Scottish Independence 59


Alex Salmond has endeavoured to launch a “National conversation” on Independence, with a White Paper leading to a referendum if he can get the Scottish parliament to legislate for one. New Labour has predictably responded that all this democracy is “A waste of money”, while presumably the ’50 billion they have squandered in Iraq and Afghanistan is money well spent.

I hope to contribute to the conversation myself by the publication of my next book. It is called Influence Not Power – Foreign Policy For An Independent Scotland, and will be published by Birlinn/Polygon in late Autumn. I will be finishing it over the next fortnight.

I strongly favour Independence for two basic reasons.

Firstly, Thatcherite economic and social policies were anathema to the Scottish people and convinced them they needed more control of domestic legislation, leading to the devolution settlement. Blairite foreign and defence policy – Iraq and Afghanistan, Zionism, Bush poodle, the hideous waste of Trident – is also anathema to the Scottish people and should lead to the realisation that we need our own foreign and defence policy as well.

Secondly, as a diplomat I worked beside excellent and effective Irish, Portuguese, Swedish, Slovenian, Slovakian, Danish, Norwegian and other diplomats. They were protecting their countries’ interests and playing a full and constructive role – often much more so than the UK – in mutually beneficial international cooperation. What is wrong with us Scots that we think we can’t handle the responsibilities and opportunities of Independence, if they can?


59 thoughts on “Scottish Independence

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  • greengorilla

    Sorry, that should have read "It was no accident that the (Scots) socialist, John Maclaine, predicted that the British Empire would finally disappear when Scotland regains its independence."

  • amidabu

    "I felt abliged to point out that "nationalism" is a bit like fire; one can warm oneself in its comforting glow – but it can also, when the wind's in the right direction, literally burn the house down."

    This could be said of other political philosophies with equal force. Socialism in the USSR led to millions dying needless because of communist orthodoxy due to starvation or in the gulag. The Chinese, Tibetan and other peoples inside the Peoples Republic literally went through hell in the most intense period of socialist orthodoxy during the cultural revolution.

    Capitalism's excesses has led to the exploitation of people and environments across the world and has brought us to the verge of ecological disaster in the form of global warming.

    The real dynamic behind the world wars, could be seen as Germany, Italy and Japan's attempts to compete with the imperialism of Britain and France.

    "Is it a tribal thing? Does it rest on a shared cultural identity? Are these things really significant, or they merely usful and potentially dangerous constructs? Ripe for exploitation and manipulation?"

    It is really significant because the nation state has been shown to be the most successful vehicle for democracy to flourish. There are various factors that determine what constitutes a nation. Often it is shared language and culture. But this varies. The Irish, for instance, on the whole, are English speaking.

    In the case of Scotland it is based on the persistence of the pre-union organs society intact. The Scottish parliament had wanted a non-incorporating or federal union but had to settle instead for the continued existence of separate pre-union civic institutions in the widest sense [church, law, education, local government]. It is in this way, whether one likes it or not, that Scotland as a separate nation has persisted. Many things flow inevitably from this, having its own national sporting teams being only one, and not now the most significant. Even before devolution, Scots were aware on a daily basis of how their experience as citizens differed from those in other parts of the UK. This was why, pre 1997, there was a perceived democratic deficit.

    "I don't think any of the countries you mention show the benefits of nationalism. Though this is debatable and very complicated."

    Are you saying the Indian sub-continent should have remained part of an empire, governed from a city on the Western fringes of Europe. To say you are quite open to the idea of being ridiculed doesn't excuse you from having to make a convincing argument. The animosity between Muslims and Hindus was a legacy of the British policy of divide and rule. Are you seriously saying that people in Finland, Norway, Ireland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, etc, would be happier incorporated into their larger neighbours.

    "I think you are also wrong that the dominant nation or culture is inevitably oblivious to the position of other nationalities."
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/ar

    Here is the link to the opinion poll in the latest edition of the Sunday Times, where 79% of those polled felt that people in England and Wales do not appreciate Scotland's contribution to the UK.

  • andy cyan

    I find the possibility of Scottish separation daunting too and hope relations arent poisoned. Id prefer an agreeable official union between all places in these Isles to be fixed but it seems impossible with the character and strength of influence, the "dominant powers" which are concentrated in England.

  • writeon

    Amidabu,

    This is a large and complicated issue. The rise of the nation state and "nationalism" as a historical phenomenon. One could devote an entire career to making convincing arguments about the merits, or otherwise, of the nation state. All I'm really saying is, in my opinion, the benefits of the nation state and nationalism are not as obvious as many of us assume. One could argue that nationalism has, in reality been a terrible mistake, a veritable curse, a dangerous delusion, which has blighted and come close to destroying an entire continent – Europe; and on balance we'd have been better off without it.

    In a way, I probably think nationalism has obscured the true nature of society, as being fundamentally class-based. I'm not sure that it matters all that much to me whether the elite that's exploiting me comes from around the corner or across the border. Though I suppose it's slightly more irritating if they speak another language.

    One of the most dangerous and powerful nationalist myths is the idea that once we "gain our freedom" we're all going to be "happy." I think I regard this as being close to utopian nonsense. Unfortunately, the world and reality are far too complicated for that to be close to true.

    Despite its failings, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was better, on ballance, than what came afterwards. I'm convinced that several members of my family would led long and happy lives, rather than ending up in ditches with bullets in the back of their heads, if the empire had continued.

    The list of countries you mention is interesting; they are all rather small aren't they? Is this significant?

    I'm also confused about what "hapiness" has to do with anything relating to the nation state and nationalism? I'm not sure living in a particular nationa rather than another necessarily has much to do with how "happy" one feels, why should it? Surely "hapiness" is influenced by a whole host of factors that don't have much to do with where one happens to live?

    Also the list of examples you give doesn't actually support you argument. For years, if not centuries, many of the inhabitants of these "countries" lived "happily" and prosperously as parts of lager political entities. It wasn't all supression and subjugation. One can argue that characterizes many nationalist movements is the desire of a local political/economic elite to replace "foreign" rule only because they want more of the pie for themselves. There is also a difference between national liberation movements opposed to imperialism, and European nationalism. What's characterized Europe for centuries has been a state of almost anarchy and rabid competition between elites for power and resources. The nation state was conceived as the foundation opon which one built powerful armies. This is the reality. The move towards sentimental romanticizing of the "folk" and the "land" was one of the cultural methods employed by elites to promote the "ideology" of the "nation" as being the primary and most important factor in peoples lives; and it's this "ideology" and its enormous costs that I profoundly question.

    Also I wish you wouldn't put words in my mouth. Because I'm critical of nationalism, that doesn't mean I support British imperialism in India! That's a kind of strawman argument, which is a neat rhetorical trick, but rather tiresome all the same.

  • andy cyan

    Writeon, "All I'm really saying is, in my opinion, the benefits of the nation state and nationalism are not as obvious as many of us assume." That is quite a shift from your previous condemnations.

    Take a person who is wanting a divorce from a spouse. Comment on their situation that you despise the notion of polygamy, and that they are wrong to seek happiness through it. This is what has being done here in this debate on Scottish Independance. The general notion of divorce/independance has been attacked, which is disrupting to analysing the +specific+ possibilities of Scotlands divorce/independance from England. Some people might seek independance because they are wooed by romantic notions of it, and some will be wooed by romantic notions of Unions. If you take exception to such things you shouldn't condemn one without the other, otherwise you are being as romantically inclined as your supposed fools.

  • writeon

    Dear Andy,

    I don't think it's such a shift. I suppose I was trying to be less confrontational, as one tends to be when one is posting a comment with regard to time and length on site like this. I also think it's a trifle unfair, to pick out tiny passage from longer piece and use that as a lever of criticism. It's like entering a courtroom, where everything one says is subject to attack, regardless of context or intention. Now, one can argue that this kind of debating technique is fruitful and necessary, because it shows the flaws in logic and arumentation one has used. However, I'm not so sure about this either. It's very "Westminster-like" where these middle-class, wanker-lawyers, try to prove how clever they are. Christ, there isn't room here to write a bloody thesis about the pro and cons of nationalism and the nation state! Obviously one can't develope a completely watertight argument and there have to be some "fuzzy" edges around.

  • andy cyan

    Dear Writeon,

    I admired Amidabu's full responses to your arguements which im not as well informed to defend. By taking the charges against Nationalism in history to task and trading pros and cons of different cases, Germany, India, Ireland, Canada etc. if i read correctly, it would require loose prejudicial criteria to link all nationalist directions as worthy of derision.

    In each specific case one could skip back and forward in time to pin negative or positive effects on separation depending on the desired conclusion, this is tiresomely indestinct reasoning. It just isnt going to be possible to uphold that all movements towards separation have been and will be negative.

    As a dream I'd love to see Ireland join a new British Union -we all get on socially, watch similar TV, are stuck with the same modern pressures. With a good distribution of power, Ireland, Scotland and Wales could perhaps handle England/London/Westminsters might.

    We should defend our rleationships by offering olive branches and conceeding required freedoms not by casting generalised aspersions on peoples motivations.

  • writeon

    dear Andy,

    My main gripe isn't with the notion of the naition-state per se, though I do think in many respects this particular construction has outlived its usefulness; so many of the enormous problems we face; declining oil and gas reserves, uncontrolled population growth, runaway climate change, the growth of militerism, require concerted international effort if we are to have any hope of dealing with them.

    My main worry isn't so much the nation-state, but the apparent growth of old-fashioned nationalism with all the potential dangers that implies. I'd go so far as to say that in many european countries there are currently clear signs of the re-appearance of something resembling "national socialism".

    The anti-immigrant attitudes prevalent in many european countries are cause for concern, at least I'm concerned! It seems that once again "blood" is becoming an important social/national signifier. The trend towards "nationalism" worries me.

    Of course not all nations are "bad" in themselves, though personally I'd like to see fewer of them, but nationalism has a tendency to get out of control, especially when times get tough, and as I think we're heading for tough times again, I'm beginning to feel wary.

  • andy cyan

    Writeon,

    These sure are worrying times, but ive good experience of Scotland and have come across quite little of the kind of "old fashioned", i might call "colloquial" nationalism which you are concerned about. Sure it exists, in troubled places but the country seems much bigger than it.

  • bookman

    Imperialism by its very nature is 'expansive nationalism'. That's the kind that should keep us awake at night. The fact that the natives are quieted does not necessarily mean that all is well. Oppression (of whatever degree) is all the more insidious when practised within a sovereign unit.

    More deaths have resulted from the clash of empires, and the clutching of errant parts of empires, than from anything else.

    Nationalism per se doesn't cause violence. Imperial powers unwilling to let go do.

    In Scotland, of course, things aren't as clear cut. The 'imperial' power is the British establishment and it cuts across borders.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the social and political establishment in the UK has settled down into a mire of corruption and self preservation. It has stagnated for too long and needs 'turning over'.

    Scottish independence is a most efficacious route to this end with the major advantage that any new establishment will be created in the glare of 21st century scrutiny.

    National identity is, whether we like it or not, the prime factor in the formation of states and will remain so for the forseeable future.

    We can choose the inter-nationalism of the SNP and its ilk, or return to the heady days of the expansionist nationalism of Empire.

  • writeon

    I just hope that if Scottish independence becomes a reality, the new Scottish elite will elect to radically transform Scotlands education system providing first-class education for the broad mass of Scotland's children, rather than letting them sail on and concentrating on an education system that puts the interests of an minority of children first.

    One could choose to emulate and learn from the Finnish experience. For decades, if not centuries, Finland was a kind of backwater way up North. It was variously "occupied" by Russians and Swedes. Finally, the people of Finland dragged themselves "free" of foreign domination.

    The Finns where regarded with something close to contept by the Russians and the Swedes. Finland was a backward country, full of trees, lakes and millions of bloodthirsty midges and mosquitos!

    Anyway to cut a long story short, several decades ago the Finns took a decision to totally revamp the Finnish education system. They reasoned that the elite would manage pretty much on their own, so they decided to concentrate on lifting the great mass of children up by providing everybody with a good education. Compared to most countries Finland invested heavily in education. The wages and status of teachers was fundamental. All Finnish teachers were graduates and highly qualified professionals.

    And it appeared to work! Finland now has probably the best educated workforce in the world. Educationalists flock to Finland to learn and see how it's done. But such a transformation, takes decades and a political concensus that lifting the bottom is more important than cattering to the interests of the elite. Socially and economically, it pays. One of the tragedies of England is that the Labour Party never had the guts or sense to really reform England's education system root and branch.

    I would hope that Scotland would emulate Finland rather than England.

  • amk

    A few comments:

    Firstly, the SNP do not vote on matters exclusively affecting England, Wales or Northern Ireland in Westminster. They at least are not hypocritical on this issue.
    http://westminster.snp.org/index.php?option=com_c

    Secondly, I consider it to be a fairly basic principle of representative democracy that constituencies have representatives that affect legislation if and only if that legislation affects that constituency. Devolution has resolved the issue of English MPs influencing matters that do not affect their constituents, but the issue of non-English MPs affecting England-only issues persists. This may be a lesser problem than the previous ability of English MPs to impose legislation on Scotland (e.g. Poll Tax), but of course two wrongs do not make a right.

    I don't see anything to prevent a future Conservative government preventing MPs with non English constituencies voting on exclusively English matters (even if they only really do it because all the Scottish and Welsh MPs are in opposition), and I'd support them doing so. I don't give a damn about equal rights for MPs, I want equal rights for voters.

    Thirdly, IMO the Westminster system has severe issues, and independence would give the Scots the opportunity to make something better. For that reason I may have to move up north should it look like happening.

  • bookman

    Hi AMK. You're absolutely right. It is fundamentally undemocratic that an MP who represents a Scottish constituency can vote to enact policies in E&W which will, of course, not affect his own constituency. Politicians cannot simply make political decisions with impunity – they must always be subject to the disapprobation of their own constituents.

    By the way, I look forward to welcoming you to an independent Scotland.

  • greengorilla

    "Finland now has probably the best educated workforce in the world. Educationalists flock to Finland to learn and see how it's done. But such a transformation, takes decades and a political concensus that lifting the bottom is more important than cattering to the interests of the elite. Socially and economically, it pays. One of the tragedies of England is that the Labour Party never had the guts or sense to really reform England's education system root and branch.

    I would hope that Scotland would emulate Finland rather than England."

    So do I. I am Scots by assimilation, having lived north of the border for 21 years. And my main reason for supporting Scottish independence is to see the final dissolution of Britain's blood-soaked imperial era.

    But I am all too aware of the ingrained racism among the Scots, particularly in the North East which remains a backward area with ill-educated and underprivileged folk.

    The north-east has a strong Flemish connection and I wonder if it is that that exacerbates its narrow-mindedness and incestuous attitudes. I have heard other Scots call Aberdeen a dour place of hard faces. But compared to the wee fishing villages of the southern Moray Firth, Aberdeen to me is an enlightened metropolis!

    Anyone who remembers the Flemish chansonnier, Jacques Brel, will remember his song Les Flamandes which steeps scorn on the narrow-minded hypocrisy of the Flemings. Perhaps it was no accident that Flanders produced one of the earliest fascist groups in the Vlaamse Blok. The Scots-Flemish seem to have the same problem in their genes.

    The NE of Scotland is real redneck country and any independent Scottish government will be hard put to change that.

    People here are SNP for all the wrong reasons, ie based on a disguised form of racism passing off as anti-English. I dread to think what will happen to people like me once independence comes.

    Maybe these are the hard times that are inevitable as the last outposts of the British Empire slip below the waves.

  • amidabu

    Greengorilla

    I don't know how well you are acquainted with the North East and with the fishing communities that you characterise as having the same problem in their genes as the Flemish fascists. Having been born and raised in that community and living and working there intermittently over the last 30 years, I would say that those communities are much more complex than you describe. You can find anti-English sentiments among some, especially young fishermen, but it is debatable whether it is any stronger than similar sentiments in other parts of Scotland [where I've lived]. Mostly it doesn't extend beyond bar room banter. Or at SNP election night parties.

    There are particular reasons why there would be hostility to London. In the thirty years since the discovery of oil, literally just off-shore, there has been virtually no benefit to the area, other than to Aberdeen and its commuter belt. The Scottish fishing fleet, which is mostly based in the North East, has been more than halved while, at the same time, the Irish have used their position in the EU to build up their fleet considerably. Some of the local fishermen have had to immigrate to Ireland to get work. As a consequence of all this most of the fishing towns have been dying a slow death, becoming run-down with boarded up shops and empty town centres.

    The accusation of racism shows the greatest lack of acquaintance with the facts on the ground There is, in fact, a long history of accepting immigrants. Italian immigrants after the war were readily accepted and quickly integrated, even adopting the strong local dialect. The present wave of Polish immigrants is also being accepted and many are participating in local life, For instance attending the annual gala in Peterhead this year in large numbers. Similarly, first the Chinese and then South Asians were also readily accepted and I have seen more evidence of prejudice against them in Glasgow and in the parts of England where I have lived than in the North East. When I was active in the SNP in the Banff and Buchan constituency in the 1990s, there were members who were Asian and I never witnessed any prejudice against them, even behind their backs.

    Where there has been more hostility is to the large number of people from England who have bought up farms in what is on of Scotland's main agricultural areas. They are widely referred to as white settlers, but here again the situation is more complex than it is portrayed. The farming community of the North East of Scotland was not only one of the main repositories of spoken Scots, it had also produced the richest folk tradition in Scots of anywhere in Scotland. The large buy out of farms by English people was one of the factors that contributed to the rapid decline of that traditional culture. In reality people in the North East are equally opposed to people from the central belt arriving and assuming that the local culture is not worth anything. The culture of the North East of Scotland is just as distinctive from the rest of Scotland as North East of England is from the rest of England, but distinctive television programming has dwindled to virtually nothing. While in the same period Gaelic programming has mushroomed.

    The area may seem backward and conservative to outsiders who may well find its culture, language and ethos impenetrably, but the facts on the ground paint a different picture. For instance, Peterhead prison houses a centre for the treatment of sex offenders that is world-renowned for its rehabilitation programme. Far from campaigning to have it closed down, as this caricature would suggest, there was a widely supported local campaign to keep it open when it was faced with closure. I feel pretty confident that independence, far from making things worse for incomers to the North East, will tend to take away the basis for the resentments that the present situation perpetuates, especially in relation to Scotland having no power to influence fishing policy.

  • greengorilla

    Thank you for a lengthy and invaluable reply, Amidabu.

    "I feel pretty confident that independence, far from making things worse for incomers to the North East, will tend to take away the basis for the resentments that the present situation perpetuates, especially in relation to Scotland having no power to influence fishing policy."

    I hope so. Nothing will stop me continuing to support Scottish independence, not even if there's a smidgeon of truth in the sad story of Les Flamandes and the Moray plantations.

  • macshealbhaich

    I have read the postings before mine with some interest. There are many points which I would like to take up, but won't for length and space.

    But we should not allow ourselves to be sidetracked by the West Lothian Question at the moment – it is pertinent for the Scottish Parliament, but not for Westminster MPs: it would not matter whether an MP sits at Westminster for West Lothian or Tredegar as he/she is supposed to be representing all the constituents on issues of national importance to the UK. So we should not let ourselves as Scots be yet again made to feel guilty of something.

    As far as I can see the terms of the Act of Union 1707 were broken by the English almost immediately, but the Union survived because it was convenient to a lot of vested interests (for whom Robbie Burns had a few choice words). It is similar vested interests that are trying to reinforce the Scots' "colonial cringe" against independence.

    There are five matters which particularly concern me about the move to Independence:

    1. we need a new Referendum – but who is to vote in it? There are many Scots living and working in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and elsewhere in the EU – are they to have a say? Recently it was pointed out that London is the 3rd largest Scottish city. When David Ross held his "Walk for Wallace" in 2005 most of the many people walking (the walk stretched from Smithfield back through the City to Parliament Square) were these Scots. In the previous Referendum these Scots were disallowed a vote on their own country, yet English students at Scots universities had one. I think a lot more thought needs to go into this.

    2. the governance of Scotland – I do not think that the present unicameral parliament is adequate, not least because all policies will inevitably reflect the dominance of the population-heavy belt that runs from the Clyde Estuary to the Forth Estuary, virtually disfranchising everybody else. There needs to be a countervailing second chamber.

    3. the EU – I do not share the rosy-tinted view that many people have of this place. I do not see the benefit of swapping one colonial master (Westminster) for another less receptive one (Brussels), and I concider that Scotland's past experiences with continental Europe have not been happy, not least with France. Scotland has more to gain, in my opinion, in following the Norwegian way with which we have a better history anyway.

    4. Gaelic – what policies to the various parties that advocate independence have towards the Gaidhealtachd 's Eileanachd? We have not had a good history with the south (this works in both directions it is true to some extent). The suppression of Gaelic and Gaelic culture began with the Stuarts long before they became kings of England. It needs to be made easier and cheaper for those who would want to learn Gaelic to do so. We need to follow the Welsh closely on this; there is no point in re-inventing the wheel.

    5. reparations – I would like to see some attempt at reparations from Westminster for what has been done to the Scots and Scottish cultures. Yesterday (25th August 2007) was the 260th Anniversary of the Banning Act 1746 coming into force by which the wearing of the tartan or any parts of highland dress were punished by 6 months imprisonment without remission for a first offence and transportation to North America for 7 years for a second offence; many highlanders were sold into slavery in the West Indies off the battlefield of Culloden; and many other similar grievances. These can never be compensated for financially, but some recognition of these and the Fuadaichean (Clearences), and the thousands of Scots who died building and maintaining the Empire needs to come from Westminster and Edinburgh.

    Scots need to stop having colonised minds (as the Canadians say), but anger is not a good substitute and will not help us plan for our independence.

    Cuimhneamaid na daoine nach eil a-nis buan – and let us remember the people who are no longer with us.

  • greengorilla

    "Scots need to stop having colonised minds (as the Canadians say), but anger is not a good substitute and will not help us plan for our independence."

    Amen to that and much that is said here. No more cringing, anyone! Let's stand as an empowered people, help ourselves as well as the people of the British Isles to find a new, peaceful way of living.

  • Who_Gains

    Another Scot with a chip on his shoulder! You detest the English but, hypocritically, you like their [subsidised] money that keeps Scotland afloat. The South East taxpayer is the financial engine of the country and we would welcome the opportunity for Scotland to fail financially and the SE to prosper even more.

    The slogan on the car number plates in Quebec read 'Je me sauvenir' [I remember] – and what does the Quebecois remember? Why the Battle against the English in 1859 when they were slaughtered [and have held a grievance ever since]. Until ethnic populations can grow up and look forward instead of gazing in the rear view mirror and blaming someone else for their failings, you will always be whinging and feeding from the hands of the English [or English speakers in Quebec's case].

    [I am a Quebecois, by the way].

  • Thomas_Paine

    Scotland must become independent to take control of the money supply.

    Scotland must NOT join the Euro because it is another debt based money system but on a bigger scale.

    Google "Zeitgeist the movie part 3" or "The Money Masters" (3.5 hours long but essential viewing) and tell others.

  • greengorilla

    "You detest the English but, hypocritically, you like their [subsidised] money that keeps Scotland afloat."

    I do not detest the people of England but I do detest their class rulers who have subjugated them through one form of imperialism or another for centuries. To detest imperialism is one thing to be anti-English another. Do not confuse the two.

    It is quite incorrect to assume that England subsidises Scotland. Recent analyses have totally disproved what is nothing more than propaganda coming out of Westminster.

    "Until ethnic populations can grow up and look forward instead of gazing in the rear view mirror and blaming someone else for their failings, you will always be whinging and feeding from the hands of the English."

    No question about it, I absolutely agree with what you say here. There are always those who fall into self-pity and there is always something in history that can be used to justify it.

    The fact is, though, that the people of the Highlands were so terrorised by Butcher Cumberland and his redcoats that it has left a wound that has never been healed.

    That was imperialism at its worst. And today, English who come to live up here and throw their weight about create a lot of ill-feeling for everyone with an English accent … including those who are now committed Scots by assimilation.

    When I was in Qu?bec years ago, I saw certain Anglophones behave arrogantly and earn hostility, giving everyone a bad name. It's just a pity they had to be like that and to help reinforce the stereotype … so what to do? Tribalism goes deep into human behaviour.

    That, perhaps, is something more detestable than even imperialism! Until humans can cast off their tribalistic natures and adopt a true sense of planetary being, the old horrors will keep revisiting them.

  • macshealbhaich

    Who_Gains:

    It is sad what you say about Quebec, but it undeniable that Louis Riel and the Metis were shabbily handled and received little thanks for the Red River resistance – it is even more shameful that much of this treatment came from a Scot, Sir John Alexander Macdonald, who otherwise has a great record almost as the founder of Canada as a self-governing entity independent of the Southern Empire and the British one (a legacy that it would appear some quislings are trying hard to squander in the interests of the United States).

    bookman (and others):

    There strikes me as being a 'sauce for the goose…' thing in the complaints that Scots MPs at Westminster should not vote on things that do not affect their constituents. They are Union MPs and are supposed to be representing the interests of the UK. If Scots MPs are to be constrained, then surely English MPs should also be constrained against voting on matters that affect only Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland and not England. Or perhaps there aren't any such matters – perhaps all votes at Westminster are considered as affecting England?

  • Who_Gains

    I am in fact in favour of Scotland separating but merely pointing out:

    1 you need to cover the ?7B of additional support that Westminster gives to you every year [reported in this week's Private Eye] and

    2 don't continually stare at your naval and blame the English for everything – yes, we know that they really are to blame but it creates a chip on the shoulder and expresses itself in continual negativity – not a good start for a nation. In any event, I suspect the new boss will be the same as the old boss…..probably even controlled by the old boss as the City of London still pulls the strings for many 'independent' nations….

  • Esquilinian

    "If you want to be fair while hating the idea of Nationalism, you have to hate the idea of Unionism as well. Or choose your side and start hurling insults -thats what the propagandising is about."

    The problem with that is that Unionism is not in itself an organised movement with definition aims. In most cases it simply a body of opinion opposed to Nationalism. I am a Unionist, but in a wider sense: a humanitarian unionist. I don't want a sovereign United Kingdom, I want it part of a wider world.

    I will always see myself as British and Scottish, but the governmental structure of the world should not even consider that any more than it takes into account my race.

    ———-

    "Esquilinian and Writeon, I have a feeling that you both assume that your declared visceral hatred of nationalism will strike a chord with many others visiting this thread."

    Not in the least. True anti-nationalists are hard to find.

    "I would therefore like to remind you of how culturally specific this viewpoint is. Try arguing your case, for instance, in Lithuania or Estonia or the Ukraine or in Slovenia or Hungary or in Delhi, or Dublin, or Oslo. Nationalism is a noble cause that has made the world a better place in these locations and many others."

    Could've fooled me. As far as I can see, it's spilled huge quantities of blood and only succeeded in giving a few weirdos the smug satisfaction of living in a different state from people they dislike.

    "While the contrasting merit of socialism or capitalism is still open to debate, no one would even try to argue for fear of ridicule that the Habsburg Empire, or the USSR, or Greater Sweden, or Yugoslavia, or the pre 1921 United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland should be reconstituted. The emergence of states like Norway, Ireland, Lithuania, Slovenia and many others has been a positive development. If it were not, why has there never been a genuinely popular movement in any of these new states for a return to former unions?"

    States come and go, just because I am an anti-nationalist does not mean I support the status quo now or historically. I also feel in a number of these countries, there is a lot of very insecure patriotic nonsense thrown about which is basically just bitterness. I'd really rather not have that in Scotland.

  • Esquilinian

    "The fact is, though, that the people of the Highlands were so terrorised by Butcher Cumberland and his redcoats that it has left a wound that has never been healed.

    That was imperialism at its worst."

    The early years of the 'birth' of Scotland were far, far bloodier.

    "I just hope that if Scottish independence becomes a reality, the new Scottish elite will elect to radically transform Scotlands education system providing first-class education for the broad mass of Scotland's children, rather than letting them sail on and concentrating on an education system that puts the interests of an minority of children first."

    It seems to me that a few Scottish Nationalists seem to think that if Scotland becomes independent it'll suddenly become a utopia coincidentally fitting with their particular ideology.

    Fact is, however, education has been devolved for eight years now, and little has change. What makes the 'Scottish elite' different to the present governments in both Edinburgh and London?

    At the end of the day, it just means that we'll no longer be involved in decisions that do affect us. The economy of the rest of the UK basically controls our own: we are interlinked and that is how it will always be. It seems to me that Nationalists are actually proposing we have less power over ourselves.

  • amidabu

    "Alex Salmond has endeavoured to launch a "National conversation" on Independence, with a White Paper leading to a referendum if he can get the Scottish parliament to legislate for one. New Labour has predictably responded that all this democracy is "A waste of money", while presumably the ?50 billion they have squandered in Iraq and Afghanistan"

    Craig

    It seems that Labour may be changing their line on this. I came upon thisarticle by Ruaridh Nicoll in the Observer today.
    http://politics.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2…

    In it he says that Labour's new leader in Scotland, Wendy Alexander, has let slip that Labour are going to agree to a referendum on Scottish independence in 2010. Her advisors are refusing to comment.

    The question is does she have Brown's backing. The chances are she wouldn't dare say this kind of thing without clearing it first.

    There seems to be two possibilities.

    1) That this is just designed to sow confusion in the SNP and that she has no intention of following through on this.

    2) That Labour has decided to go down this path.

    There are massive dangers for Labour if the second is the case. The lack of publicity around this dramatic change of policy suggest that, if they do intend to try to call the SNP's bluff, they don't want it widely known, at least not yet.

    This may be Alexander's first gaff. And it's difficult to credit that the BBC and others haven't picked up on this.

    Agreeing to a referendum on such an important issue would blast a massive hole in Brown's attempts to stop pressure building for a referendum on the EU treaty. Also this lays Brown open to the charge that he will let the Scots decide their constitutional future, but the English are denied any say in theirs. You can see how all this could be exploited against Brown in an election campaign.

  • scotnat

    I realise that time has passed since the original post but I have just come across this site and there is one particular comment to which I wish to respond.

    Greengorilla writes (August 17, 2007 9:54 AM) –

    '…and the fact that the United Kingdom still exists as a political unit:'

    The United Kingdom is not and never has been a political unit. The reason that this belief has come about is due to the fact that 'United Kingdom' is used as an abbreviation for the formal name which since 1922 has been the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland' it is also a description of the state in which we live.

  • www.oilofscotland.or

    The problem is that Scotland discovered oil. Since 1974 the powers that be in Westminster have deliberately disguised the truth of Scotland's vast oil wealth from the Scottish public. In conjunction with oppressing the people of Scotland, to stop them reacting – hence the reason the deprivation and poverty in Glasgow East and the rest of Scotland has not improved very much in 30 years.

    * Scotland should have been Europe's third richest country.

    * The Scots Pounds should have been worth minimum £1.20 to the English £1.00

    * The poverty in Glasgow East and other areas of Scotland should have been wiped out years ago.

    Since then a generation has grown up and they do not even know that Scotland is Europe's largest producer of oil, indeed bigger than Kuwait.

    Let alone that the vast wealth that Scotland's Oil generates has been used to bail out Northern Rock and is currently being used to finance the oil wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    By displaying this link http://www.oilofscotland.org on your website or sending the email below to your mailing list you would be explaining to the people of Scotland there is hope all they have to do is find out the facts and vote.

    Before you vote read the top Secret Mc Crone Oil Report. It is your £32 Million a Day Stop giving it away http://www.oilofscotland.org

    The web site http://www.oilofscotland.org contains the TOP SECRET REPORT into Scotland Oil Rich Economy and the recommendations to lie and deceive the Scottish People, as the quote below explains…

    The full significance of North Sea oil was not immediately apparent and it still remains in large measure disguised from the Scottish public by the DTI…

    Scotland would be a better place if it was governed by non Westminster influenced politicians.

    Please help your fellow Scot understand the truth… Scottish Oil is worth £11,576 a second £32 Million a Day and £12 Billion a Year to the people of Scotland.

  • JAMES

    SCOTS,

    The everyday issues are not the focal point of nation Scotland,they are only the spokes that support the wheel,home-nation,what causes confusion is the fact-total independence is still only an IDEAL,all Scots-over-seas business must go through westminster,why do Scots hide behind a haystack,uk,why not just bury our heads in the SAND,SCOTS

    vote-freedom-NOW

    ( http://www.scots-on-scotland.com )

    "PONDER ALLOWS ENGLAND RIGHT OF PASSAGE"

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