Independence Day 198

I have lived my entire life under governments dominated by either the Labour or the Tory Party. When I was young, there were genuine differences between them – over public ownership of transport, utilities and strategic industries, over the rights of workers in their workplace, over Britain’s attitude to its Imperial legacy.

However in the course of my lifetime the political agenda shifted fundamentally to the right, as the Labour Party under a series of opportunist leaderships shifted its ground to the agenda favoured by the corporate media. So even our drinking water had to be privatised, the maintenance grants that had enabled me to go to university were abolished as the very principle of free education was abandoned, the NHS was increasingly given over to private provision and PFI introduced the opportunity for bankers and financiers to take the large majority of the total taxpayers’ money allocated to any public investment project. Council housing was sold off and not replaced. Foreign policy became entirely subservient to the United States and a neo-con model of continued armed attacks on poorer countries abroad.

What is worse, the scope for expressing policies that lay outside the increasingly convergent views represented by the main stream media and the Tory and Labour Party narrowed, to the point where dissent disappeared. The opposition to the Iraq War of the majority of people was reflected in less than 2% of total UK TV coverage of that war. The fact that consistently a substantial majority of British people want to see railways renationalised never has any corporate media reflection.

Both “main” parties supported giving over £60,000 per British household to bail out the bankers, which is why we are in this debt mess. Both parties support the fact that 99% of the bankers have maintained the same ultra-opulent lifestyles and income, with no price paid for their failure. The corporate media gave no voice at all to the policy alternatives around allowing bad banks to go bust. It would have been 8% as expensive for the taxpayers just to give to the public and companies the amount they lost in UK bank deposits with failed banks.

When Nicola Sturgeon spoke in the televised TV debates, it was the first time in a decade that I had heard opposition to Trident missiles – a view held by over 40% of the population – even mentioned on television. It had become that bad.

And that Nicola Sturgeon moment was an indication that something really has changed. The electorate have twigged that the Red Tory and Blue Tory parties offer no real choice at all. Whether you want the same Thatcherite cuts spread out over a slightly longer timescale is not a choice.

The political system has quite rightly fallen into disrepute. A pretend choice and charade of democracy is not going to fool the entire population. It is not just that Labour and Tory cannot get over 35% of people who vote. It is also that so many people don’t bother to vote through disillusion. They are not apathetic, they justifiably don’t see how it helps them whose nose is in the trough. Combined with the appalling FPTP system, you end up with a circumstance where Tony Blair’s “triumph” of 2005 was won with 22.5% of eligible voters. The system is bust. The legitimacy of government already does not exist – what is newly in doubt is the ability of illegitimate government to foist itself upon the people.

This is the first election of my lifetime where there is a chance really to give the rotten structure a substantial kick. Any human construct, including the SNP, is imperfect, but that Trident moment on TV represented the truth that the SNP is a real danger to the comfortable untouchability of the neo-con UK state. I urge everyone to vote SNP in Scotland as the surest way to start to force change. Many of the SNP candidates whom I know personally – Mhairi Black, Phil Boswell, Chris Law, Michelle Thomson, Tommy Sheppard – are definitely going to bring fresh air to parliament.

In Wales, vote Plaid Cymru. In England, I think Green is the way to go in general, and I wish all the best to Rupert Read in Cambridge. But if you have a good Independent candidate, consider giving them a vote. Citizen participation against the parties deserves encouragement. There are good people in all parties, and there are some sitting MPs – Jeremy Corbyn, Paul Flynn, John Hemmings, David Ward – who I would vote for; they transcend the moral stunting of party politics. Despite profound differences on Scotland, I do urge people in Bradford to vote for George Galloway, who has done so much to oppose neo-conservative wars, and been an obstacle to the cynical exploitation of Islamic communities for machine politics by the Labour Party.

But above all, today will be remembered as a day when Scotland took a giant stride towards achieving national independence. A vote for the SNP is a vote for Scottish independence and for the break-up of the UK state. It matters not what attempts are made to obfuscate that fact, opinion poll after opinion poll post September 2014 has consistently shown no statistically significant gap between the level of support for the SNP and the level of support for Scottish Independence.

This is a great historical trend which the SNP are surfing rather than controlling. The fundamental answer to the political malaise which I described at the start of this article is the break-up of the UK as the sovereign political institution. A vote for the SNP today is part of an inexorable progress towards that break-up. You would be nuts to be a convinced unionist and to vote SNP, and whatever the propaganda the truth is that almost all SNP votes are nationalist votes, and I for one am claiming every SNP vote as a vote for Independence. The utter panic of the entire Westminster political and corporate media establishment is in itself sufficient evidence that this really counts (I loved the description Scotterdammerung). Freedom is a great thing – get out there and vote for it.

This is the one day that we are all independent, in that whoever we choose today controls us tomorrow. I have lived my life under a rotten system which has got more rotten, more corrupt, more intellectually narrow, and more divided between rich and poor. Today is a great chance to shake that system. Get out there now and shake it!

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198 thoughts on “Independence Day

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  • Phil


    I think I get what you’re saying. I’d love to hear the story but fair enough.

  • fred

    “If you post childish gibberish such as that two cows effort, you deserve everything that is thrown at you.”

    So you condone personal abuse and intimidation on the internet do you?

    If you want a flame war I’d be glad to give you one, I could follow all your posts with personal insults if you think that’s how people should behave in a civilised society.

  • fred

    “Always brings back fond memories of Usenet.”

    Paul Cummins, Peter Kerr the snooker troll, Richard Ashton I knew them all and more besides.

  • Clark

    Here is your lifetime supply of national democracy:

    X X X X X X X X X X X X X X

    Please don’t run off with the pencil.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Juteman (18h33)

    Are you just stupid or are you a stupid cunt?

    The Labour govt fell in 1979 after being defeated by one vote in a no-confidence motion.

    Dennis Skinner voted with the govt and therefore did not “bring it down” (your words).

    For the detail, please refer to Resident Dissident’s post at 19h44.

    Feel free to apologise for (1) talking cock and (2) arguing with me.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)


    Your understanding of the word “coalition” would not be shared by many (perhaps by no one).

    But l’ve come to realise that you tend to be a tad cavalier with the meaning of words.

    Or perhaps you’re just a bit of a deceiver.

    I hope to God you’re not a lecturer in politics.

  • Jon

    Herbie, we will need to disagree on the validity of all identity politics. I think feminism has been valuable, and remains so, but as with all things, there are areas of legitimate disagreement (e.g. meaning of language) and there are areas that are problematic (accidental endorsement of discrimination).

    To be fair though, the broad rise of identity politics in the sixties is not without its critics. Naomi Klein has advanced the view that the Left became too entrenched in its detail, and did not spend enough time examining the wider (economic) picture, when corporatism would have been a whole lot easier to challenge. (‘Tis before my time, but it doesn’t seem like an unreasonable assessment, especially given that Klein is a feminist herself).

  • Mark Golding

    Thank-you Rose – thinking of you x

    Russell Brand’s rebirth arose from a generous injection of spiritual thought. His interview with Jeremy Paxman galvanised a purpose to direct his excess energy into writing ‘Revolution’ ostensibly to invoke social revolution wherein, “corporate tyranny, ecological irresponsibility and economic inequality” come to an end.

    In my opinion although his book lacked substance from capacity and it’s style overworked, Russell has provided a much needed quickening to the growing unrest towards the Nation State.

    This general election will do nothing to fix the discontent. I myself believe ’38 degrees’ can be the right platform, a good foundation to cultivate the leap from indirect democracy to an evocative democracy that resonates with the majority rather than a small elite.

    That said for any totality, kindred love is cardinal and that is a mountain to climb.

  • Phil

    “your lifetime supply of national democracy”

    Vary funny. I’m gonna nick that.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)


    Third and final try: justify your original comment that “coalitions have existed here before” by identifying one (other than the National Govt of the 1930s and the wartime coalition).

    You cannot, because you are wrong.

    There is nothing wrong with making a factual mistake, but to persist in your error identifies you as a schwachsinniger Bloedkopf.

    Enjoy your election night!

  • Clark

    Phil, nick away; that’s how I got it. A set of anarchist posters in the ’80s. Also, at the time of the sell-offs, a picture of a nuclear reactor containment dome with a crack in it and smoke coming out:

    “Now we can all share in British Nuclear Fuels”.

  • Herbie


    I’ve followed your posting on Scottish affairs, and I’d say that you invite rebuke. It’s continual passive aggressive with you.

    Posting the two cows gibberish is certainly an invitation to rebuke.

    It’s no more than one should reasonably expect.

    The point is that you don’t make political arguments. You simply abuse your opponents with your continual banalities.

  • Jon

    Phil, thanks. I see your point about not voting, though it suffers from a group behaviour problem. See, I’d be willing to commit to not flying until an environmentally friendly fuel is invented and put into use, as long as everyone else in the UK agrees to do the same. I might even find a small handful of people to make the same promise. However, since I’ll be waiting forever for a worthwhile number of people to make such a commitment, my promise has no effect (and it thus does not matter if I keep it).

    It’s the same with voting. I agree that it would be ideal to provoke a constitutional crisis by *everyone* not voting, but we’d be waiting forever to get enough people to actually do it. In fact, the stance of not voting has another serious flaw: if you can persuade the whole country to spoil their papers, why not just persuade them to vote for a decent party in the first place (creating that party if necessary)? The answer is you can’t (at least within the media/system as it stands) and, thus, persuading people not to vote suffers from the same problem.

    Anyway, the context of my comment earlier was in responding to someone who thought Rupert Read should not be voted for because he harbours discriminatory attitudes, and my reply was shaped accordingly.

  • fred

    “The point is that you don’t make political arguments. You simply abuse your opponents with your continual banalities.”

    My post contained no personal abuse.

    You are saying that if someone posts something which offers a different opinion to yours then it’s fair for others to hurl personal abuse at them.

    You are not a very nice person at all Herbie.

  • Herbie

    I suspect that Klein, like Woolf, has worked out that feminism is a scam in current circumstances.

    I’m afraid that misandry is built into it at a very fundamental level.

    That’s the point of course.

    It’s just more divide and rule, distracting from the real rulers.

    During the 1980s feminism was co opted, as indeed was much else.

  • Herbie

    “You are saying that if someone posts something which offers a different opinion to yours then it’s fair for others to hurl personal abuse at them.”


    I’m saying that if you post gibberish like the two cow effort, then it’s not unreasonable to expect scorn, at the very least.

    In any event, what people expect on a politics blog is a political argument.

    Obviously they’ll have less tolerance for opinion without supporting argument, especially when that opinion is little more than vulgar invective.

  • Jon

    Phil, related point: on the Left there will be many more disagreements about strategy than there will ever be on the Right, since there is a much greater distance to travel. I think it is the responsibility for everyone on the Left — and that is a wide category indeed — to work together as much as possible, whilst agreeing to disagree on unresolveable points.

    Outside of the voting debate we see these things all the time. Craig’s endorsement of Galloway is an excellent example – substantial disagreement on Scotland and attitudes to Jewish nationality may be bitter pills to swallow, but you can see why Craig endorses him anyway. Meanwhile the risks of cosying up to Murdoch are substantial, but Left consensus around the SNP could result in Scottish independence and the Scottish rejection of Trident, two *huge* wins for the Left.

    Everyone has their red lines, of course, and you are welcome to draw yours as you see fit. But there is great value in setting them realistically, and not doing so results in the frequent bust-ups we see on the Left generally.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    07/05/2015 8:31am

    “On Galloway, his Wikipedia entry has an interesting entry about his refusing to debate an Israeli national on the basis of Galloway’s view not to recognise the state of Israel. Now, I support BDS in general, but I think he went too far.”

    If you are interested, this event was captured on video and is available on YouTube.

    Galloway discusses his actions here and here:

    Kind regards,


  • John Spencer-Davis


    How odd – you posted one comment regarding Galloway at 8:31am and another at 8:31pm.

    Confused me for a minute! J

  • RobG

    7 May, 2015 – 3:56 pm:

    When you see opinion polls showing the SNP at 5% of the vote it is (I would guess) deliberately misleading the public with regard to the popularity of the SNP, because of course these polls are UK-wide, whilst the SNP are only standing in Scotland, and not in Manchester or London or Plymouth, or wherever.

    Polls in Scotland only have been showing the SNP to have about 54% of the vote, which in recent UK general elections has been unheard of for any party.

    I have to do some business tomorrow morning, and so I can’t stay up all night to watch what will undoubtably be a historic moment in the history of the United Kingdom.

    For those who are able to watch it all, enjoy the ride!

  • Jon

    Herbie, well, OK, we disagree in some areas. I doubt Klein would come close to agreeing with your assessment of her views, given her stance on feminism (though happy to read any references you can supply on her rejecting feminism – happy to learn). I acknowledged the view that identity politics distracted the Left from examining the wide sweep of neoliberalism, but I don’t accept that this invalidates identity politics in itself – just that the Left took their eye off the ball.

    I think it is quite clear that some strands of feminism are not based around misandry – my view is there is a correlation between misandry and sex-negative feminism, and that feminisms outside of that intellectual bloc are not tainted in the same way. (Most) gender theory is much more nuanced these days, and no longer accepts the “violent male, oppressed female” stereotyping.

  • fred

    “I’m saying that if you post gibberish like the two cow effort, then it’s not unreasonable to expect scorn, at the very least.”

    Yes it is unreasonable. Personal abuse and intimidation is always unreasonable. You are an unreasonable person if you think otherwise. I’ve never made personal remarks about you as what I thought about your posts.

    If you don’t like what I say don’t read it but don’t say I don’t have the right to say it.

    Have you got that now?

  • lysias

    The second Asquith ministry was a coalition that only existed in wartime (1915-6). However, the following Lloyd George ministry (also a coalition), while it began in wartime in 1916, lasted until 1922, which means that it lasted through several years of peace. The first MacDonald ministry (1924) was also a coalition government.

  • Becky Cohen

    “In Wales, vote Plaid Cymru. In England, I think Green is the way to go in general, and I wish all the best to Rupert Read in Cambridge. But if you have a good Independent candidate, consider giving them a vote.”

    Craig, you must be joking! By doing that you’re effectively voting the Conservatives in for a second term.

    As far as I see it there are only two ways to vote in this election: you either vote to keep the Tories in; or you vote to get them out. Realistically, the only way to get them out is to vote Labour – as a vote for any of these smaller parties means one less for Labour, which is the only party that has the percentage nearest the Conservative one and therefore is the only party with enough widespread support to challenge Cameron’s hegemony.

    Either you’re a masochist who gains pleasure from cutting off your nose to spite your face, or you’re a closet Tory, Craig. By ensuring that Cameron serves a second term perhaps you – as a considerably economically successful man of some considerable wealth – really are either consciously or subconsciously voting for the party of the rich whom you expect to go on protecting your assets. Except you can’t bring yourself to admit your own Toryness – as that grazes the ego trip of your ‘edgy’ freedom fighter Walter Mitty comfort zone – and therefore you vote for the party of the rich in a round-a-bout way so that you can still pretend to yourself that you are more radical and left-wing than thou.

    Trouble is, whilst voting for a second round of pummelling the poor is alright for the chosen few who wish to protect their vested interests, ol’ Cameron is planning to do away with the Human Rights Act for his next trick which will just make life even worse for the rest of us. Thanks a bundle, mate!!!

  • glenn

    Personal abuse and intimidation is always unreasonable. You are an unreasonable person if you think otherwise.

    Except when you do it, of course.

  • lysias

    That’s like the Democrats who said that voting for Nader was in effect voting for Bush. No, it wasn’t. The only way to break up the power monopoly of the major parties is to vote for something else.

  • fred

    “Except when you do it, of course.”

    Show me where I ever abused anyone who hadn’t abused me first.

  • lysias

    The Guardian: SNP poised for greater influence at Westminster after election gains: Scottish Nationalists eye key roles on influential Commons select committees, including Treasury, defence and foreign affairs committees:

    Scottish National party leaders expect the party to wield far greater power at Westminster after the general election by winning seats on key committees and earning substantial Commons speaking rights.

    With the SNP on course to become the third largest party at Westminster, its Commons leadership said that would entitle the party to sit or win chairmanships on many of the most influential select committees, including the Treasury, defence and foreign affairs committees.

    It would also entitle Nicola Sturgeon’s party to have automatic speaking and tabling rights during Commons debates and at prime minister’s questions – putting it ahead of the Liberal Democrats for the first time in the party’s history.

    With Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, insisting he has no intention of negotiating a pact or voting arrangement with the SNP, Sturgeon is expecting to cement already close relations with the English Greens and Welsh nationalists Plaid Cymru to create a centre-left alliance to amplify their influence.

    . . .

    SNP sources insist they are not alarmed by Miliband apparently closing off options for cooperation, either dismissing it as pre-election bluster or feeling confident in the areas that they have already ring-fenced for discussion. These include pressing for spending increases, blocking Trident, reversing the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and ensuring the full delivery of the Smith commission recommendations for far greater devolution of tax and welfare powers to Holyrood.

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