Unionists need to get the swagger back!

I’m a Federalist, and I’d assume almost all our membership would describe themselves as so. I’m also a Unionist because those terms are interconnected, however, it would seem to me several of our members in Scotland seem afraid to label themselves as so. Why?

We’ve got a fight on our hands; 2021 is going to be tough but don’t kid yourselves it’s far from settled to be a landslide victory for the SNP. I’ll tell you right now, there will be absolutely no equivocation when I tell people where I stand on the constitutional issue of Scotland. We are a Unionist party because it represents not only the settled will of the people of Scotland but economically, the only viable option to reduce poverty and progress equality throughout our country.

2014 was ugly, divisive and at times for several of my activists in Inverclyde there was physical intimidation for supporting Better Together. I didn’t offer appeasement then and I won’t be doing so now; I don’t believe another referendum is in the best interests of the country. We have a raft of issues across Scotland we have to deal with. Every single one of our problems in Education, Health and Poverty have been thrown to the wayside by the SNP in favour of chasing IndyRef2 … it’s a negation of duty to every single person living in Scotland. It must stop!

What concerns me is where’s the swagger? I never lost mine after kicking their referendum into touch in 2014 but we need to fire that feeling back up across the party. We’ve got amazing MPs and MSPs in the Scottish Liberal Democrats, who are delivering massively for their constituencies. Too often do I see a section of our own members wanting to steer away from criticisms of this SNP administration, we cannot be quiet in calling out their failures and in some cases downright scandals in Government.

It would also be helpful if certain high-profile English members didn’t interject with an ill-informed view on the constitution. You do nothing but throw us back into rebuild mode.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats led by Willie Rennie offer the best voice for supporting a progressive Union in 2021. Scottish Labour is still in crisis mode and the Scottish Conservatives are not going to offer a progressive vision for Scotland … it’s up to us!

Never forget and never be shy about our achievements in Government in Scotland. Free personal care for the elderly, smoking ban, renewable energy target sets, scrapping of tuition fees, free bus travel for pensioners, fairer voting systems in Local Government, free school meals and many more that make us the voice of progressive unionism.

So let’s be bold in 2021 and not shy away from the fact we are a Unionist party, but let’s be clear about our progressive agenda for Scotland in doing so.

 

* I'm a Liberal Democrat member having joined last year from Labour, I was previously Chair and Founder of the YF Devolution and Local Government Committee

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47 Comments

  • Thanks for this.

    A poll just published by the Fabians showed that most Scots don’t actually want a referendum any time soon and would prefer our politicians to focus on the stuff that really matters right now. Of course, the nationalists will try to steer us towards that, and I agree we have to be firm in our views, but also be clear about all of the other things we want to achieve, and all of the other things we can achieve thanks to devolution.

    I don’t want to make too much of it, but I too was very frustrated by the way in which someone who really should know better just casually threw out an opinion that goes against what our party stands for, thinking that it was no big deal. I don’t expect them to know better on the policy as such, because it’s not something that would ever impact on their life, but I would expect them to know better than to comment so casually on something that’s contrary to policy without doing a bit of homework about why we have this policy in the first place.

    I love that we’re a party where members can disagree with official policy, but when someone appears to support something that not only goes against our core values and would materially damage my life, but not theirs, it’s upsetting.

  • marcstevens 20th Aug '20 - 5:08pm

    I would happily support and campaign for an independent Scotland and not for the SNP. Most English people I know who moved up there would vote for independence and are not SNP voters. They believe Scotland will have a better future free from Westminster control and in the EU and I could not agree more.

  • Frank Bowles 20th Aug '20 - 5:42pm

    The last thing we need in Scotland is to import the language of Ulster conflict. Nothing would serve the nationalists better than “Unionist swagger”. We are a party that believes fundamentally in Home Rule, in Federalism and in power exercised and entrenched at the lowest level practicable. This is Liberalism 101. The root and branch reform of the United Kingdom is essential for its survival, and while that may be what is intended here, the term “Unionist”, before 2014 only ever used in the Irish context, reeks of preservation of the status quo, has very unfortunate connotations in the sectarian divides of the West of Scotland and is to me the antithesis of everything that Liberals stand for.

  • Marc – can you please explain how it’s better for the public sector in Scotland to lose a budget of equivalent to the SNHS?

    Do your friends have any views on what currency an independent Scotland should use? Do they have any ideas on how it would come about? What do they think of the proposal that money from private bank accounts could be used as equity?

    Are you or your friends aware of the mechanisms required in order for an independent Scotland to join the EU? You seem to assume that it’s something easily available, and I don’t blame you, as several prominent SNP politicians have been very misleading on this subject, so you might not have realised it isn’t quite as easy as they suggest.

    Is there anything else you want for your friends in Scotland? Are there any other policies, besides making us all poorer, that appeal to them?

  • Frank – you make a good point. So much of the language that was used in the lead up to and since the 2014 referendum has its origins in those other conflicts. Not surprising as there is definitely as there is definitely an overlap amongst some of the campaigners. I’m wondering now who it was that introduced the loaded term “Unionist” into the debate as the standard term for those that would like to stay part of the UK, and if it was something we’d have done well to avoid from the start.

    I do, however, think David is right that we are sorely lacking a bit of “swagger”. I’m as guilty as the next person for fixating on the facts and logical arguments, and being a bit too scared of embracing the more emotional aspects of it. It’s not that I don’t feel those emotional aspects, but sometimes it feels as if we should be ashamed of declaring that we have emotional bonds with our friends in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. While we thought we were getting on with life, the nationalists were plugging away at reframing the fraternity many of us feel as something to be ashamed of. As if wanting to live in the same nation state as people from Liverpool makes us imperialists etc.

    And don’t get me started on those who try to reinvent Scotland as an innocent victim of English imperialism where that big southern boy did all the bad stuff and ran away.

    But yet again I’m sucked into their narrative. I don’t know the answer, but David is right – we need to be more bold, in a non-jingoistic way, about it.

  • Tony Greaves 20th Aug '20 - 6:02pm

    Home Rule and Federalism are what this party stood for in Scotland for over a hundred years and more. Unionism is a synonym for Conservatism and always has been. Time our colleagues in Scotland got back on track.

  • “Home Rule and Federalism are what this party stood for in Scotland for over a hundred years and more.”

    And in a hundred years you haven’t delivered.

    At the moment, Scotland is facing the direct attack on the devolution settlement ( not my words those of the Welsh Government) in the Internal Market Bill and a British nationalist government determined to subvert the Scottish Parliament at every opportunity and to impose a strident British identity on Scotland.

    That is the “unionist swagger” at the moment. The Lib Dems in Scotland have already joined in: your former leader Swinson said that there should never be another independence referendum whatever Scottish voters voted for and your current Scottish leader Rennie said that the Scottish Parliament should not be given any further powers. You are currently in fifth place in the polls behind the Scottish Green Party.

    Perhaps a little more thoughtful humility at your failure and a little less swagger might pay dividends?

  • Tony Greaves, as usual does his homework. Historically the Liberal Party (as the major force in Scottish politics until WW1) was not a Unionist Party. The ‘Liberal Unionists had split off in 1886) and the Liberal Government in May 1913 passed the second reading of the Government of Scotland Bill 1913 (referred to as the Scottish Home Rule Bill) by 204 votes to 159.

    The bill was supported by Liberals – opposed by Unionists did not proceed further due to the outbreak of the War. Virtually every Scottish Liberal M.P. voted for it (see the Division list in Hansard).

    To David Mackenzie, sorry,but there’s not much swagger about the latest opinion poll published yesterday.

    http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk › … › Independence referendum 1 day ago –
    Scots would back independence with 55% for Yes, a new poll suggests. The survey by Panelbase reflects a reversal of the 2014 referendum …

    Much of this is down to the correct perception that the Scottish Government is more competent in all sorts of ways than the Johnson Circus of Lazy Incompetence. He’s currently on holiday again (in Scotland) – though Holyrood still sits.

    The choice now appears to be between an anti-austerity Centre Left Scottish Government elected by PR (supported when needed by a fourth party – Scottish Greens) with the possibility of rejoining the EU (Scotland’s overwhelming choice in 2016) rather than being tied permanently to a Brexit supporting first past the post right wing Little Englander Government.

    Now that you’ve recently left Labour, David, when get to know your new party a bit better you may discover that a great many of its more radical members (quietly) have a different view of the matter.

    To Fiona, sorry, but you’re raising all the issues Sweden raised when Norway wanted independence in 1905. The Norwegians still survive…… and the Lib Dems are more likely to survive, and even sample government again, in a PR Holyrood than a FPTP Westminster. And ……. do you really want to eat chlorinated chicken ?

    US chickens ‘literally sitting in each other’s waste’ says RSPCA : ‘Chlorination of hens and use of pig sow stalls among US-UK disparities highlighted by charity ahead of post-Brexit trade talks.

  • George Thomas 20th Aug '20 - 8:27pm

    The Senedd voted that Wales’ future was best served in a reformed UK….today they wrote to the UK government to say that the reforms being put forward will “accelerate the break-up of the UK” and are “an outrageous power grab”. Boris Johnson’s Conservative’s have four and a bit more years to trample over the devolved nations in every way possible, the most likely result of the next election is a Tory majority so it could easily be six and a bit years, so while I agree with progressive unionism I will ask at what point do you admit we’re closer to the abolition of the Senedd/Holyrood/Stormont (at least in all but name) than we are to progressive unionism?

  • I wasn’t aware, until reading this and other similarly bombastic articles on LDV in recent months, that we had been rejoined by the Liberal Unionists.

  • Perhaps its time to consioder a review of many of our traditional stances, if we want votes that is. Do we want votes? Principles don’t seem to get us anywhere. This could be a starter for ten, why not support Independance?
    PS Greens level with us in the polls at a 6%,

  • Peter Martin 21st Aug '20 - 7:56am

    Does Federalism mean that we will have one UK Parliament located in an area of the UK designated Federal territory? Like Canberra in Australia and Washington in the US?

    And “Home Rule” will mean that the Govts of Scotland, along with Wales and the English regions will be essentially on the same basis as, say, New South Wales and Florida have ‘home rule’?

    How will this be much different from what Scotland already has? Is it what Scotland wants?

  • If the Scot’s genuinely want a different kind of government to the UK, which tends to soft capitalism rather than the SNP’s socialism, then there is a case to be made for independence. But let us learn from Brexit, before another referendum there should e an agreement on the terms of an exit from the UK, including the amount of national debt they will take on, how the Scottish pound will work and how the new border will work if they join the EU.

    My guess, the Scots will not want a high tax socialist party that will quickly ruin the value of the Scottish pound, something which Gordon Brown could advise on…

  • “We believe that sovereignty rests with the people and that authority in a democracy derives from the people. We therefore… commit ourselves to the promotion of a democratic federal framework within which as much power as feasible is exercised by the nations and regions of the United Kingdom.” That’s what the party I’m in stands for. The only unions mentioned in the party constitution are trade unions.
    In a democratic federal framework where the people are sovereign, it’s not easy to be enthusiastic about campaigning for allegiance to a crown representing a union of two kingdoms that came about via dynastic inheritance; nor for continuing to be ruled by the all-powerful Westminster Parliament (monarch, lords and an unrepresentative Commons) that is failing us now. That’s what unionism means, in reality.
    A modern federal state with strong regional governments and a federal one with competences strictly limited to what can’t be done at a more local level would be in the best interests of the people. That means a new constitutional settlement, as federalism is incompatible with what we currently have.

  • Peter Martin 21st Aug '20 - 10:24am

    “…..agreement on the terms of an exit from the UK, including the amount of national debt they will take on”

    This interesting question is discussed in the BBC link below.

    The Scots, previously, were being ultra naive in trying to link the use of the pound with taking a share of the national debt. The pound is an IOU of the Westminster government and it’s impossible to share that with anyone else. Just like it’s impossible for a personal IOU to be the responsibility of anyone other than the person who wrote it. All they could do was maintain their own currency 1:1 with the pound but that would be giving themselves the worst of all worlds.

    They’d be using someone else’s currency and the designated debt would be in that currency. Monetary policy would be effectively set in London. They couldn’t use any form of QE to cover deficits. Money would have to be genuinely borrowed at higher interest rates. They would be making exactly the same mistake made by Ireland after their independence. The Irish economy was in the doldrums for decades with emigration as the only solution to high levels of unemployment.

    Finally, it wouldn’t help with an application for EU membership. If that’s what the Scots really want to do they would need to be fully independent with their own currency which they would afterwards align with the euro. This is what Ireland did when they abandoned their link with the pound and used the punt. Their economy had never done as well previously!

    If Iceland (pop 300k) can have its own currency then so can an independent Scotland. What’s the problem for Scottish people? Do they, or don’t they, want to be independent?

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-28541393

  • @Peter Martin

    I’m afraid linking to a 2014 BBC article which is no longer relevant to current SNP policy won’t much help the Lib Dems gain traction in Scotland.

    @Frank West

    “before another referendum there should e an agreement on the terms of an exit from the UK, including the amount of national debt they will take on, how the Scottish pound will work and how the new border will work if they join the EU.”

    This basically gives veto to the British state on whether there should be a referendum. It won’t wash.

  • John Marriott 21st Aug '20 - 11:17am

    If a clear majority of Scottish residents (which, of course, means more than just Scots) want independence I can imagine that quite a few people living in England (which also means more than just the English) would not stand in their way, me included. But, what constitutes a ‘clear majority’? (Answers, please, on the back of a fag packet.)

    As someone, who believes in devolving as much power as is wanted away and can be handled effectively away from the centre, a Federal UK has always seemed the best solution to me. I won’t expand because I have written about it on LDV several times.

    The essence of any devolution is the acceptance from the body from whom the power has been devolved that the recipient of that power has to be entitled to make mistakes. This has always seemed to be to be the stumbling block to letting go. Like so called ‘helicopter parents’, central governments often seem reluctant to allow their ‘offspring’ free rein.

    I would agree with Peter Martin that his description is how I would envisage federalism working in these islands. Given its historic and geographically strategic importance I see no reason why the U.K. Federal Government and Parliament should not remain in London.

  • Chris Bertram 21st Aug '20 - 11:38am

    “… supported when needed by a fourth party – Scottish Greens”.

    The Scottish Greens are a pointless party, and we need to point this out. They sit on the sidelines and applaud the SNP, and have never got much worth having out of this arrangement, never stuck their necks out to have a member in the cabinet, too afraid to actually be accountable for anything.

    And last week they had the biggest chance they ever had to make a name for themselves, by voting no confidence in the useless John Swinney. But once again they showed how spineless they are by announcing that they would not do this. Epic fail.

    This should be all over our leaflets where we are in competition with them. Go for it, Scottish Lib Dems!

  • Theres still more than 8 Months to The Scots Election & a lot can change in that time.

    There are still Millions of Voters who see the need to “Rally Round” The Government in a Time of Crisis, that benefits The Tories in England & The SNP in Scotland but its temporary.
    Things could shift quickly once the Economic Crisis kicks in later in the Year.

  • Peter Martin 21st Aug '20 - 11:48am

    @ Hireton,

    How has SNP policy shifted since 2014? This is a genuine question. From discussions I’ve had with Scots Nats I can’t detect much difference. They want to be independent but not too independent!

    @ David Nolan,

    “The people of the Republic of Ireland would never dream of going back to London-rule.”

    So they’ve swapped for Brussels or Berlin rule instead which is even further away.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/nov/18/ireland-budget-germany-leak

    @ John Marriott,

    I would expect most voters would go along with Federalism if it would keep the UK together but there’s not a lot of point if the Scots, and possibly others, will still want to leave anyway. So we need to find out what they actually do want. This is easier said than done because there is probably no clear majority for any particular option.

  • I like how unapologetic this article is. I’m not Scottish but as an outsider it appears that the SNP, in power in a Scotland already independent in many ways, are somehow never to blame when anything goes wrong in Scotland, having an ever-ready excuse in the form of London / Westminster. From an economic perspective the case for the union is not too dissimilar with the economic case for the UK’s membership of the EU. In the case of the latter, our leaving the EU might now be a reason for Scotland to consider leaving the UK (in order to rejoin the EU independently – yes, it won’t be straightforward but there is a lot of political will in the EU to make it easy for an independent Scotland to join).

    But I do like the idea of our party being unapologetic about what we stand for. I wish the UK party were the same!

  • Interesting to read Chris Bertram’s rather noisy and partial take on the Scottish Greens (who have more MSP’s than the Lib Dems).

    As I understand it (living in Scotland and participating in, later observing, Scottish politics), the Scottish Lib Dems wanted to negotiate the budget every year with the Scottish Government…… but achieved nothing.

    However, the Scottish Greens have earned increasing respect from the radical but fair minded side of Scottish politics for what they have achieved. I’ve heard it said (by some Lib Dems) that the Scottish Greens are what the Lib Dems ought to be.

    In the last few years the Greens have negotiated : 2018 Budget

    * £170m more for local council services and to help pay fair wages. This more than reverses all of the £157m of local government cuts proposed by the SNP.

    * 73,000 more public sector workers such as nurses and teachers will get a pay rise. The inflation-based pay policy will now cover 75 per cent of workers rather than 51 per cent.

    * Fairer taxes. Everyone getting less than the average wage will pay no or less income tax. The SNP’s proposed tax cut for high earners is cancelled.

    * A new community rail fund to help campaign groups get stations reopened and new lines into construction.

    * An extra £2million for insulating homes, fixing leaky windows and tackling fuel poverty.

    * Reduce the proportion of high-carbon capital projects such as new trunk roads and increase the proportion of low-carbon capital projects such as rail, buses and warm homes – a commitment which is to be extended each year for the rest of the parliament.

    * Protection for whales, dolphins and other marine life with funding for four marine conservation areas.

    2019 Budget

     £90m for the core local government settlement
     Cap on council tax rises increased to 4.79%
     A move to three-year local authority budgets
     Legislation to allow councils to set a local “tourism tax”
     Power for councils to set a levy on workplace car parking spaces
     Cross-party talks on replacing the council tax

    The Scottish Council all party body Cosla (on which I once served) said they “welcome that local government’s voice is being heard”.

    A bit less swagger from afar and a few more facts please, Mr Bertram.

  • @ Clive Bertram, and this year 2020, the agreement with the Greens is :

    1. Bus travel will be free for all under-19s (welcomed by the CPAG).
    2. £95m for local services across the country.
    3. Cycling and walking infrastructure budget increased to £100m.
    4. £25m for low-carbon, warm homes.
    5. £5m to advance new rail projects.

    The price demanded by Willie Rennie (who I personally like) to enter negotiations was that ‘the SNP drop their campaign for an independence referendum’. I’m afraid this was like asking the Pope to give up Catholicism.

    Outcomes are the objective of most transactions in the real world, Mr Bartram….. though one has doubts on some of the outcomes of 2010-15 in Westminster.

  • Peter Hirst 21st Aug '20 - 2:43pm

    We are Federal, Unionist and also democrats. The people of Scotland need to be persuaded that what we offer is in their best interests. By all means criticise the SNP and show it is not fit to govern Scotland. But the devolution debate will not go away just because we want it to. We must be prepared to offer Scotland what it takes to see independence put firmly in the rubbish bin.

  • @ Peter Hirst ” We must be prepared to offer Scotland what it takes to see independence put firmly in the rubbish bin”.

    Do you mean PR for the parliament and local government ? A Centre Left government influenced by the green agenda ? No appointed second chamber with titles ? A possibility of rejoining the EU ?….. We’ve already got that….. so what else is on offer, Peter ?

  • @Peter Martin

    SNP policy is to adopt a new Scottish currency as soon as possible but given your view that the Republic of Ireland is ruled from Brussels or Berlin I doubt you really want to engage in serious discussion.

  • @Chris Bertram

    “And last week they had the biggest chance they ever had to make a name for themselves, by voting no confidence in the useless John Swinney. But once again they showed how spineless they are by announcing that they would not do this. Epic fail.’

    Well, they seem to have made bigger name for themselves than the Lib Dems as they have more MSPs!

    The Scottish Greens were also instrumental in bringing about the reversion to teacher assessed grades.

    As I understand it the Lib Dems refuse to discuss budget matters with the Scottish Government until the SNP drops its commitment to independence which is one way for a small party in a hung parliament to make itself irrelevant.

  • Rob Davidson 21st Aug '20 - 5:17pm

    There has been a common refrain of late, that Lib Dems need to define what they are for rather than just what they are against (Brexit, Scottish independence etc.)

    Ignoring the pros and cons of independence – the party is officially against full independence and only Conference can change that – there’s clearly a bit of a messaging issue with whether we’re unionists or federalists or what. Federalism is a liberal tenet but not a popular concept… but unionism has negative connotations around sectarianism. Joy!

    Unionism has other issues. It’s too closely linked to the Conservative and UNIONIST Party which may mean we’re actually just raising the legitimacy of the Tories brand in Scotland. The term also sounds appealing because we’ve been pro-European UNION for so long now but that also brings up a bunch of inconsistencies in our messaging like, if we were to suggest that the last IndiRef was “the settled will” of anyone.

    Personally I’d be up for Lib Dems fixing on federalism and setting about promoting it. Arguably it differentiates our position from Europe with our position in Scotland, offers a sort of ‘devo max’ if we frame it that way but avoids full break-up for those people that have been voting Lib Dem to keep the SNP out. And, ultimately, it IS what we believe in for the whole of the UK so perhaps the Scottish question would be how we get a platform to raise awareness UK-wide. Would the good people of Yorkshire like the idea of their own regional, local parliament in a federal “United States of Britain” (ok, that’s not a great title)

    Labour have even started talking about federalism a bit for Scotland. If they do adopt it as their stance then it will be crap if Lib Dems are copying Labour on something that has been Lib Dem philosophy for a hundred years or whatever.

  • Peter Martin 21st Aug '20 - 7:26pm

    @ Hireton,

    If you’d care to check, you’ll see that the link I previously supplied, and the quote below, is from the pro-EU Guardian and not the anti-EU Daily Express.

    “No move by the Irish government is made without the approval of its new troika paymasters and every three months a team of officials comes to Dublin to look over the books.”

    So before this happens to the Scots too, a little “serious discussion” would not go amiss.

  • @ Peter Hirst A final word, Peter.Thank you for some interesting and revealing comments, some of which, I’m afraid, are neither particularly liberal or democratic.

    1. “The people of Scotland need to be persuaded that what we offer is in their best interests”…. sounds remarkably like the voice of the Raj in India in the 1930’s.

    2. “By all means criticise the SNP and show it is not fit to govern Scotland.” …

    As someone who has never voted SNP, but has lived in Scotland throughout their period of office. I must advise you they are fit to govern, Peter (how do you know they’re not) – even when one disagrees with a particular policy.

    There is a general consensus (83% in latest poll) that Ms Sturgeon is doing a fine job as a very competent hard working First Minister, answering First Ministers Questions yesterday, and an hour long press conference today…. (where’s Boris ?)

    3. Finally, can you explain what’s democratic about campaigning for a second Brexit Referendum…… but opposing a second Independence Referendum ? Consistency would be in order.

  • Regardless of the pros and cons of Scottish independence (on which I’m broadly neutral) – or of the constitutional and historical distinctions between unionism and federalism – whatever happened to the long-standing Liberal commitment to uphold the principle of national self-determination?

    If, as currently seems highly likely, the SNP (together with the Scottish Greens) win a popular mandate next year for a further independence referendum, I very much hope that the Lib Dems will not join the Tories (and possibly also Labour) in voting to refuse permission from the Westminster Parliament.

  • John Marriott 22nd Aug '20 - 10:01am

    Well said, David Raw! There’s nothing like a bit of common sense from someone who has clearly Done it and got the T shirt! You might have been to university like me (lucky us back then) but you have also studied at the University of Life and learned a thing or to in the process.

    Like you I get fed up with all those armchair idealists, who think they have the answer to the secrets of the universe and, also, those who delight in telling us what other people think without ever really telling us what THEY think. They need to get out more and to talk to real people.

    Your talking about the Raj for some reasons reminds me of an old photo I saw once. It was taken on one of Edward, Prince of Wales’ many tours on behalf of his father of the latter’s ‘Empire’. There was the Prince, clad in tropical clothes, in an open top Rolls Royce being driven on a boiling hot day back in the 1920s past a long line of white clad ‘natives’ of Aden, I think. In front of them was carefully displayed a professionally produced banner, which read; “Tell Daddy that we are happy under British rule”.

  • Why worry, Mr. McKenzie? After all, if the Scottish people vote ‘leave’, you can just add ‘revoke the result’ to your next election proposals…

  • Scotland has its own bank notes in any case or could join the Euro. It has some of the most successful and thriving businesses in the UK whether it be financial services, biotechnology, oil and gas, whisky, and of course tourism to name just some. It is currently being oppressed by Mr Johnson and his government which they did not vote for. And to use that tired old cliché – Scotland deserves better. The orange bookers have no sway in Scotland whatsoever. I can see many voters from parties other than the SNP supporting independence or a State of Independence (I miss you so much Donna) even. If PR were included in the deal for independence it would be a win-win situation for the country.

  • John Marriott 22nd Aug '20 - 11:32am

    IN DEFENCE OF SCOTLAND

    I must confess that my knowledge of Scotland and the Scots is somewhat limited. My first ‘Association’ was when I married a lady back in 1969, whose father came from north of the border. Just before we emigrated to Canada we visited his relations en masse at Easter 1970. The Scotland I saw was then a pretty grim place, enlivened only by a visit to the Dunblane Hydro one night and another to watch my late father in law’s not so beloved Alloa Athletic, where I have an abiding memory, after the final whistle, of loads of Scotsmen using the concrete rear stand wall as a public convenience, leaving the evidence there like The Who did on the cover of their hit album ‘Who’s Next’.

    Well, scroll forward some thirty years and the next time my wife and I visited her relations (now sadly depleted) was in our caravan – in fact we visited quite a few times in the noughties and had taken a holiday cottage in the Highlands in the early 1990s as well – and what a transformation! I grant you that we used to go in Summer so, despite the midges, the sun did often shine. You really got a sense that the place was on the up. Even the toilet facilities were transformed ( I particularly remember using a Public Convenience in Thurso, which had a vase of fresh flowers on one of its windowsills!) Wherever we went – and over the years we went pretty well everywhere – you got the feeling of a kind of civic pride, which was largely missing south of the border. I used to think ‘If this is what devolution brings, give ME some of it!’

    I can’t quote you statistics and I know, of course, that not everywhere in Scotland is perfect; but I don’t think that the politicians north of the border, from whichever party – and most have had a hand in governance since Donald Dewar become the first post devolution First Minister – have made a bad job of it. So, if the Scots really can prove that it’s independence that they really want, good luck to them!

  • @Peter Martin

    “If you’d care to check, you’ll see that the link I previously supplied, and the quote below, is from the pro-EU Guardian and not the anti-EU Daily Express…”

    I already had: it’s an opinion piece from 2011when the Republic of Ireland was in receipt of bail out support from the EU.

    Let’s bring this up to date: which country do you think has had a more effective impact on Brexit policy, the independent country of Ireland on the EU’s Brexit policy or the non-independent country of Scotland on the UK’s Brexit policy?

  • @ John Marriott. Cheers, John.

    If you ever get north again and things get back to normal, I’ll take you to watch Hibs. You might even get to see Andy Murray or the Proclaimers there.

  • marcstevens 22nd Aug '20 - 9:05pm

    I’ve always wanted to see the Average White Band, Scottish soul music made at its best.

  • Scotland can and in my opinion should go their own way, if that is what the majority want, however they should be advised that a vote to end the U.K. without giving the rest of the population any democratic say in how and when the union should end will not result in a joyous, harmonious working together of equal partners. Quite the reverse in my opinion.

  • @ Tynan “they should be advised that a vote to end the U.K. without giving the rest of the population any democratic say in how and when the union should end will not result in a joyous, harmonious working together of equal partners. Quite the reverse in my opinion”.

    Do you mean like Brexit was inflicted on Scotland, Tynan ?

  • David Raw, that is not an exact comparison, all parts of the U.K. got an equal say in the Brexit referendum, it just so happens that a majority of people in Scotland who voted, had a different opinion to the overall population of the U.K. who voted and as much as they might not like it, for now, the Scottish are part of the U.K.
    I’m not suggesting that the rest of the U.K. should have a vote in any future referendum on independence.
    I do suggest that for the sake of democracy and future relations all parts of the U.K. should be able to vote on any agreed separation deal.
    Imagine the reaction from Scotland if the reverse were to take place, England is having a referendum on splitting from the U.K. Scotland has no say on the outcome, and the population has no say on any negotiated deal….does that sound fair or democratic to you? I think the court cases that occurred over Brexit will be nothing compared to what takes place if things proceed as the SNP would like, but I say again that if a majority of the Scottish people want indedence then they should be allowed the referendum and then we will see. Personally I hope they do vote yes, this time.

  • @ Tynan “Personally I hope they do vote yes, this time.”

    Why would you think that, Tynan ?

  • Peter Martin 24th Aug '20 - 10:02pm

    @ Hireton,

    I don’t fully understand your question. If the Scots want to join the EU after they become independent that’s up to them. But I’d just ask them why they’d want to jump into the tender embrace of Germany’s ordoliberals? It’s not just Ireland’s budget they have been scrutinising. How’s that working out for Italy and Greece?

    So you think the events of 2011 are ancient history and the EU has moved on from all that? Just wait until the effects of the Covid recession are fully felt and the bills have to be paid. There’s really only the surplus countries that have the euros to be able to do the paying.

    Prof Sinn is saying in this article that this is not on. If he gets his way then the eurozone and probably the EU too will be finished.

    https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/european-union-recovery-fund-will-not-make-italy-spain-competitive-by-hans-werner-sinn-2020-07

  • David Raw, I feel the movement for indepedence has reached a tipping point which makes it almost inevitable.
    Whilst I have close ties with Scotland, have studied in Aberdeen, my parents are from Glasgow, my son was born and lives in Edinburgh, I am not prepared for the rest of the U.K. to make any further concessions to Scotland to try and persuade an apparently increasingly reluctant population to stay in the union. Certainly I would not consider P.R. and eternal coalition government, or a federal U.K particularly not the model in which England is split into regions, as a price worth paying to retain Scotland. Therefore I hope when the next referendum occurres the Scottish people have the courage to take the opportunity so many claim to want and vote yes. Ultimately both Scotland and the rest of the U.K. would be fine, though both would need to redefine their geopolitical and economic aims, not necessary a bad thing.

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