The Day After a Year Ago

On the High Street, Edinburgh 2013With the Clackmannan result in, I really needed to go. In the time it took to get to the door The Glad Café had become sad. Walking back to Glasgow’s Mount Florida, the Yes ‘bubble’ where Claire and I had encamped in the final week of the Referendum, we were unable to rouse our hostess, despite a steady flow of calls and texts. She had left the festivities with our special selection of Yessers earlier, saying she had to work the next day. When there was then no answer at the door there was nothing else but to crash in ‘Kirk’ the car. The downside of this decision was not only that sleeping in cars offers a constrained, thus limited relaxation quality, but the fact that ‘Kirk’ was parked round the corner, immediately opposite the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party’s Offices, bedecked in Better Together livery. This was not the night I had hoped for, that fantastic, but unexpected party remained but a mirage. Instead of one of the best nights of my life, I was peering through a condensation drenched windscreen onto blurred, but non-the-less prominent, No Thanks window posters.

It was certainly a triumph to reach 45%. In the space of two years of intense debate Yes went from being certain losers in the 30s to achieving 45% of the vote, a truly remarkable achievement, even more remarkable if you take a long-term view. When I think back to my university day’s independence had but fringe support amongst the general public.

But we lost, and things then moved fast. The next day driving up to Inverewe for a family event, Radio Scotland was on, not a channel I listen too much, and it was Call Kay, a lazy program I particularly dislike. Just after 10am the State broadcaster switches live to Kirkcaldy so the populous can hear the wise and conciliatory words of one, Gordon Brown. I can remember almost nothing about what he actually had to say, it was another ramble, but I do remember thinking he has got the tone a bit wrong, playing up his own role. The call in then resumed and I was heartened the first two callers reflected my views. A quite amazing woman then came on brilliantly mimicking the pompous Brown: “I’ve taken congratulatory calls from Bill Clinton and Kofi Annan”, get over yourself. As no other callers were stacked she continued to entertain right up to the 11 o’clock news. Scotland had indeed changed.

Then Alex Salmond resigned, in a most dignified way, and Nicola Sturgeon, whose encyclopaedic knowledge of the Scotland’s Future White Paper and her capacity to properly engage with people, one of the stand out features of Indyref, took up reins of the SNP. If there was ever a model example of succession planning this was it. This shift provided an opportunity for the SNP to capture the entire Yes vote, sweeping all before its electoral path at the General Election and leaving just three political stumps as a helpful, if caricatured reminder of our political past. But that whirlwind of electioneering left no real space to ask the question, why did Yes lose? So why did we lose, and what implications can we draw for this in moving forward, especially given another Referendum will almost certainly be required to finally secure independence. So one year on and with some fore shortening offering the benefit of hindsight here are my thoughts.

Much was made of Clinton’s old political adage “its economics stupid” and that certainly played out. But remember this was because the neo-liberal lexicon has so claustrophobically narrowed the political narrative right across the world. Big international business concerns bolstered by their City and banker partners controlled and congested this space. This was anticipated, but could Yes really have done anything to limit or challenge this? Their threats to pull out, price up and mess us all about, may well have contributed more votes to Yes, than convince others to vote No. And Business for Scotland proved quite a surprise and revelation, in its professionalism, making financial and business matters accessible, thus offering a good counter weight to corporate self-interest. The cooperative and community enterprises voice was perhaps quieter than expected, for as charities the UK government made it clear they needed to shut up, but again perhaps not delivering the outcome they envisaged.

Fiscal matters, and core within that being the potential hydrocarbon wealth and its subsequent taxation, was also well up there – so wealth and taxes. Lots of discussion was offered up on oil, and its potential wealth and fiscal capacity, which also rightly troubled the environmental lobby. Less was provided in fleshing out what sort of fiscal regime we would need to ensure a humane civil society. But that was an “its politics stupid” moment, the desire to offer something to the poor, while not scaring rich. Being told by a six-year-old pupil of a private school, that Yes was just for the poor people illustrated some clearly understood that point.

And then there was the currency. The Yes side knew they had to offer the apparent security of a currency union, otherwise their support would crumble; the No side realised this was a key weakness and they should attack it. Hence Osborne’s full frontal, but again the question is whether this was as big a problem? Yes support rose significantly following his Edinburgh speech. Would offering the other options have helped here, illustrating differing views, or was the strategy pursued of sticking to your plan, stating political realities following independence would simply resolve this the correct approach?

As well as currency and businesses defecting south there were two other fear factors, pensions and tax, all carefully managed from within the Treasury, the core UK government department. And if the current narrative is to be believed Yes lost because too many older and wealthier people – the two are not the same – with lots of (unearned) assets, denominated in Sterling, whether in pensions and/or property were scared, and a good few were also that bit selfish. The RIC’s slogan ‘Britain is for the rich, Scotland can be ours’ did not offer this cohort much comfort.

Then playing a strong second fiddle came the media. Through a combination of both ignorance and design they opted to play it as an SNP gig. So it was not the Yes and No show, but a variant of Question Time. No space then for those who did not have a party political label. The media fed us all an endless stream of UK government manufactured and endorsed propaganda, of highly variable quality, scare stories that were designed to engage core cohorts critical to the NO camp. Such a fear-inducing media spectacle made it a real challenge to present an alternative political system as being plausible, but then we did. And again while such negativity had its successes, the sheer crass clumsiness of approach again greatly added much to Yes credibility and support.

The media also relied heavily on lazy constructions of nationality and populist romanticism about the Union. What was also revealed throughout the campaign was just how limited, hollowed out and dated these British identifiers actually were – the NHS, a range of BBC programmes, a shared history of Empire and conflicts, and it’s now depleted military remnants. Britain was revealed to be no longer what it once was, another consequence of its wholehearted embracing of neo-liberalism. Hankering back to some foreign field, in some foreign land was no doubt aided by the trench-to-trench jingoistic World War One commemorations. Bannockburn, not surprisingly got a collective swerve from both No and Yes, but for quite different reasons.

While the media was an issue, without its focus would the alternative, diverse, creative, passionate and clever grassroots Indymedia ever have got of the ground? Undoubtedly this had its limitations, in that it appealed to a demographic well used to accessing information via Twitter and Facebook. The older demographic, perhaps concerned by currency, tax and pensions, did not fully engage with social media, still relying on papers and the Beeb. And yes this does raise the idea of those ‘in the bubble’ being blind. But that assumes it was the lack of exposure to the alternative views that made them vote No, rather than the fear of uncertainty and change. They saw a risk that others, for a variety of diverse and different reasons, were happy to take. And yes perhaps this was a group whose concerns were missed by Yes and a group whose identification was more strongly British.

National identity discourses also presented a political hot potato, but as such demand careful consideration, rather than an embarrassed ignoral. If you identified as being Scottish, rather than British, you were far more likely to vote Yes, and with seeing yourself as British, No. But although statistically very significant, it was not dominant and that’s in part because of changing civics in Scotland. Identity does not cut as easily as it once did, and such simplistic polarisation leaves to many people out. Those born in England were a major group here, who while supporting progressive change found the identity framing of the Yes rhetoric challenging. Further, despite serious attempts to engage with Polish, Lithuanian, Estonians, too many other nationals felt insecure about their rights if Scotland was not allowed to continue membership of EU. In canvassing in Garnethill in Glasgow the Chinese community felt similarly about the potential loss of Britishness, although this was not so evident amongst Pakistani’s. Again risk factors were weighed up and considered differently.

Ironically then, as support for independence continues to grow, identifying as Scottish is now in decline. Indyref was a celebration of civic nationalism, and a proper challenge to the ‘blood and soil’ variety the media and certain Unionist politicians tried desperately to pin on it. But British and Scottish ‘blood and soil’ was there, or there abouts, and although both challenging and complex it needs careful discussing and debating. That said, I would not perhaps advocate a George Square approach to this topic, one of the saddest events of the Referendum, along with Lord’s Jack McConnell and George Robertson curious and threatening prediction of such events.

The core contribution of women to the body politic, while fully fore grounded within the White Paper, took time to gain traction, this eventually being achieved via childcare and its implications for considerable labour market engagement, a fitting legacy to the work and tenacity of Ailsa McKay. But that narrow frame was quite clearly inadequate, so the space here was emphatically filled by a strong feminist voice, Women for Independence, another stand out grassroots political grouping. The Patronising Lady ad campaign proved to be another gift from Better Together, an organisation which throughout the campaign just kept giving, and in this case offered up one of the creative highlights of 2014. Women for Independence went on this year to have the proposed new women’s prison comprehensively rejected, and no doubt Sturgeon’s enacting, not apologising, for gender inequality offers another indication of follow through policy.

Finally, in this review there has been some criticism of the SNP not helping matters by insisting its White Paper was the only true way, exuding other truths and some light. But that is churlish given there needed to be something solid and tangible in place to frame the debate and discussions. Whether anyone, apart from Salmond, Sturgeon and the Rev Stuart, read it through and knew it paragraph by paragraph is a quite different matter. It was a hard act to offer the vision of a new country, without providing an indicative programme, both of which were also designed not to scare away to many horses. So the “change everything, so nothing changes” mantra that produced, dispense with one Union, but reserve six others, stay in NATO, keep the Queen, pound and Dr Who. These issues were political judgements and this caused rightful frictions. And yes Alex could have done a bit more to celebrate the others who were walking along Independence Road with him. But seasoned politicians all found the Referendum a difficult call.

From this flowered Indyref, and although some of the policy ground was stony and unproductive, these proved but small patches. This is what surprised, no astonished me and just about everyone else on the Yes side. We became part of a far greater whole and we were not at all sure why this happened. As it transpired what actually occurred was a reawakening of authentic local democratic engagement, exercised through the slow emergence of a truly genuine social movement, Scotland’s own unique contribution to a wider worldwide trend.

There were also criticisms of Yes Scotland messaging being, on the whole bland, some thought arthritic, looking as if it was modelled on a banking or building society marketing strategy from better days. What was officially offered was felt not to reflect the grassroots movement, and largely failed to capture that vibe. But to my mind that was again no bad thing for it allowed a space for imagination, diversity and sheer creativity, from the likes of Greg Moodie’s strips, Lady Alba, the almost endless Patronising Lady spoofs, Matt Lygate’s Imperial Masters trolling extravaganza, to the real sheer raw emotion of Stanley Odd.
So on reflection, a full year on, Yes was never quite going to win. There were still to many uncertainties and perceived risks, over the likes of currency and fears about our economic survival. Had we had a few more months, we would still not have won. Not at this time, I am sure of that. The balance of risk will continually change, so the task now is to generate confidence in adopting and embracing a different approach. The SNP’s anti austerity agenda at the General Election is illustrative of this.

But what has been achieved is highly significant, and worthy of celebration. Independence is now firmly on the agenda as an absolutely serious option, and the unfairness of getting Tory governments and the inadequacy of the Labour opposition have been exposed. Remember the campaign revealed the amateurism and crassness of the British ruling political classes in stark, painful detail. So it will take a few more years of injustice, incompetence and arrogance for it to dawn on enough additional people that maybe the Yes camp was right, and the risk of going out on our own is now well worth taking. If the SNP picks its moment well, and politically they hold that card, it should be fine next time.

So it will require one more push. But not until the fatigue of last year’s campaign has fully worn off. And we had better get the moment just right because if Yes loses again the next time, independence will be off the agenda indefinitely. Much has been made of the impending Euro referendum offering just up such a trigger, but popular anger at both the cruel consequences of austerity dished out on the Greek people and the quite inhumane and inept response to the growing refugee crisis could well throw up a result that neither the UK nor Scotland was expecting. Corbyn is illustrative of how this can happen.

So now is the time to work through options and offer clarity about currency options, engage European partner supporters, offer up hard evidence about pensions and make a huge effort to move it away from speaking solely to ‘the Scottish people’, rather than to the people. We also need to stop fixating over a second referendum, for it will come when it comes. Rather we need to take fully on board the Alistair Gray mantra to “work like you are living in the first days of a new country”. And there is no shortage of work needing done, in areas such as land reform, housing, criminal justice, policing, arts policy, planning, food, health, poverty, mutual care, communal energy – the list goes on, but that is what governance is all about. Pat Kane, in an earlier Bella piece, called this a kind of Scottish autonomism, the Italian original of which he argues inspires much of Paul Mason’s book Post Capitalism, which has also had a fair bit of Bella coverage. So instead of fretting about a Referendum date start acting “as if” the desired conditions of Scottish independence now pertain, and if they don’t then you have got your work cut out. What Women for Independence, RICs and our Indymedia have done and are now working on doing, should be a template for other autonomies. The SNP, in government, has a core role here, but as facilitator not controller, so there is also a need for a new kind of civic pressures to bear down upon them. In this regard the rise of RISE, another Indy grassroots product, and the growth in a wider community-based polity are hopeful signs.
I have now lived through three Scottish Referendums. In the first I voted Yes, and we won, but thankfully we lost given the offer. In the second I voted Yes Yes, in a surprisingly dull, low-key campaign and although expecting a win, was quite taken by its actual scale. In the last one, a year ago yesterday, I voted Yes, we lost but in the long term we have won. So the next Referendum could conclude this piece of history, if we work though the risks so many saw in the past, and we not only take forward a more democratic and socially just society, but I get to have that party.

Thanks for the comments, ideas, suggestions and conversations held intermittently over the last year with Mark Stephens, Jen Stout, Jean Urquhart, Bill Dunlop, Miriam Brett, Iain Docherty, Pat Kane, Zara Kitson, Chris Cunningham, Craig McAngus and Alec Finlay.

Comments (35)

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  1. Bedar says:

    I think without question the area where there’s the most to learn from is the economic argument. Anecdotally I found the line that was pursued on the street tended to be a bit too rhetorical and not substantive enough to really make an impact. Business for Scotland made an admirable effort, but the response was all too often simply to brush away the economic debate as another front of Westminster propaganda, rather than to engage with it properly. We have to understand that there is a real technical debate that takes place – in universities, in businesses, in the financial sector, in households and elsewhere – and you simply can’t win that argument with the broader narrative about scaremongering.

    There are at least three “problems” with the economics of independence that there needs to be an answer to. The first is the country’s fiscal situation. The GERS figures don’t suggest independence would be a net gain in fiscal terms (12 of the last 16 years would have seen us in a worse position and the latest GERS reports are some of the worst in that period). The good news here though is that fiscal pictures change over time. If the next referendum is timed correctly it’s possible the fiscal figures would support it. Holding the referendum in 2014 was perhaps a year too late: if the referendum had been held in 2013 the previous GERS report was one of the four showing independence as a net gain. It’s something Business for Scotland used very effectively (quoting the figure that we generated 9.9% of UK revenue and spent 9.3% of UK spending that year); however that case, a little selective though it was, was immediately undermined by the next GERS report coming out in March 2014 showing us only generating 9.1% of UK revenue and the situation has got progressively worse since then. Timing is crucial here – holding another referendum in the current situation would be a very bad idea if we want to win this argument as you could hardly have picked worse timing.

    The second problem is the currency. The SNP were caught between advocating something that was simple but economically dubious (a fully independent currency) and something that was politically appealing but fundamentally relied on the consent of Westminster (a currency union). The original plan was to use the euro, but the Eurozone crisis made that politically toxic. Again, timing is key here – in ten years I fully believe the euro will be the best option and we’ll have a completely different set of circumstances. Alternatively a different Westminster government could make a difference on the currency union. Having another referendum now, however, wouldn’t bring us any closer to a solution on the currency.

    The third problem is the reliance on oil revenues. It’s all well and good to call oil a “bonus” and use rhetorical arguments about Unionists perceiving oil as a curse, but the simple fact is that to maintain current public spending we would be relying on North Sea revenue. Without the North Sea we generate roughly the same level of revenue as the UK average, but our spending is substantially higher than the UK average so we’d either have to cut our spending down to the UK average level (a fairly sizeable cut in spending) or rely on oil revenue to make up the shortfall. That leaves a door open for the Unionist side to cite the instability of the oil price, the need to create a reserve fund, or even for campaigners to try and divide the Yes movement over the environment (something they failed to do this time, but might achieve next time). Again, timing is crucial here as we could see huge changes in the energy market over the next decade or so with a transition away from oil and what is an awkward problem now might not exist in ten years in the same way.

    Ultimately, while I think Yes could win another referendum in the short-term, if it were me I’d set a target of 10-15 years in which we wait for a better set of circumstances economically and frame a proper coherent case that can win the debate outright on practical terms. Moreover, this actually matters in a practical sense because if we are going to become independent (and I think it’s close to inevitable) then we would benefit from doing it at the correct moment, over and above whether it wins the referendum or not. I don’t see much merit in winning quickly if it damages our economy when we could wait for better circumstances and have a more prosperous independent country.

  2. Mike Fenwick says:

    To avoid duplicating my other posts on Bella re currency and monetary policy, let me restrict them to this.

    Last week saw NEF and CommonWeal launch their proposals for a digital currency – who took those proposals very very seriously? Did you?

    Well for one, how about Andy Haldane, Chief Economist and Executive Director, Monetary Analysis & Statistics.

    These are extracts from a speech he gave last week:

    “… In one sense, there is nothing new about digital, state-issued money. Bank deposits at the central bank are precisely that. The technology underpinning digital or crypto-currencies has, however, changed rapidly over the past few years. And it has done so for one very simple reason: Bitcoin.

    In its short life, Bitcoin has emerged as a monetary enigma. It divides opinion like nothing else (for example, Yermack (2013), Shin (2015)). Some countries have banned its use. Others have encouraged it. Some economists have denounced it as monetary snake oil. Others have proclaimed it a monetary cure-all for the sins of the state.

    What I think is now reasonably clear is that the distributed payment technology embodied in Bitcoin has real potential. On the face of it, it solves a deep problem in monetary economics: how to establish trust – the essence of money – in a distributed network. Bitcoin’s “blockchain” technology appears to offer an imaginative solution to that distributed trust problem (Ali, Barrdear, Clews and Southgate (2014)).

    Whether a variant of this technology could support central bank-issued digital currency is very much an open question. So too is whether the public would accept it as a substitute for paper currency. Central bank-issued digital currency raises big logistical and behavioural questions too. How practically would it work? What security and privacy risks would it raise? And how would public and privately-issued monies interact?

    These questions do not have easy answers. That is why work on central bank–issued digital currencies forms a core part of the Bank’s current research agenda”

    Full speech here:

    The opportunity that this opens up for Scotland is immense – what better place and time could there be than for Scotland to set the lead in a subject such as this?

    You will see that much of the debate centres round public acceptance – tell me one YES supporter who would not be willing to participate in attempting to develop proposals such as this.

    It’s not a quick fix, how it is developed is an open question, but for sure we need to see what NEF and CommonWeal have started is developed further.

    1. Jon Buchanan says:

      I, for one at least, and expect those who attended the discussion events would concur, took the NEF/Commonweal report very seriously Mike, but for reasons the quotes you give appear to miss entirely; the report makes quite clear that what is proposed is a digital currency removed entirely from the Bitcoin blockchain and would not be an interest bearing debt open to currency speculation (which is the Emperor’s New Clothes situation evolving with Bitcoin and likely why it is finding support from areas like the Bank of England) and would always be worth the same value; moreover it is also proposed to initially be issued as a kind of ‘quantative easing for the people’, being a direct counter to recessionary cuts, aimed at injecting growth into the Scottish economy, whilst building confidence towards a future currency change and restructuring a broken system of monetary policy in general, seems like good housekeeping to me. Just need people to read the report and engage with the ideas.

      1. Mike Fenwick says:

        Hi Jon … your points are entirely valid, and I am sorry if anything I said pointed otherwise, what I wanted to get across more than anything was that the NEF/CommonWeal proposals should be supported.

        The BofE are coming at the issues (if you read the full speech) for their own reasons, but the fact that digital currency is on their radar is important imho. Back in July and recorded elswhere on Bella I asked the Scottish Government to place monetary policy (largely but not exclusively based on work from Positive Money) onto the agenda of the Council of Economic Advisers.

        The reply I received is posted elsewhere on Bella – but for me it was polite but non-commital.

        However, given that the BofE are researching the matter, let us agree – researching it in any manner, if not on the lines you outline – and most importantly imho saying so publicly – I have since repeated my request to the Scottish Government. Concepts of this type and complexity require debate at that level.

        As you likely know Duncan McCann from NEF (with whom I have had contact) has accepted his proposals are an introduction – not the finished article,

        However what about the grassroots in all this?

        I have an item from a project I am trying to bring forward which could act as a “pathfinder” to the debate which would perhaps avoid s0me of the complexities involved, and act at grassroots levels.

        In early October, I have a meeting arranged with Jason Baird (NationalYesRegistry) where I hope to introduce the idea to him to see if it might attract that very grassroots movement. Too early to say, but I’ll continue to post including what I hear from the Scottish Government.

        1. Jon Buchanan says:

          Hi Mike, thanks for all of that and for explaining your own position in a fuller sense, with me not being privy to the fullness of your other interactions prior to posting I was only responding to the quotes used and still trying to remain positive about engagement with discussion over the topic being opened up. I think association with Bitcoin in particular, as the quote you used points out, is likely to polarise any debate or discussion over digital currency as we try to move forward though, simply by it being the primary association there is and it being an interest bearing digital currency used for speculation. I was perhaps a little too in earnest to stress that and not positive enough in acknowledging at least digital currency is being discussed by BofE.

          I did read the full text of the speech before posting, admittedly summarising, earlier and after a quick re-scan still conclude the basic interest in the area, coming as it does following on from discussion of QE as a market lever towards negative interest, does still seem to be primarily as an interest bearing debt. The expressed interest in the distributed trust seemingly implicit(which to me is actually the tautology of the speech since the issue which polarises debate around Bitcoin, discussed at the start of the quote, is trust) in the blockchain is being made, in public, a part of a general currency trust restoration exercise and adaptation to the digital currency model and of course it’s possible exploitation. BofE of course are playing catch up with economic models and everyone else has moved on!(Is there a possible correlation between the BofE discovering Bitcoin and the FOI a few months back which discovered the most checked out book from their library was an A level economics book? Getting back to basics and down with the kids economics? Facetious and rhetorical, sorry!). All of which is just my opinion/interpretation of course!

          Your completely right, where are the grassroots in this? I couldn’t make it to any of the discussions but I’m making it a bit of a personal mission to pass the report on to as many folks as I can, see if I can get anyone engaging with the ideas. I run a small digital branding agency for SMEs and social enterprises, I feel there are areas of it are really relevant to my client base so I’m going to be passing it out through work networks as well as personal. I look forward to hearing more on the pathfinder and will watch out for any future posts, thanks again for the links and for highlighting something I’m surprised there aren’t way more discussions/comments around!

          1. Mike Fenwick says:

            Jon (and anyone else) who couldn’t attend the launches … IndependenceLive(*) covered the Glasgow launch – Parts 1&2 of their proposals for ScotPound can be viewed here:


            (*) IndependenceLive have a crowdfunding running – the work they do needs support – perhaps easily illustrated by the access they give to all of us in the above videos and everything else they do.

  3. OEconomia says:

    The economics of independence have worsened immeasurably since last year’s referendum. Scotland’s underlying ‘deficit gap’, to use a term coined for the referendum, has now been almost totally exposed by the decline in oil revenues, which even a recovery in the price won’t reverse. The EU Commission’s reiteration of the need for newly independent states to apply as new members with regards to the Catalan situation won’t help matters, either.

    It’s clear, for me, that any re-run in the short-to-medium term would have to offer a very different prospect, of ‘It’ll hurt (possibly a lot), but it’s worth it’. Obviously this doesn’t sound too attractive, so I don’t think there’ll be another referendum soon. Hence the SNP’s mealy-mouthed talk of ‘triggers’.

    1. JBS says:

      Ah, cheer up, though. I know that the summer’s practically over but…Christmas is coming!

  4. Douglas says:

    I can´t disagree with much of the above, but I ask you, what is the point of independence as the SNP envisage it? And if the Scots are only going to vote for indie when it favours them economically, then what does that tell you about the Scots?

    That they are obsessed with money, that they are materialists, that they are indeed just as bad in that sense as the English. That they are unhappy people with a pretty narrow view of life, installed in philistinism. That they love their shopping and the consumer society and dream of their pension plans. So how would an indie Scotland be different to the current UK? What is the point?

    And we can extrapolate from that further. If economic well-being is so paramount to the Scots, THE most paramount thing, and not the ideals which every single nation on earth that ever won independence based their case on, then soon enough, in an indie Scotland, we would cave in on US nuclear deterrent on our soil, we would have a right-wing government which favoured “hard working families”, and not much would change.

    I don´t see the point in it. The SNP are entirely sold-over to the system, slightly better than the rest of the parties, but, they must be the first political party in the history of the world to publish a White Paper on independence rather than making, an emotional case for indie. No country has ever voted for indie for a few extra quid in their back pocket…right enough, no other country ever sold their independence either.

    What happened to national pride? A nebulous concept, but one which exists, as you know if you follow the national football team. What happened to national culture? A complete irrelevance to the SNP.

    There was not single stand-out speech in the campaign that anybody will remember. There was no fire, it was all SNP YES managed….

    …the only hope was the grass-roots campaign.

    I struggle to identify with the Scots at all these days. I would hand in my passport if there was such a thing. What a country!!!

    1. Paul Codd says:

      Here’s the place and now’s the time Douglas. I’m all ears….

  5. Douglas says:

    I mean think of the political context. Could it have been better for a YES win?

    Scottish Labour in disarray
    A Tory govt with an agenda to cut as much as possible who everybody in Scotland hates
    The disaster of the illegal war in Iraq
    A majority SNP govt in Edinburgh
    The indie blogosphere and the social media.

    And we got 45%….

    …let´s get one thing straight: the Scots are not any more egalitarian that the English. If they were more egalitarian they would have voted for indie, they would have voted to get us out UKplc and its never ending foreign wars…they would have put aside their fears and, if only for that reason, soundly rejected remaining part of the UK.

    You need a cultural/spiritual awakening, something dynamic and transformartive, if you truly want a different country…maybe the young people can find that….but I don´t the SNP route will ever deliver indie, and if it does, nobody will notice the difference anyway…

    1. James Dow A voice from the diaspora says:

      Sadly Douglas I think you are right there are not enough Scot’s in Scotland. Scotland has three occupying types, the archetypal Scot, the hybrid Scot, and the others. The archetypal Scot is in diminishing numbers due to hundreds of years of emigration. Scotland’s once deep and wide gene pool now scattered puddles, her warrior son’s and daughters gone over the waters to build other great nations, at great loss to their ancient homeland.
      Being a Scot is just that, a state of being that anyone off the blood understands.
      Those without have never and will never comprehend.
      Had Scotland not suffered the continual drain of her finest and bravest she would have been a sovereign nation a long time ago, and I am part of the problem having been removed as a boy from my beloved land

      1. Douglas says:

        James, could I have some of whatever it is you´ve been smoking?

        1. James Dow A voice from the diaspora says:

          No Douglas you obviously already operate from an altered state, any other additives could be totally counterproductive. Don’t alter your MO, JBS would be disappointed.

    2. Jeff says:

      The problem is more to do with censorship, information and misinformation. Unfortunately thousands of Scots read daily ‘newspapers’, like the Express/Mail/Record/Sun/Star etc and end up victim to the drip-drip-drip long-term feeding of right wing lies and the social lives of ‘celebrity’ non-entities and football players being reported as important news.

  6. Jon Buchanan says:

    Thanks also for the IndependenceLive link Mike(sorry, think I can only reply to the same post so many times, there was no reply button above!) that’s actually where I caught up with the launches, I rely on the guys at IndependenceLive loads, I’m epileptic and what time I don’t spend at work or in the disabled advocacy we do through it(we offer training and employment for other people with disabilities), is spent on recovery days, thanked the guys for letting me attend (virtually) so many events I’d never be able to otherwise, yesterday when was watching the Hope Over Fear day; what a difference they make to civic Scotland, what a national, community access broadcaster should be like in many ways! Donation done early on in the fundraiser when I realised how much I was relying on them, can’t imagine them not being there now!

  7. Douglas says:

    In any case, at least those of us critical of the SNP and who refuse to vote SNP – because of their culture policy, say – might at least now stop being berated by the SNP diehards on Bella now that Alyn Smith has confirmed yesterday in The Scotsman that nobody is thinking about indie in the SNP, but instead “the business of government in Scotland”…

    …EXACTLY, the business of government is all what the SNP are all about, and certainly not the government of business…

    And, at the same stroke, all of those “pragmatic” nationalists, the ones who claim to support indie because there is no serious Left wing alternative in England, well now you have your alternative, Corbyn is much to the left of the SNP, on yersel…

    Which leaves how many of us Scottish Republicans? Maybe 15% or 20%…

    The Story of Scotland From The Declaration of Arbroath to the White Paper….hee hee hee…from William Wallace to free child care…

    I appreciate your article Douglas Robertson, and I grant you that you have the benefit of a time perspective which I don´t have, but when you talk of Nicola Sturgeon having “an encyclopaedic knowledge of the White Paper” – which is a fairly ludicrous turn of phrase – I think you inadvertently sum up the whole problem of an SNP led indie movement….nobody in Scotland even read the White Paper, most people don´t what a White Paper even is….so how was that ever going to work? Managers never won indie for any country….

    Scotland used to be described as a “nest of rebels”….where are they? We need a MacDiarmid, we need somebody with a bit of fire and a bit of charisma who can inspire people….

    1. JBS says:

      Douglas, I think you’re totally wrong-headed but I can’t help liking you. Your rants are magnificent.

      1. Douglas says:

        JBS, thank you very much sir/madam…I was just thinking there that I sound like an old windbag….

        1. Mike Fenwick says:

          Anything but imho … for me you ask one of the most important questions of all – after independence will we see a changed Scotland or more of what went before?

          I don’t have Sat Nav, still use maps – and one of the reasons is I like to see the places on the map I will pass through or by before I reach my final destination. That way I know I am on the right road.

          That for me is the analogy that matches the road to Independence – we need to map out the changes that we envisage happening not after but before we reach that final destination – and as best we can put them on the map, make them a reality, even if just in part, as yet unfinished, not complete, not after Independence, but before.

          1. Douglas says:

            Mike, we got bogged down in the wrong debate…

            …all the decisive battles in Scottish history which we were on the losing side of – Flodden, Culloden – we lost because we chose the wrong terrain.

            What if the SNP had turned their back on the London Media and launched a town by town campaign in Scotland? What if Salmond had publicly snubbed going on the Andrew Marr show and giving interviews to the London media? What if, instead of opening the can of worms of what a new Scotland might look like with all that detail, we had been hammering home the need for sovereignty, the inherent military adventurism – imperialism of the British State, the fact that the Queen owns vast terrains in Scotland, the fact that the House of Lords is corruption writ large, the need for local democracy and to hell with what they think of us in England? And to every single question about the future…”the people of Scotland will decide that post 18S”….

            Would we have won that way, with a belligerent campaign against the status quo? Probably not. But we would be much further forward…

  8. Scott Egner says:

    Just to respond to the comments on currency above. I attended an event hosted by the Scottish greens at the weekend. It was a workshop discussing alternative currencies and included a talk by Duncan McCann on scot pound. I also heard Duncan talk about this back in Feb.

    I was trying to stress to people that it isn’t a silver bullet or a new monetary system (which wouldn’t be allowed by the BoE anyway) but it’s an experiment and a way of planting a seed in people’s mind showing that money can be different to what is currently perceived. It’s about people feeling comfortable that our system of fiat money is really just an accounting system, an electronic scoreboard.

    I was heartened to hear that the SGP are hosting a fringe event at their conference which will focus upon the topics of Modern Monetary Theory, many of the ideas of which I would strongly advocate.

    Duncan McCann also mentioned that he, commonweal, and the Positive Money London team will be at the SNP Conference running a general fringe event on monetary reform this year which I would urge folk to attend.

    I understand the difficulty for the YES campaign on currency and why they went for the pound. Nominating a new currency in such a short time would have seen better together licking its lips with all the different agencies wheeled out to say why it wouldn’t work. Yet a currency union with rUK wouldn’t really have given Scotland independence at all.

    Scotland now has time to explore the monetary options, free from campaigning and thats why the work of Duncan etc mentioned above is so important. If Scotland does decided to have another referendum plan A has to be to divorce itself from the pound and have its own sovereign currency. It has to reframe it’s fiscal language too – a govt calling for a surplus is actually advocating a household deficit. last time I checked, households can’t create money (legally) but the treasury can.

  9. Mike Fenwick says:

    Douglas … I am hitting the problem that there is no “Reply” button on your last post – same problem it appears that Jon Buchanan had with me earlier. So we lose a bit of immediate continuity.

    Nicola Sturgeon says “The ultimate decision as to whether there is a referendum again, when that might be and what the outcome might be are all matters entirely for the democratic decision of the Scottish people.”

    I simply do NOT agree. It may be that when the polls stay steady at a high enough level an “ultimate decision” will be taken but by who?

    The Scottish people? Nicola? Or might it be Cameron or Gideon? The ultimate decision on holding referenda are reserved, and as you so accurately point out we are back where we started on the wrong terrain – its Groundhog Day.

    Until I have the meeting with Jason Baird (my earlier post) and maybe until a while after, I can’t go into detail (Jim Sillars advised – stay under the radar) but I can agree with you 100%, the terrain involved is critical – and if you want town by town, even village by village, that is inherent in what I will be trying to bring forward, and it will be grassroots driven, bottom up, not top down.

    I may not succeed, but I am most certainly NOT waiting for another referendum, nor on politicians.

    1. Douglas says:

      Jim Sillars advised to “stay under the radar”? Hilarious….

      1. JBS says:

        Mike and Douglas, I’m just hoping that you’re not both about to join RISE…

        1. Mike Fenwick says:

          TBH … I have been trying to think through the comments from my cocaine and john young, and you have just added to my thoughts.

          Because I ask so many, I have always stuck with “There is no such thing as a stupid question” – and what I didn’t know, or couldn’t remember was what the “Scotland’s Future” paper said about whether after independence MSPs became MPs, and whether it was still to be proportional representation or not (I then caught myself sidetracked into pigs and pokes, and the origin of what we call Private Members bills) … but if I have read what the paper said correctly, it seems much as we are now, voting by PR.

          So, just pondering on that after independence – maybe we shall indeed see new parties such as Rise take their place under that PR system, my cocaine and john young will presumably find a home for a party or individual who best reflects their views and be represented.

          But the remaining puzzle( for me at least) – is how the SNP may alter or have to adapt to post independence and I am not sure that is such a stupid question.

  10. My Cocaine says:

    My biggest issue with the independence campaign was that we weren’t independent enough.

    Keep the pound, keep the Queen, keep the BBC? What sort of independence was that?

    Westminster in my eyes, is a corrupt racket, a cesspit. Better no independence than the pseudo-independence that was offered. A currency union would have allowed them to keep their hooks in our backs.

    And on the EU question, in my view, Brussels is another corrupt racket. No point in gaining our sovereignty from Westminster, only to hand it over to Brussels. I’d much rather have Scotland adopting Norway’s approach to the EU.

    I will continue to campaign for Scottish independence for as long as I live, but will probably be campaigning for an OUT vote in the EU referendum.

    That may be a strange contradiction for some on this site, but that’s how I feel on this issue.

    Moving on, people, and especially those on the left, need to ask themselves an honest question: are you campaigning for a truly, multi-party independent Scotland, with both left and right wing parties, or are you just campaigning for a socialist, independent Scotland.

    Because, for a right-winger like myself, the no more Tory governments argument, was an utter disgrace to the Yes movement.

    1. Douglas says:

      I broadly agree with you My Cocaine…

      …I´m not on the Right, but obviously to pretend that an indie Scotland is synonymous with social democracy is a spurious argument. Scotland may be more inclined to social democracy – remember, we had a kind of proto-democracy in the Kirk, parish by parish, church by church, centuries ago when the rest of Europe was taking diktats from Rome; our national hero is Burns, one of the great European egalitarians, there are lots of markers there which suggest that predisposition – but independence and social justice are not the same thing.

      On the other hand, the RIC have every right to present their vision of an indie Scotland in the terms they choose and in accordance with their programme. I can´t see how you can be offended by that.

      And the pro indie right in Scotland didn´t organize and didn´t campaign, as far as I know, for their vision of an independent country. Mostly, they are in the SNP probably.

      Then again, the Right doesn´t need to campaign, because people on the Right tend to have money and power already….

  11. john young says:

    A wee bit of topic after this mornings announcement that the election of J Corbyn could lead to a mutiny in the armed forces hierarchy,isn,t this treasonous therefore shouldn,t they be tried for the said treason?

  12. john young says:

    my cocaine what does any right wing party anywhere anyhow offer the larger proportion of the population with little hope/dreams or aspirations where life is a continual struggle,why doen,t we ask those of the ruling parties to explain how their rise to the top was achieved,was it rising up through poverty was it rising up through an average education system was it rising up through the daily struggle of making ends meet,I very much doubt it.I am of the left wing persuasion that happens that society should be inclusive and involve all peoples no matter right left or middle,that is what socialism is or should be about,as a small very wealthy country we should find a way to elect an eminent body of proven people that have the common weal as their aim.

    1. My Cocaine says:

      I have no problems whatsoever with an independent Scotland electing a socialist government. If that is the will of the people, then so be it. My point is this: the Yes campaign’s slogan of no more Tory governments was an embarrassment, a disgrace to democracy.

      Do you, or anybody else on this site, really want an independent Scotland that actively discriminates against the right wing or people with right-wing views?

      That’s not my definition of democracy.

      1. Jeff says:

        I regularly cited ‘no more Tory governments’ as one good reason for independence. Not by denying anyone democracy though but because, as we all know, there are more pandas than Tories in Scotland, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. And thank f**k for that I say!

  13. willie says:

    I don’t want to appear to lower the tone but the big story is whether or not Cameron put his Boaby in a dead pigs mouth.

    If true it’s not exactly the type of behaviour that is in anyway acceptable.

    Necrophilia and bestiality are I understand illegal and completely at odds with ordinary decency.

    The people of this island need to know if a filthy pevert is running the country. This story is filth beyond filth and if true it could have been a dead child such is the depravity of the allegation.

  14. john young says:

    Did you read what I posted my cocaine,everyone with worthwhile views/visions/innovations should be listened to in a true democracy all voices are heard,all this left/right only lends itself to political agendas which in the end work against democracy,we are a population of 5+ mil which should be reasonably easily manageable,we do not need political parties of the left or right,we need to elect members of the communities that are of a proven calibre people that want to see a society agreeable to all,there should be a far more even distribution of our wealth not forgetting that all must contribute,we are a seriously wealthy country both in resources human/materially,harnessed in the correct way we can be a model for other countries,but we need to have radical new ideas for the future,socialism and small c capitalism can work to-gether.

  15. Lochside says:

    Bedar, well thought out critique that appears, as so often is the case now, to have been buried under irrelevancies by subsequent comments.

    Like you I worry about the economics. But do the Gers figures reveal all Scotland’s revenue?… I have yet to see the truth of this.

    Siniliarly with oil. My understanding is that all oil revenue is accounted via the separate interegio account which goes straight to Westminster.We don’t get any of it other than theoretically the Barnett formula?

    As for currency..the downright refusal by Westminster to engage in the argument of joint ownership of the pound stymied the SNP before they could get started.

    These issues have not been addressed, and they must be, if we go for Indy 2. Like many I fear a reformist SNP that wants to rule a devolved Scotland rather than grab the opportunity of independence frm the Uk once and for all

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