Apres Moi, Le Deluge

They are all falling into line now…the die-hard Unionists are scrambling and falling over themselves to find ways of giving Scotland more powers as the independence pressure builds. What a hoot! One day we’re told it’s gone far enough and all it needs is a tweak here or there. Then, as the water level rises, they panic and start baling like mad.

It’s Jim Murphy hinting the Union is ever-changing, Gordon Brown entrenching powers and adding taxation and Stephen Purcell saying the Union is finished (and needs to be reformed).

Add in a splash of Johann’s commission, Ming’s report and Ruth’s Conversion, sorry, Commission – is it actually doing anything? – and the boys and girls at Devo Plus, and the world of Unionism is in a ferment. And why? Because the Nats are hammering at the door. In my lifetime, the only time anything remotely positive happens in Scotland is when the SNP is on the rise. Without the nationalists, Scotland stagnates, the debate dies down, London ignores and impoverished, unequal, backward Britain stumbles on deferring to the rich and and patronising the working poor.

We hear from Labour how Salmond is “obsessed with independence” when people  are crying out for help. Ask yourself this: If it wasn’t for Salmond and the referendum, what exactly would Johann’s party be talking about? What else has she concentrated on, what policies has she developed on housing, crime, renewables, environment, taxes, business development, industrial strategy? None. She has a sort of policy on further education – she opposed the successful streamlining that is now saving money in the college sector – but given the chance to make a practical improvement in our schools, she stood against free meals, a simple, proven way of caring for children and aiding education. She did so out of blind opposition – because the Nats would get the credit just as Labour did over minimum pricing. If it wasn’t for the referendum, Labour would have died out of boredom. It shows just how vacuous they have become that not one shiny new policy idea has emerged in two and a half years that has caught the public imagination.

And here’s the other thing, while Johann is satisfied to lie low rather than risk an intervention, it is her London comrades who make the running in the debate in her own backyard. In recent days I’ve read ideas from Gordon Brown, Jim Murphy and Margaret Curran. Where are Johann’s contributions to match those of Douglas Alexander for instance? I know what Johann doesn’t want but I haven’t a clue what is on her wish list. She doesn’t even compete with Ian Davidson on the intellectual input front. Who is advising her? Has she nothing to say? Is she the first political mime artist?

Gordon of course has lots to say, at least according to the media which seems to feel the ground shake when the Gruffalo of Fife hits the campaign trail. I always welcome interventions from any source but his are accompanied by my yawns. There is something maddeningly typical of a senior Labour man out of office demanding all sorts of radical changes he could have executed in office. Isn’t it a genuine and glaring weakness in the Unionist case that both Alistair (Darling) and Gordon Brown had the power and the overwhelming majorities to effect deep and reforming changes to Scotland which might have avoided the independence debate today, but that they failed miserably even to try?

Brown to my knowledge never expressed the remotest interest in Scottish policy – only in manipulating the Scottish party – when he was in Downing Street (10 and 11) and Alistair was so disengaged that as a Scots MP and an advocate, he wasn’t aware in 2003 that the British Government had no powers of its own to disband the role of Secretary of State for Scotland. Blair tried to do so but had to be informed by the Civil Service that it was a statutory appointment and could only be dissolved through primary legislation. So Alistair, already Transport Secretary, became part-time Scottish Secretary as well. Didn’t he know anything about Scotland and it’s role in the British government?

I agree with Brown’s concept of entrenching the powers of Holyrood and have complained here about the failure to do so, leaving us open to overnight abolition if there was ever a coalition of mad right wing Tories and UKIP…do you think he’s been reading the blog? But it’s too little too late as, I suspect, is the reported burying of the hatchet between the two of them. I honestly think Darling will never forgive the way he was treated by Brown, not to his dying day. So if there is a rapprochement, I reckon it’s best described as a temporary truce to deal with Salmond.

However, he isn’t talking about devolution of key tax and welfare responsibility and when he says there should be a “legally binding vision of social justice”, what on earth is that? A legally binding vision?! If you don’t see the same vision as me, I’ll sue?

There is, I’m afraid, a weird side to Gordon which acts as a buffer between his words and his audience. He does seem to inhabit a different place from the rest of us, perhaps believing he’s on a superior planet and I question if he’s really recovered from what happened to him and his credibility in Downing Street, the most discredited Westminster Scot in Labour eyes since Ramsay MacDonald. There will be some Scots ready to give a sympathetic hearing to anyone attacking Salmond but perhaps many more who will be reminded of those glowering, hubristic performances when his arrogance burst through and who will remember how he disappeared from sight when the going got tough for Blair. Newsnight had to hunt him down to talk reluctantly about Iraq.

I read Jim Murphy’s appeal that all we need do is change government, not constitution. He wrote that independence was for ever and an election was not and I thought: Exactly, Jim. We will never again have a right wing bunch of public school zealots humiliate our working poor and our disabled. Those days will go and never come back. We will be free of them for ever if we vote Yes. Unless, of course, a Labour government of Scotland continues its Tory-style campaign against universal benefits…

I’m glad to see Stephen Purcell back fully in public life. It’s unedifying to see the relish with which sections of the public pounce and devour a political opponent who is exposed to have weaknesses. I don’t condone anything he admitted to but I do remember a different kind of politician in Glasgow City Chambers with a grasp of what the city might become modeled on European examples and who was happy to work closely with the SNP government in a national project. If he is re-entering politics, let’s give him the second chance we would extend to any political comrade and welcome what in the Sunday Times was one of the best and most radical expositions of Union reform we’ve had from a Labour source, far ahead of anything from the leadership so far. (I’m tempted to add: Just behave yourself from now on)

Incidentally if you want to hear a mad rant from a Nationalist nutter, click here.


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20 thoughts on “Apres Moi, Le Deluge

  1. Now listening to your podcast. Keep on blogging and thanks.

  2. “I agree with Brown’s concept of entrenching the powers of Holyrood”.

    I’m not with you on this, Derek. What Brown proposes is to place Scotland permanently and irretrievably under Westminster control. Holyrood was always meant to be a branch of Westminster, with real power over major issues reserved, and some administrative powers granted to Edinburgh. The three unionist parties would keep it that way, evidence the way they would not admit to the SG having the power to have a referendum.
    What Brown is proposing is more trickery to entrench Westminster in the affairs of Scotland.

  3. “Isn’t it a genuine and glaring weakness in the Unionist case that both Alistair (Darling) and Gordon Brown had the power and the overwhelming majorities to effect deep and reforming changes to Scotland which might have avoided the independence debate today, but that they failed miserably even to try?”

    Now that’s just crazy talk. Just because Darling & Brown were in senior positions in the ruling party of the UK for over a decade (Brown no less than PM himself for almost 3 years) doesn’t mean they could’ve done anything. Who do you think they were, the government?

    • Alharron, there was no reason why Brown should have tried to devolve more powers to the Scottish Parliament. While he was PM, the SNP government was a minority one which had failed to get a majority for an independence referendum, and he probably expected Labour to regain control at Holyrood in 2011. As Andrew Neil pointed out, only a credible threat of a vote for independence will get the unionists talking about the possibility of increased devolution, or at least a possibility that they might go through the motions of pretending to consider increased devolution, until the referendum is over.

  4. Thoroughly enjoyed your interview with Michael. Some wise words for the Yes campaign to take on board, but my favourite bit was you explaining that you could have stayed on at the BBC but left so you could have your say in the debate. I think that’s a great show of dedication to the cause.

  5. Great interview and very enlightening. How many people will hear it though?

  6. Andrew – At this rate about 2500, but if you tweet, FB and otherwise tell people about it, I’m sure it will reach a few more. Social media works like that 😉

  7. Who is this ‘nationalist nutter’ talking sense on the web ??? Oh its yersel Derek – sorry !

    Seriously impressed by what I heard from your podcast yesterday – very insightful and honest commentary. Impressed with your dedication and realism throughout on varous issues. Really had an impact listening to you talk freely on a subject we all care deeply about Scotland (not Scotland – region of UK). Wish you could braodcast to wider audience again (proud of your stance at BBC etc).

    Many find it to articulate their true feelings for our Country (Scotland – not UK), that go way beond economics and social agendas, but I have heard none better than yourself to date, (Alan Bissett get sclose though). I am sure many share the gut feeling of nationhood that to date is largely repressed by the everyday modern Scottish psyche (even in politics) and especially by Scottish media.

    I posted directions to the Michel Greenwell / Derek Bateman podcast on Wings over Scotland so hope many more will hear and be affected by it. You are a huge asset to the YES cause!!!

    Keep up the great work.

  8. I listened to the PodCast and one point of criticism I would make is your defence of the BBC. The BBC has a clear and unambiguous duty to be fair and balanced as set out in the charter. You argued that, “someone like Brian Taylor has to balance what is going on in Scotland with that of the London control”, or words to that effect. Surely this is the very reason the institutional bias exists? One example was the coverage of Independence March & Rally in Edinburgh in September… upwards of 25,000 folk on the Royal mile clad in Saltires was an easy story. No investigative journalism required… just a journo and a camera. Yet, what did the BBC do? They spent the bulk of the broadcast segment outside some local shop handing out BT leaflets… and the whole thing was clearly a setup… a monkey could be trained to spot it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DE165hpkSk#t=0
    Here is another example… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TZpu51A_GU&feature=youtube_gdata_player
    The BBC bias is done subtly (to the unaware that is), but it is total!
    Ps. My guess would have been Kaye Adams ;o)

  9. Derek,you are a man after my own heart and one of the most articulate exponents of self determination for our country.
    Absolutely right about Yesterday’s men being today’s No men who are embittered and twisted and in many cases without moral or principled ideas.
    Vision for these people is something which,if it ever existed,is just a distant memory.
    Thanks Derek.

  10. Derek, just listened to THE interview. Absolutely brilliant……….can’t praise it enough! Thank you for your highly intellectual as well as deeply emotional dedication to our country.

  11. All this talk of further devolution, quite astounding when you consider the consolidated unionist stance only 18 months ago. From line in the sand to protestations of how confusing it would be to include further options on the ballot. Now its the only thing they can talk about.

    You don’t suppose they’re having second thoughts do you? 😉

  12. Thanks! And I’m very much looking forward to hearing more, especially about the developments that you hinted at in the podcast interview. I was also impressed by the accounts you gave of the newspapers and BBC, and about the constraints that the journalists work within, that don’t apply in the online world. Perish the thought, of course, that the BBC would ever explore that world or its even own directly and actually explain to the licence payers what’s going on behind the scenes. Anyway I hope all those journalists can start to breathe a bit more easily soon, whichever side they’re on. Your description of the political fight as being like the wacky races was very instructive too. And it fits the 2-D characters you describe above. And their 2-D party.

    So I’m away to get a Yes Scotland tattoo first thing. Apparently – you’d hardly believe it – the local parlour has halved the cost of the Better Together motif, already heavily discounted… See that zeitgeist, it turns up in the strangest of places.

  13. Gordoz, – i’m the podcast host. I believe links on this site require moderation but if you check my site, Alan Bissett had an episode on the podcast too that you might like. Type his name in the search and you’ll get there.

  14. Cheers Michael – great ints on your site !!
    Will keep circulating !!

  15. Al Darling’s rant on GMS this morning was skilfully (almost) erased by re-recording his argument (once he had calmed down) and playing it before Nicola was interviewed half an hour after the original debacle. Such is the BBC and how are the mighty fallen!

  16. The bookies odds are half. All bookies are hedging their bets limiting YES stakes.

    People in Scotland are dying for more powers.

  17. Anthony J Kerr, a small dark hairy man, whom I have blamed since 1962 for the SNP’s poor shewing in the Borders. But if it was he who sparked the love of political Scotland in you then I have to forgive. RIP AJ.

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