2007 - 2020

Yeast Extract

proxy-4The euphoria about announcing a consultation was contained. Contained because whilst the unfolding nightmare of post-geography, pre-trigger Britain is a pretty unedifying spectacle, many of the major obstacles to a victory for a Yes vote remain in place. Everybody knows that.

You may have woken up this weekend feeling you’re living somewhere between an Alan Moore dystopia and a Bernard Manning stand-up routine from 1974. There is of course the embarrassing revelation that the unfortunate David Mundell (‘our man in the Cabinet’) won’t be at the heart of the Brexit negotiations, nor we fear, at the periphery. There’s the news that John Redwood has uttered darkly that companies who did not stay silent on the country’s EU membership would pay a “very dear economic and financial price”.

‘Stay silent.’

But Mundell’s absence points to a deeper problem. As Martin Kettle argues: “Far from separating Scotland from Britain, Brexit may be drawing Scottish nationalism into the heart of British politics in a new and unexpected way. ” He is quite right to say that Sturgeon set out a list of Scottish aims, “including devolved powers and access to the single market, that are predicated on remaining in the UK, not on breaking free of it, and which can only be achieved with support from others at Westminster.”

I think though that this is a hostage to fortune, a deliberate attempt to set up Theresa May to reject and frustrate what are at one level reasonable compromises. Nicola Sturgeon knows fine well that none of these things will ever happen. The Conservatives aren’t in a mood to compromise.

Not only is the idea being bandied about a few months ago that somehow the Scottish Government would have a place at the table been chucked out the window, they won’t even have their own House-Trained Jock waiting at the table.

Standard (& Poor)

It’s not just that stocks of Marmite and Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food are running low. Britain is misreading the entire political landscape and mood in Europe and faces the possible loss of its reserve currency status if it fails to secure full access to the European single market, the US rating agency Standard & Poor’s has warned.

“There seems to be this view that ‘we’re a big important economy, the Europeans export a lot to us, so they have got to give us what we want’, but is that really true?” said Ravi Bhatia, the director of sovereign ratings for S&P in charge of Britain.

The Conservatives and their compliant media seem oblivious to the realities of contagion, and now the price of food is rising.

This sort of self-delusional behaviour is not confined to the politicians. Martin Kettle bristles that “The votes and the power to change things are at Westminster and Whitehall” and offers the (daft) conjecture that “The election this week of the party’s Westminster leader Angus Robertson as Sturgeon’s new deputy is another reminder that the centre of gravity of Scottish politics has in some ways been shifting to London since 2015.”

The opportunity for common-working and collaboration against the Conservatives at Westminster is very real (even if Kenny McAskill didn’t seem too keen at #IdeaSpace). But that doesn’t conclude that Scotland is somehow some peripheral backwater. We are collaborating and connecting throughout Europe as we speak. As the Conservatives look to refit Britannia, banish art history and threaten dissenting business people, we can outline a different path. We can embrace Europe and celebrate multiculturalism and basic human rights as they are being attacked and undermined. But we also need to have a pro-active detailed and positive agenda that is distinct from our worthy anger and our righteous rage against the machine.

Tory farce will only take us so far.

#WeAreScotland needs to be more than a hashtag.

Rage, deep uncertainty and chaos aren’t very fertile ground for the big bold changes ahead.

Comments (13)

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  1. MBC says:

    Brexit offer huge opportunities for an indy Scotland within the EU, and if the EU regards us as never having actually left if we achieve independence before the conclusion of Brexit but regards us as being CONTINUING members, it raises the tantalising prospect of an indy Scotland being regarded as the successor or continuator state to the former UK.

    Though the independence movement is aimed at simply achieving self-determination for Scotland, we could become the inheritors of much else if the EU regards us as ‘rUK’.

    So Martin Kettle is right – but not quite in the way he imagines. Scottish independence brings us into the heart of UK, by becoming the continuator state.

    This is a scenario that none of the unionists have ever even begun to imagine, such is their hubris of resurrecting the British Empire.

  2. MBC says:

    The ‘United Kingdom’ is specifically the union of the kingdoms of Scotland and England by an international treaty in 1706 which came into force on May 1st 1707.

    If that union is dissolved, England and Wales with NI cannot call itself the ‘United Kingdom’, as the remaining elements do not comprise multiple kingdoms. NI is a province, and Wales a conquered principality.

    England, Wales, with NI will have to call itself by another name. Possibly Greater Britain would still suffice, as this combination of territory will still comprise the larger part of the British mainland archipelago. Will this rump be the successor state to the former UK?

  3. Tobeowulf says:

    Its gonna be tight. Thats all i m saying.

  4. c rober says:

    While we are busy trying to convince the indy movement that the future is based on the EU membership , continuing or renewed , somehow many have taken their eyes off the bloody continent in the process.

    Things are well a bit ropey in the EU than is portrayed in the SNP , specifically in fighting , non aligned policies , southern states economies and so on , in other words there may well not be an EU state to join – that is unless its house is put in order.

    Thus the UK leaving is actually a bigger deal than is made out by the EU.

    France and Germany joining up , or at least the talk of , as some super army.

    German bank exposure is the bigger benefactor of souther state IMF funds.

    France and Germany trying to get the European banking passport.

    Spain , Portugal , Greece and Italy still have a major banking problem , but as I said this is being propped up in order for German banks not to fail that have some major exposure.

    Just as well the EU have been clued up to TTIP , it would be the straw and camel , but those vultures are still circling …. waiting.

  5. Richard MacKinnon says:

    Mike Small is in denial of a couple of unspeakable truths.
    The first is that Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP are already part of the British establishment. SNP MPs have joined with enthusiasm. Welcommed in and honoured by their invitation. They love Westminster and are participating fully in ‘the house’ even on issues that have nothing to do with Scotland.
    The second is that the EU project is already over. It ended on the 24.06.16. It no longer has any influence, even upon its minor members. It may look impressive but it is impotent, paper tiger.
    If Mike Small wants to reflect upon the outlook for Scotland and our future constitutional position he should be more honest and start from a postion where these two details are uppermost in his calculations.

    1. James Mills says:

      ”SNP MPs have joined with enthusiasm ….honoured by their invitation. They love Westminster and are participating …even on issues that have nothing to do with them .”
      The SNP bloc have embarrassed the rest of ”the house” by their continued presence and full participation in the Commons – unlike the vast majority who pay it lip-service . As for ”issues that have nothing to do with them ” , what would they be ? They are barred by EVEL in some issues , so what other matters are they to ignore ? And if they did , no doubt commentators like yourself will criticise their lack of participation in Parliamentary business .

      1. Alf Baird says:

        “The SNP bloc have embarrassed the rest of ”the house” by their continued presence”

        On the contrary, the SNP bloc have merely continued Scotland’s subjugate part in the UK by their continued presence. What do you mean by “embarrassed” anyway? The Tory elite are not “embarrassed” about anything – they would happily rule over Scotland with no representation and the SNP bloc would happily let them.

      2. Richard MacKinnon says:

        James,
        You ask “As for ”issues that have nothing to do with them ” , what would they be?” . They would be for example the proposal to reintroduce English grammar schools.
        Also EVEL does not exist. Stick to the facts.

  6. tartanfever says:

    Not only has Scotland been ignored from May’s Brexit cabinet, so have Wales and N.Ireland. If that wasn’t bad enough, there will be also be no representation from the Ministry of Justice nor the Attorney General’s Office. This is quite unbelievable. Not one senior law expert will be required for guidance with the highly legal and technical process of EU withdrawl within the most senior UK government circle.

    Off topic for a moment, I’ve been reading a lot of twitter accounts and it seems that the same old arguments are repeating. Scotland’s supposed deficit etc, a ‘basket case economy’, ‘£15bn black hole.’

    Look, lets not go there. If you want to argue this stuff, start looking at things a different way.

    Look at the UK as London and the South East and then the rest of us as provinces. So no more 4 countries, but regions outside a central hub. That way you’ll find that the North East of England has a ‘massive black financial hole’, far worse than anything Scotland does. Same goes for the North West, the South West and the Midlands. In fact the picture you will be left with is of a central hub (the South East)that gobbles up all the investment capital that feeds scraps to the provinces. In terms of those provinces, Scotland fares much better than the others.

    If you play by their rules and criteria then your going to lose. You have to break it up and see how the UK is actually run – a central hub that takes all the investment and poor provinces.

    So many people are just being dragged into the same old arguments and if we do that, we’ll lose.

    1. MBC says:

      Where did the £15 billion black hole come from? Last I heard the Gers figures said £9.5 billion was the difference between expenditure and income.

    2. Wul says:

      Very good point.

      I’ve often wondered this when Scotland’s “deficit” is being compared to the UK’s. (actually, they don’t compare it, they just tell us Scotland has a “black hole”)

      What would Scotland’s deficit look like compared to:
      1) England, N.I. & Wales alone without Scotland (rUK).
      2) England minus London

      This might prove salutary to those living in the Midlands & North of England who think they are part of a prosperous economy and those here, who like to decry the potential for Scotland’s independence.

      Does anyone have a source for information such as this?

  7. MBC says:

    One of the key problems Wul with the Gers figures, never mind attempting this exercise for other parts of the UK, is that it is genuinely difficult to separate government expenditure and income in Scotland from the rest of the UK because of the degree of integration of the centrallsed fiscal system. They are at best a rough estimate of expenditure and income in relation to GDP. For instance, how do you define a Scottish taxpayer? There are taxpayers resident in Scotland whose PAYE tax receipts will not show up as Scottish income tax receipts because their employer is based in England, such as the MOD.

    Then a certain portion of government expenditure in Scotland is our population ‘share’ of infrastructure which is deemed to be ‘national’, i.e., UK, like Trident. Obviously an independent Scotland would not need and could not afford a nuclear deterrent. So that part of the ‘black hole’ would be cancelled in an independent Scotland.

    1. MBC says:

      I.e., government income (taxes) from Scotland is likely to be under-recorded in the Gers figures and government expenditure for or in Scotland, over-recorded.

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