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September 18th

Written By: - Date published: 7:36 pm, April 8th, 2014 - 46 comments
Categories: activism, class, class war, colonialism, democratic participation, political alternatives, referendum, uk politics - Tags: , , , , ,

The 18th of September 2014 is a big day.

On that day, people living in Scotland will decide if they want to become citizens in a nation that will have reclaimed its sovereignty.

It’s worth noting that the vote is not about voting for Alex Salmond or the SNP. And it’s not about whether people agree or disagree with the SNP’s ‘white paper’ on a post referendum Scotland either. The referendum is, afterall, a referendum on independence. It’s not a parliamentary election asking people to vote for a particular party or government.

Bottom line. Independence is a far broader beast than the SNP. The independence movement includes the Scottish Green Party  the Scottish Socialist Party , Solidarity  members of both Labour and the Liberal Democrats as well as a wheen of a-political organisations and individuals as well as many artists.  Not surprisingly, Labour Party affiliated unions (if not their members) have  adopted a neutral stance (eg – Unite) or somewhat stupidly and controversially, endorsed a ‘no’ vote (eg – GMB)

Not that you’d get any impression of the breadth of opinion encompassed or represented by the ‘Yes’ campaign from mainstream coverage. It tends to present the whole question of independence as a dumbed down stoush between the SNP and the Westminster establishment.

And not that you’ll get a taste of what people are thinking or saying from a mainstream coverage that revolves around poll results and the two-ing and fro-ing over the latest spurious economic argument (They are all spurious, by the way, because the economic framework is so complex, that almost any interpretation can be shaken out of the numbers).

And not that you’ll get an idea of peoples’ hopes and wants from a mainstream media content to suck in its collective inky breath in mock horror at the latest lie, the latest manipulation or the latest accusation coming from big name political personalities.

Obviously, I don’t live in Scotland any more. So I can’t provide any first hand account of what is going on in the streets and around the schemes. However. I’m picking that this youtube video of Cat Boyd speaking at a public meeting in Lanarkshire probably captures something of the essence of where people in Scotland are at the moment.

Final word on this. I think it’s fair to assume the result will be fairly close. A ‘No’ vote – unlike in 1979 when the result of the devolution vote was monkey-wrenched by the then Labour Government in Westminster – will not mean that people get pissed off,  grumble and shuffle off home. Politics, real politics have been unleashed in Scotland this time round. And I just don’t think that’s going to be coming to heel any time soon. If you don’t believe me, go around youtube or various sites hosting videos of presentations and meetings and look, not just at the numbers of people in those audiences, but the make-up of those audiences.

46 comments on “September 18th”

  1. karol 1

    That speech by Cat Boyd on the video is pretty inspiring – not just re-Scotland but “brother to brother the world o’re, a man’s a man for a’ that” (leeway for the gendering of something written in the 18th century.) 307 years of union with England – it’s a long time to regain independence.

    Things she says like how Britain has failed the people economically socially and politically:

    Economically – the speculators etc. that caused the GFC

    Failed socially – poor standards of living, poor housing, the least happy children, and worst care for the aged.

    Failed politically- “public opinion” (IE of the focus group and poll obssesors there’s no parties in Westminster supporting the will of the majority as shown in several polls:

    12 to 1 against privatisation of the NHS; 66% backing rail nationalisation

    Austerity at home, war on the poor, war abroad. Britain is failing its people – and we are supposed to be celebrating some over-privileged royals come to visit us.

    • Bill 1.1

      It’s something I’ve been noticing in speech after speech and in debate after debate…the main thrust is avowedly anti-neoliberal and the broader picture being painted applies just as much to NZ as it does to Scotland within the UK.

    • Ennui 1.2

      I suspect that Union with England, Northern Ireland and Wales is a much broader issue than the things you have mentioned, such as the more recent neo liberal experience. Remember that same social experience is common to all Britons, not just Scots.

      Will breaking the Union reverse three hundred years of integrating the British economy, something achieved during the shared experience of industrialization, colonial imperialism, and now the end of Empire and post industrialism? Can the Scots go it alone? There is a very deep suspicion that breaking with the Union might leave Scotland a poor neighbour, with future Scots preferring the economic and social conditions south of the border.

      • Grant Cruickshank 1.2.1

        “Can the Scots go it alone? There is a very deep suspicion that breaking with the Union might leave Scotland a poor neighbour, with future Scots preferring the economic and social conditions south of the border”

        The Financial Times disagrees. Even without Oil Scotland would have the same economic strength as Italy. With it, we’d be equivalent to Germany, that impoverished, 3rd world backwater. I think it’s very likely to be the other way around: the English, already wondering why we have free prescriptions and eye tests, are going to be preferring conditions North of the Border. Life may become very difficult for Westminster politicians post-Independence.

  2. fisiani 2

    A Scotland with no pound, no right to be part of the EU, and no future. That’s why the vote will be a resounding NO.

    • Te Reo Putake 2.1

      Define ‘resounding’, fisi. The polls say the undecided are trending toward a no vote, which means a yes vote in the low fifties, as it stands. Maybe less on the day. Of course, there are some folk in NZ who think getting 47.31% constitutes a mandate, so ‘resounding’ could be quite a fluid concept.

      From YouGov:

      “Support for Scottish independence is at the highest level that YouGov has recorded to date, and the main reason is that Alex Salmond has started to shift opinion among Scotland’s women

      Our latest survey for The Times shows that 37% of all Scots would vote yes, while 52% would vote no.

      The ‘no’ vote has remained steady. This is the fifth survey that YouGov has conducted since early December. In each one, the ‘no’ vote has been 52 or 53%. But the ‘yes’ vote has been creeping up, from 33% before Christmas to 37% now, as ‘don’t knows’ have started to jump off the fence.

      When we exclude ‘don’t knows’ and count only those who take sides, the ‘no’ lead has slipped from 61-39% before Christmas to 58-42% today.”

      http://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/03/26/scottish-independence-women-push-yes-to-new-high/

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      No, that’s why it will be a resounding YES.

      • Richard McGrath 2.2.1

        God I hope it is a yes vote, with the result that all further subsidies from the English taxpayer are cut off for good, no pound, and the unlikelihood of Labour ever winning power over the Rest of the UK ever again. Sounds good to me.

    • ScottGN 2.3

      What a load of bollocks fisiani. The more Osborne, Darling and all the rest of the Better Together crowd bang on about the pound and try and scare Scotland the more the polls show the yes vote increasing. And all the threats of expulsion or non inclusion in the EU can be laid squarely at the feet of a very nervous government in Madrid worried that the independence gig might be catching and the the Catalans and Basques will redouble their efforts to break up Spain.

      • Bill 2.3.1

        heh – just found this doozy

        SCOTTISH independence would be welcomed by the “forces of darkness” around the world, former Nato secretary General Lord Robertson has said.

        http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-stories/independence-cataclysmic-claims-lord-robertson-1-3368814

        • Colonial Viper 2.3.1.1

          Yep…Death Eaters and Islamic Terrorists alike will be unleashed by a YES vote.

          I am hoping many more ordinary people now are managing to see the power elite’s increasingly shrill and contrived attempts at manipulating public opinion for exactly what it is: venal and self serving.

        • Grant Cruickshank 2.3.1.2

          Heh. Sorry, Mr Lord Robertson General, sir, but we know EXACTLY who the “Forces of Darkness” are in this debate; those trying by hook or by crook to bring Scotland back to subservient, impoverished heel once more.

    • Bill 2.4

      K-ryst fisiani. The pound is one of the assets of the UK…one of those things that will be negotiated over post independence. And in case you’re unaware, the so-called Treasury advice, that the pound would not be up for negotiation, and that all the Westminster parties crowed about as a death blow to the ‘Yes’ campaign has been dropped like a hot potato. Turns out it was merely an opinion of a single person and carried no official weight whatsoever. (Not that every part of the ‘Yes’ campaign wants the pound)

      As for the EU or NATO, well lawyers can argue those things I guess in light of what the population of Scotland wants. Again. The SNP position is simply one position among many in the ‘Yes’ campaign.

      Should also point out that the SNP could well likely dissolve come independence and split into constituent right and left factions. Some, I guess, would join a rejuvenated Labour Party free from the shackles of Westminster Labour while others would join ranks with the remnants of the Scottish Tory Party….among other options.

      As for a future. I guess the feeling (rightly or wrongly) is that the UK has no future. A resounding ‘No’ vote? That’s not even remotely likely. I believe the numbers are down to 5% or some such, while the undecideds are about 15%. Given that logically most undecideds are obviously not committed unionists, I’d say it looks like being a ‘Yes’ vote.

      Add in the fact that Salmond and the SNP are a hurdle to many voting ‘Yes’ and entertain the possibility of the SNP announcing it’s intent to dissolve in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote, and still more people will vote ‘Yes’.

    • Sanctuary 2.5

      Your craven colonial cringe would cause a hyena to blush. I can hear the fear resonating from your keyboard.

      Scotland. Without it, Britian wouldn’t be a United Kingdom and it wouldn’t be Great. it would just be Engliand, an overpopulated quasi-police state shithole. Without Scotland, England would be exposed economically for what it is.

      And what would be worse than an independent Scotland? A SUCCESSFUL independent Scotland. A thriving, successful, independent Northern European Scotland that is part of mainstream Europe in it’s social policies would spell utter disaster for the tiny Eton-Oxbridge elite from the south east who have run the rest of Great Britain into the ground in their utterly singled minded defense of the primacy of the city of London and it’s financial sector and with it their one sole claim the English still have to being a world power.

      A successful Scotland would cause all sorts of trouble in the depressed north of England. Uncomfortable questions would be asked, particularly if things like ship building returned to the Clyde. “If with new investment and canny technology they can build ships again in Scotland”, they would ask, “why is it we can’t make steel in Sheffield again”? Whither then the Midlands?

      • karol 2.5.1

        Maybe the northern borderlands will protest and ask for a referendum to join Scotland?

      • Bill 2.5.2

        erm Sanctuary…you might want to spare a thought for the Welsh and the Northern Irish there, when you talk about a ‘post Scottish independence’ UK …

      • thatguynz 2.5.3

        +100

      • Ennui 2.5.4

        Sanctuary, you have highlighted the power of the Cityy of London and its power elites of Oxbridge and Eton. Do you really think that they would willingly and easily take their hands off the reins of their Scottish operations? They have not done it in NZ and we are “independent”.

        Here in NZ we are at the periphery of the empire of capital markets, for example our meat industry has belonged to British families like the Borthwicks and Vesties, and their shareholding successors. London as a financial capital will treat Scotland the same way we are regardless of whatever regime the Scots install.

      • Ecosse=Maidy 2.5.5

        The Westminster Elite seem to want to reinforce how bloody lucky Scots are to be part of an un equal union, inspite of Scotland being a huge drag on The Union. So you would think the Westminster Dickheads would want Scotland to go as they handicap The Union?
        So why oh why, are they employing “Project Fear” to trying to get a NO vote and preserve the Union?
        Is it because dictator Cameron is really interested in the welfare of Scots socially and economically or is it because of the potential loss of the independent nuclear deterrent(that’s not so independent as it depends on American satelitte technology)?.This nuclear deterrent is currently parked on the Clyde at a cost of billions of pounds and just thirty miles away from Glasgow, the city of my birth .
        This base allows the UK to be a member of the BBTC..The Big Boys Toys Club and hold a permanent place on the security council of the United Nations.Imagine Cameron scared shitless that he will loose his place there and no longer be able to sit at the table with the likes of Putin and Obama and have veto rights.
        They could park it in the Thames couldn’t they?…That would be an idea..Though I doubt they would tolerate that…far too close to their English constituents.
        Imagine having weapons of mass destruction parked 30 miles from south Auckland!
        We would say no and Scots have a right to say no too.

  3. Philj 3

    xox
    We migrated to NZ 50 years ago for a better life. It was the right decision. We left behind, what is noo a depressed area. I will return, ad a tourist, hopefully to an independent Scotland. Pity aboot the north sea oil.Rabbie Burns was a yin’ o’ the greats.

  4. mickysavage 4

    I hope Scotland goes it alone. Although it will have significant repercussions for the UK Labour Party and will make England a more right wing place …

    • Bill 4.1

      …and will make England a more right wing place..

      Not necessarily. I’ve been hearing ‘Better Together’ Labour mps argue that because the Scottish working class have more in common with workers from around England and Wales than they have with Scottish Lairds etc, that they should reject independence. Thing is, apart from that being incredibly Stalinist, it’s as though those mps have never considered the inspiration offered by a good example. An independent Scotland just may energise the working class in England and Wales and threaten the continuation of neo-liberalism there too.

      Or even here in NZ.

    • Tamati 4.2

      I’m sure there are a few Tory backbenchers secretly hoping the rid themselves of the dastardly Scots. Without Scotland, David Cameron would have a comfortable majority and would be marginally ahead in the polls.

      The current system is pretty unfair to the Tories, Scottish MP’s have the right to vote in Westminster on legislation that will not apply to their constituents, essentially giving Labour bonus MP’s. The UK Labour party has very little in common with “middle England”, their last two PM’s and (prior to Miliband) four leaders of the opposition were all from outside England.

      • DS 4.2.1

        I’ll give you Brown, Smith, and Kinnock, but while Tony Blair may have been born in Scotland, he was a Yorkshire MP. Foot and Callaghan were the reverse (born in South-West England), but were MPs in Wales. Wilson, Gaitskell, and Attlee were born in England, and served in England.

        • Tamati 4.2.1.1

          I’ll concede that Blair was a bit of a stretch, but my point was that Scotland has been very influential in Westminster Politics.

  5. mickysavage 5

    One of my favourite movie scenes and very appropriate for a discussion of Scottish Nationalism …

    http://youtu.be/lEOOZDbMrgE

    • miravox 5.1

      I was in Aberdeen a couple of weeks ago, the gigantic William Wallace statue is carries several banners (I assume they’re referendum banners – but could be for the football ;-)) that state ‘free’. On the plinth are Wallace’s words…

      “When I was a youth, and under the care of my uncle, all that I could carry away from him was a single proverb, but it seemed to me above all price, and I never forgot it. It was this: ‘I tell you a truth, liberty is the best of all things. My son, never live under a slavish bond.”

      I think this quote resonates quite a lot at the moment, but whether it will carry the day remains to be seen. A lot of fear is being generated about what will happen if the vote is ‘yes’ – the pound, the EU. However, given the poor state of this city, that I would have thought would reflect the wealth generated from the North Sea oil, I can’t imagine that they’ll be much worse off as an independent nation.

      A lot of Scots in Aberdeen are of course, aware of the long-hidden, top secret, 1974 McCrone report on what oil would have done for an independent Scotland. The Noes fear that it is all far too late to count on what oil is left to spur an economic revival and not enough has been put forward to suggest there is a way forward.

      • Stuart Munro 5.1.1

        Scotland was the poorest country in Europe when it took the first steps down the path to what become the Scottish Renaissance. Knox or Hutcheson might be better constitutional models than Wallace, but Boyd’s speech shows there is yet more spirit in the least of the people of the north than in all the pallid bean counters in London. Or Wellington.

        This neo-liberal economics has become a paralyzing discourse – a conscious people can achieve great things – greater things I daresay than a few bits of cycleway and a supposedly breakeven budget. How on earth did our democratic heritage end up in the hands of such pitiful vermin.

        • miravox 5.1.1.1

          “Knox or Hutcheson might be better constitutional models “

          True, but they don’t have that succinct, romanticised quote under a giant statue…

      • Ennui 5.1.2

        The oil is gone so the arguments of what it could have done are really spilt milk. What is more significant is a line I heard that the rest of Britain would quite like Scotland out of the national budget as it produces less profit per capita and costs more in tax funding per capita (education, health, social welfare etc). if this is true the Scots will certainly be proudly worse off.

        • Stuart Munro 5.1.2.1

          Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the concept of a resource curse.

          Which country in the world has the highest standard of living, and what are its resources?

          Switzerland – a skilled manufacturing sector.

          Elites always steal the proceeds of resource wealth.

          • Ennui 5.1.2.1.1

            It could be a truly wonderful thing! We too could be un-cursed…….suspect all it does is leave you as impoverished without masters (unless you are Swiss of course…the country that invented toll barriers on mountain passes and mercenaries).

        • miravox 5.1.2.2

          I wouldn’t try telling some of the Scots I’ve talked with that the arguments over oil revenues are spilt milk ;-) How they feel about this will be factored into the vote, imo.

          “What is more significant is a line I heard that the rest of Britain would quite like Scotland out of the national budget as it produces less profit per capita and costs more in tax funding per capita”

          To be determined, I think…

          http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/6881

          http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2013/04/balance-sheet

          For a ‘bob each way’ analysis

          http://www.scotsman.com/news/balancing-an-independent-scotland-s-books-1-3099852 (the comments are quite interesting)

          I’ve also read (can’t find the link right now) that Wales is concerned about Scottish independence because Wales will be even poorer than now because there will be less money from Scottish tax receipts to redistribute… to Wales (and Northern Ireland).

        • Grant Cruickshank 5.1.2.3

          And yet David Cameron himself stated that future oil revenues will be worth 200 BILLION. Not bad for something “almost gone”. And that’s without taking into account the new oil fields that could develop, one near Shetland and another in the Clyde that would likely be looked at once the MOD is booted out of it.

          I’ve yet to see any sign of the oil firms based in Aberdeen pulling out in panic at the end of their revenues – if anything, they’re investing MORE.

  6. lurgee 6

    “it’s sovereignty”

    ITS sovereignty. Possessive pronouns such as his, hers and its do not require apostrophes.

    I’m Scottish and quite ambivalent about independence. I instinctively like the idea, but my brain keeps advancing objections. I think the referendum will result in a NO, but polls are narrowing. Just like in 1980, it has been designed to fail by Westminster. A referendum offering status quo, independence or enhanced devolution would have likely been a resounding endorsement of the last option. We Scots like to take things slowly.

    • karol 6.1

      It’s not surprising there is this ambivalence – it’s in Scotland’s historical legacy. I’ve been reading about Scotland lately (most of my ancestral lines go back to there). Basically, many in Scotland embraced Scottish imperialism in the late 18thth century following the success of the East India Company in London.

      Many of the Scottish business classes were attracted to the Union with England because of the commercial opportunities it offered. Some Scots feared Union in the 18th century, others welcomed it. And many Scots went on to embrace the dominant values of the British Empire, even while being all for the cultural values more dominant in Scotland related to a civil society: education for all, equal opportunities to rise up the status ladder, unionism, liberty for the working and labouring classes, etc. – the basis of Scots’ identity – basically egalitarian, humanitarian and for “freedom” – a liberal outlook.

      • Bill 6.1.1

        Scottish nobles and landlords embraced colonialism way before the late 18thC. The Darien venture bankrupted the bastards (and the rest of the country) and opened them up to English overtures for the Treaty of Union of 1707. The Treaty, essentially saved the arses of the rich.

        Other potted observations, also worth noting that the original UK Labour Party had Scottish home rule as a part of its constitution.

    • Bill 6.2

      Thanks for pointing that out lurgee. Apostrophes duly shot to hell.

      I agree that Devo Max would have produced an overwhelmingly positive result. Pushing a straight up ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ question for the referendum was, to my mind disingenuous. I find it interesting, given the question is for independence, that Alex Salmond would want to retain the pound. I haven’t looked into it, but there’s not so much independence when a foreign government controls the conditions around your currency.

      I’d have thought a wee quick look at the Euro and how its central control left Spain, Greece, Italy and who-ever no room for maneuver, would have been enough of a ‘heads up’ on that front and enough reason to develop another way forward.

  7. Not a PS Staffer 7

    “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken by Scottish independence.
    Wow!. Who would know that we are so important to world peace? Impressive for a people who are too wee, too poor and too stupid to run our own affairs.”

    One of the Great responses, in the Herald of Scotland, to a speech by the former UK Labour minister George Robertson. http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/referendum-news/george-robertson-scottish-independence-would-be-cataclysmic-for-the-west.1396945351

    Lord Robertson, the former secretary general of Nato, has provoked an angry response from Yes campaigners by claiming that Scottish independence would be cataclysmic for the West in an era of international turmoil.
    The former shadow Scottish Secretary, speaking in America, said a “debilitating divorce” after the vote in September would threaten the stability of the wider world.
    He said he believed the American administration was worried about the possibility of Scottish independence and urged the US to make its views public, along with all British allies.
    “What could possibly justify giving the dictators, the persecutors, the oppressors, the annexers, the aggressors and the adventurers across the planet the biggest pre-Christmas present of their lives by tearing the United Kingdom apart?” Robertson told the Brookings Institute on Monday.

    Robertson, like the majority of Labour MPs and leaders, is the secret weapon on the Scottish Independence Campaign

    • Ron 7.1

      Scotland could rename itself Scotkistan and then ask that nice man Putin to come in and help run the country.
      Heck those Nato bases could serve the Russian navy very well.

  8. Tracey 8

    Thanks so much Bill. Wow @ Cat Boyd. JUST WOW!!!!

    • Rosie 8.1

      +1 Tracey. What an amazing woman, a born leader, articulate and inspiring. Would like to see more of her in the future, when Scotland gains independence and fulfils it’s true potential. As she says “Its not just possible, it’s probable”.!

      A message in there for us too, in regard to the last 3 decades of our history: “Failure. Hope. Transformation”.

      I wonder how long it will take to count the votes after 18th September. We can look forward to A LOT of celebration here in NZ, for the Scots living here, and the descendants if the vote is YES, timed alongside a win for the Left here on the 20th September.

      You can do it Scotland!

      We can do it New Zealand!

  9. Gillian Ranstead 9

    Yes, thanks Bill, for posting this. As a descendant of the Scottish diaspora, I sometimes wonder what would happen if the untold millions of us were able to vote in the referendum. Me, I’d vote Yes as loud & long as I could.

  10. Banned 10

    Good On Ya Scotland !

    If Aotearoa / NewZealand can do it .. so can you !

    They might even send you a young Royal or two ..

    Now, about that cryptocurrency ..

  11. DS 11

    That this is even an issue is a direct legacy of Thatcher. It’s worth remembering that for over half a century before 1979, the Government in Westminister was the party that had achieved the highest vote in Scotland (apart from Heath in 1970). So Scotland got what it voted for, and generally voted much like England (if anything Scotland was more pro-Tory).

    Then Thatcher happened and destroyed Scottish industry, and the backlash destroyed the Scottish Conservative Party. When the Tories govern at Westminster now, they’re seen as a fundamentally English Party (specifically South-East England), so the SNP have had a field day playing off against Cameron and Osborne.

    However, seeing as the Tories are so weak in Scotland, Scotland leaving would utterly screw over Labour in the residual UK, especially Wales. Since Blair destroyed turnout among the working classes (seriously, Blair received fewer total votes in his 1997 landslide than John Major received in 1992), Labour would inevitably drift Right to compensate. Which means more neo-liberalism.

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