Eutopia Lost

David Jamieson explores a Scottish Euroscepticism. This article was first published in our print magazine, which comes free with The National on the first weekend of each month.

Nicola Sturgeon’s revision of the independence referendum timetable this week (Tuesday 27 June) could either prove a route or a healthy tactical retreat and recalibration of the entire independence movement.

The wide-ranging statement touched on many concerns that pro-independence critics of the SNP have long espoused. Independence itself rather than dry calculations about dates and mechanisms would return to the fore, she promised. The SNP will reach out to a broader independence movement in the bid to make this case. Perhaps most importantly, the SNP’s programme for government would be re-infused with vision and “radical” purpose.

Whether any or all these pledges are made good upon will be seen in time. But one central issue was not discussed. Since the UK voted to leave the EU and Scotland voted to remain in June 2016, Sturgeon has re-orientated the independence cause on the Brexit question. The assumption that this was the natural stance of the independence movement has been unfaltering. The political impact far-reaching. The independence movement must, if it is to choose tactical retreat and a re-affirmation of its winning formula over collapse, take seriously the nature of the EU and the opposition to it by so many of its adherents.

A year of rage against the EU

The European Union is a grossly misunderstood institution.

That has been the cry of centrist governments across the European continent in the shadow of rising populist and nationalist movements in recent years and months. Truly, many anti-EU forces do misunderstand the organisation. For free market Brexiteers and the grandchildren of Vichy (and these are the predominant Eurosceptic tendencies on the right across Europe) the EU is, respectively, a business smothering bureaucracy or a foreign and miscegenating conspiracy.

For the former and larger category, the EU is to blame for the continued decline of many of Europe’s former imperial states. From the UK to France, Spain to Italy, a movement led by a small faction of the wealthy elite believes the EU to be the source of intractable economic problems; from low productivity and growth through national debt and even corruption. Behind them, this faction has marshalled a substantial element of small business and the wider middle classes as well as parts of the working class, often the poorest and most disaffected.

All these groups will be roused with a shock when it is found that the removal of EU bureaucracy, and whatever new ‘control’ can be established over European immigration, does nothing to arrest these chronic problems, nor the structural unemployment, disintegrating welfare states and low wage economies driving anger among working class Eurosceptics.

A Scottish Euroscepticism?

But here in Scotland, as in other parts of Europe, another kind of EU confusion abounds.

In January this year, at the superbly organised and rejuvenating Scottish Independence Convention (SIC) in Glasgow, hundreds of independence activists gathered to begin laying the intellectual and organisational groundwork in expectation of a second referendum, made “highly likely” according to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, by Brexit.

The meeting carried a mood of robust self-criticism. Weaknesses of the Yes campaign in 2014 and before were frankly discussed, as were the difficulties faced by a second campaign, the defeat of which would surely put independence to bed for a generation. Yet, as would be the case with Sturgeon’s announcement six months hence, the EU issue was not broached. Its absence was felt in the room, which overwhelmingly supported Scotland’s membership of the EU.

Thirty eight per cent of 2014 Yes voters voted leave in 2016.

If this has been misunderstood by figures in the SNP party machine, which has long tied the concept of Scottish independence with the country’s membership of a wider union of European nations, it should not be lost on the independence movement.

The Yes campaign was the quintessential left ‘populist’ movement, with a broad base in the working and lower middle class but also, in its final weeks and by the design of groups like the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC), drawing in some of the poorest layers of the working class.

It is not difficult to understand, therefore, why such a large proportion of Yes voters, angry, anti-establishment and suffering declining living standards, backed leaving the EU. In the perverse mythology of the rightwing Eurosceptics, the EU is an offence to economic seriousness, national sovereignty and in some cases even racial purity. In the centre-left version of that mythology, the EU is a shield held up against the worst excesses of the market and an expression of internationalism and cross-border solidarity. Even when the EU fails to achieve these ideals in practice, this remains its essential nature.

The EU in the real world

But the world, of course, is a grimmer and plainer place than this. The EU developed in the post-war world with the rebuilding of Europe from the ashes of the Second World War and from underneath US protection in the global Cold War. It is an economic instrument, initially established as an alliance of the two nation-states at the heart of the century’s wars – Germany and France.

They complemented each other, France as an agrarian powerhouse and West Germany as an industrial one (in part owing to its important position in the Cold War).

More recent decades have seen a re-unified Germany advance at the expense of France, and the project has moved in the direction of a project for economic harmonisation in the interests of Germany.

European institutions, operating beyond any real democratic control, bludgeon weaker nation states into submission to this order.

The Cold Warrior status of the EU meant Western Europe was military united against the Eastern Bloc (and hence at peace with itself), but since the collapse of the USSR the EU, in tandem with partners like Nato and the US, has made deeper and sometimes bloody incursions into the Russian sphere of influence.

One Yes activist, speaking from the floor of the SIC conference in January, said that Yes-leave voters could be “won back” because they could be convinced that “immigrants aren’t to blame”.

One could complain that not all leave voters are anti-immigration, or over the presumption of correctness on what is a genuinely complex issue, and one on which ignorant attitudes are lamentably common on left and right.

But by far the most dangerous and galling part of this sentiment is “won back”.

The Yes-leave Constituency

The idea that voters and even activists already committed to independence require “won back” is wrong headed. But the idea that people can or should be persuaded to independence through the vector of support for the EU is positively dangerous.

Needless to say, one cause is not the other. Striving to win a constituency of only those flexible enough to bend around both issues is a recipe for losing votes, and confusing and demoralising even fanatical supporters.

Tensions on this issue already feature in the leadership of the SNP itself. Sturgeon seems enamoured of the EU ideal, whereas former leader Alex Salmond has made clear time and again that Brexit is only the occasion, and not the reason for a second independence referendum. This framing was re-rehabilitated by Sturgeon in her parliamentary confessional.

So how is the Yes-Eurosceptic constituency ‘won’ for a second vote? First of all, who are they?

Some of them are voters with a specific grievance with the EU, such as those in fishing communities.

But very often leave voters were the very same working class who surged the Yes vote in the final weeks of the independence campaign.

SNP MSP for Glasgow Shettleston John Mason described to the Evening Times an “affluence versus deprivation” divide in the vote breakdown, comparing wards like the impoverished Blairtummock to the affluent Mount Vernon, he said: “The main thing I picked up on was poorer areas voting more to leave”.

Glasgow’s poorest communities registered higher than average leave votes – 44 per cent in Glasgow East for example, compared with Glasgow North, which voted 78 per cent remain.

SNP voters were more likely to vote leave than any other major Scottish party in 2016, including the Scottish Conservatives. As noted before, 38 per cent of Yes voters voted leave, the same as the national average. Correlations between Yes and remain are consequently hard to match on a geographical basis (and the independence movement was starkly polarised by area) with Yes voting bastions like Dundee voting below the national remain average, and pro-Union strongholds like Edinburgh voting by a massive 74 per cent to remain.

Populists for Yes

The theory of electoral triangulation is dead. It couldn’t survive President Trump or Jeremy Corbyn’s General Election victory on all but points. Today we know that bases can be secured and new recruits attracted by appealing vociferously to a core message.

Attempts to reach out to pro-EU elements of the middle class by the SNP can yield few votes even on a good day. They are one small quadrant of society, and to the extent that they voted No in 2014, they are also ‘small c’ conservatives, unwilling to rock the boat – and independence will always be a rocky boat.

Furthermore, it is a phenomenon little observed but entirely real nonetheless, the remain ‘cause’ is rapidly dying.

This was evident in both the local elections and general elections, when the Liberal Democrats, who have styled themselves as the remain party, failed to make any kind of breakthrough.

The SNP are no exception. There are surely, a wide array of reasons why the SNP has retreated in electoral terms, including the re-consolidation of the pro-Union vote and the uninspiring nature of recent Scottish Government policy. But in any case, staunch Europhileism has clearly not benefited the party.

Polls in 2017 have consistently shown that 2016 remain voters are split down the middle on whether Brexit should be accepted or in some way disregarded. The pro-EU street movement that emerged briefly after the June 23 vote, principally in London and Edinburgh, quickly dissipated.

The human material for victory in a second referendum resides precisely where it did before, among the sceptical, populist and anti-establishment working class – many of whom voted leave.

The most important way in which the populist base is secured is by driving the campaign for independence back into the working class base. Striking out as a real alternative to the neo-liberal centre is benefiting political forces around the world. The growing instability of the world order, economic, social and political, will only make that a more acute reality.

The EU is a touchstone for the international populist fury. It embodies the elitism, neo-liberal economics and anti-democratic mood of the wealthy and powerful that is being shrugged-off by millions of people after decades of acceptance.
Real political consequences flow from the SNP’s unwelcome alignment with the EU.

Having been an insurgency against the British state in 2014, independence became a buttress for another failing pillar of the world order.

Leftwing economics, whisperings of which had made the independence movement so infectious in 2014, had to be sidelined for the EU’s shrivelled orthodoxy.

In moving away from the centre and back towards the radical fringe that served independence and Corbyn so well, we can reconcile leave and remain voting Yes voters, and have the real debate we require about Scotland’s place out of a crisis ridden UK and in the world, untroubled by the EU’s anti-social economic rules.

Above all else in this regard, we have to remember that independence was never a purely national but also internationalist movement, and draw on the resources and criticisms of supporters in Europe and beyond. We must be with the people of the continent, not its callous rulers.

In the coming period of realignment for the independence movement, support for the EU must be abandoned.

Comments (68)

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  1. john says:


    1. leavergirl says:

      I am so happy to see this article! Scotland’s freedom and the EU’s anti-democratic, totalitarian bent don’t fit together.

  2. A Truly Concerned Troll says:

    I’m surprised that you do not give more emphasis to Scottish turnout in the EU referendum, which was low. I’m surprised others haven’t made more of this too.

    Scots had two very good reasons to stay at home:

    1) everybody in the national media including pollsters and pundits expected that the UK would vote to remain. All the main political parties in the UK except UKIP, including The Tories, Labour, Liberals, and Greens were supporting remain. Scots watching this naturally assumed that England would vote to remain and that their vote wouldn’t matter.

    2) in Scotland success for remain was even more assured. UKIP don’t really have a presence up here, so in essence all the main parties were strongly for remaining, and Scots generally are more positive about the EU than say the English.

    In the minds of many Scots it was a foregone conclusion, then; England was sure to vote remain and Scotland was even more of a definitely going to do so. What’s the point in voting?

    You mention that support for Brexit was particularly high in poorer areas like the east end of Glasgow. Turnout is typically lower in poor areas, as any pollster will tell you — I’d be willing to wager that there’s a strong correlation between areas where turnout was low and support for Brexit appeared relatively high (in poor areas), as a consequence of turnout levels.

    Turnout in the EU referendum was lower in Scotland than in England, as we now know, at 67.2%, probably for the reasons I outlined above. In the Independence referendum it was around 85%.

    It’s easy to imagine that in different circumstances more people would have been persuaded to vote and, had they done so, it is my assumption that the gap between remain and leave could have been much wider in Scotland.

    Would we be reading and writing articles about pro-Brexit Scots if 75% of us voted for remain? I doubt it. And, yet, it so easily could have been.

    Concomitantly, of course, I think Scots who wanted to leave the EU were much more likely to vote.

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      Gerry Hassan, hold on to your hat mate, you have competition in meandering, wishy-washy bull about the political situation in Scotland….

      …what happened to Scotland the bold, Gerry, eh? There’s nothing much bold about the SNP lately. They seem incapable of taking the initiative. They seem paralyzed by fear. Scotland the bold writes Gerry…what a total joke….

      You know how ridiculous Britain looks from Europe? You know just how stupid your average European thinks the Brits are? You know the word on the street is that you have lost your ability to reason?

    2. Pogliaghi says:

      Whatever Redgauntlet is going on about, I’d like to thank A Very Concerned Troll for injecting some realism into this rather sad, divisive, time-wasting and self destructive secular left wing factionalism manifesting itself as lexit plus nationalist overtones. It’s depressing to read such misguided stuff in Bella but I’m sure MS will provide a balanced platform re the topic………..

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        As matter of fact, I didn’t mean to post bellow A Very Concerned Troll’s piece. I can’t explain how that happened…

        As for Hassan? Scottish politics? Hassan is your man. Get Gerry on the scene, and everything will become crystal clear…

        Hassan is where it’s at. He makes books out of his internet posts, he makes positive volumes out of his petty points of view. What do we do? We are such idiots that we post for free….

  3. w.b.robertson says:

    this piece should be required reading for Nicola and her cabinet. As I have argued before, what has Scotland in Europe got to do with Scotland the Independent?

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      W.B Robertson, you’ll be putting your shoulder to the wheel I presume when it comes to re-drafting 40,000 laws? Everybody will need to shoulder their share of the burden, am I right or am I right? You and Scotland’s fishermen – who were shafted by London, not Brussels – are going to be busy, eh? 40,000 laws…

      The EU is good enough for the Belgians, the Dutch, the Spanish and the Portuguese, the Italians the French and the Germans. But it’s not good enough for W B Robertson…

      There is no country in Europe anywhere near to exiting the EU, apart from Britain. That is the propaganda they’ve been feeding you for years. It’s bull, and you guys have swallowed it….

    2. Redgauntlet says:

      Everything IMO. EU or EFTA membership & membership of single market are imperative to Scotland’s economic prosperity. FoM is essential. I want no part of an independent Scotland that is protectionist, anti-immigration. We’d be no better then than we are now in UK.

      1. Mic11 says:

        There’s a problem with your comments section Bella, redgauntlet didn’t post this, I did

        1. Redgauntlet says:

          Exactly! I confirm I did not post that.

          Bella, you have a problem with your software for a change. When I go to post, the name and the email of the last poster is there. It’s not good, man.

          1. We’re trying to fix it

        2. Sorry. We are looking into it.

          1. Pogliaghi says:

            I call shenanigans. You’re conducting an extremely cunning experiment to see what happens to online echo chambers when bullets start flying and no-one knows who’s wearing which uniform 😉 You could make a grant application. just sayin’

    3. Mic11 says:

      Everything IMO. EU or EFTA membership & membership of single market are imperative to Scotland’s economic prosperity. FoM is essential. I want no part of an independent Scotland that is protectionist, anti-immigration. We’d be no better then than we are now in UK.

  4. Crubag says:

    Good article, but it only briefly touches on the 2017 general election.

    Yes, the Lib Dems didn’t convert 48% Remain into seats, suggesting this was a soft vote UK wide.

    But in Scotland, a majority voted for pro-Brexit parties. That will certainly have cooled Brussels on holding out for Scotland as a potential new member.

    And the other factor in the equation is Brussels itself. If the Brussels institutions drive a hard bargain, with borders between UK and the Irish Republic, then the attractions of indy Scotland will cool even further.

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      Who in their right mind would vote for the Lib Dems? Maybe the crap share of the vote they got is related to the fact that they are a bunch of idiots, the kind of “idiotas” who put Cameron into Nº10. IDIOTS.

      The fact that they are pro-European probably has nothing to do with their bad result. I’m pro- European, and I wouldn’t vote LibDem if you paid me. Why? Cause they’re a bunch of complete idiots…

      1. Crubag says:

        I’m not a huge fan – and for a party that is committed to proportional representation, they seem to find coalition traumatic…

        But they had the clearest pro-EU offer, and even in an election all about Brexit, that didn’t convert into seats.

        1. Pogliaghi says:

          “Then why didn’t we elect the lib dems huh?” is becoming a favourite trope of die hard Leavers (and, by the way, it’s “interesting” to see a trope of the UKIP hard-right being imported into the ScotNatsphere, like much other detritus lexiters are dragging in). But it’s as illogical as almost everything else they say because of course there are a multitude of reasons why people wouldn’t vote Lib Dem besides a support for Brexit. For a kick off, the ConDems tarnishing, and the fact that FPTP makes a drastic shift towards an LD majority in one electoral cycle all but impossible. We DID however, come within a hair’s breadth of a coalition government including Remain supporting parties the SNP and the LDs. With 3/4 rising to 4/5 of Labour voters supporting Leave and polls showing a slight majority against Brexit today, we have no mandate for Brexit on the left whatsoever, and a mandate for it in tatters across the board. WHY are we having a conversation about an iScotland outside the EU given Scotland is the least Euroskeptic part of a country which has collectively realised Brexit itself was a mistake?

  5. Malcolm Pate says:

    We don’t need a split in the Independence movement caused by in or out of Europe. Otherwise we will lose many voters for Independence. We need a 100% effort for Independence, we can sort out any anomalies after we get independence. The Unionists will use anything in their power to split us. Remember on the ballot paper it will be does Scotland want to be Independant.

  6. Steve Arnott says:

    Excellent article David Jamieson, Shared on the Point and as widley as I can on social media this evening.

    Do you agree that one way get and keep Yes Leave and Yes emain voters on board the same YES bus would be to promise Scotland it’s own referndum on our relationship (or not) with the EU, once indepndence has been achieved?

    1. What’s the Point Steve?

      1. Steve Arnott says:

        It’s the progressive left, pro-indy online platform which I edit, Bella, consisting of an online magazine and facebook page.

        Nothing on Bella’s scale, of course, but we have our niche and do our bit.

      2. Steve Arnott says:

        It’s the progressive left, pro-indy online platform which I edit, Bella, consisting of an online magazine and facebook page.

        Nothing on Bella’s scale, of course, but we have our niche and do our bit.

        PS have had some difficulties commenting and replying to comments on this thread.

  7. Redgauntlet says:

    I can’t believe what I’m reading on Bella about the complete lunacy of Brexit….

    This article is just poorly written, wishy-washy drivel. What is your point man? What are you for? Don’t give me an “analysis”, give me a point of view.

    What about the Europeans in Scotland? Where is the sympathy for them? The status of EU citizens and May’s offer from the other day is a total outrage…a total, absolute outrage….

    Britain: the nasty, wee shitty island…

  8. Stephanie Taylor says:

    Read what I could of it, but it’s badly written drivel. 63% voted Remain & that number’s gone up since, with many who voted leave now saying they’ve changed their mind. We really don’t need this kind of split in the YES movement, nor any ludicrous talk of “abandoning Europe”. To be honest, you sound quite mad.

  9. Sean Swan says:

    Good article, Bella. I fully agree and wrote someting similar for the LSE about 10 days ago – though they only got it up now.

  10. HalloEule says:

    I don’t want to be an arse to David Jamieson, but I feel like I’m going to be an arse to David and so I feel obliged to apologise in advance.

    I think this article discusses some interesting points, but I fear it proceeds to draw conclusions which are daft, contradictory, or maybe unsupported. Triangulation is dead, but we must jettison some policies to ensure we appeal to a certain sector of the vote; the Yes movement was to the left before, but in the wake of the brexit vote moved to the centre by advocating retaining our EU membership, although it did that before; we must be with the people of Europe, not ‘with its callous rulers’ but… Aye, well, I’m not sure how trundling down the rocky path brexit shows much solidarity to the people of Europe.

    In a Man for all Seasons, Robert Bolt wrote this exchange:

    William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
    Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
    William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
    Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

    And that, in some ways, is rather how I feel about the EU. In some ways, but not all, because so often when I hear people talking about the ‘radical politics that are impossible in the EU’, I find myself listening, on the left, to ideas that are practiced by many states in the EU. State-owned railway companies, land value taxes, national investment banks, of workers representation on company boards. On the right, it is to ideas that are sometimes practiced by some states in the EU — usually aways Hungary — which the EU has worked to mitigate, or which, to me, seem to have no place in any place in a civilised societies: great bonfires of ‘red tape’.

    I’m not contending here that anti-democratic inclinations in the EU are defensible because they swing my way — and I’m not very keen on how the ECB functions — but I will say that the idea that the EU is ‘anti-democratic’ is bizarre to hear from inside the UK. Unlike our current set up, the EU has mechanisms to ensure that minority interests are preserved and that substantial changes only proceeds with the consent of all nations in according to their democratic processes. Unlike the UK, every legislator in the EU is elected — and elected under a proportional system. Unlike the UK, EU action is girded by explicit constitutional documents, checking the power of the executive and legislative branch alike. Unlike the UK, we bemoan the existence of civil servants in the EU.

    Unlike the UK, there is a widespread, cross-national campaign to reform the institutions, in the form of Diem 25 — which is intent on unwinding many of the neoliberal reforms that the UK championed in the EU before. Outside of Scotland, here we have Corbyn, who has nothing to say on local democracy, constitutional reform, the removal of trident and, as the Resolution Foundation saw, improving the welfare state for the poorest society. When the UK’s great left hope is a man who’d oversee the incomes of the poorest third of society dropping by more than the wealthiest tenth, how great is it?

    Rather than engaging with what the EU is, how it can be a platform for social democratic government, we are showing ourselves content to buy into the rightwing’s fantasies. I have talked a lot here of processes/structures, and I think that’s one significant mistake that the SNP have made in the last year, one of the mistakes it made in the run up to the referendum: it regularly confuses talk of processes with talk that enthuses and engages. How we get there, at the expense of where we want to go.

    I think it is that sense of vision that David Jamieson finds himself looking for at the end of the article, not the jettisoning of the EU.

  11. argy says:

    This current situation is a joke. Tory oiks with no clue, bullshitting their way through a catastrophe entirely their own making, trying to screw the UK taxpayer even more as they deregulate the whole business arena on EU exit. I cannot fathom the depth of absurdity of this brought about by Joe n Jolene public in Englandshire. Whatever mess we get in as Independent Scotland will be a damn sight more manageable out side the Westminster yolk. That system is designed to maintain English dominance over UK and is a complete closed controlloop. Classic over complexities and diversion activities everywhere. They are conditioned to believe their rite of dominance all through their privileged years. No amount of pressure from north Britain will break the loop. They even set up fall guys and galls in advance to have us focus on the latest git slithering out the back door with pockets full of the public’s sillur! While they set up the next sting unfettered. Gits.

  12. florian albert says:

    ‘We must be with the people of the continent, not its callous leaders.’

    Europe’s callous leaders – Merkel, Macron, Rajoy and Tsipras – were elected.
    There are unelected eurocrats but they are appointed by the elected leaders and ultimately it is the elected ones who call the shots.

    The people of the continent, Britain excepted, have shown that they remain committed to the status quo.
    Even Greece, whose economy is being strangled by its membership of the eurozone, chose not to leave.

  13. Redguantlet says:

    So, let me give you a concrete example of how Brexit is going to kill Scotland.

    And I really object to people like David Jaimeson and Christopher Silver talking about it as if it was a tactic. You know, tactics is what people like Brown and Blair do, we believe in things, we have ethics, we believe in ideas, and one of the core ideas is the idea of Europe…

    The Head of the Spanish Literature Department at Edinburgh University is a German Greek who is expert in Spanish Literature. He is a very nice man, I met him once. I don’t know what his plans are after the Brexit vote, but people like him are going to leave Scotland in droves. And you don’t have the skills in Scotland to replace them. You don’t have the skills…get real…you have a superiority complex…you don’t have the friggin skills…

    Who is going to teach Spanish Literature in the universities of Scotland? Robin McAlpine? Cat Boyd? Loudmouths who don’t know what they are talking about. Loudmouths who are perfectly happy to sacrifice the learning of a foreign culture for a socialist utopia which is never going to happen…ignoramuses and loudmouths…. (I guess Hassan could find a role in post- Brexit Scotland; that, for sure…)

    Maybe Cat Boyd can take the time to explain to us what the FF the permanence of the Head of Spanish Literature at Edinburgh University has to do with the ECB’s monetary policy to Greece? What the FF do the two things have in common? They have sold you a tall tale and you have swallowed it…the monetary policy of the ECB to Greece has got ZERO to do with the EU… Cast Boyd is meant to be expert in politics. Well, she’s not.

    You are driving at 100 miles per hour towards a brick wall….

    Britain is one of the most prosperous countries in the world, PRECISELY BECAUSE it was always open to immigration, it was open to all the talents.

    Not any more. The people of Barnsley and the fisherman of Lewis have spoken. The rest of us are a mere nuisance…get Cat Boyd and Robin McAlpine up there teaching Spanish at Edinburgh. Get David Jaimeson up there….

    You guys are intellectually vapid, ethically stunted, and politically naive…

    1. A Truly Concerned Troll says:

      As I understand it, management of the Greek crisis in terms of bailing them out was handled by the IMF, not even the ECB.

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        No, it was negotiated by the so called Troika: IMF/ECB/EU

    2. David Jamieson says:

      Gauntlet I have to say I was unaware that either Robin McAlpine or Cat Boyd campaigned for leave. In fact I’m fairly sure McAlpine called on people to vote remain.

      1. Yeah I was a bit confused by that

      2. Redgauntlet says:

        Fair enough, David, maybe I am being too harsh on Cat and Robin.

        I know Cat voted to leave because she wrote an article about it for The National.

        As for Robin, well he wrote a piece for Bella a few days after the referendum, and at the least, he didn’t sound too bothered by the result.

        From the Left’s point of view, “Do you think Britain should leave the EU”? was the wrong question to ask. That isn’t the question for progressives. To start dividing people and their rights according to where they were born is wrong, wrong and a dangerous path to go down…

        On a personal level, I have lived in Europe most of my life. I didn’t get a vote. The decision impacts on me massively, far more than it does on you lot in Scotland.

        To say I am seriously pissed off would be an understatement. I can’t sleep at night…the European Commission says, “Let the rights of Brits in Europe and EU citizens in Britain remain the same”, and the UK government says, “Well, actually, no, we’re going to split a few hairs first…”

        They’re fckin imperialist wankers of the first water. I hate them. I fckin hate May and Borris and Michael Gove. Utter fckin wankers…if it was Tory HQ and not Grenfell that had gone up in flames the other day, I would be opening a bottle of champagne…

        Finally, what does the British State do in times of crisis? Go to war. Expect Britain to go to war, with Trump probably, some time soon…they need to use all those weapons they make, and they think they rule the waves after all…

        1. David Jamieson says:

          Gauntlet I’m afraid I’m going to have to correct you again. Robin was outspokenly for remain, and Cat did not write an article for the National saying she voted leave. Read again.

          You’ve submitted a dozen or so comments here restating these falsehoods, and I see others have now picked them up. Since Robin, Cat and myself have taken three different positions on the EU, I can only assume that the common denominator here is that we are leftwing and that this is the real focus of your anger.

          You say you cannot abide leaving the EU, but elsewhere on this thread you say you’d stomach leaving the EU and joining EFTA. So this all seems like a bit of sound and fury.

          1. Redgauntlet says:

            Hi David

            I didn’t write that comment about EFTA, that was a cock-up of Bella’s software.

            If Robin campaigned for Remain, then I am wrong, and you have corrected me. Thank you David, and apologies to Robin.

            As for Cat Boyd, I could have sworn I read a piece by her in The National explaining her reasons for Leave, but I don’t have it to hand and again, I must be wrong if you say so. Apologies to Cat if I have misrepresented her point of view on the EU.

            I’m on the Left too, David, but surely we can agree that there were plenty of people on the Left who wanted to leave the EU, or were ambivalent about it – Corbyn to go no further.

            The Left didn’t really make much of a case for staying in Europe, at least, that’s how it seemed to me…

          2. Redgauntlet says:

            Hi again David

            For the record, here is the Cat Boyd article I was referring to. So, you’re right, Cat didn’t campaign for Leave, she abstained (sorry again, Cat).

            But I wasn’t so far away either. Cat made a pretty good case against Europe, and she is a respected figure on the Left in Scotland. Ian MacWhirter did too by the way, if I recall rightly.


            There is a lot of what Cat says about the EU I agree with, for example, the deplorable handling of the migrant crisis, an ongoing scandal.

            But it is an incomplete picture. For example, Cat fails to make any mention of the fact that it was the EU which led to the democratization of the south of Europe in the first place: Spain, Greece and Portugal.

            Without the existence of the EU, it probably wouldn’t have happened. Certainly, the EU was a vital influence in the democratization of Spain – under Franco they had tried to get in twice and been refused entry. It was pivotal in convincing modernizing elements of the Spanish Right to embrace change after the death of Franco.

            Cat is also right about draconian austerity in Greece, Spain and Portugal, but again, she fails to mention that it was the EU through its Development Funds, which poured billions and billions into Spain, Greece and Portugal over decades to modernize those countries. When Cat went to visit Greece, the airport she arrived in was probably funded by the EU.

            And personally, I think the only thing that stopped a coup in Spain at the time of the 15 M movement, the movement which led to Podemos, was the EU. The Spanish right wing have profoundly anti-democratic instincts, and a very short history of democracy: a mere 40 years.

            The same could be said of the Right in Poland and Hungry just now. The EU is a brake on their Right Wing tendencies, for all its faults.

            That brake, I fear, is now off in the case of Britain…


  14. Redguantlet says:

    For William S Robertson, Robin McAlpine, Cat Boyd, and all of you total idiots who campaigned for leaving the EU…

    Britain? Get me out of here….

    1. majestic12 says:

      That Proms thing has just scunnered me to the very core of my being. I’ve completely forgotten what I was going to say about the article. It doesn’t seem to matter any more. Rule Britannia and the adoring hordes has put it all into perspective – EU or no EU, will someone just get us out of here?

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        Exactly, it makes you want to puke. But we were the “nationalists”, not them, eh? They can talk about ruling the fckin waves, and they’re not nationalists, we are. It’s fckin unbelievable.

        Who do you think are going to come up to Scotland to take the jobs of the Europeans who left? Those guys!!! Those guys will be up like a shot…

        Well done Robin McApline, well done Cat Boyd, well done W. R Roberston. You have just prepared the ground for the final and definitive colonization of Scotland…

    2. Calum McKay says:

      “For William S Robertson, Robin McAlpine, Cat Boyd, and all of you total idiots who campaigned for leaving the EU…Britain? Get me out of here….”

      They took the eye of the ball, if you have one main poitical foe, you focus on that until they are defeated, that means doing everything to impair that foe, including voting to stay in the EU. By voting no, they ushered in divide and rule. The EU is not Scotland’s political foe!

      When it comes to GM foods and other practices practised in the US, who will win that one in a free trade deal with the uk?

      The EU resisted GM foods from the US the uk can’t. This is likley to have a knock on impact into uk future trade with the EU if uk is accepting US CM foods.

      Every ounce of me tells me that leaving the EU is wrong and against my best and my country’s best interests, it remains so disapointing to see what has and is to come.

      That the SNP did not mount a higher profile and more positive campaign in EU referendum was a strategic mistake, a mistake that opened up our flank to our foes who capitalised on it and are gaining electoral success.

      I don’t want the SNP to make brexit less uncomfortable, I want them to mount a vigorous campaign to stay in the EU and not do the tories dirty work for them!

    3. Steve Arnott says:

      Typical of the arrogance and intellectual poverty of the average EUphile indepenenista.

      Rather than admit that the strategy of tyring infyref 2 to EU membership has got us precisely nowehere, or admit that there genuine differences within the indy movement about the desiribility of being in the EU (doesn’t seem to do Norway, Iceland or Switzerland any harm), that shouold be resolved post indepndence by our own referndum, they resort to illogical fallacies or downright falsehoods.

      It’s a bipolar choice. Either the European Union or the Westminster One. FALSE: There is a third choice that SHOUD be available to a sovereign Scottihs people – indepndence outside the EU.

      We’ve already had a vote. 62% of Scots voted to stay in the EU. FALSE. 62% of Scots voted for the UK to stay in the EU (check the wording on the ballot paper). the question of whether Scots want an indepndent Scotland to be part of the EU has never been put.

      Brexit will lead to some kind of apocalypse. FALSE: Of course there will be a period of adjustment, just as there will be when Scotland becomes independent of the EU, but the assertion that a modeern country can’t exist and thrive outside of the EU and with its own particular arrangements with the EU is demonstrably nonsense; once again I cite Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, where, last time I looked the poppulation wasn’t wondering about in sackcloth and ashes begging for the EU to come and help them out.

      Euphiles really will have to do better than these insupportable pseudo arguments if they expect to convert us all to their glorious vision of the great Junckerite neo-liberal paradise Dcots are salivating at the mouth to be part of (allegedly).

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        Oh, Okay, Steve Arnott wants us to be by-standers in world affairs and be, Norway – population of 5 million – or Iceland- population of 300,000.

        Oh, okay, fine, but that’s not the Scotland I want. I want Scotland to lead, not to sit back. And for that, you have to be in the EU.

        Steve says there is going to be a “period of adjustment”. Well, no. The fckin arse is going to fall out of the Scottish economy. Steve – and Hassan – will buck us up with glad tidings, no doubt…

        You guys sound like horrid rancid Brit nats but with a Saltire to my ears.

        Why would you leave a trading block which has delivered 60 years of growth, prosperity and well being for Europe, a continent riven by war for centuries? It’s one of the great success stories of the human race!!!!

        And for what exactly? Why are you leaving? What for? What is that you’re going to do that you can’t do in the EU?

        A bunch of madmen at the wheel…

        1. Pogliaghi says:

          Norway: a petro-state, or the never-was Scotland of dying resource-nationalist fantasies. Switzerland: a tax haven with a unique position of neutrality stretching back hundreds of years to the Holy Roman Empire. These are the models nationalist lexiters want Scotland, which has basically got nothing in common with these countries economically, to emulate??? These were, funnily enough, the models right wing UKIP propaganda pretended the UK would emulate in guff like “Brexit: the Movie” (a quick and relatively painless way of swallowing a concentrated pill of “Daily Express” bullshit believed by Home Counties pensioners of the type that manufactured Brexit, if you’re ever interested.). Is this a coincidence or is it somehow malicious?

        2. David Jamieson says:


          That’s what the SNP is thinking of opting for.

  15. Redgauntlet says:

    And we can be pretty sure what is going to happen post-Brexit. The economy is going to tank, the Pound is going to tank, inflation is going to rise, and you’re going to have a shortage of skilled labour.

    Then the rabid, proto-fascistic British press are going to look for somebody to blame, and who do you think that is going to be? The “foreigners”… the very people who were denied a vote at the EU referendum, will be blamed for the consequences of that disastrous decision…

    You guys are playing with fire. There is a clear superiority complex alive and well in Britain. The Brits think they are the bees knees. A few examples.

    Say, as a Scot in Europe, I want to watch the news in French, I want to watch the news in Spanish, or I want to watch the news in Portuguese, well I can do so. These national broadcasters offer their services to anyone anywhere in the world, free. Not so with the BBC. These guys deny us the right to watch the news, exactly why I don’t know. On what possible grounds? Just because it would be giving something away for free. And the Brits never give anything away for free.

    Likewise, say I want to do a second degree, in, for example, French and German, okay? I start looking at prices for tuition fees. It comes in at about between 2,000-3,000 euros in Spain, in France, in Germany, roughly. In the UK it is 10,000 euros a year. Is the education provided by the universities of the UK five times superior to that provided in France, Germany and Spain? What are you guys on? What are you smoking?

    Or say I walk into La Central, a fantastic bookshop chain in Spain, and the first thing I see is a table of books of Spain’s leading authors of today translated into French, German, Italian, Russian. I see a culture which cares about the foreign, which cares about other languages and cultures. In the UK, I walk into Waterstones and there is maybe one table of translated fiction, away in a corner, like it was something a bit dodgy…like porno mags in the newsagent….our translation culture is in the doldrums…

    Britain was always an insular country, but it just voted to become more so…

    As for Scotland, well, we cannot afford a brain-drain and that is what is going to happen. And right now we have the remarkable situation whereby no main party is making the case for Europe.

    Of course the SNP should be putting the EU right at the heart of their discourse. Not for tactical reasons, but because it is the right thing to do for Scotland…

  16. Redgauntlet says:

    And as for the EU citizens resident in Scotland, what about them? Who is speaking out for them?

    These are our friends and our neighbours, and they have been sold a false prospectus. They came to Scotland in good faith, now they are being put through bureaucratic hell – funny how nobody talks about British bureaucracy, only Brussels’- and are seeing their status reduced, and their names added to some sinister list.

    Theresa May has the instincts of a middle ranking clerk of the Third Reich. How can the SNP fail to make political capital about the disgraceful treatment of EU citizens in Scotland and the de facto reduction of their rights in May’s “offer” the other day?

    It’s not what they signed up for. That wasn’t the deal, when they moved to Scotland. How can any fair minded person possibly justify the treatment of EU residents in Scotland?

    And, please, let’s remember: we need them, they don’t need us… eh? They can go back to Germany, France, Spain and Italy. Who is going to replace them in Scotland?

  17. Alin Scot says:

    There does not seem to be a suitable commentary to post this on but here goes on this one.

    At the moment the independence movement is like a canoe going downstream with a waterfall lying ahead while the people in the canoe are paddling furiously for both banks of the river and going absolutely nowhere as the waterfall gets closer.

    We hear a lot about embracing the wider Yes or independence groups but who is going to co-ordinate this and very importantly, lead it and crucially, when?

    If another unwanted general election comes along, and as Nicola has only reset indyref2, it is inevitable that the unionist parties will beat us successfully over the head again with the same ammo as last time and yet, we have been nothing to fire back with; no vision, no answers to indyref1 questions.

    There are a lot of disillusioned Yes voters like me who want to get involved but we need coordinated leadership where currently there is none.

    The spray is already visible. Help!

  18. Doug Daniel says:

    “Jeremy Corbyn’s General Election victory”


    I really worry when I see folk on the pro-indy left saying stuff like this. There seems to be an obsession with glorious failures – figures and parties seen to have had MORAL victories, but not ACTUAL victories. Jeremy Corbyn (he lost), before that it was Bernie Sanders (he lost), before him it was Podemos (they lost), and before that it was Syriza (who only won because of Greece’s bizarre electoral system – they’ve never actually come close to getting a majority of votes). Folk on the pro-indy left are always holding up the latest left-wing populist movement as the blueprint for the future winning independence campaign. It was going to be Melenchon next, but the French refused to play ball. Ah well, maybe Die Linke will come a close second in Germany in September and then we can all fetishise them next?

    Combine that with the way we all (aye, I do it too) harp on about how Yes was the true “winning” campaign, because we took the gap from 30% to 10% (even though the poll that showed a 30% gap was rubbished by us all at the time), and you have a recipe for IndyRef2 ending up as another glorious failure.

    I don’t want IndyRef2 to end in another glorious failure. I don’t want to be saying “aye well, we didn’t get 50%, but we were the REAL winners”. There is only one way we are going to win independence, and that’s by building the widest possible coalition of voters in favour of independence. I’m not saying I know what the answer is, but I know it won’t be done by trying to ape losing campaigns.

    (And I have to laugh at Remain voters being described as “one small quadrant of society”, when of all the Yes/No/Leave/Remain combinations, Yes/Leave was the smallest. I mean, come on.)

    1. David Jamieson says:

      Doug the phrase ‘taken out of context’ is overused. But in this case, you’ve managed to omit the part of the very same sentence that notes Corbyn did not win. I salute your brass neck.

  19. Pogliaghi says:

    Lexit has assumed all of a sudden a sort of tactical significance way out of proportion to its intellectual foundations, and the real reason of course is Corbyn’s assumption of the perceived mantle of PM-in-waiting, combined with his recalcitrant idiocy on hard Brexit. It’s been popping up in Guardian editorials. Cat Boyd in her Icarus-like parabola from face of indy to mouthpiece of trade union consciousness has been reiterating it without her former appearance of perfunctory obliged embarrassment (it seems to be what her bosses want her to say). Loki has been doing his contrarian-on-immigration schtick in the new context of Corbynism (a leader whom he said late last year was a dead weight).

    Lexiters in Scotland have been waiting on a second signal to come out of the foxholes; Sturgeon’s referendum announcement which they instantly spun as vindication for their position of fence sitting cynicism. The country, both north and south of the border – the argument of the resurgent lexiters goes – is split on Brexit and that’s why our movement is right to be split on, and adopt a compromise toward Brexit. North of the border it continues, if SNP support declined during a doubling-down on Europe, it would rise with an easing off on Europe.

    The trouble is neither of these things follow. The left is split over Europe for a number of reasons which are nothing to do with why the English voted Leave. Most have their origins in the archaic Bennite politics of the 1980s, revived by a lunchbox-socialism type kneejerk solidarity with the Eurozone periphery. A case which has nothing really to do with Scotland or Britain in Europe.

    The right wing Brexiteers have no end in mind besides Shock doctrine neoliberalism. The notion that because working class Leave voters were duped into supporting what Cat Boyd calls “Tory Brexit” without supporting its obscure justifications; that they were in fact voting against austerity or the Tories themselves; that these voters should be delivered a socialism-in-one-country Brexit which they had no idea of in the first place, because it ticks a box labelled “respect the referendum” is both puerile and patronising.

    It’s the fake class warrioring of a politically entitled but confused vanguard which largely bases its claim to authenticity on self-branding. It’s the radical left moving from marginally useful in the form of RIC, to irrelevant to troublesome to actually rather divisive and dangerous. (And furthermore, perhaps also rather useful — couldn’t the Blairites be waiting to exploit tactical mistakes over Brexit to bring down Corbyn? It’s by far their best hope.)

    As for Scotland, the electorate’s split over Europe has little to do with decline in the SNP vote or support for independence. The aggregate picture, as opposed to a few cherry picked cases in Glasgow shows the strongest leave areas in Scotland were also “No” areas. These were Tartan Tory North East bastions, in which a reckoning of the basic contradiction between a progressive civic nationalism on the SNP left and a parochial, socially conservative, resource-nationalism and regionalism had been coming for decades, and had not been honestly acknowledged anywhere in 2014. The only reason it coincided with Brexit was that these sleepy places are slow to react to political change.

    So perhaps what catalysed the reckoning was doubling down on a second referendum, rather about doing so on Europe per se; but what has certainly not been proven yet is that the strategy will still look unviable in 2019. And ironically, none of the “radicals” now decrying the hasty referendum calling – because it’s framed in terms of Europe – were particularly lacking in gumption for a second one after 2014, were they? Which is actually the reality Sturgeon’s statement was intelligently and sensibly calibrated to reflect. Yet the newly resurgent and smug, told-you-so Scottish lexiters clearly /want the project of a Europhile Yes 2 to fail/ and this is truly at the heart of their – and I say this out of character – /distasteful lack of patriotism/.

    Their real motivations can be collectively summarized as that the London-England political scene now exerts a more magnetic effect on lefties in Scotland than independence does. Yet it is non-PC to admit it and will be for some time. The unions with their deep pockets to fund activists like Robin McAlpine – one of the most absurd candidates for a lexiter–, the unionist media with its content-spend that dwarfs the nationalist media (not least thanks to the failure of the Smith Commission to address BBC Scotland’s governance (which Bella Caledonia /completely ignored/ when it prostrated itself to the announcement of new funding) are all shall we say, monetizing this magnetic pull. It’s naturally felt most strongly by commentators with a monopoly on the “progressive radical” branding in Scotland, which in the last few years has been synonymous with the Yes movement. Well what we’re about to witness is the wholesale pawning of the Yes movement for a prevaricating, “I Still Support Independence but Stand With Jeremy”. Leaving aside the questionability of reconciling support for independence to a party dead-set (and hypocritically) against it, the first necessary precursor to the mass sell-out is to develop a “Yes” split with the SNP over Europe. And in order to do that gas-lighting of the Yes movement must begin, with the Orwellian inversion of the truth that Brexit, a globally acknowledged calamity and the first domino in the biggest crisis of the British state since Suez, is in fact a good thing whether for Britain or Scotland, a sensible thing and moreover a thoroughly /socialist/ thing, and this is what we are witnessing.

    1. Crubag says:

      I’d agree with some of this, at least the point that no-one knows the future and a referendum offer that combines independence and EU membership might actually win.

      But I think that the SNP reading of the tea leaves will be that EU membership and independence are two unrelated things, and that electorally it is not always helpful to combine them, at least when the pro-indy margin is so slender. This seems to be the case in the former “heartland” seats.

      Corbyn Labour being pro-Brexit gives Brexit what indy really needs, very different parties proposing the same constitutional solution.

      But for the SNP the challenge from Corbyn is an unsecured left flank. There was a rumour in the Scotsman that the Growth Commission would not now publish its report. If true, I’d guess it was because its prescriptions were too liable to be labelled as “neoliberal” in the new climate.

  20. William Ross says:


    I am a Centre Right supporter of Independence from the “sleepy” North East. Your article is a real breath of fresh air in a stagnant echo chamber. Keep up the good work! One thing I strongly agree
    with you on: the cause of Remain/Remoan lies utterly broken. It will take time for a shell-shocked Yes movement to grasp this.

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      So we have William Ross, another person who declares Remain “dead”. Well, it might or it might not be dead. When the arse falls out of the Scottish economy – all the brightest minds are going to leave the country – I’ll be up there in the “sleepy North East” for a cup of tea.

      But who is going to serve me? It won’t be a Pole or a Spaniard….

    2. Broadbield says:

      Those who think/wish Remain to be dead need to read Naomi Klein’s latest book “No is not enough” about the shock politics in Trumpland, ably orchestrated by The Donald (remember, global warming is a hoax) and his team of billionaire carpetbaggers who are cutting back on everything that isn’t actually nailed down. It’ll happen here next, as soon as we’re out of the EU.

  21. Leya says:

    The idea that the way you reconcile Yes leave and remain voters is to go for the EU option that alienates most of them is woeful. It’s also a position which totally ignores the fact that the whole reason Scotref is on the horizon is due to the 62% Brexit vote in Scotland. Remember, the point of a vote at the end of the process is to give people a choice between Brexit UK or Indy in the EU – otherwise there’s no need to have a vote in response to being dragged out of the EU. But David seems to have politics more like Corbyn’s – i.e the kind of insular, eurosceptic socialism that ends up supporting a hard Brexit and all the economic pain that comes with it so long as the state gets to run more. It’s why I am a social democrat – I’m an internationalist and naturally pro-EU and I believe that nations working together in these kinds of ways leads to better protections and indeed better functioning economies. Most Scots and most Yes voters agree with this kind of outlook, as David himself points out. These institutions will never be perfect, but it is a principled position to work together. In any case EU support in Scotland is the only reason we are having Scotref at the end of the Brexit process, so Scotref will not be about leaving both the EU and the UK, and this really should be blindingly obvious.

    But the Yes movement should always be about making the arguments for why we should be independent. If you personally want out of the EU but still want indy, then make the arguments you can get behind – indy never has been and never will be one prospectus. The Scottish government will work across the movement in developing their own, new case, but it should be clear there is no one overall position that will suit everyone, indeed there are whole sections of the movement that feel very differently to each other on many, many areas. But what people also need to understand is that where there are majorities for a certain position, the taking of that position is warranted. And no amount of misrepresentation will change the fact that there is a clear majority for EU membership in Scotland.

  22. William Ross says:

    I am amazed that it took Redgauntlet 5 hours to pounce! He would be very welcome to try our tea and scones here. He will find plenty of Poles and Spanish here after Brexit. He will also find loads of Venezuelans fleeing the Chavista car crash.

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      You’re right man, I was Otherwise Distracted for a few hours there….what am I doing with my life?

      You are going to lose a lot of good people with Brexit…

      I love the North East. It’s a beautiful country….

    2. Pogliaghi says:

      William Ross, Lexiters like Peter Arnott are arguing precisely for what you would see as a maneouvre leading directly to “Chavista car crash”. Or; anti-globalisation, socialism in one country. Neither of you seem to realise a shared platform welcoming the far left and the right for Scottish independence isn’t stable. Mainstream working class apathy about Europe does not somehow translate mainstream working class politics in 2017 (or 2019) into the intellectual vacuum underneath said platform, either.

  23. Redgauntlet says:

    This is what you’re giving up, folks…Paco de Lucía. possibly the greatest guitar player of our time…

    …of course Britain “will be open to the world”….well, maybe the world won’t be open to Britain? Can a Paco de Lucía of the future be bothered applying for a Visa to play in Britain? Possibly not…

  24. Redgauntlet says:

    You are turning your backs on European culture. What are you going to do with yourselves?

    Cash your pensions and sit there watching TV? And that is something nobody has spoken of: the disastrous effects Brexit is going to bring to bear on Scottish culture.

    You are going to become third rate Americans, friends…

    1. Crubag says:

      Isn’t Paco de Lucia dead?

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        Hi Crubag.

        Yes, Paco de Lucía died a couple of years ago. He was taking a walk on the beach with his grandson, smoking a fag, and he left us….

        Paco was just one of the greatest creators of our time, him and Camarón de la Isla. “Camarón is a revolutionary” as Paco said. They turned Spanish music upside down…. two absolute giants, two geniuses….

  25. William Ross says:


    Thanks for your recent short observation directed at me. A Yes movement involving Steve Arnott, David Jamieson and myself is certainly not stable in the normal party sense. But we are a “movement” with a joint venture goal, independence. I do not know a whole lot about David and Steve but they appear to be coming from a “strong left” position. What they think of Chavismo, I do not know. I can happily enlighten them.

    My view is that no coherent Scottish Right has evolved precisely because of the Union. Scotland is a sovereign nation within the UK and the important decisions are made in London, albeit significant power has returned to Edinburgh in the last few decades. The moment that Nicola Sturgeon became responsible for raising our own revenue and borrowing, a sea change would occur. A successful country is made by thriving business. That means recognising the power of incentives, reasonably low taxes, legal stability, personal responsibility, sound money, a well funded but fit for purpose public sector and much else. Left wing politics and economics will fail here as they have failed everywhere else.

    Yesterday, Steve Arnott had an interesting letter to the National published in which he critiqued the National’s sole Right wing columnist, Michael Fry. Steve’ second point in that letter is that Michael is wrong to equate socialism with Stalinism. Michael can be a bit provocative but knows that socialism does come in many forms. What would be interesting, however, is to really understand what “anti-globalisation, socialism in one country” really means. I know what the ‘far left” opposes, but not what it concretely proposes.

    On the other hand, I am not sure that the left understands what “right” means either. I read Bella Caledonia and Commonspace and shake my head. On the EU, both Jamieson and Arnott focus on the wrong thing. They critique the social impact of the EU, which is often very bad. The far more important critique is about what the EU IS, which is “another country”. The EU’s institutions are those of a country with non-existent citizens. There is no European demos and thus integration cannot be democratic and is bound to fail. Would Jamieson and Arnott be happy with the EU if it accommodated their policy prerogatives? The UK at least represents a genuine demos.

    I am fascinated how writer after writer from the left and nationalist left is unable to assess the strong economic arguments for Brexit. I could never run a business with that kind of lack of self analysis.

    But I applaud Jamieson and Arnott for going against the vociferous majority view.

  26. eleif says:

    “So what gives? In short, the question of how people might cross a border in safety and sustain a life beyond it is not the same as the question of how to win the consent of a populous defined and shaped by that same border. In this case the question of whether the apparent contradiction in these propositions could be resolved is less significant than the question of which side of the equation tends to win out whenever they are set in conflict. The stakes of allowing this dynamic to slip from view are clearly born out in an analysis that demonstrates the function of an electorally interpolated British left to the interests of a party whose immigration policy is a more draconian [one] than that of New Labour.”

    Roundtable on Social Democracy, Borders, and Novara Media – xBorder (6/7/17)

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