Thursday 31 January 2013


The argument about whether we stay or go must be conducted with vigour, ruthlessly perhaps, given that so much is at stake, but above all with honesty. There are many years after 2016 and we will have to live together.

Some people will vote unionist no matter what. They aren't listening to arguments. They won't hear any. Perhaps they perceive themselves to be British. Maybe they see Scotland as a county in the north of England. There is no point talking to them. They have decided. They decided in 1948.

There are those who are nationalists; they already see the two countries as separate, see England or Wales as abroad. If the future for Scotland meant Albania on North Sea, old clothes and porridge, they would still vote that way. They decided in 1949, 30 years before they were born.

There are some who couldn't care less; maybe don't even know that there's a debate going on; won't know on the day, because it wouldn't occur to them to look at the news, or read the front page of a paper. They are more concerned with how hot Harry Styles is, the size of Beyonce's bra, who will win the cup, or if they should buy red or pink nail varnish. No, I'm not being patronising. Some people really don't know it's happening and don't care that they don't know. 

And there are some that know it's happening and aren't bothered because it "won't make any difference to me" (which isn't true) or it will make a difference but, all we get is politicians, and they just tell lies (which is). Yawn. 
Then there is a sizeable number of people who are listening to arguments. Who want a better life for themselves and their kids, they just don't know if that is in Scotland or the UK. They want to know facts. Will they get their pensions in an independent Scotland...will they get them in a debt ridden UK; would businesses open up and bring jobs; would the sick be treated better; would you really have to show a passport to go to Berwick; will people be made to speak Gaelic; will we be thrown out of all world bodies and be left to struggle on our own; would it mean no more Tory policies; if we stay will Cameron take us out of the EU; what would that really mean; how many more wars will be have to fight because London likes being at the centre of things; would Scotland be able to pay its way; would Scotland be able to defend itself; how would England pay us back for leaving them, etc, etc, etc.

They are people from all walks of life. They are university professors, doctors, shop assistants, bin emptiers, lawyers, scientists, civil servants, singers, actors,  teachers, soldiers, bin men, nurses, sick people, old people, young people, immigrants, white people, black people, gay people, deaf people, teenagers, children, fat people, short people, thin people,  tall people, people with short tempers and patient people, people with dark hair and people with pink hair... Some are clever, some not so. But they all have their own way of working through their uncertainties. They will be hungry for information; for facts, or what passes for facts in an uncertain world.

These are the people we have to persuade, whatever our own convictions are.

We will not do it with lies. Perception may be a large part of politics, as Niko said on the last post, but it is not all. People lied to once too often may, depending on their nature and intellectual capacity, take a longer or shorter time to conclude that they are being lied to, but from whichever side, they will eventually understand that they are not being told the truth. And if they are not being told the truth on one topic, maybe they are being lied to on others...
This is a long campaign, Mr Cameron is right about that. (Although, in fairness, and without any partisanism, his campaign on Europe is twice as long, which begs the question, why did he bring the length of the campaign up?) 

If a week is a long time in politics, 2 years is an eternity, and almost anything could happen... no, anything could happen. 

Opinion polls at present show unionists with an inbuilt lead, but not nearly enough of a lead to suggest that they could have it in the bag. Not even now.

We have slightly under two years to help these undecided make up their minds.

In the end we will make a decision and, although some disappointed nationalists might emigrate to Norway, and some disappointed unionists  might emigrate to England, most Scots will have to live with that decision, one way or the other, as will their children. 

We need to think seriously of the time 'when the hurly-burly's done; when the battle's lost and won'... A battle won on lies is a battle unfinished, whichever side wins.

We've seen the personal and economic depression that that brings, close at hand in Ireland. Maybe Scots would deal with it differently. Although I note we have had Irish intervention in the form of the First Minister, Mr Robinson, campaigning for the UK, and advice from some of his supporters on partitioning, should there be a geographical divide. Not perhaps the happiest of imagines.

So there's a lesson in that for all of us who are fighting one way or the other. We should take Mr Sarwar in the spirit of his words rather than his actions, and make ensure an honest and open argument. And hope that not too much damage is done to the nation in working through the pros and cons of the two possibilities for its future.


  1. Brilliant and thought-provoking comments, Tris, I'll come back to it!

  2. tris

    yes well with Cameron size and length is wery important he would like to
    claim the biggest and longest Campaign something he learnt at Eton.


    dont rush back after all your only gonna say Labour =Tory the level of
    debate needs to be little bit higher.
    seem to me Brownlie has had a Jimmy saville moment with the Labour party
    and aint got over it

    I find the notion of voting for Independence will keep at bay
    the Torys or right wing economics with the consequent
    social polices risible.

    Cant see how living at the size of a city state is somehow preferable to
    a larger union such as the eu which the snp crave for and use as large
    part of their campaign.
    sovereignty is pile of poo Alex says lent it to me and then gives it all to the
    eu go figure that one.

    Nuclear free join the NATO nuclear club

    Run your own economy keep the English pound and B of E control WTF???
    Scottish republic with a hereditary monarch eh ! what???

    Personally i see this Independence wish as more a deep psychological need
    than political one more emotion than rational its like trying to tell your pal
    the woman he loves is a well not wery nice. you cant get through to him

    You wanna make headway tell Alex to stop making silly unachievable promises
    I mean he is still saying Scotland will walk straight into the eu when even the dogs in the street know its a bit more complicated than what he says.

    To be honest most people now discount most of what he says as Hyperbole
    without a factual base he would do better to level with the people on the probable
    difficulties and how we could tackle them.

    spend all the oil money and at the same time save it all for the Nations future

  3. Thank you John. Please do.

  4. Hello Niko:

    You can laugh, but we do need to raise the debate. Most of all we need to tell the truth and provide facts and figures to back up what we are saying, and yes, that goes for both sides.

    Why do people want to live in a small state? Lots of different reasons, but you are more likely to be governed in a way that is suitable to you, rather than the way that is suitable to people hundreds of miles away. People feel more connection in a small state, I think. Certainly we don't hear of too many states wanting to become part of bigger ones. You say city state, and yes 5 million is the size of some cities. But does Luxembourg want to become part of Belgium, Does Monaco want to become part of France, or San Marino part of Italy? Does Iceland want to go back to Denmark? Does Norway want to be part of Sweden again? Do the Czechs and the Slovaks want to be Czechoslovakia?

    Small countries work and by and large they work well.

    I think I'd be better governed from Edinburgh than from London.

    Personally I'm ambivalent to the EU, but I know for sure that we have to be a part of the trading block, so EU or EEA. I don't yet know which would be best for us. I have no problems with either, as long as we are in one. Mainly for trade, but I have no issues with bigger things being dealt with on a Europe-wide basis.

    I disagree with being a part of Nato, but it's not the end of my world that we would be. I detest WMDs; I'm frightened of them, and I'm angry that while we have them, ordinary soldiers out there in Afghanistan or Mali don't have radios that work; don't have boots that are fit for purpose; don't have decent food; have too few helicopters. We'll never use the nuclear weapons, we can't because America really owns them. They are for show, and to get posh boys like Blair or Cameron a seat at the top table in world terms above really rich countries.

    Keeping the pound is best for both countries at the moment. Remember although it is called the Bank of England, it really is the Bank of Britain. Why wouldn't we stay within it. Some economists think that it Scotland withdrew from the pound, and took its mineral wealth, the pound would crash, leaving the English economy in tatters. Remember that the world bank and the IMF and a whole raft of other financial organisations have said that Scotland could be in the top 10 of rich countries. Clearly that leaves England in a mess. It would dangerous for a new Scotland to have a bankrupt country on its borders. A country with which it does so much business.


  5. Continued... Niko

    Partly it IS emotional. For some people who get misty eyes about heather covered hills and pine forests it is very emotional.

    Not for me though. Of course parts of Scotland are beautiful. Breathtakingly so. But so are parts of England, Ireland, Switzerland, Greenland, Botswana, Antarctica...etc.

    It's the emotion of feeling like you belong in your own country. I don't feel like that. I feel like a stranger. I don't like the things we do as a country: the wars; the way we treat the poor; the way we treat the sick; the way we allow the rich unbounded wealth and make no real effort to ensure that pensioners have enough to heat their homes. We have the lowest pension relative to average wage in Europe. So old age is a misery for many. Being sick, disabled is hell in this country.

    It's not my kind of country. I'm ashamed of it.

    As for royalty, who knows. The SNP leadership says that it is in favour of retaining the queen of Scotland. There are people within the party that don't want to have a monarch. There used to be many in Labour who were against all titles; the House of Lords and the Royals. Willie Hamilton wasn't it, who spent his career railing against royalty?... But Tony Benn and many other left wingers were completely against the royals. I imagine there must still be some left. I seem to recall that Cherie Blair was anti monarchy?

    It's a debate. I doubt anyone would particularly want to slap Elizabeth in the face at 87, by getting rid of her, but I imagine that there will be many who want rid of them when she dies. Charlie and Mrs Parker Bowles. Can't see that working.

    You say it is risible to want independence to escape Tory policies policies from both Labour and the Conservative.

    I've tried to answer your questions. How about you tell me you would go about ridding our country of this scourge of self serving morons, who know absolutely nothing about running a country, for they are running it straight into the ground. They certainly seem to know how fill their boots and those of their friends in preparation for life after government.

    Seriously Niko. I know you hate this regime as much as I do. I imagine you too know that Miliband will have to match them poisonous policy for poisonous policy if he wants to be PM.

    What the hell would you do?

    1. Thank you Tris, I enjoyed the article but this reply sounds as if it comes from the heart! And really puts my feelings in print. Again, thank you.

  6. n communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.

    Marx, German Ideology (1845)

    er no i said being Independent would not stop free market policies
    both on the economy and social policy being enacted by the snp
    or whatever it gestates into.

  7. Well Marxism didn't turn out too well...

    And of course there will be capitalist policy. But it doesn't have to be bad. You can have capitalism with a human face. It's only this model that is so flawed...

  8. Thanks CH. That's appreciated.

  9. They certainly won’t convince anyone that we are “better together” when the independent Electoral Commission (that they the Unionists Cameron, Moore, Lamont et al insisted on having as the independent referee) reports that almost everyone they talked to wanted more information on what would come after either a yes or a no vote BEFORE the referendum. In other words we don’t want a load of nebulous, undefined would-be undertakings (colloquially know as Jam tomorrow) from either side. Nicola and the Independence side welcomed this warmly and suggested talks with Westminster. Mr Cameron made it clear there would be no negotiations and no clear indication of what a yes or a no vote would mean from his side.

    Claiming that removing two words from the question was a triumph for the independent scrutineer insisted on by Cameron but rejection a major suggestion of its to make the referendum clear and transparent is just the sort of hypocrisy and double dealing that will eventually swing the referendum in favour of “yes”. The Scots do not zip up the back! They can see this sort of thing for what it is. If they can’t put forward a cogent reasoned argument for staying in the Union they are doomed.

  10. Mungy

    Oooh! We are so scared


    Ole Nicola hawking herself
    Around england and the
    Rest of Europe.
    Trying to get in bed
    With every leader
    She can like some
    Jezebel but cant
    Get any takers.