2007 - 2020

No Time to Die

I fear that Jackson Carlaw’s reign may be not bring the same joy and adulation as his predecessor.

The Tory brand has been irredeemably tainted by the Theresa May years, the advent of Boris-style Trumpism and the long slow lingering Brexit experience which never seems to end and never seems to start.

The Scottish Tories, like James Bond, are a remnant idea and a brand from another era. But even bringing in Grammy-award-winning Billy Eilish and Bafta award-winning Phoebe Waller-Bridge to breath new life into the hackneyed British spy genre won’t work.

So too with poor Jackson.

“No Tie To Die” sings Eilish, but the problems are mounting up for Mr Carlaw, the Man with the Golden Gurn.

First the party has always been a little coy about membership figures but the leadership does give us a brief insight.

If the published voting figures are correct then the party stands with a membership of less than 11,000 in a country of over 5.4million people.

Secondly, the failure of Operation Arse, in which Ruth Davidson tried and failed to prevent Boris Johnson’s ascendancy remains. Johnson has this week proved his ruthlessness in (effectively) sacking his Chancellor. When Davidson found out she had no influence on No 10 (despite outrageous and slavish fluffing from key Scottish journos) she left. Absolutely no-one believes Carlaw has any more influence than his predecessor (who had none).

Third, he’s already failed. He oversaw the loss of seven Westminster seats in Scotland at the General Election. Yet he seems perfectly delusional saying:

“The result today demonstrates I have the clear confidence of the party. I have a bigger share of the vote than Boris Johnson achieved in his leadership election, I have a bigger share of the vote than Ruth Davidson achieved, a bigger share of the vote than David Cameron achieved in any of the previous Conservative Party leadership elections.

“So I have a clear mandate from the party in Scotland now to make the changes required to lead us into the election next year.”

He even said that he is aiming to become First Minister at next year’s Holyrood election.

Fourth he is not very good at handling criticism. As political journalist Paul Hutcheon pointed out: “When Michelle Ballantyne legitimately criticised the general election campaign he led, Carlaw’s response was laughably over the top. MSPs are aware of how badly he takes criticism. On two occasions at First Minister’s Questions, he lost his cool by making off-colour remarks about Nicola Sturgeon’s hair and past career.”

There is no sense of any ideas emanating from Carlaw’s camp, other than some vagueness about a ‘policy review’.

In truth the Scottish Tories don’t really need any ideas. Their role has been to repeat like a devotional mantra “We said no and we meant it” and to relentlessly criticise anything the Scottish Government do, even to the extent last week of obsessing about the government’s inability to stop winter happening.

Given the low-grade of many of their supporters this will probably do fine for a few years as they dwindle further. I’m not sure the Unionists and Conservatives in Scotland actually need or want any policies. To think of policy ideas would be to concede agency and to suggest that something (anything) should be done. In their worldview nothing is needed because nothing is really wrong with anything, and if anything were wrong, the London government would fix it.

There doesn’t seem to be any critical edge to the Conservatives north of Berwick. Where are the thrusting business entrepreneurs? The libertarian right? Or the Tories reclaiming self-governance as a principle of the right? They are nowhere to be seen, instead huddling together like veteran members of a Golf Club, coming together to stoke their prejudices in communal self-confirmation.

Yet the world that Carlaw and his colleagues came from has gone. The paternalism of Rifkind and his generation has been replaced by Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings, a coterie who found Ayn Rand-fan Sajid Javid too liberal for them to stomach.

Let that sit with you for a moment.

The ‘Rishi Sunak’ lesson for Carlaw should be clear; there is no loyalty in this government and there is no interest in continuity. There is nothing conservative about the Conservatives.

In this context Jackson Carlaw and Alister Jacks roles as placemen and human shields to whatever excess and humiliation No 10 plans to throw at Scotland is clear. The Scottish Conservatives are like American Republicans holding loyally onto the tailcoat of Trump as he lies and demeans his way through office. Once you’re in for the ride its difficult to get off.

The Tories in Scotland have an almost numinous addiction to the “precious Union” and – as regularly expressed by poor Murdo Fraser – the monarchy. It may have missed their attention but both institutions are in trouble.

After last weeks stunning results for Sinn Féin in the Irish general elections means its almost inevitable for them not to play some role in government, and The Times reported four out of five people polled backing (re) unification in their lifetime.

Changing Landscape

How swiftly times change.

It was only a few short months ago that Arelene Foster held the balance of power and had the whip hand over Conservative PM Theresa May. Now that power has shifted directly over to Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill.

Today she said:

“I spoke with the new British Secretary of State for the North, Brandon Lewis, this morning following his appointment yesterday. We agreed to meet as a matter of urgency to discuss important matters including his government’s approach to dealing with the legacy of the conflict, particularly in relation to the bad faith shown over the issue of pensions for those injured as a result of the conflict.”

“I told him the British government is a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement and he has a legal duty to act with rigorous impartiality.”

“The political landscape across the island is changing dramatically, and while I see no contradiction in genuine power-sharing with unionism and making that work, the conversation and planning for Ireland’s future beyond Brexit cannot be ignored.”

If the motivations for seismic changes in Ireland may have been more about housing health and homelessness than the constitution, this should do little to calm Carlaw. The changes have come about from a crumbling political elite charged with long-term intransigence and complicity.

The threat of what people to refer to as “destabilisation” (but mean violence) does not come from a resurgent republican movement but from an abandoned loyalist one. Pointing to an unprecedented level of de facto Irish unity Patrick Cockburn notes that for the first time a single party, Sinn Fein, will hold political power on both sides of the border, a partner with the DUP in Belfast and either a partner in the next Irish government in Dublin or the main opposition to it.

He writes in The Independent (‘Sinn Fein’s election victory is Ireland’s ‘Brexit moment’ when left-out voters turn on the elite’):

“A further cause of instability is the British government itself: the highly regarded Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith was summarily dismissed in the cabinet reshuffle this week, despite winning plaudits from all sides for brokering the power-sharing deal between Sinn Fein and the DUP that reopened the assembly at Stormont. Smith’s was reportedly sacked due to pledging to investigate alleged crimes committed by British soldiers during the Troubles.

Getting rid of Smith may be an early sign that, under Johnson, English nationalist sensitivities will get priority over keeping Northern Ireland stable. The arrogance and ignorance of Brexiteers when it comes to Ireland has infuriated Irish opinion over the last few years with the Home Secretary Priti Patel famously suggesting that the Irish, who have vivid memories of the Great Famine, could be starved into making concessions.”

In this context the Scottish Conservatives can continue mumbling “we said No and we meant it” and moaning about the SNP making it cold in winter, but you’d have to think this might not be productive. Tethered to Johnson’s nationalist insensitivities – Carlaw is being dragged inexorably deeper into the constitutional crisis he barely grasps.

Like the poor souls on board the Coronavirus cruise ship, the Scottish Tories remain in political quarantine and their new leader is about as useful as an anti-vaxxer arriving with “the clear confidence of the party”.

Carlaw and his newly appointed deputy Glasgow MSP Annie Wells may be more cliché than Vichy, but they remain a northern fringe whose purpose seems unclear and whose future looks in peril.

 

Comments (37)

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  1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    I take it that should be Sajid Javid? The curse of autocorrect?

    Thanks for this piece. I was surprised at how low the poll numbers actually were. Obviously, there are many times more who vote Conservative in Scotland, but, with the party membership dwindling so much, then electioneering must depend hugely on the media (print, broadcast and social). There is also the issue of who actually determines policy in the party?

    1. Ah, damn, yes, fixed now.

      Yes a very low membership party is highly dependent on ‘airforce’ campaigning – media, films, online and airwaves. This is possible but difficult, see for eg the Brexit party which technically had no members at all.

      But it fails unless you have a wave of political phenomena (like Brexit) to help – and it cant ‘get the vote out’ which mostly requires motivated people on the ground.

  2. David Mackenzie says:

    I can feel a bit sad and embarrassed about this, bringing on a twinge of the old cringe, like we can’t even rustle up some half-decent Tories anymore

    1. Graham Ennis says:

      There are no “half decent” Tories, just “Half-indecent ” ones!

  3. bringiton says:

    The only possibility of a Tory branch manager becoming FM at Holyrood will be as head
    of a better together coalition with only one policy for Scotland,no to independence.
    However,I think that even Labour unionists would now balk at the prospect of their elected
    representatives acting as BoJo’s little helpers.
    Every political career ends in failure and I suspect that it will be sooner rather than later for Carslaw.

    1. Charles L. Gallagher says:

      Failure will be nothing new for Carlaw, in fact, it will be his THIRD FAILURE having been made bankrupt twice. Do we really need our own version of Ducking and Diving ‘Arthur D’???? Carlaw couldn’t even sell cars successfully so how could he ever hope to run a country?? But, as far as I remember the series Arthur D was never bankrupt!!!

      It’s not just ideas where the Tories are bankrupt it seems that it’s everything that they touch!!!

  4. Hamish100 says:

    Nice wee BBC PR job for Carlaw courtesy of BBC Brewer. Must be nice then to have 2 unbiased journalists from the Mail or was it the express to aid an abett. This is the new bbc sctotchland?

    Still Brewer could spend another 5 mins talking about a bridge to NI several times over. A bridge we all know ain’t going to happen.

    Avoids asking searching questions of the 1 Brit Tory as to why hs2 ain’t going to Inverness, Aberdeen Dundee, Edinburgh or Glasgow or dare I say it Stranraer. After all aren’t we all 1 big happy unitary state. No hs2 to Wales or even Devon or Cornwall.(England) . Even poor Newcastle (England ) doesn’t get the investment.

    Our new Tory branch official just wants us to stop talking about independence. No, no, not now not ever, no surrender. Will he stop talking about it? No, not now, not ever.

    He never seems to realise we can think for ourselves.

    1. Jack collatin says:

      Brewer is a cartoon cut out now.
      An SNP Free half hour today,but most of the talk was about Indyref “.

      Carlaw is a bombastic buffon who was ‘elected’ by 4900 Old Tories to the lofty position of Branch Office Manager of North Britain, gatekeeper for the Conservative and Unionist UK Party.
      It does what it says on the tin.

      He has no authorityor indeed intellect to formulate ‘separate’ Scottish but somehow Unionist Policies.
      The notion that when FM next May (now stop laughing at the back there) he would scrap Tuition Fees and the UCS Two Child cap beggars belief.

      He’ll do as he’s told by London.

      Annie Wells is the deputy?
      They have scraped right through the bottom of the barrel.
      She couldn’t even win a constituency seat.
      Brewer’s ‘does he take sugar’ approach to tackling the Nasty Nats serves to demonstrate that the BBC in Scotland is done, and it knows it.
      They discuss what the SNP are up to as though they weren’t in the room,, or to feeble to speak for themselves.
      I wonder how many folk tune in to this rubbish any more?
      Carlaw is numbnut loudmouth. He must be great fun at his Rotary’s AGM, but running our country?
      He’s a dyed in the wool Tory, and he’ll die suffocated by his woolly outbursts of No Surrender, even if everybody in Scotland votes for Self Determination.
      He’s doing as he’s told. Selling out Scotland for money.

  5. Iain McLean says:

    “ The threat of what people to refer to as “destabilisation” (but mean violence) does not come from a resurgent republican movement but from an abandoned loyalist one”

    This has parallels in Scotland. unionism and loyalism are now seen by the majority of people in Scotland as extremist, violent, sad, mad and bad louts who hark back to days when catholic’s can be legitimately discriminated against.

    You see them in very small numbers during AUOB marches, isolated, perched at the side of the road surrounded by police as the peaceful and joyous marchers pass by. The unionists look menacing, with the appearance of thugs recently released from jail who will be returning there shortly. The public keep their distance.

    Ask them why they are standing there or what they believe in? There will be an incoherent mutter about Northern Ireland and Protestantism, but nothing of substance other than they hate you and most things a progressive country stands for.

    This is the base that tories are now courting, it is desperate stuff, but they are doing it shamelessly. Davidson aligned with Foster, Carlaw won’t be far behind.

    It’s my belief you see Scotland’s future at independence marches, those advocating independence are diverse, inclusive and joyous, whilst those on the sidelines remind us of a sad place we do not want to return to. Carlaw, true to his and his party’s nature will hasten independence by siding with the mad, bad and sad!

    1. Wullie says:

      Murdo and the Bridge failure struggled to compete for publicity last week with the new arrival at Edinburgh Zoo. Chimp or chump whit wans whit?

    2. Bill says:

      Surprising how the defenders of the Protestant faith ( most of whom have never seen the inside of a church) are such strong defenders of a union that has progressively rendered us poorer thane would otherwise have been had we been independent. Truly they are the brownshirts of the modern Tory party. Only a matter of time till they progress to being the blackshirts.
      I have become more republican as I watch this lot at independence rallies and marches and as I watch the head of state failing to comment or to demand some movement on the shame of food banks and hungry children in this country.
      The election of the boy Carlaw says it all.

      Bill

    3. Alan Reid says:

      Iain, You’re entitled to your opinion, but really ………. !?!

      “It’s my belief you see Scotland’s future at independence marches, those advocating independence are diverse, inclusive and joyous, whilst those on the sidelines remind us of a sad place we do not want to return to”.

      In my own experience: those participating in independence marches, and those Scots who do not agree in separation from the rest of our kin in the United Kingdom, are as equally “diverse, inclusive and joyous”!

      Trying to create a sense of “The Other” in Scotland is a rather silly action.

      1. Derek Thomson says:

        Oh aye, you could see the joy and inclusion in George Square on September 19th 2014, eh? Lovely bunch.

  6. Bill says:

    Wasn’t Carlaw one of the colonel’s top thirty toxic Tories?

  7. Hamish100 says:

    Neil Oliver is reported today of once again criticising the SNP government and then moves onto Scottish cringe mode by stating

    “It’s embarrassing. I think of other nations looking at us and at our shenanigans, and shudder with humiliation by association.” Yes the guy with the dyed locks is embarrassed by us.

    As the head of the National(ist) Trust for Scotland his partiality is well known.

    The NTS board should get rid of him but of course they are in the main Tory , Lib Dem place men and women and have been for years. Time for such boards to reflect Scotland now rather than the 1950’s

    1. Alan Reid says:

      Hamish

      In my experience, Neil Oliver is an articulate and passionate ambassador for Scotland.
      His books and documentaries have added value to knowledge of our country’s past.

      If he has views on independence, then I’d like to hear them – and others should too.

      The National Trust for Scotland is independent and not part of government.
      Therefore as president, Neil is perfectly entitled to state his opinion on the current separatist debate.

      Why are some Scottish nationalists so sensitive about discussion, and almost seem as though they wish to operate in an echo chamber – and hear only similar views to their own?

      1. Hamish100 says:

        Alan Reid, the NTS is independent? Really?
        Surely you mean it is separatists!

        Separatists debate. What is that? I though SCOTLAND was a distinct nation already. As for Oliver He has form as you already know in talking this country down. His recent article is just another example. Run Scotland down — to an English based newspaper of course.
        NTS is full of who knows who, nudge nudge wink wink.

        As for his political opinion maybe he hasn’t read this https://www.nts.org.uk/our-work/independent-and-politically-neutral

        The list of Past Presidents are well known. In general Tory/ Lib Dem/ landowners

        https://www.nts.org.uk/our-people/trustees-and-governance

        1. Alan Reid says:

          Hamish

          Neil Oliver doesn’t have “form” – he has sincerely held opinions on Scotland’s future!
          And being President of the National Trust for Scotland doesn’t debar him from voicing them!

          And I think today, more than ever, we need as many Scots as possible speaking-up on these issues, and reflecting the broad diversity of views held in our nation about separation from the rest of the UK.

          Alan

          1. Margaret says:

            Neil Oliver has plenty of form, both in trying to pass himself off as a historian (he’s not) and as top house Jock. Few take him seriously.

            Anyway, the New Zealanders have been ripping him to shreds of late after his Coast NZ show. Words like unauthentic , egotistical, comical, am embarrassment to Scotland have been banded about in reviews so he’s back with his tail between his legs to do live shows to top up his bank book.

      2. Jack collatin says:

        Och, Alan, your slip’s showing; ‘separatist’.
        ‘The rest of our kin in the UK’. How very cosy. None of us have ‘kin’ in France, Holland, Spain?

        1. Alan Reid says:

          Jack

          I’m not in favour of Brexit either, but it doesn’t make me want to break with the rest of people in the United Kingdom.

          1. Jack collatin says:

            ‘break with the rest of the people in the United Kingdom’ smacks of the usual one line limp wristed retort, the death rattle of a Brit Nat apologist.

            Set out your case for being ruled by a London Government for whom we didn’t vote, Alan.
            No?
            There are 10 times as many English citizens as Scots, so you expect us to climb back into our catacombs (we are a ‘religious cult’ now, according to Carjack Lawson) and be obedient little conquered colonists?

            We shall achieve Self Determination, and I shall not be breaking from my cousin, his wife, and daughter, who live in leafy Warwickshire, nor the literally hundreds of dear friends and ex colleagues, scattered around Merrie England, your spiritual home.

            Our day is at hand.

        2. Alan Reid says:

          Nothing wrong with my carpal bones, Jack – but thanks for enquiring!

          Scotland is a free country, and in 2014, we voted to remain within the UK.
          And unless I’m mistaken Jack, Scots took part in a UK wide election only a few months ago; some Scots did get the government they voted for, while others didn’t – just like the rest of the people in the UK. Meanwhile, the devolved administration in Edinburgh continues to exercise considerable devolved powers.

          And to describe Scots as “little conquered colonists” is just plain daft!

          1. Jack collatin says:

            You omitted ‘once in a generation’, Alan.

            Nice try, but no Cumberland sausage.
            done here.

    2. Rosalind says:

      Do you think that when Scotland is independent we will be able to call it just ‘the National Trust’, and will the SFA just be the Football Association. Or is England going to continue to name all organisations as if it is entitled to first claim, and not even need to identify them as English? (Neil Oliver should be replaced by someone who is an advocate for Scotland, not an apologist.)

      1. Alan Reid says:

        Hi Rosalind,

        I’m not sure – the question you pose is beyond my pay-grade.
        “Do you think that when Scotland is independent we will be able to call it just ‘the National Trust’, and will the SFA just be the Football Association”?

        But it’s not the strongest argument I’ve seen for independence …………

      2. Wullie says:

        Oliver is a pet Jock, a media creation and stranger to a workin jaiket. Without the 70s hair and shoulder bag theres not much there.

  8. w.b. robertson says:

    quite astonishing how so many Indy supporters, on this site, can display such lack of generosity of spirit towards fellow Scots with whom they disagree! Is this the new future?

    1. Hamish100 says:

      We are more than generous.. it is the cringe worthy apologists and political biased presidents of the nationalist trust of scotchland we can’t stomach.

      1. Alan Reid says:

        Perhaps Hamish – although some people might feel there is an unpleasant brand of self-regarding nationalism on this page.

        1. Bill McLean says:

          Neil Oliver epitomises self-regard” Alan and to pretend that he is politiclly neutral disregards his oft quoted comments about Alec Salmond, the SNP, the Scottish Government and supporters of our rightful independence. Never, ever have I been aware of Oliver criticising the Westminster government! Oliver is no advert for British nationalism, unionism or any other “ism” I can think of apart from pragmatism in his own behalf. What regard has he for “Scotland’s future” that you have ever read apart from wishing us to continue to be a minor inconvenience to Westminster in this far from democratic union. Time to waken up Alan, join those who are seeing the truth more clearly every day, broaden your horizons – you’ll feel much more content when you do!

          1. Alan Reid says:

            Hi Bill

            Just to get this bit out of the way first: my eyes are fine, my horizons are broad – and I’m very content to be both Scottish and British.
            But I respect your right to hold a different opinion, and although I don’t agree with it – I understand your argument.

            My objection to independence isn’t based on economics, it’s based on identity, and what you call “rightful independence” – I call destructive separation.
            I know some nationalists long to be fighting for “freedom” against a despotic tyranny, but disappointingly for them – we are already free people living in a liberal democracy. Sometimes, I think that frustration explains why some nationalist language can be so overheated.

            Neil Oliver’s agent will be enjoying all this publicity, but here goes again ………. !

            I’ve never stated Neil is politically neutral, how can anyone be when the future of Scotland is at stake?
            Neither was Sir Tom Devine, when despite being an academic at a university receiving public funding, he came out for independence in 2014. No one has held it against him, he kept his knighthood – and even received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the House of Commons in 2018! (And I keep reading his books!).
            I do understand why you’re upset over some of Oliver’s comments …… but really? In the context of the aggressive political discourse of Scottish nationalism, he dropped a small pebble into already rough seas. And I think what simply upsets nationalists is he has taken the other side of the debate, and is an articulate and high-profile advocate for Scotland remaining within the UK.

            In 2014 he wrote an open letter:
            http://www.wordstogoodeffect.com/the-scottish-referendum-historian-neil-olivers-open-letter-to-the-people-of-scotland/

            “Circumnavigate these islands as I have, as often as I have, and one thing above all becomes clear: the national boundaries within are invisible and therefore meaningless. People living in a fishing town in Cornwall have more in common with the inhabitants of a fishing town in Fife than either population has with the folk of a town in the Midlands. They have a shared experience and a common history …….. I am all in favour of people having the power to make decisions about their own patch: but I am utterly opposed to the idea of breaking centuries old bonds in order to make that happen.”

            And in those simple and humane words he speaks for me in a way that Alex Salmond and Ms Sturgeon never can.

            Very kind regards
            Alan

          2. Me Bungo Pony says:

            Very eloquent Alan. I completely disagree.

            As far as Neil Oliver is concerned you are correct. He is completely irrelevant. He is entitled to his opinions and people are entitled to criticise them. Especially when those opinions are deeply offensive such as when he called the independence movement a “cancerous presence” and he stated:

            ……“The SNP are in the dead dog business. I’m old enough to remember when they were a joke. Somewhere along the line something truly awful happened and the SNP became the only joke in town, and it was on us. It was all over us and all over the country.” …..

            Not exactly the greeting card prose of your example but perhaps more telling of the man’s true nature. Anyone can wax lyrical with anodyne musings to give the appearance of “reasonableness”, but the public vitriol he spouts kind of undermines it.

          3. Alan Reid says:

            Hello Me Bungo Pony

            Thanks for your very kind words, and it’s been interesting to explore independence/separation (delete as applicable) through the prism of the hirsute Mister Oliver.

            In my experience, some Scottish nationalists are rather too keen to dish-out insults, especially when using the anonymity of the internet – but throw their hands up in mock-outrage when a few shots are returned.

            I wouldn’t personally, however, use the term “cancerous” to describe the independence movement. Although calling the SNP a “joke”, or comparing it to a “dog”, hardly figures high in the lexicon of political insults, and to use your term – these seem very “anodyne musings” indeed. The SNP is not a sacrosanct religion, it is most certainly not Scotland; it’s simply a political party – and sometimes a rather silly one, although some separatists apparently expect it to be treated as some sort of holy cow!

            To return to the election of Jackson Carlow (the subject of the host article), SNP supporters were reportedly “outraged” (once again) when it was compared by Carlow to an “evangelical faith-based cult”. But if you all carry on in this vein, I might begin to think he is right!

            Kind regards
            Alan

          4. Me Bungo Pony says:

            If only Mr Oliver’s bile stopped at the “joke” and “dead dog” comments. Unfortunately they go much further but enough of him. He is but a small cog in the “loyalist” (if you can use the pejorative “separatist” ….. goose and gander 🙂 ) “negative narrative myth” machine.

            Mr Carlaw’s use of the phrase “evangelical faith-based cult” to describe the SNP was merely playing to the gallery. It roused the “faithfull” (sic) while riling Indies. A good old “double whammy”. And guess what, a tiny proportion of Indies over-reacted. Brilliant from a “loyalist” point of you as it yet again adds to the “negative narrative myth” machine.

            However, it has limited impact. It is a line that has been over used to the point of becoming a cliche. Few take it seriously, fewer react to it and most don’t take any notice. It is that latter that should be of most concern to “loyalists”. If no one is listening to the myths, how will you halt the surge to independence?

            It’s use also helps to highlight the paucity of the “loyalist” argument. If the leadership are reduced to such infantile name calling then perhaps, in the eyes of many, they are already losing the argument before the campaign has even begun. Especially as it an insult that, if one was so minded, could easily be thrown back at “loyalists”. As evidenced by the almost creepy repetition of the ” no indyref2″, “once in generation” and “no means no” mantras that substitute for actual policies in Mr Carlaw’s party. Not to mention the wilful determination to ignore the very real damage the union has done, and will continue to do, to Scotland with a “Union or death” mind set that defies logic and nature.

            As to the insults and faux outrage …… kettle, pot and black come to mind. “Loyalists” pretend that they are pure as the driven snow and are reluctantly drawn into unsavoury debates with nasty Indies. I think we all know that is bunkum and just another aspect of the “negative narrative myth” machine. Former Tory chairman Lord Ashcroft (ie no friend of independence) found that Indies were three times more likely to be the target of online abuse than their “loyalist” counter-parts in the indyref1 campaign. Panelbase found it was just over twice as much. All this despite Indies considerably outnumbering “loyalists” on that medium. A goodly proportion of those keyboard “loyalists” must have been busy bees.

            To draw my little ramble to a close, your arguments though well put, are unconvincing. They rely on people believing things that are easily debunked. That’s not to say “loyalists won’t keep using them to great effect ….. amongst those determined to be convinced by them.

          5. Alan Reid says:

            Hello Me Bungo Pony

            I think I’ve upset you – and I didn’t mean too, I’ve enjoyed our debate.

            “Loyalist”, eh? I see what you did there! That was a good counter-strike! LOL
            But I do see independence/separatism as two sides of the same coin, and I don’t see anything offensive in the use of “separatism”. Personally, I see independence as a destructive force, and feel it’s legitimate to use a less positive word for the current phenomenon. By all means come up with a different word for unionism, although “loyalism” has sectarian overtones, and most certainly does not describe my own attachment to the United Kingdom. Perhaps you’ve encountered a few bigots supporting the UK; in the same way as I’ve come across a few ugly ethic nationalists supporting Scottish independence.

            You state there is a paucity in the “Better Together” argument; yet the SNP’s “Big Idea” to solve Scotland’s problems is to resurrect a long extinct 300 year old state!
            By that same token, I look forward to the reconstitution of the Holy Roman Empire in Mitteleuropa!

            Here’s a bombshell: there is essentially no cultural, linguistic or religious differences today between Scotland and the rest of the UK. However much the SNP might try to create them! And although Brexit is not to my own liking, almost one million Scots voted to leave the EU – and the most vehement Brexiter I ever met was in Buckie, and not in Basildon! Yet their voices are totally unrepresented by their First Minister. And what is really destructive to Scotland is the perpetual state of “neverendum”, despite Ms Sturgeon personally signing the Edinburgh agreement in 2012. Where does it end? Will it be best out of three in 2030?

            Unlike his predecessor, I suspect Carlaw will be unable to connect across a wide range of Scottish opinion. But then, Ms Sturgeon too is a deeply divisive politician, and although I hold some respect for her, I believe she has limited political skills – and imagination. Essentially, unlike in 2014, both sides are lacking in leadership. That’s one reason why I rather admire a non-politician like Neil Oliver for having the courage to stick his head above the parapet.

            On the subject of on-line abuse: I recently alighted on this website – and it’s a great improvement after the “Wild West” of Twitter! But even sailing on the relatively calm waters of Bella Caledonia, in the last week I’ve been called: a moron, a nut-job, in need of a carer, a space cadet (I think – couldn’t quite work that one out!) – and compared with a limp-wristed British Nationalist! I don’t really mind, and take it all in good humour. Although a lady on the same thread was upset over some sectarian associations flung in her direction – quite disgraceful (see “TV Times”). So despite the work of the august Lord Ashdown, anecdotally (nothing scientific), in my experience, I do find some Scottish Nationalists rather too keen to hit the button on the keyboard marked “invective”! But perhaps it’s just a male thing, and some Scotsmen are unused/unskilled to debating sensibly on-line.

            But anyway, I’ve rambled on too much myself, but to end on a positive note, I’ve enjoyed our debate – a bit like two friends having a chat in a pub. The way it should be. After all, when all this is over, we will still be fellow Scots.

            Very best regards
            Alan

          6. Me Bungo Pony says:

            Not upset at all Alan. Don’t know where you got that from. To take your points one by one;

            Nomenclature: Nationalist has just as many sectarian overtones as Loyalist, but Loyalist is closer to the Scots Unionist mind-set than Nationalist is to most Indies. Unionists are, after all, wishing to remain loyal to the increasingly xenophobic UK while most Indies want to rejoin the EU and encourage immigration to Scotland. With Brexit, it is Loyal Unionists who are the real Separatists, not the inclusive, outward looking Indies.

            Destructive Forces: Between 1950 and 2000, Scotland was the ONLY country in the World to see its population fall. That was not because Scotland was doing so damn well under the Union that dour Scots couldn’t stand all the positivety and left for more negative environs. Being governed from afar by a legislature that couldn’t care less about Scotland’s particular needs and circumstances led to stagnation and decline that was only halted by Devolution. I would like you to point to just one country in Europe that has gained independence since WW2 and not been the better for it. It is the Union that is a destructive force, not independence. It is telling that the word “independence” is universally considered a positive thing …. except when associated with Scotland.

            Statehood: Scotland did not cease to exist 300 years ago. It merely surrendered its sovereignty to its neighbour. It is still a recognised entity on the World stage. We have our own legal system, health service, education system, police force, political system, media, international sporting teams, etc, etc. Scotland is still alive and kicking and just needs to regain the sovereignty held prisoner in Wesrtminster to start governing itself in its own self interest; instead of relying on the Parliament of another country, in which Scots have very little say, to ignore their own best interests in Scotland’s favour. That has never worked out well for Scotland.

            Culture: Not so much a bombshell as a damp squib 🙂 In all the areas you mention, there are differences. Of course there are. In religion, the Episcopal Church of England is dominant while in Scotland it is the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. In linguistics (Gaelic not withstanding), there are many, many words and phrases that distinguish us from the rest of the UK. You probably use many yourself without even knowing it. I’ve got a whole dictionary full of them. And none of that matters. The stuff you imply “binds” us culturally to England also bind us culturally to the entire Western World. It is a meaningless argument against independence. Strip out the stuff that is intrinsically Scottish and Scotland has as much in common with North America, Europe and Australasia as it does with England. Yet England still saw fit to “separate” from Europe despite the “cultural ties”. Why is it, yet again, different for Scotland?

            Neverendums: Yeah, Democracy’s a b*gger isn’t it. Like all these “divisive” general elections they force us to have. Having said that, both Johnson and Corbyn described December’s election as a “once in a generation” thing so perhaps we won’t be burdened by another one until 2050. That’s the rule isn’t it?

            Personalities: A wholly subjective issue.

            On-line Abuse: We all have our stories on that. I’ve had hate mail (via the Post Office), had my car spat on and watched in horror as a van full of Loyalists almost careened off the Friarton Bridge as the occupants paid more attention to flicking me the vickies than the road. It does not change the fact that Loyalists were far more abusive than Indies in 2014 both on-line and physically. When you compare the throwing of an egg with the Unionist riots in Glasgow, where Indies were advised by police to remove their badges as they could not guarantee their safety, it is a fact difficult to argue against.

            Now this article has dropped off the front page, I doubt anyone will read this. None-the-less, I wanted to post it.

            Stay positive 🙂

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