How to Save the Union (Jeepers! Should I Tell Anyone?)

One Nation Labour

By Peter Arnott

1. In the Wake of Lord Ashcroft

All the way through the referendum campaign, when talking to friends down south, or even to Labour folk up here, I was haunted by the feeling that no one else was taking all this constitutional stuff all that seriously. They smiled indulgently, and held my hand and told me “I know how you feel.” That was about the level of the conversations.

Then when, predictably, the NO vote came in and the uniform expectation among the grown ups was, as Piers Morgan put it, that we in Scotland had had our fun, and now it was time to get back to the “real” world and real issues.

For all of the press coverage in the last month of the indyref campaign, and all of the panic in the last week of it, all the way through we all, I think, had the uncomfortable sensation of feeling like we were re-inventing democracy while being considered a sideshow. And after, when Cameron’s only thought was that he could play at some vote catching with his English Votes for English laws, and the UK parties could cobble together some half-hearted political sticking plaster in the shape of devolved percentiles of tax , their proposals entirely on the logic of dishing the nats, and not at all on the basis of practical government, it seemed like our peripheral status was being confirmed.

Real government was still something, clearly, that the Jocks were going to be loaned a few extra bits of to keep them quiet while real power stayed exactly where it was. Jolly Jim Murphy, as acting Governor General, would put on his Scotland shirt, hold our hands the way he held hands with the Pope and tell us he under stood that we all wanted “change.” Having failed to make the break, we were expected to shut up.

And that was going to be that.

Well, Lord Ashcroft has delivered his “real” numbers, and they’re taking us seriously now! We in the Yes campaign were a distraction, an irritating irrelevance to “real” politics? And all this time, we thought we were the future. Turns out we were right. And good people down South are pleading with us suddenly. Begging us. “God, don’t do it! Come back to Labour! Save us! We didn’t mean all those horrible things we said! We can’t do this on our own!”

(Oh well. “Real” power at stake in a “real” country now, I suppose. And, yes. there is a bit of what the Germans call ‘unworthy joy’ coursing through my blood vessels this fine Friday morning.)

But, like Muhammed Ali not throwing the last punch when George Foreman was already going down, what is required right now, I think, is a little grace. (We are after all, about to dance with the rattlesnakes).

In which regard I didn’t do so well last night online or on the phone.

Now, come on, said my friend. Be logical. If Scotland elects the SNP instead of Labour, then we’re all doomed to the Tories, you don’t want that, do you?

To which ,I said, still in the mood of gloating just a bit, that if the Labour Party were no longer capable of winning an election in the UK without a few seats in Scotland to prop them up, then maybe they had ceased to serve a purpose.

The Labour Party were in deeper trouble than this in the eighties, said my friend. People wrote us off then, and we came back.

Yes, you did…I said, and the “answer” to your electability problem in the South of England was Tony Fecking Blair and being nice to rich people. When you became electable there, you became poisonous here. Why do you think all this is happening?

And my friend said if I was just going to shout at him like a self-righteous Scottish bastard then he’d just give up …and he’d end up with a government in England imposed on him because of decisions made in Scotland…

To which I replied, “Can you HEAR yourself? Welcome to our world, dick head!”

And he put the phone down.

I really should have been more even tempered than that. Because the conversation we were beginning to have is the conversation we do need to have across these islands, just as we need to get a bit less tribal ourselves. We in the Yes movement need to seriously think right now about what the interim arrangements are going to be, (as we see it) before “independence” happens, whatever that actually means.

Because, guess what? From the post-Ashcroft perspective, let alone the perspective of there only being 4 or 5 Labour MPs left in Westminster and our future representation being undertaken by a frankly untested and unknown crowd of new SNP MPs, I’m not sure we really gave “change” enough serious thought either. We prepared ourselves for the idea of change, we fell helplessly in love with the hope of it. But maybe we didn’t believe in it ourselves quite enough to think it through. And, shortly, we’re going to have to deal with the mechanics, not of “independence” – but of specific responses to specific post election scenarios.

Frankly, I get really uncomfortable with the line I’m supposed to pitch. That the SNP are a genuinely progressive party that really can replace what Labour in Scotland used to stand for. I think that might be true in electoral terms, but in policy terms? I have my doubts.

But those doubts won’t make me vote Green in this election, as I will (probably) in 2016. No fear. There is a job to be done. The Janus face of the Labour party, pretending to be Tories in one part of the UK and pretending to be caber tossing socialists up here is just too crass to do anything other than work for as many SNP seats as we can win.

But this reality has it’s challenges for our side too. And I think we’ll find answers to those challenges not by shouting and crowing and celebrating ever louder in our echo chamber, (no matter how appealing that may be in the short term) but in engaging properly with those progressive individuals and institutions who weren’t on our side in that referendum and may not be in the next one to come up with a future we can all look at together.

2. What Might the Future Look Like after the Wipeout

There was a lot of talk from Scottish Labour post referendum that now that THAT was out of the way, it was time to get together. By which they meant “it’s time for you to cease to exist” That didn’t work out. But even in this moment of euphoria, we shouldn’t delude ourselves that the half of us who are against independence are going to agree to cease to exist either.

I’m starting to think, at the back of my head anyway, about where we go next. How we try to govern ourselves in the new circumstances in which we find ourselves in the meantime, before the big constitutional re-arrangement that surely can’t be avoided anymore.

And it has to be together. It’s going to be together. Both within a politically divided Scotland, and in one set of Atlantic Islands. We all have to live here, meaning Scotland, and here, meaning the Atlantic Isles.

So I’ve come up with a plan to save the Union. I want to meet the No side half way and say, guys, if what it takes for us to talk properly about the future is for me to put forward what I think are the minimum conditions for the survival of the UK, then that’s what I’ll do. I will act for the moment like I believe that democratic transformation of these islands, of the British State, is still possible and I’ll put forward to you a scenario, roughly, that I think would work. That I think would be sustainable. Then you can honestly tell me what you think.

I may be convinced that the UK is past saving. You think I’m wrong and that an independent Scotland would be disastrous for everyone. But if now you accept that this problem really isn’t just going to go away, let’s meet in the middle and look at what a sustainable really federal, really changed UK might look like.

I think the Unitary UK left has been in decline since 1979 and that deep down that’s why all of this is happening. I think that after this disaster, the left on these islands needs to be fundamentally rethought, as after 1983. I think that one UK wide party can no longer represent progressive forces in all of the UK. I think a progressive party in London, and one in Wales and Scotland and Newcastle can no longer be one party. I think it has to actually become what it already pretends to be. A coalition for UK issues and SEPARATE parties for nations. The Scottish Labour party has to really do what Jim Murphy (I think) is pretending to do. It has to become a Scottish Party. (If the Tories had done something like that in the 70s, there wouldn’t just be wee David Mundell left).

In Scotland, I want there to be a coherent left opposition to the SNP. (I want to JOIN it) In these islands, I want a coherent democratic opposition to the political hegemony of finance capitalism. And the UK Labour Party ain’t it. In either case. A decentralised, federal Britain, where we have elections by proportional representation to a federal parliament…starts with a properly federal party (or parties in strategic coalition) of the left.

And I think a new UK parliament with a big chunk of SNP MPs supporting a UK Labour government might be the place to start.

It might be a place where both parties could learn a bit of manners to each other.

That’s probably a pipe dream, but whoever these parties are in the future, or whatever they call themselves, we need to re-organise the UK left a federal basis preparatory to re-organising the country on a federal basis. We need to reverse the devolution model. We need power to be vested democratically in the regions and then devolved, as needed, to a central authority.

We need to accept that this will mean that the London City State will turn its de facto independence (the undeclared reality at the root of everything else that has happened in the last 40 years stems from the UK consensus that Blair and Brown accepted that only the London economy matters) into declared independence. If and when that happens, and it will, we will need a Federal Government of the Islands, which will be the centre of democratic power while London remains the trading powerhouse of the islands, ( as it will, no matter what we come up with constitutionally, “separation” included.)

If we are going to counter-balance the hegemony of capital with the leaven of democracy, we will do so much better if all power is not culturally concentrated in the same few square miles.

(The Australians built Canberra to avoid having to choose between Melbournbe and Sydney. This morning my son suggested Bolton? Or maybe Salford. The BBC are there already. Greater Manchester anyway, why not?)

So, in the wake of Ashcroft’s poll, and the likely actual result, it is time for Labour to consider really doing what Jim Murphy is currently pretending to do. That is, after the election, to scrap the Scottish Labour Party as “a branch office ” and start again with a new party of the left based in Scotland which can affiliate with UK Labour (if it chooses, if UK Labour is good enough) for General Elections.

Likewise, a genuinely federal UK is the only way there can remain a UK at all…and that doesn’t mean power devolved (leant) From Westminster to “the regions”, it means political power being based in the regions and devolved TO the UK government…whatever we call it, including FROM London.

The monarchy- down pyramidical constitution we have now is getting in the way of democracy. Dysfunction is getting more and more sclerotic. And hey, if the Tory Party had been Scottish based, a Scottish Party lending its support, rather than a branch office, they’d have 10 MPs in Scotland, not one. Especially on a PR basis. So, come on UK, stop pretending there’s any way “back to normal” and bite the fecking bullet, will ya?

I look forward to having conversations of a rather different quality to those of last year. A little less tribal. A little more inclined to look at “reality” and find it unfamiliar territory that one can’t take for granted. A recognition that the rules have changed on these islands, and that , no, Homer, there is no going back to the “good old used-to-be.”

These islands have looked at the past for long enough for inspiration.

I hope there is now a moment, at least, of positive as well as negative truth dawning upon us. That the way we organise ourselves to live on these islands, politically and culturally and economically is now an active, positive question. What I also hope is, now that the nature of our challenge has become clearer to all of us, whether we were for Yes or No last year. And that all of us in Scotland can use the now established certainty of change to step back from the immediate struggle for parliamentary seats, and examine the beams in our own eyes. The Yes side need to face the future just as much as the good people who voted “No”

We both need to acknowledge that it isn’t going to be a re-run of the past.



Categories: Commentary

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105 replies

  1. Great piece Peter, positive, constructive. Now, if only we had the politicians, from all sides, who could rise to the moment…

  2. Unfortunately Peter, very recent history stands against you.

    The AV vote of 2011 that proposed the most minor of changes to our political system was thoroughly trounced. A positive reaction to that offer by the electorate could have been the start of a more representative parliament where new voices would be heard.

    The offer was far from perfect, but it was a start and on a 42% turnout, 68% said no to any change of the current UK parliamentary system.

    When the UK public are so clearly unwilling to grasp any opportunities, or can’t be bothered to vote, just what hope is there of persuading them to think along a federalist state with regional political parties.

    The first nationwide referendum happened in 1975 over the EU, 2011 was the second. Just how long will it be before Westminster elites decide to give that opportunity to the people again ?

    • I disagree on your assessment about the AV vote. It was a grubby, condescending compromise that was the least change possible while still having change. For a start AV is not proportional and it still involves FPTP seats except who comes first involves some mathematic jiggery pockery. It looked, smelled and was something cooked up in a smoke filled room by a bunch of people determined to concede the minimum bread and circuses to shut the proles up.

      Here’s how we changed the voting system in New Zealand back in the early ’90s. Firstly we signed a big petition asking for it. The process did not require the entry into government of a particular minor party. It was something the country imposed on unwilling politicians. We then had a national conversation (before the internet) about voting systems and I’m not kidding you. I used to be chapter and verse about all the different systems. FPTP in splendid isolation ran off against a plethora of alternative systems, some of which like AV were not proportional. MMP won not only in the plethora but it beat FPTP into a cocked electoral hat. But despite this clear democratic mandate MMP then had to run off again against the already defeated FPTP which annoyed us electors. So we increased the percentage win for MMP.

      NZ is doing this again right now. They are having a national conversation about flag designs. Call Sheldon Cooper! then there will be a referendum.

      NZ general elections do not dip below 75% turnout. Because the people feel involved and consulted, even if they are not always listened to (a referendum voted to stop privatisations but the Key government went ahead anyway).

  3. ‘In Scotland, I want there to be a coherent left opposition to the SNP. (I want to JOIN it) In these islands, I want a coherent democratic opposition to the political hegemony of finance capitalism’.

    There is one. Its called the Scottish Socialist Party.

  4. But what on earth are common British interests Peter?

    Surely it is the macroeconomic policy that is the main problem, at least with voters. That’s what’s causing all the tensions, the issue of who controls the Scottish economy, so why continue it? In a federal solution we would share a currency and banking system but have control over macroeconomic policy, control over all our taxes; that means the machinery to collect them, plus the power to set and apply them to our own purposes.

    The only common interests that I can think of beyond currency would be defence and security. But that in itself is highly problematic, because what do we do about Trident? Agreement here isn’t going to be easy. Security is the basic purpose of a state (as any political theorist will tell you) so if we can’t agree on that, what’s the point of Britain?

    When you can no longer agree on collective security a state is finished.

    • When you can no longer agree on collective security a state is finished

      Exactly

    • Well said. The argument he made about why we need regional parties is because the regions disagree so much no one vehicle can represent them all. Then the argument goes against that over a federal government.

      Scotland was against the Iraq war both popularly and through our parliament. The federal parliament in Westminster paid not the blindest attention. I would dearly like Mr Arnott to tell us how in his system things would have turned out any different? or does his federal system have a national veto so any part can veto the federal parliament? Kind of what Ms Sturgeon wants for the Brexit referendum. That would ensure sclerotic government with the regional governments using such opportunities to extort sweeties from the centre and all the regions would compare their sweeties and there would be grumbling and talk of pieces of silver.

      Either the regions are so different they cannot be represented unitarily but they can be governed thus. I don’t buy this. Even if you have some majority of federal senators needing to vote for a war. That could still result in the Celtic nations voting against and being overruled by mighty England coming together. Then we are back where we are now. How is that stability?

  5. Look, if I was to save the Union, what I would see as essential is root and branch reform of current British political institutions. (Meaning mainly England, because reform has already started in the Celtic fringes).

    That means getting rid of an unelected upper chamber and replacing it with an elected modern, fit-for-purpose Senate.

    It would also mean getting rid of the first-past-the-post system so that new uncorrupted accountable political forces can emerge, including a credible progressive party of the left in England.

    And a UK written constitution that placed checks on the executive.

    The political system of the UK is moribund and venal. It is poisoning the British people and British political culture. That is what is destroying the UK – rampant inequality, a lack of good old-fashioned British fair play!!

  6. As with most things in life,it comes down to money.
    Nothing is going to change until we get rid of the block “grant” system.
    Handouts from the centre,determined by the centre,keep the periphery dependent on the centre and no amount of pretendy devolution of powers is going to get around that fact.
    Even if we had voted Yes in September,I am absolutely certain that it would have ended up looking like Home rule,with defence and monetary policy shared and various other aspects pooled but on the basis of a negotiated settlement between Scotland and England and not diktat from Westminster as we have at present.
    Lets get the money sorted out and the rest will follow.
    Thanks Peter.

  7. ‘In Scotland, I want there to be a coherent left opposition to the SNP. (I want to JOIN it) In these islands, I want a coherent democratic opposition to the political hegemony of finance capitalism’.

    I think you will find that a substantial number of the pre Sep18 SNP membership wanted the same thing. Possibly a larger proportion of the 70k who have since joined the SNP actually really wanted that same thing also.
    Fact is though, they joined the SNP.
    And until after the GE in May, the SNP are the only game in town. Everything else, SSP, Greens, whoever is merely a distraction.
    Hollyrood 2016 is an ENTIRELY different story and a different stage in the process. There is no problem with letting “a thousand flowers bloom” as Mao would have had it. Hopefully there will be time to set up a coherent anti-austerity alliance.
    The fact is, there has just not been enough time between picking ourselves up after Sep18 and this GE to get that alliance together.
    Hold your nose if you must, but go out and work cheerfully and vote for the SNP at this GE. THEN we can reassess the situation from a position of strength.

    • Agree entirely Willie – I would say also that the SNP appear to be shifting before our very eyes – and showing themselves very responsive to new ideas, from their influx of new members and from the wider Yes movement groups (and I’m not so naive as to have forgotten the fast-approaching election!) -so we may end up with something more acceptable than some seem to be assuming.

  8. The union just isn’t worth saving. We don’t share common goals, thats the biggest myth ever pedalled. England has always been England and Scotland has always been Scotland, despite the union. We are creating an invention in our minds, that there ever was unity in these islands. We are two nations tied together as a result of greed,opportunism and empire. Strip that away and there is no real common thread in political terms.

    Sure we can watch some of the same programmes and read some of the same books. We can even appreciate the joys of English music. But the same goes for the USA in terms of films and music and certain cultural crossovers. But fundamentally we are pulling in different directions. It’s like trying to save an arranged marriage, where the couple have fallen out, never loved each other but shared a house. Fine if you want to play lets pretend and have a false relationship. Useless if you want a harmonious and happy life!

    • No, I think there was unity, once. Of a sort. Amongst controlling elites. Which was tolerated, sometimes approvingly, by ordinary people. Especially after Waterloo. The Union happenned because of fear of French domination on continental Europe and on the high seas. The French navy was the most powerful in the world in 1707 during the War of the Spanish Succession. The reasons for the union were wholly imperial; Scots wanted to be able to try their hand at overseas trade and expansion on which they felt our economic future rested but were blocked by the English Navigation Acts and French aggression from doing so; and the English wanted security from the French using Scotland as a launching pad for an English invasion.

      The British Empire was a huge Anglo-Scottish success project. It did sod all for ordinary Scottish and English people, except those who emigrated to the settler colonies, but for the governing elites it was a huge success story. Global power.

      But once the Empire was gone (starting with India, the jewel in the Crown just after WW2) and the Cold War ended there has really been no common interest to unite us bar habit.

  9. How to save the Union?

    1. Declare independence.

    2. Invite any Celtic nations to join us in the United Celtic Republic.

    3. Invite any English shires who want to be part of a social democracy where austerity and crony capitalism will be abolished to join us in the United British Republic. You would probably end up with a country larger than the current U.K.

    What’s the problem? Why does the union have to be THEIR union?

    UKOK is just an excuse to steal from others. United Kleptocracy OK? I don’t think so! That’s not OK in my book — or 1.6 million other Scots.

    • Said union doesn’t have to be formal and political. It could be like the Scandi’s have only with a lingua franca already in place. A social union, a broadcasting union etc. etc.

  10. Very interesting proposal which may very well be the future for these islands but you didn’t mention the elephant in the room – Trident. For many Scots this really is a defining matter. I would be interested to read your thoughts on this.

  11. The real half-way point, the real compromise, that all sides could have, and should have accepted was full fiscal autonomy (call it devomax call it neoferalism or whatever you like. People know exactly what “all powers except defence and foreign affairs” means).

    Sadly, it has become crystal clear that Westminster will never give up such real power to Scotland, within the context of the UK. Sadly, because it might just have worked. Sadly, because, in the long term, the UK can no longer survive without it. Now, it’s only a matter of time….

  12. I truly can not see the politicians already firmly entrenched within the Westminster establishment accepting any “meet in the middle” solution to help this failed Union, at least not one that will fairly benefit Scotland. They will still regard our intrusion into their political arena with our “caps in hand” and any promises will be as empty as the last ones. I believe the better question is “Should we bother to save the Union?

  13. Full Fiscal Autonomy is the absolute minimum that is acceptable. All taxation from Scotland retained in Scotland, and a block grant to Westminster.

    But there is precedent and an intermediate step that might take those of us who see no point to the UK, and those of the unionist persuasion who could live with more autonomy. The precedent is in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The intermediate step is Secure Autonomy. http://constitutionalcommission.org/blog/?p=358

  14. Instead of being fair and snapping the chocolate bar right down the middle, stingy Westminster seems to be determined to, ever so slowly, break off one tiny crumb at a time and say “There you go Scotland, that’s more than enough”. Surprise surprise it doesn’t have the desired effect, so try again, “here’s another crumb, happy now?”. Ad infinitum.

    Is this how the once proud and mighty UK is going to end: Death by a thousand crumbs?”

    • That’s the imperial mindset for you. That’s exactly what they did with India – too little, too late. By the time they were prepared to concede meaningful power (after the fall of Singapore in 1942) India was no longer interested. A via media lasted until the war ended, then India immediately pressed for full independence. If India had been granted dominion status like Canada (1867) in the 1890s it might still be with ‘us’.

      They never learn.

  15. Peter,

    Interesting take on things and welcome to the federalist express. All aboard for workable constitutional change and a new type of mutually beneficial union. Unfortunately, any appeals to compromise and realism tends to be met with impossibilist, fingers in ears even though there is plenty of scope for a federal solution, with support at the highest level. The old dogmatic centralist Brown has now hoped on and is selling tickets…toot toot..Deutchland here we come..plenty of benefits and little downside, plus more importantly get to have FUK, on the covers of our passports and on Flight displays. The 10.40 from ITL Rome to FUK Glasgow.

    I’ve a real problem voting for the SNP for the fact that they are not what they profess to be, a left of centre party interested in reform. They are in fact a ‘whatever way the wind is blowing party’ whose policy objective fundamentally about independence (end of story). This is fine if you are a nationalist. There is honesty and courage in admitting this rather than hidding behind vacuous appeals to ‘scoial justice’ and I accept it. I’m not a nationalist but have long since realised the need for a rebalancing of the UK, econ, socially, politically. Culturally devolution has worked wonders for Scotland, so I’ll leave it out as I get a wee bit huffy with the ‘national collective’ et al and all the childish ‘middle class’ hyperbole about ‘imagining’ a new country and whinging about being opprressed (they really need to travel a bit more – start with Saudi maybe?). The last person to ‘imagine’ a country was Pol Pot – apparently had great success in getting rid of the ‘status quo’ (joke).

    Independence: the Elephant in the room, or rather sitting outside the echo chamber is Scotland itself. As you point out, the reality of Scotland is different from the one projected onto it by many Yessers. The deep social cleavages that exist across the Uk are also in Scotland also. This would persist after indy ( Champagne socialists like Pat Kane for example would still send their kids to private school – the hierarchy would remain). It would not be social democratic as blithly assumed. And neither would it be a neo lib wet dream like Singapore or Hong Kong – that mantle in these parts has already been bagged by the city state London. Also there is the thorny issue, most people (or a large section of people don’t actully want independence…(but then again niether does the SNP – currency – Queen – etc.

    Despite the shreeks in the echo chamber, No voters made a very considered rational and emotional choice. This won’t change. If the SNP call another referendum, it will lead to alot of bitterness from the origional core no vote.

    Federalism is a good compromise. Self determination, de centralisation and continuity.

    The best way to achieve this is not to vote SNP – this will bring about intractable division and worse another ref (which will be lost again – the currency issue still stands and isn’t going away.) And if they do win, the gloves will be off. Not a nice place to live. Already we are far too entrenched in stodgy culture wars.

    Labour (although they deserve no favours) are the only party to have in manifesto…

    a) AV and change to FPTP.
    b) A federal commision to look into constituional change.
    c) Reform of the House of Lords with an elected Senate.
    d) Devolution of regions/ cities.

    Of course there is the poss of Coalition SNP lab. But SNP will never agree to federal refrom as it will fatally undermine the rationale for independence.

    • I’ve been lurking on this site for a while and the sobriety of this post is welcome, and marked.

      I left Scotland 18 years ago (because I wanted to) and made my home in Manchester. People have said to me “you cannot comment, you haven’t been living here, you don’t understand”. I say my opinion is just as valid, as I’ve been looking in from the outside of the echo / hysteria chamber.

      I keep seeing ‘the Union has no function or purpose anymore’. Well, outside the philosophy and politics, it does – it provides a stable, closely integrated and interrelated economy and trading block, including the customers of about 70% of your stuff – England.

      It also provides you with membership of an even bigger trading block and market – the EU. On balance of probabilities, Yes voters were voting to leave the EU, with no guarantee of re-entry, or when, and that’s flat. Some of the stuff I heard on that was hilarious – that if Scotland wasn’t granted immediate automatic entry, Scotland would enter the EU “by force”, by blockading fishing waters, shipping lanes, ports, and all manner of other ludicrous supposed threats. With a stubborn / naive refusal to accept that Angela Merkel and the other existing club members holding the power would decide – not Scotland.

      However, to get to my point – there is a smaller scale of how things like CAN work – here in Greater Manchester. There are 28 MPs; 3 Lib Dem, 2 Conservative and yes, the rest Labour. At the local government level the diversity is greater (though admittedly more Labour cllrs than any other party).

      However, there are now decades of track record where political differences have been able to be put aside and for politicians to work together (mostly) for the benefit of Greater Manchester. This has culminated in a ‘combined authority’ a ‘devolution deal’ (not really devolution yet, more being given the money + some more that would have been coming to us anyway, but not having to ‘bid’ for it) and a future Mayor. (population 2.5m ish).

      While we are and will continue to deal with ‘austerity’ etc, growth never really stopped here, development and investment has continued and is expanding etc.

      This would not have been achieved without politicians being able to put their differences to one side when it came to anything that would benefit Greater Manchester.

      The UK is one of the most centralised counties in Europe / the world, and in fairness this government, even the Conservatives, have recognised and accepted this has to change. I see the role of cities as central to this (I may be biased).

      I put all the politics and philosophy to one side; it would have been insanity to break up that integrated trading block, and for Scotland to have left the EU. And there are other ways.

      (For the record, I’m not the kind of person who wants, or needs politicians or political parties to solve my problems for me).

      • Welcome to the conversation. Thanks for your comments.

      • #Baffled by hyperbole.
        Like you, I left Scotland, but 40 years ago, having had a good business customer- base trashed by an increase in interest rates caused by an overheating London economy. I lived in Leicestershire for a year before my wife and baby daughter could join me – a miserable year for us all. The failure of the 8-year old business in Glasgow left both my brother and I and ten other employees jobless. My brother, a chartered engineer had to travel to Kuwait to get a job that would give his family a decent living. I, a chemical engineer, found a job 350 miles away in Hinckley.
        I left friends, relatives including my ageing parents, both of whom died in my absence in Scotland. I spent 24 years in Leicester, started another successful business and retired back to Scotland at 62, leaving 2 daughters down there. You, as an absentee, will not be aware of the difference in prosperity between the West of Scotland and Leicestershire. You will also not be aware of the lack of representation at Westminster that is felt up here. Both Tory and Labour parties pitch their policy to Middle England (The prosperous south east) imposing measures on Scotland and for that matter the north of England which are totally wrong –even damaging.
        You’ve got it wrong YES voters were not voting to leave the EU. We are members of and comply with all the regulations of the EU. We are citizens of the EU. An independent Scotland would have been welcome. Remaining in the UK with David Cameron’s promise of a referendum on membership was the greatest danger. As for the false threat that an independent Scotland would have had trade barriers set up against it in the rest of the UK – Were Darling and Carmichael seriously threatening to ruin perfectly profitable businesses in England just to spite a disobedient Scotland? Too many in Scotland believed this tosh in the referendum.
        As for your wonderful local democracy in the Manchester area, I don’t see much of a difference. We have our local councils and Scottish Parliament all elected by PR. Most of our local councils have 2 or 3 parties represented. Unfortunately we have recalcitrant unionist parties ganging up senselessly against practical SNP policy just to thwart it.
        Like you, I don’t need politicians to solve my problems either, but unlike you, I’m concerned for the welfare of my fellow citizens. I don’t want to see the continuing emigration of our skilled and tertiary educated youth who are leaving the country at a rate of 30,000 per year for both the south of England and abroad in order to find a salary that will give them some prosperity.

    • Paul B;Morphy’s Law Re-hashed. SNP miss-represented .Whit planet are ye oan?Maybe best to ignore

  16. If the only way of saving the union is to wipe the slate clean and start again from scratch, then I’m not losing sleep on whether we’ll become independent, but when.

  17. Trouble is I’m far from sure that people down south want things to change. Sure, they moan and groan about leaders, parties, lack of policies, about banks and neoliberalism. But I’m not convinced there is an overwhelming demand for change. And if by any chance federalism is spoken of, the first thing that’s said is they do not want to subsidise those whinging jocks any further. England does not believe Scotland can survive on its own. That has been drummed into them until it has become part of their brains. Federalism, a few concede, might be an option — but only if England is allowed to remain as a country. Despite the annoyance over how much of the cake goes to London, and how little to the regions, England does not want broken up into what is seen as artificial regions. The excuse? It would make them less English.

    This is one of the problems I raised in my submission to the Smith Commission (no doubt not even read). Scotland has been pondering indy and devo in various guises for decades, England has only now had its arm twisted to force it to acknowledge there is a table, but with absolutely no intention of approaching it. Unless there is acknowledgement that Scotland is perfectly capable of surviving on its own without the alleged massive handouts from England, and unless the English can actually get their act together and decide how they as a country want to improve democracy, then we are talking to ourselves. And, apart from the Yes people, I can’t at present envisage any political leaders at Westminster taking action towards this in the near future.

    Talk is the only road to a solution. But if England won’t talk then what do we do?

    • Re. para. 1 – that is the sound of the voices you hear bouncing around in your echo chamber.

      Most people believe Scotland can ‘survive’ on its own – of course you would.

      What a lot of people in England, especially those who followed the referendum etc. with interest, found perplexing was the apparent insistence that Scotland would be departing for a guaranteed brighter, better and more prosperous future for each and every one of its citizens (who are all ‘oppressed’).

      And that, as proselytized by Alex Salmond, that this process would be simple and risk free, and that on the key issues where there was no definitive answer (currency, EU etc.) that they as his disciples would just have to trust him.

      Despite Scotland’s GDP and GVA performance, this was hard to accept at face value because’ just to take a few examples, Scotland has an even greater proportion of public sector workers than England (so ‘rebalancing’ would be even harder), your population is older and ageing faster than hours (less productive people / greater demand for services), your social problems are more pronounced (social problems ultimately = premature death, Scotlands mortality figures though much improved are still worse than Englands), that the loss or risk sharing with the UK would expose Scotland to vulnerability to oil price volatility etc. etc. (I’m not sure I dare mention ‘oil’)

      And, the way that anyone with the temerity to counter this position with quite reasonable arguments – or even ‘you cannot know how this will turn out, so why are you making promises’ was met with indignance or howls of ‘oppression’, ‘bullying’ etc.

      In fairness, one of the things English people really didn’t like was Alex Salmond (I don’t like him either). Nicola Sturgeon, provided she avoids being too belligerent (she has so far) will be considered differently I think – and being a woman will help.

      • Hi Baffled by Hyperbole.

        You write: “What a lot of people in England, especially those who followed the referendum etc. with interest, found perplexing was the apparent insistence that Scotland would be departing for a guaranteed brighter, better and more prosperous future for each and every one of its citizens (who are all ‘oppressed’)”.

        This sounds very familiar: seems pretty clear that you were following the referendum from Manchester, listening to the BBC and MSM script, and reacting accordingly. Those of us living here were insisting on nothing of the kind, but were and are clear that we’d like to make and learn from our own successes and failures rather than those foisted on us by by a political system that doesn’t allow room for the majority of English and Scottish and Welsh and Irish and Conservative and Labour and LibDem and SNP and Green and UKIP voters views on bringing back energy companies and train companies etc into public service: https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/adam-ramsay/public-ownership-is-ridiculously-popular-why-does-no-one-campaign-for-it

        We were and we are voting for democracy, and if we aren’t allowed (by the MSM etc) to pursue that for ourselves, we’ll have to pursue that for everyone in the UK.

        I notice a huge increase in the numbers of posters who are pushing these Labour-like lines. Often distinguished by their tone of superiority and always marked by their repeat of an MSM view of why we voted Yes – completely missing out on the real reason, democracy.

      • I think you should perhaps rename yourself “Baffled by Neo-Liberal Propaganda”. The private sector good, public sector bad guff is just that, guff. Public sector is not the same as public expenditure.

      • #Baffled by Hyperbole, again.
        Of course Scotland could survive just as many other small countries of a similar size do currently without any natural resources, but this would just be a beginning. The bright future would not be immediate, but in a few years it would come.
        Up to now we have been ruled by incompetent, dogma-bound, corrupt (expenses racket, cash-for questions, lobbying for favours), warmongering (no need to mention them), wasteful (2 aircraftless carriers, Nimrod cancellation, Dome, Trident), undemocratic (unelected House of Lords), privatising (utilities, Royal Mail, railways, bus services, schools, hospitals ) governments with an overpaid London-based civil service. On the other hand, with the same diminishing resources, our finance minister has managed to balance the books by rationalising most of the public services up here – more than Brown, Darling, or Osbourne has ever done.
        By not participating in all this waste and saving in her share of all this, Scotland could be a lot wealthier.
        As for oil revenue, Scotland could be wealthier on half the oil revenues, having only a tenth of the population of the rest of the UK, who have nothing to show for it but London infrastructure and the Trident weapons system. They’ve p—-d it down the drain on interest payments on huge debt.
        Yes, we have an ageing population as a result of mass depopulation of our younger citizens leaving to find a decent living for their families to be replaced by old retirees looking for lower-priced second homes. But with immigration being a reserved matter, we cannot import a young labour force. And yes, there are differences in wealth between the highest and lowest in Scotland, but the difference we most resent is the geographical difference between north and south in this UK.
        Who in their right mind would want to stick with Westminster rule? One Tory in Scotland, and we are ruled by a Tory government. You think this is OK? I think I would prefer Alec Salmond to any in the governments above

    • Can you point to where I said ‘private sector good, public sector bad’ – ?

      (I didn’t).

      • #Baffled by Hyperbole and (private sector good, public sector bad.) ‘Scotland has an even greater proportion of public sector workers’, you said, implying that this is a drain on public resources. Would privatising these public sector services make the job cheaper? In my experience any private company that takes over from the public sector costs us more. They will quote cheaper, but skimp the job by reducing the labour force and paying them poverty wages that the taxpayer has to subsidise through tax credit. No, you may not have said private good public bad. I am saying private not necessarily good. The one point in your first piece that I did not answer was the life expectancy one where the relative longevity in the south of England uses the bulk of the pensions pot. Ergo pensions would be more affordable for the Scottish Government than the UK as a whole. We die up here using only a few years of our entitlement.

  18. A very thought provoking piece which warrants careful reflection and rereading. Thank you, Peter. I can see why people are cynical and envisage problems from Westminster but this process might be a positive step in reaching out to people of good will who voted No.

  19. The problem, Peter, is that the UK is incapable of change. Tory/Labour governments are merely puppets for their masters, i.e. banks, arms co’s, oil co’s etc. The only hope is if the good people of England elected a progressive party. Sadly, the only such party is The Green Party. They’ve got no chance. Look at the support for UKIP. An extreme right wing bunch of nutters!

    No, Peter we’re going to have to do it ourselves. A new process started after 18th september. This process I suspect will be long drawn out over a number of years. Even if the SNP obtain a huge number of MP’s. it will only prove to the Scottish people that Westminster will never give us Home Rule. What then? Call another referendum? The problem is that the same fears the made people vote NO are still there. Despite what Alex Salmond (someone whom I have huge respect for) said about The Vow.

    • In advanced liberal western democracies, operating forms of state regulated capitalism, in a globalised world, it’s a hard fact of life that governments have to serve the needs of capital. This includes the SNP, of course (who are a centre / centre-right party).

      I agree that England could actually do with a new party – or for a new / completely rebuilt Liberal party to emerge (they’ll be down to 20 seats in May). The Green Party aren’t a ‘progressive’ party though – they are .. well, the Green party, who are actually advocating the shrinking of the economy, reductions in people’s living standards, etc. In a sense they are actually right, trying to save the world – but they’ve no chance of getting beyond one or maybe two MPs.

      Support for UKIP is borne of several things – immigration, the level of which has been nothing like in Scotland, legitimate (and not legitimate) concerns about Europe and the EU (which are not the same thing) and ultimately, bitterness amongst people with no qualifications for whom I have little sympathy. (And then there is the red faced golf club brigade)

      By all means have another go at a referendum say around about 2020. However one of your problems is your refusal to let go of the notion that ‘fears’ made people vote No. Many people voted No after careful consideration of the issues. Notwithstanding anything else, the more and longer you go on about how they were ‘cowed by fear’ and were ‘brainwashed’ by ‘the right wing media’, then the less chance you have of calmly convincing them that independence is the right choice – for them and their families.

      • The funny thing is that it was the Yes camp kept telling us that the No camp thought that we were too wee, too stupid etc., but now apparently us No voters ARE cowed, brainwashed simpletons.

        Once in a blue moon you get a poster here acknowledging the limitations of the Yes campaign, but it’s rare.

      • We have state regulated capitalism?

    • Yes, we do have state regulated capitalism. “Capitalism” in approaching anything like a pure form, does not exist, anywhere in the world.

      When I wake up the morning, I get out of my regulated bed, in a room warmed by regulated energy. I go downstairs and make a cup of regulated coffee, then wash in a shower using regulated water. Then i put on my regulated clothes, get in my regulated car powered by regulated petrol, and drive off on the regulated road. I get to my regulated employer and do my regulated job, and later I go home.

      All advanced western liberal democracies operate some form of regulated capitalism, including the dark, evil neoliberal corporatist hells of Germany, Denmark and Norway. (None of these countries are ‘socialist’ or anything approaching such a thing)

      Even in the evil USA, there is a huge amount of regulation of the economy. There are still states where you need a licence to be a hairdresser.

      All advanced western liberal democracies operate some kind of social security regime as a ‘safety net’ – and the UK’s remains one of the most comprehensive of this kind in such countries, and indeed the world.

      To suggest that people in advanced western liberal democracies have to fend for themselves in some kind of free market wild west is nonsense.

      the closest thing there is to this is what we see in Russia and some eastern european states, which is more of a ‘mafia capitalism’. No-one in advanced western liberal democracies would want to see anything like that in their countries.

      And by the way – I remember that video, and I’m pretty sure on the other side of the road is one of the offices of the Royal Bank of Scotland – a Scottish Bank based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Who of course are in no way implicated in the financial crisis of 2008.

      And who before 2008, RBS and others were lauded as ‘great Scottish institutions’ who would be part of the ‘celtic tiger’ economy, by one A. Salmond.

      (Of course, now the evil banks are ‘British’).

  20. Unfortunately it may be spoken about, but remember who we are dealing with. English MP’s and sadly some Scots will do ANYTHING to thwart anything resembling power in Holyrood.

    They are bitter elites who think that Scots have no rights in how we are governed, that is precisely why The Smith Commission’s submissions have been so watered down.
    We can NEVER trust these people, they show why, every day in the BBC and media et al.

    When Independence comes, after all the huffy fits, and that will take a while, we will have to resolve all our issues for the sake of all the people who populate the BRITISH ISLES.

  21. I’ d love to give ‘them’ a chance to meet us in the middle and negotiate a common future like adults – but the Uk establishment have shown time and again that they can’t be trusted.
    Those who believe themselves to be ‘our imperial masters’ are like petulant children. and don’t care enough, or have the personal skills or emotional intelligence required to grow and adapt to a changing world. They have too much to lose….
    Those who voted YES and are about to vote YES are idealists and embrace hope and change
    Those who voted NO – and haven’t regretted it by now , simply don’t ……..due to a whole raft of reasons, inflexible belief systems and the big one – FEAR of the unknown and the unfamiliar.

    We have seen through the referendum year the height and depth of denial out there, and can only marvel at what apparently intelligent and educated people are prepared to stoop to to defend the status quo

    I really think that after all that has happened recently, those who still resist the independence route are completely incapable of accepting or even considering change until their entire ‘support system’ comes crumbling round their ears…. ( Jim Murphy is a very visible case in point)

    Thank you Peter for an eloquent and thought provoking piece – I wish I shared your optimism that a shared future can be acheived by collaboration and civilised behaviour,
    I agree that we all have to try to put our best selves forward – but I have been disappointed too often since 1979 …
    What I have learned is that when it comes , change happens fast and never smoothly or predictably
    The storm is coming….. and I hope the 1.6 million plus are ready…….because there is a ride ahead……
    and we will need each others support more than ever…..bring it on…..!

  22. The article sets out an interesting farce, but no more than that. Mojo calls it better. Reality is the 40+ SNP MP’s elected this May will prove useless against 500+ red and blue tories. All that will be on offer to Scotland is the current few more poisonous crumbs suggested by Dave’s buddy Lord ‘Deutsche Bank’ Smith. SNP MP’s will have no option but to declare what they and their/our party actually stand for at every UK general election – independence. That will require a little backbone, nothing more. On the positive side we will not need any offices at Westminster for SNP MP’s. The ‘No’ voters (mainly pensioners, middle class professionals, and English folk) will be unlikely to take to the streets. Even if they did, who cares.

  23. The major stumbling block is Scottish labour. How it became the hollowed wreck it is today will be the subject of quite a few studies I am sure. Right now, they are a truly wretched sight. Politically fat and lazy on decades of anti Tory sentiment. mixed in with a toxic brew of a rightwards drift ideologically and sheer bloody minded, swivel eyed dishonesty. They now look and sound Tory. They boasted about how they got the tories to pay for the better together campaign. They had Alistair Darling attend a tory party conference and got a standing ovation. They brought up George Osborne who proceeded to take a massive crap on Scotland and its place in the union, then thanked him for it. Lastly…who can forget, the truly wretched sight of Lamont and some labour people parading with big stupid grins outside Asda, after that firms Chief executive had threatened the Scottish people of dire consequences of voting yes.

    Scottish labour are slowly but surely being killed off by kindness. The kindness of the MSM that allows that party to belch out one brain fart after another and never corrects it or questions it. That labour in turn are fatally wounding these media outlets and creating a breach of trust that is widening every day.

    The party needed a rocket fired up its arse in 2007, but they picked Ian Gray. In 2011 they needed a massive spiritual and political kick in the head, so as to readjust their priorities to what mattered most to Scotland. Instead they picked Johann Lamont. After sneering and smearing their way through the indyref and destroying their credibility at the same time, they decided the answer to their, all to easy to understand slump in the polls, was Mr Murphy and Kezia Dugdale. These two decided the problem was the price of the polished turd they’re selling, and got a certain Mr McTernan to handle their strategy and Blair McDougall to handle the sales pitch. One man whose contempt for Scotland is a matter of record, and the other who honestly declared that there was no positive case for union.

    Scotland doesn’t need a labour party to cater to the left wing. There is already a number of candidates for that. But labour does need to die in Scotland so those parties can completely rid themselves of a toxic legacy. Any revival of the left in Scotland needs to keep UK labour are arms length.

    I would say in closing that the old notions of left and right politics are relics of a bygone era. We need new parties and ideologies for the future.

  24. The good people of England like what’s left of their empire and like things just the way they are. Why would they vote for a union on equal terms with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? Let’s not kid ourselves the only way that the people of Scotland can get a fair society is independence.

  25. As a supporter of independence I have to say that I really don’t like what I’m constantly reading of the pro-Indy camp taking the election of a large number of MP’s more or less for granted on the basis of current opinion polls when there are still three months still to go to May 2015.

    It would be far better for everyone in pro-Indy if the focus was on how we can achieve the aim of securing a very large number of pro-Indy MP’s rather than taking it for granted.

    • It would be easier and more honest if the SNP stood as it usually does in a UK general election to secure a mandate for independence, rather than pitifully to meekly ask for more crumbs from 500 red and blue tories and permission to have tartan seats and nice offices at Westminster. If ‘Scots’ are satisfied with more crumbs and tartan seats and nice offices by the Thames, so be it. However if we choose independence, lets take it. The UK general election offers us the opportunity to again decide one way or another, irrespective of the 2014 referendum result.

      • I don’t think anyone is taking these seats for granted. I don’t think the author disagrees with you. But if we have a second referendum it is for the Scottish Government to decide.

        The SNP will keep it on the table, and you can see the Westminster austerity crew getting worried about that.

      • UDI the only route to Independence

      • # Darien. Softly, softly catchee monkey. The SNP have always said that the gaining of independence would be a gradual process. As an honest, open, efficient Scottish Government runs the country smoothly, the Scottish electorate will become more used to the idea of our running our own affairs in a manner that democratically suits the nation. Let’s not dive into another attempt at independence immediately. The last one was sprung on us when a majority of us was not ready for it.

  26. If a progressive and constructive future with our neighbour is desired we require simple uncomplicated independence and none of these messy ,complicated and unlikely distractions like Devo whatever or federalism.
    We can then negotiate freely from an independent position for a confederal British union, hopefully including the Republic of Ireland. Many might prefer we were suitors to the confederal Nordic union however.
    The notion of a federal UK state is a nonsense unless Scotland is reduced to the same status as Yorkshire and the power root would still remain in London. Hello Trident

  27. Caw canny,caw canny.Translation;Take it easy.
    An old skipping rope term on the playground.Turn the rope slowly so as not to strangle the person jumping.

  28. Many sections & supporters of the england/wales Greens seem to be presenting themselves within the UK and overseas (ie. Australia, via articles by adam ramsey) as a potential Syriza-like alternative to austerity in the UK. There is not even a nod to coalition politics or to the likelihood any parliamentary power the greens have after WM election will almost certainly come via cooperation with a far larger number of Scottish/SNP & a lesser number of Welsh/PC MPs (still more than the Greens), as polls still show Greens will get maybe a couple of MPs,maybe none.

    The’ Green surge’ is now presented as all greens own work, no flow on from indyref, SNP surge or scottish politics and its challenge to Labour. In so far as the Eng/Wales Greens are building alliances it is with the SNP & CP in an electoral anti austerity alliance. This is clearly not a Syriza like party or alliance led by marxists in alliance with greens & feminists, insofar as it is a coalition at all.

    Meanwhile russell brand still tells people not to vote until a UK version of Syriza shows up – which it may do in scotland sometime, but england? As he has no time for marxists/ old left who work for decades in social movts i’m not sure why should he take that as a model anyway. Brand’s politics often seem to = ‘ i’m not saying its not funny. it is for me i’ve got loads of money!’

    As usual there appears almost no humility in the english left, from comedians to left leaning parties, from greens and social democrats to old left marxists, while the non party affiliated eng/wales/NI social movt activists don’t get much of a voice, no surprise

    But how coalition politics with england can be built is important for scotland so long as scotland is still in the union. left coalition politics appears far more advanced in scotland – though nowhere near syriza or podemos/ govt readiness at present.it seems unlikely there will ever come a time when the english left recognizes this, apart from people like tariq ali & george monbiot. Probably only scotland has the incipient political culture and the potential parliamentary numbers to the left of labour at WM to take even a basic anti austerity movt forward at the moment. no amount of protest will lead to any comprehensive economic & social policy change without parliamentary representatives that will implement it, in the current situation. i think scotland would need to take a major part in leading a UK left coalition or party alliance, if there was such a thing. If the true left and not just the SNP do well at Holyrood elections that may become more obvious to the english left, but i don’t think they will ever be able to accept this, unfortunately for the english & UK working class. Wales may be another story.

    The entire scottish left, arguably from its right wing in SNP to its true left in SSP & sections of RIC decided independence was necessary to go forward & that still looks right.

    • Kate

      I think you are dead right in your conclusions. ‘Left’ politics in England are an object of ridicule. ‘Socialist (insert name) parties, TUSC, Left Unity etc. etc. gather about 1% of the vote and typically lose their deposits in elections. (Then there are some poor sad left-leaning souls who persist with the delusion that they will still one day ‘pull’ the Labour Party back to the left).

      Almost no-one in England is interested in Socialism (thank goodness). Outside of the above hard-left groups, the people who purport to do so, or call themselves ‘centre-left’ really mean they want their 90s / 00s boom and the privileges and entitlements that came with it back. (No chance).

      Too many people living in England have done too well over the past 35 years out of there not being socialism to be interested in the idea of there being any socialism.

      The reason that Syriza and Podemos exist and have the level of support the do (but remember Syriza only got just over a third of the vote – they are not the ‘natural party of government’) is because the situation in Greece and Spain is completely different to that in Scotland / the UK – and we should be glad it isn’t and is never likely to be so. (The Greek’s problems are largely of their own making – they elected their corrupt Governments controlled by corrupt families that own most of Greece’s economy and lived high on the hog while they could – “neoliberalism” etc. is not at the root of Greece’s problems)

      I don’t understand what an ‘anti-austerity’ movement is though, other than deficit reduction and paying down the debts. (Even Independence wouldn’t have ‘ended austerity’ … an independent Scotland still wouldn’t have any more money – you’d have had the same or less. For me, the best a Yes vote would have given you would have been ‘no change’).

      How many people are there in your Scottish ‘true left’ btw? (serious question).

      My view is that if you are interested in that kind of thing, you should go your own way (though you may find some friends at scale in Wales). Outside of Left Unity etc, the vast, vast majority of people living in England are not interested in ‘socialism’ (and those on the ‘centre left’ that claim to be really just want their client state 90s / 00s boom back.

      • If you don’t understand what anti austerity is you have drunk deep of TINA kool-ade. Go take a look at the Commonweal, they have all sorts of alternatives. Austerity was the wrong medicine back at the start and it’s the wrong one now. The whole aim, if you recall was to shrink the state so the private sector could thrive. Except it hasn’t, it hasn’t here, it hasn’t in Greece, it hasn’t in Spain.

  29. Why does everyone think the solution is political? A year ago, I had no idea how rotten the state of the UK had become.
    Wow, do we have a well informed population now. So, we need to think about –
    1. How to expand this information UK wide – young people especially. The marches in London show not all Londoners are greedy capitalists. People want change only when their own situation becomes intolerable.
    2. Give hope that the system can change. This doesn’t just mean political – though unelected carpetbaggers need to go. The positive money campaign has economic ideas. National Collective has creative ideas. The media has to be involved – online, print and anything else we can think of. Some progress has been made here.
    Educate people…and give them hope – it sounds like the Yes campaign …magnified.

    • Hi Sheena,

      “… shows not all Londoners are greedy capitalists”. Honestly, was that your understanding or impression a year ago … that the entirety of the population of London (13m) was made up of ‘greedy capitalists’ – ? And the statement that ‘people want change only when their own situation becomes intolerable” is deeply patronising and condescending. What are people doing at elections every 4-5 years?

      What are ‘unelected carpetbaggers’ – ?

      Positive money suggests replacing MMT and fractional reserve banking with a system who’s principles appear to be grounded in pre-industrial or even pre-specialisation society. It tends to get support from people like the Greens – who are proposing the reduction of economic growth and falling living standards. They have a point in trying to save the world, but ultimately it is madcap and is never going to secure broad support.

      Educate people – are you telling me that we’re not? The UK (still) has one of the best education systems in the world. Or is something dreadful going on in Scotland that I don’t know about? (I hear that standards and achievement is falling and class sizes are rising – but I hope you’re not just abandoning education wholesale).

  30. The SNP should be campaigning for independence in May, not for tartan seats at Westminster. The SNP are assured of at least 45% of the vote, and are now polling higher, which means they will return a majority of Scots MP’s. The UK union was created through a majority of Scots MP’s and can be dissolved in the same manner. The SNP should therefore seek to secure a mandate for independence from the Scottish people in May, just as they have done at previous UK general elections.

  31. In order to get the scottish unionists onside we have to get them involved. It need not be a proindy v naeindy debate. If we assume for a minute that independence has happened what would a new modern Treaty of Union look like. What is it precisely that the scots Unionists want and can they articulate it into specifics rather than just a touchy feely emotional thingy? if this could be discussed and put into a document we could then offer independence with a new treaty that would carry the vast bulk of scots forward to a new future. We are proposing new treaties with the EU NATO etc so another one with rUK shouldn’t be such a big deal.

    We seem to be fighting against ourselves instead of working for a win win outcome.

  32. A serious question that needs to be asked is can Labour and the SNP work together in Government? Because this is realistically the best scenario any Pro Indy supporter can hope for within the Westminster Parliament. I honestly don’t see how. I believe the SNP can win concessions on specific issues and agendas but in order to work as a coalition Government agreement has to be reached on every single issue and agenda brought up in Parliament or it doesn’t get passed. The SNP will be forced to swallow some bitter pills within a coalition arrangement with a party oh so polar opposite. Will their new found support understand and support the necessity of the bitter pills or will they develop a perception that the party they rested so much hope on was no different after all? I believe the longer the SNP try to maintain a large presence within the Westminster Parliament the greater the chance that they will succumb to voter apathy at home. The SNP must continue to hold tightly to their main agenda of full Independence and never let their support forget or perceive they have lost sight of this as their only goal.

  33. A lot of Labour comments on here it seems. Labour and the Unions have sold out and are of no use to anyone except the Tories, who are made to look smart by comparison. Suggestions of the way forward from these sources are a sick joke. Who predicted that the Scots (as opposed to the Scotch) would refuse to get back in the box after the referendum? To the extent that the Scots refuse to give up, positive change will take place. No-one can predict exactly how that will pan out because many other things will change around us which will affect us. We have to keep on driving forward relentlessly to a better place. More and more criticism of the SNP these days. Nicola may even get belligerent – ha bloody ha, she will be described as such anyway whatever she does. People who support wars, nuclear weapons and state sponsored poverty will describe her as such – what an irony wot. Unionist propaganda being disseminated on this site. I’m not complaining, just observing. Time will tell what impact it will have.

    • I don’t think these Unionist trolls are convincing anyone. Most of us are just ignoring them. We’ve heard it all before, and far better put that by these third-raters. The very fact that they bother to come here at all shows how desperate they are getting and that we are being effective in changing the narrative.

      • Offering a different, alternative, balanced or subtly nuanced view is not ‘trolling’. You are free to ignore whatever or whomever you wish. Some people come to places like this because they enjoy the debate. If you don’t enjoy the debate you are free to ignore whatever or whomever you please. Calling other people ‘desperate’ at best indicates your desire to close down the debate (or hope it just goes away) or at worst underlines your own desperation.

      • Yawn. We’ve been through these ‘different, alternative, balanced, and subtly nuanced views’ (my, how you laud yourself) a million times on these boards. Is all. I’m sick of arguing with pointless Nawbags. They don’t listen and we’re not going back into our boxes, so handle it. We went through these arguments a million times before the indyref and a million times after. There’s no persuading you and there’s no shifting us. So what’s the point. The debate is over. Some were convinced others weren’t. The question on the ballot paper was SHOULD Scotland be an independent country. Not COULD. Nobody seriously doubts it could. That was never a serious consideration. Even Alistair Darling admitted that. The issue was, and still is, SHOULD. For SHOULD to hold traction the Union needs to serve a purpose. It doesn’t.

      • If you really are ‘sick of arguing with pointless “Nawbags” (what a charming fellow you are) then really, you should stay off sites like these, or indeed, stay off the internet (though that would be your decision, and no-one would force you). “They” don’t listen – all of them? I refuse to believe that every ‘Nawbag’ wouldn’t listen to you – I am certain that many of them would be happy to listen to you, and engage in civilised debate with you. “They don’t listen” just sounds like you are an absolutist and not interested in anyone else’s point of view (which is part of the reason you failed to win the referendum).

        How do you know there’s no persuading me? Right now there is no persuading me because notwithstanding anything else, there was no credible answer to the currency and EU membership questions. Scotland’s GDP and GVA provides a foundation for convincing people, though of course it is much more complicated (and nuanced) than that.

        That’s an interesting perspective on ‘should’ and ‘could’. However I’d just say should is the past tense of ‘shall’; something that will take place, something that is inevitable. I might say that if I were a No voter, if asked the question ‘will an independent scotland take place, is it inevitable, voting No meant independence will not take place and is not inevitable.

        And the debate is never over. That way lies authoritarianism, and totalitarianism. Never state that or wish for the debate to be over.

    • Hello Arthur. Three serious questions:

      1. On what basis do you assume / insist that there are ‘a lot of “Labour” comments’? (I’ve voted Labour in the past, though not recently, and most recently Lib Dem – and feel free to scoff at that if you wish).

      2. “More and more criticism of the SNP these days”. That’s an apparently closed statement, but is there anything else you are trying to imply or explicitly state in that? I would be worried if you were saying – or demanding – that the SNP warrant no criticism, or must not be criticised. I might be very worried if I were a Scottish voter who wanted Independence (democracy, self-determination etc.) but was not an SNP voter. In a liberal democracy, all political parties are fair game for criticism, and obviously there must be no limits on criticism.

      3. What do you mean by ‘state sponsored poverty’ and by what mechanisms does the state sponsor this poverty?

      ps – I take your point about belligerence and there’s nothing I can come back on there.

      • There was no answer to the currency or EU questions because there were no genuine questions to answer. The No camp didn’t ask if there were potential problems with a currency union they simply pretended they intended to create one in the face of all the overwhelming evidence that pointed to the fact that it would have damaged their own rUK economy more than the Scottish economy not to have a currency union.
        As for the EU what was the question? There was none! Once again there was an assertion that Scotland would have automatically been excluded from the EU for having the audacity to exercise their democratic right to vote for its own self determination. A ludicrous claim on so many levels. So many bare faced lies told on the subject. Never mind the fact that the negotiation process would have occurred while Scotland was still within the UK and therefore still within the EU but the fact that Scotland wasn’t becoming a brand new nation state but is already a nation state within the EU!!!!!
        So don’t go lying and spinning and waffling about having doubts with regards to currency and the EU when you know fine you’re only reason for supporting the union is agenda driven hyperbole and jingoistic in its ludicrous misconceived beliefs.
        There isn’t a single positive reason or case from Scotlands perspective for it to remain within such a corrupt unbalanced unfavourable union as a tiny minority concern overwhelmed in structure influence power and representation by a greater self serving foreign state. And I know for a fact you couldn’t produce one now if you tried.
        Support the union if that is your need but just stop lying about why. It is sickening and pathetic listening and reading it.

  34. In response to Mike

    I don’t think there ever be any coalition between Labour and the SNP. Perhaps confidence and supply, but even that looks unlikely given the price the SNP will ask. Looks like chaos might ensue.

    • Lord Ashcroft polling indicates that Labour – SNP coalition would be SNP voters preferred outcome for GE. That’s academic though – Millibean is going to lose. Conservatives edging ahead now in seats and votes. And, constitutional convention seems to say that in the event of a hung parliament, the sitting government has precedence in trying to form a government (and we had a coalition – god knows).

      I don’t think there’ll be total chaos – I think there’ll be some kind of emergency government (ok, quite chaotic) and we’ll all be having another go before Xmas.

      Putting everything else aside, I think a Conservative – Lib Dem – SNP coalition would be best for the country economically, but there you go.

      (The Lib Dems are not going to be ‘wiped out’, there is no evidence to suggest this – they’ll have 18 – 20 seats).

      • Any sort of arrangement between the SNP and the Tories is not going to happen. After thinking Labour would be the largest party I am beginning to think it might now be the Tories. UKIP have peaked and the thought of an accommodation between Labour and the SNP might just firm up the Tory vote in England. The SNP will have to be careful as they could well face a backlash as they are more likely to cause a Tory government than join up in helping a Labour government. They might think they will win either way and may even prefer a Tory government on the quiet but it took them nearly 20 years to recover from March 1979 and if they are in any way seen as the cause of a Tory government
        It could prove a disaster for them.

  35. Hello BBH,

    With regard to state sponsored poverty: from Thatcher, through Blair to the Tory/Lib alliance, successive UK Governments have actively pursued a low wage economy and Milliband and co have committed themselves to continue it if they were to be elected. In work poverty is a direct consequence of that policy. In tandem with it has been a policy of undermining of workers rights leading to the scapegoating of those who rely on benefits, the unemployed and immigrants. The condition of the most vulnerable in our society is a direct consequence of the policies introduced by various shades of Tory and carried on by acquiescent Labour/Libdems. All backed up and stirred up by their respective media. All in the interests of their corporate chums. That’s what I mean by state sponsored poverty.

    With regard to the SNP: the media day in day out set out to demonise the SNP. I joined the SNP a very long time ago as the vehicle to bring about Scottish self government. That is its primary function and it has done remarkably well in my opinion. Inevitably the government it provides at any point in time is going to reflect its membership and the conditions pertaining in Scotland. As such it is always going to be out of sync in some respects with a proportion of its membership and the country. The SNP does not support violence in the middle east, nuclear weapons or state sponsored poverty. It does seek to ensure that the Scottish NHS is a public service. Given those facts it is a country mile ahead of the UK parties. I expect the MSM to monster the SNP, I get impatient with and question the motives of those who seem to think that it is obligatory to back up the MSM by echoing those criticisms on this site.

    With regard to my scoffing at those who support the UK parties: I am not disdainful of those who do so, I am actually very angry at them. There is absolutely nothing that those who support Scottish self-government want that would be detrimental to the rest of the UK. I have no desire to see English, Welsh or Northern Irish people experiencing poverty, being coerced into killing people in the middle east or into accepting the spending of scarce resources on WMD.

  36. What will become clear to those Scots for whom the penny hasn’t already dropped,is that Westminster IS England’s parliament,whose continuing love affair with Thatcheromics and it’s toxic by-products would have been rejected by us a long time ago had we the free democratic choice.
    Policies which result in food banks and elderly people dying prematurely because they can’t heat their homes adequately would never have passed muster in Scotland and any politician who openly suggested such a thing would never have been elected to office (perhaps with a few lone exceptions).
    Those who have supported these policies covertly are now going to pay the price and will,hopefully be swept from power in May.
    A large block of SNP MPs will ensure that the constitutional democratic deficit that Scotland currently suffers will be exposed for all to see and,as a minimum,result in full economic and social welfare policies being repatriated to Holyrood.
    Thatcher destroyed the Union,not Scottish separists.

  37. “… in engaging properly with those progressive individuals and institutions who weren’t on our side in that referendum …”

    If they were on the NO side, in what way can they be described as “progressive”? You really lost me there, Peter.

    • One could debate the meaning or definition of ‘progressive’ for a long time and get nowhere.

      However there are plenty of people who would not identify as ‘conservative’ and to the casual observer would not appear to be ‘conservative’ for whom the creation of new artificial barriers would not be a ‘progressive’ ideal to them.

      Similarly there are people (again, who might not be conservative) who would instinctively not associate ‘nationalism’ (whether it’s ‘civic’ or otherwise, or however you dress it up) with being progressive – in fact they’d associate nationalism as being non-progressive, or the opposite of progressive.

      Insisting that only those supporting independence were or can be progressive, and that those not supporting independence are and must be excluded from a supposedly progressive group, is not a particularly rational, reasoned or defensible position.

      I’d go so far as to suggest its another reason why you lost the referendum; ‘right’ Vs ‘wrong’, ‘good guys’ Vs ‘bad guys’, almost ‘good Vs evil’ – othering at its worst.

      • We are all nationalists, of sorts, if we believe in a nation. Some believe in a Scottish nation, others in an English nation, while some believe in the artificial construct British nation. Each nation has its own culture, its own way of thinking and doing things. British culture largely reflects the more dominant English culture and seeks to impose this culture on ‘colonial’ Scotland; this is what we know as Anglicisation. It is this Anglicisation that Scots are rebelling against, and have been for centuries. It is an alien culture to many Scots, and always will be. Scottish culture is defined and dominated by progressive forces, whereas British culture is progressive to a rather more limited extent. No other example is needed other than the fact that British culture has given Scotland right wing Tory governments and their laws we did not vote for over the past 30 years. That form of rejected governance is in itself another form of imposed Anglicisation. This is not to ignore the fact a relatively narrow social order Scottish ‘Establishment’ is dominated by high-level British culture; i.e. these are the people who still own and to a large extent manage Scotland and its key institutions, despite an SNP Government. But, at the end of the day we are all nationalists even if we are pro or anti union, though the nationalism of unionists appears confused in the sense they seek to be both ‘English and British’ or ‘Scottish and British’, rather ignoring the inconvenient fact that both Scotland and England were dissolved of statehood/nationhood in 1707.

      • Two points re BBH

        1. This is boring and has no relevance to the thoughtful piece posted by Peter above.
        2. Is this Bernicia in another guise?

      • Well I don’t ‘believe’ in a nation(s) I believe in me and my family and friends. Is that an artificial construct too? Guess I’m not a nationalist.

        I spent the first 22 years of my life in Scotland and the subsequent 18 in (the north west) England. I find the ‘culture’ (which isn’t homogenous) more or less the same, people just talk with different accents.

        I don’t recognise the ‘Anglicisation’ you describe, but then again I just don’t think that way.

        I’m not convinced by your assertion that Scottish culture is ‘defined’ by progressive features. That sounds a bit romantic to me. I’ve met too many from Scotland who are quite the opposite.

        Parts of Scotland remaining the home of sectarian bigotry is something of a fly in the ointment, no?

        I don’t know if you can claim that ‘British Culture’ has given ‘right wing Tory Governments’. The Thatcher government in 1979 only got 44% of the vote, and their vote share has declined steadily since then to the 32% ish it is now.

        There seems to be some revisionism here too. You only have to go back to the 50s to see that conservatism was just as popular as left wing politics in Scotland. I think it’s a bit of a stretch to state that ‘Scottish culture’ is ‘defined’ purely by the last 50 years or so.

        Also, Scotland did get the – Labour – governments it voted for from 1997 – 2010. I know that possibly more than half of the people who once voted Labour are now going to turn away from them, but that doesn’t negate the fact that the Scottish people voted for the ‘evil Blairites’ at the time. (Because between 1997 – 2008, enough people were having a great time)

        No, I won’t accept that I’m a nationalist unionist because I’m not a nationalist nationalist (?). I just don’t see the world and my place in it in that way.

        I see myself as Scottish because I was born in a place called Scotland represented by a line on a map. I see myself as British because I live in another bit of the British Isles now, and I guess because on my passport it says ‘British’.

        But I don’t identify or define myself in these ways. What defines me is me, my actions, and my relationships with my family and friends I guess.

        I’ll put my cards on the table – I find the whole concept of ‘nationalism’ – ‘civic’ or otherwise – rather silly.

      • Dear John,

        I am sorry I am boring you. Of course, you are free to ignore this and leave the conversation at any time.

        Conversations evolve and develop and sometimes move in different directions. Do you get out much?

        If we assume that Bernicia’s name is actually Bernicia, my name is not Bernicia, so I am not Bernicia.

      • Dear John,

        I am sorry I am boring you. Of course, you are free to ignore this and leave the conversation at any time.

        Conversations evolve and develop and sometimes move in different directions. Do you get out much?

        If we assume that Bernicia’s name is actually Bernicia, my name is not Bernicia, so I am not Bernicia.

    • Do you think that resurrecting a 300 year old border, that creating an artificial barrier between those of us who live on these British Isles IS progressive?

      • The European Single Market removed such barriers, in case you did not know. If you travel between The Netherlands and Belgium, or between Belgium and France, or between Ireland and N. Ireland, you will not see any border barriers. The Scots will not raise any such border barriers. However I recall your Better Together ‘chums’ threatened that they would raise border barriers. Maybe you should contact your Better Together chums for their latest progressive ‘policy’ wheeze on that?

    • Dear John,

      I am sorry I am boring you. Of course, you are free to ignore this and leave the conversation at any time.

      Conversations evolve and develop and sometimes move in different directions. Do you get out much?

      If we assume that Bernicia’s name is actually Bernicia, my name is not Bernicia, so I am not Bernicia.

  38. Bernicia was smarter. This one’s a plonker.

    • Resorting to abuse instead of responding to the points at hand tells me all I need to know about you. You have no cogent argument to put across, only abuse. What does that tell you?

      You are free to leave the conversation at any time.

  39. I don’t think we’re talking about barriers as in physical barriers (though I think Millibean started talking about checkpoints, but the number of people listening to that clown grows smaller every day). .

    We’re talking about disrupting the interconnected and integrated economy & trading block of the UK, where England is the consumer of about 70% of your stuff.

    It was not clear how that would be maintained, affected or disrupted by the process of independence, and what the risks would be around that.

    And I’ve no doubt you’ll argue until your blue in the face, but on balance of probabilities, Yes voters were voting to leave the bigger trading block, the EU, with no guarantees about when re-admission would take place. (This would not have been Scotland’s decision – it would have been the EU’s decision). Of course a great many No voters came to this same conclusion on the basis of the information presented, and that’s another reason you lost the referendum.

    • You are correct, border barriers are not only physical. There are I believe such things as trade barriers and tariff barriers, and a host of other restrictions that might be imposed on movement of commerce and people. As it happens, Scotland maintains a positive trade balance, whereas the UK as a whole has a chronic trade imbalance. A positive trade balance is necessary to achieve higher levels of economic growth. Scotland in fact ‘buys’ rather more from ‘England’ than it sells the other way, given that almost all our retail logistics is full trailer loads northbound. However, much of this traffic is actually imports to England, as the latter now produces little. But essentially this logistics arrangement, imposed on Scotland, only adds costs to the Scottish economy. Like Ireland, Scotland really needs to reorient its trade away from England, towards our historically larger and more remunerative markets on the Continent and in Scandinavia; that is where most of our trade is actually for and from. Independence would allow that to happen to a far greater degree, thereby facilitating higher economic growth. There is little point in Scotland being dominated any longer by an economically weak trading partner. As in any commercial joint-venture, once one partner becomes more or less insolvent, the JV ends. That is the case with the UK JV.

  40. MBC is correct England at least the English establishment/Crown have been shafting us for hundreds of years,we are taught nothing of our history hence a lot of the ignorance and people adhering to the Glorious British Empire myth,”ignorance is bliss” and suits the establishment,as far as Scotland is concerned we do not need another load of “political agendas”from the established parties as they have inmo been the cause of most of the malaise,free up the people free up their thought processes encourage those that dream those that are visionarys,we are a small country rich in resources,let us elect forward thinking people not bound by political doctrine/agendas,we need to remember that all do not follow left/right but all have to be encouraged to be included.I will vote SNP and hope that they take off the political blinkers and listen to our people.

  41. The fly in this sensible ointment is the growing right wing politic in England and the inward looking ‘English’ nationalism being driven by UKIP and the Tory right wing. How do you get the current English sense of ‘they run the Union’ and the rest of us are just ‘scroungers’ turned back to the idea of one UK of nations?

    Next up is the problem the English see Westminster as their ‘parliament’ so why should they split England up into Northumbria, Mercia, Wessex, Sussex and London just to suit the ‘sweaty jocks’? That is asking the English to give up on a lot of historical and mythical ‘democratic’ baggage. How does Wales fit in? As a stand alone nation or as part and parcel of the English State constrained as it is by English Law and practice.

    I agree that federation is the only future for the continuation of the current UK Union. I have made much the same argument on the LSE UK Constitution site but I just can not see an English electorate, constantly fed negative propaganda about the Scots and the SNP in particular, being able to swallow this idea anytime soon. Especially as they are currently going Magna Carta mad, peddling the myths of Magna Carta rather than the reality it never was actually enacted in law and had little to do with the ordinary man or woman in England and everything to do with the rights and privileges of the Barons.

    • I get upset when I see the polls that suggest the Tories will be left with a single seat and Labour with anything between four and ten after the next General Election. Nothing less than the complete removal of these toxic parties from Scotland will be sufficient.

  42. BBH
    I might or might not leave these conversations but I will obviously blank you and Bernicia (and whoever you become next month) and look for comments relevant to various interesting articles posted by Bella. I wonder what underlies your query about me getting out much? I suppose that is for you to reflect on. On the odd occasions I do manage to get out, good manners suggests that when someone has gone to the trouble of putting together a thoughtful piece inviting reflection, I try to converse about that if I feel able and generally walk away when another listener takes over the conversation to push their own no doubt well rehearsed agenda.

    Thank you
    John Page

    • John,

      Your suggestion that ‘I am someone called Bernicia’ seems to indicate you believe that anyone with view that conflicts with your own / or the consensus here is one of many heads of some mythical hydra-like creature. Is that rational?

      If you’d bothered to look, you’ll see that I’ve responded directly to the topic of the original poster – and the conversation has gone in some other directions too. Is that not allowed?

      My query about whether you get out much relates to my second point. Conversations are not one-dimensional or linear, they evolve. One dimensional conversations are rather dull.

      “taking over the conversation” with my “well rehearsed agenda”. You’ve moved into ad-hominem now.

      I can see you’re getting irritated now, and I honestly can’t see what your problems is (possibly other than I have a different point of view to you, and you’re having trouble tolerating this).

  43. A great deal of mis-direction in the article and several of the posts. Those writing obviously followed a different YES campaign to the one I did.

    The right to make different choices in an attempt to build a fairer society.

    We probably will make mistakes but they will be OUR mistakes and we will have the power to correct them.

    No one claimed Utopia the morning after a YES vote but it would be a nice direction of travel.

    You only have to look at how the Labour Party has prostituted itself for power to know that the values North and South have become too great.

    It is too late for the UK. I don’t want a Party such as Labour in power on the basis of “we are not quite as far right as the Tories”.

    • My feeling is that the dysfunction in Westminster would end up with the electorate facing a binary choice between team evil and team stupid. With the tories having bagged the label evil some time ago, it pretty much left labour with the stupid label. And my…don’t they wear it well?

      The idea of labour being in power, makes me feel as queasy as the prospect of cameron winning again. The idea of Murphy being first minister terrifies me.

  44. Ok… so you think a SNP + labour deal is a good choice?… NEVER… the Scottish branch have had years of power and have worked hard to exclude anyone who they deemed unfit… they are almost a criminal enterprise… carving up seats… showing nepotism … controlling so much of our lives…. yet what has actually changed….. almost nothing…. we have the barest of infrastructure that an OIL exporting country has…. our road network is pathetic… the railways are non existent in some parts of Scotland… drive past Dounreay & travel on a singe track road …..we are living in a country that has so many natural untapped assets that could & should have been utilised for the Scottish people… yet we have a land system that favours the estates…. whose choice was that…. where 50% of ALL land is owned by some 400 + families… all of this was done ..not under the dreaded tories watch … but with the open connivance of the Scottish labour party… so …. NO WAY… we can & must travel our own path… without the aid of the labour party scoundrels…. whether they be from north or south of the border….

    It appears to me that you see the labour group as having something worthwhile to contribute…. they are devoid of ideas… they have such luminaries as lord ffsfoukes… or gordo… or jimbo… or the female contingent of curran & lamont…. If ever there was a reason never to put an ‘X’ in the box marked Labour this vacuous, gut churning group is it….. you also seem to feel that Scots alone can not use common sense and work out what is best for this country…. WHY… why do you feel the need to involve others who are as remote from Scotland as your average Nepal farmer… ???? do the Dutch ask the Belgains… ?????… no… if ever labour and the SNP form any relationship… then count me out…. that would be a seminal act of betrayal…

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