Gradualism is good: We can’t rush to Independence

Michael Gray on how to build an unassailable majority for independence.

The British state is in crisis. In the lead up to October 31st and beyond that crisis will deepen. How should we, supporters of a democratic independent Scotland, respond?

Next Saturday tens of thousands will march for independence in Edinburgh. In mid-October the SNP gathers for its conference. The Radical Independence Campaign reconvenes on October 26th. Across the movement there is an understandable urge to find the quickest route to independence – but there’s a danger of forgetting the value of patience.

If it takes ten years to get it right, it’s much much better than rushing and getting it wrong.

1) There’s no stable majority for independence

Since March 2017 there has only been one poll putting independence in the lead – and that was narrow. The most recent poll – despite the ongoing avalanche of Tory incompetence – was 43% in favour, 44% against.

We can be more confident if the official campaign starts from a position of strength: and that means a stable lead. While substantial progress was made during the last campaign – the polling average was around 40% Yes v 60% No in 2012 – the end result was a higher vote for the Union than polls anticipated.

For me independence support should be consistently above 60% before a referendum date is set. We’re not there yet.

2) Everything is a mess. Uncertainty makes winning harder

The mandate for holding a referendum is based on Brexit. Anyone who’s been awake will realise the Benn Act now places an obligation on any Prime Minister to delay Brexit for the third time if no deal is reached by October 19th.

We know as little about the next steps as we did in 2016. Johnson may crash us out (lawfully or unlawfully…), there may be an exit deal next year, there may be another referendum. The likelihood of a snap general election compounds the lack of clarity.

This matters. Scotland’s relationship with rUK will depend on rUK’s trade and borders policy, which in turn will inform the prospectus for independence. It’ll be easier to vote for and become independent when we know what the alternative is, and what we’ll be dealing with on the other side.

3) It’s better to win big and with unity

The lesson of the Brexit vote is a divided result doesn’t end the debate. People will try to overturn the result if it’s close. The reason there was no effective attempt to overturn the mandates for Scottish devolution or the Good Friday Agreement were the clear victories.

The whole purpose of winning independence is delivering positive changes after the result. We need to think about what conditions will mean we can progress onto tackling poverty and strengthening the economy as smoothly as possible. For that purpose we will need to bring everyone together, in particular for the immediate negotiations. We can’t be stuck entrenched in two warring camps re-fighting a narrow referendum result.

4) Making Westminster and the international community accept independence

As yet, Westminster hasn’t even accepted a future referendum. It’s unclear if it ever will. In this context achieving a Velvet Divorce (Czech-Slovak style) or a magnanimous separation of any kind could be a challenge.

Certain elite interests also have significant reasons – military, economic, geopolitical – to cling onto Scotland. A narrow and divisive vote is easier to undermine. A decisive result of a least more votes than opposed independence in 2014 (55.3%, 2,001,926) should be our movement’s minimum target. This can ensure legitimacy and pressure Westminster to negotiate in good faith.

We also can’t expect other countries to recognise Scottish independence without recognition from rUK. Just look at muted response from Governments to the bloody suppression of Catalonia’s referendum.

5) Losing twice is not an option – look at Quebec

Quebec tried to rush to independence. With days to go it seemed the sovereigntists had done enough at their second attempt. They lost by 54,288 votes, with 49.42%. The defeat devastated the Québécois movement, who remain in the doldrums a quarter of a century later.

These referendum are emotional. We can’t predict how Scottish society would respond to the narrowest of defeats for independence – but it may well be that we only have one more change in our lifetime.

So we need to keep the heid. Westminster’s turmoil will only deepen in the years ahead. With focus, we can build an unassailable majority for independence. It’s crucial we get it right.



Michael Gray @GrayInGlasgow will be part of a team hosting a Speakers’ Corner at the March for Independence, Edinburgh October 5th, to discuss the routes to independence


Comments (72)

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  1. Stuart Clark says:

    That’s an interesting view point regarding gradual change.
    One measure I use when provided with a reason for “indepence” say Westminster’s terminal decline and surge to the right.

    Is would that be a reason in an independent Scotland to make people voted for major change?
    If a extreme left wing government took charge at holyrood.
    Would Scottish voters seek to effect a permanent change.
    Or would they just think “it won’t last forever, govts change , radical polices come and go. And seldom is anything as good as it’s made out, or as bad as predicted ”
    I think that sums up the position of NO voters in Scotland.

  2. Alan Bissett says:

    1. There is no way we will achieve 60%+ in the polls, if we ever do, without an actual referendum date and a live campaign focusing the public’s mind.
    2. Conversely, try this future pitch to the electorate: “Everything has settled back down again. How do you fancy another period of disruption?” I don’t rate its chances.
    3. As we can see, even a narrow win – correctly – gives the victors the mandate to say they are enacting the will of the people. A big win is a fantasy. It’s not going to happen. I’ll take a narrow one over none at all.
    4. Accepting “a decisive result of a least more votes than opposed independence in 2014” is allowing the Unionists to set the terms of any future win, and as soon as we start doing that they will continue to move the goalposts to ever-more unreachable targets.
    5. Not rolling the dice when we have our best ever chance – deferring the goal to an unspecified future date, squandering a mandate which we might never achieve again and completely demoralising an already-frustrated activist base – is pretty much akin to ‘losing twice’ anyway.

    1. MBC says:

      I agree. But what is needed is a long campaign. A short one runs on base emotions, the strongest of which is fear. A longer campaign allows for more rational reflection and busting of myths, it allows hope to flourish. There were many No voters who said last time, ‘My heart says Yes, my head says No’. These folks were already 3/4 the way to Yes. Busting Project Fear is the biggest challenge. We made huge progress on that last time. Legions of voters saw that the media could not be trusted to report objectively. I agree that we have to have another vote soon but we should have a long campaign.

      But I do take Michael’s point that the Brexit crisis needs to play out further before we take our next steps, as the lie of the land is not yet clear.

  3. SleepingDog says:

    I think this is a sound argument and I agree with all five reasons.

    There are also people who might welcome a failed or ailing Independence attempt (such as disaster capitalists and spiteful imperialists) who may welcome a wafer-thin referendum ‘victory’ for Independence just to sit back and watch events unfold as this article describes. These people are not the friends of Independence. If Scotland fails, it may deter many of the other territories in the rump British Empire from breaking away, depending on how it fails.

    In a hostile and contentious breakaway with a mass of resentful unionist outspoken in Independent Scotland, the unlopped tentacles of the British imperial state will remain embedded in the Scottish establishment and capable of much harm. It is doubtful how much real independence would be practical under such conditions.

    For a democratic Independent Scotland, we should be looking at ratchets (acceptable changes that make the process more likely that are difficult to undo) and win-wins (where Independence seems like a positive outcome for plural interest groups), and seek to learn as much from UK dysfunctionality as possible rather than gloating. It would be worse than embarrassing if an Independent Scotland copied toxic structures and institutions from the UK that turned out to be crippling mere years later.

    If I have understood the article correctly, I agree with its focus on building a supermajority (in the region of 2:1 would be a major psychological shift) and an uncontested, facilitated (even mostly amicable) split from the UK (you can break up the Empire and fix —maybe by fixing— its constitution). I think this is very likely to save time and trouble in the end.

    1. Alan Bissett says:

      How on earth do you build a ‘supermajority’ for independence when 12 years of the SNP in government – including a previous referendum campaign which was the biggest mobilisation of pro-indy forces Scotland has ever seen, and five subsequent years of the UK disintegrating – has produced no higher than 52% (and even then not consistently) in opinion polls? What are going to be the magical means for bringing this supermajority about that haven’t already been repeatedly tried?

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @Alan Bissett, firstly supermajorities are common requirements for any constitutional change. I would also add that if you go for a supermajority in a vote, you should also have a simple majority in electorate too, otherwise low turnout could also be unrepresentative.

        Secondly, have you read the article?

        Thirdly, are you in favour of Independence at any cost, even if a majority of people have not shown a decisive and stable preference for it? That is, are you a democrat? Why would you seek to bounce a divided nation into a process that could easily be derailed or undermined by a resentful mass resistance? Personally, I do not see why my preference for Independence should be forced upon Scotland.

        Fourthly, psychology. With a supermajority, people should be much less concerned about making a slight difference that can tip that scales. This could potentially unleash a reservoir of not-sure, play-safe supporters for Independence. There are models of complex, social behaviour that suggest tipping points could be reached beyond a certain point, say 60%+ in polls as the article says, that could accelerate support. This is related to switching conformance to a new norm. Also, demographics switch over time, and the whole thing is somewhat unpredictable (there is a possibility that there could be a growing anti-Independence majority immediately after a narrow pro-Independence vote, especially if the same kinds of doubts about the recent referenda emerge). As the Unionists become more hysterical in attempting to defend the status quo, conversions may trigger like dominoes.

        Fifthly, independence votes elsewhere have reached supermajority levels (and above) without the use of magic. Why not Scotland?

        Sixth, it’s not just about Scotland, the UK, the EU or any other jurisdiction. When it comes to environmental collapse, nuclear war, or anything else that makes the Doomsday Clock edge ever closer to midnight, there is a much bigger picture that will influence events. The global neo-liberal consensus may crack and crumble, popular faith in traditional parties and institutions may take a sudden tumble, and visions of new heavens and new earths may electrify demand for radically different forms of government. If the Scottish Independent movement is in strong shape and offers such an alternative, while a scandal-mired and rupturing Anglo-British establishment seems irreformable in its death march to the Inferno, then we might see a colossal preference for Independence.

        Seventh, and final point. Deconditioning takes time, education takes time, and behaviour-modifying influences of powerful groups (corporations, states, organised religions, political parties) are gearing up and becoming more automated and based on modern science. Independence, is, I would argue, as much about freeing oneself and each other from these negative influences as it is about establishing a new state. Or to put it another way, Independence is a state of mind. I think we have to see what the generation growing up under the shadow of Independence (and potentially the failure of the UK state) come up with.

        1. Alan Bissett says:

          You didn’t answer my question. What can the independence movement conceivably do to achieve 2:1 in favour of independence, which is what you seem to want, when everything we’ve done for the last ten years – the constant marching, the prolonged 2011-2014 campaign, the building of a national activist infrastructure, all in the midst of an acute crisis point for the UK – hasn’t taken us even remotely close? Never mind other countries, what in your opinion must the Yes movement do that it hasn’t already done to achieve a supermajority? Just hang around for long enough and hope?

          You are simply acquiescing to Unionist strategy when you start normalising a supermajority as necessary for a win. Of course it’s *preferable* over a narrow margin. But Unionists are trying to shift us towards supermajority terrain precisely because they know it’s pretty much impossible. Surely to god a 51% result for Yes (still a majority after all) no matter how contested by the other side, is still preferable to hanging around in the UK, in the vain hope that a crushing 70% consensus is going to materialise out of nowhere at some indeterminate point in the future. While we’re doing that, the UK government, post-Brexit, will swiftly get on with dismantling Holyrood and ensuring that, long-term, the prospect of independence never rears its head to trouble them again.

          1. I agree that the idea of even debating a super-majority is a disaster.

            It’s not the same as saying we should aim high and aspire to winning over vast swathes of people. That’s a different proposition, and having that ideal and knowing it would be good are worth pursuing.

          2. SleepingDog says:

            @Alan Bissett, I am not an activist, and my interest in Independence can roughly be summed up by my current belief that it more likely affords a better chance of making good collective decisions than the UK. The point for me is that the quality of decision-making is therefore crucial. Or put another way, it is the working, more than the answer; the performance not the result. I am not that interested in marches or activist infrastructures.

            To me, a campaign platform of “Scotland for the 51% we can convince” is a dreadful pitch and deserves to fail. If 51% is reckoned to be a high-water mark, then the average support must be significantly lower, and does not justify Independence. The article is very reasonable in its predictions of the negative outcomes, I think. My view is that you had better be aiming at 90%+ and taking 66.7% as a disappointment. The problems become clearer when you start using breakdowns. Suppose you do get 51% for Independence in a referendum. If Scottish border provinces voted for the Union, you have a problem. If more men (or women) voted for the Union, you have a problem. If several age groups voted for the Union, you have a problem. If certain professions were solidly Unionist, you have a problem. You really need to aim for simple majorities across key demographics within your supermajority to establish an unassailable legitimacy. Plus, you should be trying to establish a new Scottish constitution on the same grounds, for the same reasons, with the same high(ish) bar. Of course it makes sense to look at other countries.

            However, support for Independence in a complex system with adaptive agents will (probably) be non-linear. In other words, it may exhibit unstable behaviour including phase shifts at tipping points (this is like when people might say “our graph shows when support for the Union fell off a cliff”). My one divergence from the tenor of the article is that unpredictable events may create opportunities which may lead to sudden shifts in support of a supermajority scale, allowing a gear-shift up from gradualism. It is a mistake to think the future will be like the past in terms of stable trends.

            My old lecturer told us in Contemporary Issues in British Politics that there are many things known to academics and sometimes published in obscure journals that are not widely known to the public, which if the public did know about would make them deeply unhappy about not only UK governments, but the UK state itself. While it is not possible to plan in detail for a Snowden-style revelation, which tend to be unpredictable, it is possible to plan for rapid exploitation of such revelations which cast the UK in a true and unpleasant light. The more scrutiny, the more non-Unionist academics and investigative journalists and others on the case, the greater the chance these will arrive earlier. A massive amount of state effort goes into secrecy, misdirection, propaganda, dumbing down of politics and other activities to prevent an accurate picture emerging. This activity is itself dangerous to the state because it draws attention to what is hidden (which is why the conditions of secrecy themselves are secret in the UK).

            A supermajority has value, and it can be used in negotiating a non-hostile secession from the Union. It is important to respect the stability (or orderly reform) of the UK during such a process.

            If you are seriously depending on the calamities surrounding Brexit as the only chance of achieving Scottish Independence, perhaps stepping back from activism for a while and re-evaluating your approach would be helpful. My view is that the more people in Scotland get involved in collective decision-making (which is nothing like letting politicians get on with in in Holyrood), the more settled a model of an Independent Scotland very distinct from a UK model will emerge. Democracy is hard work and often a hard sell. And different kinds of decisions should be made in different ways. But once you demonstrate that the new model bears fruit, in the form of better decisions (which cannot be too hard, really), you will win hearts and minds over to the alternative, to the point where you may reach a cascade effect of people convincing others. Incidentally, I have recently encountered research which suggests that a period of relative calm and prosperity may be more conducive for popular uprisings than apparent governmental chaos.

          3. Alan Bissett says:

            All I’m going to say about this patronising, aloof, unrealistic nonsense – from someone who I suspect has never lifted a finger in the cause of Scottish independence – is that your head seems to be quite in the clouds and that I’m glad strategy for freeing us from the UK isn’t being left to you.

        2. Jo says:

          Sleeping Dog

          Well argued, in my opinion, and calmly argued too, an important requirement in these discussions.

          My biggest gripe about the EU vote was that a vote which ended up, more or less, half and half, could put in motion such massive change. The 51.9% ultimately represented just 37% of the UK electorate. I am still shocked by all I’ve seen since then.

          So, for me, I have to apply the same principle on the subject of an independence referendum otherwise, I’m a hypocrite.

          It worries me to see people with your views being dismissed, by others who also want independence, as “acquiescing to a Unionist strategy” or being accused of “never having lifted a finger” for the cause of independence. That is disrespectful and very unhelpful to the wider debate. If the debate is dragged to that level, NO won’t have to worry about destroying YES. YES will destroy itself.

          Right now Brexit is causing shockwaves to hit us on a daily basis. In my view SNP MPs have behaved responsibly in challenging what is going on. They are representing, on this issue, Scotland’s corner on Brexit and so they should. That must be the focus for now.

      2. Jim Sansbury says:

        I believe a No Deal brexit will give a significant boost to the Yes vote.

  4. MBC says:

    Michael, have some sympathy for us auld yins. And also accept a word of wisdom borne of age. You have years ahead of you and may feel relaxed about the longer view, but time is also pressing. I have been campaigning for Scottish independence since 1975. Since I was your age. There is no doubt that we are much further forward now than we there then. True.

    But with every decade that passes and we delay independence, Scotland as a nation, as an economy, becomes relatively weaker and weaker. There is truth in the statement, ‘Scotland free, or a desert’. As our population has declined as a % of the UK, so has our strength as an economy. In 1707 we were 25% of the UK population. Now we are 8%. Not so long ago, in my lifetime, we were 10%, hence the Barnett formula being based on 10% the treasury budget for England and Wales. We used to have over 70 MPs, now 59. We used to have industry, and industrial clout, now we have none.

    It’s not just that I want to live to see independence, it’s also that I see, in the course of my lifetime, that Scotland is being slowly strangled by the UK, and we ought to be much further ahead in the polls than we are. This, I see, is related to the lack of economic strength Scotland has because of the union. But not everybody makes that connection. They just see the weakness, and that, ironically, makes them cling even harder, to the very thing that is killing Scotland.

    So yes, a better majority would be better. But time is also running out – not just for me, obviously, but also for Scotland. We can’t afford to dawdle.

    1. David Allan says:

      From someone of a similar vintage – well said.

  5. Richard Easson says:

    At the moment anyone (British) moving to my town to live can register to vote whether they know anything about or even care about Scotland, its history, the Union or anything else relevant to the future of my Country.
    During the last Scottish referendum an English retired friend was shocked that not everyone in Britain had the right to vote in it. Another was worried about what would happen to her flag (Jack) while another said I should be put in front of the firing squad.
    I know there are one or two Enlish immigrants to Scotland who see the full picture but in a town that a friend has dubbed Ambridge I wonder if we have it wrong when we want to know what Scotland thinks. The future will only mean more retirees to new towns like Tornagrain, where I am sure most of the 5,000 odd house will be bought up by outsiders, along to the East a bit Married quarters at Kinloss are swelling with imported soldiers (who like someone I knew in the RAF ) will be ordered to vote for the Union. and also we have Lossiemouth getting bigger and in the South West expanding Faslane
    The rugby world cup is on just now and all four HOME NATIONS are playing seperately, perhaps this is how we should vote in a referendum which is meant to reflect national aspirations.
    I can already here the howls of derision but with the best intentione in the world I would say there is a form of Plantation (Irish history) going on overtly and not sublimenally and I think it needs to be addressed. If all Scots (i.e. qualified , if not able to play for Scotland) in Britain and Europe only had the vote, what would the voice of Scotland be?

    1. MBC says:

      Yes, this is my point too. To Michael. Time is running out. It’s not just me getting on a bit and being impatient to see independence in my lifetime. It’s also that I see that over the course of my lifetime that Scotland is being overrun by England, being strangled and thwarted by the UK, and being changed, against her will, interests and inclinations, into something that is not Scotland, and that time is running out to save Scotland.

      Every year 40-60,000 Scots born young people leave Scotland, most of them never to return. We are haemorhaging our young whilst becoming the depository for English retirees. We are fighting a losing battle in terms of our national strength.

    2. J Galt says:

      You probably will be howled down. You’re right the demographic is against us (perhaps a less controversial way of putting it than plantation).

      The author’s argument depends on a steady state that is not going to happen – Scotland’s population is changing rapidly. I hope to God not but it may well be that 2014 was a high point that we may never be able to approach again.

    3. Lorna Campbell says:

      It is very different from NI, Richard Easson. There, most Protestants congregated as settlers and the six counties were hived off at the birth of the Irish Free State, creating a Protestant majority homeland within Ireland, causing future trouble that we should all hope we never see here. In Scotland, rUK migrants are settled in every town , village and city, so either the whole of Scotland will become their home-from home – which, personally, I believe will be the case eventually if we tarry – or we gain independence very soon. What I find most insulting is to be accused of racism or anti Englishness when stating the obvious, the bare essential truth of our situation. I really cannot understand what refusing to face the truth solves or adds to the situation we are in now.

      It is simply a fact that a large rUK migrant population coupled with a large Scottish Unionist population who share their values, if not their aspirations exactly, equals, over time, the end of the Scotland that we are trying to save now. What that means in reality is that our Scottish cultural traditions, ways of doing things, will change beyond all recognition. That is happening already. Never would I support violence or even any kind of anti English action in Scotland, so the dimmer bulbs who decide that I might be racist are so intellectually lazy as to be out of the game completely. The UN Charter itself recognizes this specific problem of the transplanting of indigenous populations, and it is frowned upon by the international community – at least the international community that does not itself indulge in this practice – that would be the UK, then. What is, is. What will be, is down to us now – not in some ten years time, but now, right now. I hope this is okay, Mr Small, but if I have made some terrible faux pas and intruded on your blog site, then I apologize profusely.

  6. James McCarthy says:

    I couldn’t agree more – this is a very level-headed and realistic approach. Above all, we should be promoting a friendly and positive attitude towards our southern neighbours, but with emphasis on the need for Scotland to re-assert its legitimate pride in the culture and achievements of this country with the emphasis on our historic international outlook, (reflected in the Brexit vote here) allied to a recognition of the particular social and economic needs of Scotland.

  7. Frank says:

    Interesting article. I have always found it increasingly unlikely that the following the chaos of Brexit that the Scots would vote to leave another political and economic union. The hard questions relating to the economy and especially the currency are the Achilles Heel of the Independence Movement and have yet to be satisfactorily answered. It also strikes me that following the antics of the Lib Dems and to a lesser extent the SNP post 2016, that had Scotland voted Yes by a slim majority in 2014, that independence would have been denied and that years would have been spent discussing what type of exit from the UK the Scots voted for.

    I still support independence but given our experiences of the last few years it could be argued there should be a law stating that it needs a majority of 60% before it is agreed. I’m genuinely interested in hearing people’s views on that one.

    1. David Allan says:

      The movement has to recognise that there is a sizeable unionist percentage who will never under any circumstances vote to break-up their precious United Kingdom. We are depending on the conversion of a small percentage to take us over the line.

      Achieving 60% polls or a Yes result in that area is pie in the sky. We’ll be waiting a longtime for anything like 52-55% beyond that get real.

      We just need to get over the line the circumstances that prevail now had they existed in 2014 would have secured the victory.

      1. Alan Bissett says:

        Spot on, David.

  8. squigglypen says:

    Is this guy a plant….? 10 years ….not about Scotland……instead of listening to this terribly stiff upper lipped straight bat sort of looney…. watch out for a corrupt media and eyebrow twitching royalty et al….I can just hear the Bruce..’noo lads we’re about we wait another 10 years jist tae get the numbers right…’

      1. squigglypen says:

        Wtf…whit’s that? Euphemism for bad language….

  9. Graeme mcCormick says:

    The issues raised are real but I think the answers are wrong.

    If the Scottish Government controlled all public fund raising it would control ability to deliver the public support which worries people like pensions.

    Under the existing devolution settlement the Scottish Government has the power to bring in an Annual Ground Rent. It can raise so much that no other tax would be required and provide a Universal Citizens Income of £200 each week for every man woman and child.

    Just think if voters had that in their pockets in the run up to the vote?

    Provide and implement the answers to the questions. At the end of the day the vote is personal . It’s how it affects folk’s pockets. Fill them and they’ll vote yes!

    1. Wullie says:

      Enough with this neverendum business, we’ll never get a better chance, “Furth fortune and fell the fetters!”

    2. Isn’t that a bit like saying “if only we had all the powers we need to change everything then we could change everything?”

    3. Michael Gray says:

      Hi Graeme!

      I’m a strong advocate of far-reaching land reform as soon as possible, as you desire. I completely agree that is can be a vital ingredient – not just in boosting economic performance and reducing inequality – but in strengthening Scotland for independence.

  10. David Allan says:

    “The whole purpose of winning independence is delivering positive changes after the result”. – Michael just dwell on what you have said!

    If we can’t sell the advantages now, of being Independent of Westminster in the midst of all the current chaos , and outline how Scotland can travel on an entirely different and beneficial trajectory. Then I give up! If voters cannot be persuaded to vote yes under the circumstances that prevail now then it’ll never ever happen.

    How far down the pan does Michael Gray think Scotland will have to descend before polls reflect the margins he would prefer. An easy ride to Independence – never going to happen.

    I’m in complete agreement with Alan Bissett on this!

  11. Derek Henry says:

    Knowing what you are doing helps.

    The SNP advisors should be sacked. It is quite clear the macro economic advice given to the SNP has been complete and utter garbage for years now. All based on neoliberal globalism and that if we become independent we would still be on the good standard and use fixed exchange rates. Rolled up into the government finances operates like a household budget myth.

    The independence plan should have been built on truths not lies and nasty politics. The plan should have been headed An independent Scotland needs to run 10 – 15% government budget deficits. Then went on to explain how they plan to give Scottish households and businesses 10 – 15% surplus without causing inflation. Then Clearly educating the Scottish voters showing that government finances NEVER operate like a household budget.

    Instead they got a bunch of bankers to write the growth commission that is filled to the brim with neoliberal globalists myths. Good standard, fixed exchange rate nonsense and of course the household budget myth ran through it like Blackpool rock. A blue print to join the Euro and then their ” we want to be at the Europe nonsense”. All neatly packaged to appease the bankers in London, Frankfurt and New York.

    The SNP have isolated life long SNP supporters with this neoliberal globalists agenda that would never allow us to run government budget deficits higher than 3%. Thus Scottish households and businesses are not allowed a surplus greater than 3% of GDP.

    They have replaced thousands of life long Indy supporters who have wanted out of Europe since Maastricht and Lisbon treaties with a bunch of left and right wing liberals. Liberals of the NEO persuasion who will discard the SNP like garbage once the SNP keep their EU empire dream alive for them. Who are repulsed by the thought of an independent Scotland as a free nation state that can decide it’s own fiscal and monetary policies.

    The SNP have replaced life long Indy supporters with a bunch of left and right leaning liberal frauds at the ballot box. Labour and liberal voters who will desert the SNP at the drop of a hat once they are finished with them and we are stuck solid at EU central. With no control over anything and replaced our masters in London with masters in Brussels. Locked and loaded and now embedded in the neoliberal globalists plan of constant austerity.

    The SNP will never get those voters back. Life long Indy voters who saw through Maastricht and Neoliberal Tony Blair’s Lisbon treaty. Which the SNP now fully support. It is very clear now the SNP were never tartan Tories but tartan neoliberals. Globalists who do not see Scotland as an independent nation state and never have. The growth commission proves that.

    Voters they will NEVER get back and liberals who will drop them like a stone after they have done their bidding for them means Indy is just about dead. Thank God for that. Neoliberal globalism is in crises and independent nation states free to use their own macroeconomic policies are on the rise. Thanks to millions upon millions of working class populists voting against the globalists agenda.

    The SNP backed the wrong horse in this race cheered on by the banks. They had no option because once you study who is actually in the SNP it is filled with liberals from both the left and right. Liberals who could win their seats in the North and Edinburgh. Joanna Cherry is more liberal than Chuka Umunna and so are so many holding onto SNP seats.

    If the SNP stated quite clearly that it preferred a nation state outside of the EU then the party would split. Scottish Indy voters would get the right choice to choose from.

    An Indy nation state outside of the globalists EU free to peruse its own macroeconomics.

    An Indy nation state locked and loaded into the heart of neoliberal globalists EU free to do nothing a zombie nation.

    Finally, I would have something to vote for as a life long Indy supporter. If the SNP has to split before true independence is met then so be it. There is an end game worth waiting for.

    As it currently stands the liberals are winning and Indy is dead.

    1. Derek Henry says:

      Mark my words it is only a matter of time before some SNP politicians stand up and say hang on I do not want an Indy Scotland at the heart of Europe.

      Those clever ones that study macroeconomic policies and understood Maastricht and Lisbon treaties forced through by Major and Blair. The liberal right and left.

      When that happens we will see just how many liberals are masquerading as SNP politicians who are supposed to be left wing not liberal. At long last the Indy movement will be taking a step in the right direction.

      Just look how difficult it has been for Corbyn to get rid of the liberal left in the Labour party the Blairites. The SNP in the end will face the same tough choices.

      These liberals from the left and right should be members of the Lib Dems where they belong.

      1. Graeme Purves says:

        I generally discount any prophecy which begins “Mark my words…”

  12. Graeme Purves says:

    This assessment is sound.

  13. Thanks to Michael for generating such a good debate across various platforms.

    It seems to have uncovered a split across a few lines.

    One is the group who just want to win at any cost now, and whose strategy is “DO IT NOW! DO IT! JUST DO IT!”

    “It doesn’t matter if we win by 50.1% and it doesn’t matter how we get there. We should just have a poll now, legal or not and we’ll win it because it was all stolen from us.”

    I paraphrase.

    For this tendency there is often no need to re-think strategy, to think about tactics or to question anything. This stems from everything having been stolen from us.

    Many in this group dont think there’s any need to engage with other people who dont agree with ‘us’ because they are ‘Yoons’ and traitors etc etc. Some of this group are quite happy nestling in the comfort of the nationalist sub-culture and rarely if ever peep outside it. Any criticism of the existing government is deemed ‘SNPBaaad’ which means ironically, that we already live in a utopia as “NOTHING IS EVER WRONG IN SCOTLAND. EVER”.

    I understand the urgency of this group but feel its tactics and language are a detriment to independence.

    The second tendency is maybe Michael’s which is rational, calm, legal, patient and practical. Much of what he says makes sense but I think its lacking any real sense of urgency , in the need to press the advantage and make use of the British states profound crisis. Michael is quite right to say “Certain elite interests also have significant reasons – military, economic, geopolitical – to cling onto Scotland. A narrow and divisive vote is easier to undermine.”

    He is right to say it is better to “win big” and he is absolutely right that a second defeat is terminal, but he is quite wrong to argue for a built-in super majority. This is dangerous chicanery.

    A third option is to try and deepen the democracy movement in Scotland by politicising it, taking it into communities, workplaces and onto the streets and allying it with social movements. This has been done very succesfully in Catalonia, so that the democracy movement becomes a part of the fabric of a social movement and not a divisive part of political life. Many of the arguments of 2014 have been decisively won, much of the arguments for the Union lay broken in tatters.

    But we need to fight the next campaign, not the last one, confident in the knowledge that we can win but aspiring to win over a large size of the population, not by attacking them but by working with them to create a better country. There isn’t really an alternative.

    1. Alan Bissett says:

      Mike, I feel your description of the first group is an unfair caricature, a more accurate summary of which is found in your description of the second: some of us simply recognise “the need to press the advantage and make use of the British states profound crisis.” OBVIOUSLY everybody would prefer a large majority to 50.1% and OBVIOUSLY we work towards that hope, but there is folly in postponing til that majority is evident, when it hasn’t been produced this far by around eight years of campaigning, in the midst of the UK’s nervous breakdown. No-one is saying a referendum has to happen NOW, but certainly before the mandate expires in 2021, after which we are in very dangerous territory indeed, for a whole host of reasons.

      I’m also not sure that taking the independence movement “into communities, workplaces and onto the streets and allying it with social movements” hasn’t already been done (with the exception of workplaces, but you try wearing a Yes badge in the average workplace and see what your bosses have to say about it). There were – and often still are – Yes cafes and shops in towns up and down the land, the street presence has been absolutely MASSIVE, especially in the last couple of years, and I can’t see how the idea of independence could be more entwined with ‘social movements’ than it is, without appearing to swamp or piggyback inappropriately upon them.

      In short, the independence movement does not have infinite size, reach, resources, patience or time, and has probably already reached the limits of what it can do in 2014 and beyond. This has – let’s not forget – already produced a fragile majority in favour of Yes in the polls, utterly against the odds. Only a live campaign and a date in the diary can take us further now.

      Hanging back until a majority materialises – when none of the evidence from the last ten years suggests that it is possible – is simply chasing unicorns, playing right into Unionist hands, and a surefire way to make sure independence is endlessly deferred.

      1. Alan Bissett says:

        Correction, that last line should read: “Hanging back until a *large* majority materialises….”

      2. florian albert says:

        ‘Only a live campaign and a date in the diary can take us further now.’

        This strikes me as a classic example of being eager to ‘fight the last war.’

        Lots of things have changed in the past five years. The SNP has new been in power at Holyrood for over a decade and it is not looking well; Brexit has shown how hard it is to leave a union once inside; many independence supporters have subordinated winning arguments to staging street demonstrations; Nicola Sturgeon is a far less capable leader than Alex Salmond and the pro-independence left has (at best) stagnated. (The vote for RISE in 2016 demonstrated that how very limited its appeal is.)
        Perhaps the most important point is the degree of political disillusionment which does not stop at Hadrian’s Wall.
        Indyref2 – if it happens – will be entirely different from 2014.

      3. Grafter says:

        Well said Alan Bisset.

      4. Hi Alan

        okay – lets be specific “I’m also not sure that taking the independence movement “into communities, workplaces and onto the streets and allying it with social movements” hasn’t already been done.”

        One example – in Catalonia there are trade union affiliated to the equivalent of Yes/SIC movement. Here, frequently trade unions are (sometimes not always) treated as an adjunct of the Labour Party and therefore as immediate ‘traitors’. This is a disatrous state of affairs.

        1. Alan Bissett says:

          The SNP and pro-indy left spent years wooing the trade unions, largely to no avail, because their leaders frequently ARE allied to the UK Labour movement, and so are instinctively ideological Brits. For that very reason, they didn’t even ballot their members on the what position to adopt re.independence. It’s depressing – especially in the case of the steelworks and shipyards, when UK Govt promises to them turned out to be hollow after the No vote was secured – but what can we do? Trade unionism is terrain that just seems to be outwith the reach of the Yes movement, despite our best efforts. This is especially true now that Corbyn has emerged.

          I also can’t recall anyone from pro-indy circles calling such trade unionists ‘traitors’, however. Are you referring to specific incidents? If so, I’d like to be aware of them. If not, then such assertions are deeply unhelpful.

          1. I think we need to make a distinction between individual trade union members and trade union leadership and also between different trade unions.

            The reflex characterisation of trade unionists as ‘ideological Brits’ is completely unfair, given that we know that a large proportion of Labour party members are pro-indy.

            It is true that shipyard workers were conned – its also true that shipyard workers are lying in redundant yards like Burntisland which infuriates trade union leaders and workers.

            Is there scope to repair these relations? I think there is as the Scottish Labour Party faces electoral decimation and the need for better communication improves.

    2. Lorna Campbell says:

      Mr Small, I get hoarse saying that you can compromise all you like, you can talk to ‘others’ not in agreement with you all you like, you can persuade, plead, beg, implore all you like. If they don’t want what you are offering, they won’t take it. As in almost every sphere of life, politics being no different, you need a two-way process. If you have only a one-way process, you will get nowhere – especially against people who have an entirely different agenda. I do not have a problem with those who are genuinely frightened by the prospect of independence because they fear loss and penury, but even there, you have to weed out those who voted Leave with all the loss and penury that would bring, without even a raised eyebrow to acknowledge the fact. Terrifying. When you ask people why they voted NO, you will get a load of different answers, but the one consistent one is: because I don’t want the UK to break up. Why, you ask then? That is when the truth reveals itself, inch by inch, and you are left with this very uncomfortable truth: because that’s what I prefer and I’ll do everything I can to stop you changing that. Usually delivered through a mouthful of spittle and with narrowed eyes full of hate. Nothing about a better Scotland or about others who might not agree. Just Scottish Unionism/British Nationalism and English Nationalism. Terrifying.

      1. Well true there are some people for which running your own country is just culturally unacceptable – and they wont ever change at all.

        But there’s a lot of other people who will and are open to persuasion. I think its impprtant not to muck them all in together?

    3. SleepingDog says:

      @Editor “I understand the urgency of this group but feel its tactics and language are a detriment to independence.” Indeed, and activists have to consider the possibility that they may better serve their cause by doing something else, at least for a while. If there are counterproductive Unionists, the same applies to Independentistas.

      Collective decision-making is not something I notice as embedded in Scottish culture, but I gather there was an attempt to bring it into the education system via the Curriculum for Excellence from 2010–11. It should surprise no-one that the fruits of this endeavour must take many years to appear. I agree with your requirement to politicize culture, but it should be done in a way that is not dominated by particular groups who have privileged access, which is why we need to develop the critical thinking and creative expression skills within the comprehensive education system. The automation revolution may leave a lot of people out of employment, but they can at least be employed in the hard work of making democracy, from their sofa or bed or armchair or deckchair if need be.

      And talking of culture, if there is such a thing as Scottish or English culture, I feel we should be more concerned with its multiplication than its division. In other words, how we produce it, not conserve it. The Shakespearean plays are emblematic of English culture, yet it is striking how many foreigners get the best lines, how many foreign locations and cultures are employed, how many new words were accommodated, how many foreign writers and sources used. The world’s cultures came to London, and everybody gained by it.

  14. Douglas says:

    Keep the heid, folks…. if you look at the long term trends, Scottish independence is highly likely. Look at the ten year trend, or the five year trend, and it cannot be far away…

    It’s true there is a bedrock of ideological Unionism in Scotland, but I don’t think it’s 50% of Scots, I think it’s maybe more like 20%-25%… so a number like 60% or 65% is within the grasp of the indie movement.

    In any case, it’s England which is undoing the Union, and not just with Scotland. They are in the throws of an orgy of English nationalism, and seem to have virtually abandoned the idea of a United Kingdom altogether… that new reality will take time to filer down to some sections of the Scottish electorate. We’re still in the middle of the maelstrom, give it time.. wait till the calm emerges after the storm.

    Finally, just a couple of weeks ago, there were comments against Northern Irish residents in Scotland on these pages. Today it’s the turn of English residents in Scotland.

    We cannot go down this road. It’s divisive, it’s unfair to English residents in Scotland, it categorizes people by their nationality rather than treating them as individuals. It’s just a non-starter…. and 85% of the population of Scotland are Scots. To blame anybody else for the NO vote is to deny reality.

    1. Lorna Campbell says:

      Douglas: I think I would agree with you, but for one thing – rUK NO voters in Scotland in 2014 voted by three to one against Scottish independence, making that an ethnic vote or several ethnic votes. What else was it? Many had been in Scotland for a relatively short time. The UN Charter recognizes the gross unfairness of indigenous peoples being outvoted by migrants who might just have arrived yesterday. It has happened, and is happening in many places of the world – and, almost without exception, it leads to violence and confrontation. That is what we need to avoid. Resile the Treaty of Union under international law. Constitutionally legal, democratic and legitimate, just as the ruling against the recent prorogation was. No divisive referendum. Just a ratifying one after independence.

      1. Douglas says:

        I think there is a very strong case for amending the electoral laws so that so-called “new Scots” – those born outside Scotland who have chosen Scotland as their home- are eligible to vote in all elections – national, European, local, and referendums – after 5 or 8 years of residency in Scotland.

        It is much fairer and much more coherent than the situation just now, in which (non UK) “new Scots” are denied a vote at general elections even after 20 or 30 years living here, while getting a vote at local and Scottish elections after just one year (and by virtue of Scottish elections franchise, the indie referendum). It doesn’t make much sense.

        But now is not the time to be tinkering with the franchise. The SNP’s manifesto pledge, which the second referendum demand is based on, calls for a second referendum in the case of “material change of circumstances”, something which has clearly come about.

        So, I think you have to rerun the referendum with the same question, the same franchise, and maybe even the same date, September 18th 2020… that might work to our advantage.

        I think it should be a very short campaign, maybe 6 weeks maybe 8. The long campaign was just what we needed last time, but this time, we need a very intensive campaign in a short period of time, because awareness is no longer an issue after the last campaign. And the tone has to be different, we should be oozing confidence.
        You know, we’re in the driving seat this time, and we’re going to win…

        As for English immigrants coming to settle in Scotland, get used to it, because that’s just the way the world is now. You can’t row against the tide of modernity.

        What a responsible Scottish government would do in response to the immigration which, let’s not forget, Scotland needs, is invest in an unashamedly robust national culture and education policy so that the children of “new Scots” are carrying Scottish culture into the future. You start by setting up a National Language Academy as a matter of priority among other things.

        Otherwise, what’s left of Scottish culture, will be washed away in the next twenty or thirty years… but immigrants should always be looked on in a positive way, and a minority is a minority, even when from a much more powerful country than ours. I don’t want people who come to live in Scotland, anybody, to feel unwelcome.

        1. Douglas says:

          PS: Once we get into the next referendum campaign, I think the Unionist case will simply collapse before our eyes…

          …they can’t use EU membership as an argument, they can’t use the economy as an argument, they can’t use their slogan “Better Together” while they are in the middle of a messy divorce with the EU, so all they have left is an appeal to ‘Britishness’, you know, the sentimental ties between many Scottish people and many English people. So The YES campaign should think about how you counter that specific appeal…. what else do they have in the locker? Nothing I can see…

          The SNP should also think about, for example, the vote in the Highlands and Islands which was very disappointing last time round. I would offer the Highland and Islands a referendum on full autonomy within Scotland after independence, and an autonomous Parliament of the Highlands and Isles.

          I think there is a lot of distrust of the Lowlands, for historical reasons, so you have to go up there and address it. We need to look at the results from 18/9/2014 and address the areas where YES performed badly…

        2. Big Jock says:

          I don’t care if we win by 1%. The reason Scotland is divided is due to unionism. Once we are independent the divisions will gradually fade.

          Scotland might still be divided politically or on other matters. But on its status as an independent nation, that will never again be questioned.

          The nonsense about Quebec losing twice. Well that’s true they did narrowly lose. But Scotland is not Quebec! I am more concerned with people so afraid of failure, that they run away from the battle.

          Gradualism is what we have had for 30 years with our movement. If we sit on our arses for the next 5 years. Holyrood might have been reduced to a parish council. There might not be an Indy majority. We will have been outside the EU for 5 years. People get used to things like that .

          The reason we have a chance of Indy ref 2 is because of Brexit. If we let the chance pass we might indeed be like Quebec . Except we will have lost twice but only turned up once.

          1. Douglas says:

            Agreed Big Jock.

            I think we are definitely going to win…

            We can tailor our campaign to each city and region of Scotland. So in Edinburgh, which voted 75% to stay in the EU, we go massive on the European angle., which might not play so well in Moray and Aberdeenshire, which voted to remain in the EU, but not by much of a margin.

            Above all, I think we need, I don’t know, eight or ten bullet points on big issues, like, the example I mention above, autonomy for the Highlands and Islands.

            The problem with the SNP’s campaign in 2014 was that, while they were promising us a new country, it didn’t sound like a new country to my ears. It sounded like the Scotland we already had, but with free childcare…

            And that white paper they produced… who was ever going to read that? It’s okay for business and the media, but you need two or three flagship issues, big easily communicable issues which everyone understands.

            The EU is obviously one, but we need to transmit the idea to the electorate that we’re going to do something really exciting, which is build a new country, with new institutions, new policies, a different outlook… we’re going to transform the Highlands, eradicate child poverty for ever … we need to dream big.

            The SNP were far too cautious the last time…

        3. Lorna Campbell says:

          I agree, Douglas that we can’t turn back the tide when it comes to immigration, and, you are right, we do need new people. However, there is something very inherently different about the recent wave of migration from rUK. Economic sociology, from both Americana and here shows that immigration is a good thing overall when it occurs in ways that are long-established. What has happened with rUK migration is that it has brought a wave of retired people, fairly wealthy, property-owning, Tory-voting on the one hand, and younger people, often with children who are moving straight into professional jobs and management, even the top jobs in Scotland. I realise that I sound like a Brexiteer, but I’m not, but some of their concerns should echo, as they were not based solely on racism or ‘othering’ but on real understanding that community structures were being overwhelmed at a pace that was bound to cause problems, and these problems were not addressed by the politicians who found it so much more comfortable to either exploit people’s fears for their own ends or to accuse people of racism when the ‘racism’ itself was born of economic fears brought from other sources, such as austerity and low wages and long hours.

          The American and British studies show that immigrants work at the bottom until they move up the social ladder, and it is usually their children and their children who become more prosperous, and they are replaced by new economic migrants, and the pattern repeats. That is not by and large what has occurred in Scotland. Ergo, we have reached the point where we must ask ourselves: what do we want independence for? Economic betterment is only ever part of it; there are cultural and other issues just as important. We are just over five million, with over 55 million across the border. It should not be deemed racist to ask what will happen to Scotland in the next few years if migration from rUK continues apace? Indeed, it is not racism except in the minds of those who use it to silence critics. Smugness is no substitute for real debate on uncomfortable issues, and one of those issues ripe for debate must be: just why did three-quarters (almost) of all rUK voters in Scotland in 2014 vote NO, against Scottish aspirations? The honest answer will make the happy-clappy and smug uncomfortable: because it was an ethnic vote against Scottish aspirations. I really do think we need to ponder whether we are willing and happy to become a different political, social, economic and cultural entity in the next ten years, and whether independence really matters that much in those circumstances? If not, perhaps we should just sit back and let it all happen anyway? Forget our Scottishness and become part of a Greater England as the One Nation Tories want?

          1. Douglas says:

            No, Lorna, I think if you take one step down that road, then you eventually end up with the toxic culture which they now have in England, it’s just a question of time.

            For you, it’s English Tory voting pensioners that are the problem, but for somebody else it could be Polish plumbers. So, no, we cannot go down that road under any circumstances…not even one step.

            That old virtue called tolerance is what needs to be cultivated, and it’s maybe the most important virtue of all for a healthy democracy, and they’ve lost it England almost entirely, at least half the country has and the situation there is explosive now, it’s worrying. Tolerating somebody you dislike, being polite to people you dislike, is the cornerstone of civilization…

            As for “Scottishness”, well that’s an attribute that can be acquired through the education system, but the SNP need to get into gear and look at what they do in Catalonia and the Basque Country where they have always had mass immigration from the rest of Spain and now South America, and where the children of these immigrants now speak Basque and Catalan because it’s part of the school curriculum. That’s the key policy you need to put in place,

            If Scotland’s languages and culture continue to fade to irrelevance, it will be the fault of the complacent, unimaginative SNP / Scottish government who have done nothing at all to change the cultural paradigm in Scotland.

            It’s certainly not the fault of immigrants to Scotland, many of whom would probably like to learn Scots or Gaelic, but a) it’s either not available in any formal way in the case of Scots where we don’t even have a Standard Form or b) where it is in the case of Gaelic, it’s a bit expensive…

  15. Lorna Campbell says:

    Douglas, you misunderstand. There is a massive disconnect between the mass migration of Europe’s poor in the 19th century, or even the migration of Polish plumbers and Eastern European fruit pickers, and the present situation in Scotland. The former allowed for education and assimilation on a slow progress, and, while people kept their own culture and norms (absolutely fine by me – Scots do that everywhere) they also move up the social ladder having absorbed the indigenous culture as they progress. In America, they absorbed a predominantly Anglo culture which, to this day, makes America an homogenous society, regardless of the origins of the immigrants who form that society. In Scotland, today, we are replacing Scots who are going elsewhere. That is the point. It has nothing to do with the nationality of the immigrants/migrants, and that is why it is not racism, but a genuine appreciation of the gradual submerging of Scottish culture and the overlaying of English culture. How can it be otherwise when most rUK migrants are English and do not, in general terms, start at the bottom in order to absorb Scottish culture on their way up or even show willing to do so? They come fully formed. That is why three-quarters (almost) happily voted NO in 2014. They were coming to the northernmost region of England, not Scotland.

    That is not to say that many do understand our differences and respect them, but many more simply do not. I know those who cannot see the wood for the trees think this is racist nonsense, but time will tell. It is a very different situation from the Polish plumber who comes to work and make money for his family and hopes to educate his children and give them a better start in life. That is an example of the American experience. It was fruit pickers in Scotland, I believe. I understood perfectly why a Polish plumber would not want to be repatriated, as they were told in 2014 by Better Together, so voted NO, but, again, the EU NO vote was considerably smaller than the rUK NO vote, and they are likely to vote YES next time. Was there even the remotest suggestion that rUK voters would be repatriated? Quite the opposite, as I recall. Never has there been an anti English movement in Scotland, as some rUK residents, who understand their own motives for voting NO only too well and wish to hide it, claim. It is a vile slander and utter unfounded nonsense to suggest it.

    So, Manifest Destiny and the complete absorption of the First Nations in the States is fine? The total obliteration of the Palestinians by taking their land is okay? The Chagos Islanders’ loss of their home is just dandy? The NI situation was just one of those things in the life of an imperial/colonizing state? I am saying that we need to look at the long-term probable results of putting off independence till it’s too late. The UK (manifesting as England – which makes all the decisions for the rest of us, or, at least, their ruling elite does) is almost uniquely perfidious in its dealings with other peoples whom it considers ‘inferior’ or of lesser consideration. We have had a wee taste of what that feels like during the past five and more years. We need to face up to what is happening and what will happen if we tarry. We will not achieve a 60% margin for independence because the statistics and demographics are against that. Why do we have to? Why do we need the permission of rUK to leave its toxic Union? Unless we are willing to happily accept the complete subsumption of Scotland into a Greater and supposedly continuing England (total and utter rubbish and a massive con trick against the Scots as any reading of the Treaty and the workings around it will show) that Crawford and Boyle argued for, and a number of eminent Scottish jurists argued against, then we need to start thinking about how we can prevent that instead of trying to be all things to all men and take the risk of offending some who have not the slightest problem with offending us.

    1. Lorna Campbell says:

      Oh, and I would add that that does not mean that individual rUK people in Scotland cannot be our friends and part of our country. It is the imperialist/colonizing mindset that we have to deconstruct. That is the real problem, and it still flourishes south of the border. Why on earth should we assume that anyone who wants to make his or her home in Scotland is not anti Scottish independence? Why assume that the mindset, in some – many, even – has not been carried north?

    2. Douglas says:

      Lorna, if you’re saying that you want indie ref II sooner rather than later, than I agree with that.

      As for English immigration, of the specific type you mention – retirees – what are you proposing? I don’t know if you’re just letting off steam or are actually proposing come concrete measure? Orkney, by the way, was the biggest NO seat. That’s got nothing to do with English retirees as far as I know. The NO vote came from lots of different demographics, for lots of different reasons, but you are choosing to single out the English vote, and that is problematic. to me.

      I find it amazing that we don’t have a clear idea of why people voted NO in each part of Scotland, because the reasons may be different in the Western Isles than in Edinburgh, or Aberdeen or the Borders. We need to know the reasons if we are going to win next time.

      And as I’ve said before on these pages several times, we do not have a government in Scotland which takes Scottish culture or its indigenous languages seriously and even remotely in line with other comparable European nations, so we can hardly complain about Anglicization, can we?

      It’s embarrassing to me as a European to have to explain to Basque, Spanish or Catalan friends that few in Scotland care – not even its writers as far as I can see, with the odd notable exception like James Robertson – about the indigenous languages, and that if they want to learn Scots, they’ll have to do with one of those cringe- worthy Oor Willie / Scots phrase books from the High Street because the Scottish National Party government hasn’t set up a National Language Academy of Scotland to look after our two indigenous languages which are both in a parlous state and which are much more important for a country than any other cultural factor, by a mile…

      In the early 18th century, Scottish farmers and their Agricultural Societies, decided to send representatives to North Europe to find out why German and Dutch farmers were getting such bigger yields on their crops than they were. They discovered these North European farmers were rotating the crops and letting the land lie fallow once every five or six years. Those Scottish farmers then went back to Scotland, did as the North European farmers were doing, and lo and behold it worked, their crops yields increased significantly…

      Why doesn’t the Scottish government send delegates to Catalonia, to the Basque Country, to other parts of Europe with minority languages , find out what they’re doing there to have bi-lingual populations, and then come back and do it in Scotland?

      For me Lorna, English retirees in Scotland are not the problem. The problem is that we have never had a government in over 300 years which puts the infrastructure in place to give Scottish culture a reasonable chance of surviving…

      1. Lorna Campbell says:

        I agree, as a native Scots speaker with Gaelic connections in the past that we should be protecting our native languages and the other aspects of our culture – because we do have a culture within the broader British culture and the European culture and the world culture. I have picked out the rUK NO voters, Douglas, because I have studied the voting pattern. Scots-born YES voters outvoted Scots-born NO voters by some 5%; EU NO voters did not vote by a large enough margin (57% of the total number, and remember, they were being told they would be repatriated if Scotland became independent because no way would the EU allow us to remain) to bring NO over the line. We knew how many EU voters there were because records are kept, but the 2011 Census underestimated the numbers of rUK voters in 2014. That demographic voted by 75 (almost) % NO. That was three to one against independence. I am afraid that the truth has been kept from you by those who always shout the loudest about racism and supposed anti Englishness. What would you call a three to one vote against independence in one demographic? In any other circumstances, that would be called an ethnic vote; in any other country that had a shred of self-respect that would be called an ethnic vote and would have been called out for what it was. If the UN frowns on such behaviour, why do you imagine that might be? It is because it is morally reprehensible. It might well be legal; it might even be democratic according to the rules; but it is, and remains, morally reprehensible. I am not anti English, Douglas. I have English family and they are as dear to me as my Scottish family, but nothing alters the fact that they could bring independence crashing earthwards again. Instead of pandering to them, we should be explaining, not in any vicious or threatening or nasty way, but with patience and persistence that they are part of Scotland and should, perhaps, rethink their allegiances and their knee-jerk reactions to any suggestion of Scottish independence. That is the type of persuasion I would like to see: the realistic and uncompromising kind that has no truck with happy-clappy nonsense. If we want independence, we must be ready to offend.

        1. Douglas says:

          I’d say that if one out of three English residents voted for Scottish independence, that’s a good result, and that we should go and buy them pints.

          It’s perfectly natural the majority of English in Scotland prefer to be in the Union. Why? Because they genuinely feel British probably.

          You are suggesting what? They shouldn’t vote, or that they vote yes? Why is it an “ethnic vote”? Are you suggesting this was organized and planned to thwart Scottish independence? Is that the idea? I’m not sure I understand you exactly.

          And I’ve never said you are anti-English, but I think you have a pair of anti-English spectacles on in this particular case. Why would you go looking for that demographic and not, say, what the top 10% of earners voted? We know higher up the social ladder / food-chain you go, the stronger the Unionist vote. So, in the top 10% of earners, maybe it was 5 or 6 to 1 in favour of the Union. Certainly higher than 3-1.

          Why is that any less relevant? Or take military personnel, or the higher echelons of the Civil Service in Scotland, people who are paid by the British State. Surely they would be less likely to risk a vote for independence given that it would have a direct effect on their careers? Most likely, I suspect, they voted to stay in the Union in big numbers…

          You see, by picking out one demographic, you have already showed your bias. It’s not anti-Englishness necessarily, it’s just a bias. And with a couple of hundred thousand English residents, it’s really not a big number in terms of a national wide election of over three million people. If you’re living in a small rural community and there is a big influx of English residents, then I understand why that might be jarring, but in a nation wide Scottish independence referendum, the English community is not significant in comparison, say, to how affluent Scotland voted..

          In short, to pin the blame for the defeat of 18S on the English residents in Scotland is ethically wrong and arithmetically illiterate…. they are outnumbered in Scotland by about 10-1…. Anyway, enough…

          1. Lorna Campbell says:

            Douglas, we should agree to disagree. Let’s put it like this: had the three to one against Scottish independence voted YES, we would be independent now; had the three to one against Scottish independence not voted three to one against Scottish independence, we would be independent now. No Brexit either. The statistics show that to be the case because it was the rUK vote that brought NO over the line to 55%. If the Scots voted by 52+% YES and the EU vote could not have made a great deal of difference, whose vote brought NO over the line to 55%? Was the fairy’s at the bottom of the garden? That is not the point. The point is: what was the rUK mindset that decided that the Scots should not have independence? In a Scotland that had an independence-supporting party in power? That is what I am trying to tease out of the mess – that mindset that believed it was okay, sometime only after a couple of years in Scotland, to vote NO? That is the mindset that the UN Charter on colonialism states is not acceptable. Yet, it is acceptable in Scotland? That you refuse to accept what is in black and white is up to you. Nowhere have I said anything remotely anti English or racist. That is in your own mind. What I have said is fact, even though there are those who deny the facts. Yes, of course, if more Scots voted YES, we would have independence. In 2014, more Scots DID vote for independence, but we still do not have independence, but we still have Brexit – perhaps even a No Deal Brexit. But, hey, so long as we don’t actually offend anyone at all, we can have our independence by osmosis?

          2. Douglas says:

            Lorna, it’s perfectly natural that we have a fairly large population of English residents in Scotland, given the proximity of the two countries, just as there are plenty of Scots in England.

            To separate English residents out in an abstract scenario of a purely indigenous Scottish vote is deal in fantasies which don’t respond to the real world in our times, either in Scotland or elsewhere, and reveal your underlying ethnic Scottish nationalist worldview,,,

            A lot of the English residents in Scotland are great people and you just shouldn’t be going down this road…. you’re looking at the statistics with a nationalist pair of spectacles and you sound anti-English to my ears. Plain and simple. You maybe don’t consider yourself to be anti-English, but you sound it to me.

            More than two million people resident in Scotland voted to remain in the Union with England. About one tenth of them were English, so it’s the fault of “the English” that we lost?

            You choose to highlight a statistic to make the English vote the swing vote, when we could argue that it was elderly Scots or rich Scots or Aberdeenshire / Edinburgh Scots who were decisive…

            English residents in Scotland are a minority, and no minority should be singled out like you are doing here… it’s a very dangerous road to go down…

            It’s just embarrassing…

        2. James McCarthy says:

          Hello, Lorna (and others)

          I am an 83 year-old Scot, with some Irish antecedents and an English wife (who sadly died over two years ago) I therefore have a mixed family. Having travelled widely, I am an internationalist, but still strongly attached to my Scottish background (I do write in Scots) and the country’s achievements/ culture. I am relieved to read of the more recent posts from you and others which are both factual but moderate. But I have spent a lifetime politely correcting English visitors about ‘North Britain’.
          The colonial attitude is still strong…at least among the older generation. But I have hopes for the upcoming youth if we can engage them in reasoned dialogue, not least about the need to conserve a unique environment and determination to preserve our own culture, open to all.

          James McCarthy

          1. Lorna Campbell says:

            Thank you, James. I am glad that you do not exhibit the usual knee-jerk reaction and actually offer a longer-term solution to the demographic problem. I, too, would hope that Scotland’s youth, whatever their origins, would wish to preserve our culture and norms. It is just that I don’t believe we have the time, James. I believe that, if we Brexit with rUK, we will be swallowed up in the One Nation State that is coming, courtesy of the far right-Tories. I am very grateful to you for seeing what I am trying to get across without accusing me of anti Englishness.

  16. Wul says:

    ” If it takes 10 years to get it right….”

    No, No,No, Michael. We don’t have 10 years. We have absolutely no idea what the world will be like in 10 years. (By then, you & I could be living in the 53rd State of the USA) The time is now.

    “For me independence support should be consistently above 60% before a referendum date is set. We’re not there yet.”

    You will wait for ever Michael. As soon as polls approach 50%+ for independence a massive campaign will be mobilised against the idea of Scottish independence. What’s left of the UK after Brexit will NEVER let Scotland go. We only got a referendum last time because Cameron et al were asleep at the wheel. It will not happen again. The UK out of Europe will cling to its’ assets like a militarised limpet.

    You seriously underestimate the power, commitment and capacity for mendacity of the forces ranged against Scottish independence.

    If we want the prize, we will need to take it, not wait for it to be delivered.

    1. Lorna Campbell says:

      Agreed Wull, and we should be under no illusions about what might happen. In order to thwart nationalist Irish aspirations in NI, Protestant sensibilities were engaged. It is the accepted narrative that it was the Protestant majority who called on the British to help them out against the former, who were getting uppity. Anyone who has been following the television series on the Troubles will realise that much of what has been the accepted narrative about NI is being turned on its head by this estimable programme. What happened there can happen here on both/either sectarian and ethnic lines, if we are not careful and do not start to take the opposition seriously and start to understand what happened in 2014 – not what we have been told happened. We have to start debating the uncomfortable things now, not the cosy consensus we have been used to, but the bald, unadorned facts about what we are really up against and likely to be up against next time. The Hippy movement with its hallucinogenic world view lasted only a few years, the beginning of the end being signalled by a series of brutal rapes, robberies and other brutalities. In other words, the real world intervened. We are just beginning to get a tiny glimmer now of how the real world will intervene in Scotland’s independence aspirations. If we are too smug to realise till it’s too late, I’m not sure we even deserve to be independent.

    2. David Allan says:

      Union-Jackory will play a big part in the soon to happen General Election. The Conservative and Unionist Party have strayed into very dangerous territory lately their Britain can be great again mantra.

      It has aroused forces (Cummings) that will throw normal electoral rules to the wind!

      The Beeb will be deployed like never before! I wonder how and what wisdom Gordon Brown will impart when he is eventually rolled out ! And The Donald will play a role too!

      Sajid Javid says today that the Tories are the party of labour ! – aye meaning enslave the workers! Now that’s just Brazen.

  17. Jack collatin says:

    I consider this piece to be naïve in the extreme.
    In ten years time, post Brexit, Scotland will no longer exist.
    Many hundreds of thousands of your fellow Scots and I shall be dead or at death’s door in ten years’ time.
    The current buzz word appears to be ‘Surrender’. I stopped counting at twelve spouted by the flaxen haired mad ma on Marr yesterday.
    You appear to be for giving up, and sitting back and waiting, for a decade?
    To summarise this piece.
    Scotland, no country for old men and women.
    Logan’s Run.
    You are advocating political euthanasia.
    Get up from your trembling knees, sirrah.
    The fight is now, in the next five weeks.

    1. David Allan says:

      well said Jack.

      I hope the author and any of a similar mind have now reconsidered their position !

      Now let all focus on GE and if necessary action through courts to get Westminster’s permission to proceed with Ref2 .

      Ditch the hesitancy.

      1. Jo says:

        I’ll stick with my own view, thanks, David.

        Broad churches and all that. There should be room for different views on the route to independence. If some within the pro- independence movement are utterly intolerant of the views of others on the same side then we are in big trouble. There can be more than one route to a particular destination.

        1. David Allan says:

          “Utterly intolerant of the views of others ”

          very succinct!

  18. john burrows says:

    The failure of the Party Quebecois to achieve independence was primarily due to it’s deep seated insularity, not its timing. The author is promoting a false narrative to bolster his argument.

    Quebec was guaranteed substantial powers in both the British North America Act, and in the current constitutional arrangements of the Canadian Federation. Scotland’s devolved parliament has no such protections. A point he completely disregards.

    The Party Quebecois espoused ethnic nationalism more akin to the current manifestation of English nationalism than the civic nationalism of the Scots. It doubled down on this path after their failure. This is why the project of Quebec independence has been aborted since its last effort. The majority of Scots embrace diversity as the Scottish diaspora amply demonstrates.

    Putting off a referendum for another ten years will only increase the bitterness of those who seek independence, and deepen the danger of Scots morphing into the ethnic nationalists that currently plagues the societies of both England and Quebec.

    Given that Quebec is the sole example the author posits as guidance to support his position, I suggest that his position is without foundation.

    The trope that a “super majority” must be secured before an independence referendum, is just playing once more into the hands of those who seek to forever move the goal posts when it comes to the Scots efforts to seek self determination.

    If indeed he has been persuaded by the mandarins within the current leadership of the SNP, then I suggest that it is the leadership that needs changing. If you can’t find the will to lead the Scots towards self determination, then get out of the way of those with more backbone

  19. Ross says:

    As a No voter I regularly look up and read pro independence web sites like this one, with interest.

    The author does make some valid points and I wouldn’t be surprised if another referendum vote for Scottish Independance takes place within the next 5 to 10 years. However I have a number of points/questions

    1 – A close result either way will be more divisive than that of the EU outcome.

    2 – Is Scotland ready and prepared for a Yes win?

    3 – What exactly would Yes win mean and what if any process is in place to deal with any kind of transition to becoming independant?

    4 – I am guessing that a deal would have to brokered with the government in House of Commons?

    5 – As it stands at present Scotland doesn’t meet the criteria to join the EU and there is no guarantee that we would join anytime soon. Your thoughts?

    Keen to hear any responses.

    1. Thanks Ross, here’s an attempt at some answers …

      1 – A close result either way will be more divisive than that of the EU outcome.

      That’s an assertion based on the idea that the process and agents involved in the indyref are the same as those involved in the Brexit campaign. I’d say that’s untrue. A certain amount of ‘division’ is inevitable in times of real change, that cant be removed entirely but yes people that have an emotional or a financial stake in things staying the way they are will resist any change. We already live in a society deeply divided by class and power.

      2 – Is Scotland ready and prepared for a Yes win?

      I’m not sure exactly what you mean? Do you mean administratively? Economically? Psychologically? There has already been a power of work done by civil servants about the changes required, there are a number of think-tanks and research groups that have done a huge amount of work on this.

      3 – What exactly would Yes win mean and what if any process is in place to deal with any kind of transition to becoming independant?

      In 2014 the Scottish Government laid this out in some detail in a 650 page document called “Scotland’s Future: Your Guide to an independent Scotland”. You can read it here:

      4 – I am guessing that a deal would have to brokered with the government in House of Commons?

      It would be a deal agreed by both parliaments.

      5 – As it stands at present Scotland doesn’t meet the criteria to join the EU and there is no guarantee that we would join anytime soon. Your thoughts?

      This is debatable and highly flexible. Since 2014 and since Brexit the mood music from Brussels has completely changed. What terms and conditions Scotland might want to relate to Europe is up for debate.

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