Leading article

How to lose Scotland

Why the unionists need to make the wider, more emotional case for saving Britain

26 April 2014

9:00 AM

26 April 2014

9:00 AM

For centuries, the possibility of Scottish independence seemed so remote as to be laughable. Until recently the nationalists seemed quixotic, rather than menacing. Now, however, we are facing the very real prospect of a ‘yes’ vote in the Scottish referendum in September, which would in all probability result in the resignation of David Cameron as Prime Minister. An ICM survey published at the weekend found that 48 per cent of voters who have made up their minds intend to vote for separation. The stakes are terribly high.

There is much debate about the real state of public opinion, and much faith placed in the old rule that, as a referendum draws near, undecided voters tend to favour the status quo. But partition of the United Kingdom and the end of 300 years of shared history is a real threat. George Osborne’s main gambit, saying that a separate Scotland would not be allowed to use the pound, has, if anything, strengthened the ‘yes’ vote.

For decades, it was possible to puncture the myths created by the Scottish National Party by simply pointing out the trouble that partition would cause. Most economists agree that an independent Scotland would not be a land of milk, honey and oil, but would be the world capital of austerity, since any government would have to close the gap between its promises and its capacity to pay for them. The Scottish National Party has always protested against ‘negativity’ and ‘bullying’ from its enemies, because it dislikes anyone listing the many ways in which separation would hurt ordinary Scots.

But it now seems that the unionists have overplayed their hand. Take Osborne’s currency threat. There are some 300 million banknotes circulating in Scotland — are voters seriously to believe that redcoats will be sent up north to confiscate them all? The European Union president says that its rules may force Scotland to re-apply for membership, and it is also forbidden to bail out countries. But, as everyone knows, the EU changes its rules to accommodate whatever is expedient.


In Scotland, the debate is taking forms that Westminster politicians do not understand. Those who truly believe that Scotland should be a separate country tend to be evangelical about it. Their strength is in old-style campaigning: meetings held in towns and village halls. The Better Together campaign does not have this zeal — and this is, in a way, understandable. It is harder to evangelise for the preservation of the status quo.

This needs to change. Exposing weaknesses in the nationalist argument is not enough — the unionists need to make the wider, more emotional case for saving Britain. It is hardly surprising that a campaign promising ‘Yes we can’ is proving more persuasive than one suggesting ‘No you can’t’. Procedural difficulties — currency, EU membership, the ability to sell Scottish peas as British peas — are real. But they stir neither hearts nor minds. These are the technical difficulties politicians and bureaucrats are supposed to solve. They are not the things of which history is made.

By contrast, the SNP offers voters the promise of a glorious date with destiny. Scotland will be a nation once again, they say, and besides, in this largely peaceful, globalised world, there’s no need for us to remain yoked together. The Union may still offer Scotland security and opportunity, but the nationalists claim that neither trade nor peace will be seriously threatened by independence. The Union, by this estimate, has outlived its usefulness.

Even now many Britons seem unaware of the peril in which their country finds itself. Without North Britain there is no United Kingdom as we have known it for more than three centuries. There is only England plus the principality of Wales and two thirds of the province of Ulster. If the Scots vote ‘yes’ then all of us will be diminished, having sundered the ties that have bound us for years. Yes, Scotland can be independent; it can survive. Will there be a lesser Scotland after independence? Probably. A crippled Britain? Certainly.

Apart, neither England nor Scotland were particularly remarkable countries. Together, we have been extraordinary. But reminding — or persuading — Scots that they benefit from the Union is a task that seems beyond the current pool of unionist politicians, who are too used to fighting each other. To the question ‘What do we want?’, the answer ‘The insurance of a larger pension pool’ will not suffice. It is telling — and dispiriting — that the most publicised unionist intervention in the debate thus far came from David Bowie, not Alistair Darling, David Cameron or Gordon Brown.

It may not yet be time to panic. The ‘no’ campaign still retains a lead in the polls and, even now, its victory looks (just) more likely. But it is now clear that, unlike most elections, the Scottish referendum result really will be decided in the campaign. The Better Together campaign’s lead is so slight that one major PR disaster could result in outright defeat. All last year, when the polls comforted unionists, Better Together insisted there remained ‘no room for complacency’. There certainly isn’t now.

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Show comments
  • Guest

    The most obtuse aspect of the entire article, however, has to be the statement that
    Possibly the most obtuse article about the referendum I’ve read so far. The first moronic statement is the use of the word ‘nationalist’ when talking about the national campaign, which completely disregards the Socialist involvement, the Greens, Labour for Independence, Lib Dems for Independence et al. The majority of the supporters of independence are socialist not nationalist but I suspect the author lacks the brain power to comprehend that. It’s by no means the worst aspect. To refer to the yes campaign’s presentation of the facts as myths is farcical especially considering it’s those who oppose independence that are making statements such as ‘forces of darkness’, ‘attacks from outer space’ and many more absurd fabrications. It’s the FACTS presented by the yes campaign which is swinging the election becuase they are indisputablea and categorically prove such things as Scotland’s economic strength.
    claims that ‘most economists agree’ that Scotland would be the ‘austerity capital of the world’! Who are these economists? MacPherson perhaps? Osborne? No, no, he’s not an economist just your average Etonian with a history degree who happens to control the UK’s treasury! Not sure who these economists may be but I doubt they exist. The facts of the matter are that the UK, the 4th most unequal country in the world (with the 6th largest economy) is in fact the AUSTERITY CAPITAL OF THE WORLD! This is precisely why we want our own country – we do not support austerity policies which unjustly and unfairly penalise the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. Instead we want a system where we invest our taxes in public services such as social security, eduction and health – this is the EXACT opposite of austerity!
    To quantify this statement the author gives an even more absurd rationale – stating, ‘since the gap between promises and capacity to pay for them’ can only be met by severe austerity (making us the ‘world capital). Firstly, this is completely unstubstantiated as Scotland’s ability to pay for these promises will be determined by such things as the level of debt we take on from the UK – if we take any – we did not create it, we did not vote for the governement which doubled it and we did not support the policies which increased it. What is a fact is that Scotland has more affordable public spending (around 42.5% of GDP) than rUK (around 46.8% of GDP), therefore we could increase our spending significantly, ensuring the services we cherish, flourish and still have more affordable levels! It is also a fact that if we do decide to take a share of YOUR debt, it will a much lower portion of GDP than the rUK, therefore much more manageable. Another important fact is that Scotland has a stronger economy that rUK and experts such as Standards and Poors and even the Financial Times have highlighted this, we in Scotland have known this for sometime. We have also known that we are richer per head of population, raise more taxes per head and that we subsidise the rUK thus dispelling the great Tory MYTH!

  • Ross

    Possibly the most obtuse article about the referendum I’ve read so far. The first moronic statement is the use of the word ‘nationalist’ when talking about the yes campaign, which completely disregards the Socialist involvement, the Greens, Labour for Independence, Lib Dems for Independence et al. The majority of supporters of independence are socialist not nationalist but I suspect the author lacks the brain power to comprehend that. It’s by no means the worst aspect. To refer to the yes campaign’s presentation of the facts as myths is farcical especially considering it’s those who oppose independence that are making statements such as ‘forces of darkness’, ‘attacks from outer space’ and many more absurd fabrications. It’s the FACTS presented by the yes campaign which is swinging the vote becuase they are indisputable and categorically prove such things as Scotland’s economic strength.

    When a writer claims that ‘most economists agree’ without actually naming someone to support their point, it generally creates a lack of creedence to the point being made and nulifies the argument as it looks like it’s been made-up, a myth you might say! To fully illistrate my point, the author claims that ‘most economists agree’ Scotland would be the ‘austerity capital of the world’! Who are these economists? MacPherson perhaps? Osborne? No, no, he’s not an economist just your average Etonian with a history degree who happens to control the UK’s treasury! Not sure who these economists may be but I doubt they actually exist. The facts of the matter are that the UK, the 4th most unequal country in the world (with the 6th largest economy), is in fact the AUSTERITY CAPITAL OF THE WORLD! This is precisely why we want our own country – we do not support austerity policies which unjustly and unfairly penalise the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. Instead we want a system where we invest our taxes in public services such as social security, eduction and health, for the good of our society – this is the EXACT opposite of austerity!

    To quantify this statement the author gives an even more absurd rationale – stating, ‘since the gap between promises and capacity to pay for them’ can only be met by severe austerity (making us the ‘world capital). Firstly, this is completely unstubstantiated as Scotland’s ability to pay for these promises will be determined by such things as the level of debt we take on from the UK – if we take any – we did not create it, we did not vote for the governement which doubled it and we did not support the policies which increased it. What is a fact is that Scotland has more affordable public spending (around 42.5% of GDP) than rUK (around 46.8% of GDP), therefore we could increase our spending significantly, ensuring the services we cherish, flourish and still have more affordable levels! It is also a fact that if we do decide to take a share of YOUR debt, it will a much lower proportion of GDP than the rUK, therefore much more manageable. Another important fact is that Scotland has a stronger economy that rUK and experts such as Standards and Poors and even the Financial Times have highlighted this, we in Scotland have known this for sometime. We have also known that we are richer per head of population, raise more taxes per head and that we subsidise the rUK thus dispelling the great Tory MYTH!

    • Damon

      ” …[T]he UK, the 4th most unequal country in the world (with the 6th largest
      economy), is in fact the AUSTERITY CAPITAL OF THE WORLD!”

      Oh, more austere than Greece, then?

      • Ross

        Damon, you can’t use Greece as a fair example. Their economy is bankrupt whereas, the Government continually harps on about the ‘6th biggest economy in the world’, why the severe austerity measures then? Why the generous tax breaks for corporations and the rich? The latter costs the economy around £70bn a year (around 65% of the deficit btw)! Surely tighter tax regulations would generate more than these cruel public spending cuts? The problem is the UK Government is completely corrupt and fully committed to policies which protect and serve the interests of the richest at the expense of a whole society. Like I said the poorest are hardest hit. These austerity measures are to pay for debts caused by the risky and illegal behaviours of those heading our financial sector. Those who caused the economic mess still enjoy massive salaries and bonuses, yet the rest must suffer and pay the price! So yes, the UK is the austerity capital of the world!

    • Trevor Moore

      Ross, to attempt to disassociate the Scottish independence movement from nationalism is to forget the union is an equal one, has existed for more than 300 years (longer than most countries) and was entered into freely by the governments of Scotland and England. Scottish independence serves to profit only those and such as those while being happy to see the rest of the people in the UK disadvantaged. This is nationalism, regardless of the spin you put on it.
      You are correct in stating that many socialists have taken the somewhat Machiavellian decision to jump on the independence bandwagon in the hope of creating a socialist enclave within the British Isles. This is borne partly of frustration that the people in the south of England will ever see the light, and the SNP’s cynical adoption of policies they have no real conviction in, but feel appeal to their target electorate. While I agree with their politics, the vehicle they have chosen to achieve their goal is a discredited one and should be avoided like the plague. Moreover there is little basis for their faith in a socialist independent Scotland. Scotland’s rejection of Conservatism has more to do with the hangover resulting from Thatcher’s disastrous (for her) lack of understanding of the Scots than it has with a broadly held belief in the redistribution of wealth and is only reflected in voting patterns for the last 30 years or so. Prior to that the Tories had broad appeal in Scotland and it seems likely that after independence they, or their Scottish equivalent, would do so again.
      I’d also be grateful if you could draw our attention to some of the FACTS (your capitals) presented by the Yes campaign. All I have seen so far from that side is fairly transparent propaganda, emanating from the likes of Wings Over Scotland or Business For Scotland, both of which are entirely biased, or barefaced lies and unsubstantiated assertions from Salmond, Sturgeon and their White Paper manifesto.

      • Ross

        Trevor, so many incorrect and uneducated statements, where to start? To state that the independence campaign is solely nationalist is not just obtuse it’s completely ignorant. You have shown a complete lack of historical and key issues. Let’s take it from the top, you claim that the union is ‘equal’ and was entered into ‘freely’ but more bizarrely you somehow suggest that it lasting over 300 years proves this! Just to give you some historical education, the union was not entered into freely. It was sought by England to quell Jacobisim and thus deprive the French of a key ally. Scotland who had experienced severe famine and the Darien fiasco were forced to consider a union due to England’s Alien act which was a direct attempt to destroy the scottish economy and our people by classifying them as aliens, therefore a military threat was posed. This forced us reluctantly into negotiations which were completely one sided and saw Scotland’s sovereignty swallowed completely by England. The Scottish people fiercely opposed the union but were let down massively by corrupt nobles who were ‘bought and sold for English gold’, none more so than the trecherous Duke of Hamilton. Less than 50 years into the union, we have without doubt the biggest atrocity in Scottish history, the genocide which took place during the Highland clearances! Which saw the British government attempt to completely wipe out Highland Gaelic culture. Still sound equal?

        Let’s fast forward a few centuries and look what happened when we discovered oil. Did we share the wealth? Did we create a wealth fund or save it for future generations? No, Westminster squandered it to meet their own self centred, neo-liberal agenda! Look at the official figures, you will discover that more barrels of oil have been taken from the North Sea than from Abu Dhabi and Dubai combined. Yet these 2 Emirates are super rich while 1 in 5 (20%) Scottish children live in poverty and many families are forced to rely on food banks to survive! Between 1980 and 1989 Thatcher (who the Scottish people did not vote for) squandered £166bn of our oil money (check the official tax figures)! More unforgivingly she used it to bankroll her attack on the unemployed, to destroy Scottish manufacturing and many of our industries, like, mining (this happened across the UK but Scotland was target specifically and many of our communities were decimated). She diverted our oil and tax wealth to create the big-bang that turned London into a capital of global neo-liberalism and pumped growth into the South-East in the early 1980s. Added to this we have Blair secretly (sneakily) moving Scotland’s Marine Boundaries and illegally making 6000 miles of Scotland’s waters English. Still equal?

        Let’s look at finances. Scotland has raised more tax per head (for every one of the past 34 years) than the rest of the UK yet we get less in spending. Look at the 2012 figures, we received 9.3% of spending yet raised 9.9% of the UK’s taxes! Sound equal? Let’s look at that 9.3% because Scotland doesn’t actually receive that figure. That is because it includes money Scotland receives and money Westminster ‘spends on Scotland’s behalf’. When you examine the latter you discover that Scotland is overcharged in so many ways. Take the debt interest repayments, Scotland is supposedly charged on a population basis, we have 8.3% of the UK population, yet if you look at the 2012 figures we paid just under £4.1bn this is almost 9.5% of the overall payment! Take defence, we were charged £3.3bn in 2012 yet only received £1.8bn worth of defence! Pensions are another area where we are massively short changed, people in Scotland pay more than they receive (due to our life expectancy being significantly lower than rUK). There are a number of other areas also like social security and this doesn’t take into consideration hidden wealth in the form of taxes from corporations who have their headquarters based in England. All the tax receipts derived from Scotland are credited to the HQ in England and thus not counted in our figures. The main point of this is that Scotland receives significantly less in spending than we raise in taxes! Sound equal?

        Westminster policies are based on the needs of London and the South East, they do not suit Scotland. Their austerity measures are undermining our ability to sustain the services we value as essential, such as, our NHS, education and social security. It is our commitment to these services and our will to ensure a fairer distribution of wealth to create a fairer society which leads to most of Scotland’s population to vote left of centre. Look at the SNP, they support many of the policies that old Labour used to be the champion of! In UK politics we have 2 neo-liberal parties, neither represents the needs or wishes of the majority in Scotland! Not that it would matter because we only have 8.3% of the population, therefore we have absolutely no say and no ability to influence any UK decisions! Sound equal?

        You talk about independence benefiting only nationalists and seem completely oblivious to the fact that the union benefits mainly 0.0003% of the population who have a combined wealth of £257bn! London now has more dollar millionaires than any other city in the world (FT 2014) whereas
        more than 30% of the children in Glasgow live in poverty (Herald 2013). Was Glasgow not the second city of the empire? Why such disparity if we’re so equal? This is not spin it is fact!

        I didn’t read your attack on the SNP because the referendum is not about them, they are merely the mechanism we are using to deliver our independence thus your rant was superfluous! Many, like me, will not vote for the SNP in an independent Scotland. I do, however, agree with one point you made, that being that the Conservative party may gain popularity after independence. This will be because a political revolution will occur where Scottish Labour return to their socialist roots and the Conservatives make a massive shift in ideology and take a slightly right of centre position, shedding their self-interested, society-destroying, neo-liberal ideas! The current Conservative party are far more ruthless, selfish and destructive than Thatcher ever was! No doubt Thatcher created the disdain but this government have certainly increased it significantly! They’ve been a disaster – doubling the debt in less than 3 years, harsh austerity cuts and the unfair creation of the austerity cap which will send so many more into extreme poverty while the rich continue to prosper, not to mention their farcical ‘doom and gloom’ campaign against independence which is loaded with hollow threat after hollow threat – are just some of the reason they’re so despised in my homeland!

        Finally, you state that Wings Over Scotland and Business for Scotland tell ‘barefaced lies and unsubstantiated assertions’, do you care to give any examples of these apparent ‘lies’? Or is your statement, like much of you post, completely unsubstantiated? It’s interesting because both back up their reports with evidence and figures, often taken from the UK Government’s sources and data. But I do look forward to you presenting your case!

        What is ironic is it is leading figures in the UK Government, their allies and those leading the No campaign who are continually being found out as telling ‘barefaced lies’ and making ‘unsubstantiated assertions’. Some classic examples –

        Gideon Osborne “no you can’t have the pound”, actually we can George, we can create our own currency, pin it to the UK pound (it’s an international currency, anyone can do this), regulate our financial sector to ensure it does not take the insane risks allowed in the “city” and assume absolutely none of the UK debt (which we did not create and were in surplus for many of the years it was created in) – standard and poor’s and the Adam smith institute state this would be more in Scotland’s interests than a currency union. Also members of his own cabinet have even undermined this hollow threat!

        Barrosso, who completely back tracked after his ludicrous performance on the Marr show. Only the UK Government can request that the EU clarify the legal situation. Why have they not done this? Perhaps so they can create a campaign of uncertainty. Again completely unfounded!

        Darling – a currency union would be “desirable” and “logical”. Then “I didn’t say that”. YouTube it, he did say it!

        Darling – Scotland couldn’t afford to bail out the RBS or HBOS if they faltered again. He claimed that it cost £450bn to bail them both out. The former chancellor didn’t seem to realise that you don’t have to bail out the entire value of the bank! Actual figure of bailout was £66bn (RBS £42bn HBOS £24bn). Scottish GDP at the time was £150bn so again he was wrong. Also the bailout takes place wherever the bank is operating. Hence the federal reserve chipped in. 90% of the bailout was in England!

        Gordon Brown – ‘pensions more secure in UK’. How is this Gordon? Scotland has lower (therefore more affordable) public spending than rUK, around 42.7% (Sco) v around 46.6% (rUK) we also raise more in tax per head and we generate more money per capita also. Also isn’t he the S.O.B who stole our pensions?

        Unelected Lord Robertson – ‘forces of darkness’…….ha ha ha ha!

        I could go on. I look forward to your retort but I encourage you to steer clear of the uneducated political rhetoric which rendered your original post as nonsense!

      • Ross

        Trevor, so many incorrect and uneducated statements, where to start? To state that the independence campaign is solely nationalist is not just obtuse it’s completely ignorant. You have shown a complete lack of historical and key issues. Let’s take it from the top, you claim that the union is ‘equal’ and was entered into ‘freely’ but more bizarrely you somehow suggest that it lasting over 300 years proves this! Just to give you some historical education, the union was not entered into freely. It was sought by England to quell Jacobisim and thus deprive the French of a key ally. Scotland who had experienced severe famine and the Darien fiasco were forced to consider a union due to England’s Alien act which was a direct attempt to destroy the scottish economy and our people by classifying them as aliens, therefore a military threat was posed. This forced us reluctantly into negotiations which were completely one sided and saw Scotland’s sovereignty swallowed completely by England. The Scottish people fiercely opposed the union but were let down massively by corrupt nobles who were ‘bought and sold for English gold’, none more so than the trecherous Duke of Hamilton. Less than 50 years into the union, we have without doubt the biggest atrocity in Scottish history, the genocide which took place during the Highland clearances! Which saw the British government attempt to completely wipe out Highland Gaelic culture. Still sound equal?

        Let’s fast forward a few centuries and look what happened when we discovered oil. Did we share the wealth? Did we create a wealth fund or save it for future generations? No, Westminster squandered it to meet their own self centred, neo-liberal agenda! Look at the official figures, you will discover that more barrels of oil have been taken from the North Sea than from Abu Dhabi and Dubai combined. Yet these 2 Emirates are super rich while 1 in 5 (20%) Scottish children live in poverty and many families are forced to rely on food banks to survive! Between 1980 and 1989 Thatcher (who the Scottish people did not vote for) squandered £166bn of our oil money (check the official tax figures)! More unforgivingly she used it to bankroll her attack on the unemployed, to destroy Scottish manufacturing and many of our industries, like, mining (this happened across the UK but Scotland was target specifically and many of our communities were decimated). She diverted our oil and tax wealth to create the big-bang that turned London into a capital of global neo-liberalism and pumped growth into the South-East in the early 1980s. Added to this we have Blair secretly (sneakily) moving Scotland’s Marine Boundaries and illegally making 6000 miles of Scotland’s waters English. Still equal?

        Let’s look at finances. Scotland has raised more tax per head (for every one of the past 34 years) than the rest of the UK yet we get less in spending. Look at the 2012 figures, we received 9.3% of spending yet raised 9.9% of the UK’s taxes! Sound equal? Let’s look at that 9.3% because Scotland doesn’t actually receive that figure. That is because it includes money Scotland receives and money Westminster ‘spends on Scotland’s behalf’. When you examine the latter you discover that Scotland is overcharged in so many ways. Take the debt interest repayments, Scotland is supposedly charged on a population basis, we have 8.3% of the UK population, yet if you look at the 2012 figures we paid just under £4.1bn this is almost 9.5% of the overall payment! Take defence, we were charged £3.3bn in 2012 yet only received £1.8bn worth of defence! Pensions are another area where we are massively short changed, people in Scotland pay more than they receive (due to our life expectancy being significantly lower than rUK). There are a number of other areas also like social security and this doesn’t take into consideration hidden wealth in the form of taxes from corporations who have their headquarters based in England. All the tax receipts derived from Scotland are credited to the HQ in England and thus not counted in our figures. The main point of this is that Scotland receives significantly less in spending than we raise in taxes! Sound equal?

        Westminster policies are based on the needs of London and the South East, they do not suit Scotland. Their austerity measures are undermining our ability to sustain the services we value as essential, such as, our NHS, education and social security. It is our commitment to these services and our will to ensure a fairer distribution of wealth to create a fairer society which leads to most of Scotland’s population to vote left of centre. Look at the SNP, they support many of the policies that old Labour used to be the champion of! In UK politics we have 2 neo-liberal parties, neither represents the needs or wishes of the majority in Scotland! Not that it would matter because we only have 8.3% of the population, therefore we have absolutely no say and no ability to influence any UK decisions! Sound equal?

        You talk about independence benefiting only nationalists and seem completely oblivious to the fact that the union benefits mainly 0.0003% of the population who have a combined wealth of £257bn! London now has more dollar millionaires than any other city in the world (FT 2014) whereas
        more than 30% of the children in Glasgow live in poverty (Herald 2013). Was Glasgow not the second city of the empire? Why such disparity if we’re so equal? This is not spin it is fact!

        I didn’t read your attack on the SNP because the referendum is not about them, they are merely the mechanism we are using to deliver our independence thus your rant was superfluous! Many, like me, will not vote for the SNP in an independent Scotland. I do, however, agree with one point you made, that being that the Conservative party may gain popularity after independence. This will be because a political revolution will occur where Scottish Labour return to their socialist roots and the Conservatives make a massive shift in ideology and take a slightly right of centre position, shedding their self-interested, society-destroying, neo-liberal ideas! The current Conservative party are far more ruthless, selfish and destructive than Thatcher ever was! No doubt Thatcher created the disdain but this government have certainly increased it significantly! They’ve been a disaster – doubling the debt in less than 3 years, harsh austerity cuts and the unfair creation of the austerity cap which will send so many more into extreme poverty while the rich continue to prosper, not to mention their farcical ‘doom and gloom’ campaign against independence which is loaded with hollow threat after hollow threat – are just some of the reason they’re so despised in my homeland!

        Finally, you state that Wings Over Scotland and Business for Scotland tell ‘barefaced lies and unsubstantiated assertions’, do you care to give any examples of these apparent ‘lies’? Or is your statement, like much of you post, completely unsubstantiated? It’s interesting because both back up their reports with evidence and figures, often taken from the UK Government’s sources and data. But I do look forward to you presenting your case!

        What is ironic is it is leading figures in the UK Government, their allies and those leading the No campaign who are continually being found out as telling ‘barefaced lies’ and making ‘unsubstantiated assertions’. Some classic examples –

        Gideon Osborne “no you can’t have the pound”, actually we can George, we can create our own currency, pin it to the UK pound (it’s an international currency, anyone can do this), regulate our financial sector to ensure it does not take the insane risks allowed in the “city” and assume absolutely none of the UK debt (which we did not create and were in surplus for many of the years it was created in) – standard and poor’s and the Adam smith institute state this would be more in Scotland’s interests than a currency union. Also members of his own cabinet have even undermined this hollow threat!

        Barrosso, who completely back tracked after his ludicrous performance on the Marr show. Only the UK Government can request that the EU clarify the legal situation. Why have they not done this? Perhaps so they can create a campaign of uncertainty. Again completely unfounded!

        Darling – a currency union would be “desirable” and “logical”. Then “I didn’t say that”. YouTube it, he did say it!

        Darling – Scotland couldn’t afford to bail out the RBS or HBOS if they faltered again. He claimed that it cost £450bn to bail them both out. The former chancellor didn’t seem to realise that you don’t have to bail out the entire value of the bank! Actual figure of bailout was £66bn (RBS £42bn HBOS £24bn). Scottish GDP at the time was £150bn so again he was wrong. Also the bailout takes place wherever the bank is operating. Hence the federal reserve chipped in. 90% of the bailout was in England!

        Gordon Brown – ‘pensions more secure in UK’. How is this Gordon? Scotland has lower (therefore more affordable) public spending than rUK, around 42.7% of GDP (Sco) v around 46.6% of GDP (rUK) we also raise more in tax per head and we generate more money per capita also. Also isn’t he the S.O.B who stole our pensions?

        Unelected Lord Robertson – ‘forces of darkness’…….ha ha ha ha!

        I could go on. I look forward to your retort but I encourage you to steer clear of the uneducated political rhetoric which rendered your original post as nonsense!

        • Trevor Moore

          Ross, your inability to debate this issue without resorting to personal insults marks you out as a died in the wool nationalist. Perhaps I shouldn’t point out the irony of being given a history “lesson” by someone who doesn’t know the difference between the post -Culloden persecution of the Highlands and its culture and the Highland Clearances, but I can hardly resist. The former was perpetrated by the British government, including some enthusiastic participation by Lowland Scots, and was indeed an atrocity. The Clearances were perpetrated by the Clan Chiefs, who, with the help of their Lowland factors, cleared their own people off the land to make room for sheep. It is true that their people become of little moment to them as a consequence of acts of parliament resulting from the ’45 rebellion, which did away with the feudal clan system and prevented the Chiefs from using their people as a private army, but there is a distinction to be made nevertheless. It should also be clear that these events took place after union and the government of the day was British, not English. Similar atrocities took place in England (the Peterloo Massacre, for example) but this doesn’t get blamed on the Scots. Why then should Culloden and its aftermath be blamed on the English? It’s a long held nationalist myth.
          Also, wasn’t the Aliens Act, at least in part, a response to the Scottish Parliament’s Act of Security? There was a lot of competition between the two countries around that time as one tried to outdo the other, but regardless of the historical context the two governments were not forced to enter into a union.
          Nevertheless that union created an industrial and economic powerhouse, which made both countries very wealthy. This is why it has endured for 300 years. Nothing bizarre about that.
          Moving forward a few centuries and you’re whining on about Thatcher and neo-liberalism and misuse of oil wealth in her hideous political experiment. One question: what the hell has that got to do with independence? In 1979 Thatcher got 31% of the Scottish vote and won 22 Scottish seats. By 1992 this had fallen to 26% of the Scottish vote, but it’s still more than Salmond got in the last Scottish Parliamentary election. And weren’t the SNP instrumental in helping Thatcher bring down the Callaghan government and letting Thatcher in? Please don’t tell me Scots didn’t vote for Thatcher. The Tory vote didn’t collapse until 1997, but of course this doesn’t fit in with the independence rhetoric, which insists Scotland has been subjected to a government it hates to a man since 1979. I’m no fan of neo-liberalism or Thatcher, but I’m not so short sighted as to believe current political mores are sufficient reason to break up the UK and put up with all the rancour and inconvenience that would create. Are you honestly trying to say that keeping all the oil money for 5 million people living north of an artificially created political border is somehow more socialist than sharing the benefits among all the people in the UK? If so your grasp of socialism is even more slender than even your embracing of nationalism would suggest.
          I’m not going to respond to all your economic statistics at any length. You know as well as I do that using percentages is a good way of distorting the figures, and you can’t have failed to notice that the latest GERS figures show that Scotland paid 9.1% of taxation and received 9.3% of public spending. It ebbs and flows, as you would realise if you weren’t working yourself into a lather as you feed your persecution complex.
          You will also be aware that London has areas with worse social deprivation than the poorest parts of Glasgow, but you wouldn’t want to mention it because it doesn’t fit in with the myth that all Scotland’s woes are somehow a consequence of the union.
          If you’d care to read my comment again you will see I didn’t accuse Wings Over Scotland and Business for Scotland of lying. I said they were biased, which they most pointedly are. The accusation of lying I laid at the feet of Salmond and Sturgeon. The lie about having taken legal advice over EU membership would be a good one. Or insisting there would be a currency union having been told categorically there will not. He lied on cross border pension schemes. He can’t help himself.
          Which brings me to the pound. Nobody has said that an independent Scotland couldn’t use the pound. There is nothing that could stop them. What can and will be denied them is a currency union, without which they won’t be able to control their own fiscal policy.
          As a deluded nationalist you will, of course, continue to believe what you want to believe and I realise I had might as well be talking to the hand, but if your world view wasn’t so clouded by your prejudices you would see that Scottish independence is not worth the candle. In fact it has to be the most pointless political movement in history.

          • Ross

            Trevor, your inability to grasp basic points is almost as
            frustrating as your inability to distinguish between the critique of your poorly constructed argument and personal insults! I certainly criticised your thinking because it is based upon uneducated political rhetoric and is compounded by a complete lack of facts or evidence. Your latest attempt is equally loaded with these barriers to intellectual political discourse.

            You should have resisted your lame attempt to belittle my
            point regarding the Highland Clearances because you have made yourself look very foolish. Just to set you straight (again):

            1 – To suggest that the sole responsibility for the Clearances lies with the Clan Chiefs is completely absurd. I suspect you have taken this from some pro-unionist website somewhere. The Clearances were a direct result of policies of the Government, such as the Heritable Jurisdictions Act 1747 which forced Clan Chiefs to yield to the jurisdiction of the British Government or forfeit their lands. This meant carrying out the genocide of the Highlands which was ordered by the British Government against a people who they were responsible for governing! Your point was that the union was equal, my point, is when a government implements policies of ethnic cleansing it cannot be considered equal! So I ask you again, do you still consider the union equal? Also, I am in no doubt that many Scots reveled in this power and probably carried out these atrocious acts with zealous ruthlessness. As I am in no doubt there has been Scots in power who were corrupt, self-interested and motivated by greed, Scots of this ilk still exist – Brown, Alexander, Darling, Lamont and Robertson are but a few! However, in an independent Scotland we don’t have to put up with them and we will notallow them to make our decisions, as we will have the power to vote them out.

            2 – Before you try to legitimise the policies of the UK Government at this time consider that the people who fought in the ’45 were forced to by their Clan Chiefs, many of whom were rewarded by the British Government in the aftermath while persecuting the people of the Highlands.

            3 – No one is blaming the English for the aftermath. The blame lies solely with the British Government (Scots included).

            You got something right, the Aliens Act was in direct
            response to Scotland’s Act of Security which sought to preserve Scottish sovereignty. The English Government was desperate to obtain a union with Scotland for many reasons – such as, bringing to heel a crucial French ally, to help fund the war with France and to increase their armed forces. Therefore to nullify the Act of Security they passed the Aliens Act to stop trade and threaten the liberty of the Scottish people, in effect to bring the Scotland to its knees. Again, is this how equal partnerships are started?

            You talk about an ‘economic powerhouse’ as if you’re proud
            of the bloody atrocities which were committed to achieve this! I’m not proud of that part of our shared history, not least because the Scots, Irish and Welsh were used as cannon fodder to achieve this bloody ‘economic powerhouse’ you boast of. Imperialism is nothing to be proud of but it certainly explains the rule Britannia mentality of the current political leaders in the UK!

            You ask a bizarre question, ‘what does Thatcherism and
            neo-liberalism have to do with independence’???
            WTF? Are you seriously saying you can’t make the link? Even though I spelled it out for you in my last post? Before I can answer that I have to highlight your point about Thatcher gaining 31% of the vote and this dropping to 26% of the vote. It’s as if you’ve used this as evidence that Scotland voted for Thatcher and that she was popular in Scotland! Correct me if I’m wrong but is 31% not a minority? Therefore you’ve proved my point, Thatcher was not elected by the people of Scotland, a massive 69% of the people voted against her, this later increased to 74%, yet she was free to create and implement policies which were extremely detrimental to our economy, industries and people! So what this has to do with independence is that we are done with having governments we did not vote for make our decisions because they clearly do not make them in our best interests!

            Quick point – Do you realise that the SNP have changed considerably in ideology since 1979? Your point about them aiding the Tory victory is not only redundant it makes you look completely ignorant of political evolvement and ideology! You do realise that just because Celtic won the European Cup in 1967 they’re not still the best team in Europe? They, like the SNP have changed completely! Embarrassing mate!

            There is yet another area where your ‘argument’ falls flat –
            your attempt to make this about England v Scotland. It’s about neither. It’s about neo-liberal capitalism v socialism. You seem confused, actually deluded over what
            socialism is. Again I’m going to explain it for you. Socialism is ‘a social and economic system characterised by social ownership of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy as well as a political theory and movement that aims at the establishment of such a system.’ (Wikipedia). We desire nationalisation of essential services such as our NHS, Education, Social Protection and many essential industries like the Mail service, transport, energy, etc. There is also a degree of Libertarian Socialism and of course a controlled element of capitalism. In essence we seek a societyleft of centre on the traditional political spectrum. Why? Simply because we want essential services to be available to all, if andwhen we need them. We want a more even distribution of wealth so that we can effectively tackle poverty and help those most in need. We want to provide a secure future for our young and look after our old and sick. What’s more, most of us will gladly pay more in taxes to achieve this – even though we can increase our public spending considerably and still have much more affordable levels than the rUK! We seek a society which works in democratic partnership with the rest of the world and does not seek to bully others with the strength of our army (how imperialist) or the might of our nuclear base – which we also want rid of! We want to remain in the EU – UKIP (a racist party) seem to gathering much support in London and the South East in their quest to ensure the UK leaves the EU, with our 8.3% of the population we will have no control or effect upon this decision (as usual) and we will likely be voted out against the will of our nation. You cannot escape the fact that 8.3% can have no impact or effect upon any decision or outcome. So essentially, we want a nation where we can have a say and one where our vote counts! Once we have achieved this, we will gladly welcome our English, Welsh and Irish brothers and sisters, who also want these things, to join us in our new country and many will. Does this sound like nationalism? Does it sound like a movement built on anti-English sentiment? Many of my good friends are English people who live in Scotland; they are in favour of the independence for the same reasons I’ve outlined, which pigeon hole do they fit into? This is where unionists find themselves confused, this movement can’t be classified as nationalist because there are so many other elements to it but I don’t expect you to understand that!

            You bring in the GERS stats completely ignorant of the
            effect George Osborne’s unprecedented 12% increase in North Sea Oil and Gas corporation tax in 2011 had on the production and tax revenues. Ask yourself – why when the Tory party is fully committed to cutting corporation taxes across all sectors did they suddenly and significantly increase them in the oil industry? Was it just a coincidence that they did this immediately after the SNP won a majority in the Scottish election (another point you got wrong, but I’ll come back to that later) and thus ensured there would be a referendum? I can’t get my head around my first question – Osborne harps on about how corporation tax cuts are essential because they significantly increase investment which helps economic growth so why increase it in the North Sea – unless the aim was increase taxes to slow down investment and thus slow down production and therefore provide lower tax receipts! Is it possible that this was a deliberate ploy to manipulate the Oil and Gas industry to make it look as if production is dropping and that it has a very bleak future? Could he be that calculating, that devious and that ruthless? I think we both know the answer to that! Thankfully, unlike Lamont’s claim, Scots and our native brothers and sisters have the ability to ‘think politically’ and we can see right through these figures. We know there is at least 3-4bn barrels left in the North Sea (Sir Ian Wood) we also know there are ‘monster fields’ (BBC) like the Claire and Kraken in the Atlantic and the possibility of much more – we know oil is a blessing and not a burden! We will share the benefits with our people – Westminster have not done this they have squandered it completely when you suggested that oil wealth should be shared amongst the people you made yourself look like very naive and gullible because the corrupt politicians running our Government will NEVER share the wealth!

            So we’ve established why our tax receipts dropped from 9.9% to 9.1%, however, we still generated significantly more tax per head than the rUK. Yes, 9.3% was recorded in the ‘received’ column but I have already explained how this figure is based upon received money and money that Westminster ‘spends on Scotland’s behalf’. I have dissected this previously to show how Scotland is consistently overcharged as the Treasury ‘cook the books’! What is certain it that Scotland generates much more than it receives in spending.
            It may ebb and flow but Scottish tax receipts have been much higher than the rest of the UK for every one of the last 34 years! What is also certain is that investment in the North Sea is at an all-time high and which will see production increase significantly and therefore a huge increase in tax receipts. Scottish tax figures will be significantly higher next year as we continue to subsidise the rest of the UK! I’m not in a lather mate, I just can’t wait until we cut off the leeches!

            So onto your next moronic statement – ‘London has areas with worse social deprivation than the poorest parts of Glasgow.’ You do realise that it’s not a competition? The fact that London, a city with more dollar millionaires than any other in the world, has any deprived areas at all is a disgrace. It is also yet further evidence that the wealth is not shared. This is one of the main reasons for independence – to gain a fairer distribution of wealth! So that we can tackle poverty in these areas, Wetmisnster quite clearly does not! I would also take issue with you making such a statement with no facts to back it up. Does London have over 30% of its children living in poverty?

            Again, you attacked the credibility of Wings and BfS yet
            have been unable to provide any evidence of this. You stated that Salmond and Sturgeon told ‘barefaced
            lies’ and provided a pathetic example disputing whether they sought legal advice or not! You have absolutely no
            idea of the position on Europe, only the EU can clarify this and ONLY the UK Government can request they do this – but this will expose them as liars and its much more effect to create uncertainty and doubt.
            We are well aware that as a country who has the wealth and resources we possess that we will have no problems gaining entry to the EU if we need to. Leading EU figures have this week already made this abundantly clear. If you disagree it’s possibly because you’re swallowing the ignorant ramblings from the No side and you lack the ability to apply common sense and logic! This goes for you inability to spot politicking when it’s as obvious as the nose on your face! As previously stated, Osborne has already been undermined by his own cabinet on this issue and MacPherson’s methodology has been widely criticised! Also you might want get your facts right, neither Salmond nor Sturgeon have stated there will be a currency union. What they have stated is that the Fiscal Commission Working Group which includes 2 Nobel award winning economists, Joseph Stilglitz and Sir Jim Mirrlees, have advised that a currency union would be in the best interests of both Scotland and rUK. Therefore this is what they have proposed! They have also stated that they believe that Osborne’s threat is hollow – they point to rUK’s balance of payments, the cost to industry andthe crippling debt the Treasury will be left with as evidence of Osborne’s bluff! Scotland doesn’t need one (Standard’s and Poor and the Adam Smith Institute), most of us are happy to leave the debt with those responsible for it! But for those left in rUK, you’d better pray for one. At present the debt is around 92% of GDP with a deficit of around £120bn and debt interest repayments of around £44bn. When we leave you will lose 10% of your economy that will take the debt over 100% of GDP and plunge your economy into crises! Good luck with that!

            I’ve left the best to last. By far the best illustration of your complete lack of understanding of key issues – you state and I quote ‘what will be denied is a currency union, without which they won’t be able to control their own fiscal policy.’ Are you sure about that? Do you even understand what fiscal policy means? Rhetorical question, it is clear
            you do not understand what fiscal policy is!
            So let me explain – it is ‘the use of government revenue collection (taxation) and expenditure (spending) to influence the economy.’ (Wikipedia). It’s the primary motivation and reason for the whole independence campaign because it will give us FULL control of our FISCAL POLICY! We won’t have control of MONETARY POLICY which is something completely different! Oh dear, Oh dear, you really are out of you depth in this discussion! I feel I must explain the difference. Monetary Policy refers to the control of macro-economic variables such as inflation rates and interest rates and this will continue tobe set by the BoE – you might think this is an issue but financial experts Standard and Poor’s, the Adam Smith Institute and the Nobel winning economists
            in the FCWG do not!

            Your complete lack of knowledge and poor grasp of the facts has been cruelly exposed throughout these discussions and your pride must have taken a bit of a beating but I can’t sign off without pointing out yet another
            completely incorrect point – you stated that Thatcher’s 26% was ‘still more than Salmond got at the last Scottish Parliamentary election.’ Yet again you are Wrong! The SNP won with a majority 69 seats that’s 54% of the vote, the first majority in the Scottish Parliament! Also making Salmond the only leader in the UK with a democratic majority!! Correct me if I’m wrong but 54 is bigger than 26, yes? So we see that Maths is another area you struggle with!

          • Trevor Moore

            Ross, it’s nice to see another charming response from you. You’re quite the cheeky monkey with all you facts and figures. Indeed you are so well informed on all matters relating to independence that it’s a wonder you have time to do anything else. A fact that leads me to conclude you must be in the pay of the YES campaign’s propaganda machine. Nevertheless you still fail to make the case for independence being consistent with the goals of socialism, which is hardly surprising given that in the case of Scotland they have little in common.
            First let’s put the ’45 rebellion to bed once and for all. I understand you like to bring it up as often as possible in order to stir up feelings of having been hard done by, but it really has little bearing on the situation in 2014. Nothing you have said in your last post contradicts anything I said in mine, where I clearly state that the Clearances were a consequence of acts of parliament resulting from the ’45 rebellion. The Heritable Jurisdictions Act removed the right of Clan Chief’s to be judge and juror in civil and legal cases affecting their dependents and their right to call men to arms. These rights were transferred to the Crown, which at that time was well on its way to becoming a constitutional monarchy. Quite how this meant carrying out the genocide of the Highlands as you assert, is anybody’s guess. What it did result in was the Clan Chiefs abandoning their dependents.
            Of course you make the mistake of many politically motivated historians by projecting modern social attitudes onto a period in history in order to make events seem more of an affront than they would have been at the time (you do it again later when you speak of imperialism, but we shall come to that in due course), but if we strip the ’45 rebellion of its romanticism, what it basically boiled down to is a succession challenge against a constitutional monarch by a pretender who still believed in the divine right of kings and exploited a primitive feudal system to raise a private army. It would have been interesting to see how the Scottish government would have dealt with an enclave of its country with the capacity to raise large armies in revolt, as it saw fit, had the union never taken place. What is certain is that it would have had to be addressed, and given the brutal times in which these events occurred it’s not impossible that the outcome would have been similar.
            Moving on to the modern day, quite why you feel Brown, Alexander, Darling , Lamont and Robertson are corrupt, self-interested and motivated by greed is never made clear. Could it be because they have spoken up in favour of the union and against petty nationalism? It would seem so, because it’s hard to see how independence would affect them personally one way or another. As Scots they could no doubt continue their political careers in an independent Scotland, and would be rather bigger fish on a smaller sea. Alex Salmond, on the other hand, has a great deal to gain and would be one of the few beneficiaries of independence in terms of wealth and status.
            There is more to being an economic powerhouse than bloody atrocities and imperialism. Nobody with any sense would try to suggest these things never happened, but there are things of which we can be proud, such as the creativity and innovation that brought so many of the things we take for granted in our modern world into being. It is highly unlikely these things would have happened without the wealth and backing the union created and you don’t need a “rule Britannia” mentality to acknowledge that.
            Your comments about the people used as cannon fodder to achieve the imperialist dream are very telling and lay your nationalist psyche bare. “Scots, Irish and Welsh”: haven’t you forgotten the English? Or don’t they matter? The working classes from all over these islands were sacrificed at the altar of imperialism and capitalism, but rather than concentrate your efforts on fighting capitalism throughout the UK, you would rather devote your energies to the self-serving distraction of Scottish independence. This is why I don’t need a lecture or lesson from you about socialism. I’m not the one embracing nationalism here. You are. To attempt to portray the Scottish nationalist movement about being about neo-liberal capitalism v socialism is as disingenuous as it is absurd. It’s about solidarity and unity v a discredited right wing political philosophy designed to serve only the few. Your inference that Scotland has some sort of monopoly on socialism is, frankly, insulting to all the genuine socialists in the UK, who continue to fight capitalism and big business in the hope of bringing benefit to all. Again your referring to those in the rest of the UK who currently benefit from the taxation of North Sea oil revenues as “leeches” tells its own story. A fair society for 8.3% of the population and hang the rest seems to be your philosophy.
            To refer to my comment about social deprivation being as bad in parts of London as it is in Glasgow as “moronic” is not only insulting but fails to grasp the point. Perhaps it wasn’t well made, so I shall try again. To blame the ills of capitalism on the union is to create a distraction from the real cause. I don’t disagree that any poverty is a disgrace but if you really are a socialist you should be fighting the causes of poverty everywhere and not just in your own back yard.
            Your theory about Osborne’s motives for raising North Sea Oil corporation tax is an interesting one, but that’s all it is, a theory. I’m not going to defend Osborne or the Tory party as I do not support them. Nor do I see the current government as being particularly relevant to the independence debate. More so, perhaps, than the Thatcher government, but they too shall pass into history.
            You are of course correct that it is monetary policy as opposed to fiscal policy the Scottish government won’t be able to control under a Sterlingisation scenario (my mistake), but given the two are inextricably linked you would do well to be slightly less smug about it. The monetary policy Scotland would be subjected to would be set by the Bank of England in the interests of the rUK. Thus Scotland would be forced to use fiscal policy to stabilise the economy, something they would be limited in doing due to the high cost of borrowing in a currency over which they had no control. A crash in oil prices and the resulting loss of tax revenue would render the Scottish economy very vulnerable and unstable. I’m no economist, but it’s as clear on the nose on your face that the best scenario for the Scottish economy is to remain in the union.
            I repeat without any fear of contradiction that Wings Over Scotland and Business for Scotland are biased. Rather than hectoring me for evidence of this (although you could try reading their home pages) perhaps you could explain how they are impartial. Meanwhile it is clear you don’t need me to tell you that when spouting political rhetoric it’s not what you say, but how you say it and what you omit to say that are important.
            Somewhere in your rambling and bloviated narrative you mention that the SNP has changed since 1979. Indeed it has, just has it has changed continually since its inception in an attempt to attract voters. Scrape off the new coat of paint, though, and it’s still the same old right wing, nationalist party underneath. It has only one aim and one true philosophy.
            Finally in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election the SNP got 902,915 constituency votes. In the 1979 UK general election the Conservatives got 916,155 votes in Scotland (I have ignored list votes as these cannot be compared in the UK context). Funny how different thing look when you use absolute numbers rather than percentages.
            Scottish nationalism remains the most pointless political movement of modern times. It demands freedom for people who are free, democracy for people who live in a democracy and claims socialism while wishing to deny the majority a share in the nation’s oil wealth. It’s time its adherents grew up.

      • terregles2

        I have never voted SNP but I am voting YES. I want Trident removed from the Clyde. I do not want to be governed by a country that has the anachronistic House of Lords with some peers who have served time in prison.
        I do not want my taxes wasted by Westminster in the replacement of Trident and HS2 which will be of no benefit to Scotland.
        I do not want to be governed by Westminster and I do not want the possibility of Mr Farage having some influence in the governance of Scotland.
        Can’t wait to vote YES in September.

    • Lum

      What is a secessionist vote other than’nationalist’? Irrespective of whether from the socialists of the Greens or Labour it is still nationalist. Heard of national socialism?

  • Theuniondivvie

    ‘In Scotland, the debate is taking forms that Westminster politicians and the Spectator do not understand’

    Fixed it for ya (no thanks necessary).

  • cat williams

    Here’s the problem: There are no good reasons for staying in the union.

  • oldestel

    Hmm,…lucky old Scots to have a choice. If I as an englishman could vote for independance from Westminster I certainly would: I would endure a fair degree of poverty to be rid of Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and their armies of lackeys and spinners.

    • Kitty MLB

      May I take the liberty of correcting you English, I speak a few languages and just happen to be a particular about this Language. Its an uppercase letter
      for English and the word is independence. Shakespeare taught me to always
      be correct with his language and the modern version- but typo’s are fine,
      we all are particular to them.
      To the subject. Yes indeed they are really an unfortunate bunch of politicians
      that we have been benighted with, we just recycle the same people every few years which is most dispiriting. And Cleggie ruined choice with his grubby
      little compromise that is AV.

      • oldestel

        Kitty,
        I don’t mind you taking liberties with me at all.
        It is, as I dimly recall, spelt with an “a” in schoolboy french – Is it not?
        (Just trying to rescue a little something from the wreckage).

        • Kitty MLB

          Yes indeed you poor ‘old’ thing. Oh sorry
          its the first 3 letters of your name and I could
          not resist. It may have been worse, I could
          have said : Its good that your little grey
          cells are in working order because you are
          Older Still (don’t think that worked) and
          should not torment people. Very badly done
          Kitty (my Jane Austen impression)
          You have indeed been salvaged from the wreckage, nearly as good as before, I am
          sure.

          • oldestel

            I’m listening to The Verb on Radio 3,
            Just heard an extract from Sterne’s Sentimental Journey.
            Thought you’d like to know that.

          • Kitty MLB

            Its good to know. Like you I’m yet to read Pickwick Papers,
            but I will in Midwinter by an open fire, drinking that barrel- aged, earthy claret, whilst eating Godiva Belgium Chocolates
            ( my favourite ) Quite like La dolce vita and decadent lifestyle.
            But shall change, when there are more years behind me
            then ahead. And I shall remember to also read Sentimental
            Journey- the following spring, in the garden with a G & T.

      • Ganpati23

        Is the grocers’ apostrophe in “typo’s” a typo or some sort of in-joke?

    • terregles2

      I have quite a few English friends and neighbours here in Scotland who are campaigning hard for a YES vote. They live here and understand that we are voting against the Westminster government and never against English people.
      I also know that many in England would think we were mad not to take the chance to be rid of Westminster third rate politicians.

  • Henry Hooper

    Poor article.
    I have asked countless times and still await from Better Together (self-named Project Fear ) a single positive reason that supports the attestation that we are somehow ‘better together’.
    A positive reason to vote No does NOT exist.. if there was one that could not be so easily shot down in flames I would know about it. Give us a fact….a simple unarguable fact that we are better together. Better together for who? for Scots?, for bankers, City Spivs, Tory Financiers.
    The No campaign can willy nilly churn out spurious statements why we should NOT want nor vote for independence but NOT a single reason why we should for the union ..what do they hope to gain by this strategy?, moving those that are Yes to DK and/or those that are already “DK” to remain “DK”. There are no positive reasons to vote No. The entire basis of the No campaign seems to scare those not clever enough, those apolitical, the lazy of thought many and little old ladies into voting No…in this they have been very successful, but a “win” in September on that basis is simply a postponement of the inevitable.
    It really is a miserably negative campaign with nothing positive to say about the union.
    I’m afraid my once proud Britishness has really taken a hammering since Thatcher…..
    Nationalism of the British type does not stir positive emotions….. the only remaining associations/ connotations are all negative.
    Given the performance of the British political parties and their supporting media, whom are driving the pro-union hype. there will be independence for Scotland. It is only an issue of when.

    • Terry Field

      Tory financiers?
      Oh come on; this was a New Labour managed heist.

  • Alistair Gray

    I continue to be astonished at the inability of the Westminster establishment, and the London media, to grasp the issue.

    This is a UK-wide political crisis.

    Scotland dislikes Westminster. England by and large does not like Westminster either. The No campaign are focussed on reforming Holyrood through the provision of more powers, but they should look at reforming Westminster, which is where the problem lies. The only reason most Scots want more powers is to get away from Westminster.

    So long as Westminster continues to promote a brutal and uncivilised politics, and so long as the electorate, including the Scottish electorate, continues to despise Westminster, the Union will be in crisis. Giving Holyrood more powers will solve nothing, if Westminster continues to abuse those core powers which it retains.

    Introduce PR. Create a written constitution. Establish genuinely local councils with real political and fiscal power. Stand up to the utterly corrupt City of London. Propose this kind of reform, and people in Scotland will stop and listen.

    In the absence of UK political institutions which command loyalty and respect, the Union is indefensible. Can no-one in Westminster see this?

    • Terry Field

      Yes the crisis of disconnection between the nation and the ‘ruling political class’ is unparalleled in modern times. The economic disaster was generated by a monumental nexus of corruption between government and city institutions – on both sides of the atlantic.
      The theft and misallocation of the wealth of tens of millions of people by a financial system supported by an ever growing government that received gigantic tax revenues from the same, effectively unregulated institutions, was a kleptocracy of stupefying size. And the treasuries of the governments knew precisely what they were doing.
      And we know this.
      How did it happen – simple; social n moral collapse; the mutual exploitation of the modern anglo saxon world is as rotten, as disconnected from our decent past, as is Abu Ghraib.
      We as a society have lost what we had; we have lost our sense of right; we wish only consumption, survival and to hell with both tomorrow, and all others.
      That is why we are enraged by the lying bastards who prop up the idea of big monolithic undemocratic government. There are many other reasons for the rage – the corruption that took our armies to war, the fraud of focus-group government, the disconnect between promise and delivery, the immigration catastrophe never agreed by democratic mandate, the putrid mis-treatment of corrupt individuals to protect political and religious positions, etc. etc.
      The Scots see the rot and hate it; they fear change, but they may overcome their fear and, spurred by their revulsion, take their country out of this union of nations.
      The left has poisoned our children’s view of the countries history, the economy has declined to the point of near dysfunctional collapse, the inequalities are horrific, the desperate manipulation of the nation by the propaganda departments of the worst ministries both obvious and offensive.
      Much of the press is corrupt as we have seen in graphic terms in the past year.
      Only a madman would trust the police – I know a senior government legal people who have said the last people they would trust would be police.
      As for healthcare, even a Labour health minister has said to me he knows the system is outdated, dysfunctional and does not deliver.
      SO if all is lies and manipulation, little wonder people wish to go.
      It also explains UKIP.
      If you want to understand IKIP, go to hear the European Parliament; listen to Barosso. Listen to Kinnock.
      The West used to say it allocated capital more rationally than did communism.
      Not any more.

    • Damon

      I do love you Spectator commenters. Here you are, sitting in one of the richest, most stable countries on earth. You’ve come through the financial crisis after (shock! horror!) government cuts of about two per cent, and your economic performance is now the envy of the rich world. Yet to hear you talk, you’d think you were living in Somalia on two quid a week.

      A country where most people live so well (yes, you do) and yet complain so much is utterly decadent. For this reason, you’re probably right. The Union really is doomed.

  • HughTrowsers

    If extraordinary means invading half the planet, killing millions for His Majesty’s pleasure and knocking off Johnny Foreigner’s assets & cultural treasures, I’d be quite content with pretty unremarkable again.

  • Andrew Leslie

    The thing about the ‘wider, more emotional, case for saving Britain’ is that when anyone tries to make it, they inevitably harp on about the past. Where is the vision of what the Union might want to, or be able to, achieve in the future? The Yes campaign is at least looking to the future – acknowledging uncertainty, but stating clearly and consistently that Scotland can forge itself afresh.
    What do we see when we look south for our future? The possibility of being dragged out of Europe against our will. British politics stumbling in the wake of UKIP. The death of the welfare state.
    Unless someone in Westminster stands up and provides some kind of ‘wider, emotional’ case which contains a positive vision of what Briatin could become in the future, Scotland will leave to forge its own destiny, whatever that may be.

    It’s not a case of Scotland leaving the UK. The UK has left us.

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