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  • Technorati: graph / links

    Cutting and Running


    by Douglas on 7th October, 2008 at 8:40 pm    

    Sometimes I surprise myself. Over the weekend, I signed up for the Scottish National Party (SNP). On the basis that I am of the Groucho Marx tendency that believes that you really shouldn’t be part of a club that is willing to have you, this really is a bit odd. Yet something attracted me to the SNP. Here are some of the policies that they advocate, which are clearly not on the agenda of any major UK political party:

    - A more open attitude to immigration and a more just system for dealing with asylum seekers.

    - No to nuclear power.

    - No to nuclear weapons on Scottish soil.

    - Scrapping council tax and replacing it with a local income tax.

    I doubt these policies are in any way electorally possible south of the Border, whereas they might be up here. They are, at least in part, rather nostalgic of an earlier Labour party, one that had not sold its soul to triangulation and spin. I will admit that my cunning plan is to vote for, and support, the SNP until independence is established and then go back to voting Liberal. But the desire for change is strong in this one at the moment. And I cannot see my sort of politics being implemented - in a UK perspective - any time this century.

    There is also the fundamental question of what ‘Britishness’ is all about. I really no longer have any ideas worth sharing with you. It seems to me to be a mishmash of nostalgia, overextended militarism, ceremony and xenophobia. Not anything actually thought through with the 21st century in mind. This article on Our Kingdom seemed to me to be fairly persuasive on the subject.

    At least for now….



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    58 Comments below   |   Add your own

    1. Roger — on 7th October, 2008 at 9:10 pm  

      “A more open attitude to immigration”
      As Scotland is likely to decline in population and England increase considerably if current demographic trends- including immigration- continue this isn’t likely to have much practical effect.

    2. MaidMarian — on 7th October, 2008 at 9:14 pm  

      Local income tax? Hellfire!

      Leaving aside that the Salmond model of LIT would probably destroy local accountability, that would have serious winners and losers.

      According to the calculator here http://www.scrapcounciltax.co.uk/ my wife and I would be about £400 per year worse off. It is basically a tax cut for wealthy pensioners and those who did very well out of the property boom.

      Those who oppose council tax need to be a bit more careful what it is that they wish for because on the Salmond model there is a real risk of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

      While we are on the Marx brothers, one can only hope that Scotland does not become Freedonia.

    3. El Cid — on 7th October, 2008 at 9:43 pm  

      Fool’s paradise

    4. douglas clark — on 7th October, 2008 at 11:48 pm  

      I bet my daughter that I’d be lucky to get three responses. She won. I’d bet that the metropolitan elite would have have remained amazingly silent.

      Anyway, taking on the three cynics of the PP sphere ought to be fun.

      Roger has obviously got a problem with perspective. I.e. he doesn’t have any. It is pretty plain that he doesn’t realise that different parts of the UK have different needs, especially in terms of allowing immigration. Roger is yet another ‘one size fits me’ when it clearly doesn’t. Sad Roger, sitting on his one size fits all manifesto. No it bloody doesn’t Roger!

      MaidMarian,

      Jesus shit! You and your partner worked out your potential increased tax debt and it came to £400 a year!

      So it was £200 each, or circa £4 a week. This is you giving up a Lemon Sole each a week. You do not see independence as worth a sole. Well, may you eat fish!

      Anyway the substantive point, the one to the heart is obviously El Cid, that incisive and witty commentator who can, or cannot, encapsulate a point of view in few, if indeed no worthwhile, words. He had this to say:

      Fool’s paradise

      Prove it. Say something more than a two word phrase, why don’t ya?

      You just appear as a Sarah Palin idiot. You have nothing to say, and yet we are supposed to assume you have something to say. It ain’t true baby, it ain’t true!

    5. Refresh — on 8th October, 2008 at 12:26 am  

      Good for you. I have a feeling you guys are modelling yourselves on Sweden. Good luck.

    6. John Lilburne — on 8th October, 2008 at 12:48 am  

      No one has yet persuaded me of the benefit of joining any party with the word “national” in the title. It seems designed to appeal to the worst instincts in people.

    7. Refresh — on 8th October, 2008 at 12:54 am  

      John, you have a point.

      Douglas, you will need a new name. But please avoid ‘New’.

    8. halima — on 8th October, 2008 at 3:16 am  

      “- A more open attitude to immigration and a more just system for dealing with asylum seekers.

      - No to nuclear power.

      - No to nuclear weapons on Scottish soil.

      - Scrapping council tax and replacing it with a local income tax.”

      Sounds good to me! Great in fact.

    9. Roger — on 8th October, 2008 at 4:07 am  

      “As Scotland is likely to decline in population and England increase considerably if current demographic trends- including immigration- continue this isn’t likely to have much practical effect.”
      “Roger… doesn’t realise that different parts of the UK have different needs, especially in terms of allowing immigration.”
      You do read what people write before replying, don’t you? My post made it pretty plain that Scotland’s need is to encourage immigration and to discourage emigration (and England’s to do the opposite) and vague rhetoric about a “more open attitude” won’t do either.

    10. John Lilburne — on 8th October, 2008 at 4:15 am  

      @ halima

      Yes, it sounds great. It sounds even better when the rest of the UK is funding it. Come the time the SNP deliver their core promise of independence I’m not so sure taxpayers north of the border will think it’s so wonderful. The extra immigrants will help bolster up Scotland’s shrinking tax revenue base but I’m not sure that will be enough.

      Still, at least the people of the Scotland will benefit as “Sir” Sean Connery has promised to move back to Scotland after independence. As possibly the UK’s most renowned socialist he’ll be able to fund the tax shortfall from his own deep pockets. He may even notice how much Scotland has changed in the 50 years since he last lived there.

    11. douglas clark — on 8th October, 2008 at 6:02 am  

      roger @ 9,

      Of course I read what you say. It is pretty obvious that it is different strokes for different folks. Still, and all, it is a little bit more than a difference of opinion, it is a difference of attitude. I, for instance, am in favour of asylum seekers, when you, clearly -

      You do read what people write before replying, don’t you? My post made it pretty plain that Scotland’s need is to encourage immigration and to discourage emigration (and England’s to do the opposite) and vague rhetoric about a “more open attitude” won’t do either.

      don’t.

      That is the difference between the average English Nationalist, such as your good self, and common sense.

      Generally speaking, we seem to see asylum seekers as a good thing, rather than an unmitigated evil. It is, frankly, you that have the misplaced arrogance. An Englishman, comfortable in his castle, and fuck the rest of the world. But, there you go. It is the difference between a welcoming society and one that is up it’s arse.

      John @ 10,

      How dyspeptic, and so, so English. Frankly I don’t care if we end up poorer. At least it will be more equitable. Halima, I think, understands that. You ignoramous.

    12. halima — on 8th October, 2008 at 6:11 am  

      John, taking the ‘Socttish’ out of this equation, I don’t think it sounds bad…

      Taking aside, the Scottish angle, it would be good to see a discussion here on devolution generally, and the cost benefits of this devolution - and how much is a burden or not to tax payers in England or the South East of England to be precise. I imagine lots of work has gone into this so others will be better placed to comment here.

      Being of neither Scottish or English persuasion, but just plain British, I hear lots of comments about Scottish people benefiting from taxpayers in England… I also hear that Scotland is a dumping ground for things that we don’t want to do in England or we want to trial out first - nuclear power or the then poll tax. I also have friends in London who would happily want London to seperate from the rest of England, and would gladly call on New York and Paris to do the same. I also hear people say strange things about people from Wales.

      Most of the above, as far as I can tell, might be plain prejudice, but perhaps some evidence on how different regions benefit, and the historical costs to the South East of England developing from the rest of the UK ( and indeed the world…) would be useful.

      So all in all, I’d be interested in this discussion and see where it takes us. That would be an interesting discussion on multiculturalism for me. Perhaps long over due on Pickled Politics - a blog aparently concerned with identity poltiics etc.

    13. halima — on 8th October, 2008 at 6:18 am  

      …”taking the ‘Socttish’ out of this equation, I don’t think it sounds bad…”

      sorry meant to qualify this by saying leaving aside the Scottish platform, the issues/policies as they stand sound good to me.

    14. John Lilburne — on 8th October, 2008 at 7:54 am  

      @ Douglas

      So, so English? I can only judge from your comments in this discussion but you seem to think everyone that is not a ScotNat is an EngNat. Using the results of the last election that would make 67.1% of Scots look like EngNats. An interesting theory…

      Just to make things clear, I’m against all nationalism from whichever nation it spews forth but that that somehow makes me an igoramus. Nice. In fact, I’m so much of an English nationalist that I emigrated a decade ago.

      And I’m glad you’re happy to be poorer but how does that square with the ScotNat claim on North Sea oil revenue?

      By the way, “Sir” Sean is the worst advert the ScotNats could have. He was happy enough to bend over before QEII and accept a K from the auld enemy but still can’t bring himself to live in Scotland. How hypocritical is that?

      @ Halima

      Yes, you’re 100% correct about different areas paying more tax than others. I read the other day that Londoners pay an average of around GBP2000 more than the rest of the country. However, as both a socialist and a former Londoner I don’t have a problem with that. The tax goes into the big pot and should be spent as needed, where needed. From what I read, it seems the health service north of the border is facing an obesity time bomb over the next few years. They’ll need all the help they can get and if I still lived in the UK I’d be happy to oblige.

      And my apologies if I sound like a grumpy old git but nationalists of any stripe really get up my nose :)

    15. Roger — on 8th October, 2008 at 9:33 am  

      You draw an extra-ordinary number of inferences from two brief posts, Douglas. Where have I said anything about asylum seekers? What makes you think I am English, and an “English Nationalist” at that, let alone “the average English Nationalist “, or that the opinions you attribute to me are anything but your own delusory prejudice-fuelled assumptions about “English nationalism”? In what way is it contrary to common sense to point out that England is comparatively and absolutely overpopulated and Scotland under-populated?
      The SNP, you say, will have a “more open attitude to immigration”. This will only succeed if they make immigration to Scotland more attractive and emigration less attractive than either is now. If your opinions were typical of most Scottish people, it would be only reasonable for people to want to leave Scotland as quickly as possible, whatever the reason they were there to begin with. There is no reason to think an independent Scotland will attract more immigrants from within the E.U. and there is no reason to think that most of those they attract from outside the E.U. will remain rather than deciding that the finest sight in Scotland is the high road to the rest of the E.U. now they have the right to go there. That is a completely different question to the rights of refugees, which I have not mentioned.

    16. Cabalamat — on 8th October, 2008 at 9:34 am  

      A more open attitude to immigration and a more just system for dealing with asylum seekers.

      A policy of more skilled immigrants would help Scotland; a policy of more unskilled ones wouldn’t. Asylum policy should be decided, at least to some extent, on the same criteria: if someone has skills or is intelligent or well educated, they should have a larger chance of being allowed to stay here.

      No to nuclear power.

      This is making a political shibboleth of something that should be decided by engineers and accountants, who are better placed than politicians to decide how safe and cost-effective it is.

      No to nuclear weapons on Scottish soil.

      As with the above, this sentiment is partly an irrational shibboleth against all things nuclear. It’s also committing the fallacy that the world is intrinsically a nice place, i.e. that if we’re not well armed others won’t take advantage of us because of it.

      If the rest of the world gave up nuclear weapons, then so should Britain/Scotland. But we shouldn’t if others don’t.

      Scrapping council tax and replacing it with a local income tax.

      That’s not what the SNP are proposing — instead they are proposing a national income tax, i.e. one set at the same rate through the whole of Scotland. This would remove local councils’ tax raising powers, reducing local democracy and leading to a more centralised state.

      If Alex Salmond says this is a local income tax, then either he doesn’t know the meaning of common English words, or he’s a liar.

    17. douglas clark — on 8th October, 2008 at 9:35 am  

      John,

      I’m kind of against nationalism too. Surprisingly enough. My point, for what it is worth, is that the SNP have policies that I agree with, and a reasonable chance of implementing them.

      You say:

      to make things clear, I’m against all nationalism from whichever nation it spews forth but that that somehow makes me an igoramus. Nice. In fact, I’m so much of an English nationalist that I emigrated a decade ago.

      Great. Or alternatively, so what? Did you run away from the nasty face of nationalism you found on your doorstep, or did you reject it out of hand? I’d be interested to hear your story. Frankly nationalism has nasty connotations, all of which I reject. The SNP are not the BNP, in fact they have a lot of respected Asian members. This is not the politics of exclusion, rather it is a politics of inclusion. It is sad that a dream of self sufficiency should be tainted, by you, with a belief that it is somehow exclusive, when it is, in fact, inclusive. There are a rainbow of nationalisms, from the right to the left. I happen to think that Scottish Nationalism, which is predicated on the belief that you are Scottish if you say you are, is not pernicious. It is, in fact, the exact opposite. It has policies that, were they available to the general public in England, absent the nationalist stamp, would pull a fair share of the electorate along with them. But clearly not sufficient numbers to constitute a majority at Westminster. Which is why the experiment of UK sovereignty is bankrupt.

      Personally, I couldn’t give a monkeys’ about Sean Connery.

      And folk tilting at windmills really get up my nose too :-)

    18. douglas clark — on 8th October, 2008 at 10:31 am  

      Roger:

      If you are saying that Scotland and England have different criteria, then I’d accept that. Frankly, it is why I have just joined the SNP! However it is pretty clear that your policy is based on expediency, rather than judgement.

      This will only succeed if they make immigration to Scotland more attractive and emigration a less attractive option than either is now. There is no reason to think an independent Scotland will attract more immigrants from within the E.U. and there is no reason to think that most of those they attract from outside the E.U. will remain rather than deciding that the finest sight in Scotland is the high road to the rest of the E.U.

      Apart from the somewhat mangled quote, a concept I completely reject, what is your point? I am saying that a more open immigration policy has advantages, you are saying that it doesn’t. Well, my final paragraph addresses these issues rather well, I think. I said:

      There is also the fundamental question of what ‘Britishness’ is all about. I really no longer have any ideas worth sharing with you. It seems to me to be a mishmash of nostalgia, overextended militarism, ceremony and xenophobia..

      Are you denying that? I am saying that we can make ourselves a destination of choice, rather than a cheap entry option. Or would you care to correct me?

      Cabalmat:

      At least we agree on half of your first point. Asylum seekers should, in my view, be allowed to work.

      However your subsequent overuse of the word shibboleth does you down. Let me be clear about what I think. I think nuclear weapons are appalling. I think that having them makes you a target. I think Pakistan and India have both been incredibly stupid in adopting them. I think both have raised the stakes in being annihilated. I think getting rid of them is the best means of survival. So there you go.

      On nuclear energy. I’d continue to fund research into ITER, Scotland has, frankly, no need for fission, fusion would solve a lot of problems though. There are however, better, and immediately cheaper options, such as tidal. We should be looking at that, first.

      I don’t disagree with you completely on the Local Income Tax issue. It does, however, seem to me to be transparent that allowing Local Councils to set varying rates would, beyond marginalism, encourage folk to move from place to place in order to avoid taxation. I am not against some sort of capital gains tax on top of, or as a part substitute, for this proposal, but that seems to be a political step too far.

    19. MaidMarian — on 8th October, 2008 at 12:35 pm  

      douglas clark (4) - Do you feel better for getting that off your chest?

      ‘Jesus shit! You and your partner worked out your potential increased tax debt and it came to £400 a year!’ Too right I did. I felt it might be a good idea to know a little about what I am talking about before I open my mouth.

      You put words into my mouth. I don’t per se have a problem with higher council tax. What I do have a problem with is the LIT model which is a subsidy for wealthy pensioners and buy-to-let investors. I have a problem with the idea that an ostensibly local tax ends up being set nationally with national political considerations in mind. Rather like the poll tax. I have a problem with the idea that the correlation between tax and wealth should be, again, diminished.

      Personally I don’t believe that Council Tax is a particularly good way of administering local taxation. Land Value tax sounds more interesting. In any event though the Salmond model of LIT is something I certainly wouldn’t put my shoulder to the wheel for.

      Independence is great, I’m just not sure that the best thing to do with independence is essentially subsidise those who have seen the most benefit over the past ten years. Sounds rather like Freedonia.

      Salmond should remember that time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

    20. Kulvinder — on 8th October, 2008 at 12:51 pm  

      I remember ages ago promising Clair an article about why i was broadly against Scottish Nationalism in its current form, i may as well echo some of the ideas here.

      As has tangentially already been mentioned its idiotic to question the ability of one form of nationalism to group together diverse individuals but advocate another. ‘Scottishness’ is ultimately as meaningless a term as ‘Britishness’ the only way it may be narrowed down on is by bringing in ethno-nationalism, and alas there are elements that seemingly want to advocate ‘celticness’.

      Just to clarify i don’t count the SNP as being amongst them, rather im concerned about where some parts of the general dialogue on independence are skewing towards, it would be immensely dangerous and divisive to let a ‘celtic hertitage’ interweave into a nationalistic sentiment in the same way ‘anglo-saxonness’ has elsewhere.

      Since i consider the flag waving sentiment to be idiotic the only reason for me to find any promise in scottish independence is if the SNP truly offer something different.

      And im afraid they just don’t.

      Ultimately the failures that some Scottish people see in Westminster are institutional, they see something fundamentally wrong with the way the country is run and want to do things their own way - which is fine - but i can’t see any policies that would radically change the nature of society in an independant scotland, the institutions would simply be a copied from elsewhere and would fundamentally fail in the same way.

      I don’t see any progression in terms of how society would be run.

      What id want is people bringing in ideas that are new - say advocating new variations on the swiss facultative/obligatory referendum system, but essentially some kind of dialogue or philosophy that explicitly addressed how scottish nationalism would be progressive beyond what it sees around it.

      That to me is the core of what is missing, and as such im afraid scotland would end up with the same bland political system as anywhere else, and one that didn’t actually address the reason for independence. As such although id support any calls for self determination, i can’t advocate the alternative being proposed.

      From a personal point of view in my ‘ideal’ world the percentage of people that ‘identified’ with each other wouldn’t be based on geography. Edinburgh has aspects that are more common with say Bath than Glasgow; inner city parts of London and Glasgow are in turn similar. Having a country in which Glasgow and Edinburgh (or London and Bath) are ‘together’ simply because they are ‘closer’ together is a tad odd to me.

    21. Kulvinder — on 8th October, 2008 at 1:08 pm  

      nb given my anarchical leanings people are always surprised when i say i don’t have any real problems with the monarchy in this country.

      The reality is we live in a country far closer to anarchism than anywhere else in Europe. We have a head of state who is essentially neutered, an uncodified constitution and function on little more than the notion of parliamentry sovereignty.

      I’m not in favour of having a codified constitution similar to the US as i don’t want to burden future generations with my view of society, the utterly laughable debate in the US on gun control - where the supreme court was judging on their interpretation of what the founding fathers meant 200 years ago would never happen here.

      Seriously think about it, which government over the last 50 years would you have trusted to write a constitution? Far better to have a system where we can always elect someone to undo everything.

      We live in a state of constant flux that enables us to quickly adapt to anything new, im more than willing to turn a blind eye to the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas in return.

    22. Roger — on 8th October, 2008 at 2:34 pm  

      Douglas: I am saying that the claim that an independent Scotland will have a “more open attitude to immigration” is meaningless rhetoric and an unachievable aspiration, for the reasons I gave. I also wonder why you think expediency and judgment are opposites? Certainly, expediency is one factor which should be considered in making any judgement, but I do not think- as you seem to think I do, with no evidence whatsoever- that it is the only one.
      You may reject my claim that those hypothetical immigrants would decide that the finest sight in Scotland is the high road to the rest of the E.U.; it is the current attitude of many of the inhabitants- native or otherwise- of Scotland. That’s one reason for the decline in Scotland’s population. Why do you think it would change in an independent Scotland?

      “There is also the fundamental question of what ‘Britishness’ is all about. I really no longer have any ideas worth sharing with you. It seems to me to be a mishmash of nostalgia, overextended militarism, ceremony and xenophobia.”
      Did you ever have any ideas worth sharing? Actually- as your assumption that any one who disagrees with you is “the average English Nationalist, such as your good self,…[who- or so you claim] sees asylum seekers as an unmitigated evil.”, the possessor of ” misplaced arrogance. An Englishman, comfortable in his castle, and fuck the rest of the world.” I’d say that a “mishmash of nostalgia, overextended militarism, ceremony and xenophobia” with the addition of pathological Anglophobia- as shown above- sounds like a pretty accurate description of Scottish Nationalism as epitomised by your posts.
      The claim that “Scottish Nationalism…is predicated on the belief that you are Scottish if you say you are” leads to absurdities. Does it mean that- contrary to E.U. rights governing freedom of movement- only those who say they are Scottish may live in Scotland? Do those Scots who fail to live in Scotland for long enough cease to be Scottish? If so, how long does it take? What of those people living in Scotland who refuse to take Scottish citizenship? Are they going to be deported or lose the right to vote? Does it mean a right of return for anyone anywhere in the world who says they are Scottish? All of these are possible from that definition of Scottishness.
      There’s the interesting question of Northern Ireland- geographically, ethnically, culturally and linguistically much closer to Scotland than to England- will that become part of Scotland too? Will its inhabitants have the right to decide or- on the basis that they say they are Scottish- will they be entitled to claim Scottish citizenship too?

    23. Boyo — on 8th October, 2008 at 5:24 pm  

      Could I be a Scot? I have a Scottish granny… her parents fled south when the parochialism of the Auld Country got too much for them, and there’s the rub - the SNP used to be has-beens because they were identified with the elite - the common people understood why they benefited from Britain - but all is sooner or later forgotten, courtesy of Braveheart and New Labour.

      I’m so bored with Scottish whining I wish they would just go: but more importantly, I want a say - not on Scottish independence but ENGLISH, because if the Scots leave the UK as we know it is over and I for one would be keen to see an England freed from the shackles of the Celtic fringe!

    24. Don — on 8th October, 2008 at 5:52 pm  

      Scottish independence? Great, I’ll get the lads to saddle up and we’ll pillage Jedburgh.

    25. soru — on 8th October, 2008 at 6:16 pm  


      - A more open attitude to immigration and a more just system for dealing with asylum seekers.

      Inherently contradictory with the idea of independence, and the associated increased border controls, residence permits and mutual taxation agreements for non-Scots, and so on.


      - No to nuclear power.
      ?

      A policy that would easily gain majority UK support, despite being deeply stupid.


      - No to nuclear weapons on Scottish soil.

      But yes to being defended by UK/US weapons, and no to ever having a vote on whether that arrangement should continue? Pure hypocrisy.


      - Scrapping council tax and replacing it with a local income tax.

      Why do you think that’s a good idea? If those reasons are good, why do you think the homeowning, buy-to-letting SE English, who will benefit even more, would not be persuadable?

      Clearly, there is an economic divide between London and the rest of the UK, such that it might make sense to float off London as a world city like Hong Kong or something.

      But I can’t see any big non-ethnic divide between the other bits of the country that would justify spending what would probably end up as a trillion on what amounts to a local government reorganisation.

    26. Ashik — on 8th October, 2008 at 6:39 pm  

      Douglas:

      “A more open attitude to immigration”

      The Scottish already benefit from the Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland scheme. Student Visawallah’s can apply to stay and work in Scotland for two years after the end of their course without the need for a work permit. Oh yeah, before my Dhakaiya brothers get excited, I think it only covers students who studied for a Higher Diploma or Degree at a Scottish institution.

      I also think the issue of immigration and asylum should be delineated because they are different categories. I think most Britons, whether Scots or English or other will agree that failed asylum seekers who the courts find don’t require protection need to be removed.

      It’s quite interesting to note that many ethnic minorities, particularly South Asian, are concerned about devolution leading to independence given that the rise of Scots nats identity may well impact negatively on non-ethnic Scots. The Scots nats will have to take all Scots forward and reassure them about what happens the day after independence (that is if most ppl vote for it).

    27. El Cid — on 8th October, 2008 at 7:39 pm  

      Sorry Dougie,

      I’ve been busy.
      Basically, it comes down to this:
      I can’t stand small nation nationalism. As you know, there are examples both in Spain and the UK.
      It bores me senseless. It strikes me as provincial, small time, divisive, and at times even undemocratic and repressive. So much intellectual effort, so little reward, so twee, so deluded, so lacking ambition.
      Why fly with the eagles when you can fly with the pigeons? Why punch above your weight when you can retreat to some hoped-for Celtic idyll on the fringe? Why bother trying to win the bigger argument when you can cry off and create you’re own backyard Brigadoon?
      Why be Britain when you can be Belgium?

      But hey, nothing lasts for ever.

      P.S.
      I wouldn’t vote for Palin but if I wasn’t married and I kinda happened to be in Anchorage and she was feeling a bit lonely, then I’d use that cute English accent to maximum effect. For one night only.
      I would, though, vote for Brown. I have no problem being ruled by a Scot. His cultural peculiarities are irrelevent to me. We are part of the same Venn diagram.

    28. sonia — on 8th October, 2008 at 11:05 pm  

      brilliant comments from kulvinder in 20 and 21.
      yes i never can see why people are so hung up about having a written constitution . i guess its people who like writing manifestos who buy into the idea

    29. sonia — on 8th October, 2008 at 11:08 pm  

      anyway what douglas is talking about isnt nationalistic as far as i can see. as far as i can see he’s thinking locally and he wants some change locally and thinks these guys might offer that

    30. John Lilburne — on 8th October, 2008 at 11:25 pm  

      @ Douglas

      You’re right, the SNP policies do sound great. I’d vote for them. I’d also vote for free beer but it’s just as unlikely to happen without someone else paying for it.

      The reason I emigrated is the best reason for doing anything: love. Having said that, given the ever increasing tendency in the UK to privacy-invading, anti-liberal legislation, I’d leave probably leave for other reasons if I was still living in the mothership.

      I’ve decided to post a series about nationalism just for you with words by smarter people than me. The first is here: http://freebornjohn.wordpress.com/2008/10/09/pic-043/

      Expect more over the next few days :)

    31. John Lilburne — on 8th October, 2008 at 11:34 pm  

      @ Douglas

      Oops, I almost missed your Connery remark. I couldn’t give a toss either but he is the public face of Scottish nationalism and everything that’s wrong about it. Not only that but he played a Russian submarine captain with a Scots accent! Almost as unforgivable as anything Mel Gibson does in his pseudo-historic, anti-English fantasy films :)

    32. Boyo — on 9th October, 2008 at 7:19 am  

      “I’m not in favour of having a codified constitution similar to the US as i don’t want to burden future generations with my view of society,”

      That’s an interesting and valid point, but not very practical - your reluctance to impose your view on future generations, can simply result in someone else doing so. Without having a guarantee of our rights, we face the risk of a gradual erosion of them: freedom of speech for example. Or equality under the law.

    33. Boyo — on 9th October, 2008 at 7:21 am  

      Actually, practical is the wrong word: it IS very practical, but I don’t like it: but then I do believe that certain values are superior to others.

    34. El Cid — on 9th October, 2008 at 9:38 am  

      Sonia,
      He’s thinking locally and he wants some change locally and is prepared to embrace change of such fundamental importance in order to get there.
      Sounds like using a mallet to crush a grape; the ludicrous posturing of the Judean People’s Front.

    35. Kulvinder — on 9th October, 2008 at 11:05 am  

      Without having a guarantee of our rights,

      Rights are never guaranteed; as recent times have shown not even in the US with their absolute reliance on the constitution. If they aren’t redefining the word torture they’re redefining what the territory of the US actually is in order for them to side step the constitution.

      Or they’re changing it and banning alcohol (then bringing it back) or trying to ban the burning of their flag irrespective of what their constitution already says.

      Every government tries to impose itself on the people that elected it and in doing so imposes itself on all the people yet to come. Even the institutions become a little insane and instead of giving those that live now the ability to live as they want they interpret what someone 200 years ago meant. Regardless of where you stand on the gun laws debate you must see how absurd it was for the supreme court to seriously judge on what it thought the constitution actually meant 200 years ago!

      I much prefer a situation where the government can undo anything a previous government did and in turn have no guarantee of its laws remaining after the next election.

    36. Boyo — on 9th October, 2008 at 12:05 pm  

      “I much prefer a situation where the government can undo anything a previous government did and in turn have no guarantee of its laws remaining after the next election.”

      So you are a democrat then? You do appreciate that’s a value don’t you: there are plenty of other forms of government.

      Tempted to say: gotcha.

      But I accept within the limited terms of reference of this discussion that’s unfair - after all the UK is a nation without a written constitution, and I agree that it has served us well to date. However, perhaps we forget how new our current “happy” state is - women only got the vote last century, non-aristocrats the one before.

      The US constitution has its anachronisms but it has served the majority well for the last two centuries (sure you can pick holes in that, but the US remains, for now, the world’s “leader” largely because of its settlement).

      As someone who believes history is cyclical rather than progressive, I prefer the insurance of a constitution that enshrines basic freedoms rather than not.

    37. Kulvinder — on 9th October, 2008 at 1:24 pm  

      So you are a democrat then? You do appreciate that’s a value don’t you: there are plenty of other forms of government.

      What?

    38. persephone — on 9th October, 2008 at 2:20 pm  

      @ 27 ” create you’re own backyard Brigadoon?”

      I thought I was the only one who upon reading this post brought to mind that old film set in scotland with a brogue clad Gene kelly who stumbles upon a fantasy village called Brigadoon … a place where people harbor a mysterious secret and behave as if they were still living two hundred years in the past..

    39. Kismet Hardy — on 9th October, 2008 at 2:35 pm  

      An article called ‘cutting and running’ about the SNP and no ’snip snip’ puns? Have you learned nothing from News of the World?

    40. Jai — on 9th October, 2008 at 3:35 pm  

      a place where people harbor a mysterious secret and behave as if they were still living two hundred years in the past..

      ..But enough about Essex.

    41. Boyo — on 9th October, 2008 at 3:55 pm  

      Kulvinder - Given your “anarchical leanings” I was just pointing out you’re a democrat - you believe in democracy, which is a system (and not anarchy).

    42. Kulvinder — on 9th October, 2008 at 4:18 pm  

      I’m not sure what you’ve taken anarchism as, but i didn’t mean any type of tyranny.

    43. douglas clark — on 9th October, 2008 at 6:07 pm  

      Dear All,

      So, comments on the comments.

      There is, I think, a pretty well accurate analysis from several commentators that the problems that the South East of England have, and those that Scotland have could just as well apply to nations seperated by thousands of miles. Geography is just the way the cookie crumbled, as far as I can tell. There is no particular reason why a nation state should stick together if folk don’t want it too, the break up of Sweden and Norway, or the split between the Czechs and the Slovaks are two peaceful examples from the last century, and as far as I know they get on fine with each of their ex-partners.

      Just out of curiosity, is there anyone from England who comments here that doesn’t live in the South East? I’d have hoped that some of what I had to say would have reverberated, absent the tartan bit obviously, with folk in the other three quadrants, but there you go, silence.

      I thought that the link also gave an interesting perspective on another way of seeing what some states or at least many of their political actors are really about. The centres of the failed European Empires, the lot of them, cling to a ghostly past and to a hoped for influence over the new kid(s) on the block. It is, I think, largely illusory. El Cid, and others bring up Brigadoon, I’d just fire back with Camelot. Anyway, he’s not flying with Eagles, he’s flying with Vultures.

      John Liburne assumes that an independent Scotland could not afford the policies the SNP outline. Of thoseI listed, one is probably economically beneficial - immigration, two are cost neutral, the nuclear comments, and one is simply changing revenue sources, I’m a bit surprised at that. I certainly hope the SNP do introduce free beer. Though I somehow doubt it. They want to be seen as the sensible party.

      I am not advocating a retreat into some sort of secret Shangri-La valley lost to the world for a thousand years. I’d expect an independent Scotland to remain in the EU, to remain in NATO, The Council of Europe and the UN. I’d also hope and expect it to contribute to cross national projects. The model would be, more or less, Denmark or Norway or Sweden.

      I think Kulvinder makes some very interesting points. Just to clarify, I too would be horrified if we started getting all misty eyed about some sort of Celtic heritage - unless it was simply to fleece tourists. I believe I am right in saying that most of it was manufactured in Victorian times. You should never believe your own publicity.

      As I may have mentioned before, I consider I have more in common with some other posters on here than I have with my next door neighbour, and I wouldn’t want that to stop. So, it isn’t so odd, really. The planet will become more bound together by the World Wide Web than it has ever been in the past. That, unfortunately doesn’t solve the local economic, social or environmental issues. Although it may lead to convergence, eventually.

      Interesting comments, thanks.

    44. Ashik — on 9th October, 2008 at 7:00 pm  

      Douglas Clark:

      ‘Scotland to remain in the EU’

      Who says they’ll gain automatic accesion into the EU? The Spanish who have their own regional issues like the Basque region may well balk at the precedent an independent Scotland sets.

    45. douglas clark — on 9th October, 2008 at 8:14 pm  

      Ashik,

      I’d have thought that if the separation was conducted democratically and peacefully, and it will be or it really won’t happen, then the Spanish would have no real cause to implement a veto. The Basque seperatist movement is not a model I’d subscribe to.

      I take it you are referring to this document:

      http://www.ucl.ac.uk/constitution-unit/files/media/articles/2008/Kosovo08.pdf

      Which flies, quite frankly, in the face of the EU’s own enlargement policy.

      I would very much doubt that this would be the barrier that the author seems to want it to be. The cases are in no way comparable. Scotland is currently a part of the EU and Kosovo is not. There is usually a higher hurdle to chucking someone out of a club than there is in refusing them admission in the first place.

    46. Rumbold — on 9th October, 2008 at 8:18 pm  

      An independent Scotland will automatically forfeit EU membership, then will have to reapply to join.

      Also, any decision on Scotland joining the EU would be subject to a French referendum, as it is in their constitution now. If they were rejected, I would move north of the border.

    47. douglas clark — on 9th October, 2008 at 8:51 pm  

      Rumbold,

      An independent Scotland will automatically forfeit EU membership, then will have to reapply to join.

      There at least seems to be a debate about that: see the reference @ 45 for one side of the debate, which at least admits that there is another position. And this, slightly panglossian quote from t’other:

      http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2007/08/13103747/5

      3.21 An independent Scotland would continue in the European Union and bear the burdens and fulfil the responsibilities of membership. Following negotiations on the detailed terms of membership, Scotland would be in a similar position to other European Union member states of a similar size. As a full member of the European Union, Scotland would have the normal rights of representation in its institutions, with an equal status to the other member states. For example, Scotland would expect representation in the European Parliament nearer to that of Denmark, which has 14 members, rather than the current seven members that represent Scotland (which may be reduced to six). Scotland would be bound by the laws of the European Union, but on a level playing field with other full member states. The distinctive interests of Scotland as a member state would be properly represented through the Council of Ministers and the European Council, and the required transposition of European directives and regulations into domestic law would be done with due regard to their effect in Scotland.

      Neither side mentions the terrifying prospect of Scotland being invaded by Libertarians!

    48. sonia — on 9th October, 2008 at 10:51 pm  

      can kulvinder’s comment in no. 21 become a post or something?

    49. Roger — on 9th October, 2008 at 11:45 pm  

      Actually, a separation of England and Scotland, I think, would make an English withdrawal from the E.U. more probable, regardless of Scotland’s position. Wasn’t one of the fantasies of Ken Livingstone’s merry band London as an independent city-state?

    50. Boyo — on 10th October, 2008 at 7:36 am  

      Well given the current state of the global economy, now would certainly not be a great time - and if you’re thinking oooh the EU will protect us, then look what happened with Germany - it’s everyone for themselves - in which case maybe Merrie Olde England will be to the Scots what the Public Sector is to the Banks - damned during the good times for red tape, then damned for not doing enough when the kiddies stray too far…

    51. John Lilburne — on 10th October, 2008 at 9:05 am  

      Hi Douglas,

      I’m not an economist, thankfully, so I base my assertion that Scotland couldn’t afford it only on various articles I’ve read this year and the analysis by that odd-looking BBC economist in Hardeep Singh Kohli’s documentary What Do the English Really Think of the Scots. He thoroughly skewered the SNP North Sea Oil myth.

      Now, all these “experts” may be right or wrong - it’s been amply demonstrated recently exactly how clueless the world of economics and finance really is - so I certainly don’t have an answer. I think it’s for the Scots to decide just how poor they want to be.

      Lastly, I’d vote for anything with free beer.

    52. Kulvinder — on 11th October, 2008 at 2:27 am  

      There is another point that i forgot to mention.

      Ultimately an independant Scotland is near enough the next logical step in devolution, there are only a finite number of reserved matters by Westminster, literally everything else is in the hands of the Holyrood.

      The most important of those reserved matters are already intrinsically linked to the European Union or the Council of Europe, or would be linked to a greater extent if Scotland interacted completely independantly with them. For the sake of argument free travel within the EU, the right of people from the EU to settle anywhere they wish within the Union (and as such a significant part of the immigration debate), equal opportunities etc are all reserved by Westminster not because its trying to thumb Scotland down but simply because its a requirement to meet those obligations on a national level.

      The important word there is requirement, Scotland wouldn’t have a greater freedom in crucial aspects of those areas it would simply deal with the EU and the CoE on its own; it would still be required to meet those obligations: nothing would change.

      Similarly with monetary policy as far as im aware the SNP are in favour of joining the Euro, regardless its incredibly unlikely for the EU to make an exception for Scotland when its de facto policy with new applications to the EU is for them to join the Euro (it was part of the accession treaties for new members); as i said in another post awhile ago the EU ultimately wants European integration, the UK has opted out to serve its own interests but the overall philosophy of the EU is integration and new members have to accept that fully. In fact Scotland has a far far greater proportional input into the monetary policy of the UK then it would the Eurozone and the EU. It wouldn’t be ‘free’ in the respect, it would simply trasfer control to the ECB.

      The point im making is there is very little else of substance that Westminster can devolve. The important parts of what is retained would transfer to the control of the EU. Scotland governs itself to the majority of the extent now as it would an independant nation as a member of the EU.

      So the question of independence isn’t really about setting up a different Scotland, its institutions as i said above would simply copy everything else, and what Westminster controls now would move to Brussels and Strasbourg.

      All politicians in Scotland are aware of that, and as such i think envoking the call of a ‘freer’ Scotland is a red herring. I don’t think the underlying issues are to do with Scotlands relationship with England, or even Scotlands relationship with Europe.

      Its about Scotlands relationship with itself.

      Those who want a pure ‘Scottishness’ and those who also have a sense of ‘Britishness’. The nuance of that is lost on those decended from immigrants, as Ashik touched on in #26 many are fearful of it because the debate is an emotive one. The history of Scotland - of unionists and republicans - is emotionally meaningless to most immigrants and their decendants, it is as meaningless as the intricacies of ethnic relationships on the sub continent are to anyone who immigrates there.

      Its tribalism, and the only people who can be bothered are the ones who have an emotional connection with their tribe.

      Ultimately Scotland will never move forward until it can resolve that issue. Regardless of what polls are used to determine voting patterns for the SNP there are either a partial majority or a substantial minority of people who are against them, who feel British are Unionists and wish to remain part of the Union.

      It isn’t England preventing Scotlands independence nor is it England refusing to devolve powers that an independant Scotland would have.

      Its those people not wanting to vote for independence.

      You can talk about how Scotland would act differently with asylum seekers, about how green it would be, about how Nuclear power wouldn’t be used in Scotland, but until that fundamental issue of addressing the fears and identity of unionists is met i think Scottish nationalists are just sidestepping the issue.

      Until the SNP can properly address and juxtapose its ideals with the ideals of Unionists it won’t be dealing with the crucial block to Scotland’s independence.

      Whats more if Scottish politics can’t be empathetic to that debate, if Scots on both sides can’t be sympathetic to the sense of self or ‘the other’ it has no hope of addressing the identity politics of minorities.

    53. Kulvinder — on 13th October, 2008 at 1:56 pm  

      This is an excellent article about how foreigners ultimately find ethno-nationalism as well as petty regionalism completely baffling and pointless.

    54. douglas clark — on 13th October, 2008 at 4:40 pm  

      Kulvinder,

      Thanks for your comments. I tried to make it as clear as I could that, if there is a difference at all between people living in Scotland and people living elsewhere in the UK, it is that the policies of the SNP that are more attractive to them rather than the ethno-nationalism of which you speak. It seems to me, given that there is a solitary Conservative MP sitting North of the border, that the facts support that.

      I do not actually understand quite what flavour you think Scottish Nationalism actually is. At the last Hollyrood election the chap standing outside my polling station, passing out leaflets for the SNP, was Asian. It is certainly not ethnically based, as you appear to suggest.

      Obviously, to successfully carry an independence vote you are going to have to get over 50% of those who vote to agree with you. That is a challenge, but I’m not convinced it is insurmountable.

      I would not support any sort of racist agenda. I think I am correct in saying that the BNP has never had an electoral success at any level up here, and frankly it is unlikely to. Apart from the odd nutter, it is not on the political radar.

    55. El Cid — on 13th October, 2008 at 4:48 pm  

      So where would RBS and HBOS be now if the Scots did not have access to a bigger pot?
      Why be Britain when you can be Iceland?

    56. douglas clark — on 13th October, 2008 at 5:13 pm  

      El Cid,

      Who knows? Perhaps Gordon Brown could have invoked the Prevention of Terrorism Act on Edinburgh as well as Reykjavik, or perhaps A Scottish Treasury would have had tighter rules. Perhaps we could have had a Eurozone solution. Too many variables.

    57. Kulvinder — on 13th October, 2008 at 7:59 pm  

      Douglas apologies i meant ethno-nationalism in relation to Belgium, i realise the SNP don’t stand for it (#20).

    58. El Cid — on 13th October, 2008 at 9:23 pm  

      Dougie, PA-LEEZ!



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