Politics - Scotland

2007 - 2022

Independence, the Queen and the Scottish Greens

queen_original_original1I said Charles, don’t you ever crave
To appear on the front of the Daily Mail Dressed in your Mother’s bridal veil?

Every new announcement from the Westminster government seems to add yet another argument in favour of Scottish independence. Whether it’s by highlighting the massive schism between Scottish and English attitudes to provision of public services by privatising the NHS and making university education based on ability to pay rather than ability to learn, or by putting through legislation that will have a devastating impact on Scots like cutting taxes for the rich while cutting benefits for the needy, everything they currently do seems to come from a book titled “policies that will guarantee Scottish Independence”. We have two full more years of this, and the actual effects of these dogmatic social engineering experiments have yet to be felt, so it’s hard to imagine the political scene in 2014 being anything other than completely hostile to continued Westminster neo-liberal government (which now comes in three flavours). Surely the only thing that can derail the charge towards independence is self-inflicted sabotage, and there’s no way that’s going to happen, is there?So why am I feeling increasingly worried that this is exactly what will happen?

One of the biggest obstacles that independence is on the way to clearing is the notion that it is the premise of people with their heads in the clouds, looking back wistfully on the good old days when Scotland was an independent nation, when we all had haggis and shortbread for breakfast, washed down with a bottle of Irn Bru, before donning our kilts to go out hunting Englishmen, shouting “och aye the noo!” along the way. I’ll resist the temptation to paraphrase Alan Partridge in I’m Alan Partridge series 1 episode 5 (“dere’s more to Oirland dan dis”) and simply say that independence has never been about this, at least not for me, but this is how it has been characterised, which is why many nationalists, myself included, for many years would shy away from declaring our view that Scotland should be an independent country, simply because (in my case) I didn’t need to give people another reason to think I was strange. But we’re getting past this – it is being “normalised”, if you like – and independence is increasingly being seen as a valid, and most importantly practical, direction for Scotland in the future.

This is the biggest battle, and it is indeed a big one. All ideas that the sky will fall down if all our political decisions are made in Holyrood rather than Westminster need to be eradicated, in order to combat the fear people have. It needs to be the overriding priority of anyone who wants independence. Keep the eyes on the prize, and think about what is practical and what is not. The SNP get this, which is why they have softened their stance on things like the monarchy. But other parties do not seem to understand this concept, and are instead intent on making grand statements about how if we don’t create the perfect state from the start, then there is no point in gaining independence at all. The most prominent example of this is the monarchy, although other things like the currency, NATO membership and Europe all contain potential for cracks to appear. It is imperative that we remain pragmatic and don’t let ourselves be victims to the divide & conquer tactics so loved by unionists. Yet Scottish Greens, who should be one of the independence movement’s trump cards, seem intent on getting caught up in other issues – take, for example, their former press officer James Mackenzie on Better Nation last year in an article which quickly became an epic off-topic debate about James’ implied stance that he would not vote for independence if it did not include abolishing the monarchy, or Patrick Harvie tweeting that any debate on independence must include a debate on how to appoint the head of state. There are numerous other examples of other people (some even SNP members) getting hung up on an issue which is completely separate from the question at hand: do we want Scotland to be governed by the Scottish Government, or by Westminster?

Some people want an independent republic (I’m one of them), while others are actually kind of attached to the Queen, but still want independence. The views being espoused by the Scottish Greens in particular (as well as current and former members of the SSP) suggest that we should ignore the views of those who share part of our view, and only pay attention to those who agree with us 100%. By trying to tie republicanism in with independence, all we do is give the unionists a lifeline. We expose a crack which they will then pounce on, relentlessly jabbing their fingers in to create a gaping hole between the various parts of the independence movement. This is particularly frustrating when it comes from socialists, who must surely be only too aware of what happens when a political movement allows itself to become focused on areas of disagreement, rather than the common goal. There are some fantastic politicians and people throughout all areas of the independence movement, but some of them need to recognise that this debate is about convincing the general public about what is best for their future, and the general public are, in the main, not concerned with political naval-gazing.

Even more importantly, it simply isn’t practical to try and resolve these two issues (or any other issues) at once, so the pragmatic approach is to choose your battles depending on how they can be won. The UK is not going to vote to end the monarchy, so even if every person in Scotland wanted rid of the Queen, it will not happen under the union. However, if there is indeed a republican majority in Scotland after independence, then abolishing the monarchy is simple next step. But if we don’t have that majority, then who are fundamentalist republicans to deny the rest of us independence by cutting their nose off to spite their face?

Independence is about providing a practical alternative to the status quo. We must not allow it to become derailed by ideologues. Don’t forget why we are doing this, and remember that nobody ever gets everything they want all at once.

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  1. 3psteve says:

    Interesting piece. Cards on the table – I’m an SSP supporter. I agree with a lot of what you say. I watched a conversation on twitter between Gerry Hassan, Pat Kane and James which was very much along the lines of, we’re not getting offered the vision of independence we want so we’re going to throw our toys out of the pram.

    That’s a shame. The SSP through Colin Fox and others has always tried to play an active part of the Scottish Independence Convention, precisely because we need a way to allow people with diverse politics to come together and campaign for independence in a united way. My advice to Gerry, Pat, the Greens and other to get more involved with the convention.

    However, where I take issue with what you’re saying a bit, is that for me independence has never been an end in itself, I see it as our best best for improving the lives of ordinary people. And because of that, I think it’s really important that people hear the different reasons why people want independence. I think if that is handled well, rather than fragmenting the pro indy side, it will allow it to appeal to a wider cross section of society than just the SNP alone can muster.

    1. Doug Daniel says:

      Oh absolutely, we need to hear the different visions of what an independent Scotland can look like, but as you say it needs to be handled well. That does not included effectively saying “well if it’s not exactly what I want straight off the bat, then I’m not interested.”

      Definitely not saying independence is an end in itself, bit it’s the first step to achieving what we want. It’s a tool, but an incredibly important tool. You don’t pick up a screwdriver to find your screws have magically screwed themselves into the wall, but they’ll never get in there at all if you don’t first pick up a screwdriver. You could use a hammer, but that’s not the right tool and will actually damage the screw and the wall surrounding it.

      (That last bit is meant to be a sort of metaphor for devolution max/plus/squared/exponential/whatever…)

      1. Siôn Jones says:

        Surely, after a few years after independence, an independent Scotland will look how the people of Scotland want it to look, not how the SNP or anyone else can dictate now. That is the whole point of independence. After independence there will undoubtedly be a fragmentations and re-alignment of Scottish Politics, which is surely one of its greatest attractions. The question of the head of state will also be up for grabs. For now, it is irrelevant.

  2. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    This is a message that needs to be hammered home relentlessly.
    Similarly on the EU issue.

    These are matters that the Scottish people will decide on after we are independent.

    As an aside Lamontable’s attack via blankets was declared a bit of a big hit by much of the press.
    I don’t think so. I think it has had an opposite effect among sensible voters.

    As one said to me “Next thing we’ll be hearing is that Alex Salmond should be counting the sausages in the canteens”

    1. Doug Daniel says:

      “Next thing we’ll be hearing is that Alex Salmond should be counting the sausages in the canteens”


      The blanket story seems to be “we’ve found two people who had problems, therefore that means there is a massive funding gap in the entire NHS.” No, it means two people were unfortunate enough to be in the 1% of patients who have a bad experience at hospital. The hospital in question has repeated again that the blankets were there, it was just a problem of getting them to the two patients.

      Also, without meaning to sound heartless, I would be surprised if what the patients say were not just THEIR sides of the stories.

      Oh, and I completely agree in regards to the EU. Argue about that after we have the power to determine it for ourselves.

  3. bellacaledonia says:

    It would have more punch from the SGP if they spoke up the issue. It’s Top Secret party policy, presumably still a hangover from Robin Harper… who

    “At a National Library event, when questioned on the role the Greens might play in a referendum on Scottish independence, Harper confessed that, while he was entirely in favour of a referendum to test the views of the Scottish people, he was also “completely neutral personally” on the issue of independence. There is something delightfully eccentric and naïve about a man who is so passionate about politics admitting in public that he is neutral on what will be the great dividing issue in Scottish politics in the immediate future.”

  4. Colin says:

    Could not agree more. It’s this sort of fundamentalism which will destroy the progress that has been made convincing more people of the argument. We need to take the country with us. When we are free to decide our own affairs we can then thrash out the nitty-gritty in a democratic way. We can’t do that as part of the British state.

  5. EricF says:

    I completely agree with you Doug. I, also, am a republican, but this referendum is not about the monarchy, nor is it about the precise shape an independent Scotland will have – it’s about what constitutional set-up will best allow Scots draw that shape. Of course monarchy’s an issue, and one which will be decided by Scots when they are in a position to make that decision. Or are we now looking at a referendum which must now contain a wider variety of questions:

    Do you agree that Scotland should become an independent a) republic
    b) country keeping the monarchy as at present?
    c) country keeping the monarchy but with enhanced/diminished powers?

    d)By the way do you think Charles should get next go?

  6. James says:

    I love the tension between “we want the Greens to take part in the debate” and “OMFG the Greens don’t agree with us on the details”. If we agreed on the details, or that independence was the most important objective of Scottish politics, we’d be in the SNP.

    I got into politics because I wanted a fairer and greener and more democratic society. I held the position Robin held for some years after becoming political, and don’t have a nationalist bone in my body. I’ve come to support independence because I don’t see how the UK political system can ever deliver what I want in those areas.

    Under “democratic” four of the main things I want are fair votes, big money out of politics, an end to the hereditary principle, and a clear constitution set by and amendable by the people. Holyrood has kinda the first, although decent sized STV constituencies would remove the imbalances and that’s SNP policy, so why would an independent Holyrood stick with pseudo-proportional AMS, other than self-interest? On the second we have an SNP determined to be seen next to the likes of Trump, Soutar, Murdoch & McColl, which hardly bodes well. On the third, longstanding SNP policy got swept away without consultation, as opposition to NATO will surely next, and even those who aren’t in the SNP are told to keep quiet. On the fourth, another epic Better Nation thread was full of SNP activists telling me I’m wrong to want the people to be involved in writing the constitution for the better Scotland we’re to be offered.

    I think the SNP should set SNP policy on this, not a leadership cabal. And I think the people of Scotland should decide what they want, not the SNP. I don’t believe the independence convention is a good route for a broader discussion, based on the mindbendingly dull and partisan meeting I went to, but that might have been a bad day. And I can also assure you, sadly, that the Greens don’t have the capacity to run an alternative and open national convention, especially when there’s no sign of Ministers in listening mode, unlike pre-2011 for obvious reasons.

    You want to run a timid don’t-scare the horses minimal change campaign with a hint that we might fix it after the result? Fine, but I’m not going along with that. My fear is that we end up with Westminster under Arthur’s Seat, all the trappings and failures reproduced, and the SNP sitting back, wiping its hands, saying job done.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      The problem is James it’s not really about your nationalist bones but your party’s policy. I agree with you on all of the above, I just don’t understand you either a) have a policy you don’t articulate or b) have the policy at all.

      It’s obvious that one of the reasons is that your former leader didn’t agree with party policy (and neither did the media officer). In this there’s a real irony in you accusing the leadership of the SNP of having a different view from the membership.

      The sadness is that there’s room for a radical pro-indy, green party in Scotland.

      The independence movement is broader and deeper than one party.

    2. Doug Daniel says:

      “Under “democratic” four of the main things I want are fair votes, big money out of politics, an end to the hereditary principle, and a clear constitution set by and amendable by the people.”

      Thing is James, I want all that too, and I firmly believe each of those things can be achieved under independence. But why do we have to settle all of it at once?

      Look at it this way. I would suggest that all of your aims are shared by majorities in Scotland. But not necessarily the same people. I think I’m right in saying that SNP, Greens and Lib Dems all support STV – yet straight away you can see the problems with trying to get the Lib Dems to back a “vote independence for fairer votes” campaign. There are people in the Labour Party who are republican. Once Scotland is independent, they would (presumably) join a campaign for a republic, but they are not going to join a “vote for an independent Scottish republic” today.

      This is why I’m talking about the need for pragmatism. To be honest, I find it slightly odd that you don’t see this, since your own reasons for supporting independence are completely pragmatic. You’ve correctly identified that we are not going to see any of these things whilst in the UK – Lords reform has been on the cards for decades, and has never been resolved; the UK couldn’t even be persuaded to vote for a pithy little change form FPTP to AV, never mind getting them to vote for a proportional system; there is absolutely no appetite whatsoever for a written constitution in the UK, never mind one written by the people; and England is too attached to the monarchy to see the UK become the UR.

      We’re never going to get any of that while we’re in the UK. But we might get it under independence. I can’t guarantee that, but I would be amazed if it didn’t happen. But the thing is, we need to have the powers to decide these things first. I think we can reach out to those in Scotland who share similar ideals by saying “you won’t get rid of the heredity principle in the UK, but you might get it in Scotland”.

      I just think it’s cutting your nose off to spite your face a bit to say that if an independent Scotland is not exactly how you want it straight away, then you’re not interested. After all, you’re not getting offered anything better under the current arrangement.

      We won’t end up with Westminster under Arthur’s Seat, precisely because that failed system is one of the reasons most people want independence. Besides, even if the SNP did sit back after independence saying “job one”, to an extent they would be right, as they were a party formed to get independence. It is then the job of the whole country to decide where we go from there – including those who naively thought the UK can be a force for good, but were defeated.

  7. douglas clark says:

    Doug Daniel,

    This is a timely article. If Patrick Harvie wants a meaningful discussion on how we elect a Head of State, the only way he will get that in the foreseeable future is by backing independence.

    I do think, however, that the SNP should spell out a bit more clearly their intentions on referenda after independence. We are a sovereign people and on constitutional issues I would like to have my say, and you yours, rather than the sort of stitch ups that we have at present with Westminster.

    But I do not think we need to proceed on leaving the EU, leaving NATO and getting rid of the monarch as a matter of any great urgency. It would behove the country to take a ‘time out’ on further constitutional changes until we establish exactly what we’ve achieved by voting for independence in the first place.

    It seems possible to me that there may be benefits of direct membership of the EU that we are currently unaware of, perhaps by joining with other smallish nations we could move the whole project in a slightly different direction.

    Anyway, it’s nice to be amongst fellow Republicans!

    1. Doug Daniel says:

      Absolutely, namesake. There will be a period of change after independence, and once that’s over, we’ll be able to stand back and see what comes next.

      What I think some people are missing is that independence is not an end, it’s a beginning. We are not going to be voting on the future make up of Scotland for all eternity, we’re just voting on whether or not Scotland should have the power to make its own decisions and decide that future for itself. Trying to create the perfect state in one go is not only a near impossible task, but it is one which is guaranteed to fail.

      The way to progress is to build consensus, not say “this is what I think, and if you don’t agree then I’m not playing.”

      1. David McCann says:

        My apologies to George or anyone else on here if I assumed they were not voting Yes, come 2014. However, there were some who were of that mind, so it was to them I should have addressed remarks. The last thing we need is falling out over the triviality that is the monarchy post independence. Lets get there first! Doug Daniel puts it very well above.

  8. georgemackin says:

    Doug, I think most folk who are in support of independence will support independence. The amount of people saying that we will only support independence if it is a Republic- I don’t think is a huge constituency.

    Why however the active support for the British Monarchy by the SNP?

    Why the dropping of the commitment to have a vote on the role of the monarchy in the first term of an independent parliament?

    Yes to 3p3- all parties who support independence should be in the Independence Convention. .

  9. Good to read some sense.
    Let’s get Independence first, then elect a government, then sort out Europe, the monarchy, and everything else.
    But I don’t agree that the SNP can say now what will happen after Independence. We do not know the shape or make-up of our new government.

    1. Siôn Jones says:

      Spot on! All the SNP can do is suggest possibilities rather than promise them.

  10. David McCann says:

    I completely agree with the thrust of this article. It really needs to be said. Like many others members of the SNP, I am a republican, and regularly and bite my tongue when I hear Alex banging on about the monarchy! That does not mean I wont be supporting independence. Independence is just a means to an end, and those in other pro-independence parties should be doing likewise.
    My mantra from now until 2014 is Vote NO- GET NOWT!

    1. bellacaledonia says:


      I like that: VOTE NO – GET NOWT

      Something to repeat over next two years 🙂


  11. EricF says:

    James, if you don’t believe the 4 things you list can happen under the Westminster system then you must support independence. If you then don’t believe they can happen in an independent Scotland then you’re stuffed. Might as well shut up shop and go home. I agree with your 4 points – please articulate them loudly in the campaign for the independent Scotland you’d like to see, but don’t set them as preconditions for support. The campaign for a fair, democratic system long predates the campaign for Scottish Independence, and will continue after it.

  12. georgemackin says:

    So many Republicans in a pro -monarchist party.Yikes. A republican who stays silent and who defends the Scottish National Party, is many things but certainly not a Republican.

    You may call it pragmatism I would call it downright dishonest- others defend the “Crown Powers of the British State” whilst you remain not neutral but actively support the Royal Family and the British Army. Shame on you.

    Once we get in power then we can challenge the powers that be…I shall define the lines of permissible thought and name call others who raise awkward questions.

    ‘Until the Twelve of Never and That’s a Long time, Long time’… Never gonna happen.

    That’s what New Labour told us and look how shite they were in government. Who is to say that the SNP are and will be any better?

    There are many people who are not Scottish National Party members who support independence but let’s pretend that your party speaks for a whole nation. How many times I have heard that said by members of that party – “once we get independence then we can talk about… That is too high a price for me and good on Patrick Harvie for ‘raising the debate’.

    To handle a debate is not to have a debate. Where does power truly lie? Who is responsible for people’s woes?

    I would take it then from the deafening silence from the so called Republicans in the SNP, that that the SNP are in favour of retaining the Monarchy and will not be given the people of Scotland a chance to vote whether or not we retain them and as a consequence you are in favour of this noxious political managerial stitch up.

    1. Siôn Jones says:

      I don’t think you support independence. That is just a sop to keep the rest of us reading. Like the currency, the head of state is a pro-tem arrangement, and anyone who has managed change in any organisation will tell you that you limit change to the essentials in the first instance, leaving other things till later.

      And I speak as an avid member of http://www.republic.org.uk

    2. David McCann says:

      And a Republican who will not vote for Independence for Scotland when given the once in 300 years chance to do so, does not really believe in independence. Presumably you would rather die under the Union than compromise your ideals? It was ever thus for some of those on the left.

      And by the way, the SNP will only be in government post independence, if the people so wish. Its called democracy.

  13. Robert says:

    Off topic just discovered this site debunking Unionist myths


    1) Royal Bank of Scotland: The cost of bailing out RBS would have bankrupted an independent Scotland.

    Scottish GDP in 2008 was an estimated £145 billion. The cost to the UK of the RBS / HBOS bail out in 2008 was £88 billion. However the actual Scottish share on a per capita basis was £8.8 billion, and on the debt accrued by the Scottish registered banks which would have been an independent Scotland’s liability is estimated at £2.4 billion. We’d only have had to cough up even that much assuming that Scotland implemented the same slash-and-burn approach to regulation of the financial sector as Westminster.

    The Unionists would have us believe that we’d be bankrupted by the price of a £1 bus fare out of a London riot zone, even though we’ve got £75 in our pocket. And we can reasonably hope to get a refund on that bus ticket at some point in the future.

    It wasn’t Scotland that allowed bankers to run riot, it was Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. Brown and Darling and their ilk are effectively telling us we can’t be independent because they’re so bleedin’ incompetent. But we already know that, which is why we’re not so inclined to vote for them any more.

    As Andrew Hughes Hallett. Professor of Economics at St Andrew’s University, put it, speaking on Radio Scotland.

    “The real point here, and this is the real point, is by international convention, when banks which operate in more than one country get into these sorts of conditions, the bailout is shared in proportion to the area of activities of those banks, and therefore it’s shared between several countries. In the case of the RBS, I’m not sure of the exact numbers, but roughly speaking 90% of its operations are in England and 10% are in Scotland, the result being, by that convention, therefore, that the rest of the UK would have to carry 90% of the liabilities of the RBS and Scotland 10%. And the precedent for this, if you want to go into the details, are the Fortis Bank and the Dexia Bank, which are two banks which were shared between France, Belgium and the Netherlands, at the same time were bailed out in proportion by France, Belgium and the Netherlands.”

    2) Benefits: An independent Scotland couldn’t afford to pay the bill for everyone on benefits.

    This myth was put about by leader of the Scottish Tories, Ruth Davidson the Action Krankie. Her great strengths are abseiling, kick-boxing and making a face like a lemon whenever anyone mentions “independence” or “Tory irrelevance”. Ruth is deeply concerned about the ability of an independent Scotland to pay its welfare benefits bill, because after independence she’ll be unemployable.

    Ruth said that the amount Scotland spends on welfare benefits is greater than the amount we receive in taxation from North Sea Oil. So we wouldn’t be able to afford bus passes and old age pensions.

    Ruth can tie ropes together, but either she struggles to cope with joined up thinking or she imagines Scottish voters do. Her statement rests upon the bizarre notion that no one in the country pays any taxes at all and we have no industries, economic activity or employment, except the oil.

    The whisky industry alone contributes £800 million annually to the Scottish economy, then there’s tourism, manufacturing, the financial sector, and all the other jobs that have so far managed to avoid the swingeing cuts being imposed by Westminster.

    So as you get up out of bed to go to work of a morning, remember that Ruth thinks you don’t have a job at all. Since her own job as leader of a non-existent party is pretty much a non-job, it’s easy to see why she’s confused.

    Scotland receives less from the Union than it contributes, according to the UK government’s own figures: see Subsidies. We more than pay our own way already, we more than pay for the benefits received by inhabitants of Scotland. According to the most recent Government Expenditure and Revenues Statistics (GERS), the annual benefit bill is a lower proportion of Scottish revenue than it is across the UK as a whole. All benefits paid out in Scotland total 40% of all revenues collected from Scotland. Across the UK as a whole, the benefits bill makes up 42% of all expenditure. This means that Scotland can more easily afford to pay decent benefits to its citizens than the UK as a whole is able to. We don’t depend on Westminster to foot our unemployment bill, we only depend on Westminster to create mass unemployment in the first place. That’s something Tories have historically been quite good at.

    It needs to be pointed out that in the GERS figures a notional share of expenses for “UK national expenditure” is allocated to Scotland even though these monies are not spent in Scotland. The London Olympics and the high speed railway between London and Birmingham are deemed to be “national expenditure”. Scotland is also allocated a share of the cost of Trident and an overblown defence budget which is wasted on aircraft carriers without planes and the cancellation of Nimrod after spending billions on the project. The GERS figures don’t represent the government expenditure of an independent Scotland accurately, they portray a worst case Westminster scenario. In reality we’d be considerably better off.

    3) Central bank: We can’t really be independent without our own currency and a central bank.

    The Scottish Government proposes that after independence, Scotland would continue to use the Bank of England as its central bank and would negotiate with the rump-UK to form a new sterling area. This would benefit both the rump-UK and Scotland as it would guarantee financial and economic stability for both parties.

    Despite its name, the Bank of England is the UK central bank, and as such Scots have a percentage share in it. As an independent nation we would not be without influence in the central bank, as we are shareholders in it and would be party to negotiations to form a new sterling area. At the moment we only have the influence of George Osborne and Danny Alexander, even a minority say in the Bank of England is better than that. But more importantly we’d have full control over our own tax and spending.

    Having your own currency is not the definitive mark of an independent nation. Quite a few independent nations manage quite happily with shared a central bank and a shared currency. Apart from the 17 countries in the Eurozone, there are six independent Caribbean states who share the East Caribbean dollar (EC$), which is currently pegged to the US dollar at the fixed rate of US$1 to EC$2.70. The British territories of Anguilla and Montserrat also use the East Caribbean dollar. All eight share a single central bank. In Africa, eight nations share the West African franc and a single central bank located in Senegal. Another six African nations share the Central African franc and a single central bank located in Cameroun. Four southern African nations, South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia and Lesotho, share the rand as common currency.

    The key is sovereignty, not an independent currency or an independent central bank. The point is that all the independent nations who share currencies have the right to decide for themselves whether to continue with the shared currency or to leave it. They can remain with a shared central bank or they can set up their own if the shared bank no longer suits. They can make these decisions based upon their own economic and political needs. Scotland does not currently have any choice, we’re stuck with Westminster’s policies whatever our needs may be. With independence, we’d have the choice.

  14. georgemackin says:

    David, Who is not going to vote for independence? Eh? Where did I say that?

    The SNP are an openly pro-monarchist party. Fact.

    The SNP have abandoned the referendum for having a Scottish Parliament. Fact.

    I support an independent Scotland and will vote for an independent Scotland and the break up of the British State.

    1. “The SNP have abandoned the referendum for having a Scottish Parliament. Fact”

      A few qualifiers. The SNP were active campaigners for a Yes/Yes vote in 1997, but they had not been members of the Scottish Constitutional Convention in the previous two decades, expressly because the Convention would not consider independence as a viable option. Whatever you think of that decision (and I don’t think very highly, nor do I believe Alex Salmond does of his younger self), it was made for ideological reasons. If you are criticising them for failing to engage with the process, fine. If you imagine they are not wholeheartedly in favour of independence, that’s a bit contradictory.

  15. A great article, Doug. I’m an SNP man who actually doesn’t mind the monarchy so much, although I can’t say I’d be devastated or anything if they were abolished. The political pragmatist in me likes the idea of having a ceremonial head of state to undertake many of the First Minister’s less pressing roles, and while I completely see the value of having that person elected, there is something of an aura about the house of Saxe-Coburg Gothe (at least under Elizabeth II) that I think would be missing from a Scottish President.

    This may also be the historian in me appreciating some of our holdovers from past times. I study the period between the Union of the Crowns and the Union of the Parliaments, so for me, a shared crown without a shared assembly would be a fascinating constitutional experiment.

  16. georgemackin says:

    Robert is absolutely right that Scotland can run it’s own affairs. I have no doubt about it.

    Kevin/ Bella Caledonia is also spot on that independence is bigger than than one political party.

    However the SNP is the main party that is driving the Independence debate and they are a party which has a long and sycophantic history of being openly pro-monarchist and Scotland also has a proud tradition of Scottish Radicalism which embraces openly Scottish Republicanism.

    Now I am not suggesting that the SNP become a Republican party but what I would wish from this party is two things. A neutrality on the issue until such a times as we have a vote on this issue.

    Now here is a question for David, Sion and other SNP supporters –

    Are you happy with this state of affairs. I include some information which points out the SNP policy as regards the Monarchy-
    The SNP leader reiterated that the Queen would remain head of state north of the border even if Scots vote for independence in the referendum planned for autumn 2014.

    He also revealed he will lead a debate on the jubilee at the Scottish Parliament in May and predicted the anniversary will be celebrated ”enthusiastically” across Scotland.

    But Mr Salmond faced criticism from opponents, who pointed out that as recently as 2002 the SNP promised a referendum on abolishing the monarchy within a year of obtaining independence.

    In October that year a draft written constitution for an independent Scotland guaranteed that the future of the monarchy would be put to the people of Scotland.

    However, on Tuesday Mr Salmond said: ”Throughout her 60 years reign, Her Majesty the Queen has always had a very sure touch and that’s as it should be.

    ”I’m just very happy and pleased on this Diamond Jubilee year of celebration that all of the communities across the Commonwealth and all of the countries in which she’s head of state can celebrate a truly remarkable lady and a truly remarkable monarch.”

    Asked for his personal view of the Queen, the First Minister described her as a ”very, very wise lady”, adding: ”She has a great sense of humour.”

  17. georgemackin says:

    Bella Caledonia,

    David McCann has falsely suggested that I would not vote for independence I would ask that he retract that remark.


    1. Doug Daniel says:

      Bella Caledonia,

      George Mackin has falsely suggested that I, and others who think the monarchy is a separate issue and should be dealt with another time, “actively support the Royal Family”. I would ask that he retract that remark.


  18. georgemackin says:

    Craig My apologies on that point –

    I meant they the SNP have abandoned the long-term commitment to having a referendum on the Monarchy. See above.

  19. georgemackin says:

    Doug, I said the SNP actively support the Royal Family”.

    1. Doug Daniel says:

      Actually, you said “You may call it pragmatism I would call it downright dishonest- others defend the “Crown Powers of the British State” whilst you remain not neutral but actively support the Royal Family and the British Army. Shame on you.”

      Since I’m the one speaking about pragmatism in the article, I think it’s safe to assume the “you” you’re addressing is me. I should really take offence at the last bit, but I’ve chosen not to.

  20. georgemackin says:

    Doug, I would If I could change that remark if there is any ambiguity on that.

    Let me say again that The SNP are an openly pro monarchist party.

    Are you happy with that? Surely not?

    And if you are, by default you are an ipso facto supporter of the British Monarchy, are you not?

    1. Doug Daniel says:

      I’m only a supporter of the monarchy if I say “I don’t think Scotland should be a republic”. All I’m saying is it’s a separate issue from whether we want the Scottish Parliament to make all our laws, collect and spend our taxes, and look after the needs of our nation.

      If saying “leave it for now” is not neutral, then what is? Because there would be nothing neutral about saying “independence must include an end to the monarchy”. That would be pro-republican.

  21. Doug Daniel says:

    George, you are completely misrepresenting the SNP as well as the many people who seek an independent Scottish republic, but realise that we need independence as the first step towards that. Saying “let’s deal with that once we have the powers to do so” is not actively promoting the monarchy – in fact, it is the neutrality you ask for.

    You quote Salmond’s positive comments about the current Queen, but what you miss is that he is describing her as a person. At no point does he say “I hope her family go on to rule over Scotland for all eternity” or anything like that. Salmond’s a canny bugger, so he knows what he’s doing. I find it odd to describe Salmond as a monarchist when he was a part of the republican 79 Group. Just because he seems to have become a bit of a fan of the current Queen does not mean he suddenly thinks a hereditary monarch is best for Scotland in the long term.

    One of the problems republicanism faces is that the current Queen is actually quite popular. There was a question about it on Question Time this week, and one of the panellists said that, while she was in favour of having a republic, she felt the time to have that debate was once the Queen retires or passes away. I think you’ll find there are a lot of people who feel that way, people who don’t agree with a hereditary head of state, but who feel it would be “a bit rude” to suddenly chuck the Queen out when she’s nearing the end of her reign anyway.

    If we make republicanism a condition of independence, then all we do is hand unionists another stick to beat us with. Monarchists in England always bring up the “would you really want Tony Blair as president?” falsehood, and they would do similar up here. We then have to explain to people that Scotland will be a parliamentary democracy, and the sort of all-powerful presidents that people think of when they think of a republic are heads of presidential democracies. I really don’t see the point in creating more avenues for unionists to foster misinformation than are already there.

    But by all means we should talk about whether we want a republic post-independence or not. Who knows, perhaps in the two years or so before the referendum we’ll find out that there is a definitive majority for a republican independent Scotland, and we can say “okay then, that’s what we’ll create.” But my point is we should not be saying “if independence doesn’t mean an end to the monarchy straight away, then I’m not interested.” That is all I am asking.

  22. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    I actually am republican in sentiment but consider the matter to be of very little importance.
    It is a residual historical condition which we didn’t choose but,quite frankly, as the monarchy exercises no executive power whatsover I will loose no sleep over the matter.

    In the meantime Alex Salmond understands only too well that we cannot achieve an independence “yes” in the referendum from a republican position. He undoubtedly gets on very well with the Head of State (and her son).
    That is far and away the most beneficial position to hold in political terms at this moment
    The SNP is a party dedicated to the restoration of independence. It does not predetermine the opinions that will be held by the people of Scotland after independence is achieved .

  23. allanfaulds says:

    This seems to be a bit of a prickly area for us SNP types. On the one hand, it can be damaging to the campaign and demoralising for the campaigners when people from other parties appear to reject independence because they don’t agree with this or that aspect of SNP policy. On the other, we can’t expect – yet are often accused of wanting – to have no debate within the pro-Indy camp.

    The problem for me is that often – but not always – the rejection of SNP policy is done without stating an alternative, and I think is extremely unhelpful. Don’t agree with the SNP policy on the monarchy? Great, neither do I – but don’t just grumble about how you don’t want to be part of that particular vision. Doing that makes it sound like you are against independence full stop.

    Instead, present a positive vision of your own – tell voters what it is you would do in an independent Scotland instead, and explain how that would be a fairer and greener future. It should be made clear that this is the beauty of independence, that it will give Scots the ability to make these decisions for themselves rather than have them foisted on us by Westminster Government.

    That’s the kind of campaign i believe we need to have. We need to accept and declare our differences, but at the same time we need to be united in putting forward our belief that independence will be the best way forward, as it will give Scots the power to choose for themselves, without outside interference, their preferred vision for their country.

    1. Doug Daniel says:

      Spot on, Allan. Yes, constructive criticism would actually be welcomed, particularly as it would show people that there are competing visions of independence – and you can take your pick which one you subscribe to – whereas there is but one soul-destroying vision of Scotland in the union: “we might give you more powers if you play nicely.”

      I don’t understand it really, as I feel this would be a great opportunity for other pro-independence parties to share a bit of the spotlight and get their messages across to people.

      I tell you what though, the most important thing missing from the debate is a thorough examination of how the nations we seek to draw inspiration from – the Nordic countries, Ireland, Netherlands, Austria, etc – do things, so that people can get away from using Westminster, France and the USA as their templates for How Countries Work.

  24. longshanker says:


    While I think the vision a lot of Independence supporters have of an independent Scotland are nice and positive and seductive, I don’t see how the reality, if carried out without Westminster’s blessing, could be anything other than a dystopian nightmare.

    On topic. Accommodating Queenie post-Independence. Will this mean Scotland keeps the Royal prerogative? I do think this is probably a stupid question, but I haven’t seen an answer to it anywhere. Can you point me in the right direction?

    Off topic but on thread of argument. What are the positives to these three scenarios?

    1) Contested divorces are always vicious and protracted and no one comes out of them as a clear cut winner. Can we guarantee that we wont end up in years/decades of finance draining, politically acrimonious, legal wranglings with Westminster?

    2) Taking Dunoon, Arran and Edinburgh as examples: How many natives can actually afford to buy homes and live there any more? Why wont this be exacerbated in numerous other areas post independence?

    3) You want to see Scotland free of the influence of big business. Why has the leader of the SNP been so back breakingly accommodating of it? Trump, Souter and Murdoch have already set an embarrassing, plain for all to see, precedent.

    Don’t discount me as being negative either. I like the idea of Independence. I fear the potential reality as a continuous wrangling of increasingly acrimonious exchanges between the Scots and Westminster. Nothing I’ve seen, read or heard so far has convinced me of anything different. Help me out buddy. I know you’ll grant me the respect these questions deserve.

    1. Doug Daniel says:

      1. What kind of legal wranglings are we going to get into? This is the kind of nameless dread that people come out with to scare folk from voting for independence, but this sort of ambiguity is completely unhelpful and ultimately pointless, unless your aim is indeed to scare folk. There are precedents for countries leaving British state control, and as far as I’m aware, none of them have led to protracted periods of discontent between the UK and the newly independent country. If you have examples of this, then name them; otherwise, it seems to me that when countries leave British control, it always leads to an improved relationship. I find it hard to imagine this not also being true of Scotland and rUK, as an almighty chip will have fallen off our collective shoulder.

      2. Why would it? If we can’t claim on the one hand that independence will magically turn Scotland into a world of milk and honey, then similarly we can’t claim on the other hand that it will magically turn Scotland into a desolate wasteland. Besides, look at it this way: having the lowest percentage of home ownership in Europe has not disadvantaged Germany in any way.

      3. You’re making a common error here. There is a big difference between sucking up to big business, and actually allowing big business to dictate government policy. If Salmond is so back-breakingly accommodating of Trump, why does Trump say Salmond has “betrayed” him? Why are we proceeding with a project that is causing Trump to threaten to pull out? Similarly, if Souter is really as influential in the SNP as people like to make out, then why are we in the process of allowing gay marriage? Is that not completely against his principles? As for Murdoch, how has he influenced any Scottish Government decisions? Salmond sucked up to him to get good press before the last election, and it worked. People think Salmond has given Murdoch some sort of personal guarantee that Scotland will have a tax regime suited to Murdoch – but those same people thought Trump had free reign to do what he want. Besides, if Murdoch thinks he can dictate how Scotland will look once we’re independent, I’ve got news for him: he can’t.

      But let’s not tell him that just now – let’s wait until after the referendum to give him the bad news. In the meantime, we’ll bask in the good headlines that will come from the media empire he claims not to dictate policy to…

      Few things are more satisfying than using and abusing people who think they’re big, important businessmen. They think they rule the world, but little do they know we’ve stuck a “KICK ME” sign on their back.

      I think that if you really do like the idea of independence, you need to stop listening to negative scare stories and just ask why these things would happen. And if you want proof that the sky won’t fall in, I would recommend looking at the slideshow in the previous article. You’ll see many of the same arguments being used to argue against devolution, and as you’ll no doubt have noticed, the sky is still where it’s always been.

      1. longshanker says:

        Cheers Doug

        I knew you’d come good.

        Just to let you know, I’m not trying to scare anyone. I’m voicing my genuine fears of the way I see it based on a multitude of variables. And, of course, the situation can’t be anything other than ambiguous due to the nature of the unknowns.

        I don’t agree with you on 1) The legal wranglings will be based on legitimacy, supremacy and unamendable provisions of union, issues which are bound to come out of the woodwork from what was effectively a legally binding Union in 1707.
        Other independence cases you allude to have less legal resonance for the UK considering the majority of them were countries colonised by military force.
        India’s independence was fairly protracted and bloody and look at the schism created in that country post independence – Pakistan, India, Kashmir.

        2) Fair point you’re making. The intention behind my original point is that post independence I can see Scotland attracting an influx of speculators and inevitable attendant economic dependents. Property prices would rise forcing indigenous natives out – whether it be rent or purchase price. Take a look at what’s happening with Burma just now. And check the social situations in Arran and Dunoon. But discount this, it’s happening without indpendence. I can only see it get worse post.

        3) There’s no error involved here. I’m alluding to the fact that the political operation of Salmond is like any other politician on the make. You know the ins and outs of the Trump planning case better than me, due to location. But for the Scottish Executive to operate in a technically legal but, ultimately unprecedented, manner in order to accommodate a megalomaniacal millionaire doesn’t bode well for the future. Trump’s actions post planning only illustrate the manner in which Salmond can be so easily out maneuvered and taken by surprise by people of similar calibre.

        I’ll have to accuse you of being naive here. What you say relies on faith in the integrity of Salmond. I think he’s one of the best political operators in the UK without doubt. But you can’t be that good, or reach the stage he has, without being slimier than the slimiest and possessing the qualities of a Prince of Machiavellian stature.

        The danger for Salmond with the Souter case is that too many business magnates start dissing him as untrustable. Are you one of the faithful who believe that Salmond had nothing to do with Souter’s knighthood?

        Paul Walsh, head honcho of Diageo, publicly censured Salmond in 2009, made him look like an amateur, and axed 700 peoples jobs while effortlessly passing some of the blame squarely onto his ministerial shoulders.

        Murdoch is/was the ultimate businessman. Salmond’s good – Murdoch’s better. Murdoch has extracted something or several things – he wouldn’t be such good buddies with Salmond otherways. To think anything else begins to breech the bounds of credibility and verges on gullibility. And I’m not trying to be offensive so please don’t take it that way.

        I’m not listening to scare stories. It’s what I think and I’m open to being convinced otherways. I’m looking for an emollient.

        If I thought independence was just a simple case of voting yes and waiting till 2016 to be free from the spectre of Westminsters’ self serving Tories, Judas liberals and warmongering Labourites, I’d vote for it tomorrow. They have more to lose than we have to gain. And that’s why, to me, it can’t get anything other than nasty and potentially harmful. I’ll emphasis ‘potentially’.

        PS, I haven’t seen the slideshow but there was an excellent Vimeo film I viewed a couple of weeks ago. It lasts around a 1/2 hour, is well grounded regarding Scotland and her history, and is pro-Independence without the Braveheart partisanship. I can’t find it now, any idea what it’s called?


      2. Doug Daniel says:

        In regards to point 1, I don’t think we should be comparing post-independent Scotland to situations like Pakistan, India and Kashmir. It’s not really credible to speculate on a break-up of Scotland post-independence, because the nearest we have to an internal conflict is the sectarianism in Glasgow and surrounding areas, and that is not even in the same league as countries which have had to be partitioned to combat internal strife. It’s just not feasible to think that Scotland will start splitting up into smaller chunks, least of all because we don’t have any sort of line across the country that splits Scotland up into catholic territory and protestant territory, or nationalist territory and unionist territory, or anything like that. Scotland is already a country, and this will not change – we’ll just be gaining the full powers of nation statehood.

        As for 3, I’d point out that while the Scottish Government’s actions were indeed unprecedented, it was because here was an opportunity for an investment into Scotland that potentially had national importance, but they were seeing it slipping through our fingers due to a local council. I think they were absolutely correct here, because to be perfectly honest I don’t think it is right to have such a big decision left in the hands of councillors – councils tend to be full of over-achieving busybodies, retired teachers and fledgling politicians who have yet to prove their worth (as well as many who have proven to be incapable of further political careers), none of whom should really be tasked with such important decisions. I think the Edinburgh Trams debacle is testament to that fact. Then again, maybe I’m just utterly cynical because of how incompetent Aberdeen council has been over the past decade and more.

        You say the current Trump situation is proof that Salmond can be outmanouvered, but again, I would argue that it is actually the oafish Trump that has been “Trumped”, since he thought he had Salmond’s ear, and this has proven not to be the case. It has shown Salmond is not anti-business, but is also not afraid to stand up to big business either. That’s pretty much what you want from a government. Is he Machiavellian? Of course – but I would say he uses those qualities in the interests of Scotland, rather than for himself. Therein lies the difference between him and politicians such as Blair and Cameron – he still has a central, pure ideology at the heart of everything he does. Ignore what opponents say about him merely wanting to become President Salmond – the only glory Salmond seeks is to be the one who took Scotland to independence. Anyone who has watched him speaking in person can testify to that.

        As for Murdoch, quite simply Salmond can’t promise him anything, since the people of Scotland will decide what happens post-independence, nae Salmond. If Murdoch has fallen for some promise of a favourable tax regime in independent Scotland, or whatever, he’s a fool to think anyone can promise that ahead of the first Scottish election post-2014. Besides, Murdoch is pretty angry at the British establishment just now (bear in mind who owns the paper that broke the Cruddas story, and his consequent comments on Twitter), so I’m not convinced it will have taken too much convincing to get him on board. “Any enemy of them is a friend of mine” and all that.

        My final point – no country stands to lose more than another country stands to gain from becoming independent. Not in my mind, anyway.

  25. Dave McEwan Hill says:


    Can you give some idea why you think the people of Scotland are any less able than the people of anywhere else in dealing with the issues you list.

    Which particular long and acrimonious divorce are you referring to? 1919 to 1921 in Ireland is the last one I can think of that might provide a parallel but its a pretty tenuous one.
    Signatories to the United Nations Charter behave according to the provisions of that charter in these cases.

    I don’t believe you have any interest in independence but you’ll have to raise your game

  26. longshanker says:


    Where have I ever stated or implied that I don’t think the Scots are able to deal with independence or the issues listed? I was looking for positives, when the indicators, so far, are pretty damn negative and hardly clarion calls for a ‘dont know’ ditherer to take the leap of faith and vote for independence.

    Ireland 1919 to 21? What about the previous five years of political violence? Of course, the resolution was an unqualified success wasn’t it? A partitioned country with bloody schism in the North that couldn’t by any stretch of the imagination be considered settled – even now. And that’s from nearly a hundred years ago. Seems like a long time to me.

    United Nations Charter. Good one. There are probably more failures than successes here. At best the United Nations would lend us their ear. How long before a resolution when we’re fighting our case in the International Court of Justice? Are you seriously suggesting it would be quick, or friendly for that matter? Don’t make me laugh.

    I’m not interested in what you believe about my interest in independence.

    Why will I have to raise my game? Because you’re on a higher plane of understanding? Because I don’t know what to vote? Because hardly anything the Braveheart Commandos of the world have to say makes sense? Try and be a wee bit more patronising next time why don’t you.

    Oh and FYI, you’ll have to raise YOUR game before I address you as Mr High and Mighty.

    With only independence on the table I see the choice as a choice between damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

    What happened to progressiveness? I think Cameron is going to call Salmond’s bluff and insist on a single question. He already said so at the Tory conference.

    If it does come down to one question only, we’re going to lose big time, no matter the result –
    Status quo or hostile Westminster agitation. MacHobsons choice indeed.

  27. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    No You ‘re going to have to raise you’re game because you are talking nonsense.
    Of course we’re going to have single question.
    Alex Salmond has flown the Devo Max flag to create confusion in the unionist camp which is exactly what it has done. There are now a swathes of unionist organisations shouting for two
    questions while their leaders insist only one. Perhaps you should listent to what Alex Salmond says. He says that if the proposers of Devo Max can come up with an agreed set of proposals then consideration of it being out on the ballot paper is possible. He knows they can’t of course
    You haven’t been listening

    1. longshanker says:

      No. You haven’t been interpreting. Consider an ALS interpreter bunny, You need it.

      1. Doug Daniel says:

        Dave’s right here. Salmond has played a blinder with the Devo Max thing. The media and his opponents have been so keen to paint Salmond as really wanting Devo Max, they’ve failed to really listen to what is said every time he states the government position – that they favour a single question. Where is the logic in settling for something that is not even second-best when the prize he has seeked his entire political life – and beyond – is so tantalisingly close?

        Sometimes people mean exactly what they say – and it can be the most effective way of bamboozling your opponents. It’s essentially a double bluff. Without Devo Max, you have the unionists able to mount a concerted, joined-up campaign against independence right from the start. But as it stands, they’re divided as to what to offer Scotland, when to offer it, how to offer it, and they can’t even get themselves organised within their own parties, never mind between parties. Similarly, instead of being forced to decide if they want independence or not, the public are being asked to consider how much power they want Scotland to have.

        We’re only two months down the line, and already only the most staunchest of staunch unionists have had to concede that Scotland will get more powers, regardless of the referendum result.

        1. longshanker says:

          We’ll have to agree to disagree on this. At the moment, until the referendum consultation is over, it can only be conjecture.
          On the other hand, if you look at the Jim Sillars (Holyrood) attack on this site, you would have to wonder why he’s making it if Salmond really is so committed to the Independence only stance.

          One thing that has particularly impressed me about Salmond is the way he has kept the rest of the party on board and singing in tune.

          SIllars tirade is definitely the first shot of potentially fractious in-fighting within the SNP.

          Devo-Max or whatever it will be called, provides the only viable alternative, at this moment in time, to a ditherer like me.

          An Ipsos-MORI poll published recently backs up that a Devo-Max (whatever) option is more in tune with a sizably majorative chunk of the Scots electorate.

          The Electoral Reform Society are behind it. As far as I know they don’t have an axe to grind other than fulfilling the needs of the electorate.

          Look at Boris Jonson. Quite recently he unequivocally rejected the assertion that he wanted to be Prime Minister. Did you believe him? I didn’t.

      2. Doug Daniel says:

        Obviously I mean “all BUT the most staunchest of staunch unionists” there…

      3. Doug Daniel says:

        Well, as Dave says below, Sillars is very much an outsider within the SNP (I’m not even sure if he’s still a member or not – I assume not since his wife was expelled, but I can’t find details anywhere on the internet). Sillars holds considerably less sway in the SNP than George Galloway did in his last days in Labour, and as he and his wife are already high-profile critics of Slamond and current SNP policy, it’s not exactly earth-shattering when they disagree with something. One thing it is not a sign of is the beginnings of cracks in the SNP.

        As for Boris Johnson, what does he stand for? He’s a man bred for power, and that’s it. But people join the SNP for one purpose, and it’s not power. Certainly not those who have been campaigning for independence as long as he has.

        Anyway, devo max – there are several good critiques of devo max on this site and elsewhere (I may have writen one or two myself), but the main problem with it is it is undeliverable. See, you say it’s a viable alternative, but it’s not really viable at all, because Westminster simply won’t allow it. It won’t appear on the ballot, because there will be no cheerleader for it. So you’ll be faced with the choice of independence (which by 2014 will be fleshed out in such detail that no one will be able to accuse it of being “uncelar” what it means), or voting for the union and hoping that they devolve things a bit more, with absolutely no guarantee. So yes, devo max currently has popular support; but when the referendum comes, people will have to decide what looks more like devo max – independence, or the status quo.

        1. longshanker says:

          Just a shorty.

          What I meant regarding ‘viable alternative’ is based on game theory and the prisoner’s dilemma;
          keep schtum, shop the other guy, or admit guilt.
          The DSE (dominant strategy equilibrium) is shop the other guy. How viable Devo Max in action would be, I honestly don’t know. In my eyes it doesn’t seem anywhere near as bad as the other two potential outcomes and that’s why I see it as the only viable alternative.

          The SNP is too broad a church for Sillars proclamations not to have some sort of resonance. It’s probably why he wrote what he did. Small acorns, mighty oaks etc.

          Agree to disagree. Alex Salmond is the closest Scotland has to a consummate politician. Like all politicians of his status their prime motivation is power and power to change. They all believe they are changing things for the better. Salmond’s no different in that context.

  28. Independent Air says:

    I’m sensing double standards here, the awful neo-liberal capitalism gone badder still, offered by the three brands names of Westminster puppets and the alternative in Scotland is what exactly, outside of education and health? Where are the Scottish left of centre politicians offering a critique of the neo-liberal model that will irk and encourage the Westminster set to further outrages backed by the lunatic ideology they cling to, which outside of a heady mix ox of Zionism and xenophobia is actually all they have, however discredited and universally derided those economic falsehoods and fallacies have proven; how different can it be; is monopoly capitalist, big-business friendly Scotland likely to differ only in rhetoric, or are social and economic changes other than resisting further privatisations too far, in the pipeline. We’re rejecting ideologies, but plan/plot/narrative/shape is desirable to many, if not minute detail, which will flow from principles and self-define after independence; are any of the recent past privatisations of natural monopolies, and basic essential building block industries, critical infrastructure, to be taken back into public hands, eliminating the over-riding for-profit (for a few) motive. Simply resisting say NHS privatisation, leaves us stuck in some limbo of post-Tahtcherite/Blairite prostration, when we should really be aiming for some pre-Thatcher better world that existed, thrown over as it was ‘inefficient’, mainly at fleecing the public and amassing huge fortunes for a few oligarchs. It was actually those nationalised industries, British Telecom, Gas, Leyland, Steel, Rail that were a far greater unifying influence than the bawdy theatre of Westminster or the royalty soap opera or any other aspect of smothering, cloying Britishness applied in great dollops and it’s reality and all they know, a pathetic comfort for some brainwashed number.

    1. Doug Daniel says:

      The alternative cannot be properly shaped until we have the powers to do so, which is why all Scotland can really do at the moment is push back against the further privatisations of Westminster. There is most definitely a place for a more radical left party than the SNP to be making the case for renationalising the industries which are effectively monopolies and which people absolutely depend upon; however, the SNP’s job, as the pro-indy party closest to the centre, is to make independence palatable to as wide a spectrum as possible. Unfortunately, this includes businessmen whose sole concern is how it will affect their bottom line, and as businesses are generally resistant to changes, it’s important to at least neutralise their voice by suggesting that there are benefits for them if Scotland becomes independent. That includes painting one half of the Nordic social democratic model to them (i.e. a business-friendly environment) while conveniently forgetting to paint the other half (higher top rate income tax, with a lower threshold).

      Let’s be clear here though – I’m not saying this is actually the SNP’s position, so I don’t want anyone quoting me as proof that the SNP are calling for higher top-rate income tax. However, it seems logical to me – after all, much is made of the idea to follow Ireland in reducing CT below the UK’s rate, but no one ever mentions that Ireland has a higher top rate of income tax than the UK (and now considerably higher, thanks to the Tories).

      No double standards. As has been set out in other comments, all I and others are asking is that the different voices in the pro-independence side end up at the same conclusion – that we need to get independence first, and then we let the people decide whose version they prefer.

      1. Scott says:

        “all I and others are asking is that the different voices in the pro-independence side end up at the same conclusion – that we need to get independence first, and then we let the people decide whose version they prefer”

        How is this any different to Cameron’s line: ‘just vote no, and then we’ll talk’?

        1. Dave McEwan Hill says:

          What a silly question.
          Voting Yes and getting and independent Scotland isn’t different from voting No and getting nowt?

      2. Doug Daniel says:

        It’s quite simple Scott. This is a referendum on independence. This is a referendum to decide if the parliament of Scotland should make all the political decisions that affect the lives of Scots. This is a referendum that will deliver the ability for Scots to decide what path we take, and who will lead us there. Whatever vision people have of life in an independent Scotland, we can’t get there without independence first.

        Cameron, on the other hand, is saying “vote no and we’ll maybe give you some sort of powers”. Voting no does not guarantee those powers, and we could (and probably will) end up just as powerless as we are now. He also has no reason to wait until after the referendum, but he chooses to do so because he’s not serious about it, and because we’ll have thrown away our trump card.

        Regardless of whose particular vision of an independent Scotland we choose, the fact is we’ll still just be voting for all of Scotland’s powers to be transferred from Westminster to Holyrood. So fall outs amongst the independence camp change and solve nothing. But the level of devolution Cameron says he would give us is completely arbitrary. He needs to tell us what those are so we can decide if they are enough. What we THEN do with those powers is up to us, just like what we do with independence once we get it is up to us.

        If you can’t see the difference, then I pity you.

      3. Scott says:

        My point was that you’re treating the referendum merely as a vehicle, and a prelude to the ‘real’ debate. But that reduces voting for it to machine politics.

        Like Cameron, you seem to be deferring all proper argument and negotiation until after the vote itself — up until that time, we should just trust to the blueprint of the leaders, and show how ‘responsible’ we are by not looking at it too closely. But that approach makes ‘us’ and our votes mere means to an end: an end we might favour over the status quo, but hardly one that could be said to express ‘our’ demand for self-determination, if ‘loyalty’ and ‘discipline’ are what send us into the polling station to vote for it.

        I see what you’re saying, tactically speaking, but it seems very early in the game to hint that everyone in favour of independence should just set aside their differences and screw the nut, etc. The debate has hardly started.

        The demand to be ‘pragmatic’ is, itself, highly ideological, and should be debated as such. Here’s James Kelman on the cross-party demand for anti-Tory ‘solidarity’ at the 1992 General Election:

        ‘…in return for accepting the [anti-Tory] mandate the combined opposition parties, spearheaded by Labour, have always demanded solidarity. And here they are demanding solidarity once again. We don’t know the precise form their demand will take. It seems the combined leadership is “waiting to see”. When this period of interregnum is at an end the People of Scotland will be instructed on the terms of solidarity required of them. We shall be advised of the proper way forward and that we must support this proper way forward at all costs. We shall be asked to retain our collective strength in a unified cross-party struggle, yielding not to easy options, nor to undignified posturing, nor to rash action, nor to impolite hectoring, nor to self righteous tubthumping; propriety will become the mark of the movement. When we march forward we shall march solidly, not breaking ranks; we shall comb our hair and wear smart leather shoes, dress in suits and shirts and ties…’

        (‘Let the Wind Blow High Let the Wind Blow Low’, from*Some Recent Attacks: Essays Cultural and Political*)

        To state the obvious, such ‘demands for solidarity’ — including dark mutterings warning against internal dissent (‘self-sabotage’?) — is hard to square with any demand for freedom and self-determination.

  29. douglas clark says:


    You say:

    I was looking for positives, when the indicators, so far, are pretty damn negative and hardly clarion calls for a ‘dont know’ ditherer to take the leap of faith and vote for independence

    Would you care to share with the rest of us which indicators you are referring to?

    1. longshanker says:

      Look into the original post and work it out for yourself Douglas. Listen to the way the argument is going with Nat v Unionist. Do you call that positive?

      Jeesh. Nats like you have a cheek calling anyone dumb.

      1. douglas clark says:


        Well, spit it out. You claim to be on the borderline of voting for independence and you can’t tell us why you won’t.

        I have never called you dumb. The fact is I disagree with you, but that’s a tad different.

  30. Andrew says:

    Who bear shmoo bear, can i point something out to the posters who demand a pure rebublican nirvana, it dos’nt exist, it’s an idea that is all, where we are now is’nt down to anti monarchist street marches or militant soap box worriers, no gentlemen it is because Mr and Mrs average are now saying to themselves we are different,and we want different things from that which West Minster is offering, if anybody writes a history of Scotland from 2014 onwards they will say that the greatest blow the SNP struck was to make the people believe in themselves again, and that that was the beginning of the end for the British state. To those who’s beliefs will prevent them from voting for Independance because there idiological demands hav’nt been meet i can and would only say this, don’t you dare erse this up for our people, i may be political but more than that i am a normal guy who at the end of the day more than anything else wants my daughter to live in a free country where she and her generation can choose for themselves, if they wish there country to be a Republic/monarchist state that is THERE choice, i think that in all this upheaval people have forgotten that we do this not for ourselves but for our kids and the next generation to follow.
    This is what drives me every day, the thought that she will not live through the wasted years as we did.

  31. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Douglas Clark

    Of course he wont. It’s all bluff and bluster. Kinda sums up the unionist position, actually.

    1. longshanker says:

      Sorry. Care to repeat. Spoken like a true blindly faithful and fervent believer. Point to anything I have said that could be considered a unionist position.

      1. douglas clark says:

        All you address are your fears Longshanker. You claim to be a doubting Thomas when it is pretty plain that no-one can help you. Because you’d doubt the nose on your face.

        What words of condolence would be needed to make you a supporter of independence?

        I’d suggest that the Heat Death of the Universe would preceed your conversion to independence.

        You just like the attention.


  32. douglas clark says:

    Just a couple of points. I am with Andrew on this. This isn’t a decision for the moment, or for the next couple of years. This is about the future of generations yet to be born. I thought Andrews comment is about what the Scottish people can be, rather than what we are allowed to be. It was a bit excellent.

    As Dave McEwan Hill says it is impossible to give reassurance to the likes of Longshanker without him at least telling us, specifically, what his worries are. It seems to me that we cannot remove the nightmares of what might befall us when he won’t even tell us what his concerns actually are.

    The points that Andrew addresses, that we will make our own minds up about stuff, seems to me to meet Longshankers major issues such as:

    Will this mean Scotland keeps the Royal prerogative?

    It is hardly relevant to the moment, or, if it is, she would be acting as Queen of Scots, by our grace and favour and not without the possibility of recall. If I rememberl the Declaration of Arbroath correctly. That is a less subservient approach to Royalty than you see on the BBC. In any event we, as a people, could decide or pass it up the ladder to Hollyrood.

    I do not expect that my point of view would always win in an independent Scotland. However, getting to the stage where my vote mattered a wee bit, would be a vast improvement on being subservient to a bloated and apparently corrupt Westminster. Remaining with a rapacious bunch of crooks is perhaps the easier option, and thus one that Longshanker would have us consider as a serious option. Just to be clear, you are being asked to surrender to whatever blackmail they come up with. The likes of Longshanker will go ‘Oh!, err missus, they are too powerful and we are too small, etc…”

    It is an absolutely pathetic example of the Scottish cringe.


    What Longshanker does not address is the negatives that might come about through a ‘no’ vote. I’d assume that these fears of how badly we might be treated having walked away from independence don’t give him nightmares. Frankly, I am more worried about how badly we would be treated under a ‘no’ vote than a ‘yes’ vote.

    Any protection that the Scottish Government had managed to give us from the Etonians would be stripped away over a few years. We would truly become ‘North Britain’. No different from Kent or East Anglia.

    Just saying.

    1. longshanker says:

      “it is impossible to give reassurance to the likes of Longshanker without him at least telling us, specifically, what his worries are”

      Check my reply to Doug on point 1) I’m not repeating myself for a polarised militant.

      Royal prerogative means certain priveliges such as ‘declarations of war’ don’t need the ascent of parliament. As stated initially, probably a stupid question, but worth knowing anyway.

      ‘If I remember the Declaration of Arbroath correctly.”

      Braveheart Commandos living in the past have no credibility in my eyes. The only relevance today – other than being a stirringly partisan historical document – of the Declaration of Arbroath is that it failed in its original purpose.

      “The likes of Longshanker will go ‘Oh!, err missus, they are too powerful and we are too small, etc…””

      Don’t put words in my mouth, the ones you’ve chosen make you sound like a galactophagous fopdoodle with a chip on his shoulder the size of a bag of manky tatties.

      “It is an absolutely pathetic example of the Scottish cringe.”

      Admitting you have genuine fears of plausible potentials post-independence means you have the Scottish cringe does it? What a pathetically mean spirited and stupid thing to say to someone who doesn’t even directly oppose the aspiration of independence. You know how to win people over to your cause don’t you?

      Douglas, I’m not going to address you again unless you actually have a positive case to make other than something harking back to 1320 and a belief that we’re under the yoke of English oppression. Even your insults are of the sub-standard variety.

      You, I am afraid to say, are a militantly polarised Braveheart Commando in the Jim Sillars mould who prefers to live in the past and insult folks who don’t wholeheartedly swallow the vibe of all out independence.

      I don’t have time for you.

      Doug Daniel put together a cogent and intelligent argument which actually addressed the points I made. He did so politely, considerately and without insult.

      I respect him for that.

      I don’t respect you.

  33. douglas clark says:

    Longshanker is back on line.

    Tell us what your worries are. If you are a genuine ‘don’t know’ perhaps you can be helped. If you are more of a worrier about the big bad English, perhaps you can’t.

  34. douglas clark says:


    Do you seriously expect a Scottish Parliament to agree to war on the say so of their Queen? Do you anticipate that that will not go to a vote?

    You are even less sensible than I thought. Even the UK Parliament was asked about Afghanistan and Iraq, and voted on the basis of a dodgy dossier in the latter case.

    There is something worthwhile in the Declaration of Arbroath. It is the sovereignty of the people. If you don’t ‘get’ that, then you don’t really comprehend how important it is. It has absolutely zero to do with being a ‘Braveheart Commando’. You are just being increasingly rude.

    What would you rather be, a citizen or a subject? Oh! Don’t answer that.

    “The likes of Longshanker will go ‘Oh!, err missus, they are too powerful and we are too small, etc…””

    Don’t put words in my mouth, the ones you’ve chosen make you sound like a galactophagous fopdoodle with a chip on his shoulder the size of a bag of manky tatties.


    You say your not. However, the words fit your mouth Longshanker and there they must remain. Frankly you are a wee worrybot, it has been your entire contribution to this discussion. Don’t pretend otherwise.

    And, yes, you are the Scottish cringe. You are afraid to even tell us what you are worried about lest the bogie man comes to get you.

    Tell us what your concerns are and maybe, just maybe, someone here can help you. It certainly won’t be me.

    I however reserve the right to reply, although our host has been most tolerant.

  35. Robert says:

    The Declaration of Arbroath stipulates that the people can remove a king who abuses his power or betrays their trust. The English had to unilaterally execute a King of Scots hundreds of years later in order to affirm this principle.

  36. David McEwan Hill says:

    The basic proposition – that Scotland should be governed by the people of Scotland – is a simple,straightforward, logical proposition.
    Why do we continually face efforts to make it complicated. I have absolutely no idea what policies governments of an independent Scotland will follow in reference to the issues raised in the post above.
    They will be decided by a democratically elected Government and if the people don’t like the policies they will elect another different government. That’s all. That’s all I’m working for.
    That is all this process is about.
    I suspect people who seek to bog the issue down in a plethora of complicated questions (which no government in the world could effectively answer ) have lost the plot, haven’t recognised the real issue or are seeking to undermine the movement to independence.

    1. Doug Daniel says:

      I think your last line there sums it all up in a nutshell.

  37. Douglas Clark,

    Have read this comments thread in mounting disbelief, chiefly of your personal making.

    “Scottish cringe”, “worrybot”, “absolutely pathetic”, “maybe someone can help you” and so on … is this the kind of language we who support independence use to debate reasonable, sceptical points and questions? Because if so it doesn’t bode well for the long debate ahead. On Royal Assent, Longshanker was simply asking – he had already dubbed it a “stupid question” at the offset. So why are you trying – trying being the operative word – to beat him over the head with it?


    I’m sure (or I hope) you know already, but this “Braveheart commando” faction of pro-independence supporters who favour insults over reasoned debate are a small minority.

    Most of us are glad to talk about these things. I very clearly got what your concerns are, as you laid them out as such: legal and political fallout from an acrimonious “divorce”, affordability of homeowning, and the problem of big money.

    On the first point, I can’t pretend to be an expert on legal/constitutional issues, or even the Act of Union, but I agree that it would be very different from old colonies breaking free from British control. However I take issue that divorces are always vicious and protracted – it depends on what is contested, and by whom, the manner in which it happens, and the respective parties’ bargaining positions. Are these 300 year-old legal wranglings not things which could be ironed out in intensive, respectful and mutual post-independence negotiations? I’m not saying there is any guarantee that they would, but if it was in both parties’ mutual interest – which I believe it is – then is there any reason why it COULDN’T be?

    I may be being unspeakably naive here. On the other hand, Scotland is not without her bargaining chips, and the UK knows this. We’ve got the oil, we’ve got water, we’ve got electricity, we’ve got renewables. We’ve got the nukes and subs in Faslane. I find it hard to believe it could be in Westminster’s interest to drag out and make bitter the settlement negotiations.

    On point two, you’ve already said these problems exist without independence, but post you think it would get worse? And you cite the example of Burma? As I understand it, you seem to think an independent Scotland would invite increased market interest and speculation, driving up property and rental prices and worsening the problem – but despite your implicit confidence in an independent Scottish economy’s attractiveness to investors, I’m afraid to say the point is pure assertion, unless you can provide any evidence to show that this would happen. Correct me if I’m wrong but haven’t property prices been on a downward trend since 2008?

    Over the last 10 years, successive Scottish administrations have been going almost the complete opposite direction to the UK on homelessless and housing, by enacting progressive legislation that extends rights for the homeless. Last month, Shelter Scotland slammed UK Welfare Minister Lord Freud for undermining a decade of work in the Scottish Parliament with his housing benefits reforms and cuts. It’s crazy in Scotland that we can control our own housing policy but not housing benefits, and thus cannot sync them up. The inevitable end result, with a UK government so far away from us ideologically at present, is a huge policy schism which affects housing and welfare for the people who need it. So for all the housing problems you mention, who do you trust more to try and manage them – the system as it is just now, or a fully progressive, independent Scottish government no longer hampered by Tory ideologues?

    Sorry this is turning into such an essay – final point, big business. I have no problem with big business and big money so long as they obey the law and do not corrupt government, a la the UK or US. One of my personal demands in the event of an independent Scotland would be to make political lobbying by business fully transparent and accountable by law.

    I pretty much agree with Doug Daniel, that Alex Salmond has not allowed big business to dictate to him, even if, in his capacity as First Minister, he’s seemed pretty cosy with them at times. I think that’s part of his job – to accommodate those who invest in Scotland. I do partly agree with you that it takes a particularly rose-tinted view of Mr Salmond to assume that throughout it all he’s just been secretly “sticking it to” Trump and Murdoch and so on. But I certainly trust the FM more than any other politician in the country – he’s been consistent, logical and very canny. Neither do I idealise the man, as he remains a politician, and more than that, simply a man. But I think it points more to your own cynicism to suggest that the only way he could’ve reached the top of Scottish politics is by being “slimier than the slimiest”. It’s another assertion, and I disagree, not just because I quite like the man and am a bit more optimistic than you, but because sh*t rises, and surely some big scandal would have enveloped such a controversial politician by now if any allegations of “sliminess” could have been pinned to him, and I’m sure they’ve tried.

    As to the video you mention, was it “Precious Few Heroes” by any chance? It is excellent. http://vimeo.com/12458284

    1. longshanker says:

      Thankyou Dan

      A good few points to mull over.

      You’re probably right that I’m too cynical. Having taken a semi-keen interest in the actions post 79 actions of politicians has done that to me. I despair of them, yet still retain faith in democracy, so consequently keep kidding myself on that I’m an idealist at heart.

      With some votes in the past I have deliberately spoiled the election paper – my way of demonstrating contempt for the candidates seeking votes – while still showing that I’m not part of the non-voting disenfranchised.

      Of course everything could go well. Given the present Westminster incumbents and the potential incumbents, I think it takes a leap of faith beyond my capabilities to believe it will.

      My main reason for thinking things will be acrimonious, though not the only one, is this passage from the McCrone report: “…it is now likely that transfer of North Sea oil to Scottish ownership would occasion much bitterness in England if not an attempt to forcibly prevent it.”

      Considering the historical context at the time – the Yom Kippur war and excessive oil prices – I can’t but see parallels with our present day situation.
      A situation which can’t be anything other than exacerbated by the overbearing weight of national debt.

      I seriously doubt they’d invade us, but it can’t be discounted from the index of possiblities. I do think however that they’d be so obstructive in just about every sphere, from political to social to legal to cultural that it could set us back years if not decades to achieve true progress.

      The variables you set out, however, are just as plausible, I recognise that, and I genuinely hope you’re the one who is right if the result of the referendum is a yes vote for independence.

      Like you. apologies for this turning into an essay.

      Salmond’s intervention in the Trump case – I will never be convinced it was anything other than slimy. The economic argument is sound. The practice and the precedent set by it should set alarm bells ringing for the manner in which Salmond is prepared to achieve his aims.

      It was nothing other than central government abusing its power to trump (pardon the pun) local democracy in action. It might be better for Scotland – debatable given present ruminations – but it was truly slimy and Machiavellian.
      Plus, it reeked of Tory tactics from the 80s pioneered by Thatcher and the poll tax.

      I agree with you on point 2) It will take a rejuvenated and new housing/social policy to deal with, and I’m sure that’s something that devo max (whatever) would have the competency to cover.

      Just checked the link. I’m in your debt, I only watched this video once. I’d recommend it to anyone here who hasn’t already seen it.

      Thanks again Dan

      NB: Braveheart Commandos are an unfortunate side effect of the freedom of the internet. Knowing there are guys like yourself and Doug around offsets any of the sour aftertaste they leave.


  38. David McEwan Hill says:

    Jim Sillars holds no position in the SNP and has very little support in it.

  39. douglas clark says:

    Dan Vevers,

    Best of luck.

  40. Longshanker, I really appreciate the opportunity to hear the doubts of the genuinely undecided or, may I say, yet to be convinced? This particular chapter in your last comment caught my eye;

    “I seriously doubt they’d invade us, but it can’t be discounted from the index of possiblities. I do think however that they’d be so obstructive in just about every sphere, from political to social to legal to cultural that it could set us back years if not decades to achieve true progress.”

    It seems that even I must have a higher opinon of the UK political establishment than you!
    If you truly believe that is how they would behave post independence, why in the name of God would you want to stay in a union with such bitter, vindictive, power-mongering people?

    1. Dave McEwan Hill says:

      Because he is talking nonsense and he knows it. As do I

  41. gshanker, I really appreciate the opportunity to hear the doubts of the genuinely undecided or, may I say, yet to be convinced? This particular chapter in your last comment caught my eye;

    “I seriously doubt they’d invade us, but it can’t be discounted from the index of possiblities. I do think however that they’d be so obstructive in just about every sphere, from political to social to legal to cultural that it could set us back years if not decades to achieve true progress.”

    It seems that even I must have a higher opinon of the UK political establishment than you!
    If you truly believe that is how they would behave post independence, why in the name of God would you want to stay in a union with such bitter, vindictive, power-mongering people?

    1. *Longshanker

    2. “If you truly believe that is how they would behave post independence, why in the name of God would you want to stay in a union with such bitter, vindictive, power-mongering people?”

      You took the words right out of my keyboard scottishnationhood.

      If, Longshanker, we are talking about the index of possibilities, I also propose it cannot be discounted that Scotland will qualify for and subsequently win the 2014 World Cup, or that George Michael will have a #1 single in 2013.

      But they are both extraordinarily remote possibilities, given reality. Probably more likely, though, than a new War of Independence.

      I feel you fall into the trap that many Unionists do too – the “Britain’s-Still-A-Great-Power” trap. The United Kingdom has become weak. Riddled with debt, heavily reliant on imports, with sprawling inequality and stagnation setting in like clay, and that infamous Treasury handover note: “There’s no money left”. It is in no position, economically, politically or otherwise to deny the will, progress and prosperity of the Scottish nation. I’m sure it’s still got a few things to bring out its battered old box of tricks but I can’t say it keeps me up at nights when Scotland will be bringing oil, water, energy, renewables, and a market worth £44bn of exports to rUK to the table.

      I agree with your point on McCrone – it will cause much bitterness in England to no longer benefit from Scotland’s natural resources. But with any luck they’ll turn their anger on the deserving recipients – those who squandered the proceeds from the oil boom and the credit boom and in their short-termism and greed have almost brought their country to its knees: the London political and corporate elites.

      In the words of Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz:

      “You mistook the success of the Thatcher era as a success of good economic policy, when really it was a success based on living on your wealth and leaving future generations impoverished.”

    3. JBS says:

      Come on, people, you know that just a few weeks ago we were warned that if Scotland becomes an independent nation we will have to pay a higher TV licence fee if we want to continue to access the BBC. I don’t want to have to pay extra to watch Strictly and Eastenders. Ditch the independence pipe-dream now.

  42. longshanker says:


    Clearly you do have a higher opinion of the UK Political establishment than me.

    Consider the following assertion which is also in McCrone: “…it is on social and political grounds alone that the case for retention of the union will in future have to be based.”

    I’m open to being contradicted here, but that has already happened. Supporters of Union, apart from the odd ex-chancellor like Darling, are deafening in their silence regarding the economic argument.

    A skilled political operator and economist like Salmond would trounce them in a public economic debate. I believe they know that and they know Salmond knows that – McCrone predicted it.

    McCrone also predicted the potential of ‘force’ being used against us. Again, I’ll emphasise ‘potential’. Force doesn’t necessarily mean military force.

    The Royal prerogative could yet prove to be a clear and present danger to Scotland’s progress.

    Salmond has made much of Scotland being seen by the English electorate to be a ‘beacon of progressiveness’.

    McCrone alludes to the case for independence/separation being seen as one of “extreme selfishness”.

    Devo Max (whatever) still takes Scotland in the right direction while minimising the trauma involved in appearing to want to take away the family silver without care for the consequence.

    Reasonable Scots would be right to fear the spectre of a wounded and roused English Nationalism with Scotland as its focus. Reactionary forces agitated by political hostility could be nothing other than damaging to both countries.

    I don’t particularly want to stay a part of the Union, but neither do I want to vote for the further effective impoverishment of a country which, by economic necessity, has to be one of our strongest trading partners.

    If there is no alternative, based on current debate, in 2014 to the ‘Independence – Take it or Leave it’ option then I’ll be spoiling my paper in disgust.

    I think Salmond is well aware that Jock average voter has similar intentions.

    1. Dave McEwan Hill says:

      Well. That’s his unionist cover blown.

      1. longshanker says:

        Keep up the sour polarised jejune comments They add nothing. So no change there then.

    2. JBS says:

      Jock average voter?

      Don’t remember ever meeting the man. Where does he live?

      1. longshanker says:

        He lives in the opinions polls and I consider myself to be one.

  43. longshanker says:

    Dan Vevers

    New War of Independence – come on – you’re tone’s bordering on derision now. I’ll refer you to my answer to scottishnationhood.

    You’re right in your inferrence about the index of possiblities covering anything with the remotest plausibility. Of course the idea of being invaded by England is bonkers. But is it really any more bonkers than, say, invading Iraq on the premise of weapons of mass destruction.

    Yet, insanely, that somehow happened.

    FYI, I haven’t fallen into any trap, Unionist or Nationalist. Check my reply to scottishnationhood regarding the economic case for independence.

    You agree with my point on McCrone about “bitterness” yet discount the potential consequence of that bitterness and allude to relying on luck instead. Curious.

    It also makes you sound like you’re more in agreement with my original assertion that “contested divorces are always vicious and protracted” than you’d care to admit.

    Don’t disagree with your finish. The biggest of big lies that we’ve had to swallow since 1979 was that Scotland was out of tune with the reality of market forces. If Thatcher hadn’t had the North Sea boom years to bankroll her corrupting ideology and policies, the UK might just have been spared the ravages of the banking crisis.

    Then again, that’s only a hindsight assertion drawn from the index of possibilities.


  44. Longshanker,

    I apologise if you thought the “New War of Independence” comment was derisive – that wasn’t my intention – but that’s a historical parallel that springs rather readily to mind when you’re invoking the threat of English invasion.

    I disagree with the idea that invading Iraq was “bonkers” under conventional Establishment wisdom – it may have been bonkers, dangerous, morally reprehensible and everything else in between to you and me, but big economic powers flattening and plundering Third World/Developing nations and their resources is nothing new. Indeed, it’s a trend that the Scottish Independence movement wants to buck. Iraq was maybe the starkest, most egregioius example of it in recent memory. yet neither was it a flash in the pan.

    But no democratic European nation has attacked another for over seventy years. The whole lesson from WW2, the raison d’etre for the EU, was to prevent another cross-European war. The hypocrisy of course is that they haven’t had the gumption to stop a rampant America, often with interchangeable backing from various European countries, from waging just as bloody covert and overt war against the poorer nations of the world for economic and strategic gain. All this is to say, although I personally, as do you, believe the invasion of Iraq was as equally bonkers as an English attack on Scotland would be, that does NOT even out their respective likelihoods in the real world. It becomes almost unthinkable in the event that Scotland remains in NATO, about which I suppose we’d have to wait and see.

    Now on McCrone, as interesting and illuminating a source as it is, the report is over thirty years old. Times change. As you well know, “with any luck” is an expression that is not to be taken literally, a positive statement that effectively means “If things go the way I think they ought to…” I think the English are long overdue a good clean-out and political overhaul. Maybe I’m too optimistic, but surely any right-thinking English person is going to ask why their governments over generations spent all their money and squandered all their opportunities to wind up overly-reliant on its smaller northern neighbour?

    I read your post to scottishnationhood, and it’s not that I don’t see where you’re coming from – I do. Indeed, for a while I used to feel similarly. What I said in my first post was that contested divorces don’t have to be protracted and messy, while you said they “always” are. I understand your pessimism, but to me it verges on paranoia.

    “Reasonable Scots would be right to fear the spectre of a wounded and roused English Nationalism with Scotland as its focus.”

    Why is this scenario any more likely than, say, wounded and roused English progressivism – still surely a much bigger force than xenophobic nationalism – rising up, with Scotland setting the neighbourly example?

    I’m not saying either or neither are going to happen: I don’t know and neither do you. But the overriding point of all of this is that Scotland is a nation denied for so long the rights of a nation. And I believe most right-thinking English people will understand that.

    As for Devo Max, it might be becoming a moot point, as I’m pretty sure once all Scottish/UK govt concessions have been made, it will just be a single question. But let’s say it isn’t. Why, on EARTH, given your previously stated disdain and distrust of Westminster, would you entrust them to enact Devo Max for Scotland? We’d have to go through them to get any UK-contained fiscal autonomy. Where has this surprising burst of optimism come from, that you think the same Westminster Establishment who have been busy trying to transfer powers BACK from Holyrood in the latest Scotland Bill would give the Scottish people the powers it wants? I believe they will only substantially devolve more powers to Scotland through gritted, spittle-flecked teeth, and will obstruct and wrangle any Devo Max bill to within an inch of its life.

    “If there is no alternative, based on current debate, in 2014 to the ‘Independence – Take it or Leave it’ option then I’ll be spoiling my paper in disgust.”

    Could you explain to me how spoiling the ballot is any different to a No vote as a validation of the status quo?

    Sorry for another essay, but I am enjoying our debate here!

    1. Dave McEwan Hill says:

      The attractions of Devo Max and all its family are that the UK retains full access to Scottish oil revenues.
      Is it not a bit insulting to suggest that without handouts from Scottish resources England will be impoverished – because that is exactly what Wrongshanks is saying!

      1. longshanker says:

        Ad hominems are as dull as your jejune comments Dave. They reflect more on you than they do on me. So keep up the good work.

        1. Dave McEwan Hill says:

          Oooo. Jejune.
          I think you’ll find there are very few jejune contributors here.
          You are the naive one if you think you are fooling anybody.

          1. longshanker says:

            Very few, but you fit the archetype. Yawn.

  45. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    “But you can’t be that good, or reach the stage he has, without being slimier than the slimiest and possessing the qualities of a Prince of Machiavellian stature.”

    Ad hominem? Logshanker’s description of Alex Salmond.
    We note he has abandoned his previous bizarre propositions in favour of patronising condescenion.

    1. longshanker says:

      You’re easy to patronise Dave. You fit the stereotype of a sour intolerant cybernat. That takes some doing considering it was a drunken Lord who coined the epithet.

      Your ignorance and inability to read political situations would be breathtaking if you didn’t so easily fulfil this stereotype. Instead it’s understandable

      “Slimier than the slimiest”. Of course he is. It’s not an ad hominem because I’ve at least given justification for the assertion rather than just said it as a name calling exercise. You don’t have to agree with it – that’s democracy at work. Jeesh.

      Take note, that’s how pluralism and adult debate works. You on the other hand are a bigot who views the world through some kind of evangelistic filter and isn’t capable of tolerance of other people’s views.

      You’ve accused me of being a unionist yet provided no evidence when I asked you earlier. I rebuffed your argument over Ireland and The United Nations. Deafening in your silence came the non-reply other than to say I was talking nonsense. Which you then repeated ad tedium.

      Wow, you really know how to debate Dave.

      I state that if the only option available in the referendum is Independence – Take it or Leave it, I’ll spoil the voting paper.

      You make the ludiicrously ignorant and bizarre jejune assertion that I’m a unionist.
      You’re incapable of debate. You’re too polarised, You’re a zealot. Guys like you can’t be reasoned with, only converted.

      I’ll not be addressing you again. You’re in a different categorisation from the Braveheart Commandos of the world.

      I think they, at least, are well intentioned in their delusions. You on the other hand are a sour, intolerant polarised bigoted zealot.

      Why would I waste my time with you. There are plenty of guys like Dan around. They at least know how to debate. You don’t and I’m afraid you never will.

  46. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Proof positive.Thanks

  47. Thanks for your reply Longshanker. I think the salient point about Devo Max, given your low opinion of the UK political establishment, is that it would be entirely in the gift of Westminster politicians.
    Also, your pragmatism (in the face of a potential ‘backlash’ if we voted for independence) could be viewed as coming pretty close to appeasement of intimidation and bullying.
    I think we would be doing ourselves a grave disservice by capitulating whenever the establishment waves an admonishing finger. As well as the damage it would do to our sense of ourselves, it would make manifest the unhealthy (abusive?) nature of our relationship with the UK state. Perhaps Joan McAlpine was right?

    1. longshanker says:

      Appeasement is too strong a word to use in the present context considering its historical connotations.

      Apart from a few bonkers claims such as the bombing of airports, the only threats headed our way have been tediously predictable; currency, borders, bail out, debt, EU exclusion etc.

      Considering the speed, in relative terms that the realistic potential of independence has been foisted on the Westminster political class, I think it would be too traumatic for both countries for independence to occur.

      Clever as she is, I don’t rate Joan McAlpine. She’s too ready to play the moral superiority of Scots card for populist purposes. That makes me suspicious of her.

      Sorry about the lateness of the reply- the real world has imposed on me over the past couple of days and I missed your reply.

  48. 808 says:

    “Independence is about providing a practical alternative to the status quo. We must not allow it to become derailed by ideologues.”

    I’m sorry, but where does this line of argument really lead exactly? Independence is either a means to policy change, or an end in itself. As an end in itself, it is the objective of the ideology of Nationalism. So if independence is non-ideological, then it implies an objective of other policy changes, and people are entitled to have a debate about these, according to their poltiical views (which you also may label ideologies).

    The constitution of a new state is an entirely legitimate matter to have a political debate about. If you start from the premise that getting rid of a hereditary monarchy is actually “too radical” or divisive of the nation (in 2012 for sodding sake) because some Scots would be reluctant to accede to it, you must either be a monarchist, or someone who sees independence as an end in itself. In other words, a crypto Nationalist, not someone with an interest in independence for the sake of real progressive democracy, but basically, one more whose hatred of the English has become congealed in a cynicism towards the British political system, and a romanticisation fo the Scottish people.

    Perhaps you are afraid that the Scottish lumpenproletariat will actually disappoint your idealisation of “the Scottish nation”? Well, be more optimistic. Quite clearly the only Scottish lumpens attached to the monarchy are the rump of Sun reading, conservative Rangers neds in the greater Glasgow area. Most of them don’t vote anyway.

  49. douglas clark says:


    Perhaps she was.

  50. James Coleman says:

    I have followed the debate on this article from the beginning without feeling the need to comment as most of the points I would make were being made by others. But I want to come in and comment on this person ‘longshanker’. What Scotsman would use the name ‘longshanker’ bearing in mind its past connotations with a tyrant who murdered a Scottish patriot. He is a unionist supporter and his meanderings on the subject show he is a fool and probably English trying to disguise himself as a Scot to boot. I fully support the one or two commenters on here who have already sussed him out and criticised him for what he is. He is a troll and there are many like him on the pages of the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph with whom I have crossed swords many times. People on here should not be ‘nice’ to him nor try to turn him. They should not enter into debate with him. He is contributing nothing. And his ad hominem attacks on the First Minister surely say it all.

  51. James Coleman wrote:

    “He is a unionist supporter and his meanderings on the subject show he is a fool and probably English trying to disguise himself as a Scot to boot.”

    Personally, I think his/her contributions have been valuable and I neither know (nor care) whether he is a unionist or not.
    I will continue to take him at face value and, as far as I can, try to present a positive argument for independence.
    The issues he raises are important. Who he is is not.

    1. Dave McEwan Hill says:

      The issues he raises are tendentious nonsense.

  52. James Coleman says:

    scottishnationhood wrote re longshanker:-

    “… Personally, I think his/her contributions have been valuable …”

    Really? longshanker admits at the beginning of one of his posts that the idea of England invading Scotland as a result of the latter becoming independent is “bonkers” then writes another ten paras and a few more posts presenting it as a possibility. longshanker’s sole aim as I see it from his posts is to try and muddy the waters of the debate on here with outlandish and ridiculous propositions about his fears about Independence. No one could be that stupid so the likelihood is that it is all a sham, And more fool you for pandering to his deceit. Some Independence supporters really must stop being naive and ashamed to enter into some of the dirtier aspects of the debate about Independence. The unionists and their dogs in the English media have no qualms about doing it, I don’t, and neither should the rest of you.

  53. douglas clark says:

    scottishnationhood @ 11:04am,

    Your entirely sensible post @ March 29, 2012 at 12:04 pm, where you made the essential point that surrendering to bullies is inadvisable, seems to fly in the face of your notion that Longshanker is a valuable contributor.

    Please read through this thread again and identify the ‘flash’ points. If you do that in an any way unbiased fashion you may see a pattern of increasing paranoia and appeasement.

    Sadly, not everyone is interested in honest debate. It is a tad ingratiating to pretend that you have ‘concerns’ about independence and then say, ré Alec Salmond:

    “Slimier than the slimiest”. Of course he is..

    One is equally entitled to wonder what agenda the author of that remark might possibly have?

    I do not think that this person will ever be persuaded by sweet reason.

    You, sir, and Dan Vevers, have been sold a pup.

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