Generation X (2)

I had contact recently from someone believing that I was saying independence was a question of choosing an identity and this could be used by the No side to imply that Yes was about a kind of football-style sectarianism. Bloody hell! Read the blog.

My argument about Generation X is not about which identity you chose to define yourself but which country represents you.

There is no escaping the fact that next September we are confronting a straight choice and we are obliged to decide for one or the other. Either it’s Yes, so you express your national belief in the internationally accepted way by voting for statehood. Or its No, in which case you vote for Scotland remaining as a subset of a larger nation which retains all of the powers over you, leaving Scotland in a subservient position.

Where the argument gets mixed up is when we consider the implication of that No vote. It means, undeniably I think, that you prefer Britain to be the country in control of your affairs. Therefore you’re preference is for Britain rather than Scotland…not in place of Scotland but in overarching authority over Scotland.

The uncomfortable aspect is in what that means about your belief in your country. If you actively don’t think you’re country should have its nationhood returned then it seems to me you have placed a limit on your belief in, and commitment to, Scotland. That is, you’re saying: I love Scotland and I’m a committed Scot up to the point where you ask me to choose and then I opt for Britain.

You can call yourself anything you like including a Martian but it wont change the very direct challenge to every Scot this question presents. I suppose voting Yes can fairly be said to be as obvious a statement as you can make that you are Scottish but within that you will still be Asian, English, American etc as well, if that’s who you choose to be.

Voting No doesn’t stop you being a Scot. (Obviously). But it does mean you impose a limit on the depth of your expression of Scottishness because you’ve rejected Scotland as your nation – as defined by the UN – in favour of a different country. This referendum for the first time separates out these two concepts –Scotland and Britain – and confronts us with the choice. I agree that part of that choice will be determined by our sense of ourselves, which touches on identity, but asking people to pick which of the options best represents them is a long way from pinning down their identity or telling them they can’t be a Scot. I’m not interested in that.

But I think this nit-picking and tactical maneouvering – don’t give the other side ammunition – is clouding the issue. I find the debate has become legalistic, technocratic and rhetorically bloodless. I mean I understand the different economic options and am personally attracted to Common Weal. Robin McAlpine has been the one truly innovative contributor so far. But do you really think people will be moved to give up what they have now for a vaguely-defined tax and welfare Scandinavian system?

Nobody votes for independence to get an economic model. They vote for independence because they love their country and deeply desire it to prosper. You vote for independence because Scotland courses through your veins and gives you feelings of belonging, solidarity, and collective purpose.

You vote for independence because it is the logical expression of nationhood. It is essentially an emotional act. But in voting Yes you are also saying that there is a national purpose and that you want fellow Scots to determine which road we will travel after the act of independence. Everything, from Common Weal to Trident removal, is utterly dependent on a Yes vote first. They are meaningless without it.

Unless we can rouse Scots to feel there is a noble national cause, there is no chance this will be won. The lack of national passion is the missing element from this debate. That suits No down to the ground. And too many on the Yes side are playing their technocratic game, focussing on detail that only has meaning AFTER and IF there’s a Yes vote.

No wonder Scots are saying: Give me £500 and I’ll vote yes. This debate has been brought down to the level of: What’s in it for me? People respond accordingly.

We need to get on track with JFK and start asking what we can do for our country.

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0 thoughts on “Generation X (2)

  1. Excellent post, Derek.
    I am baffled by folk that say they need more information before deciding which way to vote.
    FFS! It’s simple! Do you believe Scotland is a normal country, or are we unique in the world, and we need another country to look after us?

  2. I’m voting YES because I’m Scottish not British and I want the country that I am a part of to have all the powers that a normal country has, not those that are ” given” to it by a foreign country. I also want to have the government that my fellow countrymen elect not one that is decided by another country.

  3. Well said Derek! Totally agree too much emphasis oh the minutiae without the challenge of the higher calling!

  4. Well said! No hiding place in the polling station.

  5. Nobody votes for independence to get an economic model.” I disagree with that to an extent. There are many reasons for voting for independence. For me there are three headline reasons.
    1) I have lost trust in the UK government after discovering they had used the official secrets act to hide the McCrone report. They tricked us into believing we were too poor to be independent to keep is in our place.
    2) I see it as an opportunity to avoid wasting billions on nuclear weapons we cannot use.
    3) We have areas of extreme poverty in Scotland that are not acceptable to me. For 1 in 3 children in some areas of Scotland to be raised in poverty is not acceptable.

    Just to contradict myself, having said all that, even if we would be worse off, I would still vote Yes. This isn’t about money

  6. It is very simple, who decides what is the best for us, ourselves or our neighbor.

  7. Derek is absolutely correct: trying to put forward a fact-based rational argument for separation isn’t going to work for the YESnp campaign. Mainly down to the fact that their facts are not in fact facts.

    Better by far to ramp up the identity politics and go for the grudge and grievance angle – a place where many on the YES side feel most at home.

    On a different note it’s still no consolation for the loss of Derek’s dulcet tones belting out ‘Scots Wha Hae’ of A Saturday morning but this wee blog goes some way in filling the gaping chasm left by him…

    Although yon wee (?) Kenny MacDonald is doing his level best to keep the Alba Liberation Front fire burning over at Pacific Quay…

  8. Murray McCallum

    Yes, independence is normal. Surrendering your country’s recognition in international law is abnormal.

  9. Grahamski, there is only one side ramping up the identity politics and going for the grudge and grievance angle, it is not the YES side, and you know it, classic deflection on your part. The only people who shout about how patriotic they are are the BT brigade. Our vision of an independent Scotland is one of inclusion, not ethnicity. But you know this too…

  10. Nice post Derek, and nice for some meat in the bones of the whole ‘how Scottish are you?’ thing. Invariably, I find that those, that are unionists, have a kitschy, small view of Scotland and their place in it. In contrast those of the independence ilk have a far broader and confident view of nation and self.

    It might just be my own personal bias but adding the above observation to your’s very simply means that Independence supporters are ‘more Scottish’ than Unionists. They hate that sort of statement and start ranting on about the politics of identity (even though they are usually the one that define people by ethnicity not by residence and a sense of civic inclusiveness, as we do largely.)

    Ours is the side of hope and the future, it must be a barren place that they inhabit – devoid of the sort of positive stuff that just makes you tick, you know, the get out of bed in the morning stuff, glass is half full, I am in charge of my own destiny, I will not wilfully piss my pants and expect someone else to clean it up….. I don’t get angry at them anymore, I pity them and see it as my mission to realign as many as possible 🙂

  11. I just can’t imagine not voting ‘yes’, under any circumstances. But, trying to convince one elderly man I know that his Post Office pension will be safe after independence is a hard job. He relies on it to live and wants to vote yes but is scared that because the headquarters are in London somehow they will be able to deprive him of it after independence. He doesn’t lack vision but is worried about the leap of faith. No good pointing him towards the ‘Yes’ website, like many other older people, he’s not computer literate and gets all his news from the msm. There will be lots like him needing more than an assurance that ‘it will all be ok’.

    • Does your elderly friend know that a lot of Old Age Pensions are paid out from Scotland not London.

    • Elizabeth – there is a very good post on WOS under the heading ‘Growing Older’ which would be easy to print out showing exactly what will happen to pensions in the current climate post indy.
      We all know that nothing is certain but it is every bit as certain as UK policy and also – I don’t know how old your friend is – but a No vote wil lmost likely lead to a stripping of powers from the SG and with that – an end to free care for the elderly

  12. I don’t think the national identity question is what makes me a Yes. True, I don’t feel British in the slightest — I would probably describe myself as Danish-Scottish — but what changed me from supporting federalism in the UK to supporting Scottish independence 100% was the realisation that the UK is broken — democratically, financially and morally — and there’s absolutely no evidence that it’ll ever be reformed because it’s working exceptionally well for the Westminster and City of London elites.

  13. What’s in it for me? My country,Scotland, it’s citizens and the sociable society WE aspire to be.

  14. Nope. If I thought that staying in the UK was more conducive to the economic and psychological wellbeing of those of us who live in Scotland, I would vote to stay in the union. I do not think that and will therefore be voting Yes.

  15. Re Elizabeth’s comment regarding the Post Office. I have it on good authority that Jo Swinton threw a hizzy-fit at Post Office HQ on being told that Scottish independence would make little, or no, difference to the running of the Post Office. She, or her superiors, obviously wanted them to give a statement stating the opposite. I cannot think why……….

  16. You do seem to have a way with words Derek – Nation v Notion
    This can be put quite simply as consideration of Scotland the Nation fory YES vote as opposed to scotland a notion for no vote.
    And I agree a lot of this is to do with passion for a place of the heart.

  17. England (as opposed to Britain) Has never understood Scotland and it has never tried to. I remember how the media used to talk down in stilted English accents and though the situation has improved somewhat that backward thinking hasn’t actually changed much just because it is now delivered with a homespun accent. Scotland has been a cash cow, a proving ground, but never a partner and it seems in my very humble opinion that were she allowed to govern herself to meet her own needs and serve her own people with full understanding of the Scottish way of life she will fare far better.

  18. Is that the grudge and grievance Grahamski that leaves me unrepresented over here in Falkirk? Where the Labour Party not only make the policies , they audit them too,so democracy Labour Party style. The Labour Party who parachutes people in to the area to represent the electorate , not because they have a vision for Falkirk but because of who they know, whose lack of leadership has allowed their party political problems to ‘ spill over ‘ into one of the areas biggest employers ? If wanting democracy to work for everyone not just the cronies in the area really is grudge and grievance politics well I’m aiming for something better than what your party has, is and will ever offer. Do you want me to start about your Party’s performance re fracking in Airth or what about the schools in the areas capacity , the list could go on except you call it grudge and grievance , the rest of us call it democracy . Your Party’s petty , narrow little minded ness is multiplied all over Scotland .What is wrong with people wanting something better, relevant to their lives and maybe even democratic , something those who have had it in their gift to implement over the last 50 years but decided the minority Labour Party was more important than all the people of Scotland . Tell me Grahamski if we vote no , name me one thing you and your friends in the Coalition ( democracy in action,except no one voted for a coalition ) will do to improve the lives of all of us living here- one thing? Then tell me one thing (that’s a fact not a myth I’m after ),that will make all the people in Scotland’s lives worse off ?

    • But but according to the new Labour doctrine as espoused by that ethistle to the Scotonians, the sainted Gordon Brown, who never got an ermine goonie either. We here in Scotland cannot have free education, prescriptions, bus passes, personal care, bridge tolls, and all the other goodies the SNP have “deliberately” showered on us, because they cannot have them in Bolton. How very dare we? This from the man whose favourite football moment was Gazzas gola against Scotland in Euro 96. If ever there were living breathing reason to vote Yes, they are the colonised bookends of Darling and Brown. The very sight of them induces the dry boak in me.

  19. William McIvanney at Wigtown last weekend put it thus; “I will vote YES next September with my heart and with my head. I see my heart as the horse, but my head as the Jockey”

  20. Totally agree Derek, excellent article…again !

  21. Sorry (iPhone) that should be worse off if we do vote Yes?

  22. Britain is not a country, just as my wife and I are not a single entity. Britain is a political marriage with one partner holding on to the purse strings too tightly with one hand while misspending badly with the other.

    The political Union of England and Scotland has let Scotland down economically and now, with a devolved Parliament in Edinburgh, and an SNP Government that has been performing well since coming to power, we have been given the opportunity to vote for more powers for our Parliament.

    My life will definitely not improve by voting NO in September 2014 and will probably get worse as Westminster and its Unionist parties seek parity between Scotland and England and remove the powers that England cannot afford due to the gross inefficiencies and wastefulness of Westminster.

    With full tax raising and spending powers and plans to create an oil fund for the future, I feel that the future for myself and my children can only get better.

    This is not about how Scottish you are but how you have a once in a lifetime (in fact several lifetimes) opportunity to improve the country where you live and to become a more equal and prosperous society.

    Scotland is a wonderful country and I feel confident that its people will see the light well before the big day and vote for a resounding YES.

  23. I find it odd that unionists (and I’m talking proper union supporters here, not simply anyone who will vote No) are so coy about admitting that this is how they think. Just as they’re so reluctant to be seen with the flag that they’re so desperate for us to remain under. If the union is truly good for Scotland and as popular as they keep telling us, why all the “proud Scots” crap?

    Oh yeah, it’s because they know most Scots aren’t actually pro-union, and are simply waiting for Yes to convince them.

  24. I agree there has been a lack of passion from the Yes side so far. I am not quite sure why that has been the case, whether it is deliberate (rational approach), or has just come about through nerves etc? The argument seems to be that a positive case always beats a negative campaign. I am not sure about that, given that we are heading for uncharted territory, in terms of deciding Scotland’s constitutional status in next year’s referendum. I would like to see the Yes campaign challenge the No campaign on the consequences of a No vote, and their lack of vision for Scotland’s future. To me it appears that Yes have been put on the back foot too much, even allowing for the fact that the media is overwhelmingly against independence. I am not sure whether the publication of the White Paper next month will make the Yes campaign be more effective, particularly in seizing the political agenda. I certainly hope so. I get the impression that some influential people in the Yes campaign are hedging their bets at the moment.

    • I’m about as confident as I can be that it is indeed all part of the plan. Blair Jenkins has stated before that every month of the campaign is planned out, and Nicola and others have talked about there being three main stages.

      I believe we’re entering that final stage. Dunno if you read Salmond’s interview with Robbie Dunwoodie in the Herald last month, but his combative tone seemed to signal a sudden upping of gears. I think we’ll start seeing more passion over the next year. In fact, it’s absolutely inevitable the closer the date with destiny gets.

      The White Paper will be the moment we all look back on years from now and say “that’s when it was won”. Well, hopefully!

  25. “Nobody votes for independence to get an economic model.”
    Part of the reason I will vote is to get rid of the existing socio-economic model.
    What path we take to replace the top down spivs and barrow boys wild west economic model is for the People of Scotland to decide and evolve.
    By the way, I may have missed the answer to this question if it were posed sometime earlier but;

    Why are there two Batemand blogs?
    1 drderekbatemann.wordpress

    Just askin, like.

    • wee folding bike


      One of the blogs might be a wee bit satirical. Have you noticed a difference in approach?

      Saw John Mason in Edinburgh Rd as I cycled into town this morning and said Hi. After I was past him I thought that I should really have shouted “Wee Folding Bikes say YES” so if you’re reading this Mr Mason consider it said.

  26. Reason is and ought to be a creature of the passions: so why imply that it is exclusively an emotional action?
    Is that even possible?
    It is emotional and rational.

  27. Grahamski Falkirk –

    “Better by far to ramp up the identity politics and go for the grudge and grievance angle” / specially when its justified eh!
    Just what does a No Campaign actually contribute in a positive way ? Name one actual polocy post vote that has come across from BT lot.

  28. That Grahamski feels moved to contribute suggests Derek’s blog is reaching far and wide. This is good 🙂

  29. I’m voting yes because i believe in Scotland an that there is a better way to do things (the SNP government have been proving that since 2007) Westminster and unionist politicians have no interest in doing anything better.

  30. To be frank, Mr Bateman, I disagree rather strongly with the assertion that a Yes vote is necessarily emotional. For me, it is absolute cold, hard logic.

    Right now, there is a naval base holding nuclear weapons less than 50 miles from our most popular city, which has a history of minor accidents, costs billions to run each year, and is likely never to be used for its intended purpose. I do not want Trident on the Clyde: since independence is the only viable option to remove those weapons, it is only logical to vote yes.

    Right now, the government has withheld information relating to the the wealth of North Sea oil, and halted exploration of possible oil sources on the Firth of Clyde. This not only underplays the wealth of Scotland, but the entire UK as well in the process. It is not logical to vote to continue voting for a government such as this when there is an alternative.

    Right now, 1 in 4 children are raised in poverty in Scotland, UK government legislation actively demonises and harasses the poor and disabled, and increases the inequality gap. None of the major Westminster parties are promising to change this beyond meaningless platitudes. It is not logical to vote for a government such as this when there is an alternative.

    Right now, Scotland is governed by a UK government they overwhelmingly rejected, yet as 8.4% of a population which did vote for the government, they will always be at the mercy of a much larger majority. It is not logical to vote to remain in a situation where 5.3 million people will not be represented by their government.

    Right now, Scotland is a country that is not in complete control of its own affairs, yet has a separate health service, a separate education system, a separate legal system, their own football team, distinct languages, a distinct culture, and even a distinct currency. It is illogical for this state of affairs to continue.

    If I thought any of those things would be more possible in the UK than through independence, I would vote no. If I knew there was the possibility that the UK could abolish nuclear weapons, be clear about the wealth of its own resources, reduce poverty, increase the quality of welfare, alleviate inequality, introduce adequate representation on a government level, and allow as much control over its many resources as any other country, then I’d vote for it. But this is not the case.

    Independence is not just a matter of the heart, it’s very much a matter of the head. I agree that passion for the idea of a Scottish nation is indeed a good thing to pursue, but I absolutely don’t think it’s the only way to reach the people.

  31. Roibert a Briuis

    Nice one Derek, my ultimate nightmare would be to discover that we are ‘just’ 90 minute nationalists

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