Thursday, 19 May 2011

He'll Not Take The High Road Or the Low Road But His Own Road



After a stunning SNP victory two weeks ago, yesterday Alex Salmond was re-elected as First Minister, by 68 votes to zero, with 57 abstentions.

Since the 6th of May he must have found some amusement in the response of the shocked unionists.  The MSM found themselves unable to comprehend why a system, which was purposely designed by Labour to ensure the nationalists would never have a majority in the Scottish Parliament, proved 'not fit for purpose' and rather than address the system's failing, they decided to home in on the SNP's flagship policy of independence.

The very word independence brings out the worst in unionists and they have difficulty uttering the word, so separatism is the unionist description or the newly created independence-lite which Union supporters have yet to define.  Building a case to provide evidence for an argument is sensible and it's a good idea to have a strong structure.  Such frameworks aren't formed overnight and Alex Salmond will move at his own pace.

His patience with the media has been remarkable particularly when this style of article  has been appearing in the press, accompanied by the usual ill-informed comments and vitriolic remarks. Let me say I don't have a problem whatsoever with unionists putting forward sensible argument, but if Mr Letts is an example of the unionist argument, Scots who do think we could manage our own affairs will be boosted by the weakness of it.

Today's Scotsman has the headline 'Alistair Darling tells SP to hold independence vote now'.  A sad attempt to provoke Alex Salmond.

For those who prefer a less emotive argument The Economist puts forward its views plus Mandeleine Bunting looks at Scotland from a different angle. Readers who live outside Scotland may find Alan Trench's piece 'Understanding Scottish Nationalist thinking' enlightening.

It's certainly not going to be any easy task persuading Scotland to vote for independence because few people like change and in addition there are many issues which need thorough public debate such as the military and EU, but if the First Minister remembers his promise to let the people have their say and listen, then his challenge will be much less arduous.  

Good luck to him.  His road may be winding and long but who's to say it's any better than the high road or the low road?  Only the Scottish people.

56 comments:

Captain Ranty said...

"...so separatism is the unionist description..."

Is it just me or do others get a negative vibe about that word "separatism"?

I much prefer independence. It's clean and it's final. Much more positive.

CR.

petem130 said...

We've already witnessed the need for word changing. Global warming became climate change (when no warming happened. We've also seen socialism become New Labour and now Conservative (Call me Dave is not a Conservative).

Independence is the correct word. No need for change. If the MSM jump on the separatist word or any other it will further signal their allegiance with Westminster.

It's going to take longer than 5 years to convince those unconvinced by the independence argument. Again the MSM will signal their loyalties in the words the print. They've pretty much printed all the tosh and falsehoods about Scotland financial position and how we'd be poorer and couldn't possibly function as a nation (maybe we;d be so poor we'd stop buying their rags).

Alex may well structure a independence vote on the basis of incremental steps. Increase the rate of power returning to Scotland, gibe our MSPs something to really get there teeth into and demonstrate their abilities to govern fairly in a manner which benefits the whole of Scotland.

Apogee said...

Hi SR,I wonder if the Unionists pause to think for a moment that there are a lot of people in England who want their own parliament,because they deeply resent the last shower that (mis) governed in Westminster.They want to govern themselves which is an ideal I agree with.
I think we should all work towards home rule for the English, think it would work well on both sides of the border.

subrosa said...

Couldn't agree more CR. :)

subrosa said...

Of course the unionists have been using emotive words for years petem - 'divorce' 'split', 'division' etc.

You think it will take longer than 5 years? Maybe so but I think Alex Salmond will be nearly there by then. If some folks around my age decided to go for it before we kickup daisies that would make a great difference. :)

subrosa said...

I've always supported an English parliament Apogee but not enough English do unfortunately. That is the solution though.

William said...

"Of course the unionists have been using emotive words for years petem - 'divorce' 'split', 'division'"

Because that's exactly what it is!

The Nationalists belief, their core belief is that they want to separate Scotland from England.

It is plainly a divisive policy. There's no other way to describe it. Nationalists obviously won't like it being described in such plain terms but that's just tough.

Why is it 'provocative' to ask for a referendum now?

We seem to be in the strange position of Nationalists being frightened of their own policy.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

It's simple really - I'm committed to democracy and Westminster, its institutions and establishment have failed not only to maintain it but by their practices and corruption are de-constructing it.

For Scotland independence is the foundation from which the re-construction of democracy can be designed and built.

Its mortar for that build is formed by the concept of the people being sovereign and responsible for the inherent quality of the bond it produces.

Arguments over economics, administration or alliances are subjective semantics that serve no purpose other than distractions to suit the interests of the status quo.

For Scotland the choice is simple - choose freedom, with all the democratic responsibilities that brings, or serfdom to Westminster with all its allegiances to the elites of power and plutocracy.

William said...

"For Scotland independence is the foundation from which the re-construction of democracy can be designed and built."

Richly comic.

It used to be anti-English nationalism; then it was 'we want to be part of the EU' nationalism; then it was Celtic Tiger nationalism; then it was 'if you hate Labour, vote for us' nationalism; now it's 'we'll save democracy' nationalism.

But it's always nationalism.

Utterly shameless!

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

William - Shame! No, sorry, not aware of any.

Perhaps I should have inserted an 'it's' between 'of and democracy' for the sake of definition but if you are content with the quality of democracy presently afforded by Westminster then, to my mind the 'shame' is all yours.

Doug Daniel said...

William - "The Nationalists belief, their core belief is that they want to separate Scotland from England."

Unionists like yourself will never understand why Scots want independence. Talking about separating Scotland from England is to suggest that the whole thing revolves around England. It doesn't. Do children grow up and leave home because they want to "separate" from their parents, or is it because they want to make their own decisions and be the masters of their own destiny?

For centuries, Scotland has been like a petulant child. Over the past few years, Scotland has reached adolesence, and from there has suddenly matured very quickly, just like teenagers do. It's now time to leave the family home. We'll still maintain a very close relationship, but we'll do things our own way now, because we have a better idea of what we want and need. Trying to stifle that will merely breed contempt, and lead to a very ugly fallout somewhere down the line.

When Scotland votes "yes" to independence (whenever that may be), we won't be digging up the border and pushing Scotland out into the North Sea, away from England. However, the way unionists over-react and talk about "separatism" and "divorce", you would think this is exactly what will happen.

As for being scared of their own policy, if Alex Salmond had declared on the 6th May that the SNP would be bringing the referendum forward, unionists would be the first to accuse him of going back on his promise to hold it in the latter half of parliament, and attempting to sneak independence in under a wave of pro-SNP good feeling. Don't you worry, you'll get your chance to vote against independence soon enough.

Clarinda said...

It has been said by others, and I agree, that if the truth comes out about the decades - or is that centuries - of lies, subterfuge and deviance delivered by Westminster in reference to the potential of Scotland .... then what whoppers have been hidden about similar tactics of their own dear Mother of all Parliaments in fooling the English - it's little wonder that the unionist coterie are getting a little paranoid in their diatribes against their exposure through Scottish Independence.

William said...

"Do children grow up and leave home because they want to "separate" from their parents, or is it because they want to make their own decisions and be the masters of their own destiny?"

Why do Nationalists persist with this patronising drivel?

Scotland is not a 'petulant child'. It is a 1,000 year old nation that is involved in a legitimate political union with another country. There is no 'growing up' or 'maturity' required. We're perfectly mature, perfectly grown up, thanks.

"However, the way unionists over-react and talk about "separatism" and "divorce", you would think this is exactly what will happen."

No-one thinks that. Your gross exaggeration isn't even particularly amusing.

What we see here is another Nationalist confusion. They simultaneously push independence whilst saying it won't make any difference, there will be no separation, division on these islands. This is a barefaced lie.

The SNP policy is a divisive one. It's one that would separate Scots politically, culturally, economically and socially from everyone else on these islands. That is a fact. If the SNP want it, they should at least have the courage (ha!) to tell people what it would mean. It would be momentous and would split these islands in two. Anyone who says otherwise is lying to the Scottish people.

"unionists would be the first to accuse him of going back on his promise to hold it in the latter half of parliament"

Aw diddums. I see it now. Salmond didn't want to go through with it now because he feared criticism from unionists. It makes perfect sense.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

William - any 'petulance' on display is all yours.

Calm down - we will still have to live together on this planet.

William said...

"any 'petulance' on display is all yours."

This might work if it was me that introduced the 'petulance' angle.

It wasn't.

It was Doug.

Apogee said...

Hi William. It all started with the Darien scheme, which was a reasonable concept but without the technology and medicine to make it possible.England consorted with others in the area to make it impossible to succeed.
When the people who had backed the scheme were about to go bankrupt the were offered a way out, literally give away their country to England for some money, and being typical rulers of the time, they did.
The ordinary people of Scotland didn't even know it was happening, so no more pretence that the union of the parliaments was welcomed by both sides. It was a shotgun marriage at best, others would say it was rape. It ended in ethnic cleansing, mass dispersal of a lot of the population of Scotland all over the world. By luck many survived and eventually their families prospered, many did not.
We have been subjected to 300 years of rule from Westminster,and most of the time it was to Westminster's advantage.So now we would like to consider Independence,which was stolen from the nation 300 years ago.Why should we not have even the chance to consider it.

Doug Daniel said...

William, it's interesting that you accuse me of being patronising, and yet you persist with this line of argument that takes people for fools. In what way is it SNP policy to split the British Isles up culturally and socially? Scotland already has a far more defined cultural identity than England does, and I'm not entirely sure how independence would affect social structures. Politically, we're already half-way there anyway, since we have devolved powers and have always had our own education and law systems. Independence is about taking it that little bit further and getting the full range of political and economic powers, and having any shared institutions decided on what is best for both parties, rather than being imposed upon Scotland.

It's not about dividing things up, and the negative, destructive undertones that kind of language implies. One divided by two is a half, not two, and the result of independence will not be half a nation. Independence is about taking one nation and creating two nations from it (and eventually three and four, depending on when Wales and Northern Ireland follow suit).

You say I'm exaggerating your point, but the picture you're painting is of an isolated country, cut off from its neighbours. If that's not what you mean, then perhaps the point pro-independence supporters like myself are making - that words like "separatism", "divisive" and "divorce" are loaded terms used to conjure up negative images - is correct?

William said...

Apogee, it’s reasonable to assert that the Darien scheme did require a bail out of Scotland. It is one of the tenets of Scottish Nationalism that it asserts Scottish ability to run our own affairs whilst attributing our failures to other nations. The Darien scheme was a Scottish failure. However, it happened 300 years ago so the Union is no less legitimate for it and Scotland was no less successful regardless of the circumstances of the birth of the Union. Scottish people have not been ‘subjected’ to rule – they have voted for it legitimately so.

Doug, you may wriggle about but the policy is divisive, regardless of how negative you think that term. If you have a Union and then you break that Union apart, you split it, you separate it, you divide it. That’s a fact. There’s no other way to describe it that is honest and truthful. Scotland will be cut off from its neighbours. For example, if Scotland insists on controlling its own immigration policy – as it almost certainly will do – England will almost certainly have to introduce border controls in order to manage its own immigration policy as Scotland may be used as a backdoor to England. So free movement amongst the people of this island will no longer exist. That’s the SNP policy.

Another example, how will Scotland support public broadcasting particularly the BBC, an important content producer and provider? We’ve all seen what’s happened with STV which is now a UK national joke. There is simply no way that Scottish licence fee payers will be able to fund the BBC output as it stands. So what will happen? Do we get a watered down version of all the BBC channels and radio stations? A BBC-lite? Or even worse, do we just get BBC Scotland? What happens to those content producers in Scotland who would have found the market in London pretty much closed off to them and, in turn, the international market much further away? If there is no gateway to UK and international broadcast then Scottish ‘cultural identity’ (whatever the hell that is!) can go and play with itself in the corner for all that anyone will notice. So, culturally, Scotland would be significantly diminished in this scenario. That’s the SNP policy.

When you actually stand back and look at our tiny island on a map, you realise just how utterly absurd the SNP position actually is. It’s as if the West End of Glasgow declared that it wanted to become independent from the rest of Glasgow and operate on its own. It’s actually insane.

petem130 said...

Yes there are some parts of independence that need clarification.

Losing the BBC isn't one of them. Lots of countries get BBC content free and they are not part of England. More interestingly is what about the license fee? Well simple really. There should be none. The BBC is no fan of Scottish Independence.

If STV is a national joke then it's a job for Alex and his cultural people. It's all part of growing up and getting things right.

My repeating question to anyone who say that Scotland costs the English taxpayer is why? Why would the English tax payer of the UK government support such a thing? Charity? Seems very unlikely.

I think the loss if Scotland to the UK would, at least in the shorter term have an impact on England which wouldn't be as positive as they will admit. Not least because of oil etc. but in other ways too.

Anon said...

The aim of nationalism should be to make a country happy, peaceful and prosperous; and to prevent the country from being looted and pillaged.

- Aangirfan

Nikostratos said...

Subrosa

Yep! 'His road may be winding and long' and it leads all the way up the garden path.

Anyway the way Alex is describing Independence these days is not the form you have been bangging on about these many long years now is it

Jo G said...

I think many English people don't find it necessary to campaign for English independence. I think they genuinely believe they already have an English parliament at Westminster.

Andrew BOD said...

Cut adrift. Floating aimlessly around the North Sea.

Going Cold Turkey after the benefits and handouts dry up.

Being refused entry to the EU whilst poorer, recently war-torn Balkan states gain entry.

In danger of being invaded by a large foreign power without the protection of the British Armed Forces.

Utterly bankrupt asking for bailout after bailout.

The BBC is snatched from our screens and we are left with no TV. (Not even River City)

We become a one-party state where Herr Salmond rules with an iron fist using state TV and a national police force to enforce his corrupt will.


OR DO WE JUST GET REAL AND BECOME A NORMAL SOVEREIGN COUNTRY JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER NORMAL SOVEREIGN COUNTRY.

cynicalHighlander said...

William should stop reading British history as actual facts are not as he portrays.

Westminster will do whatever it can get away with to justify their stance.

Apogee said...

One thing in particular I am VERY enthusiastic about is the idea of supplanting the BBC with a Scottish controlled version. I would hope that we would get honest ,balanced reporting, and no more ignoring news items because they are Politically Incorrect and dont suit the bias of the BBC. And those afraid of losing their "favorite" BBC programs , there is always the Sky Satellite System.
One would hope that if we still had a licence fee to pay, we would at least get some value for money, which does not happen now.

subrosa said...

No William, as far as I remember the SNP's core belief is that Scotland should look after her own affairs. Of course part of that means that they are no longer subservient to London.

The headline didn't say Darling asked but 'tells'. Hence I consider that provocation.

subrosa said...

I think the meaning of democracy these days is rather different to ours Crinkly.

subrosa said...

Aye Clarinda, wouldn't it be great if we could 'return' just for one day in 100 years' time to see the evidence.

subrosa said...

Yes petem, quite a bit needs clarification and discussion. I think Alex Salmond has the message now though.

subrosa said...

Exactly Anon.

subrosa said...

Niko, but what a lovely view there will be at the end of the path.

I'd disagree Niko. It's only the SNP EU policy which seriously concerns me right now.

subrosa said...

Some do and some don't Jo, but the majority see no need for an English parliament because of the balance of power.

subrosa said...

We just get real Andrew.

subrosa said...

He should CH. Good link that one.

subrosa said...

Apogee, I'm for that too. We need a campaign...

William said...

"No William, as far as I remember the SNP's core belief is that Scotland should look after her own affairs. Of course part of that means that they are no longer subservient to London."

'Subservient'? What a joke! And you have the barefaced cheek to complain about unionists using emotive language.

Okay, I'll run with it. Why should Glasgow or Aberdeen be subservient to Edinburgh in an independent Scotland?

"The headline didn't say Darling asked but 'tells'. Hence I consider that provocation."

What would you prefer? Pleads?

douglas clark said...

William,

Lets turn the case on it's head here, shall we?

You make out the case for continuing the union. As far as I can tell there isn't one and you certainly haven't spelled it out.

William said...

I don't have to offer an argument not to rip my country apart.

How curious.

Just as it's up to Sinn Fein to convince people in NI to tear up everything they have, and not for the people of NI to convince Sinn Fein otherwise, the onus is on the SNP to convince people in Scotland that economic, cultural and social isolationism is in their interests.

William said...

If Alex Salmond was genuinely interested in what the Scottish people thought, saw himself as a servant of the Scottish people, then he would hold a referendum to find out the desires of the Scottish people so soon after his party were elected to office.

However, he secretly fears that he would lose the referendum right now so he doesn't want to hear the thoughts of Scottish people. He's interested in their views insofar as they agree with his.

This is why Nationalism usually leads to civil war.

subrosa said...

William, if David Cameron was genuinely interested in the Scottish people he would announce which air bases are to be closed. Thousands are being put through the mill by the indecision.

So only nationalists go to war? Auch what a misinformed statement.

William said...

In an independent Scotland, SR, all the air bases would be closed. So you can't be that concerned about them.

Anyway, that's whataboutery. A defence review takes time to weigh up the pros and cons. Salmond's independence referendum takes five minutes to draw up.

It's not only nationalists that go to war but civil wars usually involve nationalists.

douglas clark said...

William,

"I don't have to offer an argument not to rip my country apart.

How curious."

Well, it is unionists that are on the back foot right now. Perhaps you could come up with a convincing case for retaining the current arrangements?

Mayhaps you can't.

It is that weakness in your argument that lets you down.

In my opinion.

Sub Rosa has the measure of you.

Incidentally, you are a nationalist too William, of the Brit Nat flavour. Nothing wrong with that, but at least recognise yourself for what you are.

William said...

"Well, it is unionists that are on the back foot right now. Perhaps you could come up with a convincing case for retaining the current arrangements?"

On the back foot? Last time I checked we were still part of the UK and Salmond didn't want to have a referendum because he feared the result. Yes, unionism is in retreat.

There's no argument to be had. It's like demanding an argument as to why the United States should remain the United States. 'Ah-ha! You don't have an argument! We should break the United States up, then.'

Your demand is illogical.

"Sub Rosa has the measure of you."

Sho doz.

"Incidentally, you are a nationalist too William, of the Brit Nat flavour."

A common fallacy offered by Nationalists when they become embarrassed at being Nationalists.

No, I'm not a 'British Nationalist', thanks.

douglas clark said...

"No, I'm not a 'British Nationalist', thanks."

Well, how would you describe yourself William?

You are certainly not a Scottish Nationalist. What are you then?

William said...

I'm a unionist. It shouldn't be that difficult to work out.

subrosa said...

Now William how do you know that? Perhaps Scotland will chose to have an air force, army and navy; we'll know when public discussions begin.You don't know any more than me at present.

I think your comment about nationalists being responsible for wars is ludicrous. Have a wee look at history.

Are you saying David Cameron, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are nationalists? They're warmongers right enough but I wouldn't call them nationalists.

How long will the unionist camp take to draw up their campaign? Ah, it's already done. A blank sheet of paper.

ps I do admire your courage and tenacity.:)

subrosa said...

I know you're a unionist William but your argument is very thin. Surely you can come up with something better than nationalists are always responsible for war?

William said...

Your misrepresentaion of my statement, SR, is dishonest. I merely observe that 'Nationalism usually leads to civil war' not that all wars are caused by Nationalism. This difference has now been pointed out to you more than once.

Read 'Notes on Nationalism' by George Orwell -

'Nationalism is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.....Some nationalists are not far from schizophrenia, living quite happily amid dreams of power and conquest which have no connection with the physical world.'

Perhaps an independent Scotland, free of NATO and nuclear weapons, will choose to build an air force and retain all existing military bases. I wouldn't go counting on it if my livelihood depended upon these bases (see above).

subrosa said...

I'm certainly not being dishonest William and I refuse to accept your insult.

You stated 'This is why Nationalism usually leads to civil war.' which to me means nationalists are the causes of wars. No?

Funnily enough I've just finished reading that on my iPad. Not only nationalism is inseparable from the desire for power but wealth is (if I remember what he wrote).

The debate about the military has yet to take place but I may write my thoughts shortly.

Why is it you prefer to be governed by another country? Don't you think we're capable of making our own decisions up here?

William said...

Again, you repeat the dishonesty. Not all wars are civil wars.

It is a childish argument to claim we are 'governed by another country'. Scots are active participants in the UK political process as voters, civil servants, researchers, MP's and even Prime Ministers. The idea that Scotland is subject to 'foreign' rule is simply another Nationalist lie. Scotland is best served by being part of a greater political, economic and cultural society. If you want to think big, you need to be part of something bigger. If you're small minded, you want to retreat and put up the barriers. Isolationism is a dead end. Our ancestors realised it 300 years ago. It's a pity some of our number seem unwilling to recognise this plain fact.

cynicalHighlander said...

The tenacity of a terrier William how can 50- 60 MPs against 600 others be having a voice. As you believe that bigger is better why did the USSR collapse it wouldn't be that decisions made in the distance didn't suit all regions causing disquiet throughout.

Why not put up a post on "The benefits of the Union" as we many have been asking for years as the silence has been deafening from hardline unionists as yourself.

subrosa said...

I know not all wars are civil wars William and I'm not repeating any dishonesty as I've said nothing which is dishonest.

No it's not childish in the least. Scotland is a nation and so is England. Until around 50 years ago the union worked reasonably well but the world has changed a great deal since then and it seems sensible for nations to make their own decisions.

Switzerland isn't big. Spain is. Which is more successful?

There you are again with emotive language 'isolationism'. All countries are reliant upon others to a degree. You think Scotland would be shunned by the rest of the world if we had independence (thus your isolationism comment)? I don't.

I'm not saying we'll make a great success of independence, that will depend on the people and how successful they wish it to be.

One thing's for sure William I'm certainly not small minded. Have you ever wondered why England doesn't want rid of us since most English think they keep us financially?

subrosa said...

Now that's an idea CH.

William, if you'd like to write the reasons for Scotland staying in the Union then I'd be delighted to publish it separately.

McGonagall said...

I can't be arsed reading all the drivel that people spout. Unionist/Separatist give me strength. Scotland will have a future determined by the EU. We will do as we're telt. The SNP says so.

McGonagall said...

"He'll Not Take The High Road Or the Low Road But His Own Road" - he'll take the road he's telt. The myth of independence within the EU?

subrosa said...

His road does seem to go via Brussels McGonagall but surely the EU has to be publicly debated. I'd be most disappointed if it wasn't.

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