Scotland’s Future #oneyearon

Indyref poster FW printIt’s not often that Bernard Ponsonby, STV’s grizzled political correspondent (and let it not be forgotten, LibDem candidate in the 1988 Govan by-election), is responsible for moving me to tears.

But there I was, in the final few scenes of his STV documentary Scotland What Next? – overcome by that grief I remember regularly seizing me, on random car journeys or family occasions, between the months of late September 2014 and early January 2015.

I think it was the old silverback’s closing lines about being indy being “in the hands of Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish people. What better hands could there be?” Whoosh! Straight into the lavvies at La Siempre, next to Kelvinhall Tube, for a few minutes serious shoulder-heaving.

It’s personal, as much as political. Alex and Nicola, in their various ways, were a significant part of my twenties, my first marriage, my first public interventions. Part of the impact of seeing them both on a tv screen is to feel how consistent people are over the years. Salmond is as cheeky-Machievellian as the first time I met him, in his home conservatory near Peterhead. Sturgeon is still as thoughtful and reserved as the young activist who got this gob-on-a-stick elected Rector in 1990, but she possesses such a womanly power around her now.

Of course, we all still serve The Cause, as Billy Kay put in his recent series. Yes, it’s now from somewhat different angles, based on distinct analyses of what will bring us to the Good Society in Scotland (on that, more below). But like them, I made the shift to accept that Scottish sovereignty is the number one tool to bring about an equal, flourishing society that you’d want to live in. And if you hold tightly on to that for a quarter of a century, taking it with you as the only solid political ground you have, through almost every circumstance – then your connection with those who have made the same shift is deep. There’s not many fancy words needed to express it.

But in general, I do feel safer emotionally as I face this indyref anniversary. The wound has closed over, the scar tissue has accumulated: it can take knocks now without bursting wide open all over again. There’s no doubt that the rise of the YeSNP – even though I wasn’t really living and breathing it, having joined the Scottish Greens on September 19th, 2014 – helped the healing process. So many friends and colleagues, old and new, from before as well as during the indyref, putting their livelihoods on the line and standing for a party that quite a few of them could never imagine committing to many years ago. It was a delight to directly cheer on and support many of them: the sheer pleasure of solidarity with progressive, talented, humane people, SNP or no.

But there’s pressure on the skin from other directions now, too. I do what I can to support the indy-friendly public sphere, of media and ideas, that came to life during the referendum. It’s been my most vital point of connection to Scottish affairs since the beginning of my interests – the magazines, the journals, the columnists, the forum-hosters, the intellectuals, the artists. And it has been greatly pleasing to see that “democratic intellect” erupt into all forms of new media (and sometimes old, with the creation of The National).

Deep down, I believe this is the most powerful fuel for progress in Scotland: a free and self-sustaining media, that can both reflect and constitute the civic consciousness of a nation, in all its complex aspirations. It has been such a huge relief to see it emerge from the bottom-up, blog by webcast by app. This is a much better life-experience than to be always waving our fists at implacable top-down institutions (which will no doubt be the experience of a Tory-led BBC Charter Review).

But we independistas are now not the only ones trying to challenge the vast and effortless smugness – well on display in the STV documentary – of Westminster.

You’d have to be utterly churlish not to feel sympathetic to the Corbynites. They’ve swept into power via a combination of electoral opportunity, networked activism and deep disdain for official politics (well, what does that remind you of?). They’re facing the same kind of monstering, othering and demonisation that Scottish Nationalists did for many years, and latterly Yessers, from almost exactly the same media-establishment moguls and operators. And – in terms of challenging the neo-liberal, neo-imperialist verities – for almost exactly the same reasons.

The great regret (and irony) will be if the Corbynites end up regarding the Scottish surge as something to be redirected to Labour Westminster-majority ends, rather than allied with and respected in its own right. I am hopeful that, progressive vote by progressive vote in Westminster, some bonds of mutual respect will be forged. It would be a waste of conflicting energies, if party tribalism from a Corbyn-led Labour pushed indy-minded Scots into a resentful posture about their project – which surely, faced by the Tories, the Blairites and a ravening London media, needs all the friends it can get.

But given the internal divisions within the Labour Party, and their giant demographic and attitudinal challenges in many areas of England, it still seems likelier that the most direct path to a just, equal polity on these islands – one that can sustain itself at least – is via the establishment of a Scottish nation-state.

And in that respect, one year on, I do find myself in an unusual ideological position. Two events have caused things to complexify for me. The behaviour of the Eurocrats around Greece’s various debt and deficit deals – their intimidation in the face of an electoral mandate, and their callousness towards the evident social suffering in the country – has shocked me profoundly.

This is not the “Europe” that the 90’s concept of “independence in Europe” implied – a place where a higher standard of social contract pertained than the brutalities of Thatcherism and its variants.

I doubt that I would ever really vote “No” in an EU ref, when it came to the crunch. But I watched the way the European institutions, both public and commercial, threatened the Greek people before their “No to the Eurodeal” referendum – and it so reminded me of the last few months of the indyref. The idea that national democracy is ultimately powerless in the face of financial-political oligarchy is deeply worrying, if not enraging.

We can’t go into another Scottish referendum, whenever the opportunity flashes up, with the blithe, interdependent assumptions of “Indy Lite Mark 2” sitting at the centre of the Yes pitch. We may achieve forms of cross-border interdependence, as pragmatism and negotiations allow. But we must get our countrywomen and men ready for the idea that independence means an absolute assertion of nation-state sovereignty first – legally, materially, and as best we can, economically. And that we need to be strong and united in face of the big-power buffeting this will receive, and the period of systemic insecurity this will herald, before things can settle down into a more sensible pattern of power relationships.

Like Nicola Sturgeon on the STV show, the acute pain of losing one referendum is all-too-easily invoked. I don’t want to go to another Yes vote where our rational plans for co-existence are ripped to pieces by the mighty propaganda machines of those we’re supposed to be rationally co-existing with. “60% plus” polling for Yes over a period is one kind of indication of the collective mental and cultural strength we need. But I suspect we need something even deeper and stronger than that.

What policy innovations can we enact now, even within the current limits of powers, that are as close to completely sovereign acts as possible? Much more radical land reform? Clearly hypothecated higher income taxes? A Scottish digital currency, up and running as quickly as possible? Fly legal challenges to the moving of Trident missiles on Scottish roads? Come on, compatriots and comrades: what? Call it LDI, “lateral declarations of independence”, if you like.

We need to feel the chafing of Scottish aspirations against Scottish constitutional limits a lot more sharply than we are doing so at the moment. We need to feel independent in action, not just in mind – and action on a seasonal, monthly, weekly basis, rather than just every two or four years. This is why I’ve wished for a pluralistic “independence majority”, rather than an SNP majority, for a number of years now. For all my fine pals and redoubtable comrades within our national party, they’re too broad and hegemonic a church; they’re not going to be, they cannot be, this radical on their own.

There’s a second event – or process – that also makes me feel oddly aligned, ideologically. This is the realisation that Scotland as a whole, and like many other Western countries, is facing a series of huge crises (ageing and demography, environmental limits, the upheaval of work in the face of automation).

For example, we can’t just keep repeating the same old cliches about “greater prosperity and productivity raising all boats”. Take the recent report of what happens to the planet when we burn every scrap of hydrocarbon we have – that is, utter disaster. An independent Scotland needs to actively and consciously plan to keep most of our existing oil under the seas, or at least when extracted kept entirely away from energy production (and stewarded for long term use in plastic, fertiliser and other non-carbon-raising products). If we don’t do this, we are being environmentally unethical – and we’d know it.

So my indy thoughts now are firmly on the left-green end of the spectrum. This small, infinitely multiform country evidently has the capacity to build strong social consensus around values and policies. If so, we need to build that around a vision of the next 50 to 100 years that takes some huge coming changes a hell of a lot more seriously than we do currently.

Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism book – whose worth I tried to convey in these columns a few weeks ago – is one example of exactly the kind of profound rethinking of our basic social and economic system our leading politicians should be embracing. (There are many more figures to raid – see Michel Bauwens, Jeremy Rifkin, Juliet Schor, Tim Jackson, or Manuel Castells. In Scotland, the work of the late Ailsa McKay, or currently of Katherine Trebeck or Lesley Riddoch. To his credit, the ex-SNP advisor Alex Bell has been piping up on these themes for a good while too).

Whether it comes to our Scottish political leaders like a revelation in the deep of night, or whether it’s forced upon them by electoral alliance in a Holyrood Parliament, a Scottish polity which is wide-eyed and fully ready for a demanding future needs to be forged and nurtured.

I look back at the last 1500 words – and there’s your legacy of indyref, one year on. Who is that guy? Surely I’m not the only one who surprises her or himself by the amount of political education these last few years have given them. Let’s keep the surprises coming, all the way to the next anniversary in September 18th, 2016.

Comments (40)

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  1. Dougie Blackwood says:

    I’m sorry but this is too much naval gazing. It’s simple: The Yes movement was a mixture of all progressive strands of Scottish opinion. We started off with about 25/30 percent support and with hard work got it up to 45. I personally persuaded a significant number to come our way and if we get the starting gun it will start all over again. Get the strategy right and reassure the old and the frightened and we can do it.

    Forget the details of what happens next. The aim is independence, regardless of your politics. Once that is achieved the politics begin; all bets are off; what do we want for Scotland? We can decide democratically which of the many ways we want to go. Support your party of choice and after independence the SNP will split until we have a rainbow consensus arguing and debating the best way forward.

    1. Duncan McKinnon says:

      Too true!

      The Scottish Government over the past eight years have proved themselves highly competent. This competence has been demonstrated in the face of cut budgets, austerity and a westminster government bent on seeing Scotland fail. Imagine Iain Gray or Helen Lamont at the rudder?

      This competency needs to be maintained and the changes in circumstance to trigger a second referendum will happen. We just have to wait, in the meantime the exodus from labour will continue.

      I made the assumption and mistake that labour mps viewed Corbyn as a decent bloke, slightly odd, but too far to the left to appeal to the mainstream, especially Worcester woman or Basildon man. Let’s be clear, 80% absolutely loathe him and view him as completely treacherous and dangerous. This is not a marriage made in heaven and will end in tears, some observers give it as little as a month, but more likely 3 months. Even those inside his new shadow cabinet caveat their views on him, two days after he appointed them.

      When labour implodes, who benefits?

      Fancy another 15 years of tory rule?

      1. Dougie Blackwood says:

        Those presently in the Labour branch office are a busted flush. They will mostly get their marching orders in May. Labour jobsworths need not apply in an independent Scotland. We need real people with their own views to argue the case; at the moment Scottish Labour people are selected for their obedience rather than fresh ideas. If Labour survives it needs to be independent from London Instruction and have the people’s interests at heart rather than their party’s electoral prospects.

    2. Pat Kane says:

      Dougie, I’m much more of a “utilitarian” than “existential” nationalist than that (to use MacCormick/Sturgeon’s terms). I depart from independence if it could potentially usher in a low-tax, beggar-thy-neighbour, superpower-coddling, ethnically-intolerant country. I’ve been with it all these years because my sense and experience tells me that a fully self-determining Scotland will be a model progressive nation. However, I don’t want to leave that to chance… thus the necessity of ideological debate before and during the independence struggle.

    3. Jo says:

      “Forget the details of what happens next. ”

      Isn’t that approach what cost YES dearly in the Referendum? I voted YES but I know many people who needed, really needed, details. Details were important to them. You can’t say to people, “Forget the details.” I don’t think it’s a reasonable position to adopt.

      1. Mr T says:

        Every now and then a little green shoot of common sense appears!

        I was amazed how little detail there was when I peered under the covers. Call me a member of the “most despicable, materialistic, cold-blooded, money-grabbing bourgeoisie on the planet” (see below), but I wasn’t about to cast my vote on the basis of pure ‘hope’, as in ‘I hope it’s going to be OK’. At least give me a semblance of a plan, or was the 24 March 2016 simply plucked out of the air?

        1. Douglas says:

          You see, Mr T, this is exactly the kernel of the matter. The issue was a very simple one – national sovereignty. No detail required…that simple…

          …but the SNP (full of Edinburgh bourgeoisie ALSO) presented the matter as though it was a general election, with the frankly ridiculous POLICY of free child care, and lots of other policies too, some more half-baked than others, thereby muddying the Calvanistic waters of the matter, leading people to think it was all about the “detail” and what was “on offer”…etc….

          …the very same canny Scot mentality which saw the Union of 1707 come about in the first place…

          …forgive me for stooping to logic, but when a country is asked whether it should be independent, it is being asked a question about national sovereignty, and nothing else.

          As for the Edinburgh bourgeoisie, well what can you say about a city in which 25% of children attend fee-paying schools, a city whose middle class pride themselves on being Scottish (but not too Scottish please) , which has class divisions which are so ingrained that they even manifest themselves in the sport you play at school, and which has appalling disparities in wealth / poverty in just a couple of miles walk…Pilton and Morningside, say…

          …while at the same time celebrating with all the pomp imaginable “the arts” each summer, except, for the most part, Scotland’s arts….

      2. James Coleman says:

        “but I know many people who needed, really needed, details. Details were important to them. ”

        Details were abundant if you cared to look for them. Unfortunately too many Scots covered up their ears and believed the liars in the media.

        The MAIN reason YES lost was because there were too many weak kneed people at the helm of the YES campaign too afraid to come out and bluntly criticise the shit BT was throwing at us for fear of being accused of being anti-English, and I include the SNP there. Christ, one of our main weapons, Wings over Scotland was either totally denied or criticised by the YES campaign and the ‘be nice to everyone’ YES bloggers of the OLD New media. Our sole aim should have been to denigrate everything BT and its media clowns said in the strongest possible terms whover it might offend.

        Where TF was the YES campaign’s Press Officer? I don’t remember anything of substance coming from there. It was an independence campaign FFS. The ends justify the means.

        1. muttley79 says:

          If we had done what you are advocating here we would have ended up both getting beat and not having the consolation of the post referendum surge in membership of the pro-independence parties imo. That would have been a ridiculous tactic to employ, and would have been lapped up by BT. Most of the electorate would have viewed both campaigns as both being as bad as each other, and politics in Scotland would have suffered greatly. We would not have had a new FM either, which has freshened things up considerably.

          1. James Coleman says:

            Nonsense. You’re one of the apologists for the weak kneed approach, so you would say that. A strong vigorous campaign was needed and we didn’t have that. Lte’s hope we don’t make the same mistake next time.

        2. dennis mclaughlin says:

          You’ve hit it bang on there!.
          Nice but Dim Jenkins was our Achilles heel….
          My 80 odd year old Mother in Law has more fight in her than this Yes campaign showed…an utter shambles who wasted a winning hand by kowtowing to the media!.
          Letting the BBC away with all the crap they threw at us was the worst bit for me,we never held them to answer for their lies,and utter one sided biased propaganda…
          We have to stand up for what we believe in and be prepared to fight our own corner…
          Nicola Sturgeon won’t repeat all these errors,this is what is stirring the hornet’s nest down south…
          In tae them! .

          1. muttley79 says:

            This is actually a reply to James Coleman. I can see you are angry. However, anger does not win, and did not win over people who were opposed or unsure about independence before 2011. We had a campaign that lasted over 2 years. If we had been as confrontational as the No campaign by the time of the vote, the vast majority of people would have been fed up with the whole subject. I would rather have nous and strategy over the angry approach that you wanted from the Yes campaign.

          2. James Coleman says:

            This is a reply to Muttley79 whoever he is.

            Why are people who disagreed with the way the YES campaign was conducted always called ‘angry’ by its apologists? I’m not angry just disappointed that we had such an opportunity which was thrown away by a YES campaign that was so poor. It lacked vigour, didn’t stand up to the Project Fear onslaught from BT, refused to criticise the BBC, was far too soft, didn’t make use of the bloggers and other Social media people, and was out of its depth vis a vis the latter. No-one will ever win and Independence Referendum by playing it softly softly.

            You say: ” I would rather have nous and strategy over the angry approach that you wanted from the Yes campaign.” I didn’t say and ‘angry’ approach. That is your word. Stop throwing out your opinions and assertions as facts. You don’t know if a ‘hard’ campaign like I advocate would have won. But we sure as hell know that a softly, softly, campaign like yours lost.

  2. Justin Kenrick says:

    Yes, this fusion of the push for self-determination based on restoring sovereignty to Scotland and that based on pushing for independence from neoliberalism seems to have been the combination that set the place alight.

    And such huge numbers fighting to recreate (down south) the Labour Party that left Tommy Shepherd, trying to push back against the forces smashing care and truth, is distinct but powerfully related to our struggle.

    I remember my Dad saying that the reason Attlee won after the war, and won despite the certainty of the establishment that Churchill would win, was because there had been years of education and discussion in the army. People like him came back certain they would settle for nothing less.

    Just as there’s no way now for Labour to win down south without succeeding in radically transforming the state (There’s no sneaky New Labour route to trying to do good while not upsetting the powerful), so there’s no route to an independent Scotland without taking on the enormity of what we need to become independent from, if we and our children are to have a future.

    1. Don bradley says:

      Land reform. Rent controls. Serious reform of the Companies Act. ???

    2. Pat Kane says:

      Great point on your Dad’s army experience as the “university of the poor”. Mason’s point about the ‘educated, connected individual’ takes deep root and full flower in a Scotland with strong educational and civic traditions. There is nothing scary or “disuniting” about these ideological discussions in the indy movement – they only make us stronger and more agile.

  3. Big Jock says:

    And yet if Scottish Labour backed independence, they could save themselves. Alas Scottish Labour only exist as an idea. They are terminally tied to the London machine.

    That very loyalty will consign Labour in Scotland to it’s own demise.

    1. Duncan McKinnon says:

      As of today I can’t think of any labour politician whom I’d rate. John McAllion and Dennis Canavan yes, but they left labour long ago.

      I know a declining number of labour friends, those still in labour are decent people but lacking in confidence and completely dissolusioned.

      Those that have left labour, I can’t see anything that would see them return to a labour fold.

      The bright ones and those committed to Scotland will find their feet in an independent Scotland, but it would make things a lot easier if they’d make that journey sooner rather than clinging on with steely knuckles to a tory run uk.

  4. Kenny Smith says:

    Forget Corbyn, he will have little impact in Scotland. Labour are dead here and as previously mentioned without backing indepence they are spent. Corbyn himself knows very little or cares not a lot for Holyrood/Scotland so the remit will fall to the Dug, who will try and climb on board the wave of Corbyn and look foolish doing so 1 because quite frankly she is not the messiah to save the party 2 bottom line its not her beliefs or why she joined Labour( honestly do you think she voted for Corbyn, no chance) The English need Corbyn we don’t. The parallel with the yes movement is striking but its a debate within England and to be honest if he does manage to last longer than 3 months with Blairites attacking him, what’s left of his carcuss will be split amongst the Tory shires. Pat is spot on though, forget about oil as a fuel source, plan for next 100 years as a socially inclusive and environmentally aware nation. The SNP could be a little more radical I think they have a tide of support that would allow that. I understand the need not to scare business away but studies show good ethical corporations can flourish and so can their employees. We have to try and show up where reserved issues let us down but I think we are at a point when unionists don’t care and yessers take these issues as ammunition in arguments. Indepence will come I firmly believe that but as the polls creep up to nearly 50/50 split the surge might not come from the left. It was mentioned on a previous post but a right wing indepence party could make the difference. Please don’t shoot me I’m left, socialist but I have thought about this and although it goes against everything I want indepence to be about could that be the factor that changes the game? Would indepence then be a let down? If it was I’d feel scunnered but I’d rather fight for justice and equality in Edinburgh than London, partly because I believe the left, centre left would be the majority for decades to come. Interested on thoughts about right wing indepence parties though only because for debate it messes with my head and like Pat I’m probably over political now!

    1. Pat kane says:

      After Indy, no doubt right will have to organise themselves. But if you mean, can we get some No’s on board a Yes before hand if they think it could be a vehicle for a low-tax, super-commercial program? Well, isn’t that what they get from staying in the Union? No, the “commonweal” of Scotland stretches from centrist to left-green – that’s the majority that has to be convinced that Indy is the vehicle for their better life.

      1. Kenny Smith says:

        I totally get that Pat but I saw a post on wings a while back from a Scottish Tory who saw a gain in indepence and I wonder if people from the Yes business community would be slightly more rightward leaning. I am like you and want the same things from a progressive independent Scotland but when there is money to be made in the likes of green energy production and Westminster cutting subsidies as well as hurting other sectors of employment maybe there will be some who do put forward a right thinking argument. I freely admit that most no,s are no,s no matter what but I hear a great deal of statements like we have to build a more sound economic arguments to win Indy and that reassurance for no,s could come from outside the commonweal. Like I said I was throwing it out there for a topic of discussion because we seem locked at 50/50 at the moment. I’ll be at the hope over fear rally at Freedom Sq on Saturday and I hope the Indy push continues to be strong and in that same shape of progressive politics.

  5. Dorothy Bruce says:

    Interesting discussion on Channel 4 news this evening between Matthew Paris and Will Self. Self voted for Corbin but is certain he will never become PM and that the Labour Party will split which he thinks necessary. Paris said if Labour split the the Tories would also split with come realignment of left-leaning Tories and right-leaning Labourites. If that should happen there will be repercussion for the Scottish branches.

    Very interesting talk by Varoufakis, underlining why Greece was treated as it was, with a warning to Corbynites about what would be unleashed at them – another version of project fear. Well worth a listen – https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=4219&v=HJXqqL9t9kg

  6. Chic McGregor says:

    Good article Pat.
    I think Corbyn’s short term future will be determined by his effect on Scottish polls. If evidence emerges that he is regaining ‘defectors’ to Labour, the heat from the Establishment will come off until after the 2016 election.

    Indeed, I doubt whether the Corbyn phenomena would have even been possible if the indyref campaign and the GE campaign had not given a glimpse of an alternative to the neo fuedalism which hetherto was all that was on offer to the English people. Mhairi Black’s maiden speech possibly being a seminal turning point in Corbyn’s fortunes.

    But, it would only be a stay of execution. After 2016, if not before, he is toast.

  7. Duncan Macniven says:

    Navel gazing is as valid as any other type of gazing, at least if we are gazing we are thinking stuff through not blindly following the herd because “ma da voted Labour”. Pats article articulates a lot of what happened to me and many people I know. Many of whom said time and again, “what just happened every one I know voted Yes, what happened.” The sense that something bad happened and that we were cheated has not gone away and has if anything grown bigger, as we have seen from the surge in SNP membership and the surge in SNP MPs now ensconced in Westminster.

    The simple facts are we were cheated and lied to and now we are being punished for being so stupid as to fall for these lies and false promises in the shape of the vow, published in the purdah period, and to which the state machine has turned a blind eye as it has to the breaking of the law by the Treasury and people such as Ruth Davidson, who confessed live on TV to having seen voting samples when she had no right to. What is really hard to stomach are the sneering snide adolescent sniggery remarks made by some unionist people, that are best ignored but very hard to stomach.

    All the warnings in the run up to the referendum were proven to be true. We all warned each other that the UK state would deploy every trick in the book and we were correct. The UK state has also allowed the law to be broken and done nothing to redress that. In other words the UK state has said to Scotland, “ya boo sucks we beat you, and there is nothing you can do.” Well guess what there is? We can navel gaze we can talk we can discuss history we can look back as far as we want and see time and again the UK state will do what ever it takes to keep what it thinks belongs to them. Up to and including miltary action. If Scotland were in the middle east we would by now be bombed, occupied, and ethnically cleansed to death. The fact that we are joined to England is pehaps a blessing.

    So Pat thanks for the article. More power to your keyboard and those of you who can articulate these events, they need to be written of and recorded as much as we can, so that people can read time and again about what took place. Then perhaps next time we will not be so gullible and frightened and get the ball over the line and forge the nation we have never been allowed to be. We will make mistakes, we will face some doubts and have to make “difficult decisions,” but they will be ours. Not dictated to by an English dominated legislature in London who loook on Scotland as a possesion owned by them, and who decided just how much success we can enjoy. The proof of that is now emerging from Fergusons ship yard in Port Glasgow, in and industry and on a river we were told is dead. There is not anti English sentiment in any of that, it is simply pro Scottish. The English have their own problems, let them deal with them as they see fit. This sharing broad shouldered UK ideology is a one way street that leads all the way to London, taking our best with it.

  8. Jim Arnott says:

    There is one issue I have with your thoughtful article and that is the EU. I believe Scotland should consider membership of EFTA rather than full membership of the EU. I have to say my well informed 15 year old grandson is of the same opinion.

    1. Paul Codd says:

      Great article Pat.
      On the point of EU membership, why not vote to leave? Norway and Iceland currently enjoy membership of the European free trade area EFTA without the obligations of the dysfunctional EU and the dictats of the unelected European Commission where most of the power is centralised. If you don’t believe that the EU could become a dictatorship of Stalinist proportions even after seeing what has happened in Spain and Greece, all you need to do is read the charter of the European Stability Mechanism which is literally above any and all laws, has the power to demand whatever payment from members states, can enforce austerity measures, cannot be investigated by any police force, it’s directors are immune from any and all prosecutions, the list of powers continues. How can such an entity even exist? The forces which created it are people, organisations and ideologies that Scotland cannot remain involved with without eventually ceding all power to them. Remaining in EU (as it is currently constituted) is the antithesis of independence or political sovereignty. BTW I have lived on the continent, have hundreds of European friends, I truly love Euro culture, this is about sovereignty and governance.

      1. Pat Kane says:

        It’s tricky. I think I would vote yes in an EU ref it it happened with in the lifetime of the current WM parliament – which would give Scotland a chance to express its own positive vision of Europe, which I hope would be anti-TTIP and pro-social/pro-democracy. But it’s all about being strategically capacious. I have no problem with Jim Sillars’ often and well articulated vision of a Scotland independent in relation to EFTA/Nordic economic zones. But I would regard it as our geopolitical “Plan B”, if the EU – in its oligarchic mode, as your comment outlines – decides to be as implacable about Scottish membership as the UK was in relation to Currency Union (Greece indicates that there might well be a toughening up there). This is my point about strengthening, widening and deepening a sense of self-determination and daily empowerment in Scottish life – it will produce a kind of patience and resilience in the face of the inevitable top-down scares and machinations required to get to a working nation-state in the world. The “most politically aware populace on the planet” has to raise itself to another level again.

  9. john young says:

    From what I can garner reading various alternate news sites,there is a huge financial quake on the horizon once more,the Chinese/Russians pushing for a demotion of the dollar standard,this brings the possibility of a war,right thinking people will be aghast but we in the west have allowed a whole raft of fruit cakes/neo-cons to determine our lives following them slavishly you know lemming like,you only have to look to Tony Blah/Broonie/and his Darling,”you can fool some of the people some of the time then go back again and fool all of them all over again”.

    1. Paul Codd says:

      Let’s not stop like a deer in headlights just because we’ve learned something new. More independent powers and sooner will help us steer the ship through turbulent waters. Exactly the point of the article. Why can’t we set up a digital currency in the next 12 months to run alongside Sterling? NEF have published plans for a ScotPound in the last few days.

    2. Pat Kane says:

      I know I am a bit of a Paul Mason obsessive at the moment, but his PostCapitalism book synthesizes so many useful arguments… It’s almost worth reading for the chapter “The Case for Rational Panic” alone. It identifies China’s coming insolvency, among many other megatrends, as requiring us to keep thinking of the most radical solutions we can, to mitigate – avert is too late – considerable social, economic and environment distress in Scotland and nearby societies.

  10. Douglas says:

    The idea of Pat Kane having a wee greet to himself in a greasy transport café – possibly Harthill – raises a chuckle…I confess it….I was never anywhere near shedding tears…we were nowhere near winning….to win indie, you need 65% or 70% of the vote….

    …the little white rose of Scotland we held in our hands for a day, and then we let it blow away….

    …but that always going to happen…

    -Should Scotland be an Independent country?
    -No…

    It still sounds to me like a Spike Milligan joke, I can’t help it….

    But for me – these things are personal, we’re all different – the answer lies in ridiculing the Edinburgh bourgeoisie, the most despicable, materialistic, cold-blooded, money-grabbing bourgeoisie on the planet…

    …but the show goes on and John Steinbeck’s words still ring true today:

    “You talk of Scotland as a lost cause, and that is not true. Scotland is an unwon cause…”

    1. muttley79 says:

      Steinbeck’s comments were in response to Jackie Kennedy in 1964, who understandably was pessimistic about the state of Ireland and Scotland at that time I am not sure you are being ironic Douglas, but to say we are nowhere near independence is laughable, and I am not exactly the most positive in the world.

      1. Douglas says:

        I’m not saying we’re nowhere near it Muttley…we rose by 15 points in 18 months, and the SNP were probably as surprised as anybody by their win in 2011….I don’t think they were really ready…but we need a handsome win…we need another 15% on the board at least, more like 20%….

        …the young people are the key….we need to engage with them as much as we can….

    2. muttley79 says:

      And to say that the Edinburgh middle class are worse than those in any other place is absurd as well. You might like to explain to the Russian oligarchs buying up significant parts of London why they are better than the Edinburgh establishment if you want, but I don’t think many people would rush to do the job somehow.

      1. Douglas says:

        Name me another bourgeoisie that sold their country….twice….

  11. Drew Campbell says:

    I identified with the emotional content of your piece, Pat, and agree with much of the analysis of the challenge before us. While I agree one outomce of the referendum was to shift momentum towards the Yes side, with the SNP as main beneficiaries.

    While I am passionate about independence and have huge respect for both Nicola and Alex, I’m far less convinced by the SNP as a party of radical ideas or even progressive governance. I won’t dwell on what I see as their shortcomings but in answer to your question as to what policy action could be taken to assert a distinctive Scottish character to our politics, I will focus on one topic Holyrood has always had powers to reform – local government.

    Local Income Tax is – perhaps – a lesser evil than the iniquitous, ineffective Council Tax but the SNP’s much vaunted policy of 2007 could have been implemented in 2011 but was quietly buried. Instead we’ve had the Council Tax freeze and no reform of the corporate-minded, remote local authority structure implemented and gerrymandered by the Tories in 1996. If ever local government was in need of an overhaul – democratically, financially, structurally – it is now.

    So break it down. Devolve more powers, budgets and responsibilities to local communities; build on that community engagement and political involvement generated through 2014. Most of all reform the revenue raising powers of local government by introducing Land Value Tax, the most significant piece of long-term land reform within the remit of the Scottish Government. It will take time and it will require thorough discussion before implementation, but it is fair and will raise political consciousness by laying bare the ownership of Scotland while ensuring that everyone who owns a square foot of the country pays their fair share – even if the owner is a PO Box in the Cayman Islands.

    So let’s see something radical, engaging and distinctive, something that will take us a step nearer independence. Any takers?

    1. Jon Buchanan says:

      Whole-heartedly agree on most of what you say Drew; engaged with the article from that visceral look backwards over what’s happened since and during indyref but also peeking over its shoulder seeing what could have been done before, what was already in our power to change if the will was there! LVT as a beneficent local tax system has been waiting for its day since the Scottish Councils told Westminster it was the way forward back before the People’s Budget in 1910/11, don’t understand why Prof Sandilands work on where we’d be financially if WW1 hadn’t stopped the Land Values coming online, and more importantly how there would be no ‘black hole’ in Scotland’s finances if they were enacted now, matched against a zero rated income tax, and no dependence on oil revenues(which works just fine with, as Pat rightly points out, the need for the black stuff to stay just where it is!), isn’t standard Yessers fare! Marry it to Andy Wightman’s sterling work on LVT for the Scottish Greens local tax proposals and it all seems a no brainier to me!

      Also seems to me LVT’s scope leaves room for Local and National Governmental control over all other land and undersea resources if managed right, giving more democratic control over environmental resources generally, leaves less room for exploitation of them ie through fracking, UCG etc. The type of impending crises Pat mentions in the article and are dealt with so well in Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism seem to me to sit well with an LVT type beneficent tax base(which incidentally both Stiglitz and Krugman, oft quoted by the 56 in economic arguments in Westminster, recommend as a first principle tax)devolved to as local a base as it can be. Scotland’s civic nationalism could start acting local and thinking global with confidence surely! I wait with baited breath for the results of the local tax commission(with fingers crossed behind my back that the weakest option doesn’t prevail, applying only a sticking plaster where an organ transplant is needed, please not just a local income tax, please not just a local income tax…)

    2. Pat Kane says:

      Exactly the kind of response I was hoping to provoke Drew. We also have some excellent research done on this over the last few years – I’d cite ERS’s DemocracyMax http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/democracy-max and CommonWeal/ReidFoundation’s early papers on this http://www.allofusfirst.org/the-key-ideas/we-need-real-local-democracy/, http://allofusfirst.org/library/the-silent-crisis-failure-and-revival-in-local-democracy-in-scotland/ So, no excuse that the policy work hasn’t been done…

  12. James Dow A voice from the diaspora says:

    I think a modern Scotland could make a massive geopolitical move by arranging a friendship pact with an old ally, Russia, a nation that has a great fondness for Scotland.
    Just imagine the panic in Westminster and Washington.

  13. Muscleguy says:

    I’m with you on pushing the devolution envelope to the max. If it ends up in the courts on our right to do x, y, z so what? We need to rattle the cage so those with the keys know that the inmates of this polity really are getting uppity.

    How can we credibly agitate for more powers, let alone make a credible case for what we can do with independence if we are not making the full use of what we have?

    My problem with the current SNP is that they have become too cautious in government, too afraid to scare the horses (unless they are the numerically tiny big landowners). Be bold Nicola, or when those of us in RIC go out on the stump again, we might not defend your government like we tended to do last time. We might rip into your caution and push the Another Scotland is Possible line more overtly. If we do you never know what might be born from that? Beware that the frustration of Westminster isn’t turned on you and the SNP.

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