2007 - 2022

Shameful Xenophobic Nationalism

bl19_think_us_cake_2937210gOn the day when Spain’s largest circulation newspaper – El Pais – accuses Theresa May of ‘shameful, xenophobic nationalism’ – and German politician Michael Fuchs said the Conservatives plan was “not possible” because “you can’t eat a cake without paying for it”, we gathered some responses from Scotland and beyond…

Guy Verhofstadt, a former Prime Minister of Belgium, said: “I think it creates an illusion that you can go out of the single market and the customs union and you can cherry pick and still have a number of advantages. I think this will not happen. We shall never accept a situation in which it is better to be outside the single market than be a member of the European union. If you want the advantages of a single market and customs union, you have to take the obligations.”

Jonathon Shafi, co-founder of RIC said:

“Far from sparking a renaissance, Theresa May has amplified the latest phase of British decline. Despite being its raison d’être, there is at this moment no coherent, sustainable strategy for British capital coming from the Tory party. May has a short-termist electoral and factional plan, but the British ruling class as a whole is disunited and ideologically asunder. In an attempt to arrest further damage, the Tories have entered a new era of punitive anti-working class measures. Workers rights, basic things like health & safety, holiday pay and, maternity leave are all dispensable bargaining chips. A huge backlash is brewing as the the future of a UK tax haven for the global elite comes into view. It won’t be forgotten that services like the NHS which Leave voters were told would be enhanced are being prepared for privatisation. Mays attempt at a National Conservatism that put the ‘British worker first’ seems already dated as it is likely the labour market will become a deregulated race to the bottom. Given this new context, we should expect ruthlessness in the form of both soft and hard power to hold Britain together. This may include deploying anti-democratic measures up to and including blocking a binding referendum. We cannot assume that the high politics of the 2014 referendum, where the Edinburgh Agreement was signed by David Cameron and Alex Salmond in a relatively convivial atmosphere, will maintain itself now. It won’t. The world has changed substantially since then. The fragmentation of the EU, Trump, the sidelining of NATO – there’s no reason the British establishment will play by the old rules anymore. The independence movement must get on the front foot – and quickly.

The whole international political and economic order is changing, and the post-cold war settlement and the 1990s consensus is not coming back. Neoliberalism has definitively failed. This is a moment in which we must transform our society completely to overcome the toxic build-up of injustice and deliberately stoked division. The old order is dying and the new one has not yet been born. We should be prepared for anything – and we can’t afford to blink.”

Michael Fuchs : “Look at the situation with Switzerland and Norway, at the moment they pay quite a lot money – actually, more than the UK per capita – to the EU and Britain doesn’t want to do anything. I think this is not possible. We have four freedoms and this is not negotiable – if you have one of them and you don’t want it, it is not possible because I call it cherry picking.”


Peter McColl of the Scottish Green Party said:

“Theresa May’s announcement on Tuesday was a perfectly finessed exercise in projection. She talked a great deal about uniting the British nation, while driving wedges between England and the other component parts of the UK. She implied that people had voted for a Brexit to stop migration, but offered nothing to those who voted in the hope of promised funding for the NHS. Since the vote I’ve believed we needed to make the case for a Brexit that protected immigrants, secured women’s rights and workers’ rights and maintained environmental regulations. It is now clear that these things are lost. The EU’s answer to the UK’s pugnacious demand for all the benefits of EU membership at no cost will be a resounding ‘no deal’. And that means that the UK faces a future low regulation haven for tax avoidance signalled by Philip Hammond at the weekend. This means it is game-on for another independence referendum. As the prospects for a fairer UK recede, so the need for independence advances. But there are important questions here too. We need to be clear about the structures we will need to build a new state. And the Common Weal White Paper Project is vital to this. The great strength of the first independence referendum was in the creation of a shared vision for a Scotland that did more to deal with the serious problems of inequality. We need to recapture that spirit – if we had run on this energised and energising platform from the start in 2014, I am convinced we would have won.”

Rosie Rogers of Greenpeace UK: “Whatever position people take on Brexit, it’s a fact that leaving the single market would undermine vital environmental and consumer protections we now take for granted. Many of the laws that keep our bathing water clean and control dangerous air pollution and toxic chemicals come from the EU. Without EU laws and courts to underpin and enforce them, they could be left at the mercy of ministers who may ignore them and scrap them with a stroke of the pen.”

Colin Fox, Scottish Socialist Party National spokesman said: “It is not difficult to see why the right-wing press is ‘cock a hoop’ over Theresa May’s speech. ‘Brexit’ is their project after all. And here was the classic free trade, British chauvinism they have been yearning for. Her opening gambit in the EU negotiations jettisoned UK membership of the Single Market and made clear Britain would not pay a penny to trade with Brussels nor abide by its rulings.

Whilst her ‘Red, White and Blue Brexit’ rejects the rules set by an unelected, neo-liberal EU bureaucracy it counterposes its own threats to worker’s rights, promising deregulation, further privatisation, tax cuts for the rich and human rights restrictions for the rest of us.

“…threatening INDYREF2 is not the same as winning it. And the polls show it will not be won on EU membership. The economic case remains crucial and that needs to be vastly improved if our movement is ever to persuade Scotland’s struggling working class majority they will be better off with Independence.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meanwhile was left to limply threaten that IndyRef2 was now even more ‘more likely’. The SNP leader has repeatedly overplayed her hand however and allowed independence to become an EU bargaining chip rather than the key to a transformed socially progressive future. She insisted she could stop Scotland being ‘forced out’ of the EU, promised to get Scotland a special place at the negotiations and finally warned membership of the Single Market was her ‘line in the sand’. But threatening INDYREF2 is not the same as winning it. And the polls show it will not be won on EU membership. The economic case remains crucial and that needs to be vastly improved if our movement is ever to persuade Scotland’s struggling working class majority they will be better off with Independence.”


Comments (16)

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  1. Alistair Livingston says:

    Nice Gramsci reference by Jonathon Shafi – “The old order is dying and the new one has not yet been born.”

    Gramsci -“The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born”.


  2. Steph mcl says:

    Who wrote this and who are the quotes attributed to? Very confusing.

    1. Dear Stephen when it says: “Jonathon Shafi, co-founder of RIC said” that means that Jonathon Shafi said the things inside the quotation marks. These look like this ” and “.

      When it says “Guy Verhofstadt, a former Prime Minister of Belgium, said” – that means that anything follows is said by him. The idea’s repeated throughout.

      It’s a standard form that’s fairly well established.

  3. tartanfever says:

    Couldn’t agree more with Jonathon Shafi:

    ‘there’s no reason the British establishment will play by the old rules anymore. The independence movement must get on the front foot – and quickly.’

    I think this is also relevant (realistic) to Richard Walker’s comment on ‘being nicer’ to the press and media as they will happily carry the message from the British establishment to voters. If you thought they were bad before, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

    Off topic question: Has Nicola Sturgeon made a mistake by ruling out 2017 for a referendum ?

    Events are moving fast, Hard Brexit is happening, article 50 will be triggered in March and 3 banks have today announced that staff will be ‘moved’ (sacked) from the City to European destinations. If the £ plummets and trade figures take a further dive in the next few months it could provide an opportune moment to announce a referendum. T.May will start getting a hard time in the summer when the EU negotiations are underway and it’s clear that the UK is going to get a tough deal.

    2017 has only just started and it’s already looking explosive. I can’t help but think that Nicola Sturgeon has un necessarily announced something she didn’t have to.

  4. Jo says:

    I don’t like listening to May at the best of times but made an effort yesterday because this speech was to be so “historic”. I found it utterly depressing. But mostly I was thinking, “Was this woman ever really for Remain?” For she has completely ignored the narrowness of the majority and is proceeding as if the result was emphatic. In fact, it was, pretty much, half and half. How then did she have the arrogance to dismiss such a significant portion of the UK population?

    For me, I think she was a secret Leaver!

    As for where this all leaves us, I have no answer to that.

    I think Nicola has boxed herself in and I find that disappointing when she started, post the result, with such promise and was able to bring on board Labour and the Lib-Dems as well as the Greens when she made her first contribution at Holyrood on how Scotland should respond to the result. Alas, that consensus is lost now since Indyref2 entered the picture. I think she went too early with the Indyref2 thing. What makes things worse is that the polls show no appetite for it. People are freaked out enough with the uncertainties resulting from Brexit without contemplating another independence debate too.

    Still, she’s not in the worst position. Pity Wales’ FM who is ranting against Brexit when Wales actually voted Leave despite having benefited from massive amounts of EU funding that helped to rebuild and construct entire towns! Yet that “immigration” word led the Welsh to ignore the very clear benefits which membership had brought to them. It’s extraordinary.

    There are tough times ahead, that is certain.

    1. c rober says:

      My welsh speaking friends would rather blame the anglified and interloper. Worth noting also is that deprivation in Wales is around double that of Scotland – pity PC are in decline , or is it just been bred out.

      1. Jo says:

        @ C Rober

        Agree re PC. Leanne Wood is a very good leader and an excellent speaker. It surprises me too that they are in decline.

        I was having a look at the figures broken down for all the parts of the UK from the EU vote. Every single one, except for Scotland, is so close, including England’s (around 53% – 47%). So, really, May is ignoring significant numbers of people, including in England, who did not vote to Leave every time she opens her mouth.

  5. Anton says:

    Just following up on Peter McColl’s comments about promises made by the Leave Campaign, can anyone direct me to these online? My understanding is that these promises were all deleted from the Official Leave Campaign’s website shortly after the referendum (I wonder why?) but maybe some clever Bella reader kept a copy, or knows where they can still be found.

    1. Jo says:

      Are there no pics around of that bus with the promise of £350m a week for the NHS?

      1. Anton says:

        Jo – Thanks for your response. Yes, there are plenty of pictures of the campaign bus, but it doesn’t actually promise £350m a week for the NHS, which was a ridiculous proposal and disavowed by many Leavers including Nigel Farage.

        However, I seem to remember that the Official Leave Campaign explicitly promised on their website an additional £100m a week for the NHS, this being the difference between the £350 a week the UK pays to the EU minus the £250m a week the UK gets from the EU.

        Unfortunately I can’t prove this, hence my call for help.

  6. bringiton says:

    If the two recent referendums teach us anything it is that fear plays a large part in the outcome.
    Only when No voting Scots realise that the protections afforded by European laws and rights are about to be swept away and that the Tories in London can overrule Holyrood any time they like (that word “normally” as exposed in the Supreme court recently) will we have the big majority for independence.
    The prospect of a never ending extreme right wing Tory government in London dismantling our social care and working rights will bring about a change of heart for many.
    The Tories,aided and abetted by their right wing press will of course try to hide this from those who can’t see past the British state propaganda outlets but hopefully we can counter this through local activism.
    Given the duplicitous nature of the British establishment,we mustn’t jump the gun on Indy2 until after they have effected A50.
    So far it is all B/S.

    1. c rober says:

      Since the financial crash the wealthy have increased in Numbers as well as in personal wealth.

      The whole brexit thing is another bite at the cherry , repeating the 80s hey day of the yuppie , and the people are the new product – now that there is nothing else left to privatize , well other than the NHS , the cynical will already have realised this is on the kerds over the last couple of months in the news.

      The be all and end all of the indy II question is the same as last time – the fiscal proof of better off or not .It will be hard to disprove it , and just as hard for PF II to appear given the betrayals of Broon (traitor on more than one level), Darling (working to privitise the NHS) and lacks Cameron(betrayal on EU and tax jobs).

      But the 2nd biggest stumbling block is the media whores , and that means the BBC , and lesserly any press owned outwith Scotland. Given the proof on the bias of the BBC , so by the state on democracy , then it should have been taken to the EU courts via Holyrood – and before the exit.

      The third biggest hurdle is the EU entry , or retaining the UK membership – Which has been confirmed , despite the MSM insitance daily it hasn’t. Of course there is option two , the SNP lions suggesting not a Scottish referendum on indy , but an English one.

      The fourth is the State Bank – Again like the EU entry is easier than it appears , one just needs to look at the deposits of foreign currency quoted as needed and the rates offered to High St banks by central banks.

      Its a market to flourish as well as created with the long term cheap credit on offer …. and not simply losing that independence instead of a sovereign one only to be given away to a private central bank.

      The NSandI deposit , premium bonds and so on is also a way to do this , as is creating state funded/backed mortgages on land state owned , ie council , rather than allowing the selling on to developers and land owners to land bank – thus increasing house building and lowering the 7x current multiple norm .

      The numbers do add up for the state bank , fulfilling the currency basket deposits , and lowering the debt with long term NsandI options to that needed for the EU.

      The fifth hurdle is the currency – Pound is out , we are told by our fearmongers , Euro imo is not an option as it removes the very levers we would need initially at least , so a completely new one is needed. Again its my opinion that one pegged to the difference in EURO and Pound would be our most beneficial direction , enabling us through the state bank to inflate or deflate value with regard to exports and imports.

      Then again theres always the USD – and being the next American commonwealth? Sounds absurd , or does it?

  7. Willie says:

    The old order is most certainly not dying.

    The rich and privileged and becoming richer whilst the vast majority are becoming poorer. Democracy is but an illusion with Scotland being a small example.

    Of the new order to be borne it will either be increased subservience in a totalitarian state or chaos. Northern Ireland was an example of chaos that the Brits were quite happy to coexist with for at least the 30 years of the troubles. A small price to pay when it comes to the bit and we in Scotland should have no illusion as to how mother England will hold on to its possessions.

    But I digress. Democracy is an illusion. Scotland’s votes and democratic wishes count for absolutely diddly squat and like the sheep in Animal Farm there is little that they can do about it.

    And on that cheerful note I now commence my day full of happiness and good cheer. Wha’s us?

  8. Crubag says:

    ” “Look at the situation with Switzerland and Norway, at the moment they pay quite a lot money – actually, more than the UK per capita”

    According to the House of Commons researchers, the facts are:

    “As discussed in detail in Chapter 4, both EEA countries and Switzerland contribute to the costs of EU programmes in which they participate, and to programmes to reduce economic and social disparities within the Union. Norway, an EEA country, contributed around £106 per capita in 2011, while Switzerland contributes around £53 per capita. These figures are respectively 17% and 60% less than the UK’s per capita contribution of £128 in 2011.”


    I’ve read that Norway managed to negotiate a particularly bad deal as the political class thought the people would vote for union (in the end it was a 52.2% to 47.8% split), but I don’t know if that’s the case.

  9. w.b.robertson says:

    cannot understand why Nicola has boxed herself (and her party) into a corner over Brexit and the single market. Not too clever. It puts her timing for Ref 2 up in the air. Things were progressing so well on the road to independence until this.

    1. c rober says:

      The single market alignment is most likely offered as a currency solution , one of the major flaws in round one. Of course given that the EU vote was so high for remain in Scotland then its targeting pure and simple.

      Of course should Scotland join , then would it see instant short term benefit , ie the over valuing of the national currency , but without actually having one? When the late joiners jumped into the EURO they got such increase of I think about 40 percent?

      SO it potential solves the “nae quid for the jocks” , “the pound is English” baying mob – and solves our own of EU state backing for protection of NSO from England – including returning the sea borders stolen in 1999. Think Scotland is the new Falklands – and with any incursion meaning EU trade banning until its removed , I doubt the UK would declare trade war on the EU its not like its Argentina. Im old enough to remember French blockades , long gone due to EU favours granted to the UK that WILL return.

      The UK is in a harder place than the economists and Carney seem to realise , or perhaps they do and its just bluster – A project fear on the EU , which unlike Scotland will be laughed at. The FTSE rising is just global markets taking capital via the low and downward pound , and low interest rates – its not UK money doing this , its not trade , its not increased manufacturing…. thus its a blip until something is better on the horizon then it will see the bubble deflated.

      The export market with England is one that Scotland has no control over , either Scotland with England , or as part of the UK with anyone else.

      Our trade agreements are firmly in England as non agreements.

      So its hardly fair , for the media , politician and Carney , to compare the current Scotland/England internal uk imports/exports as free trade market in its operation when its a protected one for the larger partner – and instead should be highlighted as such at every chance by the indy campaign.

      Personally I dont think the EU membership is a complete solution unless everything else is exhausted , it removes the state bank idea being sovereign and the levers that come with it – including setting tax rates making Scotland economically viable post oil economy. Greece , Spain , Portugal , Eire will testify to the negatives of a centralized banking system and the inability to have regional fiscal levers – as will the voters in the Northern States of Germany and France whom believe they shouldn’t have to bail out their brethren , rightly or wrongly.

      But for an indy state bank to happen we would need to take advantage of market loans in todays ultra low credit scenario , with state start up bonds via those markets over say 30-100 years to create the deposits needed , then start an NSandI situation on top and of course taxation that works. We dont want to create another Darian Scheme in that process , by allowing the wealthy to have a private central bank.

      Its not that hard to create a new state bank , for currency reserves , many countries will pile in if they want to trade with Scotland as depositors anyway. But if it is created it needs to be , and remain sovereign , or instead we would end up being forced like China was to buy up worthless junk bonds for being able to trade with America , whom have the perfect example of biased trade deals/protectionism that Westminster wishes with everyone else.

      The simple formula is take the import and exports percentages we have today but no higher , then get those states (plus China and oil nations as investors) inc high street banks globally to see the benefit of higher interest deposits via a new state bank , than currently offered them by private central banks – it wont be hard as many are already in the negative zone.

      We have the assets to offer the oil states as collateral in the form of black gold , moving their deposits out of the State of London and the non doms north – funny that though , some immigrants good , the rest bad when it comes to wealth. But of course the ethical deposit question will arise , ie Isreal , Suadi , Syria and so on will also need answering.

      I seem to remember reading somewhere that Scotland would need a basket of currencies of around 16 billion sterling as a starting figure for a state bank , in or out of the EU , it that is true then its very doable , all it would take is initiative from Holyrood in pre courting the talent and deposits.

      But that would take radical thinking as well as action – does the SNP actually have that to offer though? Until they start being radical , being the thorn in the British lions side , on the BBC and MSM , on taking the sea reclassification and McCrone report to EU and world courts , then the answer is no.

      Its ironic though , were the SNP to push harder , showing fight for the Scottish people , then I reckon the masses would respond – that we arent too wee , too poor , too indoctrinated , and give the desired result needed for independence….. and a chunk of it via the long term unionist themselves.

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