Stop Right There

Nine months to go and it is time to make a stand. 2014 is the turning point and the moment we stop, turn and confront. In the time left those of us who believe in Scotland’s independence have to do more than resist. We have to return the challenge with interest and make this the year when the Union is examined in relentless detail, when its worth is questioned and its agents pressurised. A campaign is about winning and that takes more than effort. It requires unremitting focus and dedicated resolve. If we want to win we must risk it all and channel our belief in the cause to one end. There will never be a better chance in our lifetime and the omens are good.

Let’s begin with the Unionist campaign. It isn’t led by the ragbag of Better Together – that is the PR front that feeds the open mouths of the media – it is commanded by the British state which has never been more aware in peacetime that is under threat. At the helm of HMS Britannia is its political master and commander the Prime Minister who directs its strategy, approves the campaign measures and bankrolls with taxpayers’ money the whole operation. We must not be diverted by the idea that a Conservative leader would leave the continuing existence of the state in the hands of a Labour backbencher or a backroom Labour Party fixer. Alistair Darling and Blair McDougall are, like their party itself, expendable dupes in the hands of an establishment determined to keep the rigid order of a class-based society in place. Any socialist or liberal social democrat with Scotland at heart would have started their own save-the-union movement and won over civic Scotland by devising a coherent plan for new powers for Holyrood, committing itself to reform of government throughout Britain and demanded a second question to validate its strategy. There would be no need for the Tories to be anything other than bystanders and, in the current Westminster arrangements, the Lib Dems could justifiably be treated the same and left to shout from the sidelines.

A Labour Party with vision would have kept a Tory–led government at arm’s length and refused to have any formal agreement with it. It would have been free to acknowledge or reject any reports emanating from the British government. It would have applied the “Labour values” they talk so proudly of to the fat cheques from right wing zealots, landowners, financiers and morally bankrupt corporate types who see their personal interests at risk. A real Labour Party would be running its own campaign after consulting the membership, getting the unions to agree and recruiting the civic organisations. With a version of devo max it would be running away in the referendum opinion polls and overtaking the SNP on the Holyrood polls. This period from 2011 to September 2014 could have been the nursery from which a renewed Labour could have grown and burst triumphantly into life on referendum day.

Instead their Scottish leader stumbles through gaffe-ridden speeches which deny Labour’s own history and principles and remains stubbornly invisible to nearly half the voters. Their anointed front man has the charisma of an undertaker at graveside, is derided by the London elite and gets a standing ovation at a Tory conference. He and McDougall are reduced to talking like anti-Scottish Tories who patronise their own country, pumping out the same message that flows from the darker edges of the Tory backbenches – that Scotland is nothing without England and couldn’t play it is part in the world without the superior savoir-faire of London.

That is what they believe – that it’s just silly to imagine Scotland could operate as a normal small state when their life experience is that money, privilege and success are found only in London. That’s why they went there in the first place, because that’s how Britain is organised with talent and resources pouring into London and once there, they look back at home and shake their head at how insignificant it all is. Alistair could have returned as a leading MSP and minister at Holyrood in 1999 but like all those others, Brown included (who even rejected a first junior ministerial posting to the Scottish Office because he wasn’t interested in his own country), he scoffed at the idea…too demeaning.

The message isn’t so much that all Unionist political opinion is united in one campaign, it’s that Labour regards the Union as greater than the needs of the people who vote for it. It will sacrifice the unemployed, the poor, the hungry, the vulnerable, the disabled, the homeless, the asylum seeker, child in poverty and the struggling family in order to save the Union. What mystical power does this creaking alliance have for socialists? The answer appears to be very little because the true Left in Scotland is heavily committed to Yes, be it the Greens, the Socialists or individuals who once belonged to Labour. It is only the old, statist, establishment-loyal Labour and their friends among the trades union leaderships that prefer the public school/private finance Britain to egalitarian Scotland.

But as the research on the British Social Attitudes Survey discovered, there are now signs that Labour voters don’t agree. They know instinctively their party is wrong and are open to the independence message. Many are prepared to adopt an independent Scotland if they can be persuaded to ditch the Labour baggage that has always shaped their voting intentions. They don’t buy their own party’s message about Scotland but aren’t ready yet to vote for what they perceive as an SNP project. But they are poised. They can be persuaded. Further declarations like those of John Mulvey, Charlie Gray and Alex Mosson will shake the floor under Labour.

A constant focus from now on will be on David Cameron who is sounding increasingly implausible as leader, even among his own supporters in England, bemused that he isn’t even prepared to take their antipathy to independence into the studio to confront Salmond. How can the Unionists claim the facts are on their side, the case is being won and it’s now only a matter of how they win by, when their figurehead shirks his chance to press home the advantage in the clearest fashion modern media provides and in an area of expertise – public speaking and debate – at which he excels? How can the man who pushed his way in to the referendum and insisted on its conditions and  signed the Edinburgh Agreement professing to speak for the majority of Scots, back away when he’s invited to answer to those same Scots?  I think he will be obliged to concede defeat, not by Scotland but by England and a startled London media incredulous as the opinion polls tighten. Salmond’s offer should be to debate with Darling but only after he has debated with Cameron. Such a debate has two consequences – one, Cameron’s actual knowledge of and professed interest in Scotland will be exposed to Salmond’s advantage and two, Labour voters will see in action in their living rooms and on the bar-room wall who really represents and speaks for them in this debate – an upper class Tory running a vicious cost-of-living campaign against them, a man made rich by a banker father who amassed his millions helping the wealthy avoid paying their taxes in this country. The leadership may not care, but Labour voters do. Forget Alistair Darling – himself a private-educated, wealthy and still high-earning MP – the real leader is Cameron who represents everything Labour people vote against. Indeed, vote against the rich self-interested Tories has been part of Labour’s own election message for the last 30 odd years. Now they are saying: Listen to him. He is right.

These contradictions on the No side will disentangle more as the parties compete for votes in the European elections when the London-based politicians will forget Scotland and resort to arguing with each other and we will see how united they really are and how likely it is, after a No vote, that they will come together and commit to an agreed package of powers for Scotland. I am writing to my (Labour) MP asking her to request the British government to get a legal assessment from Brussels on Scotland’s EU membership, as the Commission promised it would provide. I am no longer accepting that Unionists say there is uncertainty over the EU while they decline the Commission’s invitation to get a formal ruling. This transcends the debate…it is a question of democracy that we are informed fully before we vote. I think this has the potential to push London into retreat if enough of us demand an answer, along with the Scottish government, and no democrat of any party can deny this information is our right. It may be an issue for to gage support. This is the year of the fight-back.

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48 thoughts on “Stop Right There

  1. Bugger (the Panda)

    For me the giveaway was the list of donors to the No campaign. All Tory self servers and effectively too equally front men for the real figures behind, who run the City and decide what we get and cannot get.The beast is never at its most dangerous as when it is cornered.
    2014 will see every dirty trick in and out of the book thrown at us and we need to buckle up, as it will be a bumpy ride.
    Gloves need to come off and I fear that I am not alone in worrying about the gentlemanly procession of the official Yes campaign.
    No Marquis of Queensbury rules.

    In Glasgow we call that, Retaliate First.

    • “In Glasgow we call that, Retaliate First.”
      A panda after my own heart,

    • Arthur Crichton

      This is a decision for us scots to make.Keep the English the Welsh the Irish in fact everyone out of the argument who is not Scottish. I only discuss and argue with fellow Scots.There is no point in discussing with anyone else because they don’t have a vote,its as simple as that.

      • innerbearsdenurchin

        That presumes you know whom the people who post are, where they are from and whether they are registered to vote?

        By that process, we should not be conversing?

        Born in Glasgow, raised in Hotspur Steet, and having had a working lifetime outside Scotland,bfor professional reasons makes me ineligible to contribute?

        I hope not; not now or ever in my Scotland.

        All that should be required is a polite dialogue and a heartfelt position. Yours (and mine?), or not.

      • My 14 year old daughter won’t have a vote but she is very interested in the future of her country. I believe her views, aspirations and dreams are as important as anyone who is eligible to vote.

  2. Yes don’t forget the Scottish unionist media are also behaving like paid up government servants.The Herald went with only 30% favour independence in the latest 3 way poll as their headline. Instead of only 29% back no change which is the story.While the rest want more powers.So in effect the no group only command minority support.How can The Herald have any credibility with this twisted approach to reflecting its readers views.Not only that this is journalism you would expect of the Record or the Torygraph. Shame on you Herald utterly amateur ,crude and anti Scottish.

  3. In the well-kent spirit of British fair play I don’t expect this excellent post of yours, Derek, will appear anywhere near the Team Cameron Welcome Pack now in preparation in the Whitehall bunkers: I mean the one they’ll provide the GB-list celebs they’re planning – says the Herald today – to parachute in to save the City.

    Apart from anything else the poor ‘darlings’ would get too skewed an impression of the standard of (print and broadcast) journalism they can expect to find here on their visit. It would confuse them. “I’m a Celebrity,” they’d be saying, “Get me thon Dundee chappie! Wheah’s Fraser Nelson???”

    But more to the point, you’re exactly right about the Labour Party in Scotland. It has nothing to offer us but wretched shivering. Knee-bent. Disgraceful.

  4. Inspirational article once again Derek. You are absolutely right in saying that 2014 is the year of the fightback. We must man up and take the Unionists on at their own game. Scotland cannot afford a NO vote, we must do all we can to secure a positive YES vote.

  5. Yes, Derek, It is time we challenged the tory funded, labour headed Bitter Toogither beast to provide some answers. I am going to take a leaf out of your book and write to my MP demanding that westminster ask the EU for clarification. Good move.

    As BtP says this year is going to be a bumpy ride as the establishment will use everything and anything to win this and the british establishment has only ever had a pretence of fairness. The truth is they will stop at nothing to prevent Scotland gaining her independence. We will have to be extremely vigilant and be careful not to rise to the bait. As I’ve said already watch out for a campaign to discredt all of us online. They do have a particular hated for us “cybernats”. We have broken their stranglehold over the media that they have always used to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt to keep the Scots in their place.

  6. Excellent Derek.
    I don’t believe that Scottish Labour voters really understood the British Labour party stand that it is better to have a Tory government in London than any sort of government in Edinburgh.They should now realise what that means.

  7. I too will follow your lead and write to my Labour MP, whom I’ve never spoken to, met or known to visiting our town.
    In Scotland Labour are handicapped by the intellectual limitations of their managing group. Labour at Westminster are perhaps not quite so handicapped, but have no incentive to change to a clear socialist agenda. The distortion caused by London capital dominance puts paid to that. Just refer back to John McMad’s post on your Economist article and his expressed concern for the views of the “big fund managers”.

    The big fund managers have the UK political scene by the short and curlies. We need a Yes vote and then some very hard-nosed negotiators for Scotland over UK debt apportioning.
    Democracy? Obligation to fully inform the public? Don’t hold your breath.

  8. You are right with every aspect but one thing you need to notice is Alistair Darling is a Londoner he was born there and has lived there most of his life. It is the deception that he pretends to be a scot but never say’s it. When he talks about Scotland not once has he ever talked like it was his homeland. I think Darling was picked as the leader because it’s easier for a Londoner to talk Scotland down

  9. Great stuff Mr Bateman. I see that up to the new year you were in fact ‘only limbering up’. A very powerful article indeed exposing all in the ‘better together’ side. Rightly calling out ‘Scottish’ labour dupes fronting a tory elite who are trying to extinguish Scotland from behind the border.

  10. “These contradictions on the No side will disentangle more as the parties compete for votes in the European elections when the London-based politicians will forget Scotland and resort to arguing with each other and we will see how united they really are and how likely it is, after a No vote, that they will come together and commit to an agreed package of powers for Scotland.”

    Oh I dunno, I think they’ve made it perfectly clear thus far that they’re ready to completely contradict themselves at all times, and the media has been remarkably willing to help them by not pointing out blatant hypocrisies when they arise.

  11. “It’s commanded by the British State.” But that’s not really the politicians, is it, Derek? Politicians come and go, and, as many have pointed out, Cameron’s not going to be too concerned about the loss of Scotland – which merely makes life a bit harder for his opponents. Rather, it is the Treasury and the MoD, with the FCO standing edgily behind them, who are the cheerleaders for the Union. This is why we hear so much about clout and punching above our weight – it’s a perception that the big Whitehall ministries care about, so they stuff the propaganda with it.

    In reality, winning a Yes vote is only the first battle. The longer war will only be won when an independence agreement is reached that is acceptable to Scotland. And you can depend on it that the British State will do its utmost – Edinburgh agreement or not – to make that deal unacceptable for as long as possible. Opening bid I guess will be ’30 year lease of Faslane or you can go whistle for support for your international ambitions…’

    And it’s at that point, curiously, that the very politicians you castigate above will start feeling uneasy. For while the Treasury/MoD has no interest in an indpendent Scotland apart from screwing out of her everything that can be got, it’s the politicians who will have to live with the result, and who actually have an interest in getting the whole business done smoothly, even if they have to make a few concessions along the way.

    So I’d go a bit easier on the rich self-interested Tories, were I you. Because that’s not where the real threat lies. And we may need them on our side before we’re done.

    • This is one of the most interesting comments I’ve read anywhere on the #indyref. Love the distinction between institutional interests and the political flavour of the month. It’s worth rebutting slightly that political interests *serve* British institutions in many respects, especially the Treasury (and by extension, the City of London) so the unease will become about which paymaster Cameron et al start to worry about: the people or the special interests. This is what makes the 2015 election the interesting variable.

  12. Cracking piece Derek I couldn’t agree more, though I’d agree with Kininvie, the state machine is a far more dangerous and powerful animal than any single party of government. An establishment wrapped in top down tradition and built on the bones of current party politics.

    The trick is in how to hold BT and Westminster to account? Our only tools are the internet and shoe leather. Publicly hauling the establishment case into focus is going to be a bit tricky when access to the media is sewn up tighter than a duck’s bum. Without it they’d have sunk without trace months ago with any decent media firing off salvos of probing questions in both directions instead of just one. Most of the folks commenting here haven’t exactly been backwards about coming forward either with all of them regularly appearing on many sites admirably arguing their socks off.

    We don’t lack passion, conviction or reasoned argument, we lack mass public access and a media committed to objective journalism.

  13. Brilliant as usual Derek you are able to bring in to focus all the pieces of the debate I’m indebted to you

  14. Good stuff Derek . Fighting talk is what we need. The guys are right – it’s going to get mean and dirty – I’ve been sure of that for some time, and I agree with Macart that our big problem is getting media exposure for our arguments and ripostes to the disinformation being spread by the Establishment.
    It needs something “attention getting” for the media. Your idea about writing to MPs is good and I’m up for that but what about taking a leaf out of organisations like AVAAZ ,38 Degrees, both of which I’m a member, where the tactic is to bombard your target with emails and standard electronic letters and they’re really effective. If we could coordinate amongst the various YES groups like Yes Campaign, Business for Indy, Women for Indy, Labour for Indy which would really use the power of social media to good effect – there’s thousands of us and we could really fill up their in boxes.
    I’m gonna suggest it to Yes campaign – maybe if enough of us put the idea forward we could get it rolling .
    Meantime I’d suggest keep circulating Derek’s posts amongst friends ,family and acquaintances who are undecided and ant other good stuff from The Various Indy groups – particularly I circulate Business and Labour Indy posts, and “Wings across Scotland “are good to, on Social media and I’m noticing marked change and shift towards Yes from “labour ” people who six months ago we’re steadfast “No ” or “Don’t know” also check out CND – WMD is a huge issue which so far hasn’t got enough attention.

    Time for the gloves to come off for sure!

    • Thanks for that Brian. I think its a mark of how successful we are that we’re still here and slowly winning people over. The internet and person to person on the grassroots level has proven amazingly successful, we just need that extra edge to level the playing field. There is a marked drift from no to don’t know and the indy core vote hasn’t suffered at all. Most recent polls this week as highlighted on newsnet have proven that at least people are wanting answers from the unionist position and demanding that the PM finally should put his money where his mouth is by meeting the FM in public forum. Though even I doubt the possibility of that ever coming to pass. However the public pressure, most especially from the unionist vote on this issue must be resulting in the odd squeaky bum in Westminster and BT circles.

      I believe the media overkill has worked against their own ends to some degree in that they’ve become a parody of themselves. They are generating their own doubt in their ability to deliver news or fact, most especially on their favoured subjects of currency or EU. Even the most hardened unionist voter must be beginning to wonder just what does lie on the other side of a no vote and they’re running out of argument and stalling tactics rapido on that. With nothing to sell the public on they are left with regurgitation on a weekly basis of the same tired old scare stories.

      We keep going as we are I reckon we’ll edge it. We get even one title to move in our direction I believe we’ll win convincingly. We need to hang in there though right to the end without any loss to that vote. The closer we get, the more likely at least one of those titles will start to move toward public opinion. Still it would be nice if it were sooner rather than later. As a change of tack though I think its time we started asking the questions on line rather than answer them. Our route map is out there for all the country to source and see, theirs is not.

      Let’s hammer that fact home.

  15. Very clear thinking, Mr Bateman. I, too, have asked my (Labour) MP to pressure the Westminster Government to approach the European Commission and I’ve set up an e-petition (for all the good it’s likely to do) which you may care to add your name to:

    • Have signed the petition Iain, thanks for setting up.

      Will send the petition link to friends and family.

      Hopefully everyone else – including DB – will do the same.

      • Dewey I’m with you but I’m wondering if a better platform might be which I have signed a few times. If a question is phrased right and includes English voters, it could get global. I’m investigating. By the way,that’s a hell of an ID you’ve got there! Kind regards Derek

        Sent from my iPad


    • Iain, I signed your petition this minute and will ask friends to do likewise.

    • I’ve signed it. Now we need to publicise it as widely as possible. If we got a million signatures, how could they ignore it?

    • Duly signed. I will pass on.

  16. Just emailed my MP, Labour Ann McKechin requesting the British Government gain information from the EU Commission on Scotland’s entry to the .

  17. george paterson

    The Scottish Labour MPs have no alternative other than supporting the NO campaign. It’s the only system that will keep them in employment. With Independence they will no longer be required at Westminster. An excellent “call to arms” from Derek. Start the fight back now but in a subtle way. The real push should begin nearer September. All guns primed in July and August, loaded with every piece of ammunition at our disposal.

  18. I have just read a book which is dynamite, The Claim of Scotland by HJ Paton. It was written in 1968. Now you may say that it is history, and it is, but the author could be writing today. H J Paton: philosopher, civil servant in the Admiralty and a member of the British delegation to advise on the Polish settlement. In this book he covers the Scottish position within the Union in such an accessible way that it should be compulsory reading for everyone involved in the debate. He clarifies many issues that we Scots grapple with. I was so enthralled by it and wanted it to be in the public domain that I forwarded it to Wings over Scotland and it is being serialized. I am hoping that if you, Derek, read it you will also use it in the fight that you have just described. There is a whole chapter dedicated to Broadcasting, which I am sure you would be interested. Chapter X11:
    1.The invasion of the mind.
    2. The British Broadcasting Corporation.
    4.Scottish programmes.
    5.Imitation and creation.
    The whole book could be used to show that what we are experiencing is not all a vanity project dreamed up by the SNP and Alex Salmond- he would have been a schoolboy when it was published. As you say in this article, we have to start fighting back and this book should part of the arsenal.

    • Hello Derek,
      I see my comment is still in moderation. I am quite happy if neither of these comments are made public. I wrote because it was the only way I knew of getting in touched with you personally.
      Also wasn’t sure how your comments page worked.

  19. Change .org is a fair shout as you’ll possibly pull in English folk who think Cameron should be more proactive. Still think YES Campaign need play their part in to coordinating something like this as they already have an enormous membership to kick start the e-mails flying into Young David’s inbox.

    I emailed them

    • Excellent idea, Brian. would most likely be a better platform and pull in the English voters who, quite rightly, need to know where rUK will stand in the event of a YES vote. Derek has suggested that the question needs to be phrased properly so perhaps there is someone with experience of that sort of thing who could take this forward; someone with journalism experience, perhaps..!? 😉

      Thanks to all of you who signed.

  20. Derek

    could be good if pettition was promoted by such as yourself but YES campaign ensured it got citrculation to all Indy supporting organisations and memberships.


  21. Derek, you’re certainly the one to examine the Union in “relentless detail”! I look forward to that. And you’re right – we must all work hard in order to achieve independence. By the way, can anyone tell me whether Andrew Neil actually did say that those in Westminster are afraid of the SNP and if we don’t vote for independence in the referendum we can look forward to a hard time for years to come? He knows them all inside out and, I’m sure, has witnessed over the years many an “expendable dupe” being ditched.

  22. BTW – Signed your petition Iain.

    As Derek says, I think there may be more efficient ways of bringing pressure on westminster.

    I have written to my MP to request that the government ask Brussels what Scotland’s position will be in the event of a vote for independence.

    You can write to your MP easily through the They Work for You website here:

  23. Just one observation about an otherwise wonderful article.
    Gordon Brown went to Westminster in 1983, and could not have been offered a ministerial post before 1997, when he became Chancellor. Perhaps he was offered a place on Labour’s Shadow Scottish team?

  24. Would you be interested in coming on the Scottish Independence podcast to discuss this?

  25. Watching Alistair Carmichael last night talking Liberal proposals if there’s a No vote and stumbling as usual when asked about Labour and Tory offers, it’s hard to see now that there’s going to be time, (even if there’s the will) for the No side to articulate a joined up answer to the White Paper. BT are probably feeling the crush already from the pincers of the shrinking time left and the White Paper proposals. Panic will surely be setting in soon.

    As far as the debate is concerned, suspect Cameron will do it. When the polls tighten, as you say, he’ll probably feel he’s got nothing to lose. Oh, wait a minute…

    Signed your petition Iain.

  26. Alastair Naughton

    Signed the petition 😉

  27. […] You can read Derek Bateman’s full post on his blog at […]

  28. Murray McCallum

    Interesting legal points in this article mentioning Scotland and Catalonia.

    The comments are from Yves Gounin in Politique Étrangère, Until 2012 he was chief of staff of the French Minister of European Affairs, and currently he is a State Councillor.

  29. Derek, you should have had the courtesy to respond to Wilma Watts’ comment.

  30. […] You can read Derek Bateman’s full post on his blog at […]

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