Wednesday, 20 April 2016

WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME

Guest Post by ABU HAIMI ABU HASSAN


Part 1

INTRODUCTION

I will begin with the crux of the argument that I will make below: Scotland will be independent but we are running out of time. Scotland needs to independent as soon as possible. The Tories’ assault on the State and basic decency is like Thatcherism on steroids but in slow motion. Even though I can see the logic of SNP’s endgame, playing it slowly and surely will cost independent Scotland a lot more than one might think. Therefore all Scots who believe in independence must constructively create an opportunity for another indyref. Scotland must be prepared to be independent by 2021. Failing to do so will either delay the cause further or will make it difficult to rebuilt a better Scotland socio-economically, or both.

A LITTLE OF HISTORY

People who forget their history will be condemned to repeat their mistakes again and again. People who are denied their history will suffer a worse fate; they will wander aimlessly throughout their entire existence. One half of Scotland is having the first problem and the other half is suffering the second one.

One aspect I’d like to emphasise when it comes to the historical bit is the fruition of the 1707 Treaty of Union. Let it be known that this Treaty was achieved by coercion, subterfuge, bribery and duress. If such treaty were to be signed today, it would definitely be declared null and void. What was built on a foundation of falsehood can never be sustained. 

This Union, by its progression in time, will be loosened and eventually broken. The 1st indyref had demonstrated the chinks in the Union’s armour so clearly. Now it will up to us to smash and destroy it.

One can argue that the Union did bring some benefits to Scotland, the Scottish Enlightenment being an example. However it must be remembered that such benefits glossed over the detriments suffered by Scotland. I am citing the Jacobite rebellions (and the resulting Highland Clearences), the destruction of the Highlands and Gaelic culture, the land grab by the elites (with particular reference to the Highlands), abject poverty and population movement that it caused, forcing the population into the Central Belt/overseas, population drop, democratic deficit, de-industrialisation, punishment of the poor/vunerable, the defence of concentration of wealth in the hands of a few and the unspoken treatment of Scots as second class citizens. Yet time and time again a few Scots would rise and defend/help their fellow Scots in need. Some achieved fame but most went unnoticed. Here I must confess my ignorance of Scots such as Mary Barbour and commend Mark Frankland at the same time.

THE (INTER-) NATIONAL AWAKENING

The indyref was the best thing that had happened to me. I have believed in Scottish independence since my teens and an ardent supporter since 2002. Previously my support for independence was based on historical facts and simply on my sense of right and wrong. The indyref allowed me to put a name on it and cloth it with facts, ideas and concepts. It has opened my eyes to the machination of the establishment/elites via the State or vice-versa. It made me realise that the State/establishment/elites will ferociously stifle any attempt to change the status quo of the Union. My best friend, who is a political theorist, had early on predicted during the indyref campaign period that Project Fear (how apt during the indyref and ironic vis-à-vis the EU referendum now) would eventually overwhelm enough Scots to result in a NO vote. Me, being naïve back then, held out that Scots would do the right thing and vote Yes.

I knew the Bitter Together gang had won when the results for Western Isles were announced. It has always been my benchmark/barometer for Scottish politics. I can only imagine the devastation felt by the Yessers, especially the campaigners. I was so despondent that 55% of Scots actually refused to take a leap of faith in themselves. I find it incredulous that 55% of Scots still suffer the Scottish cringe of too wee, too poor and too stupid when it was clear (at least to me) the opportunities that an independent Scotland could offer.

I grieved for three days. I don’t think I could survive the gloating by the media and on online. I was so heartbroken till I resolved not to cross the Tweed until Scotland redeemed itself (that did not last for long, did it).

It was during the UK GE 2015 campaign period that I came to realise what an impact the indyref had had. If we were to translate the percentage of those who believed in Scottish independence into betting odds, it started at 7:3 and was narrowed to 11:9. What an achievement! I had also concluded that Scotland was not ready to independent yet as the timing was not right. Nevertheless the first nail, out of four, to the Union’s coffin was delivered on 18th September 2014.

Scotland had changed.

ONWARDS 2015

The despondency did not last for long. Between 19th September 2014 and 5th May 2015, a lot of Scots (especially Yessers [but that is redundant because we have been telling this all along]) realised the powers and benefits promised by the Bitter Together gang were not worth the paper they were written on. The Vow. Enough said. The 45% instinctively coalesced around the SNP and their membership skyrocketed within a short time.

The scales fell off our eyes. We had become politically aware. Politicians’ words will be microscopically analysed. Vote Labour Stop Tories was no longer held as true. They were/are all rainbow Tories. It was time to vote for a party that will actually stand up for Scotland. Not like the Feeble Fifties. Hence, second nail to Union’s coffin was duly delivered on 7th May 2015.

For me 7th May 2015 was the date Scotland proclaimed its readiness to be independent. By voting for the SNP, Scots were telling to UK government that they were giving the Union a final chance. The SNP MPs were sent to make sure all those promises are fulfilled. The UK Government has to get the Union to work properly. If not, independence may be an alternative route after all.

*Please read Emlyn Pearce’s Facebook post entitled “What Is Up With All The Muslims And Black People In Glasgow Today???” It is a funny satirical piece but if it were to take place for real, it could only be in Glasgow. That’s how politically aware I think Scotland is now*


MY VISIT TO SCOTLAND

I’d like to note that I did cross the Tweed in late April 2015. It was a joy to watch BBC Scotland live and experience first hand the biasness. Not. Of course the highlight of my visit was to visit the Munguin the Great and his ever-doting carer, Tris, in Dundee (I got proof). I did an all round tour of Scotland, starting in Glasgow, rounding up the North via Inverness and Aberdeen, and ending up in Edinburgh. I have to say I am an Edinburgh man (sorry Glaswegians). A most magnificent city as everything I wanted in a city can be found there. But I love all of Scotland equally. Even if I am left in cold, cold Durness (I don’t do 15 degrees Celsius or below). I’d still be happy because I had concluded, should Scotland be the poorest nation on Earth by reason of independence or otherwise, Scots will always take care of their fellow Scots. The kindness and the show of consideration given to my family and me will always be in heart. A special mention of Jimmy, the owner of Café Ben Lora in Benderloch is very much deserved.

Anywhere, so long it is Scotland.

(Part 2 follows tomorrow.)


24 comments:

  1. Well said, Abu. I look forward to Part 2. Also, I'm very envious that you met Tris.

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    1. It was somewhat a haphazardly planned meeting. I am glad we did meet. Hopefully next year I will be in Scotland again.

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    2. Tris is rather flattered by that, Dan, but I know that Abu's real treat, indeed his prime reason for coming to Scotland, was meeting Munguin. A far more exciting prospect than Tris (I promise!)

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    3. Tris, the picture of the loch and mountains looks very familiar. I am starting to pine for the Highlands already

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  2. Abu,I too have supported independence since my teens so identify with you. Unfortunately when your country is turned into a region, people are denied their history the result is we either voted NO or we were cheated. I to look forward to part 2.Helena

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    1. History is written by winners, that is why we always have a skewed version of it. Even here in Malaysia, there are lots of thing being swept under the establishment rug.

      For example, I live in the northern state of Kedah and northern dialect is very distinctive. Bordering Kedah is the state of Perak. However a considerable part of Perak speaks the northern dialect (Perak has their own distinctive dialect). I have always wandered why. Only by reading some history books and historical maps, I did find out that the historical border of Kedah was from southern Thailand down till where the northern dialect is currently spoken. Nobody asks about this and nobody mentions this too. This for me is the elephant in the room. It is as if the current Kedah border has been fixed since time immoral and that's it.

      That is also why I take special notice of speech/dialect. It is a lingering marker of something that was previously there even if someone tried to erase everything else.

      I am a staunch supporter of teaching history in schools. Without history everything is lost.

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  3. I disagree with the analysis of this, brilliantly written and engaging, article. In fact I disagree with almost all of it.

    I'll place out my reasons for disagreement in order they raise reading the article.

    1. Circumstances of 1707 Union coming about.
    You can't judge historical events by modern standards, this is high school history class 101. There is no evidence to suggest that the circumstances of how the Union between Scotland & England (parliamentary union) came about matters one iota to the majority of 21st C Scots voters either.
    So the stuff about "if such a treaty were to be signed today" should be viewed as an albeit emotive, but fundamentally red-herring argument.

    2. "Progression in time, will be loosened & eventually broken"
    This line is a fundamental assumption of 'Yessers', intrinsic to the SNP worldview of devolution. One I think is also intrinsically flawed.
    The notion that devolutions end-point is inevitably separation between Scotland and England is without merit or evidence. The fact that the majority of Scots rejected independence to pursue further devolution would seem to suggest that to the majority of voters, devolution and separation are not one and the same argument.

    3. I fail to see ant relevance in bringing up the highland clearances in a debate about inequalities in 21st Century Scotland. We've had land reform, crofting laws, systematic funding of Gaelic language, the 1945 welfare system and much much more...I'd suggest that the idea the highland clearances demonstrate a historic injustices unaddressed is unsupported by the amazing progress made in this area since devolution (and even before incidentally).

    4. " It made me realise that the State/establishment/elites will ferociously stifle any attempt to change the status quo of the Union."

    I honestly fail to see how anyone, pro-indy or otherwise could label the 'No' vote as leading to 'status quo'. The Scotland Bill, significant tax powers (first time ever under devolution), financial powers, a swathe of new powers in all sorts of new policy areas, major expansion of competences from pre-indyref period of devolution. How anyone can label these transfers of powers and competences to Holyrood as 'status quo' clearly needs to read the dictionary definition of what 'status quo' actually means.

    If the argument is, these new powers still won't lead to major change in our society, the blame must surely rest with those in power who refuse to use the new powers. In short, the SNP refusal to use the powers over tax for example isn't the fault of London, the 'elites' or even the wider Union ... it's the fault of the SNP...

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    1. Dean

      Significant tax powers - 40% of tax but the main levers still at Westminster so not significant.
      Please name these significant new powers that are actual powers and not repsonsabilities.

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    2. Point 2. A majority of those who voted voted No - apparebtly. But that is not the same as a majority of Scots. Mr Ashcroft told us a majority of Scots had voted yes.

      I maybe hit your other points later, if I can be bothered.

      Saor Alba

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    3. The sad thing is that the only REAL tax powers are variance of income tax.

      I'd argue that Thatcher made income tax untouchable. When future chancellors have wanted to put it up they have done so by increasing NI, which of course is income tax by another name.

      It is of course, a useful tool, but there has to be a counter balance.

      For it to be useful there has to be another large earning tax that the SG can use.

      When Mrs Tahtcher brought down income tax (massively for the rich and bit by bit for the poor) she doubled VAT.

      She also put up duty on cigarettes and beer...

      She more than made up for the lack of revenue from Income Tax. And what's more she transferred it disproportionately to the less well off.

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  4. 5. 'Project Fear'was no such thing. Asking the pro-indy campaign to explain what currency they envision us using isn't 'scaremongering' it's a fundamental and deeply relevant question. Not our fault the SNP leader and the YES campaign was totally unable to credibly answer it.
    Equally disputing SNP oil projecting figures didn't (and still doesn't) constitute 'scaremongering', just the typical and reasonable cut and thrust of a passionate debate. That and, once again, a relevant discussion to be had around the initial impact separation would have on Scotland's finances in a first decade after separation.

    Thus 'project fear' isn't and wasn't a thing. But feel free to condescend to Scottish voters by implying 55% of us are too stupid and fearful to listen to the pro-separation case, but still quite legitimately dismiss it.

    6. "Vow. Enough said". No, it really isn't! 'The Vow' wasn't a manifesto commitment of any campaign, and frankly a journalistic editor doesn't set Better Together policy. Not then, not now, not ever. And besides all of that, it was delivered. Scotland has the most powerful parliament since 1707! I'd call that 'vow' delivered. But, again, feel free to condescend and imply 55% of us are too stupid to appreciate when we're being lied to.

    7. By voting SNP, 50% of Scots were certainly not "telling London we're giving the Union one last chance". The issue was settled well before GE2015 by a plebescite vote - one which saw 55% of Scots vote to continue the Union. If GE2015 was anything it was a 'we really hate Labour' vote. That isn't the same thing as a discourse on the constitutional state of affairs.
    Besides, a majority voted to keep the Union, a majority of Scots did NOT vote SNP in GE2015.

    8. I the Union, and by extension devolution, still doesn't 'work properly' (no definition of what working properly would mean I notice) it's as much a judgement on the government in Edinburgh as it is the one in London.

    Remind me who has been in power in Edinburgh since 2007 again please...

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    1. Remind me why we should care, a fig, what a Tory thinks. Your party is the party of the elite and self serving, treading on the necks of others to make a quick profit and damn tomorrow. History shows us this, from Thatcher onwards, closing down industry and selling the family silver; with the inevitable resulting financial mess.

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    2. The Thatcher years are a good example. In 1707 England was emerging as as a colonial superpower. Since 1945 evrry British Prime Minister has been managing decline. Thatcher used the oil revenues to fund deindustrialisation. This at a time when the UK Government secretly admitted an independent Scotland would be as rich as Switzerland.

      We weren't as rich as Switzerland and never have been. It made some sense to be in the UK when it had the world's largest empire (although I wish it had never been). Now it makes less sense to be tied to a medium sized country which can't reconcile itself to it's post empire European status.

      The better together side fought their campaign portraying UK to be an economic union only. We believe an independent Scotland to be better able to make economic decisions that benefit it's citizens. We don't need to go through London in our dealings with Brussels, why not deal direct with Edinburgh?

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    3. The 'ah but he's a Tory' line is really pathetic. Over 430,000 Scots voted Tory in GE2015, the contempt you show for nearly half a million of your own countrymen is a disgrace. But putting that aside, I notice you both totally ignored my actual arguments.

      Straw men and red herrings...the final retreat of the intellectually disengaged.

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    4. It was the No campaign which came up with the name Project Fear. Straw men and red herrings indeed.

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    5. The so-called Vow was not delivered. Westminster still holds the power of veto over Holyrood. Britnats in Scotland think we should be grateful. Thankfully Scotland is still heading towards independence.

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    6. Who are you to insinuate, that I am intellectually challenged?
      I have an honours degree from Paisley university. An HND from Stow college, an ONC from Ayr college and dozens of Scotvec modules; not to mention a skilled trade.

      I a!so have the intelligence to see through your desperate attempt to obfuscate and deflect from the thrust of the above essay.

      I care not for your Tory philosophy, I care not how many agree with it. It at it's core is a self-centered philosophy, where the needs of the many are sacrificed on the alter of money. That Sir is a mistaken philosophy; we as human beings have a duty to look after each other, in good times and bad.

      The contempt you and your party show, day and daily, to the hungry, ill, dispossessed, homeless and those on the breadline is a damnable disgrace; you are entitled to your opinion, but keep your pathetic aloofness to yourself, it impresses no one, it just annoys. In auld Scots, you would be described as a snool.

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    7. Jimminy

      Ooh ! so sensitive ...
      Me I got a city and guilds in caring and a first aid certificate also bicycle badge alongside a boy cubs
      knot badge..so you see we all have merits in some things
      of which we are proud...

      I also have a a Hons degree in Psychology thats how I came
      to understand I will never me Normal ? but there you go

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    8. I got a gymnastics award at primary school.
      I was thrown out of the Boys Brigade, for not saluting the queen, around 1977; I'm still proud of that.

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  5. Abu

    I enjoyed your article a lot so thanks for that. Deans arguments are easily countered but with no voters you do get to the point where there is no point with some because they refuse to see things that were right in front of them. Take the pound for example, an independent Scotland would have used the pound, end of. Nothing anyone could have done about that other than lender of last resort, project fear did lie about that one but again there is little point in debating it anymore. Personally I would have preferred a seperate Scottish currency or the Euro.

    History is the past and what happened in 1707 is difficult to measure today so I would give Dean a wee break on that one, but my Dad used to say you need to know where you have been to know where you are going so History is important for those willing to view it in the overall context of the union and how it has evlolved or not over the years.

    Will Scotland become independent? I suppose no one really knows but history as recently as the awful British Empire does tell us that onces a country starts down that path it eventually gets there, so my personal view is that Scotland will become an independent country and probably in my life time and I'm 47 now. The reason I believe that is that things will continue to get a lot worse in the UK in my opinion.

    It is an unfair and undemocratic union that continued Tory Government may well push people over the edge as services and rights continue to disappear. You have to hope that when the day comes we still have something worth saving and that it hasn't been totally asset stripped by then. Even if Scotland does not go for independence by it'self England might as Scotland's economic usefullness deminishes over time and Scotland actually does become a financial burden, but we are not there yet. Scotland within the UK still pays in too much for it to not to be fought for and England without Scotland I suspect becomes a lot less in the eyes of the world and it's influence will therefor suffer as a result.

    Look forward to reading part two.

    Bruce

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  6. Bruce, I think I am going to take your advice. I want to reply to Mr MacKinnon-Thomson but I think that will constitute another guest post.

    Mr MacKinnon-Thomson is free to put up his arguments especially if he and his ilk would to see the Union to continue for another 100 years. He better put up some novel arguments though as the last ones have been thoroughly debunked. Of course some in the Tory party don't do irony and are now caught using Vote Yes arguments in the case for Brexit.

    My perspective in this matter is as a Malaysian whose country was administered under the British empire and gained independence last century. Though independent, the imposition of Westminster legal-political system on Malaysia has saddled us problems currently besetting the UK. No wonder my lecturer has called Malaysia a Little England.

    To simplify the context, Malaysia (or Malaya as it was firstly known) was made up of nine Malay States and the Strait Settlement (Singapore at the eve of independence was separated and made a Crown Colony. Beware Shetland/Orkneys). Each was a sovereign state with their own political system/administration. Right after the WWII there was an attempt to abolish the States but in name and impose a centralised Malayan Union government. This led to massive protests all over the States and a compromise was reached in the form of the Federation of Malaya. Soon after, Malaya gained its independence because the UK government believed Malaya was sufficiently strong enough to be self-governing.

    However after independence, Kuala Lumpur (the London of Malaysia), as the capital and seat of the Federal Government went on to consolidate its grip on political and economic powers. My grandparents' generation were the first to migrate outwith of their state and this was accelerated by my parents' generation. We in the north have always feel that Kuala Lumpur has too much say in every matter. It was only with the indyref that I can put a word to it; asymmetrical devolvement of power. The only difference here in Malaysia and why the Federal Government is tolerated is that we are Malays i.e. there is no stark difference like the Scots and English (Welsh and Irish for that matter too). I must caveat the whole premise as an oversimplification of a very complex matter.

    However I stand with my statement that the Union has been loosened and eventually be broken whether Mr MacKinnon-Thomson accepts it or not. Independence is now a question of when rather than if. Every political action/intention in Scotland is now defined within this context. Even if the SNP denies it wants to hold a second referendum a thousand times.

    I have supported independence long before it was accepted as mainstream, I have been supporting the SNP when they were in opposition and if we are lucky we will be free by 2021.

    I promise you this, I will be in Edinburgh when Scotland is proclaimed independent.

    p/s: I enjoy reading you blog. You were one of the first Scottish blogs I started following.

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  7. Yes well at least you have the wooden spoon of Holyrood
    shame after winning many battles the war was well and truly lost.
    And now the glittering prizes and baubles seem to have ensnared
    the snp leadership...Independence is off the agenda for a good while
    yet.

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  8. Thank you for your article Abu, a very interesting perspective on our journey. Like other readers, I'm looking forward to part 2.

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