone else in the world. That is the stupidly conceited philosophy that can only be afforded by those who have a cushy little lifestyle. Those who maintain the status quo while pontificating about the deserving poor – unionists.

    1. C Rober says:

      Even if some of those booted oot wurnay unionist , the act of not saying no to orders was enough.

      There was some good scalps lost in May regardless , they never worked for their bosses that elected them Last September , but the bosses South of Carlisle – so got their jotters.

      Through Blair we got Hollyrood , a token jesture to make him and his kind multimillionaires , then Labour hoped we would forget and go back to being Brigadoon , to only appear from the fictional mist wanting more crumbs decades later.

      This is the same man while giving us a parly , taking away the Scottish maritime border and redrawing it for Englands future , and as we already know was happy to create oil wars…..perhaps we are expected to be thankful for not being invaded to steal our oil wealth and stringing up oor ain Salmond Hussein.

      Had Dewar been alive things would have been different in MAY.

      I dont think for one minute he would have not taken SLAB onward , Scotland onward , to where SLAB would still be a major player in Scotlands politics , but in an independent nation , casting the SNP to a party no longer needed.

      To see Milliband at his statues feet , egregiously spewing forth drivel about him and Hardie was enough for those long in the tooth box tickers for labour to say no more , it will take nothing other than independence now to redress that.

      Unless they come to the table now with this as their mandate then their time has come to an end , no more the socialist workers party , no more interest from socialist workers. This is why the SNP are riding high today , they have took up the socialist mantle , so in return SLAB should take up theirs.

    2. dunderheid says:

      Firstly I am not saying that you shouldn’t believe in trying to improve the lives of Scots…but surely the things you believe do that (socialism, communism, capitalism, libertarianism or whatever -ism you’re into) do that for everyone also. So why compromise them in service to nationalism

      Also i’m sorry if you are intimidated by the fact I and many other others have real concerns about how we’re going to like buy stuff if Scotland becomes independent. But I tell you what is more intimidating, is your position that there should be no debate and the Scottish people should just toddle back off home and stop worrying our pretty little heads because the SNP and some economists (maybe Yanis Varoufakis…he should be cheap) will sort it out…what a fantastic start to our new inclusive participatory democracy that would be

      1. JBS says:

        Jebus, you must be a riot at parties, dunder. Life and soul, eh. Cheer up, ffs.

        Maybe you need a hug. Well, here they come, lots of pink bunny hugs on their way to you, o thou dunderheid, Crown Prince and Chief Panjandrum of the shiny-shiny land of Whitabootery.

        Feel the love.

        1. dunderheid says:

          Thanks for the concern JBS and I’ll be stockpiling the pink bunny hugs you sent…might come in handy as barter goods if Scotland ever gets independence…

          1. JBS says:

            You’re welcome, dunder. As far as the currency is concerned, I think the answer is staring us all in the face. An independent Scotland should use the dram – the currency of Armenia.

            Have another pink bunny hug while I’m here.

  19. John Page says:

    Mr Arnott
    You will note from my comments above that I am unhappy with your piece.
    I would like to understand your motivation……..Torrance is a unionist self publicist with books to sell and articles in the MSM. Not clear what you are seeking to achieve.
    If you are not sure what waters you are navigating in……….just get out of the way and let the rest of us get on with it……..we know what needs to be done

    Looking forward to Bella’s project on planning for the medium term………will body swerve crap such as the above……especially when it digs at the recent maiden speeches
    Badly done……very badly done!

    John Page

    1. Lincoln Powell says:

      Interesting.

      David Torrance is castigated as a ‘self publicist with books to sell and articles in the MSM’, whereas Pat Kane (who has books to sell and articles in the MSM) is feted.

      “Just get out of the way and let us get on with it … we know what needs to be done”. Quite the champion of open debate, free speech and democracy, aren’t you?

      And why are “the maiden speeches” somehow sacrosanct and untouchable?

      Or (as I suspect) do you demand that all and any critique or dissent shown to your National party is silenced?

      1. John Page says:

        You can think and write what you like………after years of second rate representation by the likes of Brian Donohue I have been uplifted and inspired by the recent maiden speeches…….so I choose to express my anger at people who sneer at them…….and I am fed up with the negativity evinced in this article that we can’t do better than the cess pit that is Westminster.
        So tough.
        Bella can choose to publish Mr Arnott again and I can choose either to not read him or to express as I have done here my anger at such sentiments
        I do think you are presumptious in your last sentence but actually I have no wish to comment further to you or on this unfortunate example of self indulgent cringe

        John Page

      2. JBS says:

        I think that I should say at this point, Corporatist Hell alias Lincoln Powell, that Manchester is a wonderful city, full of lovely people. The reason why I emphasise this is that anyone who didn’t know Manchester and who read your comments might gain the impression that it was full of smug gits.

        1. John Page says:

          JBS
          Thanks for positing this out. I had wondered what had happened to that person. Despite his busy higher rate tax paying comfortable life, he has still found time to change his identity once again and taken the trouble to point out the inferior nature of my views on this article by Peter Arnott.
          John Page

  20. MBC says:

    Never put our taxes where our principles are? I would gladly hand back the £10 a month Osborne ‘gave’ me back in April when he raised the tax threshold to £10k, and if 4 million of my countrymen did the same that would be £480 million a year. My only quibble would be that it was invested in capital projects like social housing, infrastructure, renewables, things we would retain, and not poured down a bottomless pit like paying for PFI projects.

    1. C Rober says:

      This is where the future fiscal forward thinking lies for Scotland , not a Central bank making the few wealthy , but a nationalised bank , with of course safegaurds against the likes of soros when he nearly broke the BOE.

      FFA would redress this as a first step towards prosperity , as would the Creation of a NS and I , Council as mortgage lenders on RTB , as well as the other lesser known tax the lottery becoming state controlled.

      I would want to avoid the whole OILephant in the room as long as possible , ideally until it gets to the point of profitability. We cant do forward on a limited resource income , even if that is a trillion quid.

      There is plenty of Scope for the financial future of Scotland , not just fae yer tenner , or fae oil , just imagine what a donation of a days wage towards creating a Scottish Central bank would achieve , and do this every year for 10 years until on oor feet proper….tax refunding the investment back to the people later in the form of reductions for the following 10 years.

      Sometimes the problem creates the problem , keeps the problem going , lateral thinking is better than reactionary thinking to either benefit from the problem or in its removal.

      1. MBC says:

        Yes. it’s lateral thinking. For instance, housing, keeping housing costs low, keeping energy costs low, keeping food costs low. Housing costs could be kept low if we invested my tenner and others like it, in building new social housing. That would help the low paid and those SMEs that might be inspired to take on more employees if the costs weren’t prohibitive. Energy costs could be kept low by building energy efficient housing. It’s stuff like that. We can help the poor and our economy best, by keeping the costs of living low. It would mean the social welfare bill would go down as rents would be lower, people would be happier and more secure. This would have knock-on effect on health, crime, family breakdown statistics, educational attainment and costs of education. Happy children achieve more, happy parents argue less, and they achieve more too. Everybody will go up a notch if the conditions of life are better. Labour’s policies have always been to throw money at symptoms and never to tackle root causes.

        1. C Rober says:

          Affordable housing is both a lie and a priority for the SNP , when a new AH house is 7x or more the net median wage it is hardly affordable and the SNP should not be championing their ineffectual lack of supply as a success.

          Your right , bang on , if we removed the biggest financial overhead of the people , housing , slave to the banker and fuel companies , then what we have is a low wage economy that works , meaning exports to balance off the imports.

          Know anyone with 30 million , for a pilot factory?

          I have a way to redress Social housing and Affordable in a decade.

          Currently the SNP supply in North Ayrshire will take 107 years for social , and that doesn’t address replacing old fuel poverty stock , yet they are boasting about their triumph. So i got lateral thinking….

          Sip building construction , centralised factories , non profit completion price of 50k , currently councils are paying 120-160 k for one house today , just think of the difference that would make.

          The exact same method is used for true affordable housing as for Social , meaning integrated communities , not stigmatised ones , where the profit is limited to 5 percent like car makers which is also where I got the idea from.

          I have seen houses and resturants up in 2-3 days using more expensive systems which lead me to my reasearch.

          Environmentally they are near passive , not using full brick skins but only a dpc , double skinned with polymer render and cladding on site , supplied as 2 bed bungalows like a lego kit meaning less trades , and first fix inbuilt at the factory , services already in the founds before arrival.

          If the site is large enough using undersoil preheating of water entering the boilers in the houses , removing another 30 percent of heating costs in hard winters.

  21. Kathleen says:

    From the Torrance article linked to above

    “In Drew Weston’s book, The Political Brain, he demonstrated how Democratic candidates in the US generally deployed arguments of reason, marshalling statistics and policy detail, while Republicans appealed to moral instinct and gut feeling. And in doing so Republicans generally won, for the political brain is primarily an emotional one.

    During the referendum campaign the SNP identified that reality and exploited it relentlessly, as they did again during the General Election campaign, appealing to many Scots’ sense of moral superiority. Now this is self-evidently an effective way of winning elections, but a complete distraction from the business of government. But then the SNP realise that, if they allow themselves to be judged purely on their record in devolved government, they’ll likely be found wanting.”

    He hasn’t explained why he thinks our determination to live in a country that is not run on scapegoating and destruction of the most vulnerable, is really just a form of othering.

    Is it “othering” to state that many people living in one country believe we should all eat and have a home?

    Is it “morally superior” to believe we all should eat and have a home – yes. But we want independence because everyone needs to eat and have a home and this can’t happen within the UK.

    What is the emotional need in his readers that Torrance is playing on and exploiting when he rewrites this reality as the scottish psychological need to feel morally superior?

    I’m not saying we’re free of this othering crap, it’s so deep in our culture it can creep in in all kinds of ways, but his accusation of the SNP playing on scottish people’s anti english racism doesn’t stand up. Much of the North of England would do the same as us if there was a clear pathway. The SNP has been making common cause with those in england who oppose austerity.

    He compares us to US republicans. We aren’t america. Since indyref, (when people like me got why we need internet and this got the Yes vote up, got us the sunday herald, the national, and a less biased STV, ), we can’t be kept that tame and played by money, media or any party – lots of us will vote SNP, Green and SSP till independence, but don’t need to believe in every thing they’ve ever done.

    Most institutions are opportunistic. In this set up, every party is a coalition who agree on a few things and disagree on more. The SNP will be a broad one until independence. All parties leadership and position change. Whether we call this responsive or opportunistic, this doesn’t mean each of our individual SNP politicians are “weathercocks” who have made their gains by playing on some racist, false sense of moral superiority in their electorate.

    It was scottish people campaigning for yes who took the SNP to it’s leftish side by successfully challenging the right’s use of “just world belief” on the electorate – this endless rewriting of reality to believe the world is just and safe if you obey the rules, everyone gets what they deserve and deserves what they get, the othering/divide and rule that WM, MSM and the 1% depend upon.

    Lots of people north and south of our border have had a “tend and befriend” response to austerity, and the leftish side of just world thinking – the belief people with no home and no food have not got what they deserve, and we don’t accept there is no alternative, the world can be made more just and more safe

    He hasn’t said why he feels our belief in co operation and equality is false and somehow more primitive/less rational than the unionist position. All “rational” thought involves feeling.

    Torrance saying our determination to have a country where we all eat and have a home is the naïve scottish electorate having their primitive emotions and notions of scottish moral superiority stroked and stoked by a nationalist party, is the same old – the SNP are dangerous ethnic nationalists leading the naïve, slightly racist scots into fascist hell. Same old comfort fantasy pap.

    It’s confusing me why is Peter Arnott going along with all this?

    Will Torrance still be standing firm for the union if some day it’s mostly only the english papers that can sell and pay him well for this stuff?

    1. John Page says:

      Kathleen
      Can I say how impressed I am by this post. Unlike my inarticulate rage about the above article and my annoyance about Torrance’s initial sentiments, you have eloquently taken them apart.
      Well done you
      John Page

      1. Kathleen says:

        Cheers John, I liked your rage.

    2. lincoln powell says:

      “our determination to live in a country that is not run on scapegoating and destruction of the most vulnerable”

      Are you referring to another country? Which one is it? Is it the one you live in now? The United Kingdom (which Scottish people voted conclusively to remain part of in September 2014) ? Because the UK isn’t ‘run on scapegoating and destruction of the most vulnerable’. You live in an advanced western liberal democracy operating a form of state regulated capitalism. All things being relative, the opportunities available to everyone in the UK (from free education upwards) and the protections provided (social security, free healthcare) are amazing compared to what are available to most people in the world.

      “is really just a form of othering.”

      He hasn’t said that – you’ve just said that.

      “Is it “othering” to state that many people living in one country believe we should all eat and have a home?”

      No, but I don’t see a point here. If you walked up to just about anyone in the UK in the street and said ‘should we all eat and have a home” the answer would almost certainly be yes. If you then asked them who it is that should / must be responsible for ensuring that people have these things – you would get a wide ranging plurality of responses; whether you were in Scotland, England, Wales or NI.

      If ‘everyone’ should have (‘is entitled to’ .. has a ‘right to’) ‘a home’ – the question then is ‘who should people assert that right against’? And I guarantee you that not everyone – I dare say a majority of people, will not say that right should be asserted against the state, nor should the state (the taxpayer) be expected to provide this. Certainly not in all or any circumstances or scenarios.

      “But we want independence because everyone needs to eat and have a home and this can’t happen within the UK.”

      It won’t happen within an ‘independent Scotland’ either. There will always be poverty, by whatever measure (relative or absolute) and there will always be some level of homelessness. In part because the causes of these things are so many and complex.

      (NB – poverty and homelessness exist in all places, including in the nordic utopias of Norway, Denmark etc that are so feted on here)

      “He compares us to US republicans. ”

      No he doesn’t, he draws comparisons between human behaviour and nature found in different parts of the world (We are all human after all)

      “this doesn’t mean each of our individual SNP politicians are “weathercocks” who have made their gains by playing on some racist, false sense of moral superiority in their electorate.”

      I see it more simply. I see SNP politicians as easy populists, who, protected through their unique position of being able to take the credit for anything that goes well (rare as it is) and blame someone else for everything that goes wrong (often) who will say and do anything to achieve the single aim of ‘independence’. For their own ends, of having power – like all politicians. (there’s nothing wrong with that in itself, I’d just prefer they were honest about it.

      Example – Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh. Member of the Conservative Party. Then the Labour Party. Then the SNP.

      Or more widely, consider Kevin Pringle, previous SPAD to Alex Salmond. Congratulated by Nicola Sturgeon on his new job at PR firm charlotte street partners. Founded by Andrew Wilson, a former SNP MP who went on to become head of RBS communications during the banking crisis. Charlotte Street’s clients include FirstGroup, and offers ‘advice on a range of business issues that interweave with with political and regulatory considerations. So nothing to worry about there then.

      “It was scottish people campaigning for yes who took the SNP to it’s leftish side ”

      No, they’ve tacked left – or at least tacked on a leftish veneer – when they found easy populism and corporatism alone didn’t claw them over the independence line. So they’ll have a go at this now instead. No problem, the SNP are used to having changed their spots across the decades, they’ve become very good at it, and waving some saltires to sell it to the crowd.

      “everyone gets what they deserve and deserves what they get,”

      In an advanced western liberal democracy with social security, free education and healthcare, this is mostly true. With exceptions (disabled people, for example, who get a rubbish deal, and I’m personally committed to disabled people having the same opportunities that able bodied people can take for granted).

      “the world can be made more just and more safe”

      Including the bit in Scotland? Sure. Your social attitudes surveys don’t suggest that many people are prepared to do much about it, least of all put their hands in their pockets, or accept a bit of redistribution.

      “He hasn’t said why he feels our belief in co operation and equality is false and somehow more primitive/less rational than the unionist position.”

      He hasn’t said that.

      “notions of scottish moral superiority”

      These absolutely do exist, I remember it well, and of course are entirely baseless. This exists in England too of course. But there is a peculiar culture in Scotland of people telling themselves – and each other, in a self-reinforcing echo chamber – about how morally and ethically superior they are. While Scotland has the same problems, inequalities etc. as anywhere else, including England, and all social attitudes surveys show that social attitudes across the UK are more or less the same.

      “It’s confusing me why is Peter Arnott going along with all this?”

      It seems to me more of a bit of a howl at the moon.

      “Will Torrance still be standing firm for the union if some day it’s mostly only the english papers that can sell and pay him well for this stuff?”

      He could always move to England.

      1. John Page says:

        Still think it was a great post, Kathleen

        1. Kathleen says:

          wonderin, is it worth out-pedanting a man who thinks we’re all lucky, except the disabled – when deliberately created poverty is a major cause of disability. Maybe he meant conditions you’re born with, not the conditions you’re born into

      2. JBS says:

        I reckon that no amount of pink bunny hugs – not even a constant stream of them – is ever going to help you, Corporatist Hell alias Lincoln Powell.

        It’s starting to look like there must be a corner of Manchester where it’s always raining – a cold, hard, bitter rain that perpetually freezes the blood and sours the mind.

  22. Neil says:

    To the editor: How much do you get paid for an article on Scottish governance? And does anyone submit such article – they seem to be a bit thin on the ground here. I know the editor doesn’t behold totally to the SNP, but some more relevant blogs would be appreciated by me, at least.

    A guy died in Kirkcaldy Scottish Police station – why no story? Too much opinion on irrelevant history to the ends of bolstering ‘I am oppressed’ in one of the wealthiest, and least oppressed societies in the world.

    I want an opposition to the government. I don’t want someone crowdfunded with £40,000 to support the government.

    1. Neil says:

      My post is contradictory cant, but I really would like more journalism on investigating civic Scotland. I don’t want a blogger arsing around with people’s money and spending it on his rent and on propagating really tedious academic stuff.

      Please can we have investigatory journalism – outwith Bruntsfield dinner parties would be nice. Jeez – Morven just got ‘what I did in my summer holidays’ published in the Gruan.

      1. Bruntsfield dinner parties? Sound yummy.

      2. John S Warren says:

        On the matter of being ‘beholden’ or ‘spending people’s money’ and for the avoidance of doubt: I have written numerous articles published in Bella Caledonia and have never asked for payment. I have never been offered payment; and I have never received any payment.

        I first submitted an article to Bella Caledonia during the long Referendum campaign and simply wished to present an independent and challenging perspective on relevant issues for public debate that would not likely be found in the mainstream media, which I believe has atrophied intellectually, or merely represents narrow vested interests; but in any case broadly the media has failed the Scottish people. I am neither a socialist nor a nationalist, but I do believe in a robust and innovative public sector and in what used to be termed the ‘Common Good’; and it is there, perhaps that I find common ground with Bella Caledonia. It may be, however that you would find my contributions to be merely “propagating really tedious academic stuff”.

      3. JBS says:

        Neil:

        Morven? Graun? Oh, I see…

        “Rather than a bikini, I swim in an unflattering one-piece; in place of chilled picnic food I carry fun-sized Mars bars in my cagoule pouch.”

        http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/17/scotland-summer-magazine-dream

        Oh, man, that’s a peach. Poly Filler lives.

    2. C Rober says:

      I take it you submitted a blog , about the guy in a police cell , and the editor never published it.

      Are we talking recently , investigations ongoing etc , then you have your answer.

      If we are talking about the failure of Police Scotland then perhaps you should re submit , but not just on one incident , there are plenty of failures , including the one ongoing with the lack of investigation properly the crashed vehicle off stirling off ramp which left two dead…which again would not be discussion material until investigations and results are complete.

      There is some things that sites like bella simply cannot publish , even as blogs , and ideally the articles from what I see submitted and published are related in either political merit or argument , sometimes personal views on integration into society as subject matter like sexuality/religion/disability which is well open for discussion , or politics from outside of the Uk which may be deciding factors in future decisions in both pro and anti indy.

      I hardly think that bella is a propoganda machine for the SNP , taking an envelope , or some of my posts would never be allowed , and if they were would be full of cybernat trolls allowed to run rampant , I havent seen this here , other sites sure have.

      We cannot be allowed to think that the SNP are the be all and end all of politics in Scotland , I will highlight their failures where I find them , bella has not chosen to prevent the posts , yet still think they are the only choice currently until indy comes along , where hopefully there will be someone in direct opposition to them in Hollyrood keeping them to task…. unlike the labour turncoats and their squeaky bums for 2017.

  23. Darien says:

    “Looking at UK Labour’s Leadership Election ”

    This issue seems so much the concern of a foreign country now, no? Scotland is finished with slab – the next Holyrood election will be the final nail in their coffin.

  24. Matt Seattle says:

    “even labour’s House Sunday has been digging a conceptual ditch along the Southern bank of the Tweed”

    The Tweed is not the Border – admittedly a little less so than Hadrian’s Wall, which is not the Border at all, anywhere.

    Just a bit pedantic on my part, I know, but it betrays ignorance of “Scotland below the Belt” which is where a lot of the interesting stuff happens.

  25. thomaspotter2014 says:

    The only ‘clientism’ I want to offer Labour is filling the Wickerman effigy with their lost and dishonest soul then purging same with cleansing fire.

    The 56 shades of SNP anti-tory austerity party are not in the midden of Westminster to save scurrilous Labour imposters and their troughing rights.

    DO .ME A FUCKING FAVOUR!

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