“Who are the Scots?” (21st Century Edition)

1779836_619054791505457_1012243660_nBy Peter Arnott

“Who are the Scots” is the name of a classic book by Gordon Menzies in which he traced through archaeological sources the ethnic and cultural roots of those whose migrations and conquests eventually comprised the medieval Kingdom of Scotland just in time for the Wars of Independence in the 13th and 14th Centuries.

And I’m asking the question again today partly as a result of having just got back from a whistle stop reading tour of the Czech republic, Solvakia and Poland, where I along with 30 other “Scottish” writers were invited by the Brno based publishers  Větrné mlýny to give an account of ourselves and what, jointly and severally we think are playing at. What is going on? they were good enough to ask.  Who are you Scottish people anyway?

Now, there is a liturgical answer to this question we’ve got used to giving in this campaign to do with a civic identity, that those who live and work in Scotland – those who contribute to it and depend on it – are those, we on our side of the referendum campaign would contend, who ought to have the governing say in who runs the place. These are the electorate both for the future and for the current campaign.  These are the people we say are “sovereign” – to be entrusted now and in future with our political decision making.

That is, we contend that : –

a) Scotland constitutes a “polity”, a political entity, and that

b) democracy is in principle and practice the best way to run a polity. 

Therefore

c)  we ought to have an elected parliament in Edinburgh that can actually take the decisions on taxation and welfare and war and peace that the parliament of any other, “normal” political entity should expect to do.

We believe that if one accepts that Scotland is a real country, and that democracy is the best (least worst) form of government, then, within that definition v a Yes vote is logically the inescapable choice to make.  We are, perhaps unreasonably, bewildered, frankly, that anyone thinks differently.

To vote No on September the 18th you have to contend either that Scotland does NOT constitute a polity or that democracy is too good for it.

Normality? What’s that when it’s at home?

We in the Yes camp argue, that is, from a position of what we perceive as “normality”  – not that Scotland is a BETTER place than anywhere else, but that it is most definitely a “place” and that those of us who live here ought really, normally, to make the decisions as to what happens here.

Our problem is, of course, that our current political situation is not “normal.” Normality is not normal.  It doesn’t exist yet.  We are caught, possibly with fatal results to the campaign, to arguing “as if.” That “as if” is both the strength and weakness of our position.  The No campaign are able to argue from the basis of what already exists , however incoherent and eccentric, and to say that “it isn’t that bad, really.”

We on the Yes side are assuming a “sovereignty” (to put quotation marks around 19th Century word) that we do not actually have yet. We are acting “as if” the power of political choice, of the pooling of our autonomy as individuals into the autonomy of the political unit we collectively choose, were already a fact.

The truth is, of course, that we are currently subjects and not citizens.  The Queen is the sovereign, as her ministers and soldiery will gladly confirm.  The people of Scotland will only be sovereign in Scotland only if and when they take that sovereignty.  Sovereignty is being loaned to us for 15 hours on September 18th.  The choice before us, as Jim Sillars put it so memorably at the beginning of this year, is whether we choose to give it back.  Whether we choose, having had a wee keek at it, that we the power to decide our own destiny really isn’t for us. It has been the confident expectation of the powers that be in the UK that this is exactly what we could be trusted to do.  We were Turkeys who could confidently be expected to vote for Christmas.

(This was quite hard to explain to Czechs and Slovaks and Poles…each of whom has their own culture of identity and history of self-determination to deal with.  On one hand, they asked why a nationalist wasn’t wearing a kilt?  On the other they asked what’s been keeping you all this time? None of them expressed the opinion that the forces of darkness would celebrate a Yes vote or that civilisation would in any way be threatened, by the by.)

The No campaign has notoriously entirely failed to put forward any positive argument.  But then, they never expected that they would have to.  They treat “actually existing conditions” and “normality” as the same thing. What has really, decisively changed in the course of campaign, is where this “normality” locates itself.  I think that people are beginning to look at “how things are” in a very peculiar way.

That is, I think that people on both sides of the argument already recognise “the people as sovereign. But only one side is following through the logic of that recognition. Nonetheless, curiously, it is the Yes Campaign’s perception of our current constitutional eccentricity and the “normality” of popular sovereignty that has absolutely prevailed.  There is only one version of reality we agree upon, even though our votes remain divergent. The “independence paradigm”, as it were, I would argue, has already come to be shared across the board, even by those who argue against its political manifestation.

If it ain’t broke, you don’t need to vote to fix it.

The No campaign have been have been entirely flummoxed when asked questions based on positive first principles as to “What are the benefits if we stay in the Union?” and have been reduced, more or less, to a repeated litany of variations on a theme of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” or “why take the risk of change?” or “don’t rock the boat”.

These positions are of course rather undermined when one points out the level of child poverty in Scotland, to give only one example.  Or by our disabled people being subjected to the agenda of “austerity plus terrorism” regime currently run by the now hateful government departments charged with their welfare.

“But who is to say that any of that would be better with independence?” they demand, to which one replies,

“Well, WE, the Scottish electorate, would have a say.  If we elected then re-elected a government that did this to our people, then hell mend us.  The point is not WHAT we would choose, but the fact that WE would have the choice. And if it we found that a government wasn’t to our choice any more, we could vote against the government whose cruelty and incompetence and hatred were doing all this to us…and, unlike now,  it would make a difference. The government would actually change.  We can’t do anything right now other than complain about it  in the pub. This is getting annoying for everybody, including the rest of the UK.  Hence we are looking for the political power to make our opinions count.”

Democracy too dangerous

The only real argument on the No side, then, given that there is no case they can really make against the principle of democratic choice is that democratic choice is too dangerous for us. The real powers in the world will punish the disruption wee Scotland will cause if we insist on our self determination.  In terms of trade, the EU, the currency…all that…a newly independent Scotland will find itself more less at war with the rest of the world..and we’d lose.  Underlying almost all of project Fear is this very specific injunction that we mustn’t vote “against” Britain, we mustn’t vote “against” the neighbours because otherwise “they might hurt us”.

This seems to me to be  a very negative opinion to hold of the character of the “neighbours” if you really think that their response to our expressed wish for self-determination and adulthood and no longer depending on them will be one of vengeance and spite.   Apparently it’s not the nationalists who have a low opinion of our cousins, if the No side threatens us with their hostility and ill will.  It doesn’t make much a positive case for the status quo. It has an even lower opinion of your own country, though,  to hold that democracy too risky for it – that we aren’t a “real” enough country for it.  That, uniquely, we aren’t good enough.

It ought to be obvious, then.  Independence ought to be, and I believe will be, the obvious choice.  The normal choice. Yet the No side maintains its lead in the polls.  And there will be time for reflection indeed if we decide to turn down self government on September the 18th. We will have some serious questions top ask of ourselves. I believe that if we say No to self government, it will almost immediately seem an absurd thing to have done. This is because regardless of the product of the referendum, the process of the referendum campaign has established popular sovereignty in Scotland once and for all . The new “normal” that has emerged during this campaign redefines “the Scots” as what, by any real criteria, does indeed constitute a polity or nation.  I don’t believe that a No in September constitutes the foundation for anything like a sustainable political settlement. I think from philosophical first principles of democratic practice it is an accident waiting to happen.

Autonomy/self-rule/sovereignty – What’s in a name?

To reiterate from first principles, then ; we, as free individuals, autonomous, “sovereign” individuals if you will, choose to pool that individual autonomy at pragmatically chosen levels of administrative convenience and democratic accountability.  We do this in cities, regions, nation-states and associations of nation states.  It has already been conceded that those powers already devolved from Westminster (where the Crown is sovereign in parliament) become democratically accountable.  That’s what happened in 1999..twenty years after the question for democracy was first put in 1979.

The question before us now is whether we think it’s time to extend that democratic and fiscal control.  Do we remain as subjects to an authority who lends us power occasionally within very strict limits, or do we assert that as autonomous individuals, we choose to pool our authority how we choose and in the size and extent of polity we choose.

You will notice that though these arguments seem tend towards a Yes vote, what they guarantee is that the choice is in our hands.  Power begins with the individual and radiates up and outward into such other associations as we see fit.  That could be expressed as the “choice” to remain in Britain, the choice to pool our sovereignty in Westminster and accept Tory governments we never vote for as the price of some kind of “safety” (I obviously think that such safety is a pretty spurious prize for which to pay so heavy a price.)

Nonetheless, that would be our sovereign choice…What is profoundly wrong headed about such a choice seems to me to lie in the aforesaid constitutional eccentricities.

Having come into existence as a sovereign people in the course of this campaign, we would, in effect, be voting to cease to exist.  We would still be constituency voters, of course, but we would have voted “Scots” as such back into the Celtic twilight from which we have so recently and surprisingly emerged.

Remember, Cameron’s idea is to settle…silence…squash…the Scottish Question.  For a generation.  Even those who vote No, even if they REALLY hate Alec Salmond, should pause and think what that means. That we would have voted away our only power of negotiation, and handed our destiny to whoever wins in 2015 or 2020.

David, Boris or Teresa.  Choose now, because you will have no choice whatsoever in future.

Here is the thought experiment I urge on my fellow subjects.  Start  “as if” you were not subjects, but sovereign, autonomous individuals.  As if it were your choice to pool that autonomy so that you could get things done on welfare, health, education, housing, war and peace?  In a blind test, in a “veil of ignorance” as Rawls has it, would you choose the past (with its familiarity) or on the principle of that autonomy, for the future?
Will a No vote kill independence “for a generation?”

 

My main point here is, of course, that even if we do vote No, we can’t do that.  A No vote will not “kill” sovereignty any more than devolution “killed ” independence no matter how much anyone hates Alec Salmond.  A No vote will not kill our sense of place and self and or negate our now felt and established and inalienable right to govern ourselves. Even those who vote No don’t think or feel that.

Because even if we do choose to pool that individual and collective sovereignty with Westminster, we from our side, will still retain that sovereignty, while in strictly legal and constitutional terms, we will have abjured it. We will retain a sense of being entitled to choose, even if we have voted against that right. It won’t hold.  It won’t serve. It doesn’t make sense any more.  What was eccentric will have become incoherent.  If it happens,  it can’t last.  It will be unstable and unsustainable.

This is why the convinced “nationalists” among the Yes camp (I’m not one of them) are so serene about the prospect of losing the vote in September.  Alec Salmond’s sense of history made him sanguine about calling a referendum he always expected to lose.

The Nats never expected (when sober) to win this referendum.  But they know that the asking of the question changes everything.  Having the choice makes us sovereign in FACT if not in fact.  Forever.  Once the question of sovereignty is posed is asked, it cannot be un-asked.

The process of the campaign, and especially the huge popular swell of enthusiasm and hope and purposeful dreaming it has unleashed all over the country and in every special sphere has entirely confirmed that perception.  Entirely due to this campaign, something like a positive vision of the future has re-entered British politics.  It is so unfamiliar as hardly to be recognisable.  It is blinking uncertainly in unaccustomed light.  But it is here and here to stay. Nothing can ever be the same.

Everything has changed.

Everything that goes wrong or right with Westminster politics, for us, will be now and forever an evocation of the border question. An Tory electoral   alliance with UKIP?  Further austerity? A vote to leave the EU? Everything will be about the border. Therefore, right now, before the vote,  “Separation” is already a fact. Our experience and understanding of UK politics is already and irreparably “separated”.  British institutions like the BBC and the Labour party, for both of which we once had true love, are now irreparably contaminated and structurally undermined.  Our print media is despised as never before.

Our cultural distinction as Scots is now entrenched not in tartan and shortbread but in how we read and experience the world every day.  The commonality of this viewpoint within Scotland and its distinction from perceptions held elsewhere is now established.  Independence is already, as Neal Ascherson pointed out the other day, here already.No in September cannot mean no. It only means “not yet”.

We are a nation.  Not “again” but for the very first time. A nation in the 21st century. Who are the Scots? We are.  And we are not climbing back in the bottle.



Categories: Commentary

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44 replies

  1. very unique signage !

  2. Well they certainly aren’t the Scot’s that forged the respect of the rest of the World for being a fiercely independent brave people, that’s for sure.
    Scotland the Brave (really) more like
    Scotland the Scared
    Land of the cringing coward

  3. Excellent and thoughtful article – which I shall read again, as it yet again shows why we should (and need) to vote YES.

    What troubles me is why people are not addressing the Referendum Question –

    ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’

    (keep repeating it and the answer seems obvious)

    That is all quite simple – – not all the semantics, addressing, facts and figures the untruths etc

    Indeed it might subsequently be asked of the Naysayers, as the Yea voters know why it should be –

    ‘WHY NOT?’

    Then these concerns that may be stated, can be individually addressed (as many already have been ).

    Ther is a LOT of blurring onf the main issue and if we can focus on that maybe others will join YES – admittedly a number of Naysayers – to salve their ‘conscience’ may not vote at all.

    • Even the proponents and leadership of Better Together cannot give a cogent answer to “WHY NOT”, because there is none. They are consistently failing to turn up for public debates in the community because they are unarmed and have no ammunition in the referendum argument. I pity them. I certainly would not want to speak for their cause. Let’s face it, we’ve had BETTER TOGETHER for too long and we don’t like it.

  4. I read till I got to the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix” quote,I have always thought that use of that quote is stupid,for everything can be improved by “fixing it” to say this cave is not broke so lets stay in the stone-age,thats where we would be using that analogy.Just thought I’d throw that in while it was still in my head(to many pills and I forget things till 03.30hrs when I awake and scramble for pen and paper so that I will remember,obviously I had forgot to put pen and paper handy,and so fall back asleep forgotten why I awoke)

  5. “a whistle stop reading tour of the Czech republic, Solvakia and Poland”

    It would be interesting to hear more about the Czechoslovakia experience – their separation seems to have been something of an historical accident (or perhaps an invevitability). Czechs and Slovaks didn’t actually vote for independence, but:
    – the lack of trans-national political parties
    – arguments over devolution vs centralisation
    – the perceptions that one bit was subsidising the other
    – and the struggle to form a mutally acceptable government

    Led to them becoming independent states anyway…. Which could be interesting in the event of a No vote.

    The Czechoslovakia experience is also useful as a recent benchmark for the divison of assets, though they created two separate currencies quite quickly as the Czechs preferred their own, rather than continue with a shared currency. Both now have their own central banks and Slovakia has joined the euro (the Czech republic qualifies for euro membership but prefers not to join).

  6. The difficulty with this argument is that if localised democracy is a good thing, for all the reasons presented in this piece, then where does independence stop? How far should political power be devolved?

    If the word “Scotland” were replaced throughout by the words “Orkney and Shetland” then this article would be an equally strong argument for the Northern Isles to declare independence from Scotland, let alone rUK.

    Strangely, this is not an arrangement supported by the Yes campaign, even though the logic and the arguments are identical. A cynic might suggest that just as Westminster must naturally be keen to retain for itself the economic benefits of the Scottish oilfields, so an independent Scotland must be keen to retain control of the two thirds of North Sea oil that lie in Shetland waters.

    This is not of course a new point, but I’ve yet to see it convincingly refuted.

    • Scotland is internationally recognised as a country with clearly defined borders,both land and sea (apart from the “administrative” sea boundary change made by Blair in 1999).
      As such,all of the islands within Scotland’s 200 mile economic zone are part of Scotland.
      Should any of these island communities seek to gain independence from Scotland,they would be entitled under international law to claim sea bed resources up to 12 miles from the shore.
      The same would apply if Westminster were to annexe these islands.
      This talk is being encouraged by unionists to try and give Scots the impression that the oil resources within Scotland’s territorial borders might somehow not belong to us.
      Just the old divide and rule ploy.

    • The Yes campaign is under no obligation to take any position on your “Orkney and Shetland” question, for the very simple reason that there is no significant demand for either complete independence, becoming part of Norway, or becoming part of England in the event of Scottish independence. All three (very different) possibilities have been suggested by various trolls, but the motivation is transparent. To try to frighten some people away from a Yes vote with the suggestion that the northern isles might then take all the oil

      The proposition was first mooted and fostered in the 1970s as a perfectly shameless attempt at “divide and conquer”, but it has never gained serious traction. Hence the lack of any requirement to address the issue.

      Independence, or voting to become part of a different country, are serious matters, and not to be bandied around as crude political threats on behalf of people who want nothing to do with them. If matters in the northern isles did indeed come to that, then whoever was in government would have to deal with this. However, that is not the case at the moment, and people raising the subject at this time can be easily dismissed as the mischief-makers they are.

    • Actually, if one accepts the logic of autonomy, then the questions about where it begins and ends and exactly how it is pooled become, I hope, matters of pragmatic choice. So it is not really a questions of Scotland having the “right” or Orkney having the “right”. It’s much simpler than that for me.

      What works? being question one. What is properly democratically accountable? is question two.

      It is my judgement that the Union is no longer functional. It doesn’t work. It is surely no one’s argument that it is democratic. Hence Scotland as “independent” within the strict limits of what that 19th Century word means in the 21st century seems to me a desirable starting point for real democratic change.

      This is not an “essentialist” argument. There is no such thing as a Scottish or British essence. The argument is purely pragmatic.

      Hence, if it were the judgement of ANY polity that the way they want to pool autonomy needs to be re-negotiated, then the wish is father to the deed, as it were, and the practical creation of that functional polity is the business of those who live in it and nobody else’s

      Until autonomy is “pooled” as is appropriate, as, in an interdependent world, it will inevitably be.

      I concur that we are being asked a binary question in an analogue world. A crude binary in a world that isnt really like that. But i would contend, for ALL of these islands, that a YES vote is a recognition of the renegotiated “sovereignty” we need to reflect a reality which is changing whether we want it to or not.

      I am afraid a No vote is sticking your fingers in your ears and going lal lal la till reality foers away. It won’t.

      How’s that?

    • There is no desire for that at present, therefore it does not need to be refuted at present. It is worth discussing once Scotland the nation chooses independence if the people of Orkney and Shetland desire it. Not before and during a Scottish independence debate, where the sole reason for the topic being discussed is as a Westminster divisionary tactic.

  7. Anton makes a very valid point.

    The behaviour of the SNP in government is very centrist in its policies: a series of unitary bodies e.g. police ,fire services, financial emasculation of local authorities by freezing council tax and reducing the number of local courts. The Holyrood model of government is further flawed by being unicameral i.e. all power is at Holyrood with no checks and balances.

    Quite how this fits with “Power begins with the individual and radiates up and outward into such other associations as we see fit” is difficult to see.

    • The behaviour of the SNP in government is very centrist in its policies:

      This is one of the most recent lies promulgated by Labour and the keep Scotland tame camp.

      Mandating that the Administration meets in various parts of Scotland at least four times a year causes any intelligent person to question the lie, it is centralist. Then there is the greatly increased support for Gaelic community to help it prosper in language and political affairs.

      Thereafter, the curious discover a raft of policies to spread democracy to all corners of Scotland, and the Islands, and beyond in international influence.

      Leaving all that aside for the moment, merely regaining Scotland’s soveriegnty by a vote of the people – a vote previously denied us – renders ludicrous the notion it is all centralist power grabbing.

      • >Mandating that the Administration meets in various parts of Scotland at least four times a >year causes any intelligent person to question the lie, it is centralist.
        The Cameron cabinet does the same – it’s window dressing.

        Where is the local input to the governance of the police force?
        Where are the local people at the these cabinet meetings? Locked outside, or course.
        Judge the Scottish government by its actions. I am unaware of any suggestions to devolve power from Edinburgh.

      • The Cameron cabinet does the same – it’s window dressing.

        Alas, no.

        It did it once, not as a full cabinet, but the travelling version. It won’t do it again.

        Where is the local input to the governance of the police force?

        On every council’s local group. There are also ‘local area’ beat police dedicated to domestic issues.

        Judge the Scottish government by its actions.

        We do. And we are generally delighted with its adherence to the democratic process.

  8. Anton

    As a matter of law I think you are wrong . In any such theoretical independence Orkney & Shetland would have control of inshore waters only .Why don’t, you look into the relevant source materials which are readily available – sorry no time right now to cite them.

    • Derek
      I understand your point but as I understood it the existing demarcation of the North Sea was by mutual agreement of the surrounding countries. – see The UK Continental Shelf (UKCS).
      https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/299812/UKCS_Designations.pdf.
      Assuming an Independent Scotland, there would surely need to be a re-negation and
      Scotland would get its fair share. Equally so would an Independent Shetland if it split from either the existing UK and a rUk and Scotland.

      Incidentally polity and democracy were first coined by Athens in ~ 450BC. Athens was just one of the Greek city states. So perhaps there is an opportunity for an independent Glasgow and heaven forbid an independent Edinburgh.
      May be there would not have been an SNP movement at all if London were hived off to be separate independent country – indeed as I understand it from Nicholas Shaxson’s book Treasure Islands the City of London has always been largely separate from rUK.

  9. We have two choices: one before – and after – September the 18th; and one on that date.

    The first is to ask ourselves “what do I want for the place I live and the people who live in it?”
    The second is “which option gives me and my people the best chance of getting there”.

    If you want poverty and wars and degradation of the people and the land, then vote no.
    If you want anything else, vote Yes.

    simples

  10. The Scots are a People, a particular racial ethny first, and foremost.

    Political ‘units’ are anachronistic, and if the Scottish people do not stand up and claim this heritage, then political machinations will fail miserably.

    Freedom and Sovereignty for all unique peoples, is the watch-word of the future.

  11. Derek Cameron

    I have indeed looked into the relevant source materials, and I believe that Shetland’s claim rests on exactly the same legal basis as Scotland’s claim to own “North Sea Oil”. Sauce for the goose…

    However, this is irrelevant to my main point, which is that the arguments of the original post are just as forceful in the case of the potential independence of the Northern Isles as they are for the independence of Scotland.

    So why aren’t they embraced by the “Yes” campaign? Either you accept the principles put forward in the original Opinion piece, or you don’t.

  12. Anton asks: So why aren’t they embraced by the “Yes” campaign?

    Your question is redundant. Greater autonomy IS embraced and exercised – recent meetings there between islanders and the Administration encourage it.

    What Scotland’s government can not, should not do, is impose it.

    To be recognised as legitimate, independence movements must, by international law, arise from the grass roots and take with them the will of the majority. A country cannot create it by parliamentary edict, or have it imposed from outside. The same applies to a small island.

    • Except – there is no grass-roots movement for independence in the northern isles. And a couple of people stirring it for political advantage don’t count.

      When we see the sort of popular engagement and support for an independent Shetland (and Orkney? without Orkney? two new states?) that there is for a Yes vote in the September referendum, then that will be the time to address the issue. In the mean time, don’t feed the troll.

  13. Just watched “The Glasgow Girls” on TV and at the end they apparently asked Jack McConnell “what will you give us back” as they had come to love their adopted country and would work for it.

    These are the new Scots.

  14. On questions of democracy WITHIN a new Scotland, Lesley Riddoch’s Blossom, Gerry Hassan’s Caledonia Dreaming and papers from the Jimmy Reid Foundation all worth reading.

    I repeat that a YES vote is the way to unlock all of these changes. A NO vote is a way to lock them in the same damn cupboard we’re stuck in now.

    I don’t write or speak for anyone but me. Certainly not the SNP. This campaign however, is much bigger than that, and I believe the autonomy argument is a good way to characterize it.

    By the way…but if anyone else comes on here to talk about the racial destiny of anyone, can they please dig a very deep hole on the Holy Soil of their choice and bury themselves in it

    • I have read all of these. The first two appeal to the heartstrings, but the third is heavy going and really for technocrats.

      However it will be the third, and which group with a powerful “voice” takes on its ideas after a YES that will govern how a nation proceeds with a”blank sheet of paper”.

      Exciting, eh ?

  15. To the unionits hellbent on creating an argument where there isn’t one.

    One of the,many,reasons I’m voting YES is for greater democracy.I want to see community councils being in charge of budgets,overseen by county councils and then national government.

    The U-KOKS peddle the fallacy that this can be achieved through Westminster…Oh Yeah?

    Why haven’t they done it then?

    A.They are centralists who believe that their way is the only way and will only give you slops because you’ve woken from their anti-politics induced slumber long enough to annoy them.

    Would be nice if a unionit would occasionally look in a mirror and ask …”What am I ?”

  16. Nice piece Peter

    Only with a YES vote do we get change. I agree ,with a NO vote we YESSERS won’t go away but a generation is too long to wait if we wake up and think that we’ve made a mistake. I believe we would vote SNP or whatever party offered what we have on Sept 18th and eventually leave the UK.

    I firmly believe that the time is now for the usual reasons eg, we have oil, food&drink etc. We are financially viable and we also have the awareness and drive to succeed . We look around for “good examples” and see clearly there is a better way.

    Westminster is an absolute disgrace. Corruption, child abuse expenses fraud and a host of other liberties they have taken are glossed over and ignored by the corrupt MSM.

    WHY NOT ???

    Why not indeed.

    P.S I don’t know much about the Islands of Orkney and Shetland but watched the QT on t.v and got the impression the islanders where strongly YES . I was very impressed by the audience .

    A yes vote =hope and i believe we will win. The NT campaign have no answers only fear and smear.

    Scotland grown up and is ready to strike out on it’s own.

  17. I’m grateful to those who’ve taken the trouble to respond to my original post. For the avoidance of doubt, I’m in favour of Scottish independence on the basis that the Scots have the right to choose their own future, but by the same token and by the same arguments (eloquently set out in the original post) I’m also in favour of self-determination by the people of Orkney and Shetland.

    Morag claims above that “a couple of people stirring it for political advantage don’t count”. Well of course it’s not just “a couple of people”, as the recent petition from the Islands to the Scottish Government clearly demonstrates. So it’s disappointing that “the Scottish Government has blown a raspberry at the idea of holding referenda on island independence” (Shetland Times 4 July). Rather, it said that “the Scottish government is clear that Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles are much valued parts of Scotland and have been so for many centuries…That would continue in the event of in­dependence.” In short, we want self-determination based on a referendum, but we decline to offer the same to you.

    As for Grouse Beater, it’s true that there’s currently no evidence that there’s a majority in the Northern Isles seeking independence. But there’s no evidence that there isn’t. The simple solution would be a referendum.

    I return to my original question – why is the Scottish Government so opposed to any such proposal? It would be a simple matter for them to make an in-principle commitment to self-determination by the people of the Northern Isles, subject to agreed conditions. But they won’t. Why ever not?

    • You read too much MSM tat and take it for gospel.

    • You didn’t reply to me?! 🙂 (there’s no evidence that there isn’t? ….burden of proof is with you brother)

    • I’m also in favour of self-determination by the people of Orkney and Shetland.

      If I were you I’d ask them before committing yourself to print.

      Adding the hoary old adage that no evidence equals evidence was long ago derided as plain silly. And repeating the illogical notion the Scottish Government is opposed to a proposal that does not exist, and has been explained to you why it does not exist, means you are very happy to be seen as plain silly.

  18. Sorry Rory! But I think you misunderstand my point. I’m not saying that the people of Orkney and Shetland will necessarily vote one way or the other, and of course there are a whole number of possible options. I’m saying that they should have the right to determine their own future, for all the reasons outlined in the original post. Now, you may say that you disagree with the points set out in the original post, though of course they do rather underpin the arguments for Scottish independence. That may be your opinion and on that basis I respect it (though I disagree with it).

    As for Grouse Beater, you say that the people of the Northern Isles should be asked before any commitment is made. I completely agree. That is my entire point.

    In passing, you are of course quite wrong to say that such a proposal does not exist. It does. Here it is – http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/GettingInvolved/Petitions/islandgroups. So when you say it’s an “illogical notion” that the Scottish Government is opposed to a proposal that does not exist, you are wrong in every respect. There is a proposal, and the Scottish Government is opposed to it. (Incidentally, so am I but for reasons of detail rather than principle.)

    Before calling me “plain silly” you might at least check your facts.

    • That is my entire point

      You are intent on ignoring the obvious.

      If they want full independence they will ask for it. They have not, nor appear to want to. Therefore, your entire notion is redundant if not wholly fabricated.

      I do not suggest the Scottish government asks them if they want something they have yet to ask for,, I asked you, wryly to consult them before you argue for a policy on their behalf not in contention by the islanders. Otherwise, they might consider such an intervention arrogant of plain loopy.

  19. Well, let’s leave it there. Whether the majority of people of the Northern Isles want independence or any other status is, as you say, currently unknown, though the recent petition to the Scottish Government does prove that there is willingness to ask the question. But given the Scottish Government’s opposition to self-determination for Orkney and Shetland, and its dismissal of such a proposition, I guess that in the short term at least the debate will be suppressed.

    You may be happy about that. I’m not. But the real giveaway is your characterisation of the people of Orkney and Shetland as “them”. As far as I’m concerned, it’s “us”.

  20. But given the Scottish Government’s opposition to self-determination for Orkney and Shetland, and its dismissal of such a proposition.

    No such dialogue exists.

    • Oh dear. I had promised myself that I would post no further comments. But I cannot leave your statement unchallenged. I agree that there is no such dialogue. This is because the Scottish Government refuses to engage in any dialogue. Instead it has, in the words of the Shetland Times “blown a raspberry” at the idea. I’d be interested in your idea of how it’s possible for a dialogue to exist when one side refuses discussion. Your argument is exactly the same as Westminster used against Scottish Independence until only a few years ago. I’m surprised that you seem to subscribe to it.

      I do, however, tend to agree with the wise words of Socrates McSporran. All I’m suggesting is that the Scottish Government should agree in principle – and I’m only asking for an in principle commitment – to the idea of self-determination for the Northern Isles. Given the priority of the Scottish Independence vote I’d be happy for this to be subject to as many conditions as anyone might realistically suggest – maybe a consistent series of polls evidencing a majority in favour of self-determination. Whatever.

      What concerns me is the Scottish Government’s flat refusal even to entertain the idea, apparently in any circumstances.

      I return to my original point, which you seem to have overlooked, that the post above is a powerful argument for self determination, and that its arguments apply equally to the “polity” of the Northern Isles as they do for the “polity” of Scotland.

      • You’ve long ago reached the point of no return. Having made a false assertion you’re forced to stick with it to the bitter end. In a desperate effort to grab at straws you concoct a second falsehood, that Scotland denies a proposal that none have asked for. After that, it’s post after post of waffle.

        Tony Benn negotiated a small percentage of one percent of oil revenues for the Islands. They have over £200 million in the bank. By all accounts they are very happy kmowing more is to fill their coffers.

        One Lib-Dem making mischief suggesting autonomy does not constitute a grass roots appeal for independence. At no time have the islanders demanded full, stand alone independence.

        What has happened is the Scottish government has suggested a greater share in oil profits when Scotland reclaims its coastal waters and the rigs in it.The islanders will have an even greater say in how they spend their share.

        In all your blether you glaringly fail to produce a shred of evidence, or indeed, develop your laughable assertion beyond anodine repetition. Debate is about developing a hypothesis not flaying one ludicrous claim to death.

        In other words, you’re trolling.

  21. The argument on this thread about greater devolution/independence for the Northern and Western Isles is typically Scottish.

    Here we are, we’ve already got Phase One – devolution; now we are trying to get Phase Two – independence; and, on here, people are arguing about Phase Three – greater autonomy at a lower level.

    Let’s get the immediate job – securing a Yes vote on 18 September done. From there, we can leave our elected representatives to dot the eyes and cross the tees of the Independence Agreement, get the Independent Scotland running – then, we can fine-tune things with greater devolution and autonomy from Edinburgh.

    Against this, there is the undoubted fact that, economies of scale can be made by having one Scottish police force, one Scottish Fire and Rescue service and one Scottish NHS. However, there has, within this, to be local input.

    I am in the second-half of my seventh decade: I was born just after the NHS. My safety has been assured, in turn by: Ayr County Police (we had three distinct and separate forces in Ayrshire when I was growing-up), Ayrshire Constabulary (as single all-county force), Strathclyde Police and now Police Scotland.

    Apart from the absence of beat policemen these past ten years or so, I have seen little change and do not feel less-safe under PS than I did under ACP.

    I was schooled under the auspices of Ayr County Council; my daughters were schooled under the auspices of Strathclyde Region and my grand-children are currently being schooled by East Ayrshire Council. I reckon, under ACC, I got the best deal.

    My local services – bin collections etc have been carried out by Cumnock Landward District Council, Cumnock and Doon Valley District Council and now East Ayrshire Council, without me noticing too-many differences.

    Now C&DV and EAC have got themselves into a big hole by mis-handling their dealings with the local opencast coal companies, but, that big problem apart, they’ve done me no harm.

    We have had a local community council, in reality a talking shop, for some time – this is a waste of oxygen.

    So, from personal experience, I can see situations where big is beautiful, and I can see situations where small is better, and vice versa.

    Political machinations have cost us money – I feel we could get rid of the three local councils here – East, North and South Ayrshire, merge them back into Ayr County Council, save millions and not suffer at all.

    I feel, on balance, Scotland suffers from too-much government.

    Let’s start by getting rid of the most-costly of the layers – the one which spends billions on Trident, bails out spiv bankers and takes Scotland’s taxes and uses these for the benefits of their friends in the Sudetenland. Then, after we’ve done that – we should start looking at sorting-out things closer to home.

    But, before we do this, we HAVE to get rid of our biggest drawback – Westminster.

  22. To make the Yookay “normal”l, one would need, as a start, to reform the following

    A people’s constitution: enshrine inalienable rights
    Rebalancing of corporate/individual interests: through legislation
    /regulation/taxation
    Reform of taxation: progressive, no exceptions, no offshore,
    wealth tax
    Citizens rights: freedom, fair open trial, habeas corpus,
    Minimum mandatory financial support level for all citizens
    Judicial review of unworkable ideological policies eg bedroom tax,
    To enforce practicality
    Multicultural understanding: guidance and statutory provisions
    on tolerance, encouragement of diversity
    Default for peace: constitutional limitations on war making
    Genuine, wholehearted participation in a reformed Europe
    End of the royal prerogative
    Restructuring of parliament
    Proportional representation everywhere
    Obligatory MP personal link with constituency [residential or
    business] and restriction to two terms for all MPs
    Constituency manifestos, triggering elector recall if breached
    Radically diminish the power of parties: abolish altogether?
    State bank to direct worthwhile infrastructure investment into the
    appropriate sectors and regions
    Radical banking reform: separation of retail from casino banking
    Decentralisation of powers/authority: principle of subsidiarity
    Reform of the BBC: taxpayer control, end of propaganda

    In the light of recent events, we should perhaps add the need for transparent mechanisms to nullify the powerful tendency by the establishment to cover up its own failings, such as child abuse, rendition etc

    People will have to decide on 18/09, whether they have confidence that the UK can and wishes to make that journey, or whether they will vote for something better.

  23. Grouse Beater- I’ve just come across your latest remarks, and frankly I’m exhausted by your ignorance. You say I’ve “made a false assertion”. And, pray, what would that be? You don’t explain.

    You do, however, suggest that “Scotland denies a proposal that none have asked for” and that it’s all down to “one Lib-Dem making mischief.” This is simply not true, and I provided the evidence. This may be uncomfortable for you, but facts are cheils that winna ding. You may like to consult the link I provided.

    The rest of your post is merely insulting, so I’ll pass over it. But as an Orcadian I’m rather offended by your assumption that you know better than us about our thoughts and aspirations for the Northern Isles. All I can add is that, sadly, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

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