2007 - 2021

One Last Throw of the Dice

002p1wkfEarlier this week, in an act of possibly futile civic optimism, I wrote a piece which argued, essentially, for an inter-party deal that could, I think, maybe, just…offer a workable way forward for Scotland within the context of the Brexit negotiations…if and when we get past the phony war phase we’re in now.

Roughly it was this. 1) Scottish Labour accept that there is no longer a viable way that Scotland can remain in the EU single market via the UK.  John McDonnell, by removing the Parliamentary obstacle that might have been offered by the UK Labour Party, has sunk that particular boat.

(this was what prompted my writing the piece – just to get the timeline in there)

2) Labour then have to accept that the only way forward for Scotland in this context is a distinctive Scottish Strategy…and fully accept that the SNP government have a mandate for leading that strategy, but that they and the Greens (and the liberals, actually) can strengthen that case by getting properly, fully on board with it.

3) I then suggested, in recognition that this would be a huge culturally abhorrent pill for the “others”  to swallow, that the SNP might consider, reciprocally, in exchange, agreeing to park the independence project (specifically Indyref 2) at least until we make a decent fist of trying to get through the imminent crisis together.

This last point, of course, was where I expected to get pelters.  And by gum, they have indeed been coming my way.  However, picking the cow-pat out of my hair, even after the bust up in Holyrood, even after the fragile consensus on a strategy for Brexit fell apart with both sides screaming habitual abuse at each other, I do feel I have to struggle to my feet and give one last desperate throw of the federal dice.

I have talked to ardent Nats now about this, and to ardent Labour people. (Yes, it is still just possible to invade the enemy’s algorithms) And both are, I think, still open to some sort of conversation.  Neither one really want to see a Hard Brexit. Neither really want, I don’t think, (he said, reaching for the tin helmet again) a second referendum whose result is uncertain in a context that is already scarier and less predictable than anything I can remember. So neither would really lose from a time limited Brexit truce which would necessarily park Indyref 2 until the next electoral tests.

And what both need to bear in mind is that the others haven’t gone away.  They’re not going to go away.  Magical thought will not eliminate either one of them. Not until the next elections in Scotland and Westminster in 2020 and 2021.

It is just until then that I’m suggesting a truce. After all, it was Churchill who said of Stalin that he would give Satan a favourable reference in the House of Commons if it would help to beat Hitler. And it was the third question in 2014, the one that the Tories made sure would never get asked, the Federal question, that still commands support across the board, across the tribes.

When article 50 is invoked in a few month, the phony war is over. Brexit happens. Hard Brexit.  All across the UK without any distinction.  And we ALL lose. And by ALL, I don’t just mean the respective activists for Yes and No in 2014.  I mean everyone who lives here.

Labour need to accept that there MUST be a Scottish solution…and the SNP need to accept that this MUST be Federal.  That’s it.  That’s the ball game.

So we need a truce to fight the greater enemy.  It doesn’t have to last forever.  In 2020 and 2021, we can get back in the groove of mutual contempt. I am suggesting in the meantime we get serious about at least TRYING to come up with a United Front that will push the UK parliament into taking account of our position, and that will convince the EU negotiators that we are worth talking to about a Federal Brexit where Scottish Trade and Immigration policies, for example, are not trapped by Tory infighting into the heavily pensioned wet dreams of Nigel Farage.

It’s still, only just, worth one more push.  But both the SNP and Labour will, if they’re serious, need to take some sacred Highland cows out the back and shoot them.

Finally, remember that episode of the West Wing where Toby managed to put together an in camera bi-partisan committee to save Social Security…but had to maneuver both sides into doing it by the back door? I know that’s fiction…but give that episode a watch.

It can be done, I think.  And if it can’t, maybe “we” – the chattering classes of Scotland – deserve whatever shit is about to pour on our heads.

Comments (57)

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  1. Justin Kenrick says:

    OK I heard you this time Peter

    This could be an excellent way not only to respond to the immediate challenge but to build a strong consensus that allows those who abhor independence but who are progressives to find a way over the narrow bridge either sooner (if your alliance happens and can achieve nothing) or later (if it is successful and so creates the conditions for Scotland to become independent from within distinctive strong relations with EU countries).

    My question about how we radicalise our response if/ as countries in the EU fragment rightwards can be answered as we proceed.

    1. Justin Kenrick says:

      Just to clarify:

      – It is crucial that those of us seeking independence show we are capable of being open, forgiving and willing to work with other progressives if want to win any of them over.

      – None of this is about the parties themselves, so it is not about having to trust the ‘Labour Party’ it is about trusting the good intentions (however mistaken from our point of view) of many who vote Labour, and being willing to work with them.

      – And then it is about seeing if we can collectively secure some sanity from the Tories in London: “ah, that is where Peter’s scheme falls apart” you say, and I agree, but it falls apart in a way where those of us initiating such a progressive alliance are seen clearly as so much more reasonable than the other UK unionist option, and so either (in Peter’s dreams) we secure a good deal for Scotland, or we don’t but the process of denying us (the larger us, not just the independence minded us) secures a much bigger majority for independence.

      I think approaching this in the way Peter suggests can only win us more support whether
      (a) Labour in Scotland refuses,
      (b) they accept but the UK Tories refuse, or
      (c) the UK Tories give us a better deal and so Scotland is in a more secure position in relation to the EU when IndyRef2 happens.

      I think acting on Peter’s suggestion would lead to (a) or (b) and so make IndyRef2 much more likely to happen in 2019 because we would have won over a few per cent more; or it will lead to a much larger vote for independence in 2020/ 2021 for the reason given in (c)

  2. bringiton says:

    Wasn’t it Labour during the Smith Commission that argued for the least amount of powers to be devolved to Holyrood?
    They are no more of a federalist/Home Rule party than the Tories so we can expect nothing from then on that front.
    Devolution,for them,has gone as far as they want it to go.
    So……no dice I am afraid.

    1. c rober says:

      Unfortunately SLAB are not listening to the electorate , to them the voter is wrong and not the party.

      If this was your business model on the high steet , where the customer is always wrong , then you would be BHS and Woolworths bastard child.

  3. Catherine McRorie says:

    Sorry, I was hoping for another referendum by 2019/2020 & campaigning to for it between now & then. I do not see Lab in Scotland moving in any direction until they check with their masters in WM. Lab are still split party & nobody knows which way it will eventually go. Dugdale has no power & will do as she’s told even if she agreed now. Corbyn has shown no interest in Scotland, it’s as if we are already Independent.

    1. c rober says:

      And there lies the failure of Labour – Corbyn , by not coming out with EVEL and FFA SCOTLAND being one and the same will keep Labour unelectable to WM.

  4. Kenneth Coutts says:

    If everything was nice and above board.
    There might have been a discussion.
    However, the unionists have shown their hand .
    We do not want the unionists in Scotland.
    Most of all branch offices.
    Best not call them Labour, they have no similarities with the past struggles of working folk down through the ages.
    We know where we are with ourselves x but it ain’t with sell outs to social democracy.
    The branch offices were given their chance
    They failed.
    Now, I hope the majority will send them packing.
    Our politics is totally different to the imperialist unionist corrupt representative
    Politics, we have so long endured.
    Time to move on .
    We are ready this time.
    Onwards and upwards.

  5. Thomas Widmann says:

    The problem is what we do if – as I suspect – the federal solution to Brexit turns out to be a non-starter, for instance if Westminster completely vetoes it. In that case, only Indyref2 can save us, and having given up the threat/promise of a new referendum in order to bring Labour on board will then become a major hindrance.

    1. peterarnott says:

      If there were a deal, and it was demonstrably proved it wouldn’t work…then we’d be on much stronger ground for a referendum we only called because we had no other choice.

      1. Thomas Widmann says:

        But isn’t that what the Scottish Government are already doing? They haven’t ruled out a federal solution if it’s possible, but they’re just saying that independence must be on the table, too, simply because it might turn out that it’ll be the only option left standing.

        As far as I can tell, Labour and the other Unionist parties would like the SNP to rule out a new independence referendum for the foreseeable future, even if all the other options for remaining in the Internal Market aren’t possible.

        Agreeing to this would play straight into Westminster’s hands, because they can then simply refuse to agree to any federal solution. Only the threat of Indyref2 might make them more malleable.

        1. c rober says:


          Which is why there was only one carefully worded question on the referendum , rather than merely a commonwealth union meaning FFA , indy lite , I cant beleive its not indy et al.

          But then the same could have been said with the EU ref – say coming back with a better option as a 2nd ref after the negotiations.

          But then again the same project fear machine expected to win , so either the Scots are fearthearts more than bravehearts . or the English are as many portray merely more racist – and thus never needed the fear , just the validation.

      2. Graeme Purves says:

        Isn’t that why Labour and the Liberals will wriggle like crazy to avoid any possibility of such a deal?

  6. Wullie says:

    Labour, led by Mary Poppins, are heading for the history books. A good hammering in the May elections might effect a change but then again mebbes naw!

  7. scrandoonyeah says:

    No surprise to me about the reaction you received to your opinion piece. I guess we are all entitled to our opinion…..well here’s mine.

    Dated 18th October 2014 and posted in ‘The Guardian’ on their comments page:

    ‘Ah Nicola, I see turbulent times ahead as I look into my crystal ball…I see a storm…I see a storm…I see a perfect storm……I see a storm that is perfect.

    The Labour Party in Scotland is in disgrace, stooges for the greater good.

    Miliband will never be PM, the dark forces down south will never allow this.

    The ‘Vow’ disappears up the arses of discontented MP’s

    The Tories win the Election

    Cameron is shafted by Boris and is in line to become PM

    SNP win 38 seats at Westminster

    Scottish Labour is slaughtered in the election in 2016

    The UK votes to leave the EU. Scotland votes to stay in.

    We have come full circle….indyref in 2018……..RESULT’.

    Well that was my opinion in 2014 and nothing has changed for me…..I can feel it in my water

    1. c rober says:

      I said pretty much the same thing – but never expected the WM result to be as high.

      The last horse on the mulitplyer is the coonsil elections – and if the SNP has the sphericals then they must stand on one mandate – a council vote for the SNP is a vote for INDY.

      IF they do , then Slab will be rendered extinct in the Scottish politicial spectrum – as recent history shows the unionists among them have chosen to empower the Tories having woke up and smelled the fair trade coffee.

      1. scrandoonyeah says:

        It is now down to Indy Vs Unionist and if we come out of that, we are only a hairs breadth away from self determination

  8. c rober says:

    So we have what , indecision , ffs thats what is the Slab leaders main personality trait is? To do what?

    1.Kick indy into the long grass. Removing any momentum for change from its favour?
    2.Wait and see – or is it wait and blame?
    3.Special status
    A) As part of the UK while in the EU , decided by WM through following an English majority referendum mandate?
    B)Special status for other nations of the UK , or even EIRE- but none for Scotland.Which is already looking likely and proven.
    4.Indy – which gives us more options again , even more complicated than just in or out of the EU , but where the decisions are home based and so is the accountability!

    There really is not any recourse for enlisting the help of those that have sold us out , repeatedly , or perhaps will scuttle the ship to say “I told you so”.

    We might as well consider also to get the Scotories on board – they are after all the party in rising (as the unionists jump ship from Slab on their downward trend , just like the proverbial rats they are.) And importantly they are the party of the wealthy in Scotland , those that perhaps depend on the EU trade as a result.

    Best bet then is to get KEZ and Ruth to commit in chambers , to state what is their policy , through the FM backing them into a corner.

    1.Demand they either back HR on EU special deal from WM , just like that which the tories are giving other parts of the UK that voted to leave.
    2.For indy , or FFA just like Labour in England and the tories are doing with regional empowering, thus keeping the union and creating a commonwealth of the UK nations instead. Then there is two things to play with …

    Accountability and Accountability.

    By SLAB and TORIES not adopting any hard binary rhetoric in chambers , ie special deal respecting 62 percent of the voters in Scotland to remain in the EU , some of whom voted for them no doubt wish to remain in two unions , or for a indy/federal option , thus they are proving they have no real policy – other than that of continuing the convenient criticism offered them by being the opposition.

    Slab will never change , thus they need to be consigned to the Scottish political History books , and as long as the SNP keeps their socialist veneer , where SLAB fail to do the same with FFA and indy in the same manner , well its back to real employment away from politics for them…. or even unemployment.

  9. Yan says:

    Scottish independence rapidly degenerating into the degradation of a nation after being marched up a blind alley by the progressive cadre of the selfie collective.

    1. Graeme Purves says:

      “Degradation of a nation”??? That sounds like nationalist blethers to me!

  10. K. A. Mylchreest says:

    ¨it was Churchill who said of Stalin that he would give Satan a favourable reference in the House of Commons if it would help to beat Hitler.¨

    IIRC after the Nazis invaded Russia I believe he said, ¨If Hitler were to invade Hell, I´d try to find something nice to say about the Devil¨.

  11. K. A. Mylchreest says:

    Honestly I think you´re clutching at straws … but clutch away. All the alternatives short of Indy must be exhausted if we´re to bring everyone possible on-side. Just so long as it doesn´t drag on too long. But then the longer WM dithers the more time we have, within reason.

  12. Graeme Purves says:

    One of the difficulties of an accommodation based on federalism is that the traditional party of federalism, the Scottish Liberals, fled the field sometime during the first decade of this century, leaving an unnoticed but significant void. I believe the principal culprit to have been Nicol Stephen, now safely ensconced in the House of Lords. However, Tavish Scott or Willie Rennie could have recovered the territory, but chose not to. Individuals ranging from David Torrance to Gordon Brown have since made half-hearted feints in the direction of federalism, but there is now now core of support for a federal settlement anywhere in Scottish civic society. Grappling with the concept seems well beyond the attention span of Kezia Dugdale.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      “there is now now core of support for a federal settlement anywhere in Scottish civic society”

      As if oor Tory maisters wid care what ‘Scottish civil society’ wanted. Wha are ‘Scottish civil society’ onywey?

      1. Yan says:

        Wha are ‘Scottish civil society’ onywey?

        Scottish civil society is the the Saturday morning PCS Union equality and diversity agitator that come the Monday morning is the Jobcentre Plus job coach that sanctions Scots claimants in to destitution and oblivion.

      2. Graeme Purves says:

        Naethin that a pickle swamp drainin widna sort oot, Alf!

        1. Graeme Purves says:

          Definitions of “civil society” are easily available online, Alf, eg. “society considered as a community of citizens linked by common interests and collective activity”.

          Scottish civil society working across party lines is widely acknowledged to have played a major role in the restoration of Scotland’s parliament at the end of the last century. A’m surprised ye didna ken that. I’m beginning to wonder whether you know very much about Scotland at all. Perhaps you have only recently arrived on the planet in a trolling probe from Mars, equipped only with a water pump and a dog-eared Doric dictionary?

          1. Alf baird says:

            ‘civic society’ usually implies vested interests and lobby groups, oft disguised as ‘trusts’ and ‘charities’, and usually full o the middle class an intellectuals. The type of folk that all too often get into Holyrood committee rooms. ‘civic society’ does not necessarily reflect wider society. The swamp is bigger than some may think.

          2. Graeme Purves says:

            The term I used was “civil society”, but I can live with “civic society”. The point I was making was about social and civic networks beyond the political parties having agency over the way Scotland is governed. Of course civil society is made up of “interest groups”, that’s the nature of the beast. You won’t get rid of “interest groups” now matter how hard you try to “drain the swamp”, but I share your concern over the “great an guid” dimension of it, which we must work harder to keep in check. Efforts should be directed to making civil society as inclusive as possible. That’s the only way that we can safeguard human rights and liberties. At present, some people seem to prefer the idea of autocracy to “civil society”. I recall that Pol Pot tried to pump all the middle class people and intellectuals out of the swamp in Cambodia, which in practice meant killing them. It wasn’t a pretty picture.

  13. Alex P says:

    It is essential that the SNP start to show they mean what they say. Very public preparations for independence will persuade our masters in WM, that Scotland will not wait for them to make concessions. One of the reasons that we lost in 2014 was that the future was uncertain, and doubters succumbed to project fear. We must not let that happen again, and surely by demonstrating a positive future in the midst of Tory incompetence and indifference, we can persuade the doubters.

  14. Richard MacKinnon says:

    I cant believe there are still people out there going on about indeyref2, federalism SNP/Labour pacts, membership of the single market as if nothing has changed since 2014.
    If Peter Arnott wants to spend his time trying to make sense of where we might go from here, up here in Scotlandshire then I wish him the best of luck, and will follow his views and the comments he elicit as always. (Bella Caledonia and the other sites are part of my routine and I have no intention of changing this).
    However, I think I have to point out something, the global political map is in transition. It has changed unrecognisably in the last few months and is still in a state of flux. These changes will/are going to have a massive impact on us all including in Scotland. One place where this change is going to impact most is in Europe.
    I might be wrong when I say this but I don’t think I am, I believe that due to the UK/EU referendum result the European Union is no longer a viable entity. There are other indicators. Ireland and the deal it made with Apple. The EU Commission seem unable to force a small debt ridden EU member state to accept a 13 billion euro tax rebate from Apple. There are other signs of stress, ignored for years, youth unemployment in Mediterranean member states is 50%. Debt is another.
    Obviously nobody is going to admit to this reality. No one wants to rock the boat at a time when the UK is negotiating the terms of Brexit, but the reality is I believe, that the EU project has reached its conclusion
    I think therefore that when Peter Arnott and others consider where Scotland goes from here they should start their hypotheses with this in mind.

    1. MBC says:

      I fear you are right but hope you are not.

      Lately I have been thinking of another scenario. That Parliament realises that the world has become a grear deal more dangerous since 23rd June and that it is simply not in the national interest to leave the EU and they block the A50 vote.

      I know the chances of that are slim. It would need somebody of the eloquence of Churchill to make the case and convince the people.

      But I keep hoping that ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man’.

      But remember this – if the European project fails, and Putin once more over-runs eastern Europe and the peace and prosperity of 70 years melts away like snow off a dyke, it will be because Perfidious Albion that stabbed it in the back.

      And remember further, if we had succeeded in 2014, none of it would have happened, because having lost Scotland to a referendum, Cameron would never have been able to hold one on Europe.

  15. William Ross says:

    Well said Richard MacKinnon. Oh for a little dose of reality.

  16. Jo says:

    I like this article Peter.

    As a YES last time I felt that following Brexit a united approach was needed from all of the Parties at Holyrood. I think Nicola Sturgeon did a good job of trying to achieve that……..initially. She managed to get Labour on board, the Lib-Dems and the Greens. Only the Tories opposed the plan to oppose what had happened and to explore all options for Scotland, together. At that point I was delighted to see the cross-Party support and was excited at the thought of these Parties working together. (It goes without saying that their position could have strengthened further since with the mess May is making of the whole Brexit thing. Davidson should have been skewered by now at Holyrood had that early unity, post-Brexit, continued.)

    Alas, the introduction of Indyref2 into the mix smashed the consensus from what I could see. Kezia and Rennie were left fuming which Davidson crowed from the sidelines. I didn’t think it was Nicola’s finest hour but the biggest worry I had was that, right now, the support for independence was not where it should be in order to justify – and win – Indyref2 this early.

    I get that there has been a “material change” but I’m not seeing the support out here for Indyref2 and for independence. People are reeling from Brexit and they are uncertain. Further uncertainty over Indyref2 isn’t something everyone relishes.

    Some people claim that the independence campaign brought excitement to Scottish politics. It’s a fair point but it brought something else too. The absolute hatred and contempt some, on both sides, hurl at each other has destroyed meaningful debate on so many sites and I think that’s a very bad thing. Whether we like it or not there are people on both sides who care passionately about their personal position and we must respect that. No side, in my view, has the right to speak of “the people of Scotland” as if they represent them all and speak for all of them.

    I usually like it when Question Time comes from Scotland. Now, however, I tend to cross my fingers before it starts and hope those attending don’t give us all a showing up. Alas, last night, I was disappointed. The bad feeling in the audience was evident from the booing and jeering that came from the pro-independence and pro-Union rowdies in the audience. I see no end to it. (It wasn’t helped either by Cat Boyd’s rant against Brexit followed by her admission that she hadn’t even voted!)

    What I’m sure about is that a united front was required in Scotland over Brexit and these are very worrying times. I feel Nicola initially had that united front and then let it slip when, rightly or wrongly, the introduction of Indyref2 was thrown into the mix. I think that was a bad move. So once again we’re back to the usual Party-political insults being hurled back and forth. And as much uncertainty as ever. It’s very depressing.

    1. MBC says:

      She was under huge pressure to rev up indyref2 from within the Yes voting fraternity. She was accused of dithering by the ardent members and was losing their support. The indy movement faced dwindling away. Plus, she needed a stick to threaten Teresa May with.

      She was damned if she did, and damned if she didn’t.

      Divide and rule.

      Aye been.

      1. c rober says:

        I dont think it was bad decision to walk the indy ii plank so early – its is now on the table in political negotiations as a serious intent , one shown to May and the rest at WM that Holyrood is VF serious – even if the opposition parties arent. Walk softly , big stick.

        What this means is that if WM dont take this seriously for Scotland to remain in both Unions – then it will only hasten the call for an INDY ref II more expeditiously – even if that means not in any Union , ie the Nordic Question as the third negotiation ploy.

        But I suspect despite their bluster that the EU now know England is unstoppable in leaving , so the EU will open a door for Scotland and as we know Spain doesn’t actually have a veto – this as two nations in the EU are gearing for a Pro Russian govt , so anti EU , and Greece may well decide to leave also. No one notice the lack of Greek news on Uk channels these days?

        IF Slab as usual cant get this cooperation in their head , that this is potential to serve those that elected them , to bring SLAB back in as a poltical FPTP party , rather than a 2nd choice list one thats also in decline , then its only more of Kez scuttling SLAB for the good ship Northern Office mandate …. so the only question that remains is whether its on purpose or as a result of an indecisive leader.

  17. muttley79 says:

    Labour need to accept that there MUST be a Scottish solution…and the SNP need to accept that this MUST be Federal. That’s it. That’s the ball game.

    So how is this federal solution going to come about? How is it going to be enacted? Why would May listen to the Labour Party in Scotland given that they have now fallen behind the Tories?

    1. c rober says:

      How many SLAB bums on seats in Holyrood again , 23?

      On top of 63 SNP , and 6 Greens that will opt for indy – so are we really expecting over half of the members in Holyrood to take a sub offer , when their parties have a mandate for Indy?

      Slab had a chance to come in from the political cold – they wont push for INDY , FFA or Federal. They foolishly think that getting their jobs on the list will remain forever… but they really need to hire some accountants in order to see that their losses have been to the SNP at WM , to the Tories at Holyrood , and even in council byelections the vote is going to the Tories.

      The Unionist have deserted Slab , so has the independence minded , and its largest demographic the working class socialists – by the time the realization hits the politicians remaining where the buck stops for that downfall then they will be on JSA.

      Repeat the same thing over and over again and expect a different result indeed.

  18. john young says:

    Don,t you think it is an all but impossible task to convince “unionists” be they labour or any one else to look forward to think of the country that they live in,when you see how little we as a country/people mean to them yet still they bang at the door of the party miserably trying to gain entrance/recognition,demeaning themselves in the process,only to have the door slammed shut in their face,weak weak people.

  19. MBC says:

    Peter, isn’t the great big flaw with federalism that it would need the support of the entire UK?

    Why would they give it?

    Why would 55 million people agree to re-shape their entire state, their entire constitution, just to suit 5 million?

    1. c rober says:

      Because thats what is next , brexit might mean brexit , but “England means England” is nexit.

      The same people writing and editing the shit in the Daily Heil about the EU for the last 20 years have been doing the same about Scotland – one just needs to look at any replies about the SNP , or Sturgeon articles to see their England once more mandate is growing.

      So if there is to be a federal UK – it will be on their terms. Every single argument for the leaving of the EU by the most vociferous in England is near identical in application to the Union of the UK for Scotland .. power ceeded to a foreign political system it does not elect , money leaving and ending up in another country , devolved vs reserved powers and so on.

      The lies of the VOW , the austerity of 9 years , the forced leaving of the EU , the time is now to enact INDY II , that is unless there is a temporary reprieve , and that can only be one thing – Federal. By doing this one thing it prevents INDY , for now , and also gives EVEL its day.

      And as the proverb goes – all it takes for EVEL to flourish is for good men to do nothing…. federal is that nothing , it gives the Tories a win they cannot afford to lose.

  20. fermerfaefife says:

    Its a fair enough concept – one that I think Nicola is trying to do, it is also one which might keep the Eurosceptic SNP members on side as I think what is going to be presented shortly is a federal solution based on the EEA (“Norway Model”)
    It might not be independence tomorrow as some indy supporters might want but it sets it up for some point in the future — and that is where I think the flaw is in the plan – if the labour/tory/lib dem unionists think it may lead to indy in the future , they will not support it.
    That is why the “threat” of indyref2 in the short term must be on the table – to force them to engage in a federal solution to push indyref down the road.
    The beauty in the plan is that the people of Scotland can see that the Scottish Govt have come up with a viable plan that 1)keeps them in single market 2)Keeps free movement of people and goods 3)keeps the british union together in the loosest sense 4)Keeps our relationship and trade with wider Uk 5)gives Scotland federal responsibility for its decisions on all subjects except defence/foreign affairs outwith Europe. 6)Keeps Eurosceptic nationalists onside as not full EU membership etc etc
    The crux of the matter is that unionist parties should be backed into the corner of supporting the plan or be seen to be going against their constituents wishes and Scotlands best interests – which if indyref2 is eventually the only solution then helps the cause.

    Nicola SHOULD tell the other parties that she will take indyref2 off the front burner if they support the Norway Model federal plan – BUT – the other parties have to engage with the plan , and Westminster has to ascent to Scotland negotiating its own Brexit deal with the EU and uK (as we cant trust WM to do it on our behalf) and it must be done BEFORE the UK actually leaves.

    The indyref2 is there to keep everything honest and if the whole thing unravels or parties don’t co-operate in good faith (see smith commission!) to get the deal done – then indyref2 has to happen before the UK leaves the EU.
    Once the UK has left the EU, and Scotland has no federal deal then the cause for Indyref is sunk as we would be in the worst of both worlds – not in uk , not in EU — quite frankly a far harder and impossible cause to fight.

    1. c rober says:

      Pretty much what I have been saying both here and on other sites.

      But I also argue for any INDY II to have a proviso that a wider Nordic Union , a commonwealth , also aids the fight – in that it creates once again a union of smaller countries with a similar mindset , population and economy , but outwith the controls that any full fat EU membership that has failed the Southern States , ie by keeping currency soverign.

      Norway is in that Union already – so perhaps we should also be approaching that one as well as the EU one , and of course the federal option where staying in the EU works – not just for Scotland but for the UK businesses that can single person office for exporting.Its not like its not happening already with corps in IOM , Jersey , et al.

  21. Alf Baird says:

    Only a former unionist would propose such outcomes as a federal solution, which require a large measure of goodwill on the part of the lead state entity. Those of us who have never believed in the so-called union understand there is no such thing as goodwill from Westminster, particularly as far as Scotland is concerned; all we can ever expect is more smoke and mirrors.

    1. Graeme Purves says:

      Get draining that swamp, Alf!

      1. Alf Baird says:

        I get the impression you used to be a unionist, Graeme; maybe that was a pre-requisite to advance in the UK Home Civil Service? Denial of Scotland’s unionist-led public sector/institutional swamp is therefore perhaps understandable.

        1. Graeme Purves says:

          Aye, richt! An ye are a troll frae Mars!

  22. Eleanor Ferguson says:

    It doesn’t matter what Nicola says and how much the Scottish Government tries to find a way of us staying in the EU, Labour,Liberal and Tories keep saying that it is just another way that the Nationalists are trying to get independence. It is so depressing that Scottish Labour in particular are not fighting for Scottish interests and are only interested in being against anything ,and I mean anything that the Scottish Government suggests.
    The only way we can get out of this mess is for Scottish politicians to act in the interests of Scotland – why can’t they see that!
    I used to vote Labour but have voted SNP for a number of years now and I have been totally disgusted with the way that the Labour party have gone along with the Tories by abstaining on votes or voting for policies that have seen the poorest and most vulnerable people ground down. Week after week Kesia takes Nicola to task for not closing the attainment gap etc etc as if austerity hasn’t anything to do with it. The Scottish Government doesn’t get enough credit for the way that they have tried to help people by getting rid of the bedroom tax, creating their own version of the Independent Living Fund which Westminster stopped in England and generally doing their best to improve the lot of carers.
    Unless Labour in Scotland suddenly develop a backbone and stand up for us here no matter what anyone else thinks,I just can’t see a way forward. I would love for Scotland to have independence but if we lost another referendum I think I would have to shoot myself!

    1. c rober says:


      “The only way we can get out of this mess is for Scottish politicians to act in the interests of Scotland – why can’t they see that!”

      Because they have no interest in those that have voted for them , the electorate are only their enablers. 62 percent of Scotland voted to remain in the EU – and the ball is now in Slabs court as to whether this is democracy in action , and something they wish to aid or deny.

      Scottish Labour is in a leadership vacuum , in decline , in bed with English Labour

      2014 was their watershed moment that showed them up and has rendered over 60 of them unemployed as a result in the two elections since. Had Holyrood been like Westminster elections and FPTP then those loses would have been even more.

      I expect the same in 2017 repeated in the council elections as with the Holyrood one. And any that think that change can happen in SLab , that still want the party to return to its socialist worker routes long since discarded , have only one option available to them …. to never vote SLAB until it listens to Scotland.

      The unionist rats , keen on personal wealth , and the status qou that enables it , those that were voting for SLAB are jumping ship to where their political alignment is true and more obvious – back to the Tories , they at least have seen the demise of the psuedo socialist party.

      The Socialists , keen on fairness , have accepted that for Scotland to be a socialist country it needs to have the powers to do it. So the masses too have deserted Slab.

      Dugdale therefore is in for a tough time come next MAY , and will be expected to step down , like the previous ones have before her for the downward trend . But somehow she has escaped losing her leadership. Of course there is those that argue that 4 or 5 changes in leadership hasnt done anything to prevent the decline in membership and electability.

      But there lies the problem , Baillie will be the leader – and once again worsen the decline as her unionist bent is more obvious.

      So unless there is a leader in waiting , one that is a hardcore socialist , keen to rip out the Nulabour and Unionists that remain , then eventually SLAB will be looking back and fondly remembering having any elected members numbering that of todays libedems.

  23. MBC says:

    The UK will never give its backing to a federal solution, that’s the whole problem with that proposal. Plus there is no demand for it elsewhere in the UK. There is a compelling political logic to independence.

    1. c rober says:

      Crown Dependencies and British overseas territories? or the National parliaments that are already established are already theoretically a federal system , more so in applications with the CD though than BOT.

      Its part way there if one argues that both of the above have set the precedent – and some arent exactly new kids on the block in legislature.

      Then we have the Islands of Scotland that will want to have their indy from an indepdent Scotland , which was expressed during Indy 1 , mostly at the smell of oil mind you – which would make the residents instant millionaires.

  24. George Gunn says:

    c rober; that is a red herring. Shetland and Orkney and The Western Isles and everywhere else in Scotland can have autonomy – its called local government – which is a thing we don’t have. The “independence” for Shetland, for example, is always a card played by Tavish Scott and his Unionist Lib Dem pals when they get a bit scared as they were in 2014. Go and visit the Northern Isles and you will experience communities struggling with all the same issues as the rest of Scotland, only more so because of their geography. Until we get independence for Scotland, and get to grips with democratising all energy provision, oil and nuclear (here in Caithness) will remain problems rather than solutions.

  25. Maria F says:

    Peter, when you talk about ‘a federal solution’, are you referring to Devo Max?

    The unionist branches have had at least that I can count 4 wonderful opportunities to demand devo max for Scotland within the last 2 years, but they haven’t done so because it doesn’t suit their agenda. I think they have made it clear they cannot be trusted on this: they don’t want Devo Max and they never did.

    On the other hand, SLab branch is just the third political force in Scotland and falling even lower every second it passes by, therefore it is hardly in any position to make any demands, quite frankly. I honestly don’t understand why you insist in giving them so much importance and the oxygen of attention.

    Opportunity 1
    Didn’t the unionists had a great opportunity to include Devo max in the ballot paper in 2014? Yes, they did. Salmond wanted the option in the ballot paper but the unionists decided against including it.

    It is my personal opinion that this option was not included because they knew very well that it would win the election and they didn’t want that. As it is a classical move in this make-do-democracy, the electorate is offered with the establishment’s unpalatable option against another option considered even more unpalatable carefully leaving out the most popular option (Remember the choice between FPTP and AV? Why wasn’t the PR option given?). Independence at the time of deciding the question in the ballots was not very popular, that is why it went into the ballot instead of Devo Max. Had the unionists included Devo Max in the ballot at the time, I believe it would be a certainty that Scotland would now be enjoying it. It is the unionist parties and not the SNP, who we have to ‘thank’ for not having Devo Max today, Peter.

    Opportunity 2
    What was Mr Brown’s mouth on behalf of the Unionist front spouting a few days before indiref1? Was it not the fact that Scotland was going to get Devo Max to the Max if remained in the UK?

    That disgusting deception that was the vow was the greatest opportunity that Labour had to demonstrate to the Scottish people that they were serious about federalism, that they respected the people of Scotland and they cared about Scotland.

    Did they took advantage of the vow? Well yes, but to THEIR own benefit and not that of Scotland!. They simply blew the greatest opportunity they will ever have to prove themselves to the Scottish people. It is my personal opinion that they blew it because they are nothing less than a bunch of self-serving careerists who don’t give a toss about Scotland.

    So, NO vote and not a hint of the Devo Max to the Max maliciously dangled as a carrot during indiref. Who do we have to thank for not having Devo Max today, Peter? The SNP? No, it is the unionists, and more than anybody else Labour. How can we ever trust them again?

    Opportunity 3
    Nicola Sturgeon demanded from Mr Cameron the ability for Scotland to veto the result of the EU referendum if Scotland voted differently to England. Mr Cameron (well, the brexiteers in his party) rejected the proposal. At this time, it was a fantastic opportunity for the Unionists to set up a plan B of Devo Max if Scotland voted to remain in the EU and England to leave, because the SNP, the majority party, had included in their manifesto the option of another independence referendum it that happened. Was this plan B prepared? of course not, because England cannot possibly envision a future where ‘the colony’ of Scotland and its resources don’t remain firmly attached to it so it can siphon them.

    Who do we have to thank for this? the SNP? no, that will be the Unionist parties for ignoring the possibility of another indiref. So, why should the SNP move a mm towards ‘their’ camp? No. It should be the other way round.

    Opportunity 4
    On the 24th of June, when it was evident to every one in the world that England had voted to leave while Scotland didn’t, the unionist branches in Scotland had the opportunity to join forces and demand Devo Max from Westminster at once or threatening with joining forces supporting independence. Had they done that, Scotland would be on the path to Devo Max. Did they do it? No, of course not! Even now, when it is crystal clear that there is not way Scotland can remain in the EU while being part of the UK, the hypocrites rather support Brexit than fight for devo max, even when they know full well that Brexit is going to harm SCotland big time.

    Did May and co even bothered to find a solution so Scotland can remain in the EU after Brexit? Of course not! Yet, she is prepared to offer special deals to the london banksters and Japanese car manufacturers. Scotland is so insignificant that is not even considered for a deal. I don’t remember any of the unionist branches complaining bitterly about this. Do you?

    I am sorry Peter but I personally don’t think Labour can ever be trusted with anything they will ever propose. As far as I am concerned, their word will be completely worthless until that day that they deliver in full the Devo Max to the Max promised by Gordon before indiref1. Until that time, that party is an irrelevance and as such I hope it gets hammered to ashes in the next local elections. They deserve nothing less. I don’t see why SNP has to meet them half way either. They are insignificant. And it is quite obvious that any future election in Scotland will be Pro-Indy/Against-Indy: Labour doesn’t longer stand a chance on this race

    One little note Peter: Devo Max was the favourite option before September 2014. You may find that after the insult to Scottish democracy that the Westminster votes on Trident or Syria bombing were, or the farce that Chilcot report and the whole WMD-Iraq war deception were, many of the original Devo Max supporters of 2014 have moved irreversibly into the Independence seeking group. You can count me as one of those.

    Why should the SNP move an inch away from independence? The Unionist branches/parties have ensured that this is the only option that Scotland has to maintain control over its future because with their self-serving attitude they killed any viability for the devo max option.

    I personally hope the Scottish Government drag their heels down to the earth core it they must and pursue independence as the only option for Scotland. Independence is in my opinion the only way Scotland can take control of its own affairs. Control of its own affairs under any other “option” proposed by Unionists is nothing but a mirage and a gravy train for the self-serving unionist branches.

    1. Flower of Scotland says:

      Wow! Maria F. Well said. That’s it in a nutshell.

    2. Broadbield says:

      Excellent Maria F. I would have voted for Devo Max in IndyRef1, although I wanted Independence, because I thought it would have won the day and would inevitably lead to full Independence. That it was left off the ballot paper was a further sign of Cameron’s incompetence which reached its nadir with the Eu vote.

      I have some sympathy for Peter’s viewpoint, and both Labour and the Liberals have supported Scottish Home Rule in the (distant) past but are now strongly Unionist. The Tories are not worth engaging with. But Lib/Lab seem that they would prefer eternal Tory WM rule to an Independent Scotland. I find this profoundly sad – that they prefer Tory inequality and their war on the poor than the possibility of a fairer (socialist, even) more equitable Scotland in which they could play a full part rather than being the gurning, SNP-hating spoilers that they are. Their behaviour is pathetic.

      1. douglas clark says:


        I think that the Liberals and Labour, in their darker moments, know that their time is up. Perhaps the story of Nero fiddling whilst Rome burned is apocryphal, but they are playing some games whilst Scotland burns.

  26. Eleanor Ferguson says:

    I can’t see why Scottish Labour can’t see that their only chance of success is to break free from the UK party and start working for Scotland’s interests. They might then have a hope in hell, but only after working very hard to regain the trust of voters. Did no-one notice that Gordon Brown had absolutely no power at all to do all the things that he was promising,his party wasn’t in power. Like the Liberals they can promise anything knowing that they won’t have to deliver.
    Maria F has put it perfectly. I am absolutely furious when I think of all the lost opportunities and now being put in the position of having to go along with Brexit even though it would be disastrous for Scotland. It would be interesting to ask the people who didn’t vote in the EU referendum what they would vote now that it is becoming so clear what a disaster it is.

  27. Gordon Benton says:

    Alex, you have hit the nail on the head. The Scottish Government should (must) govern as if we are already independent -with 25 year plans for infrastructure, education expectation, NHS and pensions fundability, sustainable peace energy (oil/gas or not), defence strategy, land reform. This governing, being sniped at weekly and 5 year management terms may be very democratic, but does very little for the morale of those who want Independence very soon; not federalism, or whatever compromise you can think of. No compromise – plan now for our future, so that we can turn our dreams into reality.

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