Sunday 23 October 2011


I've never done this before, but this article, pointed out by Cynical Highlander (who has a habit of pointing me in the direction of articles I've missed),  was too good to miss. And although CH provided a link, because of problems some of us have had with Blogger, I've been using a pop out box for comments, which means that links show in the tiny comment box. 

I'm sure the Observer won't object. The heading is a link to the article which is having a look at to enjoy the comments. My favourite reads something along the lines of: "Another article on this. That's the third we've had in an many weeks." They make you laugh, don't they? Imagine, Scotland getting three articles in three weeks? What a waste of newsprint!

In five years' time, the Union will be no more

Neither Labour nor the Tories has the means to stop the SNP's drive to independence
At its appointed time, the moment of truth chose a plain basement hotel suite in Inverness on a grey afternoon to manifest itself. Afterwards, the man from the Guardian turned to me and we, unionists both, knew that the other had caught it too and that little required to be said: Scotland will become independent at some time in 2016 and there is nothing that the parties of the Union can do to resist it.
The messenger was Angus Robertson, the SNP MP for Moray, and also the most formidable campaign organiser of any political party in the United Kingdom. At a fringe event across the river and away from the main SNP conference, he had been debating the nature of the question that will appear on the party's prospectus for independence; should it be simply an outright "Yes" or "No" for sovereign independence or will a second question be added, the "devo max" option, which leaves Scotland independent of England in all but name?
Some of those journalists present may have scented the rare prospect of a schism opening up on this issue but in the end it didn't seem to matter. What did emerge was a statement of intent from Robertson showing that he and his colleagues have the battle plans drawn up, the intelligence gathered and the heavy artillery in place.
Yet this wasn't a barnstorming, blood-and-thunder peroration from the eloquent Robertson; instead, he sounded the death knell for the Union in elegant and mellifluous tones: "Independence is now not an abstract"; "The people want to be persuaded"; "This will transform people's lives". This wasn't a politician trying to sell an idea; this was a man telling us that the sale has been made and to start preparing for life in a different country.
Labour simply does not have politicians who can match the calibre of Robertson or any of Alex Salmond's ministerial team. Even if they did, they do not possess a vision and certainly not the purpose. Throughout the next few years, teams of SNP volunteers will call at every household in Scotland; they will be on a mission and be armed with a vivid narrative.
In response, Labour and the Conservatives have only talked of Armageddon. They tap the sides of their noses and repeat Sir Humphrey Appleby's nightmare "when the chips are down, the balloon goes up and the lights go out". They do not have a potent narrative for expressing their reasons for retaining the Union. While the SNP foot soldiers have already been out on manoeuvres, Labour and the Conservatives still do not know the identity of their next leaders. The SNP have fortified themselves with an array of technological wizardry that has already identified their core vote and probably where they all shop for their foundation garments.
The party now has almost five years to ensure that each of their most committed voters will turn out on referendum day. It has taken several years to harness this technology for the purpose. If Labour bought the gadgetry tomorrow they will yet be years behind the SNP in trying to unravel its secrets and unlock its potential.
To observe the annual SNP annual party conference is to witness an evangelical gathering in full cry. This isn't a political party and it's more than a movement – it's nothing less than a fully developed religion and its guiding star is now in the ascendant. Soon, it will settle above a place where everything for which it had ever hoped will come to fruition. It is reckoned that more than 1,000 party delegates have thronged the Eden Court theatre on the banks of the River Ness, an astonishing turnout that took even the gnarled veterans of the press by surprise.
Among the visitors and observers were delegations from around 20 or so overseas political parties and embassies. It seems they, too, have begun to notice that history-changing events are afoot and are eager to come, bearing gifts for the birth of a new order. Even the random nature of circumstances seems to be obeying a hidden but elemental force.
Events are now arranging themselves neatly in a line that suggests a preordained outcome. Alex Salmond, the first minister, was even handed a gift the day before his opening address to conference that must have caused him to entertain the notion that his destiny is intertwined with the nation's.
The Westminster government's cancellation on Wednesday of the £1bn carbon capture scheme at Longannet was handled in a high-handed and dismissive fashion by Chris Huhne, the energy secretary. It was an open goal and Salmond tucked it away confidently. Westminster again was "turning its back on the Scottish people," he said. The project had failed for want of a sum of money equal to one-tenth of the £13.4bn in oil revenues reaped by the Westminster government, he claimed.
For six months now, each of the two main opposition parties has been effectively leaderless as uninspired party contests have stretched on interminably. The Tory establishment's choice for the ticket is a young MSP who has never managed to win a constituency election, while Ed Miliband's knowledge of his party north of the border doesn't yet extend to knowing the names of all three leadership contenders.
By the time the referendum takes place, Scotland will have hosted the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The 700th anniversary of the battle of Bannockburn takes place in 2014. By the time of the referendum, Salmond is entitled to think that not only will we all vote for outright independence, but we'll all be wearing kilts and singing A Man's a Man for A' That in the old language as we do so.
My Labour roots are old and run deep, but on 20 October 2011 a small epiphany occurred on the banks of the restless River Ness.


  1. Good article tris. I don't usually read the Gruinad as it's full of lefty Tories and Liberals.
    That carbon capture scheme was barking mad. A thousand million pounds to try and force hot air to stay under the sea or down a mine shaft or something. That would work (NOT). Truly Huhnatic bonkerdom.

  2. tris

    Yeah! Yeah! heard it all before hunnreds AND hunnerds of times we will see soon enough.......

    and the answer will be a resounding


    but in the meantime you have a nice epiphany

  3. Oh by the way tris. Wee quiz for you.
    Who said.. "What questions? Ask them and I will answer them directly".... but hasn't been seen since ?

  4. Well, I'm not well enough versed on it to know Monty, but the point I was making was that if you are going to announce a massive DISinvestment scheme in Scotland, you have to be pretty stupid to announce it the week that the SNP are having their conference. If they keep this up they will be driving people more into the SNP fold every day.

  5. Oh Monty, I don't know the answer to that...

  6. Niko. Twasn't I who had an epiphany, it was your Guardia and your Observer writers. Both Labour men, both unionists.

    Incidentally it says in the article that the place was busy, but someone who was there has just told me that there were twice as many people as could get into the theatre for the leader's speech and they were accommodated in tents with a relay. Rather unlike the English conferences huh?

    Great news.

  7. tris


    Oh yeah! by the way Adolf Hitler used to fill entire stadia etc to rapturous applause

    Just cos a load of muppets wanna cheer a fat man in a hall dont mean diddly squat to the vast majority of normal Scots.

  8. Niko:

    Where did you get that secret film of our conference....?

    And in any case what the devil would you know about normal Scots, huh?

  9. Still to read it, but I have my Observer copy here! NO SPOILERS! So I'll check back later

  10. LOL OK Dean. Let us know what the right of centre (coz I know you're not a Tory any more) take on it is.

    Should you be facing the reality of a referendum and probably independence, or are these Labour men just havers?

  11. Don't sing too loud Niko. You'll frighten Taz!

  12. A penny for my thoughts:

    Scotland wants, and has a right to, significantly greater controls over its own resources and its own tax desires. The Scots people clearly want an end to this abject status-quo, this no-mans' land of Calman.

    Full fiscal autonomy, or even more - outright devolution-max.

    On the first option (my own preference), it would see Scotland gain its own fiscal freedoms. It would be capable of taking loans in its own right. It would gain control over domestic tax and spending. But there would still be monetary union with England, and a common bonds system at the UK level. This is as I understand this proposal.

    The other, Devo-Max goes even further. It would see full fiscal freedoms (as per fiscal autonomy), but it would also see Scots bonds, and a Scottish seat at the UK monetary policy committee. It would see oil revenues secured in its entirety by Scotland, with only a modest Scots contribution to the UK government paying for its share of foreign and defence policy.

    Surely either of these solutions makes more sense than separation? The Europe of tomorrow is supranational, it is overcoming the question of borders and lines on the map. So why, oh why do we wish to create a border at Gretna green? Scots separation is against the momentum of our time, and it goes against the mood music of our European generation.

    If we must face down the SNP, let us Unionists thus articulate the positive case for either fiscal autonomy or devo-max. One thing is sure, the status quo is no longer tenable.

  13. Dean...
    You promised to answer any questions....

    I'll give you a few questions and would appreciate it if you wouldn't reply with a question or a diversion.

    1. The EU accounts haven't been signed off for 15 years. Do you think an investigation should be carried out to root out the fraud ?

    2. How do we get rid of Barroso if we think he's doing a poor job ? Ditto Von Rumpey, Ashton , Kinnock's etc

    3. Our 3 'leaders' all promised a referendum on an EU in or out vote. Do you think it's right that they are now having a 3 line whip to make their MPs vote against this motion on Monday ?
    Bearing in mind that many MPs got elected on their commitment to a referendum.

    4. Do you think it's right that commissioners in the EU get their job as a thank you from their respective leaders rather than being elected ? bearing in mind the power they have to affect all of our lives.

    5. Do you agree with the formation of an EU Armed Forces, Foreign Service, Poice service and Coastguard service ? If you do will it undermine the sovereignty of the UK ?

    6. Is the Queen still our Sovereign after having allowed powers to be given to the EU via the Lisbon Treaty that undermine her Sovereignty ( ECHR, ECJ, EU Armed Forces accountable to the EU rather than the UK Crown etc)

    October 22, 2011 8:47 PM

  14. I answered them in the more recent post, please see there.

    p.s. Good to have you (finally) get back to me Monty, Tris will love us EU-ising all his posts, despite the actual blog content!