A Revolutionary Act 205


There is no Establishment pathway to the final destruction of the Imperial British state. It will be momentous; the daft pomposity of the Jubilee celebrations reminds us of how powerful the United Kingdom once was. Only real power can prevent such forms from looking ludicrous. The show continues with the power behind it gone.

The British decline from being the greatest world power to the collapse of the metropolitan state has taken only a century. It held world pre-eminence for less than two centuries, approximately Plassey to Hiroshima. This ephemeral parade of military conquest, rape, looting and systematic economic exploitation is drawing to the most inglorious of closes. Empires do that.

Who remembers the details of the final Roman Emperors, the sackings of Rome, the alliances, the purple seized by outsiders? Very few. We recall Rome’s heyday; Pompey, Caesar, Antony, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Nero, Claudius. Of later Emperors, Constantine and Hadrian have name recognition. But the last three Emperors in Rome were Glycerius, Julius Nepos and Romulus Augustus. Even I had to look them up (and that isn’t the Romulus nor the Augustus that you have heard of – he appropriated the names).

Similarly I expect that a millennium hence not much will be heard of Boris Johnson; Walpole, Pitt, Peel, Gladstone, Disraeli, Lloyd George and Churchill will be names known to history students. Johnson will be just an opportunity for historians to pen amusing footnotes.

Historians will write sagely, scathingly or amusingly of the unbelievable mess at the very end of the UK. The extraordinary paralysis of government caused by Brexit, the brazen corruption on an enormous scale in PPE contracts, these will be briefly referenced. Johnson will get fleeting mentions as the epitome of the collapse of standards in public life at the UK’s decline; an inveterate liar. There will be scoffing at Partygate and the uncertain number of his children.

But one thing will puzzle historians. Why did the UK have enough strength to hold together for some time once the fissiparous forces had become overwhelming?

Given a Brexit which Scotland strongly opposed, a whole succession of very right wing Tory governments which Scotland also strongly opposed, and the utter mess of the May and Johnson governments which were hated in Scotland, how did a wasted decade (at least) pass after 2014 without Scotland moving to Independence. What held the union together?

The answer, of course, will be that Nicola Sturgeon held the union together. In the year 3000, first year history students at Dundee University will be sitting down to an essay question that reads “Nicola Sturgeon – Coward or Traitor? Discuss”.

The argument I have frequently seen used by those nowadays in the SNP for not moving towards Independence is that public opinion is not yet strongly enough in favour. What I do not understand is how they think public opinion will shift in favour without a campaign, when corporate and state media are so overwhelmingly biased against Independence.

The SNP justifies its period of taking huge personal emoluments from the British state with the argument that by demonstrating a capacity for good government they will encourage people towards Independence. Well, after eight years of power Nicola Sturgeon has moved Independence support from 45% to … 45%.

So if the argument is true that good SNP government will gain support for Independence, it follows that as support has not increased, the SNP is not providing good government. I think that is basically the case.

The problem is that, from an Independence movement bubbling with enormous talent, the paranoid Sturgeon picks people solely based on two criteria. The first is absolute subservience to her. The second is that they are entirely mediocre and could never be a threat. Those genuinely talented are ruthlessly disposed of – Michelle Thomson, Joanna Cherry and of course Alex Salmond come to mind immediately, there are others.

That John Swinney, Keith Brown, Shirley-Anne Somerville and Humza Yousaf hold national office in a country as full of talent as Scotland, is something I struggle to believe. Not one of those could ever aspire to attain mediocrity. They are dunces.

The penny first dropped with me that SNP internal elections are fixed when it was announced that Keith Brown had beaten Tommy Sheppard to be Deputy Leader. The worst example was the alleged victory of Angus Robertson over Marco Biaggi to be MSP candidate for Edinburgh Central. I was a member of the constituency association and literally knew not one single person who was voting for Robertson. Opinion in the SNP club on a Friday night was equally unanimous.

As I discovered when I came second in the SNP Presidency election, there is zero transparency to candidates in the SNP voting process. You are told the result, and that is it (I should make plain I am not suspicious about the victor in my own case).

It is a remarkable fact that the addition of some very weak Green ministers has nevertheless raised the level of the Scottish government. I was noticing that we see them on television much more than we see SNP ministers. Then the penny dropped that the Green ministers can make media appearances without Nicola’s permission, whereas SNP ministers cannot.

Once you realise that, you quickly see just how much Sturgeon monopolises the media and how very little publicity she allows to her ministers. She truly is the most astonishing narcissist. She is never off the media while the minsters, bar the Greens, are virtually invisible.

It cannot be denied that Sturgeon is very good at winning elections. If the goal is sustaining the SNP in power as colonial governors, she most definitely achieves it. If the goal is Independence, she has achieved nothing. In his identical period in office, Alex Salmond moved support for Independence from 28% to 45%. On that measure, Sturgeon has achieved absolutely nothing.

I have enormous respect for Alex Salmond. I did not follow the Amber Heard/Johnny Depp trial at all – they both seem weird and unpleasant. But what it is impossible to miss is the massive gulf between what ordinary people say on social media they believe, having watched the actual broadcast of the trial, and what the “liberal” media is loudly telling them that they ought to believe.

The difference could not be more stark and it amounts to this. The overwhelming majority of ordinary people reject the notion that you should decide the truth of events based on the gender of those involved. The jury rejected that too. The media persist in telling them they must base who to believe on gender.

How I wish the trial of Alex Salmond had also been televised. People would have seen, as the Salmond jury saw, that accusers were blatantly lying and conspiring. But the mass of people did not see that, and exactly as in the Heard/Depp trial, the media overwhelmingly portrayed the jury as wrong and the verdict as perverse and unethical.

Imagine if all you know of the Heard/Depp trial had been what it said in the Guardian and on the BBC? Public opinion would be overwhelmingly different from what it is. But the public are not fools, and when a trial is truly public and they can see it, they understand.

The Salmond trial was not truly public. What you were permitted to know was strictly controlled. It has only reached people through an entirely and deliberately warped media filter. If you had seen and heard it, your knowledge of the truth would be entirely different. The jury saw and heard it. They gave a true and honest verdict. How I wish the Salmond trial had been televised – that is worth saying again.

The same is of course true of the Assange trials.

As things stand, despite the jury and entirely unfairly, it is the reputation of Alex Salmond which is destroyed and not those of his lying accusers. His Alba Party, of which I am a member, barely registers at the polls. Yet Alex Salmond is, despite his age, starting again from scratch, speaking to audiences of 100 in draughty local halls around Scotland, plugging the case for Independence, as he was doing 50 years ago.

The man has the heart of a lion. The words of Kipling (a much maligned and misrepresented poet) come to mind:

“If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss”

Salmond is a hero, pure and simple. The sheer evil of what Sturgeon tried to do to him – and in many ways succeeded – is far beyond my comprehension.

I do not believe Sturgeon will hold an Independence referendum in 2023 as promised. I think she will ask Boris Johnson for a Section 30 agreement to hold one, knowing he will refuse. She will then declare herself again against “illegal” and “wildcat” referenda and will urge everybody to vote SNP in the 2024 Westminster elections, to give her yet another “mandate” she will not use and her mates another long ride on the gravy train.

You may be surprised to hear that in one sense I am quite relaxed about this. I am not a believer in referenda, or other forms of direct democracy.

About a month ago I was listening to an interview on Radio 4 with a Brexit voter who was being expelled from Spain. He had lived there for some years, and owned his home there, but he had failed whatever test it was for residency the Spanish government had implemented post Brexit.

The kicker of course was that the man and his wife (who was audibly sobbing) had voted for Brexit. He had no idea, he told the BBC, that it might lead to his expulsion from Spain. The first instinct was to laugh at him, and that was rather the tone of the piece.

But that is, of course, the problem with referenda. They ask simplified questions of people many of whom are incapable of understanding, or not bothered to understand, the ramifications. They also provide a great amplifier for popular prejudice, as witness a series of anti-Muslim decisions in Switzerland.

Indeed (and it always annoys people when I say this), while there is a left wing case for Brexit, many Brexit voters were motivated by simple anti-immigrant feeling. Indeed, a period living in Ramsgate destroyed in me any illusions about the nobility of “the people”.

Even more than I dislike referenda do I dislike Citizens Assemblies, where ordinary people are led by the nose by a battery of “experts” and carefully selected reading material, towards the Establishment’s predetermined objective.

In any event, the conditions for a fair referendum simply do not exist in Scotland – as they did not exist in 2014. The public have been subjected to a lifetime of unionist education and media propaganda, and that would persist throughout the election campaign. In 2014 the BBC achieved the not inconsiderable feat of being even more biased than the corporate media.

Alan Knight’s wonderful documentary on BBC bias in the 2014 campaign, London Calling, was one of the most enjoyable things I have worked on.

Unlike the joyful outburst of popular enthusiasm that characterised the 2014 campaign, Sturgeon is determined to control the Yes movement in the event her party forces her to hold the referendum. To that end she has introduced a committee of compliant Sturgeonistas – people almost entirely invisible in the 2014 campaign – who apparently are now officially the Yes Movement, and have unveiled a pledge of political correctness we all have to sign to take part, all about things entirely unrelated to Independence.

The problem is that Sturgeon’s vision of an Independent Scotland looks an awful lot like the UK. First and foremost it is to be entirely neoliberal and centre right in politics, as witness the reaffirmation of the SNP Growth Commission as the blueprint. That document could have been produced by Fred Goodwin’s Royal Bank of Scotland in 2006. Furthermore Scotland is to be entirely Atlanticist, enthusiastically into NATO and arms sales, and joined at the hip with Westminster in defence policy, while still subservient to a London based monarch and using London currency.

I am not at all sure I see the point of Independence in Nicola’s vision. Nor do I know any Scot genuinely enthusiastic about Independence who sees the future of Scotland in that way. It is a vision of Independence for people who do not actually believe in Independence. It is not a vision that will ever win a referendum campaign.

Let us forget referenda. In constitutional affairs I am in some respects an adherent of the Irish conservative philosopher Edmund Burke. I believe that the best democracy consists of the people voting to choose wise and responsible people to make law, and not in the people trying to make law direct themselves.

Now I admit that Burke’s theory has taken a huge hammering in recent years, as western democracy has declined into sophisticated kleptocracy and elected representatives have become deeply unimpressive charlatans and puppets of the super rich. But I still think leaders should lead.

The conundrum was perhaps solved for me last year by my friend Joseph who remarked “you may think you are a Burkean conservative, Craig, but actually you are a revolutionary vanguardist”. Which I discover is, in important respects, surprisingly much the same thing.

Either way, it boils down to this. Leaders lead. Scotland needs to forget about referenda. It has elected a majority of pro-Independence representatives. They should declare Independence. This could be done by the Scottish Parliament, but I would much prefer a National Assembly to be called combining both MPs and MSPs. The National Assembly should declare Independence and apply to the United Nations for recognition.

While that is pending, and at least six months after the declaration, a confirmatory plebiscite can be held under conditions which Scotland controls.

The SNP can do this, or it can continue to be a super gravy train for otherwise entirely unemployable politicians.

The moment is now. Boris Johnson is uniquely bereft of moral authority. The UK will never be weaker. Never will the UK have a leader who will command so little international and domestic respect and support, should he seek to reassert London control by violence. However should he succeed by violence, nothing could better expedite our eventual success.

It really is time for SNP politicians to stand up. Do you actually want Independence, or are you just stuffing your pockets on the backs of those who do?

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205 thoughts on “A Revolutionary Act

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  • DiggerUK

    As you well know, Samuel Pepys came to histories attention by helping reform civil service and civic administration. He didn’t cure the problems, the circumlocution laws of motion are still here.
    He survives as an icon because the epoch changed, not because his abilities improved.

    There were plenty of mediocrities who became Caesars, usually by stuffing the pockets of the army. So the SNP are only apeing that which has gone before.

    As the man said, cometh the right moment, cometh the right person. Usually after an extended period of endless mediocrities and crooks.

    Still, I did chuckle at all those gas beacons being lit, I do hope we didn’t use any Russian gas…_

    • Barbour

      Any declaration of independence would see the Orange Order take to the streets with the full encouragement of the UK state and the neo liberal media. Chaos would ensue .The State then steps in with Catalan style measures to destroy an independence movement that has no appetite for violence.

  • j lowrie

    Honest of Craig to admit that he opposes direct democracy i.e. the only type of democracy, but advocates an oligarchy of so-called superior talents. All this twaddle about representative “democracy” was advocated by Madison in the Federalist Papers 200 years ago, who quite openly admitted that representative government was an antidote to democracy, which threatened the rights of property. Anyway, referenda are not in themselves the mark of democracy; selection by lot is(CF Aristotle:Politics).

  • Ian Robert Stevenson

    I was born in Jersey. My parents spent most of their life in the Far East coming to my father’s family home in Jersey after the war.
    My mother and I moved to England when I was five but I have always identified with Britain rather than England.
    When my brother left the Navy, he was in Scotland. He married and has made his home there ever since in Edinburgh.
    I would rather the UK stayed together ( though I think Northern Ireland will, rightly, join the Republic in the next 10-20 years) but I can see why many Scots would like to ditch rule by the over entitled and incompetent Conservatives with their isolationist English exceptionalism. I have a lot of sympathy with the egalitarian mores of Scotland and a tradition of local schools with opportunity for boys from poorer homes to enter university long before it was possible in England.
    So I am rather split. I have sympathy with the idea of independence although I would prefer we created a progressive nation together.
    I don’t think my view is mainstream but I do think the average opinion is “if that’s what the Scots vote for, We shouldn’t try to sabotage it’.
    If there is a lesson from Brexit, it is that before any referendum the implications should be established what will happen for both results.

  • Mist001

    I realised a long time ago that the biggest obstacle to Scottish independence is democracy. The penny will drop sooner or later with people who are in a position to actually do something about this obstacle

  • lysias

    Referenda are not the only way to have a direct democracy. In ancient Athens, most political positions were occupied by adult male citizens chosen by lot. Arguably the politically most important part of the state organization was the Council of 500, chosen by lot from the adult male citizen body aged 30 or older, which functioned as the upper house of the legislature, whose approval was needed before the lower house, the Assembly, which all adult male citizens could attend and vote in, could vote on a proposal. Because, in practice, members of the Council only served one term of one year, and the numbers were such that pretty much all male citizens did serve that one year, there was no divergence of interests between Council members and the citizen body as a whole. Because, during their one-year term, members of the Council pretty much only devoted themselves to that duty alone during that year, and they had to be at least 30 years old, Council members paid attention to their duties. A good book on how this worked is Anna Missiou, Literacy and Democracy in Fifth-Century Athens.

      • Lysias

        “Every cook can govern” was apparently something Lenin said. Interestingly, Putin says his paternal grandfather was a cook for both Lenin and Stalin.

      • Courtenay Francis Raymond Barnett

        James was a brilliant analyst,

        Having heard him lecture three times and read a lot of his works is that I would not envision him as an effective politician or a PM. His former friend and first PM of his native Trinidad and Tobago saw James as very much the idealist Marxist dreamer.

        • Lysias

          The Athenian-style system of government that James praised would not give power to dreamers like James, but to average citizens. James of course realized that.

    • Jams O'Donnell

      ‘Sortition’ is the modern name for this. There is a basic article on Wikipedia about this, probably with links to other sources (I can’t remember though). It’s a very interesting concept and certainly deserves to be tried, with appropriate safeguards to avoid indoctrination (if possible).

  • SleepingDog

    I find this portrait difficult to square with the story I came across today on this Scottish humanists page, Alex Salmond proclaiming he preferred people of faith (kind of the opposite of being personal-attribute-blind):

    https://www.humanism.scot/what-we-do/humanitie/new-religious-freedom-group-in-parliament-claims-christian-persecution/

    In any case, Edmund Burke was successfully lampooned by Mary Wollstonecraft, and he seems like a tedious, lachrymose, effete bore.

    The problems with elites, electorates, representative and participatory democracy lie in the failure to distinguish between different kinds of political decision, their quality, urgency, timescale, required background knowledge and so on. The idea that you can wrap these up in a five-year plan of Westminster government is ludicrous. Some decisions should be democratic, some technocratic, others biocratic. I think the latter is very much the sense I get about food security policy from Tim Lang’s book Feeding Britain: Our Food Problems and How to Fix Them. I currently favour a constitutionally-encoded biocracy for a new Scotland.

    As for the SNP, I guess many people see them as an expendable stage in a launch vehicle for an Independent Scotland, and the surest way of getting rid of the SNP is to keep voting for them until that happens. This is why, essentially, I believe Alba made next to no impact electorally.

    • Goose

      As frustrating as events have conspired to make things, Scots know it does all rest with Sturgeon.

      The future ‘coward or traitor?’ designations are certainly a possibility, but that doesn’t have to be her legacy.

      As for support, Alex Salmond would’ve given anything to start from around 45% instead of the lowly mid 20s they had to work with. Wait for the stars to align and you’ll be waiting forever. And of course the polls won’t move themselves when it’s deliberately off the agenda; they have to sell it and make their own polling realities. Hypothetically, just suppose support were currently running at her idealised levels guessing, 65% or above? Do the SNP genuinely believe London would be any more inclined to grant a referendum after the last big establishment scare in 2014? No, they’d be in exactly the same predicament as now, with London saying no, albeit with more Scottish anger building over London’s intransigence.

      I think she has the political capital and the political skills to win independence were she to commit and argue the case passionately for it – as a younger, more radical Nicola Sturgeon almost certainly would’ve done. But whether she and her comfortable – with the trappings of power – colleagues want to do that now is an open question? If they don’t they should at least be honest with the supporters they’ve been stringing along. Only then would Alba get their turn.

      • SleepingDog

        Although I support Scottish independence, I prefer a high-bar, path-smoothed entry. So a 2:1 majority in the deciding vote, but the SNP should negotiate formal rUK support for a friendly transition to independence in return, possibly in a new constitutional framework with automatic triggering of referenda and so forth.

        I take your points, but I don’t buy into a cult of leadership for anybody. I imagine that Sturgeon is calculating the cost of another failed independence campaign. There could be loads of stuff happening in the background. I tend to imagine a secrecy pipeline down which packets of undisclosed information are sliding, partly as a known declassification process, partly from secrets expected to leak, partly from uncertainties. Politicians who are aware of such packets would be inclined to build them into timings for campaign plans. My old lecturer in Contemporary Issues in British Politics said that academics often knew of things that would greatly affect popular views on political questions if they were better known (he essentially predicted SpyCops decades before it went mainstream). I think the Internet has tilted that towards discovery, but not by so much.

        My view has always been that the SNP, like any political party, will tend to become more corrupt the longer in power, so factoring in a timescale for projected scandals will also be a calculation. But Alba is hardly a fresh alternative.

        • Goose

          It wouldn’t be a smooth ride.

          I’d imagine the missing messages from that WhatsApp group: the ‘Vietnam’ group, that included SNP staffers and members of government will mysteriously make an appearance, if it so serves to destroy any campaign & vote held without Westminster’s approval.

          The British establishment despise Alex Salmond and seemingly adore Nicola Sturgeon, as pointed out. Precisely because she’s on-message on foreign policy, economic policy and NATO membership etc. Venture off-message by forcing a referendum and she’ll be on the receiving end. It could be that Sturgeon fears this very scenario, and has privately completely given up on holding another vote?
          If they do hold a vote in 2023, they’ll certainly need to ban or severely restrict the postal vote, limiting it to truly exceptional circumstances. In 2014, Ruth Davidson, the then Scottish Conservative leader, claimed Better Together agents took “tallies” of postal votes at sample openings held before the count. A practice that seems wide open to potential bad actors & fraud. If Thatcher used Mi5 against the striking miners, what behaviour would the govt indulge in if the UK state were genuinely at stake? Similarly Laura Kuenssberg claimed her ‘sources’ were telling her the results obtained at postal vote opening sessions were looking ‘grim’ for Labour before polling day in 2019. 2019’s GE saw an unusually high postal vote, suspiciously high in fact.

          • SF

            I think there’s misinformation about what happens at postal vote opening sessions.

            I attended one such in 2014, as a scrutineer for one of the Yes groups; it wasn’t a “sample” opening, because all the envelopes were opened, so that the signatures and dates of birth on the validation slips could be compared with the register, and the serial numbers on the slips matched with those on the enclosed ballot papers. (The votes themselves were not counted at that stage.)

            The council staff performing these tasks (with electronic assistance for the former) try to hide the marks on the papers from those watching on behalf of the campaigns, but it’s possible to get a rough idea – that’s where “sampling” comes in; it won’t be possible to see every paper – of the distribution of votes, especially if there are only two options.

            At the time – though maybe not now – that was perfectly legal, but it was not legal to tell anyone what had been observed, That is where Davidson erred; someone broke the law by reporting back to her, and she then made that public.

            Fraud in postal voting is a quite different matter, and probably quite easily carried out, so I agree it should be restricted, as it used to be.

  • Andy Ellis

    Scotland may have elected a majority of representatives from pro-independence parties, but they weren’t elected on a specifically pro independence or plebiscitary platform. What you’re suggesting and offering is premature. To be accepted by the “community of the people” and the international community it has to be crystal clear that independence enjoys majority popular support. That doesn’t have to be via a referendum, it can just as well be via an explicitly plebiscitary majority at a general election.

    There is a huge risk in confecting novel National Assemblies which aren’t backed up with a convincing popular majority. The 2015 Westminster election returned 56 SNP MPs out of the 59 Scottish constituencies on 49.97% of the vote. The 2021 Holyrood elections saw pro-independence parties gain 48.4% on the constituency vote (47.7% for the SNP, 0.7% for the Greens) and 48.4% on the regional vote too (40.3% for the SNP and 8.1% for the Greens).

    When the devolusionists in the SNP fail to deliver #indyref2 – and I agree they inevitably will fail to do so – then “the movement” has to set its sights on gaining a majority in plebiscitary elections. It has to be made clear beforehand that a majority vote for pro-independence parties on a platform of independence is taken as approval for immediate de facto and de jure independence.

    Trying to frig the system and convince current No voters, Westminster and the international community that the will of the people is settled isn’t helped by punting half baked constitutional short cuts.

      • Andy Ellis

        It’s 2022, not 1776. We’re not in the era of the Federalists and anti-Federalists, any more than we’re in a situation where Periclean Athens’ direct democracy can really inform us about what we should be doing to promote Scottish independence.

        • j lowrie

          How about advocating a second chamber in Edinburgh selected by lot? How about abolishing judges and implementing a legal system where very large juries chosen by lot ( and thus hard to bribe or intimidate) adjudicate i.e. citizens judge other citizens instead of corrupt state appointees? As Aristotle pointed out long ago it is quite inadequate to describe democracy as the rule of the majority and its opposite, oligarchy as the rule of the few; rather democracy is the rule of those without resources, oligarchy the rule of the rich, being few. The defining characteristic of an oligarchy is election by ballot, which the rich will usually win thanks to their superior wealth and education. It is not clear why you hold those concepts to be irrelevant.

          • Lysias

            Scottish independence would be a golden opportunity to institute such constitutional changes. If imitation of Athenian institutions succeeds in Scotland, it may well inspire imitation all over the world.

          • Andy Ellis

            Why do we need a second chamber at all? Denmark abolished its second chamber, and many other smaller nations don’t bother having one. If you have a strong committee system in parliament able to compel witnesses via subpoena that should be enough? I’m not sure abolishing professional judges is practical or desirable. Post brexit we’re all aware of the potential dangers of binary ballots, but I fail to see how a preference for choosing random people by lot necessarily results in better outcomes. It might, but there again it might not. Perhaps it’s something that can be examined post independence as an alternative, but it’s not something that’s used elsewhere at present that we can point to and say: “Yeah, look it works well in Ruritania so why not here?” is it?

            Direct democracy in Periclean Athens with a population of around 100,000 citizens rested on only 30,000 eligible male citizens entitled to vote in the assembly and the system depended on disenfranchised slaves doing the work to ensure citizens had the leisure to “do democracy”.

          • Lysias

            Why have a second chamber at all? Because if it’s made up of average citizens as the Council in Athens was, it ensures not everything in government is done by politicians and their appointees. It gives a veto power to average citizens.

          • Bruce_H

            Rather than choosing an assembly randomly, as is suggested by some French “political thinkers” too as a way to avoid corrupt elected politicians or representatives surely it would be better to devise a way to elect people who aren’t corrupt? One simple way to involve more people and reduce corruption would be to provide for these reps to be easily unelected?

            I should have thought that the brexit fiasco which enabled a decision to be made that is clearly catastrophic for Britain as a whole would have proven fairly conclusively to most that as a method of government it must be about the worst?

          • Andy Ellis

            As a wise man once said:

            “Was die Erfahrung aber und die Geschichte lehren, ist dieses, daß Völker und Regierungen niemals etwas aus der Geschichte gelernt und nach Lehren, die aus derselben zu ziehen gewesen wären, gehandelt haben.”
            Hegel – Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Weltgeschichte.

            “What experience and history teach is this — that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it.”
            Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, LPH Introduction, as translated by H. B. Nisbet (1975)

          • J. Lowrie

            ‘Direct democracy in Periclean Athens with a population of around 100,000 citizens rested on only 30,000 eligible male citizens entitled to vote in the assembly and the system depended on disenfranchised slaves doing the work to ensure citizens had the leisure to “do democracy”.’

            This comment is decidedly misleading. Democracy meant the rule of the hoi aporoi, those without resources, those who had to work for a living as opposed to the rich. Certainly slavery will have increased the leisure time of the free citizens who owned slaves, but those who did not were among the most fervent supporters of democracy e.g. rowers in the fleet who worked for wages. The rich i.e.the big slave owners were anti-democratic e.g. the very wealthy Critias who led the oligarchic reign of terror against the democrats in 404 BCE. As for ‘representative government’ that was certainly dependent on slave owners as personified by James Madison ( cf The Federalist Papers No X for his anti-democratic views),the father of the US Constitution, who has lately been in the news as the descendants of his Montpelier plantation slaves demand that the history of their ancestors enslaved by him no longer be suppressed. Of course it may be argued that ‘representative government’ is no more dependent on slaves, but neither would genuine democracy.

          • Andy Ellis

            I didn’t say, nor do I believe, that human nature had changed. Our circumstances have however.

          • Bruce_H

            @J. Lowrie
            in ancient Athens only a minority voted, no women, no “foreigners” or slaves so most of the workers were excluded, leaving the vote for people of some wealth, between 10 and 20% of the population. By modern standards it wasn’t really democratic at all.
            Not only this but running a small city state is very different to running a modern nation with millions of inhabitants.

    • craig Post author

      I am not trying to convince current No voters. I am trying to marginalise and outplay them. Nor am I interested in the slightest in being “constitutional” in terms of the constitution of the state I seek to destroy.

      • Andy Ellis

        Even so, you have to convincingly demonstrate that independence is the will of the majority. Seeking to do so without recourse to the existing “accepted” mechanisms of a Yes vote in a referendum or a pro-independence majority of votes in plebiscitary elections begs the question of how your extra-constitutional road to independence demonstrates that it is the settled will of the Scottish people. I’ve yet to hear a convincing explanation of how those advocating for novel means are going to demonstrate that schemes for a National Assembly will reach escape velocity. That’s particularly the case when we’re faced with an unreconstructed SNP hierarchy which is staunchly devolusionist and wedded to the grey suited managerialism of the Growth Commission.

        Surely, unless the rank and file SNP membership stage a palace coup and convert the SNP as a party to your way of thinking, or the SNP is destroyed as an electoral force and replaced with a more radical party, your plan is – at best – going to take much longer than advocating for plebiscitary elections?

  • Leftworks

    “In constitutional affairs I am in some respects an adherent of the Irish conservative philosopher Edmund Burke. I believe that the best democracy consists of the people voting to choose wise and responsible people to make law, and not in the people trying to make law direct themselves.”

    How’s that worked out for us all this century? Thus far, we have been presented with Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Theresa May, and Boris Johnson, plus associated gang members. If that strikes Craig as a roll call of wise and responsible people, he and I differ (with the possible exception of Gordon Brown). The trouble with Craig’s proposition is that it will almost invariably let the scoundrels in, because it takes little account of factual differentials in reach and power.

    • Dom

      Yes, there is a liberal fantasy abroad that once the Brexiteers and Britannia Unchained lot are swept away British democracy will return to stewardship by wise, public spirited individuals. That fantasy depends on suppressing knowledge of the career paths of New Labour ministers following their public service (and those of their recent analogues in ChangeUK).

      There is actually no reason to be confident that a new brush would sweep away the entrenched corruption and puppeting by the super rich. Nowhere in mainstream British politics or its commentariat does one hear urgent concern about the grip of big business over government.

      The ruthless purging of the left by liberal centrist MPs and media should have opened everyone’s eyes to the fact that Britain will never be allowed to be a functioning democracy. The centrists crave the irreparably corrupt empty shell of US democracy and are very far along the path toward achieving it.

      • Tom Welsh

        To my mind, the main question posed by Brexit was (and still is): given the admitted corruption, incompetence, and malice of the British ruling class and the governments that serve it, would matters be made still worse by exposure to the arguably still greater corruption, incompetence, and malice of Brussels?

        Surely the only answer is “yes, they would”. Not to mention close involvement with so many poor and declining client nations with their begging bowls out, and dozens (literally) of nations with absolutely no tradition or understanding of human rights and common law as understood in Britain. Or even freedom of speech: in Germany and Austria in the 1930s and until 1945, one spoke against the Nazis and for the Jews at one’s peril; today the situation has hardly changed except for its polarity. Today one must be in favour of the Jews and against the Nazis, on pain of imprisonment or worse.

        Such people have absolutely no comprehension of free speech, nor – since free speech is the foundation of all other liberties – of human rights.

        • James Chater

          Tom I have lived in EU countries for around 50 years and I don’t experience the EU as any more corrupt or malicious than any number of national governments, especially the UK one. Indeed far less so. Most of European countries problems are down to bad gvnm at the local level.

      • Bayard

        “Yes, there is a liberal fantasy abroad that once the Brexiteers and Britannia Unchained lot are swept away British democracy will return to stewardship by wise, public spirited individuals.”

        It is an extremely common fallacy, to be found in all spheres of life and society, that change will be, or would have been, always for the better – if that hadn’t happened, then this would have happened, where this is better than that, completely ignoring the possibility that if that hadn’t happened then the other might have happened, where the other is considerably worse.

    • Tom Welsh

      Burke was indeed a philosopher, and thus in some ways above and beyond the practicalities of everyday politics. As witness the fact that, apart from his uplifting and edifying speeches (which sometimes put MPs to sleep) he never impinged on the practical politics of his time. We can heartily admire and endorse his opinions, but he accomplished hardly anything.

      How can “the people [vote] to choose wise and responsible people to make law” when they are constrained by law to choose only members in good standing of one or two established political gangs that are pledged to serve only their corporate masters, having absolutely no interest in the concerns of the ordinary voters?

      For example, how would we the people go about choosing Mr Murray (for example) as our Prime Minister? Or even our MP – not that a single honest MP would make the slightest difference?

      • Natasha

        Tom Welsh asks

        “[…] how would we the people go about choosing Mr Murray (for example) as our Prime Minister? Or even our MP […]?”

        And Mr Murray observes:

        “Sturgeon monopolises the media and how very little publicity she allows to her ministers. She truly is the most astonishing narcissist. She is never off the media while the minsters, bar the Greens, are virtually invisible.”

        How about we let the people decide by requiring ALL ballot box candidates to publish their personality psychiatrical test results? Such a policy to get the ball rolling on this desperately needed conversation, could begin with a potential political candidate e.g. Mr Murray volunteering to publish his results.

        Mr Murray, care to comment?

        For example serial liar Johnson has a “dark triad” of three personality traits that belong together – psychopathy, narcissism and machiavellianism. This makes sense because these traits almost always overlap and are difficult to distinguish from one another. The traits exist on a continuum and are more pronounced in some people than others.

        https://theconversation.com/the-darkness-of-boris-johnson-a-psychologist-on-the-prime-ministers-unpalatable-personality-traits-177662

        Throughout society there is an issue with ruthless amoral people – some with psychopathic and narcissistic traits – attaining positions of power. This applies particularly to politics, but also to higher levels of the police force and in education. Clearly, many leaders have good qualities, but power is especially attractive to ruthless amoral people, who cause massive amounts of damage. This is partly a social issue, since we tend to value leaders with these traits. However, surely there needs to be rigorous psychological assessment, especially in politics? Candidates could be assessed for levels of empathy and conscience, and to identify traits such as narcissism and sociopathy. We call on the government to support and debate this idea, and introduce legislation to this effect.

        https://www.change.org/p/psychological-assessments-for-political-candidates-and-other-high-level-positions?redirect=false

        • Goose

          We’d possibly be better being ruled by AI programmed with those personality traits…seriously.

          I read an interesting piece exploring whether Robots/AI (algorithms) could one day replace politicians? Things like drastically improved decision-making were highlighted. And it’d certainly rid us of the dishonest and the corrupt: it’s no small matter either, Govts around the world award $20 trillion to outside contractors to carry out govt business each year. We’ve seen in the UK, the sheer amount of money wasted on a dodgy Covid App contract and by buying faulty PPE equipment during the pandemic. The normal tendering processes were scrapped, with emergency powers put in place that saw ministers handing billions in contracts to cronies.

          A people’s council or assembly could consider matters of war and peace and foreign relations. There is no reason to believe AI couldn’t do a much better job handling whole areas of govt responsibility involved in the running of day to day domestic affairs. Electorates could vote to tweak the algorithms, based on more/less compassion. Let’s go.

          • Jimmeh

            > We’d possibly be better being ruled by AI programmed with those personality traits…seriously.

            There’s two problems with that, Goose.

            Firstly, “AI” (read as a procedure derived from machine-learning, which is the contemporary usage) is opaque; that type of AI cannot explain its reasoning and decisions at all. I don’t think it’s remotely desirable for government to be a black box.

            Secondly, and more importantly, such a scheme would make it all but impossible for a political movement to implement fundamental change. That’s also an argument against written constitutions; the difference is that constitutions are overseen by courts, whereas it’s impossible to oversee a black-box AI.

            It would be possible to implement a constitution/basic law in software, possibly a rule-based system that can explain its reasoning. That’s another kind of AI. I still think that’s a bad idea; god knows, our political systems need changing, and the changes need to be made by people, not by rules implemented in software.

          • Goose

            Jimmeh-

            Well…I’d had a bit to drink when I typed that. 😉

            It’s probably going to happen, albeit in the(distant)future.

            Ideally such algorithms would be open source – the basis for decisions would be transparent and verifiable to all. Various evaluation criteria to reach decisions which are objectively the best possible choices seems sensible. How much of the US’s budget: especially defence and so-called pork barrel spending, is due to special interest lobbying, campaign contributions and post-election patrons (seats on boards etc). Why do we need to tolerate these corrupt middle-men and women? Related, Did you catch Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s recent tearful video, in which she basically denounces Congress as a rotten hive of corruption?

            Surely we can do better than ‘party loyalty’ first hack politicians, using unknown criteria(possibly corruption involved) behind closed doors? Clearly it wouldn’t be applicable to all areas of govt, I’d integrate blockchain-based(for integrity) electronic voting and have biannual public referenda on various new contentious proposals as the Swiss do.

          • Goose

            Let’s face it. If we had AI judges, using purely objective criteria to reach their decisions; precedent and case law.

            I’d wager Craig would never have gone to prison and Julian would be a free man.

  • Tom Welsh

    “Given a Brexit which Scotland strongly opposed…”

    I shall never, for the life of me, be able to grasp how “Scotland” could “strongly oppose” the UK leaving the EU, while simultaneously wishing to break up and destroy the UK itself.

    • DiggerUK

      @TW,
      Mr. Murray has biased vision when comparing his much despised referendum decision in 2014, with his much praised referendum decision in 2016. This is despite his claim that

      “the conditions for a fair referendum simply do not exist in Scotland – as they did not exist in 2014. The public have been subjected to a lifetime of unionist education and media propaganda”

      It seems that the “lifetime of unionist education and media propaganda” works as well as it fails.

      Still, one person’s council of philosopher kings is another person’s benign dictatorship. Unless of course you accept that a tyranny is just a tyranny…_

    • Vivian O’Blivion

      “I shall never, for the life of me, be able to grasp …”

      says the man who puts Scotland in inverted commas. Pardon me for having the audacity to presume that my pretendy wee country is anything other than a province of imperial England.

      • DiggerUK

        @ V O’B,
        As TW was quoting from Craig’s post, I believe it is grammatically correct to put his words in quotation marks…_

        • Jams O'Donnell

          Not in the case of the single word ‘Scotland’ which is clearly the general subject of the post and thus they are unnecessary, (although “strongly oppose” is fine). I have used quotation marks here correctly to indicate the single word I am referring to.

          • Bruce_H

            I assumed that Scotland was in quotes to indicate the difficulty of knowing what this meant. How does a country have an opinion?

    • Ultraviolet

      Scotland wants to be an independent nation that pools some parts of its sovereignty with others, in order to gain substantial trade benefits. (Whether you agree with the argument or not, that is the case for it.)

      It does not want to be a subservient province of a London Government that it has not voted for and that clearly despises it.

      I struggle to see how anyone could conflate the two. Being part of a collective of nations working together for a limited common goal is not the same as being part of a nation you do not have any affinity with.

      • MrShigemitsu

        That argument only works if you assume that the EU is a static institution – which of course it isn’t.

        One of the red flags for Brexit voters was the EU’s self-declared and ongoing mission of “ever closer union”.

        This could mean, in the event of Scottish Independence being followed by EU membership, and maintenance of that trajectory of “ever closer union”, that Scotland would eventually be subsumed into a unitary European state (with a single currency, and austerity baked into its legislation and treaties – as it is), leaving it in a rather similar position to the one it currently endures as a part of the UK, only with less potential power at the top level of governance to effect change.

        • Ultraviolet

          The average state in the USA has more autonomy from federal Government than Scotland, an actual nation, has within the United Kingdom.

          The EU is a far looser confederation than the USA. That is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. If the sort of union you are thinking of were ever to happen, it would only be with the consent of all member states. I can’t see that happening within the next 50 years.

          And if that is what Brexit voters were voting against, they were voting against a fantasy.

      • Bruce_H

        Do you feel any affinity for the present EU Commission President, for Ursula von der Leyen or Jean-Claude Juncker? Or Emmanuel Macron, Presidency of the Council of the European Union? I fear that it may be wishful thinking.

  • Nick

    As an Englishman, I am in favour of Scottish independence because I believe that a people should govern themselves, not be governed by outsiders. For exactly the same reason, I was in favour of Brexit.

    The plight of the couple who were expelled from Spain has nothing to do with Brexit – it was entirely their own fault. The Brexit agreement ensured that people who were living in EU countries at the time Article 50 was invoked retained their residence rights. I actually moved to an EU country after the referendum (but before Art. 50 was invoked), and the Brexit agreement preserved my right to remain there, provided that I was a bona fide resident (a simple matter of filling out a form and showing evidence of residence).

    (I had a plan B, of course, in case the Brexit agreement were not to preserve residents’ rights. But I didn’t have to use it. Nobody who actually bothered to check the situation needed to be expelled from any EU country.)

  • James Chater

    I think that Russia and the UK resemble each other in some many ways. Each with a history of imperialism, failing to make the transition from “Great nation” to simply “Good nation”. Steeped in the past, unable to find its place in the world, unable to get on with its neighbours, blaming everyone else for its failings while its corrupt rulers lie through their teeth. Each has a narrative of itself surrounded by enemies and wants to wallow in nostalgia and put the clock back. Also, both have a great literary tradition and outstanding sacred choral traditions. But these positives, alas, are outweighed by the negatives, as both countries implode along with their false narratives.

          • Jams O'Donnell

            Yes, Putin is certainly a contrast to Sturgeon, whom I now habitually refer to as “The Wee Liar”. If you read Putin’s speeches they are in stunning contrast to the waffle of Johnston and senile maunderings of Biden. Putin exposes himself to public questioning in a way that no western politician, as far as I can tell, has ever done – and his speeches are masterpieces of concise and clear analysis, whether you agree with him or not.

          • Jimmeh

            Putin lied in January about his intention to invade Ukraine. And he’s lied to his own people about whether Ukraine has been invaded.

            But no leader tells the truth about their military intentions; deception is essential to military operations. More generally, it’s true that Putin hasn’t lied much. Over the last 20 years, he’s made it pretty clear what his views are about Russia’s place in the world, its relations with former Soviet republics, and its history. He’s far from inscrutable; if anything, he’s been recklessly frank about his opinions. He’s a narcissist; he thinks the world is better for knowing what he thinks.

  • Tom

    Craig on the failure of NS to deliver a 2023 referendum:

    “She (NS) will then declare herself again against “illegal” and “wildcat” referenda and will urge everybody to vote SNP in the 2024 Westminster elections, to give her yet another “mandate”.

    Alternatively, perhaps her indyref failure is being engineered to give her a resignation issue. “I really thought Westminster would grant a Section 30, I really did, but there you are, I was wrong, and so it is time for someone else to take the indy case forward. It’s been such an honour (etc) and, of course, “The Dream Will Never Die”.

    All political life ends in failure, and NS’s is undoubtedly heading that way, however long (probably quite long) it still takes. Perhaps another failed bid for an indyref will give her an ‘out’ before political humiliation eventually forces one on her as, given time, it must.

    Salmond’s resignation as FM was typical of a man of considerable integrity. How horribly ironic if NS was to follow in his footsteps, but for entirely cynical and dis-honourable reasons. In a way, it would be her final knife in Salmond’s back, his ultimate humiliation.

    Likely? I dunno, but she is certainly capable of it.

  • Vivian O’Blivion

    If there’s to be a campaign in 2023 (the dugs in the street ken there’ll no be), there’ll be no platform sharing for the control freaks in NuSNP. There’ll be no free wheeling, joyous, anarchic grass roots activism either. NuSNP is a wholly captured appendage of the permanent managerial class (“captured” is perhaps inaccurate as they went willingly).
    The permanent managerial class abhor any suggestion of “populism”. That which they can’t control terrifies them. The permanent managerial class is composed exclusively of middle class humanities graduates. Change is a threat to their cozy, public financed sinecures. The merest possibility of change is to be strangled at birth. Strangled with a “civilised”, studied indifference, learned in their polite middle class upbringing. The oxygen will be drawn from the room and we won’t even notice as asphyxiation dulls our senses.
    There’s no “Scottish Civil Service” there’s only “the Civil Service”. Similarly, NuSNP apparatchiks drafted into the periphery of the Civil Service have been subsumed by the British state. Osmosis driven by petty self interest.
    Any campaign will be lumpen, dull and sanitised within an inch of its life. A Stalinesque, centrally dictated theatre, doomed to failure by design.
    The high point in true, proportional representation at Holyrood was 2003 with eight MSPs outwith the five establishment parties. By 2007, Margo MacDonald would be the only independent voice at Holyrood. As of the 2016 election, Holyrood was reduced to the five establishment parties.
    You don’t have to support the political platforms put forward by non-establishment individuals or parties to support the general principle that a multitude of voices enhances debate. By design, we are left with slightly different flavours of our managerial class endorsed, bland menu.
    The fall of the Scottish Socialist Party was the result of various factors, but their political posters at election time were a feature of our streets. The ability of the SSP to harness the enthusiasm of their support and promote their message through poster campaigns will have played a significant part in their returning six MSPs in 2003.
    This display of “populism” was intolerable to our permanent managerial class. By the 2016 election, 32 out of 36 Scottish councils has established by-laws prohibiting election posters on council owned street furniture.
    The four “hold-out” councils continue to allow election posters on street furniture, proving that any perceived “littering” issue can be managed rather than resorting to prohibition. It’s no coincidence that all four councils are rural and are substantially populated by independent councillors, free from the admonishments of any party head office.

  • Patrix

    “There is a left wing case for Brexit”.

    Indeed. Even more accurately: there is no left wing case for Remain.

    • Jimmeh

      I’m not sure. I think the left-wing case for Remain amounts to “the EU provides a certain level of protection for workers rights and judicial propriety, and we can’t trust the electorate to vote for that kind of thing”.

      EU rules would block any real socialist programme of government. Government subsidies would be banned; procurement has to be open and commercial; nationalisation would be extremely difficult. Of course, those issues are not at the forefront of Tory Brexiteers’ minds; but EU rules are incompatible with proper socialism.

      It’s a shame Corbyn didn’t stand up and declare for Brexit. We all know he has been against EU membership since it was first mooted.

    • MrShigemitsu

      @Patrix,

      Great comment.

      With austerity and market-based economics baked into successive EU treaties and legislation, the lumping of unequal economies into a single currency, with no unified taxation policy to enable fiscal transfers, even the social chapter (which in any case Mario Draghi declared to be dead in his 2012 WSJ interview) is insufficient to mitigate the neo-liberal characteristics of the present-day EU.

      Jacques Delors’ speech to the 1988 TUC on the social chapter persuaded the Kinnock-led, previously euro-sceptic, Labour Party to embrace the EU, in a last-ditch attempt, having lost three general elections in a row, to counter the ongoing depredations of the Thatcher government, in the hope that this external authority would mitigate its worst effects. Labour, in its various guises, has been pro-EU ever since, in spite of the various treaties, in particular Maastricht and Lisbon, baking in free market policy, and the withering of the social chapter.

      Whilst the Brexit vote was never predominantly Lexit-flavoured, nevertheless, the “cry for help”, or simple throwing of a “spanner in the works” by those sections of the population who felt continuously and increasingly dispossessed and alienated from the political and economic status quo, and decided they had nothing left to lose in punishing the establishment, whilst not a majority of the C,D and E social and economic class, was nonetheless sufficient to swing the referendum result away from Remain.

      I would struggle to make a left-wing case for membership of the EU in its current form; even the warm humanitarian glow evinced by so-called freedom of movement denies the fact that it really only exists in EU legislation for the benefit of businesses, and their quest for cheap migrant labour, and its downward pull on wages at the lowest 10% margin.

      • Bayard

        “Whilst the Brexit vote was never predominantly Lexit-flavoured, nevertheless, the “cry for help”, or simple throwing of a “spanner in the works” by those sections of the population who felt continuously and increasingly dispossessed and alienated from the political and economic status quo, and decided they had nothing left to lose in punishing the establishment, whilst not a majority of the C,D and E social and economic class, was nonetheless sufficient to swing the referendum result away from Remain.”

        Something that neither side is willing to acknowledge, Remain, because it shows that they, or more particularly, their supporters in government lost the referendum because they made a cock of it, rather than the other side doing anything particularly well and because it goes against their “all Brexiteers are racist Little Englanders” narrative, and Leave, because it shows that the vote was not “the will of the people” as they claim, when such a large proportion of the voters were simply voting against whatever the government of the day stood for.

  • nevermind

    without a support from the AUOB public and a new campaign that does not hang on Nicola’s frilly cacks, the machinations to change Scotland into a county of England will procede, imho, as the underhand fundraising for Independence, by the SNP has already started, with members getting begging letters.
    la luta continiua.
    I’m afraid that Nicola had Scotland and is now sucking its teats to get as much of the lute as is possible.

    I dont buy Burke’s age old wisdom, we are partial to a global need of people, food energy and a need to survive the climate ravages, only to be exploited by our 5-eyes drive to stifle their consent as well as their opposition to this global right-wing slide into a ruleless world.
    Welcome to The birth of Armageddon.

  • Clark

    Hmm… Quoting Craig:

    ‘…the public are not fools, and when a trial is truly public and they can see it, they understand.’

    ‘…a period living in Ramsgate destroyed in me any illusions about the nobility of “the people”. […] Even more than I dislike referenda do I dislike Citizens Assemblies, where ordinary people are led by the nose by a battery of “experts” and carefully selected reading material, towards the Establishment’s predetermined objective.’

    While clearly regarding control over information as decisive, Craig seems to harbour some contradictions about the people’s ability to interpret it.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deliberative_democracy

      • glenn_nl

        I did wonder about that myself 🙁

        Possibly there’ll be a few survivors eking out a living at the south pole, but they probably will have greater concerns than studying British history.

      • Goose

        Definitely seems somewhat optimistic given the current state of international cooperation, and how the neutrality of intergovernmental organisations like the UN, have been eroded; undermined by the selfishness of the big powers and a certain hegemonic country’s warped belief in its own exceptionalism.

        In the year 3000 will the very ‘unexceptional’ Windsors still be there; in full dress uniform waving from the balcony? They certainly will if the UK media keep going in the current vein with this syrupy coverage of the Platinum Jubilee. North Korea are probably taking notes on how they can improve their own coverage of the Dear Leader.

        “Kim Jong Un,” the narrator said, “showed us his fatherly side by doggedly braving snow, rain, and wind while taking on the fate of the nation.

        “He treated people like his own children, showing his motherly side, where he completely dedicated his own body to realise people’s dreams.” – from a Sky News report on a North Korean state broadcast aired in Feb 2022.

        Maybe N.Korea hired Huw Edwards to do this saccharine commentary on the Dear Leader?

      • Bramble

        Why wait till 3000? History is already being torn up by the roots and re-woven by the fanatics behind the likes of Brexit and other mind-blind nationalists and bigots. Only instinct, sentiment and prejudice count.

      • IMcK

        Yes indeed, regarding the future plight of humanity neither continuation of the ‘ascent of man’ nor its sustainment (ie the energy/resource rich lifestyles of ‘developed’ societies) is possible, at least not at current population levels.
        It does make me wonder to what extent the PTB are considering (or even experimenting) ways and means to sustain lifestyles for the deserved.

  • Ultraviolet

    I am not at all sure I see the point of Independence in Nicola’s vision. Nor do I know any Scot genuinely enthusiastic about Independence who sees the future of Scotland in that way. It is a vision of Independence for people who do not actually believe in Independence. It is not a vision that will ever win a referendum campaign.

    Is there not an argument that grabbing independence is the most important goal, and then Scotland can shape that independence over time as it sees fit? A no vote will just be interpreted as people wanting to remain in the Union.

    It’s similar to the AV referendum. Sure, it was a pale shadow of the PR we need, but seizing that first step away from FPTP would have done us the world of good; and as many of us predicted at the time, the refusal to take that step has been taken by the powers that be as an overwhelming verdict that the country wants to keep FPTP.

    • Bayard

      “It’s similar to the AV referendum.”

      Indeed it is, and its greatest similarity is that it is designed to be as unattractive as possible to those who might be intending to vote for change.

    • Jimmeh

      > Is there not an argument that grabbing independence is the most important goal, and then Scotland can shape that independence over time as it sees fit?

      That was roughly my view of Brexit. The Tories were the wrong people to take us out; but that referendum was the only chance we were going to get. So let’s get out while we can, then repair the inevitable damage incrementally.

      Well, that’s how I saw it, and my views haven’t changed.

  • Adam Smith

    ” I believe that the best democracy consists of the people voting to choose wise and responsible people to make law, and not in the people trying to make law direct themselves.”

    Ah, “the invisible hand” again.

    Bullshit. Back it up if you agree with it.

      • Bayard

        The fact that “the people” can make the wrong decisions doesn’t mean that you can have real democracy without them being able to make those wrong decisions. You can argue that democracy is bad because of the possibility of the people getting it wrong, but you can’t argue that any other form of rule is actually democracy.

      • Roger

        What’s your point?
        Are you saying “The people would choose to have a death penalty, and to leave the EU, and these are wrong choices, so the people can make mistakes”?
        If so, you need to be reminded that your personal choice does not define what is “correct”.

      • Adam Smith

        Just because other people (generally rich people with certain interests and bents) cannot be trusted to make decisions for other people, does not mean that people themselves can be expected to vote in their own interests. Not with the ridiculous level of state socialisation and propaganda we have. And a good example of that is swathes of working class English voting tory.

  • Dissident

    “I believe that the best democracy consists of the people voting to choose wise and responsible people to make law”

    But that’s impossible under Britain’s current system, and almost impossible under most European or American systems. The candidates aren’t chosen by the people at all, they’re chosen by a political party. Especially in Britain, that means the candidates are just cronies of the party bosses. The voters don’t even know them, they just get to choose between two people, neither of whom represents them.

    If you want a real democracy, look to China. Constituencies are small: voters can know the candidate they’re voting for personally. They have a genuine chance to choose a “wise and responsible person”, and you don’t have to be a member of a political party to stand for election. Of course, it is a hierarchical system. The people elected directly vote among themselves to select representatives at the next level (and so on until you get to the President) . At this point, undemocratic elements enter: you don’t have to be a party member to be elected, but it helps to formulate coherent policy and canvass support if you can be a member of a party – and there’s effectively only one party. It’s by no means a model democracy. Nevertheless, it has good ideas which deserve to be incorporated in democratic systems.

  • mark golding

    Unless the media lies fueling a phony Ukraine narrative are resolved sooner by intellectual rout, the moment is not now, the twinkle for independence dark.

    The removal of the ultimate weapons of mass destruction from the Clyde, the UK’s nuclear deterrent at this time is simply unfriendly and impotent in majority unless a sensible, pragmatic plan for their orderly eviction is advanced by the SNP as the main conduit of Scotland’s autonomy.

  • Vivian O’Blivion

    What always surprised me about the Brexit process was Theresa May’s interpretation of a vote with a UK wide margin of victory of 4%. When Theresa May, leader of the Conservative & Unionist Party made her calculation (and calculation it was) she chose to prioritise the future of her party over the continued integrity of the UK. Make no mistake, Theresa May was smart enough to realise that Scotland and NI voted Remain with 24% and 12% margins of victory respectively. Choosing a hard Brexit, at least in theory, put the Union at risk. And yet, that’s what she did. Pursued the monumental fool’s errand of trying to mollify the fanatics in the ERG.
    So why take the risk? Unless she secretly knew that the occupant of Bute House would do the bidding of her handlers in Foggy Bottom and widnae rock the boat.

    • fonso

      It was anti democratic Remainers who repeatedly thwarted May’s soft Brexit in parliament and ensured a hard Brexit, although they will never, ever take responsibility for it.

      I hope those anti democratic grotesques are not the “wise and responsible people” Craig has in mind as our perfect custodians.

      • Laguerre

        So you think nothing to do with the ERG, they are completely innocent, in your view. It’s all the fault of remainers.

        • fonso

          The ERG were powerless to stop May’s soft Brexit being voted through in the Commons. They had nowhere near the numbers.

          No, responsibility for hard Brexit lies with the anti democratic, fake left Remainers. Strangely we no longer hear their old permawhine about Brexit causing the sky to collapse. That’s because for those frauds it was never really about stopping Brexit. The real goal for the leaders of Remainism was to thwart popular sovereignty-Corbynism-socialism. They succeeded and have moved on en masse, no longer a peep from them on the supposed existential threat of Brexit.

          Ever feel like you’ve been conned?

          • Goose

            fonso

            I agree with some of your analysis, except for the idea these were ‘far-left’ remainers. People like Mary Creagh, Chuka’s gang in Change UK and all the other Blairites had nothing to do with the SCG left-wingers within the PLP.

            The people refusing to allow Corbyn to serve as a temporary PM, in a cross-party attempt to remove Johnson and prevent an early election and with it – the inevitable hard Brexit, weren’t on the left at all. They put preventing Corbyn being PM for a few months, before preventing a hard Brexit. The clock on the multiple extensions Brussels had granted the UK govt, was running down. All the remainers had to do was hold their nerve ,oust Johnson – with some support from remainer Tory MPs who were on board eg. Dominic Grieve.

            But the SNP along with the utterly ridiculous Jo Swinson led Lib Dems, decided to give Johnson the election he craved and the rest is history. Yes, Labour voted to go to the country in the end, but they had no choice after Jo ‘I could be PM’ Swinson’s antics.

            And I agree, all those parliamentarians who were so outspoken and anti-Brexit back then have gone very quiet indeed.

          • Goose

            Fonso

            Apologies. You put ‘fake left’ – I agree entirely with that designation. Stopping Corbyn gaining credibility was their main priority. They feared a PM Corbyn, however temporary, may prove popular.

            It’s almost as if we deserve this current political mess with creatures like these.

        • Lapsed Agnostic

          According to Lord Barwell of Croydon, Laguerre, responsibility for our (relatively) hard Brexit – and Boris as PM – lies almost entirely with the current leader of Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition – as amusingly detailed by his (unofficial) biographer, Oliver Eagleton, in conversation with Aaron Bastani.

          Novara Media: What Does Keir Starmer ACTUALLY Believe? (8 May 2022) – YouTube

          (The relevant bit starts at 58:00 if you’re short on time – but the rest of it is well worth a listen, imho)

  • Rob Brown

    What happens across the UK in the coming years and decades will be determined to a large degree by the gathering geopolitical, socio-economic and ecological crises (all of which are interconnected, of course). None of us can forecast what will flow from these (anywhere in the world) but I suspect the Scottish Question will soon be completely eclipsed by other, far more existential, concerns.

    • mark golding

      Exactly Rob our lives are enclosed and controlled by fear, fear of pandemic, fear of environmental collapse, fear of nuclear holocaust, food shortages and debt.

      How many friends and colleagues in this time part with the phrase ‘stay safe’ as if this new belief is central to human sentience. Yet fear divides human minds, prevents autonomy and even impacts on human empathy the root path for highly social creatures designed to take risks, to try new things, learn, create, love and explore.

    • Andy Ellis

      It’s a brave assertion that “other, far more existential, concerns” will eclipse the Scottish question, but for all you know such concerns could do exactly the opposite and accelerate moves towards self determination. For all the political navel gazing and dancing on the head of constitutional pins, when it comes down to basics the chances of increasing more Scots to back independence to breach the 50% hurdle rest on convincing them that the risks and of independence are less than those of staying inside the union, and that the opportunities of independence may be greater than the status quo.

      It’s not necessarily an easy analysis, nor are there any guarantees whichever path the Scottish people choose, but I think you may be being too pessimistic about the differential calculus which will be done when the opportunity arises, particularly given the greater popularity of independence amongst younger voters.

      • Rob Brown

        My understanding from your previous posts Andy is that you believe a large majority is required for independence. Given the current (low) level of radical consciousness in this country, that can only conceivably materialise if a large majority of Scots feel they will be materially better off immediately through secession from Britain. I don’t think any pro-Indy politician will be able to credibly promise such an idyllic situation amidst the profound socio-economic-ecological crisis into which we are fast sliding. Independence struggles that have succeeded in the past didn’t need to prove that they could deliver unprecedented prosperity – certainly not the day after Independence Day.

        • Rob Brown

          PS – there’s every likelihood that, as this multidimensional crisis deepens, a large majority of Scots will decide to cling to the British nurse for the fear of something even worse.

          • Reza

            Impressive people. I wonder how many other folk around the world long to return to the care of the British nurse?

        • Andy Ellis

          You understand wrongly. 50% + 1 is all that’s required. Of course, Norwegian 1905 levels of approval would be great, but I doubt we’ll see that! Alex Salmond said much the same thing prior to indyref1 that all that was required was to convince people they’d be better off, and that in many respects when you asked Scots what things they thought should be under the control of the Scottish parliament, most were already pretty close to “actual” independence, or certainly to such a high level of repatriation of powers and control over the levers of power and financial management, that it had a look and feel almost indistinguishable from independence. As it was, not enough folk folk were convinced they WOULD be better off, and too many fell for the “As close to Full Home Rule as Possible” dishonestly promised in the now infamous Vow.

          The economic and currency case for indyref1 was an acknowledged weakness, but it’s not as if post brexit and Covid the shambolic british nationalist project and Tory party can with a straight face say we are indisputably better off now than we would have been if the vote in 2014 had been Yes. Nor can they convincingly argue that the risks of independence, and potential realignment with the EU, are higher than staying shackled to the corpse of “Global Britain”: a kind of shit-show version of Singapore, but drizzly and without the competent if authoritarian government.

          • Rob Brown

            The Anglo-British state might be decrepit but you have to concede Andy that it has built up an advantageous (at least for now) international credit rating. At what rate of interest do you think a brand new Scottish Exchequer could borrow funds to tide us through the inevitably turbulent first decade of ‘freedom’ (as it assuredly would need to do sans Barnett Formula)? In the cut and thrust of an indyref2 campaign (should that ever happen) I think the Leave UK campaign will need a convincing answer to that (and many other vexed economic matters). I wish it was otherwise but I recognise that most of my compatriots are far more materialistic than I am.

          • Tom Welsh

            Yes. But if you think a little beyond “Independence Day” with its glorious celebrations, you might admit that independence achieved by a single vote would not be exactly popular. After all, exactly half the people, less one, would still oppose the idea.

            Not a recipe for peace and harmony.

          • Andy Ellis

            @Tom Welsh

            “Yes. But if you think a little beyond “Independence Day” with its glorious celebrations, you might admit that independence achieved by a single vote would not be exactly popular. After all, exactly half the people, less one, would still oppose the idea.

            Not a recipe for peace and harmony.”

            Either we believe in democracy, or we don’t. I’d love to see 99% of Scots vote for their independence as happened when Norwegians voted for theirs in 1905, but if 52% is enough for the UK to be taken out of the EU, 50% + 1 is enough for Scotland to leave the union too. There would be nothing to stop the losing side continuing to campaign to re-instate the union.

  • Lapsed Agnostic

    Though it pains me to say so, in my opinion, our excellent host’s latest offering is all over the place. On the one hand, it suggests that the public can be relied upon to make the correct decisions, as in the jury trials of HMA vs Salmond and Depp vs Heard (which, in my view, was an appalling verdict that I hope to discuss in a subsequent comment) – but on the other, it then goes on to state that the Scots populace are not capable of making the right decision in any referendum on Scottish independence (except for a confirmatory plebiscite) because they will be unduly influenced by the British Establishment. Which is it?

    As Andy Ellis describes in his astute comment yesterday (though you missed out Alba in the regional vote in 2021, Andy), declaring unilateral independence without the support of a majority of the population in a referendum, or perhaps a super-majority (60%+) the vote share for independence-supporting parties in a Scottish parliamentary election, just because there happens to be a majority of independence-supporting MPs and MSPs in Scotland is a non-starter, not least because plenty of Scottish Green Party voters may not want independence, but vote Green because they believe it’s the only way to prevent ‘climate catastrophe’.

    Majority public support for independence has recently been achieved. Polls in the second half of 2020 suggested that 55% of Scots supported independence. This was almost certainly due to most of the new converts to the cause supporting the additional interventions taken by Sturgeon in the first wave of the Covid pandemic, even though the reason why the number of deaths was proportionately less in Scotland was largely because, unlike England, it contains no international travel hubs. At the moment, the number of Scots backing independence has fallen back to around 45%. All of this means that we can infer something about the psychology of those people who have switched sides and then switched back again in the last couple of years or so: in simple terms, they’re scared of things.

    What is the biggest thing to be scared of in the Western world at the minute? The answer, of course, is a full-on nuclear exchange between NATO & Russia, which will kill vast numbers of people and reduce the standard of living for the survivors in majorly affected countries to something closer to that of 100 years ago, with what passes for government in Britain being presided over by people with access to automatic weaponry, i.e mostly criminal gangs of former heroin & crack cocaine suppliers, as most personnel and weapon stocks on army bases will have been obliterated in nuclear strikes. In the last three months or so, with the West interfering in Ukraine, the chances of this happening have become considerably higher. According to the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at Cambridge University, the annual chance of a full-scale nuclear exchange occurring is currently 1 in 80 – that’s less than your chances of dying from any other cause if you’re under 75 and don’t have a terminal disease.

    At the moment, Scotland is likely to be one of the countries worst affected by a nuclear conflagration, as it is home to the Faslane nuclear submarine base, which will be a prime target for the Russians in any nuclear war. Unlike nuclear attacks over cities, these attacks will likely take the form of ground-bursts, rather than airbursts, with the aim of destroying underground missile stocks, meaning that they will deposit much more of the highly radioactive fallout over nearby areas. If the prevailing winds are blowing from a westerly or south-westerly direction, which they usually are, most of either the Central Belt or Perth & Tayside will be covered by this fallout, leading to the death by acute radiation poisoning of any residents not protected by at least one metre of earth cover.

    Nuclear attacks on Scottish soil can likely be avoided if the Faslane base is closed, its nuclear weapon stocks are moved elsewhere in the UK, and Scotland remains outside NATO like the Republic of Ireland. The only way for Scots to be able to do this is through independence. That’s the message that independence supporters need to convey to swing voters in order to get support for independence above 60%, to ensure that there will be a great deal of political pressure for the SNP to make IndyRef2 the prime condition for supporting a Labour minority government in the more-likely-than-not Westminster hung parliament of 2024.

    Thank you and congratulations to anyone who’s made it through all that – needed something to do as I’m sick of all the platinum jubilee coverage now. Was literally sick at the Jubilee tea-party with my dad in the Proddy church hall yesterday: avocado sandwiches don’t agree with me – thought they were cucumber.

    • Andy Ellis

      There’s no recognised requirement for a supermajority for self determination. A majority is a majority. If 55% was good enough for No in 2014 and 52% for brexit, then 50% + 1 is good enough in future. That’s democracy for you!

      I agree that folk can be scared of things. It may not only be the war Ukraine. It’s just as possible that Scots will decide they’re more scared of staying inside broken Britain than taking the risks of independence and joining the EU, or at least the single market, and NATO.

      • Rob Brown

        I know which of these two scenarios I’d put money on if they’re offering odds down at the local branch of ScotBet

      • Lapsed Agnostic

        Thanks for your reply Andy. I meant a super-majority in the regional vote of a Scottish parliamentary election, to compensate for the fact that Green voters may not necessarily be voting for independence and that turnouts are generally considerably lower in parliamentary elections than they were in the independence referendum. Without a super-majority, the result will be seriously contested by anti-independence supporters – look what happened with the Remoaners / People’s Vote people after the Brexit referendum.

        In the absence of nuclear war, however bad things get in broken Britain, they won’t be as bad as dealing with the aftermath of nuclear strikes on Faslane with the winds coming from the west. Fear of what would happen to the Scottish economy was what tipped the balance towards No in 2014. The point I was trying to make is that (legitimate) fear of nuclear attack is the way of getting through to many No voters – more than enough to tip the scales to a substantial Yes vote in an Indyref2.

        As for an independent Scotland re-joining NATO, Sturgeon seems to be convinced the Scotland can both be a part of NATO and get rid of Vanguard-class submarines and their Trident missiles at Faslane. I’m not so sure.

    • Goose

      Nuclear conflagration?

      Jeez, can’t believe people are seriously talking about M.A.D again. Something the world thought it’d left behind in a less technologically advanced age – one without the modern day lines of instant communication between nations and leaders. When Henry Kissinger is being berated for being on the same page as Noam Chomsky over Ukraine, you know western politics is suffering a dearth of political talent ; both doves and strategic thinkers.

      As for the Jubilee I can perfectly understand those praising the Queen’s dedication to duty and longevity. I certainly wouldn’t want to do that role and be placed in a public goldfish bowl like that.

      But do these gathered monarchists ever ask themselves : Why doesn’t every country have a system which allows some hereditary aristocrat of middling intellect to exert political influence behind the scenes. Including a weekly private audience with the Prime Minister?

      And the crazy thing is, we as ‘subjects’ are supposed to be thankful for such arrangements. Remember Charles’ ‘Black spider memos’, the special interest lobbying the govt, of which, ministers complained they feel obliged to spend time producing handwritten replies? The govt changed the law to prevent disclosure after the pre-Viner guardian took them to court and won.

      • Bayard

        “But do these gathered monarchists ever ask themselves : Why doesn’t every country have a system which allows some hereditary aristocrat of middling intellect to exert political influence behind the scenes. Including a weekly private audience with the Prime Minister?”

        Probably for the same reason that every country doesn’t have a system that allows some political has-been of middling intellect to be elected for a period of exerting political influence behind the scenes, that there is no point in changing something if the result is exactly the same. At least a monarch starts out rich and has no incentive to embezzle public funds or be rewarded by powerful pressure groups with “advances” on their “autobiography”, speaking engagements or well paid sinecures on leaving office.

        • Lysias

          Conscientious monarchs promote the long-term wellbeing of their realms. Elected politicians are only interested in their own careers, and primarily in the next election.

          • Goose

            Lysias

            How long do you think a truly conscientious monarch would last? Truly good kings and Queens only happen in fiction – films and Disney cartoons.

            A campaigning monarch, one truly concerned about injustice and the wellbeing, rights/ civil liberties of his/her people and enforcing govt accountability/transparency; stopping corruption etc, would indeed be a good thing. But I doubt the Windsors give a damn about any of that stuff. Monarchies by their very nature can’t be too concerned about inequality and injustice, otherwise they’d find the contradictions of their own inherited positions morally indefensible.

          • Lysias

            I think an example of a conscientious monarch would be Alexander II, the tsar liberator of Russia.

          • Bayard

            “Not giving a damn about any of that stuff” is a far cry from being “only interested in their own careers, and primarily in the next election.” Give me “uninterested” over “self-interested” any day.

        • Goose

          I think we’ve got that kind of ‘Old boy network’ interference anyway – in addition to the monarchy.

          Nick Cohen has an interesting piece up in the guardian speculating on just how politically meddlesome a King Charles III may prove to be. Although, if he did demand to scrutinise every line, dot and comma of his govt’s legislative Bills before signing, I don’t know whether that’d be such a bad thing, as Cohen believes it would. Not were he conscientious.

          I believe the monarchy only remains as it is because it’s useful to the political class. The Royal prerogative basically allows a govt to bypass the normal checks and balances other democracies take for granted. And were this constitutional monarchy scrapped, a codified written constitution would have to replace it. Such codified rules, would be a far cry from the fast and loose interpretation of our unwritten constitution we have presently. The elite may actually be held to account and worry about overreaching.

          I find it incredible how there was a cross-party consensus that the House of Lords urgently needed reform in the 1990s, and yet now in 2022, it’s still there, boldly unelected, making and shaping(revising) our laws. How can we lecture China or Russia on democracy, when our own head of state and second legislative chamber have never seen an election? The House of Lords still contains an hereditary element too, after Blair failed to complete Stage 2 of his Lords reform. The remaining peers have pseudo elections among themselves. Thus in a perverse irony, the only people elected in the Lords are the hereditary peers.

          • Bayard

            “a codified written constitution would have to replace it”

            There’s no “have to” about it, that’s just wishful thinking, as your example of the reform of the House of Lords immediately shows.

          • Goose

            Bayard

            Surely it’d be inevitable. You couldn’t simply have a void for a constitution.

            We could have a written constitution now were there the will, alongside the monarchy. Sweden managed it.

            Tbh, I don’t know why Sturgeon is so enamoured with the current UK constitutional arrangements. When the SNP could be generating independence interest, by discussing with universities, wider academia and historians, an outline of what a future Scottish written constitution may look like? Craig is absolutely right in questioning her true intentions.

            quote from the Swedish constitution website :

            ‘The Swedish Constitution consists of four fundamental laws: the Instrument of Government, the Act of Succession, the Freedom of the Press Act and the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression. In addition to the fundamental laws, Sweden has a Riksdag Act. This has a unique status in between constitutional and ordinary law.

            The Constitution takes precedence over all other laws. In other words, the content of other laws may never conflict with what is stated in the Constitution.

            All public power in Sweden proceeds from the people and the Riksdag is the foremost representative of the people. This is stated in the Instrument of Government – the fundamental law setting out the basic principles of our democracy.

          • Bayard

            “Surely it’d be inevitable”

            Not at all: Step down Charles Windsor, one time King of England, step forward President Joseph Bloggs, elected by a national vote. President Bloggs inherits all of the functions of the monarchy, the official residences and the bureaucracy of the once royal, now presidential, household. Everything else remains the same. The UK is no longer a monarchy, it is now a republic, like Ireland.

            “We could have a written constitution now were there the will, alongside the monarchy. Sweden managed it.”

            Indeed we could, Britain has had a written constitution in the past, which neatly demonstrates that the lack of such a document has nothing to do with the presence or absence of a monarch. In any case, is the USA, with it’s much-vaunted constitution, really that much better a place to live than the UK? Giving the UK a written constitution is far more likely to make us more like the USA than more like Sweden.

        • Jimmeh

          > At least a monarch starts out rich and has no incentive to embezzle public funds

          The monarch’s riches are entirely derived from the embezzlement of public funds. How do you think monarchs get rich? By working? By running effficient, productive industries?

          • Bayard

            What does it matter where the funds came from? Wherever that was, the funds are now present and there is no need to to arrogate more.

            “How do you think monarchs get rich?”

            Like an an awful lot of other rich people, by inheriting large sums of money. Whilst it is common for presidents to leave office a lot richer than they arrived, the same hasn’t really been able to be said for any of the the world’s remaining monarch for quite a few hundred years.

      • Lapsed Agnostic

        Thanks for your reply Goose. We should have been building nuclear shelters in large cities and key industrial sites – like they did at Azovstal – decades ago, as well as stockpiling at least a year’s worth of basic long-lasting foodstuffs for everyone, but we didn’t. The problem with M.A.D. and other aspects of game theory is that they assume that all participants are rational (as well as fairly intelligent) actors.

        I think Her Majesty has done a pretty good job in largely keeping out of politics all these years. I’m not sure we’ll be able to say the same for her eldest when he becomes king, especially with the ‘climate emergency’ supposedly now upon us.

        • fonso

          Apart from her getting legislation enacted to protect her wealth and exempt her from employing non white staff. Reassuring though to hear from another authority that there is no climate emergency.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Thanks for your reply, fonso. Is there any evidence that the Queen personally intervened to get legislation enacted to protect her wealth and exempt her household from equality laws? Even if there is, in her defence, she did agree to start paying income tax some years ago. It’s also slightly different from causing a constitutional crisis by, say, refusing to give Royal Assent to legislation that one deems not to be in the planet’s interests.

            The effects of the ‘climate emergency’ will be in the noise compared to the effect of a full-scale nuclear exchange between NATO & Russia, not least because climate change will happen much more slowly and will therefore be far easier for people to cope with. Its magnitude will also be tempered by the fact that renewables are becoming cheaper than fossil fuels, and it will mainly affect people in the developing world, like the Second Congo War, which killed over four million people from 1998-2003. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember the royals harping on about the ‘DRC emergency’ back then, even though it came shortly after the Rwandan genocide.

    • Pears Morgaine

      Independence won’t protect Scotland from the effects of nuclear war. As the Chernobyl disaster showed fallout respects no borders and can spread large distances. Goods: Scotland imports will either become unobtainable or seriously more expensive.

      • Lapsed Agnostic

        Thanks for your reply Pears. Getting rid of Trident missiles at Faslane and getting out of NATO will likely ensure that the majority of Scots are alive a year after a global nuclear exchange rather than perishing. Global trade will be virtually non-existent for several months afterwards due to the financial system having collapsed – but that isn’t essential for Scotland, as it produces three times more grain than is necessary to feed the population, and can produce enough diesel at Grangemouth to ensure that it can be harvested and transported to population centres. Farm animals can be slaughtered whilst waiting for the harvest, and there’s always plenty of fish in the sea.

        The radiation that escaped from Chernobyl was relatively low-level and will have only led to a slight increase in the lifetime chances of developing cancer for those exposed. The fallout that could settle over most of the Central Belt in the event of nuclear strikes on Faslane will result in unprotected citizens receiving integrated doses of more than 5000 Roentgens which is far more than what the workers who tried to cool Chernobyl’s reactor and subsequently died of acute radiation poisoning received. In the event of a nuclear attack, whatever the dulcet Home Counties tones instruct you to do on the radio, the key message to residents of southern Scotland is: Drive as far away from Faslane as you can, as fast as you can, and don’t go back to your homes for at least a week and probably two.

        • Pears Morgaine

          ” The radiation that escaped from Chernobyl was relatively low-level”

          Yet restrictions on the movement and grazing of sheep in contaminated areas of Scotland were only lifted in 2011. Radioactive isotopes from Chernobyl are still being detected in fish and marine sediments, this from a relatively low level event 1,300 miles away. Imagine the fallout from a nuclear strike on say Newcastle, Sellafield or Belfast drifting across the border. Scotland doesn’t have enough agricultural land to feed its existing population, not to a western diet A nuclear winter would cause widespread crop failures anyway.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Thanks for your reply Pears. The residual radioactivity levels from Chernobyl fallout in Western Europe are so low they’re essentially harmless – the authorities were just being ultra-cautious / attempting to justify their existence. Since the winds in the UK usually come from a westerly direction, fallout from nuclear strikes on Newcastle, Sellafield & Belfast would be unlikely to impact Scotland, but if it did it would mostly fall over sparsely populated areas in the Borders.

            Scotland grows nearly a million tonnes of wheat per year, enough to feed the entire population, plus twice as much barley, which is mainly used for animal feed – as well as oats, which are by far the best survival food. It also raises 1.5 million head of cattle, six million sheep, plus pigs, chickens etc. Most of the urban poor in the nineteenth century survived almost entirely on bread (mostly made with wheat flour) supplemented with animal fat. They were significantly malnourished by modern standards but, if they survived infancy, on average lived into their fifties or sixties.

            In recent decades, the nuclear winter hypothesis has been largely discredited, since it’s now believed that little soot from the resulting forest fires etc would enter the stratosphere, as was shown in the Kuwaiti oil fires. I’m not saying full-scale nuclear war wouldn’t have a large impact on a Trident-free, NATO-free Scotland, just much less than it would if the subs and missiles remain.

    • Tom Welsh

      “…a full-on nuclear exchange between NATO & Russia, which will kill vast numbers of people and reduce the standard of living for the survivors in majorly affected countries to something closer to that of 100 years ago…”

      A thermonuclear war would reduce our standard of living to that of a slab of granite. Soil is still alive.

      • Lapsed Agnostic

        Thanks for your reply Tom. If the worst happens, there’ll be at least a couple million long-term survivors in the UK, and at least a couple hundred thousand of those in Scotland. People who know what they’re doing can survive alone for months in hostile environments like deserts and tundra with just basic survival kit. It’s a lot easier to survive in temperature regions.

        • Tom Welsh

          How many people in Scotland, say, “know what they’re doing” well enough to “survive alone for months in hostile environments like deserts and tundra with just basic survival kit”?

          And how does such training enable them to survive without food, safe water, or shelter – in a world where everyone else who has survived is desperately competing for the few resources?

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Thanks for your reply Tom. I said that only a couple hundred thousand of mostly young people will survive. Conditions will be tough, but the will to survive is strong stuff, and is the reason we’re still here as a species. Let’s go through your checklist:

            Safe water: Collect rainwater – it’s Scotland.

            Shelter: Your house, heated by a wood fire, if necessary.

            Food (by far the most difficult):
            If fallout from Faslane has hit the Central Belt, ransack kitchens of people who’ve died of acute radiation poisoning, when radiation levels have died down. Otherwise, it’s easiest in July-September – collect grain in fields, hide in caches, save some for planting. If that’s not available at the minute – try to kill farm animals like sheep, which in winter will often approach you as they think you’re bringing food.

            Of course, all this assumes that no prep has been done beforehand.

  • amanfromMars

    A Revolutionary Act that results in more than just decades of Troubles is a folly partaken and cheered on by intellectually challenged fools ……

    amanfromMars 1 Sat 4 Jun 13:19 [2206041319 ] …… stating the bleeding obvious on https://forums.theregister.com/forum/1/2022/06/02/nakasone_us_hacking_russia//p>

    Re: “You realize, of course..”

    Blighty/UKGNI would appear to favour going down the tried and tested and guaranteed to fail Nazi route if you can believe, according to the Guardian newspaper outlet, what is in the dodgy Conservative government pipeline …….. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/04/uk-officials-spies-ministers-impunity-assisting-crimes-overseas-draft-security-bill

    No great new ideas so panic and desperate measures seems to be the order of the day for minions. Can’t see that ending at all well, can you?

  • yesindyref2

    It’s always interesting to see extrapolations of the present into the future as reviewed by historians and I guess in about 2112. students wll be earnestly studying the great sayings of Fred Flintstone of the late 20th century, that 5 cubit high warrior of the Britflemish tribe of upper Eurostan best known for his single-handed defence of the Alpine passes against the pretty cool visigoth with his greatest saying of all being: “Use a club. And if that doesn’t work use a bigger club”. Oh how we will laugh as we come out of our cryogenic chambers!

    Meantime of course much debate has been had about the 2014 referendum question “Should Scotland be an Independent Country”, with people saying how no country is really independent as all the world is interdependent in some ways, and shouldn’t the question be “Should Scotland become more Independent than it is now, whether as a country, a region or the hair on my chinny chin chin?”. Turns out according to studies that everyone knew fine what the question meant, and some people voted NO with some of them doing so because they thought Scotland wasn’t ready.

    Of course, that’s already history, so it is possible that 4.1 million of the people of Scotland of voting age have wrongly remembered events from nearly 8 years back, plus those who weren’t old enough to vote then but are now.

    But that’s history for you, it’s subjective, open to interpretation and could even have been based on the 253 AD version of Marvel Comics carved into stone as some people would think of the current technological abilities in those distant days, and the Great Library of Alexandria was actually a second-hand bookshop in auld Dundee.

    Now, when was I again?

  • Anna

    The bad vision of an Independent Scotland that you paint, though, Craig, the unattractive “neoliberal” and “centre right” one absolutely has the EU at its core. It is the EU that is keeping Europe neoliberal and centre right, and it cannot do anything else. So there are a lot of contraditions in what you say, because an alternative, socialist and self-determining Scotland could only ever take place outside the EU.
    You suggest you do trust people to make up their minds despite media brainwashing (Heard/Depp) and then you suggest you don’t (anti-Referendums).
    I know it is a daft cliche, but I firmly believe it doesn’t matter so much who is in power for real power (aka “the revolution will not be televised”).
    For example, I have never in a million years thought of Sturgeon as a powerful woman, any more than I think Tony or Cherie Blair were (or are) powerful. Try to ignore them and get on with changing the world, for the better, is my advice.
    Yours, a left wing Brexiteer etc.

  • Richard Morse

    Otto von Bismarck — ‘Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best’

    Clearly the example of Catalonia is a harsh warning to any party trying to follow the same path of simply declaring independence. As is the bloody and still unresolved armed conflicts associated with the breakup of Yugoslavia.

    At the moment it seems highly likely that any UK general election will end up with the SNP holding the balance of power in the UK parliament, if it can remain a united party up until then. The SNP will be able to hold out the prospect of power to whoever will be willing to agree to a legally valid independence referendum with a good chance of success given the increasing disconnect between the Westminster elite and the rest of the UK.

    With this heady prospect likely within a short time it does not seem wise to focus on minor failings of NS.

    • iain

      I doubt Nicola’s ambition extends further than a Westminster coalition with NuLabour Nato fundamentalists. Scotland is much too small a platform from which to really punch Russia and China, which is what she really lives for.

      • Andy Ellis

        I certainly have no axe to grind for the devolusionist Sturgeon and her unsavoury cabal, but the chances are that the overwhelming majority of Scots post independence will be just as keen to be part of NATO as they are to be part of the EU. Recent events, and Russia’s record in Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, Ukraine and Transnistria will doubtless concentrate minds in much the same way they have in Finland and Sweden. I’m sure most Scots will be intensely relaxed about joining our nordic friends in NATO and negotiating terms with the britnats to remove their WMD’s from Faslane.

        • Bayard

          “negotiating terms with the britnats to remove their WMD’s from Faslane”

          I think that Scotland would be negotiating with the power under whose control the UK nuclear arsenal lies, a bit further away than Westminster, and that the answer would be no.

          • Andy Ellis

            The Americans have always been ambivalent about the UK nuclear deterrent. In general they’d have been much happier to see the brits (and the French for that matter) spend the money they devoted to building their own nuclear forces on conventional forces. There was never any real prospect of the USA “allowing” the US nuclear deterrent to be under multi national or NATO control. I don’t think there’s any real evidence the USA would necessarily side with rump UK, nor indeed that they would somehow try to veto removal of nuclear forces from Scotland. Other NATO members like Spain have successfully negotiated non nuclear status, so there’s no particular reason the US should try to say “no” unless you’re prone to believing conspiracy theories.

          • Bayard

            Is there any evidence that the US would side with a newly-independent Scotland either? The Scots would be the ones that would be wanting change, after all. It may end up that Faslane becomes a rUK enclave within Scotland, like all the other UK foreign bases. It is always tempting to see the future as an ideal scenario, when whatever happens is bound to be a compromise and the continued existence of Faslane as a rUK nuclear base could easily be one of those compromises, traded for more favourable terms in some other area.

          • Andy Ellis

            “Is there any evidence that the US would side with a newly-independent Scotland either?”

            Well no, of course not, any more than there’s evidence they’d necessarily side against us. The Scots diaspora in the USA may not be as organised as the Irish lobby but there are a lot of them to mobilise…?

            “The Scots would be the ones that would be wanting change, after all.”

            True, but so what? Granted the international system does tend to favour the status quo, but in a situation where we’ve voted for independence and it’s been widely recognised, what’s in it for the US, NATO, the EU or anyone else pissing a strategically important newly independent state off?

            “It may end up that Faslane becomes a rUK enclave within Scotland, like all the other UK foreign bases.”

            That’d be for us to decide and negotiate with rump UK wouldn’t it? Doubtless we can come to some arrangement to let them stay for the minimum possible amount of time to get their shit together and depart somewhere else. If the prospective rental conditions are onerous enough, they’ll quickly get the message and either beg the Americans to let them use their facilities or come up with something else.

            “It is always tempting to see the future as an ideal scenario, when whatever happens is bound to be a compromise and the continued existence of Faslane as a rUK nuclear base could easily be one of those compromises, traded for more favourable terms in some other area.”

            Probably so. If the price is right I think the Scots are pragmatic enough to cut the britnats a deal. The unilateralists will doubtless splutter about it, but they’ll quickly discover the majority in Scotland are pro-NATO, multilateralist and Atlanticist in outlook. Sweden and Finland abandoning neutrality in face of Russian aggression and threats will only strengthen that outlook.

          • Bayard

            “what’s in it for the US, NATO, the EU or anyone else pissing a strategically important newly independent state off?”

            Are you accusing the US of giving a shit about such things? In any case, if they keep Faslane in the rUK, Scotland won’t be “a strategically important …state” anyway. Its importance to the US will be somewhere at the level of Belgium, far less than that of the rUK, who the US will thus be less keen to piss off by supporting Scotland’s request that they move their base. Not only that, but I suspect that their attitude will be, “so you want to be in NATO, do you? Well, if you want to be part of the team, you need to be a team player and that means not making things awkward for other members of the team, like asking them to move their nuclear subs.” Alternatively, the rUK could make retention of Faslane as conditional on them not vetoing (or getting another country to veto) Scotland’s joining NATO.

          • yesindyref2

            Sorry to cut in. As far as I know – and I do read a lot about defence – nobody in any sort of responsible position has suggested Faslane be an enclave. And Faslane isn’t the problem of course, it’s Coulport.

            But both require access and restrictions, and Faslane needs free access by the SSNs (Astute), and the Anti-sub frigates like Northumberland and later on, the Type 26s. That means at the least, joint control of the Clyde and approaches, a substantial portion of the territorial waters, plus those of the EEZ. Plus rUK QRA flights to head off the Bear – which would require permitted access to Scotland’s FIR. And a future government of Scotland could be totally unmoving Greens rather than the more sensible and accomodating international SNP. For that reason and many others, Faslane and Coulport would remain as the rUK base for a limited time – and from the rUK’s POV, as little as sensibly possible.

            Since it’s 8 years after 2014 and work has been done, I’d think it would be 10 years tops, and possible as little as 5-7 years, at a sensibly and economically reasonably fast pace. This is a good paper from August 2014, and you can see how much of that has already been done in some ways.

            https://static.rusi.org/201408_op_relocation_relocation_relocation.pdf

          • Bayard

            I expect you are right: I was just pointing out that it can’t be taken as read that a newly-independent Scotland will be able to tell the rUK to leave Faslane (and Coulport) and take their subs with them.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Thanks for posting that link, yesindyref2 – I didn’t know how much work on getting Trident out of Scotland had already been done. I meant Coulport rather than Faslane in my earlier comment, of course – I tend to lump them both together – though I’d imagine that the latter is on the Russians’ target list as well. Either way, if the wind’s blowing from the west, it might not be not looking good for the residents of Central Scotland if they remain in the UK. Independence supporters need to make them aware of that.

          • Andy Ellis

            I’m definitely not Nicola’s kind of Scotsman. I’d say I’m more in tune with the overwhelming majority of Scots who would sooner see a newly independent Scotland stand shoulder to shoulder with our friends in Scandinavia and Europe than those who think Vladimir Putin is just misunderstood and pursuing legitimate ends to denazify and demilitarise Ukraine by bombing it back to the stone age. The tiny fringe of Putin apologists can kid themselves on that they represent ordinary Scots all they like, but they’re living in cloud cuckoo land.

        • J. Lowrie

          ” to denazify and demilitarise Ukraine by bombing it back to the stone age. ”

          No longer watching BBC news I was not aware that Putin was using US methods in Ukraine. Is there any independent source that confirms that Putin has been bombing Ukraine as the US did to Iraq, Vietnam and Korea? For what this results in have a look at Pyongyang in 1953. Now if Nato continues to arm the Ukrainian Nazis such that they get their hands on weapons of mass destruction, then senior Russian politicians have already issued dire warnings: Russia is not Iraq or Vietnam or Korea nor even Grenada. So those Scots that survive, if any, will have the consolation of realising that they had been living in a Nato ‘defended’ Cloud Cuckoo Land!

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