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Showing posts with label Independence Lite. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Independence Lite. Show all posts

Friday, 21 October 2011

It’s that indy thing–ye cannae rattle a Nat

Every time Andrew Neil questions a Scottish Nationalist politician, it's worth 1000 votes for independence. Gordon Brewer knows, understands, but has to go through the motions of Paxo-like faux naivety.

But the metropolitan media just don't get it, and persist in the same ludicrous, simplistic questions.

You can't rattle a Nat, Andrew. Historical inevitability - and their country - is on their side. But keep it up, please, you're doing a fine job for the independence of your country - that was Scotland, wasn't it? Or is all that long forgotten?

Monday, 22 August 2011

The Referendum – and a Trojan Horse

The independence referendum is now the defining issue in virtually all Scottish political discussion, and a significant one in UK politics. Political points are made on a range of issues, but with the independence question always explicit or implicit. UK politicians and media commentators have been wrenched on to the Scottish narrative, whether they like it or not – and they clearly don’t.

Michael Moore is reported today as demanding that Holyrood stop being negative about issues and cheer up. While the office of Secretary of State for Scotland still exists, we have something to be negative about, and as for cheering up – why not resign, Michael, and give us all an excuse for a party?

Tuition fees rears its head again as the reality bites for England. Sir Malcolm Rifkind, KCMG says the Scottish Government’s position is unfair. This archetypal Scottish Tory, who served as a minister under Major and Thatcher, a former Secretary of State for Scotland, and a failed Scottish politician - dumped twice by the Scottish voters - found a safe haven as MP for Kensington and Chelsea, which is about as far from the realities of Scotland as one can get. He has nothing of value to say to Scotland. He is exactly the kind of Scottish product of the Union and the British Establishment that Scotland can do without – a decision that Scots have already made, about him and his party.

John Redwood, the man who had trouble with the words of the Welsh national anthem, thinks that the Scottish Government is using the tuition fees issue “to radicalise the English”. They are not, John – they are living up to their manifesto commitment to maintain a key Scottish value – free education for all – and they have used their powers legally and properly in a devolved Parliament to do so. Dare I suggest that, on this issue and many others, it appears to be the Coalition Government – and before them the Labour Government – who are trying to radicalise the English by their disastrous policies, greed, and venality.

But let me comfort you, John,  by saying that I am trying to radicalise the English, at every opportunity I get, to recognise that the root of their problems is not the Scots or the Welsh but the Union – a failed, corrupt political system. I plead guilty as charged.

Radicalise, England – regain your country and your self respect – dump the Union, and with it the Lords, the knights, the barons and the whole corrupt mechanism of patronage, wealth and undemocratic institutions. You have nothing to lose but your Garters!


I have requested many times that the Scottish National Party, the Government of Scotland, clarify their position on, what for me, are the fundamental issues on Scotland’s independence – nuclear weapons, nuclear bases, foreign policy and fiscal control. To try and focus the debate on these fundamentals, I wrote my own little credo of two key principles and three core objectives, and offered it for consideration and downloading where appropriate.

The referendum on Scotland's independence

I have no idea how many people share these views, inside or outside the Scottish National Party. I do know that if you are a supporter of the Labour Party, the Tory Party or the Liberal Democrat party that, either you do not support these views – since all three are opposed to Scotland independence, committed to the Union and to the nuclear deterrent – or you are in a state of doublethink, entertaining two or more contradictory beliefs at the same time.

So I feel it is reasonable to ask the Scottish Government to be clear on its stance on these vital issues. But I do not believe that the Scottish Government must – or should – respond to clamorous demands from those diametrically opposed to independence to spell out every detail of policy and procedure and the exact structure of the independence agreement before the referendum and before the detailed negotiations on the terms – assuming a YES vote to independence.

The demand for more detail comes also from other voices and groups, who range from those fully committed in Scotland’s independence, through those as yet undecided trying to evaluate the pros and cons, to business, financial and commercial groups, and the main religious groups. I accept fully the rights of these groups to express their views on what kind of independence they want to see, and to use the media and whatever direct lobbying clout they may have to influence the Scottish Government.

But I do not accept their right to try to force the Scottish Government, a government with a secure and decisive mandate from the Scottish people, to give a blow-by-blow account of their policy debates and the minutiae of policy in every area that could possibly arise, at a time when the date for a referendum has not been set, and may be two or even three years away.

No country seeking its independence has ever behaved in this way. They have either seized their independence by revolution or by velvet means, e.g. America, by a war of independence and Slovenia, by a non-violent secession – a velvet revolution, by a long period of passive resistance – India – or by a longer process of gradualism and evolution.

I reiterate two of the paragraphs from my little downloadable credo -

I am prepared to trust the elected government of Scotland and the team it selects to negotiate all matters relating to these principles and objectives. I expect them to consult with the Scottish people on detailed measures only to the degree that it does not prematurely show their negotiating hand or constrain the necessary flexibility that all negotiators must have.

I do not require a second referendum to ratify the agreement reached on the detailed terms of the independence agreement, providing none of the deal breakers above are compromised.

The reality is that the outcome of the referendum, one that will fundamentally affect Scotland’s future for many years, perhaps decades, and which will have a significant influence on UK and European politics and Western alliances, will be determined, not by politicised interest groups, nor by the chattering classes (of whom I am one) but by ordinary Scottish voters, at all levels of Scottish society, voters who have little knowledge of the detail, but a good grasp of the main arguments and issues. Their decisions, like all decisions, will be influenced in part rationally, to the degree that the media, politicians and commentators give them accurate, unbiased facts, but also by emotional factors.

In a democracy, the people decide, as the Scottish people did on May 5th 2011, in defiance of the distorted information being pumped relentlessly at them by unionist politicians and their media and celebrity mouthpieces. The new media played a vital role in this, as they will in the referendum lead-up. Those in favour of Scotland’s independence need to exercise caution in how they discharge this vital duty and beware of being sucked into the agenda of those diametrically opposed to independence.

And the objective of their communications should be to persuade the voters, and to counter the torrent of misinformation, distortions and just plain lies that emanate from the unionist camp. Trying to influence politicians in the Scottish unionist parties is at best a marginal and probably fruitless endeavour, in my view, especially under the mistaken belief that bridges can be built across party lines. Bridges can be built with ordinary people – the electorate – but the only bridge that unionist politicians can cross is the one that leads from their own failed parties to one that unequivocally supports the independence of Scotland – and there is more than one – e.g. the Green Party - although only one that can deliver independence.

Any attempt to secure a common agenda with unionist politicians runs the obvious risk of a dilution of the very heart of the concept of independence, e.g. Independence Lite, fatal compromises that would keep Scotland in thrall to the UK. Bloodied and confused by their election rout, the unionist parties are making conciliatory noise about independence.

Be careful – I hear the creaking of a large Trojan horse entering the gate in these initiatives.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Defining Scotland’s independence

Before defining independence, let’s define dependence …

To depend is to be controlled by, or have an outcome or outcomes determined by something or somebody else.

To be dependant, a person or group of  people are reliant on another, especially for financial support, and be subordinate in some way to another.

Dependence is the state of being dependent and reliant on something or somebody else, and dependency is anything subordinate or controlled by another.

Scotland is currently all of the above, with some reduction of the the state of dependence resulting from The Scotland Act of 1998 and the establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. This partial reduction in dependency is called devolution – statutory granting of certain powers by the central state, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, to Scotland, which up to 1707 was a kingdom and independent state.

This devolution of powers is de jure unitary and the enabling legislation can be amended or revoked entirely by the central government - Westminster - by another act of the UK Parliament. Scotland has therefore a limited, and conceivably temporary reduction of its dependence.

Independence is the fact or process of independence – it is the state of not being dependent, or the process of ending a state of dependency.

Independence is the natural state of free individuals and free peoples, and the history of the human race on our planet has been in large part a history of struggle to achieve that independence or recover an independence lost to another.

But individuals always recognised their vulnerability in a hostile world, and that brought a recognition of the values of cooperation with others and the reality of a state of interdependence. Accepting therefore the necessity of a measure of dependency to achieve true independence was inevitable, providing the individual could opt out at any time, sacrificing the benefits of interdependency for personal freedom and accepting the vulnerability that came with that freedom.

Such early interdependent groups were always significantly influenced by two things – family and location. The bonds of kinship and the emergence of stable communities - when a nomadic lifestyle was supplanted by one based on agriculture - allied to geographical features and natural boundaries of territory led inevitably to the idea of a country and nation.

Scotland is a country and a nation, but it is not presently a state. Independence - and only full independence – will make it a state again. As the independent state of Scotland, it will still be interdependent, and that interdependence will be expressed through agreements on trade, commerce, culture and defence. Scotland will be part of the communities that we share these islands with, the English, Welsh and Irish peoples, of the European Community as a member state, of the Scandinavian communities as their near neighbours, and with the global community of nations through a seat in the United Nations.

But Scotland’s relationship with others will be by free and voluntary agreement as a sovereign nation state, and the agreements regulating its interdependence with others will be determined by negotiation and sealed by agreements and treaties that will last until Scotland decides that they no longer serve the interests of its people.

Such a relationship was intended by the Act of Union of 1707. That Union, initially of two free and sovereign kingdoms, has ceased to serve any purpose it may have had in its highly controversial and bitterly contested beginnings.

It will be ended when the Scottish people decide that they wish to be free of it, and they will make that historic choice soon, after full democratic debate, in a single referendum expressing their democratic will.

Any attempt to distort and misrepresent facts by biased and inaccurate media coverage, or attempts to frustrate that democratic will by the profoundly undemocratic forces of the British Establishment, or attempt to gerrymander the results or distort and pervert the process by the Westminster government will be recognised as such by the Scottish people, and they will respond appropriately within the law of Scotland, the spirit of international law and principles of liberty and equality.



The only principles I need to guide me in my choice are these -

Independence is the fact or process of independence – it is the state of not being dependent, or the process of ending a state of dependency.

Independence is the natural state of free individuals and free peoples

I want a nuclear-free Scotland – free of nuclear weapons and bases

I want a Scotland with full fiscal and tax raising powers

I want a Scotland with full control of its foreign policy, defence capability and the decision to commit its defence forces

I am prepared to trust my elected government to negotiate all matters relating to these objectives. I expect them to consult with the Scottish people on detailed measures only to the degree that it does not prematurely show their negotiating hand or constrain the necessary flexibility that all negotiators must have.

I do not require a second referendum to ratify the agreement reached on the detailed terms of the independence agreement, providing none of the deal breakers above are compromised.

I reject totally the rights of any other country or nation to vote in that referendum, or to claim a right of veto over it, or its results in any shape or form.

I am one voter and one voice, and I can only hope that a majority of those eligible to vote in a Scottish referendum will share my position. I will abide by the democratic decision of that referendum, providing it is conducted legally and properly in accordance with principles of Scots law, UK law where relevant under the Act of Union, and the principles of international and European law.

I will live with a result I don’t like providing these conditions are met, but I reserve my human right and my rights as a free Scot to reject any outcome where these conditions are not met.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Independence - the NO campaign has started, whether we like it or not …

This is Part One of a two-parter. Part Two will be later today, with luck.)

The independence question, on the back-burner while the unionists thought Labour was going to win on May 5th, rapidly returned to their agenda when the polls started to move in favour of the SNP, and reached a hysterical crescendo when the Scottish opposition leaders were trying to claw back the initiative in the last two weeks of the campaign, reducing Tavish Scott’s campaign to a broken record reiteration of the horrors of independence if Alex Salmond was re-elected.

The Scottish electorate were either entirely unmoved by these scare tactics or actually moved towards voting SNP by them.

The ensuing landslide victory left the unionist opposition in Scotland stunned, demoralised and swiftly thereafter, leaderless. Their independence bogeyman had failed to frighten the voters and had been revealed as a rather tattered, turnip-headed scarecrow, clad in intellectual rags.

But further south, the Westminster politicians, grubbing furiously in the Union trough, snorting, squealing and squabbling among themselves, suddenly stopped, as though a great bell had sounded. They looked up, looked north and realised that something of enormous significance to them had occurred, and that they were threatened. The pale dancing spectre of an independent Scotland had in a moment become a terrifying threat to their status, power and privilege.

And in that moment, independence moved to the centre of the stage of British politics.

Baron Forsyth of Drumlean, the Cassandra of the North, ran about in all directions, kilt flapping, screaming to the four winds “I told you so - I told you! Why didn’t you listen.” Great metropolitan media beasts shook off the trivial minutiae of the Westminster Village and recognised the smell of a real political story for once, salivating, their nostrils flaring.

And the proprietors of at least one Scottish newspaper became aware that the party they had belatedly and expediently backed, the SNP, had won more decisively than they had ever expected it to, in a devolved Parliamentary system designed to neuter them, but which had inexplicably failed to deliver the unionist goods.

A referendum on Scotland’s independence, instead of being something to campaign against, was now inevitable. The NO campaign started in that moment, initially incoherent and reactive, inchoate, but rapidly coalescing into a recognisable narrative, centring around a demand that the referendum be called now, rather than mid-term, and a focus on the exact nature and form of independence. The Scotsman strained and grunted and gave birth to Independence Lite, a feeble infant, immediately claiming Alex Salmond as the father, but nodding and winking knowingly in the direction of a minor SNP figure, lasted elected in 1992, Jim Sillars.

So the NO campaign has started, even though the referendum will not be held by the SNP Government until mid-term, unless the senior unionist politicians, currently contradicting each other daily on the question, get their act together and force an early referendum.

The SNP and Alex Salmond have only two real options in face of this - ignore the furore, and continue with the serious business of getting more powers from Westminster to stabilise and energise the economy and put more people in work, or recognise that the great game has already started, and start the YES campaign.

There is an old negotiating maxim that negotiations start when the announcement that there will be a negotiation is made, not at the date in the future when the parties sit down to talk. Negotiations start the moment you know you must negotiate, and for the referendum, that moment is now.

There is a tide in the affairs of men.

Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

Omitted, all the voyage of their life

Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

On such a full sea are we now afloat,

And we must take the current when it serves,

Or lose our ventures.

The tide to be taken is not the referendum date, but the referendum debate. Two years is not too long for a great debate that will determine the future of Scotland and the Union. I’m with Gordon Wilson - The YES campaign must start now.