2007 - 2022

What is missing from the SNP, independence and wider politics and can we rectify it?

“Independence does not happen by default. It does not somehow become a popular majority because Westminster is a theatre of the absurd and misgoverns Scotland and the UK. The case for independence has to be made on its merits to win swing voters” argues Gerry Hassan.

What are the main characteristics of Scottish politics? Fifteen years into SNP Government the party is still popular; the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has ratings any incumbent could only dream of having. Yet underneath this, things don’t quite seem right.

There is a stillness across Scottish politics and public life. For a start there is no credible opposition to the SNP. The Tories under Douglas Ross just don’t cut it; while Labour under Anas Sarwar might have a bit more of a polished soundbite but are in a worse political place.

Nobody outside of the Holyrood media bubble thinks that these two leaders have anything original or relevant to say about anything. This is tragic given the challenges of our age in Scotland and beyond, and the long proud traditions of both parties. The lack of opposition and the dearth of ideas and not clearly standing for anything diminishes our political life and reduces the rationale of Tories and Labour to just being against the SNP and independence.

All of this produces a vacuum where there should be the clash of interest and ideas. It aids the SNP’s dominance in the short to medium term, but at the same time feeds their complacency and thinking that no one can challenge them – which is the conceit that all dominant parties eventually fall into to their own detriment.

The strange dominance of the SNP

The SNP’s strange state in office does need some explaining: so dominant, so firm in the view they are right, yet cautious and unsure. They have dominated the political landscape for 15 years – emphatically at Holyrood since 2011 and at Westminster in relation to Scotland since 2015. But the nature of that dominance and what it has achieved – beyond the 2014 indyref – isn’t very clear.

The record of the party is increasingly patchy and not that good. Even more damagingly it increasingly looks like the SNP do not actually know what they stand for beyond remaining in power, which is eventually never enough.

The SNP’s social democratic credentials have been trumpeted for years but are embarrassingly thin. SNP social democracy has never been defined by anyone beyond meaningless platitudinous soundbites which are the equivalent of New Labour at its peak. No SNP leading figure has made any real contribution to the social democratic tradition, instead this rich tradition has been reduced to whatever a SNP Government decides to do (with echoes of Harold Wilson and Labour in office). 

It does matter that the SNP explicitly embraced social democracy in the 1980s, just as it was in retreat and being hollowed out by Thatcherism and Reaganism, but the SNP’s social democracy has so little grasp of the philosophy that supposedly defines them that they barely if ever acknowledge this. Rather a Scottish triumphalist social democracy boasts that we are the one country in the world where everything is healthy on the centre-left.

The SNP are a centre-left party which has never argued for or progressed redistribution from the affluent to the less affluent. This has similarities to Labour in its devolution heyday when it cossetted power to itself and insider groups, while protecting and redistributing towards the comfortable middle classes. Dare one say it, but stripped of the constitutional question, the continuity between Labour and the SNP in office under devolution is stark and alarming and not widely enough understood.

Even by the SNP’s growing complacency their mess-up on pensions was amateur politics. To go off script as SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford did suggesting that in an independent Scotland the UK Government would continue to pay pensions to those who had paid in to the UK exchequer is just laughable if it were not serious and a damning own goal. Not only that Finance minister Kate Forbes and Nicola Sturgeon subsequently backed this ridiculous line which came from Blackford freewheeling and misspeaking. All of this is a sign of the party losing its discipline and political touch, and has been a gift to political opponents.

Where is the different Scotland of independence?

This brings us to the independence question. This issue has always been about more than the SNP. Just as the union case is about more than the Tories and Labour. But independence is not possible without the SNP, and in the eight years since 2014 they have shown no inclination to work out a new offer on independence, or learn why they lost.

Losing in electoral politics and contests, while regrettable if it happens to your party or cause, can have a positive, even therapeutic outcome. It can assist in your learning, growing, recognising the flaws in your offer, and critically understanding the world beyond the borders of your cause and supporters – in other words, the people you need to win over who have rejected you.

The SNP engaged in no proper post-mortem after independence lost in 2014 at any level – senior leadership, parliamentary groups or formal wider party. The rationale given at the time was that the party was on a roll – too busy and intoxicated with the 2015 UK election and pursuing ‘the 56’, followed by Scottish elections the year after and Brexit. It is a feeble argument, making the case that SNP politicians cannot multi-task – fighting elections while reflecting on why they lost the biggest exercise in democratic engagement in Scotland’s history. It is an abdication of leadership and probably the first serious strategic mistake of Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership.

The reason there was no independence post-mortem was more profound. The SNP leadership did not want to look too closely at the flawed offer of 2014 – on the currency, finances and public spending, the economic illiteracy, the North Sea oil price, or indeed the lack of democracy in the Yes offer (from how the White Paper emerged to Yes Scotland run to the Scottish Parliament uncritically presented as a paragon of democratic accountability up to the tasks of an independent Scotland). Far easier to just blame ‘the Vow’ (as the likes of former SNP leader Alex Salmond do).

There is a direct link from the absence of addressing why Yes lost in 2014 and the lack of work on a new independence offer – the terrain of which is there. It would not only embrace detail it would understand that independence involves strategic choices, some of which will be difficult, but that this is inherent to what independence is about. A more grown-up politics, maturing and taking responsibility, and understanding the gap between how we like to think of ourselves and where we actually are – and having some interest in closing that gap. 

Not only that it would go beyond detail to embrace a different philosophy and feel of independence which accepted that there were risks, unknowns and threats in the nature of an independent Scotland. None of this has happened or is happening. It is as if Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership think that independence can now be embodied in an attitude and practice of being a decent human being and providing benign administration on some of the big shocks of the day such as Brexit and COVID-19.

Whatever the many flaws of Boris Johnson and Westminster they are not simply going to completely blow themselves up. Eventually Johnson will be replaced with someone a bit more competent and serious and even though Toryism’s underlying characteristics and problems will remain, it will feel a lot less acute and a continual insult to our intelligences. 

Two points flow from this. Independence does not happen by default. It does not somehow become a popular majority because Westminster is a theatre of the absurd and misgoverns Scotland and the UK. The case for independence has to be made on its merits to win swing voters.

Independence has to stand for a something – a different Scotland. To some of the more passionate independence supporters the principle is all that matters. But that is not where most voters are. They want to see a picture of a future Scotland painted and filled out. What springs from this is the commonsense view that independence involves a degree of upheaval and inconvenience (circa Brexit but bigger) so it is essential to tell voters in what ways it will be worth that. 

We need that future Scotland to be outlined. Maybe it does not have to be completely owned and synonymous with the SNP in its independence offer or indeed any political party. One radical option would be for the Scottish Parliament to agree to set up an initiative which explicitly came up with a future vision for the direction of Scotland – which looked at the strategic choices and difficult stuff and laid out an agenda which informed independence and beyond including the opposition parties. It could even involve a Scotland beyond parliamentarians and elites being involved in that conversation.

The limits of ‘official Scotland’ versus the one we live in

Beyond that on a more mundane level politics has to address the everyday realities of contemporary Scotland. One of the chasms in the SNP’s take on the country is the widening gap between the story of ‘official Scotland’ that the land is getting fairer, more equal and progressive and the rather different reality encountered everyday in the lived experiences of the population.

All over Scotland – from education, health, policing, ferries, local government and more – the state of the country is not in a good place and not heading in the right direction. The reality of underfunded, highly pressured local authorities such as Glasgow and elsewhere struggling to keep services and amenities going is tragic, exposing the lack of democracy in Scotland, the absence of thinking by government beyond the short-term, and underlining the lack of care and nurturing of the public realm that people experience everyday.

A takeaway from this is that Scotland needs some long-term thinking about independence and more. But just as much we need to think about the immediate, the local and personal. Who knows in an ideal world maybe the latter could be used to inform the former. The question is this: is anyone listening in the SNP and wider political classes recognising that the politics on offer cannot seek refuge in being marginally better than Westminster and are as we speak failing the people of Scotland?

The domestic state of affairs at Holyrood and in our wider politics – from the SNP, Tories, Labour, Lib Dems and Greens and those from other parties, forces and opinions – is just not good enough for the challenges we face. We have to dare and do better, and surely can do if we try.

 

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  1. Jacob Bonnari says:

    I had to check that this wasn’t an old article, as I’m sure Gerry has expressed most of this before. This isn’t meant as snark, just that he analysed the situation and made correct conclusions some time ago.

    For me that was the 2017 UKGE where I watched the SNP flounder badly when they were at the height of their electoral power post 2015.

    While he hints at it, one thing I think is missing is that the reason for this paralysis is that the SNP as an organisation isn’t capable of this under its current leadership. Control is centralised in the leader and her close inner circle of perhaps 3 or 4 people. I struggle to name ministers and their responsibilities.

    This has to change. With a large membership which reflects Scotland well demographically the SNP should be using that resource more effectively.

    I’d be very interested to hear from Gerry on whether he has discussed his views with regular SNP members, councillors, MSP & MP and even ministers, and to find out what they have said.

  2. Jean Urquhart says:

    Good read. Completely agree that Independence isn’t an alternative to poor Westminster Government. Tired of hearing that Boris Johnstone is a reason for folk to vote Yes – when/if they get the chance. Good to see that RIC is re-activating, as are other pro-indy groups throughout the movement. A positive result will depend on much more than the SNP, but it won’t be done without them either.

  3. Radio Jammor says:

    Part of the problem for the SNP is that as a devolved government, their powers are restricted; therefore we don’t get to see the ‘full SNP’.

    The problem therefore for us as Scots, residents & voters, is that it is hard to completely gauge overall what the SNP is about and what it would do in an Indy Scotland, other than from published policies & intents and what we have seen so far – which to be fair, is quite a lot – but not the whole picture.

    Scots so far have been swayed by the choices they have made with devolved powers, and in gaining more powers during their time, which has demonstrated that the previous Labour administrations could have done more than they did, in their time.

    I do think that the SNP could be more upfront about the issues we would face by withdrawal from the UK, but this is politically difficult, because of giving ammunition to the opposition. We know that there are not none, but that overall, Scotland can become a better place than it is now. But getting these issues out so that they can be debated and seen may be better than letting accusations about hiding them or not having plans for them fester.

    I’m not sure the SNP have trod the line between being open and being politically careful that well, with the emphasis apparently on the careful. But it is a tough line to walk and maybe that criticism is harsh. I’m not on the inside, so…

    That said, the opposition ‘noise’ has made numerous claims that the SNP could do well to actually address; remembering that they need to sway fickle and undecided voters that those messages maybe reaching, rather than Unionists or pro-Indy supporters. Simple nonsense, such as “there is no plan” might not sway you or me, as we know better, but we don’t fall into the fickle, undecided and/or disengaged categories that will win this thing.

    More could be said about the immediate situation post-Indy, such as borders, remembering that we would be a non-EU country bordering a non-EU country. That would also lead into the EU (and/or EFTA) issues, where EU advocates have complained about the lack of an informed debate. Some clarity that the EU debate would (IMO) really be for when we are Indy and have a referendum on it (and show the UK how that should have been done) wouldn’t go amiss, whilst perhaps concentrating on the point above; that we would be non-EU on day one.

    The SNP could reassure over currency insofar as pointing out that it is a matter for nearer the time and how relatively quickly such could be implemented, and say what has been done and where we are with it, what the issues are with making decisions now rather than nearer the time, etc.

    That and pointing out & emphasising other areas where negotiations would need to happen first before details can be given, would also be good. We only seem to see these things responded to when they become stories in the press. A little more pro-activity on these fronts would be most welcome.

    One thing that might have galvanised this is the Scot Greens setting out a different vision, but as part of ScotGov, what will come instead is their influence on the SNP & ScotGov policies. I strongly believe that is and will be a good thing, but it essentially has moved that debate that could have been had behind closed doors.

    So as for what’s missing and rectification, those are my views, but overall the issue would largely be helped by a Yes vote. That would lead to more information in itself by way of discussions, negotiations and debates, and then the powers, that we need to have to rectify anything and everything.

  4. Graeme Purves says:

    Spot on, Gerry!

  5. SleepingDog says:

    Where are the depictions of an Independent Scotland in mainstream and pop culture? There have been several in science fiction that I have read, a multi-creator comicbook promoted at a past Edinburgh Book Festival, but nothing much on television nor games that I have seen. Just like real-life paleontologists apparently learnt something from Jurassic Park, models and dramatisations can let people get to grip with problems (and problems should be the food of the collective decision-making of democratic politics) in safety and comfort. A lot of politicians, political insiders (including journalists) and political theorists seem to lack the kind of imagination needed. And even the very flaws of such worldbuildings can lead to useful insights. But because dramatisations typically boost the false ‘leader’ view of history, the best hope may be in massively multiplayer online games, where players collaborating against one-party states in near-future dystopias are not unknown.

    1. Jacob Bonnari says:

      You make some very interesting points. In the past I’ve worked for contractors bidding for work and for the really large prospects we set up a red team to play the part of the other bidders.

      As part of their development of an indy strategy and also as preparation for negotiations in the event of a win the SNP should be gaming out the campaign with a red team / blue team set up.

  6. 220117 says:

    Aye, it’s remarkable how divorced the ‘higher’ politics of this country (‘government’) has become from its ‘lower’ politics (‘civil society’). There is a ‘stillness’ in Scotland about ‘the immediate, the local and personal’, while Holyrood, like a walking shadow, a poor player, struts and frets upon the stage of political spectacle and then is heard no more. Scottish politics has lately become a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    The state if the country is not in a good place with respect to the immediate local and personal issues of education, health, policing, transport, local government, equal opportunities, and more. The case that an independent Scottish government will make civil society better, and won’t just disown us from the moral morass tht the current UK government has got itself embroiled, needs to be persuasively put to the Scottish electorate.

    A good start would be for the current Scottish government to stop pursuing grudge and grievance politics against Whitehall and begin enacting policies that put the immediate local and personal issues of our education, health, policing, etc. in a better place. Then it might demonstrate that an independent Scottish government would be something worth having.

    1. 220117 says:

      Sorry! ‘Then it might demonstrate that a FULLY independent Scottish government would be something worth having.’

      1. Radio Jammor says:

        “…begin enacting policies that put the immediate local and personal issues of our education, health, policing, etc. in a better place.”

        Scotland has. As someone who has lived in England and Scotland, that is clear. I can appreciate that this may be harder to see if you don’t have that experience and perspective.

        The trouble with all of this is that they are devolved policies with devolved funding, and the simple fact is, as a consequence, Scotland has limited scope to make these great, sweeping changes you’re asking for and beyond what it already has.

        To really do that, Scotland needs independence.

        1. 220218 says:

          What ‘great, sweeping changes’?

          We’re just looking for Scotland to be in a better place with regard to the immediate local and personal issues with regard to education, health, personal security, getting around, having more of a say in what goes on in our local communities.

          Very little (if any) progress on reducing the inequalities that still exist in these areas of civil society in our ordinary, everyday lives has been made even with the powers that the Scottish government currently has. What reason do we have to believe that a fully independent or ‘power-enhanced’ Scottish government would do any better?

          And, to paraphrase Gerry, that Scotland would surely do ‘less worse’ than England with regard to these immediate local and personal issues under a fully independent Scottish government is hardly a compelling argument for the latter. We should be more ambitious than ‘no sae bad’; we should be holding out for ‘better’.

          1. Radio Jammor says:

            I appear to need to repeat & clarify myself, to some degree, at least.

            The ‘great, sweeping changes’ are what YOU want. We ARE in a better place than our counterparts across the rUK, but only by as much as devolution allows. Again I say, if you are not familiar with the state of e.g. the NHS or in England, as compared to Scotland, then you are only comparing Scotland with itself, not with rUK, and you’re seeing little as a consequence. I can only agree with the view that we want and more than we have, but I view the problem as being the limits of devolution, more than it being the SNP.

            If the SNP does not provide the greater level of changes that Indy would enable them to give, to all our benefits, then we elect people who will.

            We won’t get it by carping about the here and now. We need Indy powers.

          2. 220218 says:

            ‘[Y]ou are only comparing Scotland with itself, not with rUK, and you’re seeing little as a consequence.’

            But that’s the very nub of the matter. We SHOULD be comparing Scotland with itself. Perpetually comparing ourselves with the Auld Enemy tells us nothing about the real quality of our education, health and social care, policing, transport, etc. It should be of little consolation to us that our lousy education, care, policing, etc. is marginally less lousy than our rival’s.

            We should be aspiring to be more than just ‘better’ or ‘less lousy’ than England in respect of the immediate local and personal issues that shape our material lives. We should be aspiring for excellence, rather; that is, to be continually besting ourselves rather than others.

            Settling for just being better than others is to let the Scottish government off the hook. It should be demonstrating to us WHY it should have more powers and not just bleating THAT it should have more powers and that it’s only its lack of power that’s holding it back.

          3. David B says:

            Radio Jammor – having also lived in both England and Scotland my experience was that my GP, dentist and hospital services were all better in England. It really depends on which part of the respective countries you live.

            There are several things the SNP could do immediately around exams, vocational training, council tax etc. that would make Scotland better and fairer, but they choose not to. I’m tired of ‘lack of powers’ being their excuse for failing to adequately use powers they already have. Others may not be – that’s their choice.

          4. RadioJammor says:

            @220218 & David B

            How on earth do you compare Scotland with itself, under Devolution? The best you can do is compare areas with areas, and yes, I can accept some regional differences could potentially make some places worse than other parts of the UK, but overall I have to say that is false. I’ve moved around a fair bit. Overall, Scotland has used devolution and made things better in Scotland than it is in rUK.

            As for your vague, ‘we could things better’, would you care to elaborate on these things, and how such could be done without adversely affecting a devolved budget that must be stayed within?

            Make your case. I could surprise you and agree.

            Otherwise, I stand, in general, upon what I have said. We need Indy. Then there certainly would be no excuse for the SNP.

          5. 220220 says:

            ‘How on earth do you compare Scotland with itself…?’

            By comparing its current performance in ‘levelling up’ opportunities for those under the jurisdiction of its government in relation to education, health and social care, justice, transport, &etc. with its performance in previous years.

            Irrespective of the resources that Scotland might or might not have available to invest in education, health and social care, etc, do Scots experience fewer inequalities in the distribution of those resources than they did last year, ten years ago, twenty years ago, and so on?

            THAT’s how you measure and hold to account the performance of the Scottish government. It’s not a question of HOW MUCH a government spends or could otherwise spend on delivering social goods; it’s a question of how that spending is DISTRIBUTED.

            What reason do we have for supposing that a more powerful Scottish government would perform any better in ‘levelling up’ Scottish society simply in virtue of its being more powerful? Unconditional independence – giving the Scottish government more power without any prior constraint on how it would use that additional power – doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.

          6. RadioJammor says:

            “What reason do we have for supposing that a more powerful Scottish government would perform any better in ‘levelling up’ Scottish society simply in virtue of its being more powerful?”

            Erm… common sense? The greater the ability, etc.

            And if they don’t meet the expectations placed upon them, we can vote them out.

            As for your, ‘Comparing Scotland against itself’, you’re response is, essentially, compare the current performance with the past, when devolution itself has changed in that time, let alone when it’s still all under a devolved Government with one had tied behind its back.

            I think a slow hand-clap is in order.

          7. Niemand says:

            Hm, yes, maybe but this ‘we cannot tell anything or even expect very much’ until independence is secured, is wearing very thin. So thin in fact it looks increasingly like weak excuses for failure of a devolved government. Could such managed failure even be an (un)conscious tactic to make independence more attractive? Over the years, the default mode of casting blame anywhere but ‘at home’ becomes a very destructive habit and self-fulfilling prophecy for bad government.

          8. RadioJammor says:

            Wearing thin? Despite your exaggeration of what has been said, it is the point, surely, of going Indy. The difference will be so stark that the comparison between performance now and then would be useless.

            I do find the timing of these arguments a little strange (or suspicious). I can understand Gerry acting as a devil’s advocate (perhaps?) for the referendum ahead but I am not interested in turning this into a debate about performance in a system we are looking at throwing out with the rubbish. That would be a class example of the definition of pointless.

            We are on the verge of an independence referendum. I might engage in this backward looking naval gazing if I thought there was any long-term point in it. And I have no interest in discussing any “what if we lose?” scenario. Those that do can find a quiet corner somewhere else, AFAIAC.

          9. 220220 says:

            ‘And if they don’t meet the expectations placed upon them, we can vote them out.’

            We can do that already; we don’t need independence to vote out a Scottish government that has failed our expectations with respect to the immediate local and personal issues of education, health and social care, policing, transport, local government, equal opportunities, et al. We can do that at the next Scottish Parliament elections.

            There’s no wriggling out of it; the case that an independent Scottish government will make our civil society ‘better’ (not just comparatively in relation to other countries, but substantially in respect of the more equitable distribution of our existing opportunities), and won’t just disown us from the moral morass that the current UK government has got itself embroiled, does still need to be persuasively put to the Scottish electorate.

          10. RadioJammor says:

            “‘And if they don’t meet the expectations placed upon them, we can vote them out.’

            We can do that already; “SNIP.

            No we can’t. Not in the here and now.

            I was talking post-indy, where we can, but you insist on taking the comment out of context. In the context that you want it in, the here and now, the UK controls the budget and all the other levers that impact the devolved areas and we repeatedly get governments we do not want. No devolved government can do especially well in this system. That’s the point of it. It is a shackle.

            Your insistence on naval gazing into a system we are looking to throw out is pointless and backwards.

            “There’s no wriggling out of it; the case that an independent Scottish government will make our civil society ‘better’ (not just comparatively in relation to other countries, but substantially in respect of the more equitable distribution of our existing opportunities), and won’t just disown us from the moral morass that the current UK government has got itself embroiled, does still need to be persuasively put to the Scottish electorate.”

            Finally, something we can largely agree on, at least for those who need persuasion. But that is what campaigns are largely for. I repeat that we do need things up front to this campaign, per previous comments made, so that they are not merely out-shouted at the last minute.

          11. RadioJammor says:

            “…We can do that at the next Scottish Parliament elections.”

            The next Scottish Parliamentary elections are not due until well after the referendum is expected. Kind of puts all you say into context, doesn’t it.

          12. 220221 says:

            ‘The next Scottish Parliamentary elections are not due until well after the referendum is expected.’

            Indeed! And we can vote out the Scottish government if it doesn’t meet the expectations placed upon it irrespective of the result of that referendum and whether it’s independent or not. That’s a complete non-sequetur.

            As has been said elsewhere, the whole issue of independence is a bit of a red herring when it comes to measuring the performance of the Scottish government in levelling up inequalities in the distribution of social goods in the areas of life we experience most locally and immediately.

            And it’s simply untrue that the UK government controls the Scottish government’s budget. It’s Kate Forbes who currently decides how the resources that the Scottish government does have available to it are distributed.

            The point is that the SNP government has singularly failed to use its existing powers to distribute those resources in ways that would make a significant difference in the levels of inequality we experience in education, health and social care, justice and policing, transport, etc. And after 15 years, in which the SNP has enjoyed a near-monopoly of power in Scotland, the excuse that its poor performance (in, say, making educational attainment more accessible to children from poorer families) is due to its hands being tied by the UK government is indeed wearing pretty thin.

            There’s no good reason to suppose that an independent Scottish government would perform any better in levelling up Scottish society just in virtue of its being independent. This isn’t the fault of independence; there just isn’t any great appetite within Scottish society for such levelling up. The old nationalist trope – that independence will morally transform the population of Scotland by releasing some repressed natural desire within the native Scots genius for social democracy that will operate through its political institutions to bring about a fairer society – is laughable nowadays.

            In relation to its poor performance, we need to stop letting the Scottish government off the hook by blaming others for its failures.

          13. RadioJammor says:

            Yeah, sure, let’s take your myopic view of devolution, put it in a box and pretend that no external factors exist, pretend that non-devolved areas don’t impact devolved areas, forget that the setting of the Scottish budget is largely down to a politically biased formula from Westminster, conveniently forget the greater levels of devolution that have occurred over the last decade or so, (btw some of which were necessary to make some of the earlier ones be of any use, i.e. income tax), and then claim that the SNP have failed under this system, under which no one is supposed to succeed in doing anything other than reflecting the UKGov’s priorities.

            Sure.

            And as for; “There’s no good reason to suppose that an independent Scottish government would perform any better in levelling up Scottish society just in virtue of its being independent. ”

            Aye, right. Because the UKGov is such a model of excellence that cannot possibly be surpassed.

          14. Niemand says:

            Next referendum? You confidence in that happening in the timescale indicated is the strange thing given what has gone before. I have little or even no faith it will happen by Nov 2023 which is what is promised. And this is indicative of what the SNP has become – all talk and no substance, grand statements with no actual worked-out policy. Being critical of them is intrinsically tied to the continual announcement about any ‘immanent’ indyref2 because again, it is all talk with no indication of how they are going to make that happen.

            If am wrong then good, I support independence, but I see no reason not to scrutinise why the SNP have failed in the way Gerry discusses, which I do not believe is ‘playing Devil’s advocate’ as that is to downplay it. It is in fact, most serious.

          15. RadioJammor says:

            “Being critical of them is intrinsically tied to the continual announcement about any ‘immanent’ indyref2 because again, it is all talk with no indication of how they are going to make that happen.”

            Then you haven’t been paying attention, don’t understand how the Scot Parly works are or expecting to be spoon fed. https://www.gov.scot/publications/draft-independence-referendum-bill/

            I already commented that ScotGov needs to be ready for having the likes of a General Election thrown on the way, as has been the case before. You don’t seem to recollect that, nor seem to have considered polling not being favourable before 2020, or oddly enough, since the return of Salmond with Alba, in 2021, when it went down again. Oh, and Covid. This delay to indyref2 has hardly been unreasonable, in the prevailing circumstances. Your impatience is myopic.

            The people who generally think as you do got a hammering last May and none of them were elected. I’m not interested in the 1.7% trying to rehash May 2021’s elections with the same daftness now.

            The time for the debate you want was prior to last May’s elections. I’m not interested in whining about that result or ill-considered rubbish about when Indyref2 happens. I want to see positive suggestions for how we take things forward, to get over the line. I took Gerry’s article (much I agree with, some I do not), as aiming to do that. Was I wrong to do so? If so, I’m happily done here.

            Whether you like it or not, we have the ScotGov we voted for, until the next time we vote, which may be for a Indy Parly.

            This IS the group of people who are going to take us into the next referendum. Suck it up. Get over it. Because it’s too late to change it before indyref2.

            If getting us over that line isn’t the primary goal here, we’re all wasting our time if all you want to do is argue pointlessly about stuff we can’t change.

          16. Niemand says:

            Suck it up? I guess it is one way to shut down debate, not address genuine concerns, silence opposition, allow the rot to continue.

            But the straightforward answer is, ‘no’, any more than I am going to ‘suck it up’ regarding another democratically elected leader, at Westminster.

          17. RadioJammor says:

            You haven’t expressed any “genuine” concerns and certainly none that hasn’t been answered here already.

            Indeed, this thread is decidedly lacking in pin-pointing the heart of Gerry’s perception. Might I suggest that this perception is actually down to reading too much Unionist media.

            I wasn’t going to raise this point, as I’d done it already in days past, but that Blackford interview clip about pensions started with a leading question and a presumption over such, widely shared by the Unionist side (especially propagandists like Kevin Hague, et al), that Scotland would take over FULLY PAYING ALL PENSIONS in Scotland, after Indy.

            But that isn’t quite so. Indeed, the word “responsibility” tended to be used, and when the word “payment” was used, it was in the context of explaining that Scotland would take over pre-existing DWP infrastructure and be in a position to “manage” and pay all pensioners in Scotland, but that what could happen there is that the UK pays Scotland a single lump sum for all UK pensioners and Scotland disburses it, through a new agency/department to be set-up. It was not clear on the matter because it was subject to negotiation.

            Blackford didn’t fall for the leading question and instead stated Scotland would take responsibility for its pensioners, rather than pensions (the subtle difference should be noted, as they tend to count on this subject). Blackford then goes on to explain the entitlement to a UK state pension and the principle that a state pension is paid after the fact, based on NI. He also acknowledged that the “mechanism” for paying these pensions would be subject to negotiation.

            The White paper used notional UK figures for pensions and NIC to demonstrate that Scotland can cover the maximum cost. They were hardly going to use what they thought would be ‘reasonable’, because that would be giving away their hand in negotiations. What was demonstrated was that Scotland CAN pay it, not that it WILL pay the whole cost. The White Paper was prior to negotiations, remember.

            It has been assumed that Scotland would take over the UK’s current responsibility to pay UK pensions for Scottish residents by the Unionist side, thanks to the likes of Hague. But no one actually stated that.

            I have always read this to mean that the intent was for the UK to still be responsible for paying UK pensions, and Scotland would pay new ones arising – but it is ambiguous, precisely because it is subject to negotiation and the outcome is to be determined.

            I might add that adding in a Scottish residency exception to a system based on NIC is going to be either unworkable, or exceptionally hard work. People move.

            Nicola Sturgeon did not climb down on what Ian Blackford said. She merely reiterated that the matter is subject to negotiation, which Blackford had acknowledged with his “mechanism” comment.

            So this idea that the SNP have screwed things up is actually the Unionist side whinging that it didn’t properly read what careful politicians had previously written on the subject, and have led themselves down the garden path. The likes of Kevin Hague are furious because their claims about the cost of Scottish Indy are up in the air. So, if anything, Ian Blackford will be chuckling to himself about all this. He has put the Unionist mob ill at ease over ground they thought they were sure of.

            So, not only is this my major area of disagreement with Gerry’s piece, it also demonstrates that this perception he has is flawed and could be because of his reading too much of what ‘the other side’ have had to say.

            I’m not saying the SNP is beyond criticism – did I not give some in earlier posts? But perhaps the rest of you (political opponents aside, because you’re just trolling), are having trouble pinpointing this missing element because it isn’t as big as you think it is. You’ve just been made to think so by the propaganda.

            For the record, I’m not SNP. I’m not party-aligned. I might discuss anything genuine that people can come up with in answer to Gerry’s question, but not if it’s essentially Unionist BS, repeating rubbish claims easily put to bed, or re-running SP2021 debates, particularly at this time, when the next thing we should be looking at is the forthcoming Indy campaign.

          18. Tom Ultuous says:

            At last. Somebody else who hasn’t been nutmegged ‘s by the yoon pension miskick. Thankyou RJ.

          19. 220222 says:

            ‘If getting us over that line isn’t the primary goal here, we’re all wasting our time…’

            And I think that’s the nub of the present dispute: the primary goal for you is to secure independence for the Scottish government; for others, the primary goal is to hold the current Scottish government to account for its failure to deliver the improvements in the more immediate local and personal matters of education, health and social care, justice and policing, transport, etc. that it already has the power to deliver.

            Some couldn’t give a toss whether the Scottish government is independent of the UK government or not. Some are more concerned about the Scottish government’s poor performance in ‘levelling up’ Scottish society and wonder why securing independence for the Scottish government would improve its performance in making those more immediate local and personal matters better than they currently are.

            And to open a whole other can of worms, some are also concerned by the prospect of the Scottish government having more power over their lives, the primary goal being to limit the power of all government. At present, the power of the Scottish government is limited by a matrix of checks and balances that include not just the need to secure a majority in the Scottish parliament, but also by the legal separation of powers between the overlapping jurisdictions of the devolved state. The dispute about how independent the Scottish government should be is thus located within a more primary dispute over how the sovereign power of government generally is to be best disposed. At present, devolved government acts as a check on the power of central government, and vice versa; democratically, that’s a good position for the subjects of those governments to be in.

            Perhaps we should be supporting the Scottish government’s quest for independence from the UK government not only on the prior condition that it shows just how that independence would improve its performance in levelling up our society, but also on the prior condition that it will subsequently limit that independence democratically through further devolution of power in the state.

            In short, perhaps we should be supporting the Scottish government’s quest for its own independence only if it can convince us in its deeds rather than in just its words that this would be something worth having in our primary quest for a more free and equal society.

          20. 220222 says:

            No, it’s not. Read again the final section of Gerry’s article, in which he summarises ‘what is missing from the SNP, independence and wider politics’:

            1. the widening gap between the SNP’s story that the land is getting fairer, more equal, and progressive and the rather different reality encountered every day in the lived experiences of the population;

            2. all over Scotland – from education, health, policing, ferries, local government, and more – the state of the country is not in a good place and not heading in the right direction… exposing the lack of democracy in Scotland, the absence of thinking by government beyond the short-term, and underlining the lack of care and nurturing of the public realm that people experience every day;

            3. Scotland needs some long-term thinking about independence and more, but just as much we need to think about the immediate, local, and personal;

            4. the politics on offer cannot seek refuge in being marginally better than Westminster and are as we speak failing the people of Scotland;

            5. the domestic state of affairs at Holyrood and in our wider politics is just not good enough for the challenges we face.

            Are these not the very points we’ve been supporting in this thread?

            You might disagree with ‘the heart of Gerry’s perception’ and consider his/our criticism of the Scottish government to be nothing but ‘Unionist whingeing’ and an unwelcome attempt to distract the Scottish electorate from the overriding cause of independence. That’s a perfectly legitimate position to assume. But you’ve offered nothing to rebut any of the five conclusions Gerry draws in his article.

          21. RadioJammor says:

            *Yawn*

            I don’t think Gerry is a Unionist. Just you, then.

            Quite certain you are keen to play up any dissent, but as I have actually posted on all this, contrary to your assertion (go re-read), Scotland is in a better place than rUK, which is entirely why you don’t want to make that comparison. I’m not interested in playing your game or by your rules.

            As an obvious troll, you’re more interested in undermining Independence, the very thing that could address Gerry’s concerns, far better than whinging at the party that was voted back into government last year.

            Only Independence will give us the tools to really change all the above to make it all better than it is. The problem is the system, not so much the people.

          22. 220222 says:

            But you’ve still offered nothing to rebut any of the five conclusions that Gerry draws in his article. (And I agree: you can’t just dismiss these conclusions as the whingeing of a Unionist who wants to undermine the case for independence; they’re what Gerry – a more than credible commentator – identifies from his informed analysis of the current political situation as being ‘missing from the SNP, independence and wider politics’.)

            And the Scottish government doesn’t need independence to address the ‘lack’ that Gerry identifies. It already has more than enough power to make the ‘reality encountered every day in the lived experiences of the population’ (as Gerry puts it) ‘better’ (i.e. again as Gerry puts it, ‘fairer, more equal, and progressive’) than it currently is. It already has enough power to improve and head in the right direction the state of the country in terms of its ‘education, health, policing, ferries, local government, and more’.

            As Gerry says, ‘Scotland needs some long-term thinking about independence and more, but just as much we need to think about the immediate, local, and personal.’
            Calling the Scottish government to account over its poor performance over the last fifteen years in respect of the latter is not to call into question the case for independence; it’s to insist that the Scottish government needs to pull its socks up if it’s going to demonstrate itself worthy of independence. If it can’t make the difference that it could make to the ‘reality encountered every day in the lived experiences of the population’ with the powers that it already has, why on earth should we vote for it to have still greater powers?

            Credibility: that’s what’s ‘missing from the SNP, independence and wider politics’.

          23. Radio Jammor says:

            You’re all transmit and not receive. Are you Gordon Brown in disguise? I’ll copy/paste here to show you up even more than you are already:

            “The problem therefore for us as Scots, residents & voters, is that it is hard to completely gauge overall what the SNP is about and what it would do in an Indy Scotland, other than from published policies & intents and what we have seen so far – which to be fair, is quite a lot – but not the whole picture.”

            “…the issue would largely be helped by a Yes vote. That would lead to more information in itself by way of discussions, negotiations and debates, and then the powers, that we need to have to rectify anything and everything.”

            “Scotland has [put things in a better place]. As someone who has lived in England and Scotland, that is clear. I can appreciate that this may be harder to see if you don’t have that experience and perspective.

            The trouble with all of this is that they are devolved policies with devolved funding, and the simple fact is, as a consequence, Scotland has limited scope to make these great, sweeping changes you’re asking for and beyond what it already has.

            To really do that, Scotland needs independence.”

            “We ARE in a better place than our counterparts across the rUK, but only by as much as devolution allows. Again I say, if you are not familiar with the state of e.g. the NHS or in England, as compared to Scotland, then you are only comparing Scotland with itself, not with rUK, and you’re seeing little as a consequence. I can only agree with the view that we want and more than we have, but I view the problem as being the limits of devolution, more than it being the SNP.

            If the SNP does not provide the greater level of changes that Indy would enable them to give, to all our benefits, then we elect people who will.

            We won’t get it by carping about the here and now. We need Indy powers.”

            “I’ve moved around a fair bit. Overall, Scotland has used devolution and made things better in Scotland than it is in rUK.

            As for your vague, ‘we could things better’, would you care to elaborate on these things, and how such could be done without adversely affecting a devolved budget that must be stayed within?

            Make your case. I could surprise you and agree.

            Otherwise, I stand, in general, upon what I have said. We need Indy. Then there certainly would be no excuse for the SNP.”

            BTW – you haven’t. You only carp. Do you really think we don’t see what you’re doing?

            The rest were replies to you, which you then replied to, so you can’t argue you didn’t see them.

            You’re going round in circles, without cause, as demonstrated above. This will be my last reply to you, because I’m off this loop line.

          24. 220223 says:

            But all this amounts to is that things in Scotland are less worse than they are in the rest of the UK (which, as Gerry points out, isn’t good enough) and that the Scottish government can’t do anything to make our lives any better than they currently are with respect to the immediate, local and personal matters of education, health and social care, justice and policing, local government, transport, etc. without first achieving independence of the UK government (which just isn’t true). It’s hardly a rebuttal of Gerry’s conclusions; it’s just the monotonous refrain of a broken record.

            To paraphrase Gerry, a better performing Scottish government would be a powerful advert for independence. “If we can make this much real difference to your lives with only the limited powers we currently have, imagine the difference we could make with the powers we would have if we were independent.”

            But that proposition’s currently missing from the SNP, independence, and wider politics in Scotland.

  7. Tom Ultuous says:

    While I agree with much of what you say I think you’re wrong on the pensions debacle. I think Ian Blackford was initially correct but the seeming later climbdown by Nicola sturgeon was not a good look. Why is it OK for a Polish worker to work in the UK then return to his INDEPENDENT country and claim UK pension when he reaches retirement age but not for Scots? It’s racist.

    2022 suggested it would depend on having reciprocal social security arrangements with the country in question but there is no such agreement with EU countries.

    1. 220118 says:

      The UK has agreements for social security contributions and benefit entitlement the all the EU countries, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, Chile, Isle of Man, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Jersey and Guernsey, Mauritius, New Zealand, Philippines, the countries of the former union of the South Slavic peoples (Bosnia-Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo), South Korea, Turkey, and the USA.

      The rEU and an independent UK negotiated the retention of this reciprocal agreement as part of the Brexit deal.

      This information is all in the public domain.

      There would be nothing to stop the rUK and an independent Scotland from negotiating a similar arrangement should Scotland ever elect to leave the UK.

      1. Tom Ultuous says:

        I find it impossible to believe the UK govt could abdicate all legal responsibility to citizens who had paid NI for decades by merely rejecting a reciprocal arrangement.

        From the gov.uk website

        The UK has agreements for social security contributions and benefit entitlement with Ireland and the following countries that are outside the EU, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland:

        Barbados
        Bermuda
        Canada
        Chile
        Isle of Man
        Israel
        Jamaica
        Japan
        Jersey and Guernsey
        Mauritius
        New Zealand
        Philippines
        Republics of former Yugoslavia (the Republics of Bosnia-Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo)
        South Korea (also known as The Republic of Korea)
        Turkey
        USA
        Chile, Japan and South Korea only cover social security contribution liability and do not include benefits. These are known as Double Contribution Conventions.

        The agreement with New Zealand refers to UK domestic legislation to consider social security contributions.

        Find information about the rules that will apply for people working in the EU, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway or Switzerland after 1 January 2021.

        1. 220218 says:

          Yep, I likewise find it difficult to believe that an independent Scottish government and the rUK wouldn’t negotiate a reciprocal agreement on social security contributions and benefit entitlement as part of any future Scexit deal. But it’s not outwith the realms of possibility that an independent Scottish government might be happy with a compensation deal instead, as per the 2013 white paper, Ian Blackford’s more recent statement, and Nicola’s apparent endorsement of that statement.

        2. 220218 says:

          Has the UK government information changed? Have the rascals not updated their website?

    2. JamesHR says:

      The assumption behind your comment is that there is a pot of cash from which pensions are paid. There is no pot! Current pensions are paid from the contributions of current NI payers. Post independence, Scottish pensioners will be paid from the income from Scottish NI payers which amounts to, according to GERS, nearly £3bn more than is needed for Scottish pensions. Post independence, pensioners ordinarily resident in Scotland will be paid by the Scottish Government; those resident elsewhere will continue to be paid by Westminster. Post independence, should a former resident pensioner move their residence to another country, including England, Wales or Northern Ireland, the Scottish government will be responsible for paying their pension.

      1. Tom Ultuous says:

        >> The assumption behind your comment is that there is a pot of cash from which pensions are paid. There is no pot!
        That’s what the yoons are arguing but, as I said on another Bella thread, it’s irrelevant. The fact Westminster chooses to borrow NI money instead of putting it in a pot doesn’t free them of their responsibility. Do they not understand the meaning of the word “Insurance”?

        >> Post independence, Scottish pensioners will be paid from the income from Scottish NI payers which amounts to, according to GERS, nearly £3bn more than is >>needed for Scottish pensions.
        Are you claiming the UK can just choke all the NI money paid so far? Are you saying that if England voted to become independent and it just so happened on independence day everyone in the 3 devolved nations turned 66 having paid NI for ~50 years the English would be legally entitled to tell the devolved nation pensioners to get stuffed? Any Pole returning to Poland having payed 10+ full years of NI receives a “UK” pension. Are you saying that if the population of Scotland moved to independent Poland the UK would give them a UK pension in proportion to the full years of NI they paid but not if they stay in Scotland and become independent?

        >> Post independence, pensioners ordinarily resident in Scotland will be paid by the Scottish Government; those resident elsewhere will continue to be paid by >>Westminster. Post independence, should a former resident pensioner move their residence to another country, including England, Wales or Northern Ireland, the >>Scottish government will be responsible for paying their pension.
        That’s to be negotiated but a transfer of NI paid by Scots so far would have to be part of the deal. I can see no legal bar to the UK paying pensions earned so far and Scotland paying pensions earned from independence day. For example someone who paid 10 full years in the UK would receive 2/7ths of the full UK pension from Westminster and the remaining 5/7ths from the Scottish govt (subject to levels and requirements in an independent Scotland).

        Read RadioJammer’s 22nd February 2022 at 1:19 pm post above.

        1. Jimhr says:

          For goodness sake, read my comment again and follow who will do what to whom!

          There is no U.K. pot – all pensions are paid from current NI payments. That has been so since Gordon Brown and successive Chancellors raided the NI fund. Currently Scotland pays more in NI to Westminster than Scottish pensioners receive. Therefore, Scotland is subsidising the rest of the U.K.

          Post independence Scotland will collect NI paid by Scottish employees and will pay Scottish pensioners. All pensioners ordinarily resident in Scotland on Independence Day will receive their pension from that day from the Scottish government. If you are ordinarily resident outside Scotland on Independence Day the U.K. government will remain responsible for you’re pension. If at a later date you choose to move away from Scotland, the Scottish government will pay your pension. Whatever happens, pensions will be paid!

          1. Tom Ultuous says:

            For goodness sake, read my post and read RadioJammer’s.

            It doesn’t matter if the UK govt choose to borrow NI rather than put it in a pot. They still have to pay the insurance when the time comes unless they declare themselves bankrupt. You seem to want to give them a clean slate. Suppose the Scottish govt decide they do want to do the right thing and put NI in a pot. Who pays pensions in the meantime?

            The common sense solution would be for the UK to honour its pension responsibilities to Scots (i.e. treat them the same as they do any foreign worker who has accrued enough full years of NI) and for the Scottish govt to base its pension payments on NI paid after independence. So, some Scots would always have their full pension paid by the UK, some would be part paid by the UK and part paid by Scotland and (in the future) some (and eventually all) would have their full pension paid by the Scottish govt.

            You also have to remember that NI is also insurance against illness and unemployment. It’s not just about Pensions.

          2. JimHR says:

            Not sure what is so difficult to understand. Currently the UK collects NI from everyone in the UK no matter where they reside. Currently the UK pays pensions to all UK pensioners, including those currently resident abroad. Post independence, all that changes is the paying point – UK government becomes the Scottish government. Post independence NI paid by Scottish payers is collected by the Scottish government and that will be used to fund the Scottish government’s payment to Scottish pensioners.

            Currently a person that is entitled to a pension from the UK who is now resident abroad eg a Polish worker who has been refused settled status and returned home, will receive their pension from the UK government and that would be the case after independence. Post independence, where a person that was normally resident in Scotland and has to move abroad eg a Scottish worker that moves to England, will receive their pension from the Scottish government. Post independence, a person normally resident outside Scotland that moves to Scotland will only receive a pension from the Scottish government where there is a reciprocal agreement in place.

            There will be some instances where all is not clear cut but those will be few and far between. The negotiation will be about the administrative details required to ensure each pensioner receives the pension to which they are entitled on reaching retirement age. You are assuming that pensioners will receive part of their pension for the years paid in the UK and part for the years in Scotland. If you read all of the FoA statement you will see that they are not assuming that as it would be a bureaucratic nightmare and totally unnecessary. The pension entitlement is based on number of years for which NI has been paid – words like contribution, contributed, paid-in etc, simply confuse matters as nothing is contributed. NI is just another tax now that is paid to the Treasury and disappears into their coffers. The entitlement to a pension is related to the number of years NI has been paid, not to the amount actually paid over those years.

          3. Tom Ultuous says:

            There’s no difficulty on my part. You understand that the Polish worker receives a UK pension as a result of his UK NICs but you’re saying post independence a Scottish person will be due nothing from the UK and their pension will have to be funded by NEW Scottish NICs? That is, you’re saying the NICs all Scots paid to the UK are null and void and the UK can just choke them. Can you not see the difference between the Polish worker and the Scottish worker? For this to be consistent the Polish worker would have to be due nothing from the UK and his pension would have to be funded by the Polish NICS (or however they fund it).

            The yoons have muddied the waters with their “there is no pot” claim. I repeat, the fact the UK borrow NICs rather than put them in a pot is irrelevant. When you put savings in a bank they don’t put your money in a vault in a cellar. They loan it out, they invest it, they gamble it. That doesn’t mean they can hang on to it if you move to another country, change your nationality or even die. So it is with NICs. You’ve paid them and if you’ve enough full years of them you’re due a pension when the time comes. Sure, they can change the age you’re due it or the amount you’re due but it has to apply to all. They can’t say it apllies to everybody except the Scottish.

            I’m not “ssuming that pensioners will receive part of their pension for the years paid in the UK and part for the years in Scotland”, I’m saying that would be the best way to do it. Far from it being a “bureaucratic nightmare” it would avoid one. The Scottish govt have said they will negotiate a transfer of UK pension liabilities for Scotland and they will distribute the pensions. To me, that’s akin to saying they’ll want the equivalent of all NICs paid to the UK govt by Scottish people (who are still alive obviously) and, in return, the Scottish govt will take on the pension liabilities (this is at odds with what you’re claiming about existing Scottish pensions being funded by post-independence Scottish NICs – though that will come much later). That in itself presents difficulties. Is your pension transferred to the Scottish govt because you were born in Scotland or because your parents were or because you live here? Suppose you’ve lived in England all your life and you’ve no intention of returning? Suppose you’re English but you’ve spent your entire working life on rigs in the north sea – your NICs have been paid to the UK – who do they get paid to post-independence – do you get two pensions? Having both the UK & Scottish govt’s each dealing with pensions accrued under their system is no different to having two different financial outfits dealing with two private pensions you took out.

            Do I care how the Scottish govt go about this? Not from the point of receiving a pension I don’t but doing it my way would put a lot of pensioner’s minds at rest, “Even if Scotland goes bust I’ll still have my UK pension coming in”. OK, we know we’re not going to go bust but the Scottish pensioner who reads the Daily Express is half expecting us to.

            Hopefully Scotland will have a fairer, more generous pension than the UK one (heading for a retirement age of 75) and not based on the same nonsensical conditions. Currently in the UK if you have 50 years of 51 NICs you get no pension, if you have 35 years of 52 NICs you get a full one. Brought to you by the same minds that give you the GERS figures.

    3. 220224 says:

      The Fraser of Allender Institute seems to support my understanding of the situation.

      https://fraserofallander.org/who-pays-the-state-pension-in-an-independent-scotland/

      Note, in particular, the following paragraphs:

      ‘The issue would therefore become a matter for wider negotiations around the division of assets and liabilities in general, and reciprocity agreements for social security more specifically.

      ‘The UK has social security agreements with many countries. These stipulate how state pensions will be calculated when individuals have made contributions in more than one country. Similar agreements between the UK and an independent Scotland will be necessary to deal with individuals retiring post-independence who have made NI contributions in both Scotland and the UK. The UK had such agreements with EU countries before Brexit, and maintained similar arrangements in the Trade and Co-operation Agreement between the UK and EU. The UK also has social security agreements with other countries, including the US and Australia.

      ‘There would clearly be pressure on an independent Scotland to make such an agreement with the remaining UK. The absence of an agreement would be an impediment to cross-border trade with potentially harmful economic effects.’

      1. Tom Ultuous says:

        That article finishes with this note

        “The question of citizenship in an independent Scotland is immaterial to this analysis. Under current state pension rules, it is NICs rather than citizenship that determines eligibility. Thus whether an individual in an independent Scotland has Scottish, UK or dual citizenship (or any other nationality) would not under current policy influence eligibility for the state pension.”

        which seems to agree with what I’m saying. Anything I’ve said was already conceeded by a top civil servant prior to the last referendum although he became mealy mouthed on it after getting a bit of online abuse. Any “confusion” is being driven by anti-independence Tories and Tory rags and the “no pot” argument is a red herring.

        1. 220224 says:

          Well; that’s cleared up, then. The liability for my state pension will pass to the Scottish government on independence, and that pension will be paid from ongoing NI receipts. Unless, of course, I go to live in England, in which case it will be paid by the English government from ongoing NI receipts. Either way, my pension won’t just stop being paid and I’ll still have a pot to p*ss in.

          1. JimHR says:

            You should read and understand what is being said before you commit nonsense to paper! I’ll make it clear. If from Independence Day you are normally resident in Scotland and either in receipt of a pension or will attain pension age thereafter, you will receive your pension from the Scottish government. If you subsequently move abroad, ie are no longer ordinarily resident in Scotland, the Scottish government will continue to pay your pension to your declared bank. There will be odd outliers but to have any other process for the 99% of pensioners would be a bureaucratic and expensive nightmare.

          2. 220225 says:

            Yes, I get that, Jim. I was just saying that, if I became English (i.e. if I migrated to England) PRIOR to disincorporation of the UK, the separate English government (or whatever) would presumably pay my pension subsequent to that disincorporation rather than the separate Scottish government. I’m already presuming that the Scottish government would continue to pay my pension if I emigrated to England (or anywhere else, for that matter) anytime AFTER the UK ceased to exist.

        2. JimHR says:

          Again you are misinterpreting what is being said. Residency and the years of NI paid are the requirements for receipt of a pension not citizenship otherwise why would the Polish person receive a pension?

          1. 220225 says:

            Indeed, as the Fraser of Allander Institute points out, ‘The question of citizenship in an independent Scotland is immaterial to this analysis. Under current state pension rules, it is NICs rather than citizenship that determines eligibility.’

            Presumably, the states that succeed the UK when the latter disincorporates will recognise and reward the contributions that their respective citizens made to our collective welfare while they were working in the UK in exactly the same way that the UK currently recognises and rewards the contributions that (for example) Polish citizens made to our collective welfare while they were working in the UK.

            Of course, the analogy on which the whole debate as to whether or not the UK government will continue to pay the pensions of Scottish nationals after independence breaks down because, after independence, ‘the UK’ will no longer exist as a legal entity and will therefore no longer be liable to pay nor not pay anything. How the former UK’s liabilities are divvied up subsequent to its disincorporation will depend on what its successor states agree as part of the divorce settlement.

          2. JimHR says:

            Given your abject failure to understand basic logic and your ability to conflate two or more conflicting statements, I have to assume you are a unionist. Current pensions are and will continue to be paid from current NI. Past “contributions” paid for past pensions and there is nothing held for future pensions. Scottish NI payments currently sent to the UK Treasury exceed the pensions paid by the Treasury to Scottish pensioners by some £3bn per annum. It could be said that Scottish NI payments have been subsidising the Treasury! If you think Westminster will continue to pay Scottish pensions post independence, then Scottish h NI payments would have to be made to Westminster – not really a goal of an independent Scotland. It is quite clear in all the pension articles that the amount of NI paid or NI “contribution” is not a factor but the criterion is years of payment.

          3. Tom Ultuous says:

            “the years of NI paid are the requirements for receipt of a pension not citizenship”

            That is exactly what I’m saying.

          4. Tom Ultuous says:

            This thread is all over the place, a bit like your logic. Are you the full shilling? You’re the one swallowing the unionist spin. So the Scottish worker is only due a UK pension while the Scottish govt collects NICs from Scottish citizens and passes them on to the UK govt. Is that what you think? Right, replace Scottish with Polish in that sentence and maybe you’ll see how stupid your thinking is.

            For the sake of argument suppose everyone in Scotland turned 66 on independence day. There would be no NICs collected in Scotland. Are you saying that the UK govt would be perfectly within their rights to deny those people a pension when they had paid UK NICs for the last 50 years?

            Either the UK govt would have to pay Scottish pensioners a UK pension based on the NICs they paid in the past OR they would have to transfer all past NICs paid by Scottish people (who were still alive) to the Scottish govt and let them pay the pensions. Either way I don’t care but the UK govt should not be allowed to escape their pension liabilities. You seem to be euphoric about the fact Scottish NICs exceed Scottish pension payments by 3 billion but NICs do not only cover pensions they are also insurance against illness and unemployment and they’re going up soon to supposedly cover care in old age.

          5. JimHR says:

            How many times do you need to be told that the cash paid in NI over the years is of no longer of any consequence to the payment of pensions. The only requirement is number of years you have paid into the coffers, not the cash value, and your residence. Pre independence It doesn’t matter where you live in the U.K., all pensions are paid by Westminster and all NI from English, Welsh, Irish and Scots goes to the Treasury. Post independence, the NI paid by Scottish NI payers is sufficient to pay Scottish pensioners, so yes from Independence Day all pensioners, not just those turning pension age, will be paid by the Scottish government. Maybe you need to do some decent research on how various social security and health liabilities are funded.

          6. 220225 says:

            But, Tom, there won’t be a UK government after independence to pay anyone’s pension. The new Scottish government will pay the pensions of those it’s liable to pay (wherever they happen to be living), and the new English (?) government will pay the pensions of those it’s liable to pay (wherever they happen to be living). Which government is liable for what will depend on how the former UK’s assets and liabilities are divvied up between the two new states.

          7. Tom Ultuous says:

            When the first yoon propoganda on what Ian Blackford said appeared in a Daily Express article on MSN the comments were inevitably deluged with “who do fatty Blackford and wee krankie think they are” posts from the collaborating Tory boys. I spent ages drumming it into them that Ian Blackford was in fact correct and what he said had already been conceded by a top Westminster civil service before the 2014 election. In the end they all continued to wish that the Express spin was true but as they couldn’t fault the logic in my explanation they gave up. At the time I thought I’ll escape to Bella hoping to find a Mike Small article tellinbg it as it is but instead I find Gerry Hassan regurgitating the Express spin and JimHR and (to a lesser extent) 22 echoing the MSN garbage from the “wee krankie” posters.

            In their latest posts 22 seems to think that a name change for the UK releases the rUK (or whatever) from its pension liabilities. JimHR thinks the same because Scotland can afford it. Neither of them will attempt to answer the questions I posed them though.

            JimHR seems to think that the UK paying its pension liabilities based on NICs paid to the UK and an independent Scotland paying pensions based on NICs paid in Scotland post-independence “would be a bureaucratic and expensive nightmare”. Why? Nothing would change for the Westminster system and the Scottish one would be far easier to administer as it would be based on NICs paid in Scotland post-independence. No different to the Polish worker getting their UK pension paid by the UK and their presumably reduced pension paid by the Polish govt. Would that be a “bureaucratic and expensive nightmare” for the Polish govt Jimbo? Do you expect everyone with a private pension with a non-Scottish financial institution to lose that too? After all, will it not be a “bureaucratic and expensive nightmare” for the institution? You actually sound like an insurance claims inspector trying to wriggle your firm out of paying a legit claim. Will Scottish independence be an “act of God”? Instead of telling me to do “decent research on how various social security and health liabilities are funded” why don’t you give us the results of your “decent research”?

            Nicola Sturgeon muddied the waters by backtracking on Ian Blackford’s words by stating the Scottish govt would pay the pensions with the UK’s pension liabilities forming part of the divorce settlement but at no point did she suggest (as JimHR would have us believe) that the UK was getting off Scot-free.

            I find this all very depressing. Come the referendum we’ll be buried alive with Express type propoganda. If this is indicative of our counter-charge independence is lost.

          8. JimHR says:

            I give up. You are now trolling as you clearly have taken an obtuse view of the pensions situation.

          9. 220226 says:

            ‘…a name change for the UK releases the rUK (or whatever) from its pension liabilities…’

            A name change will release the UK from nothing. Nor will the UK be getting off ‘Scot free’. The UK won’t just be changing its name but will cease to exist with the dissolution of the Union. The former UK’s assets and liabilities (including its pension liabilities) will have to be assumed by its successor states (Scotland and England); how these are divided will be a matter for negotiation during the process of disincorporating the former UK.

            I’m presuming that the disincorporation of the UK will result in some sort of pensions settlement that will honour the NIC that everyone who worked in the former UK made, irrespective of their nationality or citizenship, which (as everyone seems to agree) is a complete red herring. Poles, for example, who are eligible for a UK pension won’t stop getting that pension just because the UK ceases to exist; we’ve no good reason to suppose that its successor states won’t assume that liability in accordance with some yet-to-be-negotiated administrative arrangement between those successor states.

          10. Tom Ultuous says:

            If you look up https://fullfact.org/scotland/pensions-independent-scotland/ you’ll see that in 2014 Westminster had already conceded the pension debate and only who would distribute them was to be resolved. You’ll also find within the fullfact article a link to a BBC article on the debate.

  8. William Steven MacKenzie says:

    I voted ALBA when the last letter came through my door 2 weeks ago.
    WHY vote SNP they’ve done NOTHING in 15yrs.
    WHY can’t we start a DOI (Declaration of Independence).
    Politicians are only out for THEMSELVES and not for US, the public.
    We should bin all political parties and start from scratch because what we’ve had for years AIN’T WORKING, UP

    1. Derek Thomson says:

      You are Kenny MacAskill and I claim my £5.

    2. Alec Lomax says:

      That’s Alba’s manifesto, presumably?

  9. Bill says:

    The issue of independence is one that is addressed both with logic and emotion. Since the loss of the vote in 2014, as gerry says there has been no analysis of what went wrong. I do not detect a strong emotional approach coming from the SNP for independence. There is a cautious and centralising approach to government, when a more ambitious and emotional approach would be an improvement.
    On the logical side, the SNP have not addressed the fundamental issues of the economy, the currency, the resolution of the financial issues were full independence to be achieved. The various papers by Richard Murphy would indicate that an independent Scotland would not start life riddled with debt, could create and sustain an in dependent currency and could have a successful economy – North Sea oil notwithstanding.

    Why have the SNP made no moves on any of these fronts? Why are there no policies in place that would flow from an independent government in place, ready for independence? We know that dealing with Covid has consumed much in the way of energy and resource but surely the time is now to address the future. Let us prepare for independence in advance of the referendum voting for it and maybe it will be achieved. We need to address the doubters on all fronts in order to persuade them that an independent Scotland is achievable and that it will be a better place.

    The creation of a republic can come later. That will be much easier after the demise of ‘our own dear Queen’!!!

    The SNP need to remember that complacency did for the Tories and Labour in the long run. How much longer they will have could be decided soon as the world resets after Covid. When I was a boy, more than half of the Westminster Parliamentary seats were held by the Tories. No one believed that Teddy Taylor would ever lose Cathcart. I hope in my dotage to live in an independent Scotland. ‘Sic transit gloria mundi’

    Bill

  10. florian albert says:

    Most of what Gerry Hassan writes is beyond dispute. What he has left out is important,

    There is no acknowledgement of the mediocrity of the Scottish political class. Individuals such as Angela Constance remain in post, or are brought back to the government, because – you have to assume – there is nobody better to appoint. This weakness goes beyond the SNP and predates their taking power in 2007.
    Is a political career one which intelligent and capable young Scots choose to avoid ?

    If, as Gerry Hassan writes, ‘the state of the country is not in a good place’ (I tend to agree), the voters appear mostly content with the status quo. In 2016, with
    R I S E, and in 2021, with ALBA, voters were offered a more radical alternative and decisively rejected it. In this, there is continuity between the SNP and their
    Labour/Lib Dem predecessors. Radical talk and an absence of radical action appears to be what the biggest segment of voters want.

    1. 220218 says:

      ‘Is a political career one which intelligent and capable young Scots choose to avoid?’

      Is the opposite not rather the case, that it’s the increasing professionalisation of the political class that’s producing its ‘managerial’ mediocrity?

      Perhaps we need not more, but fewer capable young career politicians.

      1. florian albert says:

        ‘it’s the increasing professionalization of the political class that’s producing its ‘managerial’ mediocrity.’

        I agree with you on the malign effect of ‘professionalization’. It strikes me that a form of ‘Gresham’s Law’ is in play here. Politics, as a career, is being monopolized by individuals who devote themselves full time to politics from the age of about 21. Most intelligent people are unwilling to make such a commitment and are thus lost to
        politics.

    2. 220218 says:

      But, yes, ‘managerial’ mediocrity is what the electorate votes for. It could be called ‘Middle Scotland’ syndrome.

    3. Radio Jammor says:

      “If, as Gerry Hassan writes, ‘the state of the country is not in a good place’ (I tend to agree), the voters appear mostly content with the status quo. In 2016, with
      R I S E, and in 2021, with ALBA, voters were offered a more radical alternative and decisively rejected it. In this, there is continuity between the SNP and their
      Labour/Lib Dem predecessors. Radical talk and an absence of radical action appears to be what the biggest segment of voters want.”

      Terrible read, although I can see why you might take that view.

      The country is not in a good place because we are in the UK. Devolution has not been enough. The UK could have buried the movement in 2014 with the Smith Commission, but Cameron’s EVEL and the Smith Commission instead did the opposite. Scots, not just people who voted “Yes”, were not happy with either of those things. Add-in what has happened since, and you have the movement at a point in 2020 of being higher than ever. Funny how that went backwards to polling being just under 50% as Salmond reared his head with ABLA.

      Since he and his party were utterly rejected last year, that trend has reversed to polling at neck-and-neck.

      Alba were not so much rejected for their “radical policies”, as for their inept policies, as well as having a deeply unpopular leader, that failed to take into account a fickle public, still deeply concerned about Covid,. The public were not wanting a vote immediately. They also didn’t want the leadership of a man so tainted now as Salmond is. As for the candidates with him, I’m not going to go there as this post will turn into volumes if I do.

      I do not agree at all that the Scottish public do not want significant or radical change. Around half of them do, at least. However, we are simply not going to get it whilst being shackled to the UK. This is what your Alba rejection should be telling you; that Scots want realistic policies in the context of a devolved government now, but more radical change with Indy powers, later.

      You are, in essence, latching onto the impatient aspect of Gerry’s post, as well as the slight myopia of it. You’re impatient for things now that either cannot or will not happen now, whereas Indy completely changes everything in terms of what can and could be done.

      1. 220218 says:

        ‘The country is not in a good place because we are in the UK.’

        No, we’re not in a good place because the Scottish government has failed to use the power it already has to ‘level up’ education, health, personal safety, transport, et al in Scotland. It has used those powers by and large to maintain the status quo. Have we any reason to believe that it would do otherwise with even more power?

        More broadly, is it even desirable for the Scottish government to have more power over our lives? We should be seeking to disempower the Scottish establishment in favour of our communities in matters of education, health, policing, transport, etc., not further empower it by giving more welly to St Andrew’s House.

  11. Chris Ballance says:

    The difficulty is that the SNP have built their powerbase on being all things to all people – and have been wonderfully adept at it – a little bit of public transport here for the Greens a bit of road building there for the petrol heads, a bit of extra child support for those in poverty, support for big business here in Free Ports, for small business here in rates relief.
    And as soon as one outlines a vision, you enthuse some, but deter others. That’s anathema to the SNP’s view of how to win votes. Personally I think we need a radical vision of what Scotland can be in 20 years time, to enthuse activists to go out and passionately advocate it. I guess the SNP’s argument would be that that’s what Corbyn did in England and fat lot of good it did him. I think the situation’s different and the danger is that the SNP come up with a vision which is so anodyne and middle of the road that it excites no-one, while still offending the unionists because it’s not – well, unionist enough. Which is kinda what happened with Salmond’s 2014 lines – keep the pound, the Queen etc. and don’t scare the horses. Not at all sure how we break into that thinking, that middle of the road is the way to maximise votes.

    1. Radio Jammor says:

      Corbyn’s way could have worked, IMO, following on from the positive gains made in 2017, but for two monumental mistakes that did for him.

      The first was the EU stance. That was a political move designed to appease Labour supporting Brexit voters. But it was also a classic case of being ‘Tory lite’, that didn’t help there and put-off pro-EU voters.

      The other failing was not adequately addressing the accusations of anti-Semitism, so that it could fester and be used as a hammer by the right-wing media and opponents alike. This is certainly one area which I don’t believe the SNP have got right, by not addressing some matters prior to a campaign, where that opposition can be ratcheted up on festering matters, as it was with Corbyn, and then just out-shout you. We need our ducks in a row BEFORE a campaign, to reduce the targets the opposition can have, and/or their impact.

      We can learn from the positive visions that Corbyn otherwise put forward that gained the Labour party a membership that supported him, and made so much ground in 2017 that it took the Tory majority away, as well as the failings that allowed him to be crucified in 2019.

      1. Tom Ultuous says:

        You’ve made some good posts on this thread RJ and I agree with most of what you say. Get independence first and then we can all vote for the particular direction we want to travel in. In the meantime we should try to carry as wide a view as possible with us. The right-wing rags (& the left) are already ramping up the anti-independence agenda. We’ll soon be confronted by the likes of Andrew “George Galloway speaking for the union side – Tommy Sheridan for the independence side” Neil. The last thing we want is to start fighting among ourselves.

        1. RadioJammor says:

          First of all, thank you, Tom. And yes, I broadly agree.

          With regard to Alba supporters, and other points of view here, I would assume (with one exception, at least) that they support Indy. Therefore, with regard to an Indy vote, we are in an accord.

          Whatever our disagreements and views are over the course and vision of the Scottish Gov at the moment, that was essentially resolved last May. We have what we have until the next time.

          Hopefully, Covid will be out the way soon, and we can move to that Indy campaign and a Yes vote. But as per what I’ve posted already, I would like to see a series of announcements about some of these key issues I mention and what matters would be subject to negotiation before more can be said – and I would like this before a campaign really gets going and risks being shouted down.

          What I also hope for in the meantime is that the SNP/Greens have something up their sleeve if UKGov throws another GE in the way. Mind you, polling would currently suggest that this would be a bad move for the Tories. That could change, however, if Johnson goes and they get a bounce as a consequence.

          For me, that’s potentially the biggest and best spanner they have to throw in the works and derail the Indyref timetable.

  12. Paddy Farrington says:

    While I agree with some of what Gerry writes (not all – the alliance with the Greens is in my view a real advance), his piece is strangely lacking in analysis, and I wonder quite where it gets us.

    First, some context is surely needed. The SNP’s electoral performance since 2014 is remarkable by recent European standards. In 2021, the SNP polled 47% in the first past the post ballot and 42% in the regional ballot, increasing its share of the vote since 2016. Only in Portugal do you find anything like this kind of support for a centre-left party in recent years, the PS polling 42% in 2022. Elsewhere, the picture for the centre-left is dire or at best unremarkable. Germany 2021: 26% for the SPD; Norway 2021: 26% for Labour; Spain 2019: under 30% in both polls; Sweden 2018: 28% for the social democrats; Italy 2018: 23% for the left coalition. Let’s not even mention France. Certainly, the SNP’s electoral success in the future is by no means guaranteed, but the contrast with other European countries surely merits analysis, rather than a protracted moan. The other contextual element, which I think is relevant, has been the failure of RISE and, more generally, of a socialist alternative in Scotland, not just electorally, but in making any real impact in the national discussion. Why is that the case?

    The SNP, and the popular coalition it represents – left entirely unanalysed by Gerry – is electorally hegemonic in Scotland today. What is strange is that it does not appear intellectually secure. But you can hardly simply blame the SNP for that. Political parties are imbued with and energised by ideas from wider civil society: the welfare state, so central to Labour’s success in 1945, was conceived of by Beveridge, a Liberal. The new thinking in the 1960s came from the New Left, not Labour. The critiques of Thatcherism and Blairism likewise, from the likes of Stuart Hall and communist intellectuals like Eric Hobsbawm.

    So my question would not just be: What is missing from the SNP? But also, admittedly provocatively: Why are Scotland’s intellectuals missing in action?

    1. Cathie Lloyd says:

      Paddy’s analysis is interesting but I wonder whether intellectuals such as Hall and Hobsbawm would speculate that electoral behaviour and identification with political parties is fundamentally shifting. How do young people – raised in the internet age and that of the gig economy – relate to and express political discourse ? Disaffection with the old political parties of left and right does signal something – as manifested in the cross over of Tory and Labour voters in the constituency where I live. The SNP has to somehow navigate these waters without any serious challenge to its hegemony. I agree that the alliance with the Greens suggests a move relevant to the future. But where are the public intellectuals out there analysing these new ways of thinking politics?

      1. 220220 says:

        ‘But where are the public intellectuals out there analysing these new ways of thinking politics?’

        They’re legion, Cathie. You’ll find them in Political Science departments up and down the whole of the country.

        1. florian albert says:

          I assume the ‘legion’ comment is tongue in cheek.

          Ironically, a couple of generations ago, Politics departments in Scottish universities did have some genuine intellectuals; Gordon Brown, Henry Drucker and

          John P McIntosh. Scottish intellectuals – Scots living in Scotland – are very thin on the ground.

          1. 220221 says:

            ‘Genuine’ intellectuals? By what criteria are you excluding those many students of electoral behaviour, and of how young people relate to and express political discourse in our postmodern political landscape, from the canon of ‘genuine intellectuals’?

    2. Gerry Hassan says:

      Dear Paddy,
      A belated reply to your very nuanced and perceptive comments.
      First, of course the SNP’s electoral success needs to be understood. What I was getting at is what sort of SNP politics springs from this dominance. And that the party’s electoral hegemony has not seen a ferment and diversity of ideas, discussions and policies; rather it is a strange defensive hegemony.
      Second, that defensiveness in part springs from the nature of the SNP’s ‘Big Tent’ politics – cross-national, working class, middle class, precariat and professional. Gathering together such a diverse coalition – while it should be a strength – can also lead to a politics of caution and hoarding your strength – measuring every action by trying to maintain that broad coalition.
      Third, the SNP’s culture of dominance does not come from nowhere. It draws from the practice of how Labour ran Scotland and in particular Labour’s defensive social democracy.
      Fourth, your point abt the public intellectuals is profound and correct and a subject I have repeatedly written abt. Some brief thoughts below.

      a) Scottish social democracy whether under Labour or now the SNP has consistently been vague abt what it stands for; Drucker and Brown cited below when they were writing abt it were not major influential figures.
      b The long rise of Scottish nationalism – described for example in Ben Jackson’s recent book – was rich and filled with genuine intellectuals – Nairn, Ascherson, Harvie – all people who had a thorny relationship with the SNP.
      c) There is a difference between a tradition on the rise and what happens when it becomes dominant. Whereas in the 70s and 80s there was a rich ferment of intellectual debate this is markedly less so. The seeds of a complacency in Scottish nationalism and indy is fairly obvious.
      d) And on a more optimistic take: there clearly is a fair amount of intellectual activity in Scottish politics just not connected to the SNP and with a problematic relationship with indy. It exploded in 2011-14 – but has been unable to find permanent political form and platforms (beyond the likes of places such as Bella).

      I do think the above throws up questions of the timeframes we view politics through. There is a coming crisis of the SNP, Scottish nationalism and independence. Yet there are also longer term trends – of how the idea of Scotland has shifted over decades – which are positive and should be nurtured.

  13. florian albert says:

    220221 21 February 10. 29 am

    ‘our postmodern political landscape’ Plainly, you buy into postmodernism. I do not.

    1. 220222 says:

      ‘The postmodern condition’ can serve as a useful conceptualisation of the deconstruction of capitalism and its ideologies; a ‘useful fiction’ if you will; a counter-capitalist ladder we can discard once we’ve climbed up it.

      It’s not to everyone’s taste, however. And that’s okay; it’s a fundamental feature of our postmodern condition that the varying experiential situation of different people (their respective ’embodiments’) makes it normal and natural that people in that condition will proceed differently in cognitive, evaluative, and practical matters (i.e. that people will disagree and never be able to agree; that ‘dissensus’ is the postmodern default).

      Not every ‘postmodernist’ will agree, but some think that the trick is to contain that dissensus short of conflict; that is, to live in ways that enable a general ‘atonal harmony’ of constructive interaction or ‘society’ to prevail despite the radical diversity and dissonance of our personal and tribal embodiments. This requires two things: firstly, that we should, to each and every body’s benefit, acquiesce in the idea that other bodies will differ from one’s own in their opinions, values, customs, and modes of behaviour and in the idea that none of those opinions, values, customs, or modes of behaviour is uniquely ‘right’ or ‘true’; and secondly, that we concede the right of other bodies to go their own variant ways into a social diversification that affiliates each not to all (e.g. in ‘nations’), but only to such kindred spirits or ‘neighbours’ as circumstances might offer, and to claim the same right for oneself.

      Above all, the trick is to resist as ‘totalitarian’ all utopianisms that look to use the power of the state to impose a uniquely perfect social order in favour of a more democratic pragmatism that works through the state to establish a loose framework of political institutions which none of us will deem ‘perfect’ but which all of us ‘can live with’ and can evolve with us.

      In the postmodern condition of pervasive disagreement and dissensus into which the deconstruction of capitalism and its totalising ideologies has thrown us, the challenge (should you so conceive the world) is to realise ‘frameworks of social inclination’ that facilitate rather than obstruct constructive interaction between the variety of our diverse embodiments, frameworks that chart a course between the Scylla of dogmatic absolutism on one hand and the Charybdis of relativistic nihilism on the other.

      Not to everyone’s taste perhaps, but that’s okay.

      1. Niemand says:

        Trouble is we don’t have anything like the idea that ‘to each and every body’s benefit’, acquiescence is needed “‘in the idea that other bodies will differ from one’s own in their opinions, values, customs, and modes of behaviour and in the idea that none of those opinions, values, customs, or modes of behaviour is uniquely ‘right’ or ‘true’”.

        And claims of holding the self-righteous truth come not only from the usual reactionary forces but also from the very people who one might think as arch postmodernists, the ‘progressive’ left. The idea that that group is ‘acquiescent’ in its liberal, tolerant outlook is increasingly absurd.

        I used to have a genuine interest in postmodern thinking and there are still strains of it I like a lot and hold well for understanding in certain areas but like the idea of deconstruction, it is of itself, a dead end because at some point you actually have to ‘construct’ and be ‘modern’. In other words it is an intellectual conception that mostly offers very fundamental critiques (wrongly or rightly) but with not only no solutions, but the suggestion that there are no solutions to be found so don’t bother looking! It is mostly useless to wider society in this regard and not the kind of intellectual thought that is helpful, but worse than that, it is actually destructive and causes conflict because it continually creates false equivalences.

        1. 220222 says:

          Indeed, we are not all (by a long chalk) as yet ‘postmodern man’; many (the vast majority) are still bewitched by the transcendental pretence that the world revolves around them and their normality. But the nihilism of the so-called ‘post-truth era’ is precisely the deconstruction of this pretence (a.k.a. ‘the Death of God’).

          This tremendous event ‘has not yet reached the ears of men’, but it will, and men will have to find ways to contain that dissensus short of conflict; that is, to live in ways that enable a general ‘atonal harmony’ of constructive interaction or ‘society’ to prevail despite the radical diversity and dissonance of our personal and tribal embodiments. To avoid nihilism and the dreadful barbarism that it entails (as prefigured in the rise of fascism and the alt-right) we will have to become ‘postmodern man’.

          So, basically, we will need to acquiesce in our differences and arrange our collective lives in ways that enable us to contain our differences short of conflict, that enables a general ‘atonal harmony’ of constructive interaction or ‘society’ to prevail despite the radical diversity and dissonance of our personal and tribal embodiments, or we will die clawing at one another’s throats. It’s not as if we have a choice.

          And, yes, people on the progressive left cling just as strongly to their own self-righteousness as do people on the regressive right – including so-called ‘postmodernists’ on both sides of this traditional political divide. Both are still bewitched by the transcendental pretence that the world revolves around them and their normality; both think they’re ‘right’. As such, both are ‘ideologies’ or symptoms of the capitalism that’s collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions (a.k.a. ‘the Death of God’) and are no more than p*ss*ng in the wind.

          And yes, deconstruction prefigures reconstruction; nihilism prefigures a revaluation of all values; ‘one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star’. Solutions are not produced ‘a priori’, but emerge ‘a posteriori’ in pragmatic response to the problem itself. No one can ‘ideally’ prescribe solutions that will avert the social and ecological disasters that the deconstruction of capitalism and its ‘ideologies’ (i.e. ‘the Death of God’) is generating; those solutions will themselves be generated in and by our pragmatic responses to those disasters as they unfold. That’s the nature of revolution; it’s never by design, but always by accident.

          So, we need to ‘acquiesce in the idea that other bodies will differ from one’s own in their opinions, values, customs, and modes of behaviour and in the idea that none of those opinions, values, customs, or modes of behaviour is uniquely “right” or “true”’, and we need to cultivate pluralism in our public institutions, not because it would be a ‘good’ thing to do or the ‘right’ thing to do, but because we’re f*ck*d if we don’t.

          And, yes, not all postmodernists would agree. But, in a post-truth era, it would be odd if they did.

          1. Niemand says:

            But construction never seems to follow deconstruction does it, and the idea has been around for many decades? It is as much an intellectual game as anything.

            The real worry is what John Grierson said many years ago: if the populace become disillusioned with and ultimately contemptuous of the ‘intelligentsia’s’ insistence that the contradictions of society are virtually an end in themselves then this ‘faith lost in a welter of words in a time of crisis’ leads to fascism, or worse.

            So I do not agree that accepting ‘dissonance’ is either enough or possible because people won’t accept it and they well seek ‘the faith’ from dangerous quarters instead because they cannot live in a society of endless and fundamental contradictions as its basis.

          2. 220223 says:

            But our consciousness and the phenomena that comprise that consciousness are forever deconstructing and reconstructing themselves; that’s one of the ways in which we learn, in which our understanding and the world that comprises that understanding evolve. Deconstruction always passes into reconstruction precisely because (as you say) people can’t live without meaning; ‘they cannot live in a society of endless and fundamental [deconstructive] contradictions as its basis’.

            And, yes, people can seek to escape from the endless and fundamental contradictions of capitalism in authoritarianism and intolerance; the Critical Theorist, Erich Fromm, examined the social-psychological mechanism of such bad faith in relation to the rise of Nazism in Germany as far back as 1941. That’s precisely why we need to a) cut off the route to authoritarianism by establishing democratic checks and balances on the exercise of power in the state that are both effective and robust, and b) to realise decolonised ‘frameworks of social inclination’ or civic institutions that facilitate rather than obstruct constructive interaction between the variety of our diverse embodiments. These are also things that are largely missing from ‘the SNP, independence, and wider politics in Scotland’. (And the rise and rise of Nicola as a kind of tartan Eva Perón should in particular ring alarms bells in relation to this; so should the concentration of power in a national government rather than its wider dispersal throughout society.)

            As, yes, fascism (and authoritarianism more generally and intolerance) does feed off the populism or loss of faith of which John Grierson spoke during the rise of authoritarianism in Europe and America back in the 1920s and ‘30s. But again that’s why we need to cultivate robust and effective checks and balances on the exercise of power in society and realise decolonised ‘frameworks of social inclination’ in response to the deconstruction of the ‘modernity’ that comprises capitalism and its ideologies: as a kind of collective defence against the ‘fascism’ of both right and left.

  14. Alex McCulloch says:

    Would be great if all the energy (and self proclaimed intellectual capital!) spent here could be channeled in constructive dialogue.

    Take up the challenge to have the conviction to articulate proposals, solutions, positive changes to systems and policies that start an evolution to a better everyday life for the many people.

    Clearly our current Scottish government strives in this direction including enabling another chance for people to choose Independence which it believes would empower future governments to engage with its citizens to meet the challenges of our time and be empowered to implement change.

    What will / needs to be delivered that makes ordinary peoples reality better in their own lives and own areas?
    Can this evolution and/or revolution be delivered for Scotland by Westminster or does it need an Independent Scottish Government?

    What will engage people to take responsibility to consider what change they want and to input to the process to enable it?

    My Input:

    Citizen participation – local decision making, participatory budgeting
    Local sustainable food and travel
    Universal Income
    Pre-distribution and re-distribution of wealth via taxation
    Citizens Assembly Report proposals
    Social Justice and Fairness Commission Report proposals
    Citizens Climate Assembly Report proposals

    No requirement to waste energy on debating the required administrative structures (Currency, Borders, Security, Pensions) which will be the same, different or better as managed by all other countries in all manner of circumstance! The politicians will argue black and white over this till the cows come home, further disengaging people from debating the actual constructive policy and systematic changes required!

    1. 220224 says:

      ‘What will / needs to be delivered that makes ordinary people’s reality better in their own lives and own areas?’

      That’s surely not for us but for those people who live those lives in those areas themselves to decide.

      ‘Can this evolution and/or revolution be delivered for Scotland by Westminster or does it need an Independent Scottish Government?’

      Neither: that revolution can only be delivered by those people themselves by their assuming control of the decision-making that affects their lives in their neighbourhoods.

      ‘What will engage people to take responsibility to consider what change they want and to input to the process to enable it?’

      Crises or systems failure; situations in which normal life breaks down and people have no choice but to mobilise in their neighbourhoods to look after themselves.

    2. 220224 says:

      ‘What will / needs to be delivered that makes ordinary people’s reality better in their own lives and own areas?’

      That’s surely not for us but for those people who live those lives in those areas themselves to decide.

      ‘Can this evolution and/or revolution be delivered for Scotland by Westminster or does it need an Independent Scottish Government?’

      Neither: that revolution can only be delivered by those people themselves by their assuming control of the decision-making that affects their lives in their neighbourhoods.

      ‘What will engage people to take responsibility to consider what change they want and to input to the process to enable it?’

      Crises; situations in which normal life breaks down and people have mobilise in their neighbourhoods to look after themselves.

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