2007 - 2021

A No to Nationalism

union_jack_british_flag_postcard-p239557016442345309envli_400As part of our #noway series by No voters, John Patrick Harvey on the tribal turn-off of nationalism.

Hi, I thought I might be able to contribute some thoughts to your excellent suggestion to hear from ‘No’ voters. For me the question of whether or not Scotland should split off from the rest of the UK was an ethical decision – is there a righteous case for separation? And in my opinion there is no righteous case. I can’t see how there can be any moral legitimacy for nationalism in the context of an existing and established liberal democracy and free society. The justification for Scottish nationalism is that as this is the civic variety then it’s acceptable, but in the context of a liberal democracy with a long history of all citizens sharing the risks, rewards and resources of nationhood, I can’t see how there can be any justification for ring-fencing off one part of the polity that is to be led to a new political promised land while leaving the rest behind. It is simply wrong to decide that there must be a new smaller definition of ‘us’, and that from henceforth it will be ‘us first’ and we can relinquish responsibility for the rest of ‘them’.

This plays out into the moral and practical arguments that the SNP put forward. One central argument for example was that ‘it’s Scotland’s oil’ and that North Sea oil revenues should not be spent on the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, instead being concentrated on us Scots, with the point made that if we had that undiluted oil wealth then we could reduce poverty in Scotland. But the corollary of this argument is that in achieving this you have to be willing to see poverty increase in the rUK. In the current austere economic climate (oil price aside) Scotland hoarding those revenues would make the rUK fiscal position worse overnight, potentially forcing the government there to cut spending further or increase taxes, pushing people on the margin into poverty. It makes me wonder how many families in England, Wales and Northern Ireland Scottish nationalists would be happy to see pushed into poverty to achieve separation.

Bloody NationalistsThis is just a single example, but the point is that nationalism in the context of a liberal democracy is ultimately selfish. And I for one don’t mind the fact that oil wealth helps to educate a child in Liverpool, or helps pay for someone’s medical care in London. The who subsidises who argument was therefore irrelevant for me. As long as we have a reasonably healthy democracy (and I know some think we have a banana republic, but we plainly don’t – we’ve just had a ‘festival of democracy’), then we should just be thinking in terms of ‘people first’, not ‘Scots first’.

Nationalism, including this civic variety, is ultimately about exclusion. Scottish nationalism aims to exclude politically the people south of an historic border, in an era when borders are becoming less relevant whether people like it or not. This exclusion is wrong. Nationalism has had a justified place in history, but only when it’s a means to the greater end of achieving freedom and democracy for an oppressed people. We Scots are not oppressed. The Yes movement is not a civil rights movement. We have a duty to be ‘people unionists’ – with a small ‘u’ – and to celebrate and nourish whatever bonds between peoples that we have.

So for me, voting ‘Yes’ would have meant succumbing to an instinctive tribal view of how we should organize ourselves and live. We’ve tended to rise above this way of thinking in the past, and for the sake of our own humanity I believe we should continue to resist this way of thinking in the future. Taking a principled moral stance against nationalism was, for me, an affirmation of my humanity.

Comments (157)

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  1. Jozef O Luain says:

    So glad to hear that you’ve affirmed your humanity, Mr Harvey.

    1. MKRM says:

      “High” indeed.

  2. Hamish says:

    As a Yes voter, it’s interesting for me to read this to see where the No voters are coming from.

    Regarding the point about selfishness and “nationalism”, we’ll see about that when it comes to 2017 and England votes to leave the EU (dragging Scotland out with it). BritNats may then come to realise that the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Greens are far more internationalist than all the Westminster parties. The split from Westminster was about wanting to create a fairer society that would be impossible within the present, neo-liberal structures of the UK; it was not about “nationalism”.

    1. Andrew Skea says:

      Lets confront all Nationalism together.
      I’m not interested in any “My Nationalism is better than your Nationalism” argument.

      1. Do you have a model for government which does not rely on stable national polities?

      2. Andrew Skea says:

        National does not mean Nationalist.
        You are confused by the fact that the Scottish National Party happens also to be Nationalist and to promote Nationalism.

  3. boglestone says:

    I won’t lie. You words make me very angry. But I will try to tell you why, rather than express my anger at you.

    I find your view very closed minded and it seems as if you have swallowed the MSM view of the Yes campaign being about flag waving and painting your face blue. I’m not a Nationalist and I voted Yes. No one I know who voted Yes did it out of selfish “Scots only” reasons. Many were English born. It was never about changing a flag for me.

    It was about how we organise ourselves and live on these islands. Westminster is hugely undemocratic and fails Scotland in so many ways. Something has to change. We need to make it change by taking responsibility for ourselves.

    If you read a bit of history you will discover that the idea of a “natural” unitary nation state is an absurdity. Borders and allegiances change all the time. Nationhood is fluid not set in stone.

    1. oscartaime says:

      It would be fairer to say that Westminster is failing large parts of the UK and a common theme of the NO arguments seems (now as it was before the vote) to be that we must stay together to help our suffering comrades in the South. Other variants include we should avoid nuclear disarmament until everyone disarms and we should not try to set an example of how we can build a more equal society until the World as a whole is more equal.

      Naive or disingenuous? How about:

      • I’m not giving to charity until everyone gives to charity!
      • We should keep torturing people until everyone stops torturing?
      • My country will not stop polluting the environment until all other countries stop…
      • I’m not going to save even one child from a marauding gun-person if I can’t save all of them….

      Maybe I’m missing something but it strikes me that at some point one has to set an example rather than wait for a utopian dream.

      1. That is a wonderfully clear response.

      2. Dr Ew says:

        Well said, boglestone and oscartaime. This “a child in Liverpool” argument has been a cynical piece of misdirection employed by Labour for decades, put front and centre with glee by Blair & Brown and lately by George Galloway. It is, of course, a great excuse for doing nothing of substance, changing nothing of substance. All at once or nothing at all – dogma and drivel.

        There is a different sensibility in Scotland that comes from a different heritage that chose clan chiefs rather than accepted primogeniture, made men kings of men but not of soil and, above all, enshrined the sovereignty of the people above that of kings. As part of the UK we are locked into a political culture that cannot thole any of those principles and gives not a fig for the “child of Liverpool”. As an independent nation we could do much for his Glaswegian cousin and at least shake the concrete foundations enough that the wee Liverpudlian mite might find a gap to free herself.

  4. Noble sentiments and the moral high ground. Or at least that’s how you are trying to frame your argument. You state ” It is simply wrong to decide that there must be a new smaller definition of ‘us’, and that from henceforth it will be ‘us first’ and we can relinquish responsibility for the rest of ‘them’.” but you neglect to point out where your ‘us and them’ boundaries are, and don’t try to tell me you don’t have any.

    As a supporter of Scottish independence, I chose to draw my boundary at the border between scotland and England because I realised a long time ago that I, and it would seem a large percentage of my compatriots, hold a different set of values from our southern neighbours. Not entirely different, but different enough to make me realise that if I was to see the better, fairer society that I want to live in be realised, I’d have to accept that it was only likely to happen in an independent Scotland.

    Taking your argument to its logical conclusion, the noble and moral thing to do is have a World Government and share our wealth with the third world. Given that this would almost certainly mean a government dominated by China, India and the African nations, and that you and I would get a whole lot poorer, is this what you are actually espousing?

    Be honest, you’re just as much of a Nationalist as I am, you just draw your borders in a different place. You can try to deny it, but if you do I’ll have to conclude that you are either trying to delude me, or you are deluding yourself. That doesn’t bother me one bit, but what does bother me is your misguided moral superiority.

  5. John Porteous says:

    So, Scottish Nationalism is bad, Mr Harvey, but British Nationalism is apparently ok, even when it assists in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

    1. Andrew Skea says:

      Who said British Nationalism is apparently OK? Where did Mr Harvey say that?

      1. Mike Slessor says:

        What then is the current UK politics of Westminster, if not British nationalist? And that previous PM Tony Blair, pursuing British Nationalist interests in Iraq? I fail to see the difference with Scottish nationalism – except that we in Scotland do not wish to invade other countries, or start wars, in pursuit of “national” interests.!

  6. billmelvin59 says:

    Yes was not about separatism or nationalism it was about Independence. Unionists like us to believe we live in an equal partnership which we don’t and this is why the NO campaign fought the campaign the way they did. Interdependence can only happen if Scotland first has independence, be that as an independent nation or as part of a Federal UK. UK Gov won’t allow this because it would mean breaking away from the corrupt 2 party system controlled by rich elites. The author of this piece buys their propaganda delivered through the bulk of the media that these same elites control. It paints a picture of YES as a deluded selfish movement when in fact the attraction of Yes was redistributive fairness. We are rich enough and innovative enough just not yet confident enough!

  7. ScottishLass says:

    What about the decades of oil revenue that was deliberately hidden from the Scots from the 70’s onwards whilst the South East benefited (and continue to do so) to the detriment of the Scots who had their various industries decimated beyond recognition? This revenue allowed Westminster to destroy the coal, shipbuilding and steel industries UK wide (along with their associated trade unions) knowing that this revenue would support any fiscal loss to the treasury. It may sound selfish to you but I think we have given more than enough with very little in return from Westminster for centuries and many other Scots feel the same…continually being classed as “subsidy junkies” for our troubles in return. In actual fact….we are the ones who have held up the Bank of England and UK economy since the beginning of the 19th Century whilst the payoff for us getting our own Scottish Parliament was to have much of our Scottish Maritime borders re-drawn to maximise the oil-fields on the English side of the North Sea (without Scots knowledge..thanks Mr Blair and Mr Dewar!!). I guess… if it’s not in your DNA…..it’s just not in your DNA to be deeply, deeply offended by this. One of the steps in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is “belonging”..so if these outrageous insults and my subsequent indignation makes me tribal..then so be it.

    1. Bothy Basher says:

      Yes Lass!

    2. NaeUtopia says:

      Scottish Lass,
      Oil was hidden, was it? And the South East benefitted? Coal, shipbuilding and steel closures the fault of Westminster?
      These are ridiculous assertions, often associated with people of lesser knowledge! Who has classed you as a subsidy junkie? There are about 6.5% of Scots unemployed, and we share one of the best economies in the world.

      Are you suffering from disregard for your self? A tribal disregard?

  8. richardcain2 says:

    Welcome to the 21st Century. ” ‘it’s Scotland’s oil’ ” hasn’t been used since the ’70s.

    For me the decision was not that I want to see children in Liverpool starve, it was more about looking at the current system (which is letting kids in Liverpool and Glasgow starve) and arriving at the conclusion that it would be impossible to reform that system in my lifetime.

    True, we Scots are not oppressed by “The English”; rather we Scots and English are oppressed by an entrenched plutocracy.

    Independence would allow us to spread our wealth more equally, so that everyone benefits, rather than it being consolidated in the hands of a few.

  9. alharron says:

    Hello John, it’s good of you to take Bella’s opportunity to hear from No voters, and explain your motivations.

    “For me the question of whether or not Scotland should split off from the rest of the UK was an ethical decision – is there a righteous case for separation? And in my opinion there is no righteous case. I can’t see how there can be any moral legitimacy for nationalism in the context of an existing and established liberal democracy and free society.”

    You argue that there is no righteous case for separation. Is this a case which is unique to Scotland, or is this the case for all nations? If the latter, are you arguing there no “righteous case” for, say, India to become independent? Or Malta? Or any of the hundreds of countries which became independent from larger nations in the last hundred years? What if the existing and established liberal democracy and free society is demonstrably less liberal and free than the goal of the “separatists”?

    “It is simply wrong to decide that there must be a new smaller definition of ‘us’, and that from henceforth it will be ‘us first’ and we can relinquish responsibility for the rest of ‘them’.”

    Who is “us” in this case? What if you’re a supporter of independence whose definition of “us” is humanity as a whole, not the UK? Why is the UK “us” and “us first” good, but not a smaller one – or larger one, for that matter?

    “One central argument for example was that ‘it’s Scotland’s oil’ and that North Sea oil revenues should not be spent on the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, instead being concentrated on us Scots, with the point made that if we had that undiluted oil wealth then we could reduce poverty in Scotland. But the corollary of this argument is that in achieving this you have to be willing to see poverty increase in the rUK.”

    On the other hand, by ensuring that control over oil revenues are in the hands of an establishment which has proven a complete antipathy and borderline disdain for the poor, you are actively facilitating them by ensuring they have the freedom to perpetuate their austerity idealogy.

    Right now, we’re not “sharing” the oil with England, Wales and Northern Ireland – we’re giving it to an elitist government, who decide what it should be spent on. It’s certainly not on the poorest in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Oil wealth isn’t being used to help educate Liverpudlian children or medical care in Lond, it’s being used to prop up a monstrous neoliberal idealogy that has seen the use of food banks explode and poverty increasing at a catastrophic rate.

    “Scottish nationalism aims to exclude politically the people south of an historic border, in an era when borders are becoming less relevant whether people like it or not.”

    Scotland already “excludes” the people south of the border in terms of its healthcare, education, law, and many other independent aspects. Is Scots Law “excluding” the people of England and Wales? Is the Scottish education system “excluding” English, Welsh and Northern Irish students? If not, then why would control over finances and other reserved matters become so?

    “Nationalism has had a justified place in history, but only when it’s a means to the greater end of achieving freedom and democracy for an oppressed people. The Yes movement is not a civil rights movement.”

    Scots do not have the right to decide their own foreign policy, their own international trade, their own abortion laws, even their own self expression and cultural affirmation through national broadcasting. Indeed, even if you want to be pedantic about the definition of civil rights, Scots no longer have the right to protest against fracking under their own homes. I profoundly disagree that this is not a civil rights movement.

    “We have a duty to be ‘people unionists’ – with a small ‘u’ – and to celebrate and nourish whatever bonds between peoples that we have.”

    There is no reason whatsoever we cannot do that outside of a formal political union. We can be ‘people unionists’ with the French, the Germans, the Botswanans, anyone and everyone, without giving them control over our day-to-day lives.

    “Taking a principled moral stance against nationalism was, for me, an affirmation of my humanity.”

    For my part, taking a principled moral stance against facilitating neofeudal tyrants was an affirmation of mine.

    Once again, I appreciate you publishing this. I worked at the Yes Inverclyde shop for the final three months of the referendum campaign, and I’ve heard a number of No voters cite sentiments very similar to your own. For me, your arguments (and theirs) are entirely unpersuasive for the reasons cited above, but it’s better to disagree than to never express an opinion at all.

    1. bowanarrow says:

      I would just like to say, your reply was one of the most insightful and truly wonderful pieces of writing I have read in a long time, a very long time. Thank you.

      1. I agree, I could not have put it better myself. In fact, I would have been nowhere near as good as that.

    2. Andrew Skea says:

      I stopped reading after your compared Scottish Nationalism with India and Malta. These countries were ruled by a ‘foreign’ parliament – they did not share a democracy with the people they were ruled by.

      Can you name any established democracy that has voted for Nationalism since the second world war?
      In fact, far more democracies have voted to share more sovereignty with neighbours. Why should Scotland become more parochial when the rest of the world are going the other way?

      1. That’s a very clumsy attempt at reframing, Andrew. The question we voted on was not “nationalism” but “independence”. Independence is entirely compatible with sharing sovereignty with neighbours. That is exactly what recently independent countries like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slokakia and Slovenia are doing as members of the European Union. I expect an independent Scotland will want to do the same.

      2. Absolute rubbish – the vast majority of the nations of the world have gained independence and regained their sovereignty over the last 70 years. They did not pool and share resources or vote to share their sovernegnty. If fact the complete opposite is true.

        Here are a list of the numbers of countries that have joined the UN since its foundation after the WWII.

        Year # members
        1945 51
        1946 55
        1947 57
        1948 58
        1949 59
        1950 60
        1955 76
        1956 80
        1957 82
        1960 99
        1961 104
        1962 110
        1963 113
        1964 115
        1965 117
        1966 122
        1967 123
        1968 126
        1970 127
        1971 132
        1973 135
        1974 138
        1975 144
        1976 147
        1977 149
        1978 151
        1979 152
        1980 154
        1981 157
        1983 158
        1984 159
        1991 166
        1992 179
        1993 184
        1994 185
        1999 188
        2000 189
        2002 191
        2006 192
        2012 193

        There is nothing unusual in Scotland wanting self determination and democracy. It is quite normal as these steadily increasing UN numbers demonstrate.

        Why did these countries not vote to stay part of the Western and Soviet era empires?

        And of course there are no Nationists in these 193 countries – just Scotland it appears.

        You just keep stating rubbish over and over with no information to ever back it up.

        Just how many of these new nations now share their sovereignty?

      3. Andrew Skea says:

        Note that none of the countries you mention are established democracies. These were all ‘countries’ escaping from authoritarian control, and they needed appropriate platforms to build democracies. We have a well developed democracy and no other people in our position has voted for separation / independence / nationalism – while many other peoples in our position have voted to share more of their sovereignty (including all members of the EU).

        Why are the Lander of Germany not demanding independence? Or the Provinces or States of Canada and the US?

    3. Dr Ew says:

      Thoughtful and penetrating reply, alharron.

    4. macart763 says:

      Superb post.

      Well said.

      1. Begs the question whether the UK is actually a democracy in that equal opportunity to a balanced press, and education to understand and analyse the choices on offer is available to all…

    5. NaeUtopia says:

      Separation? What does it entail? One of the editors on this website has stated that when the State and Markets collapse Scotland will be rebuilt. I wonder if the working man is aware of the ‘plans in place’ (imagination) suggested by the editors and contributors to this website, and whether the wives and children realise that the food supply may be temporarily cut off during the ‘revolution’.
      We are all being offered Marxism as a solution to our concerns with our society, and you have the gall to question the No campaigns fear of Separation!

      The oil is pooled and shared. Industry, in the rUK contributes to the same pool and we do better than the others with money from Westminster. The message you sell is false. And, it has come home to roost in the form of $50 per barrel of oil meaning that their is no profit to be made in Scotland, despite the independence campaign suggesting it would change a society in Scotland, and provide a wealth fund for future generations. Not looking too good there, and SNP have to answer for deceiving the Scottish people, answer for quoting a value of $113 in their White Paper. Is that a White lie? No, it is arrogance, because they were warned about commodity prices fluctuating. We didn’t realise we’d lose $63 / barrel in less than 5 months. The Scottish economy is hugely effected, and redundancies are already taking place, including Gordon where Alex Salmond hopes to be re-elected! Let’s see about that!

      As regards Foreign Policy, you take the tribal route, suggesting Scots have no common ground with UK policy, that International trade does not exist equally for all within the UK, that Scots want to change the abortion laws, and then suggest this is a civil rights movement! This is all incoherent gibberish! We live amongst one of the fairest democracies in the world, and the majority of Scots have just rejected your ideals.

      ‘People Unionists’ with the French, germans and Botswanans? What is wrong with the English? We export more than 60% of our goods to England! Shall we damage this for your ideals?

      ‘Neofeudal Tyrants’? Is that a chip on your shoulder? Sounds slightly racist to me! Or do you regard this as a ‘principled moral stance’ as you self congratulate yourself?

      The economy is in trouble because of debt, and people like you choose the worst time to establish ideals and philosophies which can only alienate the very nations we have stood toe to toe with for 300 years.

      I’m rather saddened to think that Scotland’s future will be hampered by the marxist rhetoric espoused by you and many others, but we plan to fight on for what we hold true in our hearts, to hold this Union together and make changes within the totality of the UK members.

  10. MBC says:

    This gentleman simply doesn’t believe that Scotland exists.

    1. skarge says:

      look Scotland will always be a kept country its better to be owned by ENGLAND than somebody else as long as you got unionist traitors you will never get a yes ask Robert if he was alive

  11. muttley79 says:

    Scottish nationalism bad, British nationalism good is pretty much the message, The question of why people in Scotland should just put up with right wing Tory governments we never elect goes completely answered. The problem with the Scottish independence topic is that many proponents of British nationalism very rarely, if ever acknowledge their own nationalism. They pretend that it does not exist, so therefore the debate is always going to be a partial one before it even begins.

    As for the selfish gibe, that is just pathetic. In parts of Glasgow and other areas of Scotland life expectancy is at a shocking level, as is poverty. Yet we are told we are selfish if we support Scotland running its own affairs. …This is a horrible article. The rest have been interesting but this is one is dire.

    1. Andrew Skea says:

      Where did Mr Harvey or anybody else argue that British Nationalism is good?

  12. Les Wilson says:

    Mr Harvey is an idealist, in a perfectly fair world I would agree with his sentiments. However he clearly does not grasp Scotland’s historical place in this Union he supports. It is factually true that Scots have been shortchanged for centuries. We have been cannon fodder in the great Union’s imperialistic wars and more.
    Our history is not been taught in schools in order to belittle it’s existence.

    We are not in a fair and equitable Union, and neither is Wales, N. Ireland and even the North of England.
    All, are made poorer by the English need to feed to the constant needs of the South East of England.
    It is well known and clearly visible when you look at all the major infrastructure that have been embarked upon, while the infrastructure of the least esteemed parts falls apart. As far as Scotland is concerned, any one who drives on country roads, or the M8 on a wet and windy night will testify.

    Our poverty rises, our children suffer, food banks have exploded, we are not equal dear Sir, we are far from that. While the other parts would find it even more difficult to change their lot, Scotland can, and Scotland could.

    So is it ok that we suffer when we do not have to? sorry charity begins at home, we need to help our own first. A free Scotland would be a compassionate one, we could help these other parts from a position of strength not weakness. We will still be neighbours and best friends, we would help them without doubt, but we have to put our own house in order without the black hole that is Westminster.

    This is how I see it, the Union is past it’s sell by date.

  13. dcanmore says:

    Thank you John for your contribution.

    Many on the left in England do feel as you do, that Nationalism is about cutting yourself off from everyone else and forever looking inward. I do not share that view. Many people voted YES simply because they feel Westminster has failed them and ergo the Left in England has not risen to the challenges of the political landscape. I wanted Scotland to be independent simply because I want Scotland to do well under our own terms. I want a major car plant in Scotland, an international film studios, shipyards to open again, I want the return of Silicon Glen and the advancement of renewable energy. We are builders and creators, but this ambition is not supported by Westminster unless you move to the South of England. Yes it is arguable that these things may or may not happen in an independent Scotland, but it a question of trying, realising a vision for the future that everyone is involved in. We should not be in a position where people have to leave Scotland to get a decent job, Scotland’s greatest export should not be its young.

    Scotland has contracted because Britain has contracted and Scotland can’t do anything about that because we are given a block grant by Westminster while they keep and control revenues. I really don’t see why food banks have to open up in Glasgow to keep the London economy buoyant. This is not selfishness on the part of Scotland, it’s the desperation of trying to make things better through change. One size fits all policies don’t work for the whole of UK.

    I think the real elephant in the room is English nationalism (dressed up as ‘Britishness’) , and that is what will take the UK out of the EU when Scots are clearly in favour of remaining in it. Again, Scotland can’t do a thing about it. The same can be said about Trident and nuclear waste. Scotland is shackled to the rest of the union because our needs is not equal to the needs of London. If you want an equal union then federalism is the only way with Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland raising and spending their own capital. Independence will happen first before Westminster will ever think that democracy should be progressive.

  14. wwildwood says:

    ‘Your Oil Wealth’ doesn’t go to educate a child in Liverpool though does it ? It goes to keep your Country Europe’s Premier Nuclear Target. Quite frankly i see no ‘reasons’ expounded by you here. I read excuses for why you let the Status Quo continue, The ‘tribal nationalism’ you loathe was displayed for the World to see. Gleefully Seig Heiling your ‘victory’.

  15. JBS says:

    “…potentially forcing the government there to cut spending further…”


    “…the biggest reductions will be seen in disadvantaged urban areas like Knowsley on Merseyside (10.9%), Hull (10.8%), Liverpool (10.7%), Manchester (10.5%) and Middlesbrough (10.4%)…”


  16. SqueuedPerspextive says:

    Hi John

    thanks very much for taking the time to explain your opinion. Philosophically I empathise with much of your stance. However it would seem to be the liberal democracy of which you speak is rotten at it’s core. Westminster, in my lifetime, has engaged in illegal wars, cover up of torture, MP’s expenses scandal, pedophilia and it’s cover ups. The main unionist parties now present so little policy difference that it is little wonder that the UK, as a whole, has disengaged with politics and is suffering a democratic deficit. There is so little desire for actual change only to desire to wear the clothes of change , but walk the same path, I cannot see how this can be done without getting radical.

    It is bemoaned by the south that Scotland is bank rolled, while the oil fund squandered on breaking the unions and reducing industry to a service based one – how this educates a child in Liverpool is beyond me.

    Nationalism (in this case – be it England’s voter faith in UKIP or Scotland’s in SNP) is superficially selfish, but underlying it is the pang of helplessness felt by people who don’t want any of the three flavours of conservatist hegemony on offer.

    1. Andrew Skea says:

      Nationalism is an easy concept to sell to voters looking for a quick fix. You complain about lack of policy difference – but what exactly are you looking for – higher state spending I suppose – but where will the money come from? The reason that there are not huge differences between parties is that there is very little room for maneuver. People are very mobile – if we over-tax those with money then they’ll leave and we’ll all be worse off. If we over-tax business then production will move elsewhere. If anything we need more sharing of sovereignty and more harmonisation of tax to all taxation without fear of reducing the tax take.

      1. Steve Bowers says:

        Wow, you’re not shy, now you’re assuming what other people are thinking “but what exactly are you looking for – higher state spending I suppose – but where will the money come from?” how modest of you Andrew, now , can I have tonights winning lotery numbers please ?

      2. flit2013 says:

        Absolutely wrong – we are not arguing over who is the most committed neoliberal here. We are saying that a neoliberal UK will never provide the social democratic system that many Scots want. Ever heard of Keynes ? Thankfully, I and many others feel your entire mindset is wrong headed.

  17. Steve Bowers says:

    Words fail me, self justification at it’s very best

  18. will_i_dream says:

    As far as I can tell, yet another person voting No to maintain the status quo yet expecting things to change.

    I voted Yes for change, let Scotland set an example for the rest of the UK, how a government could be run for the benefit of the voters/tax payers/country and not the corporations, tax dodgers, financial/political thief’s that corrupt the recent historical and current UK governments.

    Every journey begins with a first step. Who knows what would then happen in the future, maybe a new fairer UK union with NI, Wales and England. A new democratic process, a new UK government sitting at a new central location outside London. New political parties etc etc etc

  19. bringiton says:

    ‘people first’
    Which people?
    Try telling the Danes,Norwegians,Swedes,Dutch and so on that they would be better off allowing Westminster to run their affairs and you will not like the answer.
    As others have said,this position can only be justified by denying that Scots are a community and that Scotland is a country.
    Westminster,through the Edinburgh Agreement,acknowledged that Scotland IS a country and as such,we Scots have the right to decide how our affairs are managed.
    This is the right of every free democratic country in the world and would have allowed us Scots to decide what we shared with whom and for what purpose.
    Voting No was a vote to not have this ability.

    1. Andrew Skea says:

      Try telling the people of Bavaria, New Foundland or Texas that they would be better sharing less sovereignty with their neighbours! We are where we are for historical reasons – but there is no justification for sharing less sovereignty in an increasingly integrated world where everybody else is sharing more sovereignty.

      You have a very low opinion of Scots is you think we have no ability to influence the world in the ways we see fit. Stop trying to talk Scotland down.

  20. Monty says:

    Good piece and one that is clearly difficult to dismiss

    1. MBC says:

      You’re joking, of course.

  21. bowanarrow says:

    I would just like to say. When I am at my most despondent I come onto this site and I read the wonderful things written by people on here, it makes me proud to live in this country.

    1. Karen says:

      I totally agree. It is very uplifting to read so many articulate and informed comments on Scotland’s position, or lack thereof, in the Union. Reading the comments I still fail to understand how we managed a no vote but I hope that what it signifies is that more people are coming to the same conclusion as myself and the yes voters and that we get the majority vote next time round.

  22. mtnorbeach says:

    John, I respect your sentiments, and two years ago I would have agreed with much of what you say, however, on further investigation the idealism that you hold in high regard misses the point. The reality is that independence has become popular in direct response to the growth of the democratic deficit within the UK’s system of governance. In essence independence is a technical/structural issue, not an idealogical one in the way that you frame it.

    Put simply, the issue is should people in Scotland continue to be governed from London by a parliament designed to be an adversarial debating chamber: with an unelected second chamber; using the First-Past-The-Post electoral system; by an institution that has had the interests of The City of London and the financial sector embedded at its heart for hundreds of years and has a deeply entrenched legacy of empire in it DNA?

    Or, from Edinburgh by a wholly elected parliament designed to be conciliatory and collaborative: elected using an Additional Member System (AMS) electoral system – designed to return coalition governments that represent the full spectrum of political views, and; that is physically and culturally within reach of people in Scotland?

    That is it. Everything else is speculation and posturing.

    All sides in this debate admit Scotland has what it takes to prosper and anyway all other arguments – currency, Trident, supermarket prices etc etc – are just political manoeuvring and can only be settled by political negotiations, elections and time.

    I believe that Scotland is better served by a parliament located in Edinburgh that is designed to function in fundamentally different ways, and with a different legacy, than the parliament in London.

    I am increasingly encouraged by the solidarity and support offered by those in England, Wales, NI and the rest of the world, for people here to have the chance to try and do things differently and I hope, help create the political spaces for others to follow.

  23. mtnorbeach says:

    Or put even more simply: A No to Nationalism; A Yes to Independence.

  24. lawrenceab says:

    This is a better submission than most No arguments and I would like to thank you for making it. (Plaudits also to Bella C, for opening your pages to No supporters.)

    Your main fallacy is when you talk of a healthy democracy. There ain’t one, in Westminster. This British establishment is rotten to the core. Scotland has a right to try to do better for its people because, you may be certain, WM won’t. It’s as simple and (because the British élite desperately want the resources of Scotland and to maintain the UNSC etc prestige that comes from not losing 1/3 of the landmass they currently control) as difficult as that. But I believe Scotland will get there.

    It is an ancient kingdom, never conquered. It ticks every qualifying self-determination box. Scotland can make its way just as well as Denmark, Finland, Switzerland and a dozen other democratic small states.

    1. Andrew Skea says:

      Can you quote any evidence that “the British Establishment is rotten to the core”.
      In the absence of evidence (independent, reputable, etc) I’ll put your quotation down as Nasty Nationalism- part of the strategy of Scottish Nationalism to divide the UK on the premise that we are somehow different / superior from our fellow voters in rUK (namely the English).

      For example can you find some measure of how democratic we are that shows we are close to being a ‘failed state’ or corrupt, or whatever other measure of democracy you can find.

      I would be surprised if the people of the UK are outside the top 5% of the world’s population in terms of successful government. So if our government is “rotten” then how do you describe the government of the 95% who are less fortunate than us?

      1. Steve Bowers says:

        Tell you what poppet, whay not have a wee look at the ukip vote in England and the ukip vote in Scotland in the recent Euros , just for a wee comparison like , once you have, come back on a tell me that we’re not different. As for the corruption, I would point you at Westminster appointing Baroness Schoss Butler to head up the peadophile enq after her brother covered it up, appointing the next lassie who is a closs personal friend of Leon Brittan ( who has been implicated in said enq ), the Cash for questions scandal etc etc etc the list is long and not at all distinguished, so stop deflecting, it’s not working anywhere else except inside your own head.

      2. flit2013 says:

        Try the endless expenses fiddling for starters and widespread corruptionn in the financial sector. Follow up with our Home Secretary’s husband being heavily involved in outsourced prison contracts. Unelected House of Lords – jobs for the boys. Better still do your own research – the evidence is almost endemic. Your faith in the UK government is almost naive in its slavish loyalty. Maybe you too have a vested interest ?

  25. BogBrush says:

    Hi John, there’s clearly a lot of work, rework and editing gone into your piece so thanks for the effort.

    The Westminster austerity regime is needlessly and painfully hurting the good and vulnerable people of the entire UK hard and it is unlikely to yield any dividends for a long time ahead and certainly not as far as the people it is hurting most are concerned.

    There is no vote that any of us could have cast on September 18th that could have ameliorated this suffering in the entire UK. The referendum presented the opportunity to vote for the chance to at least protect the Scots from the worst of these ravages.

    The Ethics you espouse and your concomitant ‘No’ vote, though clearly not your intent, looks like contempt for these people and I doubt your eloquent and sesquipedalian meanderings offer much consolation.

    I’m sorry John, but I really have to say this: If I was cynic I might wonder if this fabric you’ve woven is masking some denial: maybe be you had some more tangible reasons for voting ‘No’ or maybe it’s just a “John knows best” posture whatever the question.

    “Beware of learned men lest they confound you with their vain sophistry” (I didn’t write that)

    Anyway thanks and all the best: I’t’ll all come out in the wash” 🙂

    Oh! Norway gets its name lifted a lot these days. No one was “oppressed” when it secceded from Sweden in 1905 – was it ‘unethical’?

  26. scottishlit says:

    So why is British Nationalism, where obligations stop at the border of the British State, suddenly acceptable? I votes Yes because I am an internationalist, and because I don’t believe there is a reasonable chance of reforming the Westminster system. If I could have voted “Yes” for the entire UK, I would have done; if I could have voted “Yes” for all of Europe, or for the world, I would have done that, too: but the only option I had was to vote “Yes” for Scotland.

    Indeed, I still think that the only significant hope for the rUK is for Scotland to become independent, thereby triggering a break-up of the British imperial project.

    1. Andrew Skea says:

      Who is the backer of British Nationalism that you refer to?
      This is not a battle between one Nationalism and another, it is a battle between the Nationalism and Liberty.

      1. DaveyM says:

        “[A] battle between the Nationalism and Liberty.” What the hell does this even mean?

    2. macart763 says:

      First class.

      Well said.

  27. Bernicia says:

    The inability of the pro independence campaign to fully address many people’s instinctive rejection and fear of nationalism was a fundamental reason why they lost (IMO). The stock answer – as has been pointed out multiple times here – was to respond by saying ‘what about British nationalism’ which did not in any way adequately answer these concerns, but merely defected them. Rejecting Scottish nationalism ‘civic’ or otherwise is not necessarily an endorsement of British nationalism or the British State. It is possible to reject all nationalisms and recognise that in a globalised world freedom, democracy and soveriegnty and the social justice that accompanies it can only in real terms be acheived through interacting multi level polities and governance, multi level civil society, and so on. Sovereignty can be overlapping not exclusive.

    Also the recieved wisdom that ‘civic’ nationalism is wholey benign as opposed to ‘ethnic’ nationalism doesn’t stand up to historical scrutiny. The Jacobin terror of the French revolutionary state, or the Cultural revolution in China, or more recently the USA after 911 as a few examples. All dogmatic and fundamentalism is dangerous.

    1. JBS says:

      Please correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t remember anyone from the Yes camp (anyone in their senses, that is) saying that individuals who opposed Scottish independence should be beheaded or shot or secretly bundled into a military prison camp to be tortured and driven insane.

      Then again, maybe all of the people who staff and write for Bella are lunatics with an insatiable bloodlust and only put on a show of rationality when they sit down at a keyboard and type.

      1. Bernicia says:

        No but like you they do show an unhealthy level of intolerance for people who don’t share their views.

      2. JBS says:

        And that’s why Bella Caledonia invited No voters to share their views and all this week have been publishing those views as articles. Huh?

    2. Staggie says:

      And yet, was what the SNP proposed not multi level politics and governance? Scotland in the EU, in NATO, in a currency union with rUK? Is that not just as you describe? I voted Yes, partly because of the threat that English votes would take us out of Europe. Is that not the narrow nationalism that you condemn?

      1. Bernicia says:

        Yes that is the narrow nationalism I condemn, the SNP and UKIP are very similar in construct. Again you are proving my point. (more finger pointing) I was talking about perception. People clearly felt intimidated by the nationalist element. To deny this is silly.

      2. Andrew Skea says:

        “I voted Yes, partly because of the threat that English votes would take us out of Europe.”

        We do 70% of our trade with rUK, only 15% with rEU. You voted for the possibility that we would have to cross the EU border to do 85% of our trade (compared with 15% now) – how would that have panned out? How could we have been in the Eu but in ‘currency union’ with a country outside of the EU?

        You really have not thought things through. I was quite scared at the naivety of many ‘Yes’ comments like your’s.

        At worst, we might get dragged out of the EU by UKIP et al – but that danger is much less than the danger you wanted to expose us to (as laid out above), and at least we are able to fight this UKIP danger from within the UK and hopefully retain all of the benefits we have now.

      3. Andrew Skea, why would we lose trade to the rUK if Scotland was Independent? would they take the huff, would they be nasty…………no wonder some believe in Independence with neighbours like that…

    3. alharron says:

      “Rejecting Scottish nationalism ‘civic’ or otherwise is not necessarily an endorsement of British nationalism or the British State.”

      It may not be an intentional or tacit endorsement, but it is a functional endorsement. A No voter may consider themselves an internationalist, and indeed reject all nationalisms. But the UK government establishment is fundamentally nationalist: look at the Military Covenant, New Labour’s “One Nation” rhetoric, and all these other things.

      “All dogmatic and fundamentalism is dangerous.”

      Treating all nationalism as inherently dangerous sounds pretty fundamentalist to me.

      1. Bernicia says:

        The level of intent is quite important…and the functional state wold be there but not necessarily nationalism. It’s it was a qualitative distinction. And all nationalisms are nebulous and can shift. If Scottish independence had gone tits up are you completely confident it wouldn’t have shown it’s ugly face?

      2. Andrew Skea says:

        In what way was Labour’s “One Nation” Nationalist?
        What Nation or people do they attempt to persuade us we are different or superior to?

        I what way is the Military Covenant Nationalist?
        What is Nationalist about promising our servicemen that we’ll look after them?

        If that is the best you can come up with to prove that the British State is Nationalist then it is trivial compared to the twin Nationalisms of SNP and UKIP.

  28. Patsie says:

    John, a primary motivator for many ‘Yes’ voters was a deeply held ethical objection to the Scots hosting a first strike nuclear weapons system. So we have a clash of Ethics. The Jesuits would say: “Of two evils the lesser is to be chosen.” So which is the lesser?

    1. Bernicia says:

      Can you tell that to Putin.

      1. That’ll be the same Putin who annexes bits of countries when they try to stop “pooling and sharing” their resources with Russia…

  29. Michael Gallagher says:

    The oil isn’t a reason for indepedence. Independence is not about hoarding resources. It is about Scotland getting the Government it votes for. You only get that with independence. Scotland IS a nation and deserves to have the Government it votes for (and by Government I mean one that has the power to make all decisions) 100% of the time.

    1. Bernicia says:

      This is a tautological arguement. It presupposes the answer, that the nation is the primary unit of democracy…if you took a non nationalist position then both halfs of england only get the government they vote for half the time also. And it is reductive. Shetland never gets the governement it vots for and in an Indy Scotland due to demographics the west of scotland would dominate and the rest of Scotland would be better served with a wider democratic polity.. This was one of the reasons the firther you got from the central belt the stronger the no vote.

      1. billmelvin59 says:

        You really are tying yourself in knots. “Either half of England only gets the Gov it votes for half the time”, I think you miss the point, England always gets the Gov that the majority of English people vote for. The same cannot be said for Scots in a UK election. The controlling elites, the money that selects the politicians, made sure the UK stuck with first past the post. why? Giving a voice to many more disparate groups doesn’t retain their control, in the same way that devolution, to whatever level, is actually power retained. It’s exactly what they are trying to fudge right now.
        I actually think you have more in common with YES supporters, independence is the only means to deliver true interdependence in the UK. And because interdependence is far more challenging to Govern under, despite the Scottish Parliament having proved it can produce more consensual and fairer politics, the elite corporate groups won’t let it happen.
        However, the people are awakening and it will come, either through political will or a revolution!

  30. Darien says:

    “a principled moral stance” ?????

    Yes, that will be the morals of British banking. British illegal wars, British arms suppliers. British nuclear weapons. British journalists. British utilities monopolies. British (loose) regulation in most corporate spheres. British this and that – e.g. foodbanks, inequality, poverty, underemployment. There is no ‘principled moral stance’ in being ‘British’, so who are you kidding. And anyone who believes in a nation is a nationalist. You believe in a British ‘nation’, so what does that make you?

    1. Bernicia says:

      The British illegal wars were actually a coalition of 136 different countries, including Denmark (3rd largest force) Norway and Iceland. The government was full of Scots, overwhelmingly voted for by the Scottish electorate and ratified again by the Scottish parliament in a vote while the anti war protest was UK wide. To assume that an indy Scotland would have acted differently under the circumstances is pushing it. Hindsight and moral luck. And all the other things you’ve listed are equally Scottish and would still exist as part of an indy Scotland. Unless you are so conceited you honestly believe that an indy scot would be utterly different. It would be no easier to change these with independence any more than it can be changed UK wide. Hence the fact that the SNP kept zero hours contracts in the public sector, the fact that BAE systems would still operate and employ, Edinburgh would have highest proportion of privatelty educated pupils in the UK, the disparity in wealth would remain the same (3% tax variable never used after 15 years) etc etc…and the white paper was just as neo lib as the Torries, And Britain isn’t a nation, it’s a unitary state.

      1. Darien says:

        You are right in that all Scotland has achieved so far is change the face of the politicians. What is now needed is to change the Establishment that runs Scotland and that must surely be work in progress.

      2. Bernicia says:

        Well said. Do that and I’ll vote for indy without a seconds hesitation.

  31. Dan Huil says:

    The union, since its foundation, has been unfair and unbalanced. It was always going be. The reason it has lasted so long is the “success” of the imperialism in which it indulged. Scots and English [or most of them] didn’t care much about ethics when it came to exploiting millions of innocent people around the world. Thankfully the empire is long dead, although some British nationalists/imperialists still find it hard to admit, thus the “usefulness” of the union is also dead. I can’t see what’s wrong with ending an unfair, unbalanced “union”. At the very least it would be a sign to the rest of the world that Scots and English regret their imperialist history.

    1. Bernicia says:

      Yet India, China, Australia, the USA, Canada, South Africa, Kenya (in fact everyone except the Russians, Iranians and Syrians) see the positive value in modern Britain. Not all but most. And what about the other empires that are filling the space? China,Brazil, India, Nigeria (regionally in west africa) Russia etc… This lazy, Britain was an Empire therefore is still Imperial today is absurd. And if Scotland is so ashamed of the imperial past then feel free to begin paying reparations (you don’t need independence to do that, just a fund and everyone to contribute a % of their income?…When will Scotland take responsibility for her history rather than hidding behind ‘Britain’ and claiming victimhood(and no it really doesn’t need Independence to do this) Think about all those African Americans and West Indies folk with Scottish names; there is still a Dalhousie street in Glasgow city centre and on and on and on…. pointing the finger at Britain and saying it was them (or us as them) is nothing but cowardly and sneaky. Can’t wait till the world realises the disproportionate amlign inluence Scoland has had on the world… Palestinians (isreal), Chinese (Hong Kong), tasmanians (oh I forgot there are no indigenious left after the Scots turned up and committed genocide…;. the remains of the last aborigional was kept in Edinburgh university until retuurned in the 1990 and on and on and on…. Scotland doesn’t need independence to face up to her imperial past it can do so today.

      1. Dan Huil says:

        Indeed, Scotland’s involvement in the murderous cruelty of the British empire is shameful. All the more reason for Scotland to redress such shame by regaining its independence and ridding itself of the backwardness of Britishness.

        “Scotland doesn’t need independence to face up to her imperial past it can do so today.”

        Exactly, by ending the union.

  32. Brian says:

    I find it utterly disgusting when I get referenced to a Nazi for wanting independence. The Nazi party wanted a caste system with them at the top, then ethnic Germans, then other Europeans and finally people of colour at the bottom. How Scotland being independent represented that in any way is beyond my thinking.

  33. Jean-Loup says:

    “Scotland hoarding those revenues would make the rUK fiscal position worse overnight, potentially forcing the government there to cut spending further or increase taxes, pushing people on the margin into poverty”

    Surely this is more an indication of the sheer incompetence from Westminster to implement sustainable revenues to benefit everyone in the UK than it shows Scots as being selfish.

    The economic case for iScotland was NOT based on oil revenue, that was crystal clear in the White Paper, Oil revenues were always considered a bonus and the oil fund was to make our future economically safer but it wasn’t meant to be the main source of economic revenue.

    The truth is Westminster is more concerned with filling the pockets of corporate magnates and bankers than to look after the little guy in Glasgow, Swansea or Liverpool. The little guy is an inconvenience to them, that’s why they’re the ones being hit worse by the likes of the Bedroom Tax. Whether Scotland is independent or not, an uncaring elitist Westminster government isn’t something we in Scotland have any power over changing, not at the ballot box at least. But perhaps if we were to build our own fairer society it could pave the way for similar change to happen in Wales, Northern Ireland and yes, in England too.

    If anything, for Scotland to become independent isn’t about being selfish at all, it’s, among other things, about giving hope that a different way of doing things is possible.

    1. Bernicia says:

      Nope 20 % of GDP were to come from oil revenues at 113 dollars. It was always a silly calculation as it fialed to take into account the rest of the world where oil is in abundance. Deep sea drilling in new low tax fields and US shale were mentioned often by those in the industry. Also, it’s not just tax receipts for oil but also corporate tax, income tax, the loss of liquidity/ money in the economy from the loss jobs, business all down the supply chain… it is having a huge knock on effect. In an indy Scotland it would have been catastrophic (could the government really afford the same tax reduction as UK treasury? Not giving much hope to the North East of Scotland. A reason why indy was comprehensively rejected.

      1. sandra says:


  34. Alan says:

    I voted Yes. The oil for me was irrelevant. If the rest of the UK had said, “Let us keep all the oil, and you can have your independence,” then I would have still voted yes without hesitation. Other countries manage just fine without oil.

    Honestly, I find your argument that “British nationlism is good but Scottish nationalism is selfish” incomprehensible.

    I voted Yes because Westminster isn’t working for Scotland. England chooses the governments Scotland gets, which are rarely the governments Scotland votes for. The media has pushed England to the right of Scotland, so now there’s little difference between Labour and the Conservatives. Both parties are focused on England, which is where 85% of their vote comes from. London is the focus, with public spending there vastly higher than in Scotland.

    If that’s the way No voters want things, then fine. Let’s move government from London to Brussels. Let the rest of Europe decide which governments the UK gets. Let’s pool and share our resources with our European brothers and sisters. God knows Greece could use our wealth.


  35. rosestrang says:

    “It is simply wrong to decide that there must be a new smaller definition of ‘us’, and that from henceforth it will be ‘us first’ and we can relinquish responsibility for the rest of ‘them’”

    I see it very differently, it’s the exact opposite of relinquishing responsibility

    Of course much of the North of England, and pockets throughout rUK share our wish for social democracy, but social democracy isn’t best served by centralised power. When Scotland becomes independent, there will still be a drive for grass roots influence, also decentralising of power, within Scotland. But that’s not about fragmentation, rather it’s recognising an out of date way of viewing politics.

    It’s the essence of democracy to delegate power so it’s not concentrated amongst an elite. People at a more local level understand the needs of their communities, and that’s why despite a strongly socialist upbringing, which emphasises political solidarity worldwide, I’m a passionate supporter of independence. It’s not about identity, a ‘them and us’ mentality or denying the suffering of people in other countries, it’s a recognition that a few people at top levels of power can’t make decisions for the majority – because it’s impossible for them to be ‘in touch’ with the majority of people.

    UK government foreign policy damages our relations with other countries, the UK is caught up in a worldwide squabble that can only cause more poverty and fear. It’s not what the majority of people in Scotland want, whether yes or no voters. Why should we collude with it? Or house nuclear weapons whose purpose we’re opposed to?

    Look at the recent example of ATOS – if you were a minor employee in an unethical company what would your chances of rearranging higher management be? Your only option is to get the hell out then whistleblow. Only then can change happen. And as we know, even then bugger all happens. You have to be an astute political maneuverer, with a strong stomach and strongly held goals, to make change happen from within, and even then (even if you’re Alex Salmond!) there’s no guarantee of change.

    In terms of oil, or any other resource, you’re right, it should be shared, but the mismanagement of North Sea Oil means that it’s been squandered and historically has benefited the rich more than poor in the UK. This fire-fighting going on at present re’ North Sea Oil is a case in point. With long term investment there would be no sudden crisis when prices fluctuate, as they always have and will continue to. But instead of working together to solve problems it’s the same old party politics going on.

    That won’t change while Westminster holds an iron grip on how politics is managed. What we’re looking at is not the fragmenting of our connections with rUK, it’s a fragmenting of power which will result in a fairer society for everyone.

    Are we expected to hang about while tories make devolution to local regions in England a political weapon against Labour? In what way can people in Scotland help people in England when that sort of games-playing continues? It’s a cynical mess and with independence we genuinely alter the stakes for everyone in the UK who wants to see progress. Westminster has to be changed for progress to happen. I think this awakening throughout Scotland as a result of the referendum means that most of us have stopped fantasising and are now taking action that’s long, long over due.

  36. David says:

    Other than saying we have a liberal democracy I don’t read much positivity in what you write.I’m on a train about to cross the only UK land border and into Eire. My fear is that this border will soon be the land frontier between us and the EU. When little England takes full ukip style control of our borders I think we will all start to them becoming more relevant in a very negative manner.

  37. abesto says:

    John Patrick Harvey’s central point is an ethical one: that “nationalism in the context of a liberal democracy is ultimately selfish”. That’s silly.

    Scottish independence isn’t about doing anyone down, or taking anything away from anyone.. There is nothing selfish in the people of one area (in this case a nation) deciding that they no longer wish to pool their sovereignty with others.

    If a decision by Scotland to govern itself would have been “selfish”, then what about Norway? Was it “selfish” to gain independence from Sweden? Is Noway “selfish” not to seek a union with some other country, such as Denmark or Cuba or Fiji? Was Ireland selfish to win independence from the UK?

    I have a vision of John Patrick Harvey chatting to his neighbour, and suggesting that they merge their two gardens. Tear down the fence and treat them as a shared space. That way they’d only need one lawnmower, and both sets of kids would have a bigger area to run around.

    Neighbour thinks about it for a day or so, and invites JPH in for a cuppa, when he declines the offer. You are great folks, and there’d be good things about about sharing, says the neighbour. But we do some things differently: I like an organic garden, whereas you like weedkillers. I like herbaceous borders, but you prefer shrubs. I like trimming my grass fine, but you love the even mowing you do so well.

    So I don’t think it would work, said the neighbour. Instead of being giod beighbours admiring each others work, we’d be squabbling. Might even have a falling out.

    JPH takes it before replying: “You selfish, unethical bastard! By rejecting my principled moral stance against, you deny my humanity!!!”

    1. Frank M says:

      I think you summed it all up here perfectly @abesto. Fantastic.

    2. Darien says:

      Excellent, thank you. Well illustrates the unionist desire to control others territory and what is done with it. I think ‘colonise’ is the correct word.

  38. Fran says:

    There are poor in the South of England too. In an independent Scotland my solidarity with them would be no less. And we might have a stronger voice to support them with.

  39. John says:

    JPH, you are completely wrong. For decades Scotland along with Wales, NI and the north of England have been subsidising london and the south east of England. The oil wealth has not benefited Scotland as it has been spent on a host of infrastructure and other projects in and around london. How has the channel tunnel, HS 1, Thames barrier, M25, cross rail 1 and 2, london Olympics etc benefited Scotland? Enough is enough we need to be able to decide what our tax is spent on in Scotland. Other parts of the UK in the same position need to fight their own case to end this stranglehold by London.

  40. ELAINE FRASER says:

    Thank you for letting us know what your thinking was. Initially ‘undecided’ , my research involved attending as many events and hearing as many arguments for and against as I could. I attended an open meeting organised by ‘Christians for Independence’ where the specific ethical issue of leaving the rUK behind (so to speak) was raised. At another open meeting organised by SSP I recall a man angrily shouted in defence of international socialism to which another audience member responded that it was all very good and well but he had been waiting 9yrs for a council house.
    I mentioned this to let you know that many who voted YES did try to weigh up everything including the impact on the rUK and especially poorer parts. Im not suggesting for a minute that there would have been no impact on rUK you only have to read George Kerevan ‘UK economy is a ticking time bomb’ to understand how panicked the City of London was at the thought of losing oil revenue. I don’t know where the writer of this piece lives or what he sees when he is out and about . Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of ( insert name)
    If it aint broke don’t fix it but when its this broke and it is within our power to do something about it I believe we have a moral duty to lead the way in saying loud and clear enough….enough!

  41. I’m based in Wales. An independent Scotland would mean us here in Wales – unless and until we achieved independence – being subject to even more stringent austerity under forseeable rUK governments. But I still support independence for Scotland, quite contrary to the case the author makes here. With a new national neighbour and close relative developing more egalitarian and investment-led economic policy – as seems likely – Wales and the North of England would receive a big economic boost. And the ongoing radical impetus of the Scots ‘Yes’ campaign would give massive extra weight to campaigning groups and parties trying to make a change. The general good of the people of ‘Britain’, the fundamental moral principle JPH appears to be arguing from, appears in this light to favour independence.

    1. Darien says:

      A fine perspective, thank you. What all the nations and regions of the UK need is to get rid of the corrupt Westminster cesspit and our dysfunctional and class ridden Establishment who take us all to the cleaners. To achieve a new democracy for all these isles is what we should be about. That process would have become unstoppable with a Yes vote. No voters actually prevented the beginning of that necessary reform, allowing our Eton and Oxbridge chums and their corporate pals to rule the roost and exploit us all for a while yet. From Bella contributions I don’t see No voters looking at this issue with any real depth – their rationale has been rather superficial and more or less reflects the unionist media bombardment and scare stories.

      1. Dean Richardson says:

        Nations and regions of the UK? England’s a nation, too, despite the wishes of the Anglophobic Brits to salami-slice our nation for their benefit.

      2. Darien says:

        DR: “England’s a nation, too, despite the wishes of the Anglophobic Brits to salami-slice our nation for their benefit.”

        This seems rather a contradiction. Is there not some confusion here between what is England and what is Britain? Or do you consider both to be one and the same thing? If the latter, then that would imply Scotland is merely a part of England (and Britain). And I am not sure of your term ‘Anglophobic Brits’, and whether you use this term to refer to Scots seeking their independence?

  42. jockio says:

    Scotland entered into a union. A large part of the people of Scotland no longer want to be part of that union. Democracy in action. Live with it.

  43. Maybe, just maybe, if Scotland had broken free from her shackles. England voters might have stood up and challenged WM. We could have been the catalyst for positive change down south. As one top Civil Service person said “WM will never let go of Scotland”….says it all. Scotland is more than capable of governing herself, Scotland’s people is more than capable of removing any government who WE feel is not working to our best advantage. Scotland can help who ever it wishes, and build great supportive friends and neighbours. Spend money were we feel its best spent, there is so much Scotland can do, but not while it has this 85% elephant on its back, sucking up its water and air and crushing her beneath its contempt………SCOTLAND is better than this.

  44. David Agnew says:

    This is viewpoint I came across often. Its left me scratching my head on more than one occasion. The assertion that British Identity is not in any way a national identity. That it somehow transcends all identities as it has no trappings of nationalism. That is a purer way..indeed a right way of doing things. This is a true unionist shibboleth, and a deeply cherished one to boot, but one that when examined and held up to the cold hard light of day, is clearly seen to be nothing of the sort. To vote for something that clearly doesn’t exist and has all the trappings of a tribal identity in itself, is one that will never cease to amaze me.

    Its a desire for all to just get along and accept a happy clappy version of the UK, and ignore everything that’s going wrong. It will sort itself out, it always has. It’s a fundamental misreading of British history and the struggles people have underwent to get to where we are. Even the path to home-rule has been a long and torturous one. Colin Kidd said in his book “Union and Unionisms” said that the true success of the Union is that is became so banal, people forgot it was there. This post is clearly the heartfelt wish that this state of affairs come about again.

    The path to independence is not about tribalisms. It is about who is best placed to govern in Scotlands interests. A political and economic union was established for nefarious reasons on both sides, and it was frankly viewed very differently by both nations. Its a view that still holds today. That it lasted this long is a tribute to compromises and fudges along the way. But nothing is forever. There is no “British” identity – it is clearly nothing more than a collective pro-noun. Its just valued more by some. I still remain convinced that Westminster and the UK no longer serve Scotland’s interests.

    If i genuinely believed that to be “British” meant something of value. I would be incandescent with rage at what is being done in its name. Not willfully pretending that nothing is wrong.

  45. Jock Campbell says:

    The moral justification for Scottish independence (call it whatever you like to make it sound bad), is simply democratic (and economic) justice.

    in a state where we like to believe democracy is king, the democratic process must be seen to work… even if it means the destruction of current conventions in order to ensure the democratic process is upheld.

    Scotland is the richest country in this Kingdom… on paper. But you’d be hard-oressed to find evidence of it on the ground! This isn’t because Scots are uniquely inept at managing their wealth… but that the wealth is being controlled by Westminster… a chamber dominated by English political representation. This is unacceptable to the Scots… a people recognised in international law as having a legal right to full sovereign state representation.

    So Westminster had a choice… change the Westminster system of government to reflect this sovereign right, or have the sovereign right to govern removed.

    The solution might have been a federal UK. They refused to discuss it, so morally, the Scots have no choice but to assert their right to state sovereignty and get on with governing in their own interests.

  46. Ken Waldron says:

    In brief, its old reheated soup and boils down to: “… there is no such country or polity as Scotland and I don’t mind sharing our oil wealth etc.”

    Well, firstly most of the population irrespective of what they voted at the Referendum consider Scotland a country rather than a region of a greater polity and secondly you aren’t really sharing and enabling with that Scottish oil wealth: “…to educate a child in Liverpool, or helps pay for someone’s medical care in London. ” you are in fact handing it over to a state which uses its resources to introduce more privatisation and profiteering: in both eduction and medicine which ultimately benefits the few rather than the many and of course all of the UK major parties are signed up to that neoliberal agenda.

    Tired stuff.

  47. McDuff says:

    We are continually subjected to this kind of stuff on a daily basis from the MSM and with all due respect I don`t expect to have to endure it on this site especially when the writer seems to have a complete lack of understanding of what the independence movement is all about.

  48. Optimistic Till I Die says:

    I was about to comment that this, in my opinion, was the first reasonably sensible account for voting No that had been published so far prior to commenting on the inconsistencies and blinkered elements within the case but I see numerous other commentators have already done so. Not much more be said: Many No voters don’t simply realise how inconsistent their arguments are but then, as psychologists often point out, the beliefs that people hold are often not consistent.

  49. Onwards says:

    This ‘selfish’ argument for sharing oil has to be put in context of the relative size of the countries.

    When Scotland only has 8.3% of the UK population, sharing a jackpot find basically involves giving the vast majority of it away to our neighbour.

    To me, that seems more like foolishness than selfishness.

    It would be like the UK sharing a huge amount of its income with Africa or India and their much larger populations.

    Just because the UK is an ‘existing liberal democracy’ doesn’t change that fact.

    Perhaps the author is no hypocrite, and agrees with that.. or with a pooling and sharing united Europe, or a one world government ?

    Should the UK’s oil wealth also have been shared to educate a child in Cairo or Istanbul ?

    Or does selflessness stop at the English channel ?

    1. Bernicia says:

      Arguably yes, if ethics were important rich countries should share the wealth. But that aside we haven’t had a union with Cairo for the past 300 years. The point is qualitative.

      1. DaveyM says:

        And your point is grammatically meaningless.

  50. ‘nationalism in the context of a liberal democracy is ultimately selfish’ – if I’d have perceived that context, I’d have voted no. I didn’t (and don’t).

  51. leginge says:

    For many YES voters the referendum was, as suggested by most of the posts on here, basically about democracy, about wresting control over Scottish affairs from the establishment elite of corporate bank-rolled politicians headed up by ego’s from the private school system. Hence why most people here in Liverpool where I live supported Scottish Independence. The Scottish referendum was the first opportunity since the war to strike a blow for the people against the system, the hope being that a social democratic country on england’s border, implementing progressive policies to benefit all the people, policies designed to eradicate poverty etc would show the english people that there was indeed another way than austerity and neoliberalism and lead to a massive shake-up of the Labour Party or in fact inspire other movements to emerge. Essentially a YES vote was seen as a necessary first step if anything was ever gonni change. So our english colleagues would not be left behind more like shown the way forward.

    1. IAB says:

      I think that’s what we all hoped and it will happen. Imagine what benefits would come from four democratic nations rid of the old elites working together.

    2. Dan Huil says:

      Your last two sentences sum it up perfectly.
      Over the decades devolution has been won because many people in Scotland were willing to vote for the SNP and other pro-independence parties. Unionists still think that if they throw a few more devolution crumbs at Scotland people there will gratefully bow and give thanks. Devolution is working for Scotland, Devolution could work for England. Independence is the natural corollary of devolution.

  52. Thanku for verifying something I already suspected, the narrow mind of the NO voter…cheers

    Your one point regarding OIL, lets just look at that……….The UK and Norway discovered this black gold at the same time from the same waters, the UK being one of two Countries in the world that didn’t deem their public important enough to start an OIL fund the other was IRAN, Westminster has given us 1.4 Trillion pound of debt whilst Norway has savings of almost a Trillion, as for the wealth being shared across the UK that just made me laugh and can only be described as naivety, however in 3 years campaigning I didn’t hear one YESSER mention OIL. The best description why Independence was right for me was by an English friend…………

    “How this English-born ex-Unionist became a Scottish-independence
    By Angus Coull

    Are you against independence for Scotland? Or unconvinced by the case for it?
    Until about a decade ago, I would have wholeheartedly agreed with you. I used to be a Unionist.
    Now I’m voting Yes, and I’m actively involved in my local Yes campaign in East Lothian.
    Being born in London to a Scottish father, the idea of Britishness seemed to naturally appeal to my

    mixed Scottish/English background in my younger years. So while I voted Yes to the Scottish
    parliament in the 1997 referendum, and indeed was very much in favour of significantly increasing its
    powers beyond that, I wanted the British state to be preserved in some form – at least where
    defence and foreign affairs were concerned. I was against independence.

    I said things that you maybe hear yourself saying nowadays, like ‘I’m both Scottish and British, I
    don’t want to have to choose between them.’ I don’t regret saying that either, there’s nothing wrong
    with having a dual identity, and with being both Scottish and British if that’s how you feel.

    The only problem was that I was COMPLETELY MISSING THE POINT.
    And it took the Iraq war to make me realize that I was completely missing the point.
    In the build-up to the war, I joined 50,000 other people on one of the biggest marches Glasgow and
    Scotland had ever seen. We marched on the same day as millions more marched across the UK,

    Europe and the world. In London, over a million took part in the biggest protest ever seen in the UK.
    The message from the people on the streets up and down Britain to our political leaders was simple:
    ‘Don’t attack Iraq. Don’t do this.’ Most opinion polls also showed that most people in both Scotland
    and the UK as a whole did not support an invasion of Iraq.

    And then I watched Westminster MP’s, in overwhelming numbers, and with a majority from BOTH
    the governing party AND the main opposition, vote to ignore the people and send Britain’s
    overwhelmingly working-class soldiers to fight and die on their politician’s behalf in an illegal war.

    That’s when I began to realise that the problem with the political system we were living under was
    not just the Tories -it was Westminster itself. It didn’t matter who was in power there, Westminster
    served the agenda of the wealthy and powerful, not the ordinary people of Scotland, England, Wales
    and Northern Ireland.

    Over the next few years, as I watched the horror in Iraq unfolding on TV, with so many innocent
    men, women, children and animals killed, wounded, traumatized, bereaved and made destitute, I
    completed my journey from a believer in the British state to one dedicated to its dissolution. I knew
    that Scotland had been dragged into this war, with our national parliament in Edinburgh helpless to
    prevent our nation’s involvement in the slaughter. I noticed that those parties and groups that
    supported independence were almost entirely opposed to the war, while many unionists were among
    the biggest cheerleaders for it.

    I realized that as an independent country, Scotland would have been much less likely to have
    followed Westminster into Iraq. And at the very least, we would have had the choice. I realized that
    largely personal and philosophical questions about whether we felt just Scottish, or Scottish and
    British, were completely beside the point. The reality of the Union was not ‘togetherness’, but power.
    Westminster-power. Westminster was not a force for comradely love across these islands -it was a
    bloated, corrupt, greedy, callous and undemocratic cesspit that was drenched in the blood of the
    innocent. It still is.

    The now sadly-departed Iain Banks would later sum up how I had come to feel when he said he
    would vote for independence FOR NO OTHER REASON than for Scotland never to have to take
    part in something like Iraq ever again. And with a bit of luck, stripped of its imperial pretensions as
    the parliament of ‘Great Britain’, perhaps a Westminster diminished by the loss of Scotland might
    also refrain from taking part in such brutality again.

    Tony Blair, the man most responsible for the UK’s participation in the war crime that was Iraq,
    departed office in 2007. Since then, we have only seen more examples of how corrupt and harmful
    Westminster is – regardless of who is in power there. We’ve witnessed the MP’s expenses scandal,
    the electoral fraud of the Lib Dems over tuition fees, the hundreds of billions of pounds of public
    money handed over to bankers, falling incomes for most people, and numerous policies and
    announcements designed to punish and scapegoat the poor, the sick and the marginalized while the
    rich just get richer. The Westminster Labour Party hypocritically attacks the Tories over the same
    Bedroom Tax it first introduced into private housing, while many of its Scottish MP’s couldn’t even be
    bothered to actually turn up to parliament to vote against it.

    And finally, in 2014, we have the British Red Cross running a national food-aid programme in the UK
    for the first time since World War 2. While Britain gets hungrier and more desperate, Westminster
    politicians only increase the amount of public money they spend on champagne for their numerous
    parliamentary bars. That is not just rhetoric, it is reality -confirmed by the Huffington Post’s freedom
    of information request.

    But of course, anger alone at Westminster is not enough. We need to at least try to make things
    better. While the wrongs of Westminster are real, so is hope. There is hope. And it just so happens
    to be mainly located in Scotland this year. There are 2 possible courses of action available to
    Scotland’s voters in September:

    1. Vote No in the belief that this will somehow, against all available evidence, leave some kind of
    avenue open to ‘reform’ Westminster.
    2. Vote Yes – and in so doing not only break Westminster’s power over Scotland, but also leave it
    weakened and under pressure to relinquish power further across the rest of the UK.
    Westminster is a nasty boil on the skin of Britain. Boils can’t be reformed -they need to be lanced.
    The likely long-term outcome of Scotland’s independence is that Wales will become independent
    too. Northern Ireland will either become independent or join the Republic of Ireland. England will
    decentralize with regional parliaments across its green and pleasant land. The Westminster boil will
    be lanced.

    Westminster itself will either be greatly reduced in its power by the regional parliaments, or with a bit
    of luck it might even simply be abolished altogether and turned into a museum for tourists to look at,
    with a new national English parliament founded elsewhere.

    As someone who is quite happy to call himself both Scottish and British, I have long since moved on
    from the emotional con-trick of Unionism. It once had me fooled, but I eventually saw through it. I’m
    convinced that independence will not just be a new beginning for Scotland, but also a fresh start for
    our friends and neighbours in England, Wales and Northern Ireland too. It’s not about breaking up
    with the rest of the UK, it’s about breaking up with Westminster – and thereby providing inspiration to
    the rest of the UK to do likewise.

    I was born in London, and will always be fond of the city of my birth. But I no longer wish to be ruled
    from London. And I don’t see why the rest of Scotland should wish it either. In 2014, Scotland has a
    real chance to steer her future away from the failed system at Westminster, and to help guide the
    rest of the UK’s future in a similarly hopeful direction.

    For the sake of Scotland, AND for the sake of the rest of the UK, this English-born ex-Unionist is
    voting Yes”.

    Obviousy this was written before the result 🙂

  53. IAB says:

    I’m tired of nationalism being belittled into something racist or parochial. I am Scottish, I am proud to be Scottish, I am not ashamed to say it.

    Because I am Scottish and proud, I want my country to be the best in the world. I want a fair, just society that looks after its people and reaches out to others in need.

    I do not want to be ruled by an elitist Westminster government who are determined to maintain the old order which is corrupt.

    I think there is a will for change in this country and I am delighted to see it but I refute the view that being proud of your country is a bad thing and being proud to be British is good.

    1. Dan Huil says:

      Well said. I’m fairly confident that when Scotland regains its independence it will not invade Poland. Or Iraq or Afghanistan for that matter.

  54. I am really enjoying this series. I had already heard from NO voting friends and family why they voted NO, mostly fear of something. What I really enjoy is the thoughtful, respectful responses from YES voters, which has simply reinforced my YES vote.

    It is clear to me, that most who want to secede from the Union are motivated by a dissatisfaction with the Union, and an attraction to Independence. This Push/Pull effect is why we have bounced back so quickly and so high. The Unionist view of our ‘nationalism’ is their vanity, they think it’s about them. When the Independence movement is, in fact, the most inclusive Political Movement possible.

    So, I hope the author will see in our replies a broadmindedness, an internationalism, a friendship which is inclusive. And, also that the extractive exclusivity of the Westminster elite does not now, and never has served the nation well.

  55. “Nationalism, including this civic variety, is ultimately about exclusion. Scottish nationalism aims to exclude politically the people south of an historic border, in an era when borders are becoming less relevant whether people like it or not.”

    In an article littered with fallacious arguments that have been rebuffed endlessly over the past couple of years, it is at least funny to see a unionist trying to claim that borders are becoming less relevant at a moment in time where the unionist parties are falling over themselves trying to outdo UKIP’s anti-immigration rhetoric.

    The UK is on the road out of the EU, is turning various groups against each other to make people forget who actually caused the financial crisis, and is demonising immigrants to an extent I’ve certainly never seen in my lifetime. Meanwhile, the Yes campaign wanted Scotland to play a full part in the EU, valued those who chose to live in Scotland to such an extent that they were even given a vote on the country’s future, and espoused ideas about aiming to turn Scotland into a country with the levels of fairness and equality seen in Scandinavia. And yet, somehow, you think it’s a Yes that would have led to exclusion.

    Sorry, but you’re an idiot.

    1. Bernicia says:

      More unsubstantiated recieved wisdom. 1) Fairness and equality in Scandinavia is due to the fact they have always been equal and has little to do with policy.It’s a horse and cart thing. Denmark for example went from hemogenous, non fuedal agrarian economy to high end manufacturing as late as the 70’s. Scotland had centuries of feudalism then four undred years of industrialisation and massive industrial decline. As a consequence Scotlands inequality is ingrained in the fabric of our history and will not be solved by the ‘big society’ localism tosh the likes of Riddoch comes out with. 2) All the Scandinavian countries have right wing governments (Norway has the equivalent of UKIP in coalition with the Torries – Anders Brevik supported the now ruling Progress Party. 3) They are all privatising their public services including both health and education…in fact Sweden is arguably the most privatised country in Western Europe…where michael gove went to get his education policy. 4) They all have worrying problems with the far right in a way that the UK doesn’t. 5) Given Scotland’s experience of immigration similar to the scale England has recently experienced (that being Irish catholics and Ulster Scots) it a bit rich to say that UK is alone in turning groups against one another.

      1. Four hundred years of industrialisation… inequality ingrained in the fabric of our history …the tragic phenomenon of Anders Brevik demonstrating incontrovertibly that Scandinavians are dangerously right-wing as well as being intrinsically equal. What an entertainingly bizarre narrative you have constructed to support your opposition to Scotland’s independence! The Bernician History of the World should be a real page-turner.

        Oh, and Doug did not say that the UK “is alone” in turning groups against each other. You made that bit up too.

  56. Lawrence says:

    Your response is very welcomed along with the other No voters that have responded, the debate they have created here has helped me to clarify my own thoughts. I like many other share your sentiments about using our resources to benefit all but for me it wasn`t about nationalism and our continued suffering wouldn`t help anyone be they in Liverpool, Newcastle or Brixton, your No vote was a wasted vote on your argument as I don’t believe there is a reasonable chance of ever reforming the Westminster system, that only serves to benefit the elite, the only true chance of reform was a Yes vote.

  57. Fay Kennedy. says:

    There can be no fair argument until class is given its proper place and this is not happening in any of the so called western democracies who are too concerned with their wars and the arsenal that makes profits for the elite.

    1. Bernicia says:

      Or too concerned with constiutional discourse. Yes Class is the key!

      1. dickybeau says:

        Benicia, Is that you Jezerna?

  58. John Patrick Harvey steers clear of any examination of the nature of the United Kingdom. I remain unclear why the maintenance of a ramshackle pre-modern monarchy is essential to his vision of universal brotherhood.

  59. David says:

    Jph, I just want to say one more thing. I am an independence supporter and voted yes but many thanks for expressing your views in a forum that was not going to let you away with anything. I am pleased that, as far as I have read, the discussion has been respectful or at least civil. I think it takes a bit of bottle to have Expressed your views here. Thankyou.

  60. Kenny says:

    I am an internationalist, so I am a YES voter. I hate being suffocated inside a country which does not abide by UN decisions and invades foreign lands inhabited by dark-skinned people. A country which plans to withdraw from the EU, which is unthinkable for me. A country which does the bidding of a stronger country (USA) and, in doing so breaks international law.

    I believe that an independent Scotland would strictly follow international law and be a committed member of the United Nations. I am very proud that Scotland has always been closer to Europe than England. This is shown by the fact that our law system is closer to the European. Edinburgh led the way during the Scottish Enlightenment (Denis Diderot: “For our ideas of civilisation we go to Scotland). Glasgow continued at the end of the nineteenth century, with Charles Rennie Mackintosh influencing the whole of the continent at the height of Art Nouveau.

    I do not want to be suffocated and confined to an island which promotes racist ideas and wants to cut itself off from Europe and from international law. I want to be in an open country, which is part of the Schengen treaty and which welcomes the finest people from all over the world. I am sorry, but I see no way of that by voting NO! If you are an internationalist in thought, I think you really must be a YES voter. But I have spoken to many NO voters, and it seems to me that they have swallowed a very clever unionist-parties message that independence would lead to Scotland being parochial and narrow-minded. Far from it. Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on!!


    Politics was at the birth.

    It stood midwife

    to mercantile self-interest.

    It ripped untimely,

    that malformed foetus,

    off-spring of a soft-spun

    Tudor/Stewart Union,

    and hung it by the feet.

    The founding fathers

    fed by hand,

    from an English high table,

    soon lost the taste

    for homely fare.

    The child

    of this adulterous union

    grows fat and fleshy.

    It soon outweighs

    this Sceptred Isle.

    It sprawls pink and flaccid

    over half the world,

    still feasting on its own

    incestuous vanity;

    still handing half-baked

    freedoms to its children.

    Empire, the poultice to all ills.

    Our hunger sated by tall tales

    told in English Public Schools.

    Our protests howled down

    by midwife politicians

    who masquerade as nurse-maids;

    and speak an English

    far removed from truth.

    This September I saw

    the scales fall from Scottish eyes.

    A bloated child, a manifest monster,

    may no longer leech

    the lifeblood of people,

    united in resolve

    to end a loveless parenthood.

  62. Peter A Bell says:

    What is the point of this whole #noway exercise? It’s not as if British nationalists lack opportunities to air their ill-informed opinions and bigoted attitudes. They have almost the entirety of the British media at their disposal. If the hope was that some of these British nationalists might have something new or interesting to say then that hope was clearly forlorn. There are no fresh insights here. No clarification of why these people insist that Scotland must be less than other nations – and less than it might be. This whole series has been nothing more than a tedious rehashing of all the fallacies, distortions and lies that we heard from the anti-independence mob throughout the referendum campaign.

    1. rossim02 says:

      Perhaps it has been a rehashing of tired arguments, but I still think there’s value in it, from the point of view of a pro – independence website not just showing the best side of the yes campaign (a willingness to listen, even when certain ideas or opinions seem half-baked) but being seen to do so. After all, when was the last time The Times or Telegraph gave over space to pro – independence voices? If a yes vote is to be won next time then surely bringing those who voted no and might vote no again into a space where dialogue and conversation can happen is important. And then when you get a repeat of fallacies about fundamentalist cyber nats being the mainstream and intimidating no inclined voters or Yes living in its own silo rather than engaging outside of it, this space will simply be one which can show that’s not true. And not only that, no inclined voters would also not be so taken in as they can see the evidence for themselves from such sites as Bella.

  63. macart763 says:

    Scotland is already a separate country. What Scotland does not have is an independent fully sovereign legislature. This sovereignty is, at the moment, ceded to a treaty of political union.

    Oh and the theory of Scottish civic nationalism? 😀 LOL

  64. Kenny says:

    Isobel Lindsay gave a fantastic analysis of the difference between Scottish and British “nationialism”.


    She shows how in Scotland, the idea of national identity belongs to the left, whereas in England it has been captured by the elite, so it is all about empire, generals, wars… I would certainly go for any “national identity” which has people, social democracy and left-centre values at its core!

  65. Bernicia says:

    hahaha… Generals??? not like General Gordon or Haig or Dalhousie or BLAIR!!!! ???? utter ignorant xenaphobic self agrandising tosh. The peasants revolt, Habeaus corpus, Magna Carter, Tollpuddle marters, christian socialist methodists, womens suffrage, the new model army, Marx and Engles met in MANCHESTER, the glorious revolution ( unlike the absolutist monarchist Jacobites ) Robert Owen was Welsh, Beveridge, Attlee, Tony Benn, the battle of Cabel street, the jarrow march, Orwell, common land, the Fabians, the diggers, the ranters, the spirit level, the general strike, the minimum wage, sure start, the bus boycott, Geenham Common, Bevan and the NHS, the kinder transport, LS lowery, Dickens, Alan Sillitoe, Karl Riez, up the junction, saturday night sunday morning, auf weidersehen pet, the royal family, coronation street, Eastenders, the Smiths, Roy Jenkins, Peter Tachel, Willy Russell, Don’t look back in Anger, Billy Liar, only fools and horses, doreen lawrence, the miners strike, the luddites, the levellers, the free born men, parliamentary democracy, the jam, the housemartins, Tomas Paine, Mary seacole, john major (yes… the good friday agreement), feudalism ended centuries ago in England in Scotland it still exists, the bill of rights, William Blake and Jeruselem, ‘those dark satanic mills’, the chartists, the pankhurts, emily dickenson, the cooperative movement, the socialist league, john ruskin, bentham and mill, the reform league, hillsbourgh 96, CND, the fucking word RADICAL is BRITISH (or if you like english), Radical whigs…..good god, why are Yes people sooooooo bloody ignorant??

    I’m a Scot and a socialist but I’m becoming a nationalist…I hope the enuinely radical countries of England and Wales tell Scotland to piss off. Getting tired of the conformation bias and veiled xenaphobia.

    1. What? Bernicia – Is your soft soap box too high for you? Or is the burden of being one of the parcel of rogues giving you a nose bleed?
      Since the start of this particular post I have had but one question. I should ask it of Mr Harvey whose excellent post deserved better supporters than you and Andrew. How do you square the house of lords and the moribund Royals with a new move toward an international nationalism? What price a new UK brotherhood when so many of our family are cast in poverty?

      1. Bernicia says:

        She contends that Scots have a more ‘social’ narative than the English whose identity has been captured by the rightwing ‘elite’ based all on highly selective anecdotal evidence. It is a crass simplification of the complexities of both countries. I wonder how her analysis of the English would go down in Manchester or Leeds. And Vice Vesa in Morninginside. The are poor people in England also.

    2. JBS says:

      Well, I can’t begin to unravel all that, even if I wished to. Nor do I wish to correct the numerous spelling mistakes. A few remarks, though:

      Scotland was involved in the General Strike:

      “Glasgow, the industrial heartland of Scotland, was also the centre of the strike in Scotland.”


      Scottish mines and miners were involved in the Miners’ Strike of 1984-5:

      “At its beginning, the strike was almost universally observed in the coalfields of Yorkshire, Scotland, the North-East and Kent.”


      “…emily dickenson…”

      Do you mean Emily Dickinson – the American poet?



      1. Bernicia says:

        So what? Smart arse pedantic nit picking (Emmiline Pankhurst – Emily Dickinson), doesn’t change the essential point that to loftily proclaim their is something inherently superior and more ‘social’/ ‘humane’ is nothing but unsubstantiated prejudice, and also utterly inaccurate. Yes both the English and Scot were part of the Miners Strike andGeneral strike (surely this afirms the point that trying to make spurious generalisations about both countries is nonsense?

      2. Bernicia says:

        Emily Davidson.. next you’ll be telling me that the Germans have no sense of humour and are entirely militaristic….The Scots more social than the English? Really, so that sectarianism/ the fact that there are more privately educated pupils in Edinburgh than any other UK city etc etc…this delusional lack of self awareness and self agrandisment is pathetic.

      3. JBS says:

        And yet you took all that trouble to express the view that left-wing radicalism was and is essentially an rUK phenomenon.

        Eastenders, Coronation Street – examples of left-wing radicalism? Seriously?

        This is getting embarrassing. You say, “why are Yes people sooooooo bloody ignorant??” You might want to take a step back and consider whether you are really so smart.

      4. Bernicia says:

        I’m not positing Scotland against England/ Britain (which is what she means)…And you’re right, this ignorance of England (wrapped ups as Britain/ Westminister) with no recourse to complexity is highly Embarrasing!! Agrandising yourself vis a vis the ‘other’ as the Isobel Lindsay does is the essence of racism and xenophobia. Imagine someone English stood up on stage and made a similar analysis…..The Scots are all religious bigots, their national ‘Myth’ is embedded in Sectarianism and hatred of the Irish, English and incomers, the Englsih on the other hand are more caring and social because we don’t have the same divisions as in Scotland…And no I’m not saying the r UK is more left wing and radical but that the UK is flexible and has proven itself to be. This pompous slef congratulation, trying to create ‘ethnic’ divisions based on ‘national mindsets’ is abhorent… Guess all the Jews are to blame for banking crisis??? not the ‘socially minded’ Scots???

      5. JBS says:

        Always the same. Always the insinuation that, if Scots want self-determination, it’s because they think themselves to be racially superior to the rest of the peoples who make up the UK. Always this unionist assertion that all forms of nationalism equate to ‘ethnic’ nationalism. Of course, they can’t prove that either of these propositions is true, but they keep on saying it anyway, even on pro-independence sites like Bella Caledonia, in the hope that if they say it often enough then they will wear away resistance and that, should there be another referendum, they will have persuaded a sizeable number of Yes voters to change their minds and vote No instead.

        Why do they do it? Fear. Yes lost the referendum but the increase in support for Yes during the last months and weeks of the referendum campaign frightened them so much that they are now prepared to say anything to preserve their beloved union, even if that involves slandering their fellow Scots. The SNP membership surge, the recent polls showing the rise in support for Scottish independence, these things don’t matter to them, because they’re playing the long game.

        It comes down to this: whether a Scottish desire for independence equates to ‘ethnic’ nationalism. Personally, I don’t believe it. But I don’t think that the unionists will stop saying it, either.

      6. Bernicia says:

        Have you actually listened to what Isobel/ the speech is saying? It does precisely what you’ve described is merely a unionist fudge.

      7. JBS says:

        And there it is again. The drip, drip, drip of unionist insinuations.

  66. macart763 says:

    Superb dissection and analysis by Isobel Lindsay.

    Good link.

  67. fearnach says:

    If multinational states were so much better than independent ones, then there would be a widespread clamour for the reintroduction of the Holy Roman Empire. Good luck with persuading people of that one.

    Might I suggest you start with persuading those well-known febrile radicals, the Swiss? They’re sure to be keen to pour scorn on outdated nationalist idols like Wilhelm Tell, abandon the participative democracy of their cantons and donate all their resources to the upkeep of Vienna, Prague, Aachen or wherever the local ruler is based. It’s obviously in their interests to maintain stability, if not in the world, then at least in Europe.

  68. John Souter says:

    First time I’ve heard sharing used as a euphemism for subsistance. A failed state claiming 85% of income in equity is never going to allow the other 15% to prosper.

  69. So, Mr Harvey, are we to assume that BRITISH NATIONALISM is alright then while SCOTTISH NATIONALISM is down the pan stuff? There is no moral legitimacy for food banks in a wealthy Scotland. As for an independent Scotland hoarding Scottish oil, what do you think England has been doing with Scottish oil for over 40 years, while Scots are excluded from the benefits of their own resources. In voting NO Scotland became the only nation on Earth to reject independence. If nationalism is so bad, why don`t other nations give up their independence and national pride? In voting NO Mr Harvey you have consigned the poor in Scotland to another 10 or 15 years of Westminster austerity. I hope you and other No voters are proud of yourselves. Any clown knew that the Westminster `vow` was a load of codswallop, but some clowns were taken in with the prattle of Westminster clowns. Shame on you Mr Harvey. Either waken up or get out more. Don`t give up your day job as a Scottish jester in the English court. We know you`re in thrall to them, but they`re not in thrall to you.

  70. jdman says:

    And I thought Stockholm syndrome wasn’t real,
    one day John you’ll realize what you and you ilk have done and feel deeply ashamed,
    I sincerely hope you do live to see that day.

  71. baadogmf says:

    Really interesting article, so, cheers.

    Personally, this argument would’ve been the most compelling the No camp could’ve made, but they didn’t, and they couldn’t. Westminster has neither the concern nor mechanisms to counteract regional inequality (as, say, Germany does), and arguing that we should remain in the Union in the hope that at some point it would develop these seems far more naively idealistic than anything the Yes camp ever said. The will simply isn’t there.

  72. Susan Macdiarmid says:

    I am of the opinion it is a civil rights movement which is precisely why I voted yes.

  73. Enjoyed this post. It’s good to see WHY people voted against independence without it turning into an abusive argument.
    Independence is coming though whether they like it or not! they will one day appreciate what the YES movement was trying to do for them too!

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