Time To Grow Up

With one short phrase a blonde-haired legend from the 80’s said more than all the hysteria of the No side put together. Forget Bowie; it was Jackson Carlaw who made the ground-breaking remark that brings sanity and the Scottish national interest to the front of the debate.

When the Tory deputy promised to “man the barricades” to get Scotland the best deal he could from London after a Yes vote, he stepped out of the laager and dared to speak the truth about what will happen after September 18. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-26296632

But he wasn’t letting any cat out of any bag on how the British government will behave, as the nationalists claimed. The West of Scotland MSP, however elevated in Scottish Tory ranks, will not be formulating policy for the British Treasury any time soon. What he was expressing was the democrat’s view – that this is a campaign we all fight to win and after the people have spoken we implement their wish. In the case of Scottish MSPs, all of them, that would be to wrest the best deal achievable for the Scots. If you believe, as he does, that means currency union and EU membership, then his shoulder will behind Bill Kid’s (fellow panellist on the Radio Scotland programme) and Alex Salmond’s.


That this rudimentary statement became news – and was predictably hijacked by sections of Yes claiming it meant more than it actually did – provides an insight into the conduct of the national debate so far. To me it is axiomatic that the politicians exist to serve the people so long as they find their demands within their conscience – otherwise they resign. Anybody actually questioned on this point in the No side will surely say Of course they will abide by the democratic decision. It’s just that the tone of their approach says the opposite, not helped by an honest declaration designed to clarify being turned against him. If, for once, a politician tells the truth, how helpful is it that his opponent jeers as if it’s a slip and his own side tut in despair? These reactions typify the Twitter age where grown men – no names – bitch and snarl in tweets like schoolgirls.

I think the Carlaw Doctrine is one of the most sensible interventions so far, at a stroke opening up a new vista in which all Scots come together in a common cause whatever the outcome. It shouldn’t be a revelation, but it is. It sounds almost statesman-like against the shrill relish of his own leader whenever an obstruction is placed in front of independence. Her delight is evident in her latest “massive tax bombshell” – that VAT will be levied on all goods and services by the EU. “It’s not just Scottish families that would be affected, but Scottish business too. Thousands of people in Scotland are employed across the construction sector in areas like shipbuilding and aircraft repair – areas which benefit enormously from VAT exemption and would be hit hard by such tax breaks being taken away under independence. No ifs, no buts – those are the rules for any new member.”

Actually there are If and Buts, the first being that it only applies to “new Members”, a category the treaties could not ascribe to Scots, even new Members negotiate their own exemptions and the principle that a Member shouldn’t suffer detriment through EU membership. She conveniently forgets David Cameron’s pre-election statement (before raising VAT to 20 per cent): “We have absolutely no plans to raise VAT.”

In May 2009, said that he would never raise a tax that “hits the poorest the hardest”.

He said: “You could try to put it on VAT, sales tax, but again if you look at the effect of sales tax, it’s very regressive, it hits the poorest the hardest. It does, I absolutely promise you. Any sales tax, anything that goes on purchases that you make in shops tends to . . . if you look at it, where VAT goes now it doesn’t go on food, obviously, but it goes very, very widely and VAT is a more regressive tax than income tax or council tax.” And then he put it up. Ifs and Buts, Ruth?

Apply the Carlaw Doctrine to the above and instead of hysteria which even at a human non-political level turns people off, you get instead: Has the first Minister considered how EU VAT rules will apply? Without exemptions the cost to families and businesses could be severe. Which exemptions does he propose retaining and has he, for example, spoken to the building industry? If not, will we have to step in to help him fight the European Commission on Scotland’s behalf to save the exemptions?

That way you get out two messages. One, you’ve flagged up a potential problem for Yes which fits your campaign and two, you’ve also informed the voter that whatever the outcome you stand ready to serve the country’s need. Isn’t it simple?

It also makes it harder for your opponent to criticise, since in a way, you’re standing with him, albeit with a different outlook. Maybe it’s too complicated, after all.

What has become complicated is the other fair-haired superstar in the debate, David Bowie who made a delicate intervention which I thought was sweet but said nothing…only that he was engaged with it, which I like. In fact, what’s not to like? To me this is a sign that our debate is reaching out way beyond Scotland and making all kinds of people think. It’s a lot better than being ignored. It also puts Bowie in the same category as Jimmy Krankie and I like that too having never understood what his music was about or who Captain Tom was. Bowie also managed to unleash yet more ill-informed metropolitan moaning from the Guardian stable. The Observer actually wrote a leader on it bemoaning the childish abuse Bowie had – apparently – received. (Does anyone ever see this abuse? Did anyone ever get sight of Susan Calman’s offensive epistles or did we take her word for it?) Frankly, if you enter the debate – and Bowie did, you take what’s coming. We all do. It’s part of the game so grow up. Which is why I was astonished at the Observer characterising this as indicative of our campaign which is like saying all football should be stopped because of 10 thugs on a terracing. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/23/scottish-independence-proper-debate-david-bowie-twitter

“The subsequent outpourings on Twitter were mostly negative, puerile and cumulatively underlined the message that, without a sharp reversal of course, the Scotland debate that ought to be an important platform for a modern, informed and progressive exchange of views on the meaning of national identity, the value (or otherwise) of the union, and the possible development of a more positive form of nationalism, will prove elusive.”

Really? Is that what you think in London? For years now we have been having erudite and intellectual debates in our country covering all those areas and more, we have think tanks, forums of academics, Nobel Laureates, and entire online community and two huge campaigns running, the Royal Society, the David Hume Society and the National Institute for Economic and Social Research have weighed in along with the Institute for Fiscal Studies and in case you don’t receive television down there, even Richard Madeley has given his Einstein opinion. There are public meetings all over our country. We are debating nuclear weapons and their worth, a new Nordic model for tax and welfare, how to live off renewables without nuclear to save the planet, how to end poverty, ditching the neo-liberal economic model, how nationalism fits with social reform, should education be free? We are having a debate in Scotland that you couldn’t begin to have in London where your only obsession is house price inflation and bankers’ bonuses. If anybody needs to grow up, it is you supremely cocky, ignorant M25 media luvvies who know nothing about the country you write about. This is more condescending drivel which inches us further away from those who claim to be the bright and conscientious and who increasingly display just how far apart we now are in Britain.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

23 thoughts on “Time To Grow Up

  1. “Hats off to Carlaw” MSP of the week, last week. Maybe, “wee” Johanna will say something memorable this week. Oh! sorry, to much Guinness, wakens – 3 cheers to Carlaw!

  2. This is something that is giving me more and more concern as we get closer to the finishing line, The lack of common sense (yes I know it’s an archaic term), self parody (a trait that appears only the Scots and Irish retain and humour will drive many many people into political apathy.
    I’ve explored the theory of what I’ve dubbed ‘Learned Helplessness in the National Psyche’ in my first attempt at ‘blogging’ – justinfayresweeklyrant.wordpress.com .
    People need to realise in the Yes Camp that we must refrain from petty vindictiveness, po-faced responses etc etc. as they could cost us dear.
    To adapt an old Chinese Saying:-
    ‘Speak softly but carry a big stick’
    Speak softly – the Better Together Camp are beating themselves up on a regular basis without outside help.

  3. Bowie doesn’t stay with them. He lives in New York. Why should he have the idiocy to advise anyone to stay somewhere, when he didn’t. What an idiot. Why doesn’t he stay with them. A tax exile? Conceited posteuring free publicity? Bowie should do some research or read a few books before making mindless idiotic comments.

    Anyone who joins a Unionist Party,the small number as a %, do not have Scotland’s or the rest of the UK’s interest at heart. The UK has been governed since 1928 (and before) by a bunch of lying, immoral, low lives who have done absolutely nothing in the population’s interest but everything in their own limited self interest. The Unionist Politicans of every Party are self seeking, greedy, liars , who cannot count, have murdered and maimed, illegally, citizen not just in the UK but all over the world. Do not trust any of them. They are self seeking, greedy liars. Their time is nigh.

  4. Even ‘the massive tax bomb VAT’, can be eleviated by lowering taxes elsewhere. Davidson is no economist.

  5. Re criticism of David Bowie, one unkind individual posted a link to the Musicians Union page which quotes Bowie’s early endorsement of facism http://www.muhistory.com/?p=304 with video of his arrival at Victoria Station on one of his rare visits to England.
    But could it not be that it was Kate Moss who was asking Scotland to “stay with us” if indeed she lives in the UK. Surely Bowie isn’t inviting Scotland to join with New York where he stays. It depends where the emphasis was placed. Say WITH us or Stay with US.

    • Are you a diddy? An apologist for Bowie, or what? He is a tax evading slug who wouldn’t even turn up to receive his bauble cos it would have cost him a few bob in unpaid taxes. The old hag had nothing to do with his message except to relay it. He was probably got at by the BritNatz.

  6. The multimillioness Tory witch who left folk to starve. Now the recycled policy.

  7. Does anyone actually believe Bowie spontaneously added the words “Scotland, stay with us.” to the end of his acceptance speech. For me that is simply not credible, just like the BBC reporter who asked the BP’s Bob Dudely for his views on Independence at BP’s annual financial results announcement.

    People in the public eye are being asked these type of questions all the time by BT supporting media. You can absolutely guarantee that if Bowie had said “Go for it Scotland I fully support you” It would NEVER have been read out and not reported at all.

    With the entire British media strongly behind a No vote unfortunately selective journalism is all we can expect, I’m immune to it all now and really the amount of airtime and words written about Bowie is astonishing. Would a single voters opinion be influenced by this? I very much doubt it, this is the MSM version of Hello magazines celebrity gossip.

  8. The Guardian stirring up monumental bile, for click bait. Now – ‘Let’s have less bile’. Do some of these low research, hypocritical, London Luvies ‘journalists even actually read what they write. They are writing themselves out of a job. Their falling readership, will fall even further. People are sick of their ill informed nonsense.

  9. I also heard the comments by Jackson Carlaw and was initially very suspicious. However, if he meant them, this could be the start of a future for the Tories in Scotland. ( Even the longest journey starts with the first step!!!)

  10. When I hear about the “Twitter” being full of bile etc,I wonder if the person writing the article did actually go and visit the site and see what was written! I have a wee peek into twitter now and then and I see nothing which would keep me awake,indeed most drives me to slumber.What any “celebrity” says is no big deal to me and is only brought to some sort of importance by the scribes who look for something to cause annoyance and they usually don’t succeed except in their own minds and helped by some folk feigning umbrage always looking for an excuse to cry or moan.There is a reason to be adult and with that being honest and a show of integrity would also be nice.So some scribes believe in the “union” but not in the other “Union” a bit hypocritical I think.Still if the situation in Scotland becomes much worse than at present and some scribes realise that their intervention in persuading the good folk to vote no to independence has caused much suffering will they come to the aid of those that cant help themselves shall they feed the hungry give warmth to the cold,or will it be job done next one please! The responsibility of the press must be shouldered by them,because just now it looks like power without responsibility,and that is despicable.

  11. Jackson Carlow’s statement is simply common sense. He lives here so obviously he’ll push for Scotland’s best options after a YES victory.

  12. Did David Bowie know what his words were? Or did he just say to his PR to put a few words together, you know something snappy with a bit of cool Britannia, so don’t say “dudes”

  13. Hi Derek,
    I think you’re usually excellent analysis was just slightly off the mark re Jackson Carlaw. There’s a difference between just “abiding” by the democratic wishes of the country (we all do that when we don’t shoot at our opponents) and actively “manning the barricades” with them, which is what Carlaw said. Do you honestly believe that Danny Alexander would man the barricades with us? Or the dozens of Labour MPs from Scotland. No, mostly they will quietly sink into the background “abiding” by the decision with a few actively conspiring to wreck it. What Jackson Carlaw said was very significant. I detest Tories, but this was a credit to him. There will be very few elected opponents of independence who’ll man the barricades with us after the vote.

  14. I suspect that the faux indignation by Better Together and its chums in the MSM about alleged online abuse suffered by Bowie and Calman means more than just having a pop at cybernats.

    Its very likely that their ulterior motive will be to use this excuse later on for a “tightening up” on the blogosphere.

  15. Aberdeen City Unionists Clown Councillors have refused a Gift of £80million to pedestrianise and regenerate the City Centre and are spending £33million to destroy the Art Gallery,They paid off £26Million of AECC debt , a private company. The have now lost the City £7Million by exiting COSLA. That is £146Million they have lost the City in one year. Yet they complain the City is underfunded by Scottish Gov.

    Westminster, who they support, has stolen £Billion of Oil revenues from the Area. The City/shire has been waiting for an essential AWPR for thirty years, which the Unionist Clowns repeatedly voted against. The Oil Capital of Europe without even essential roads. Every comparable City in Europe has a by pass road.

    £Billion of Oil Revenues have been squandered by Westminster. The Clown Councillors are not fit for public Office. Yet they are be lining their pockets with salaries and remuneration, they increased as soon as they took Office. They are an affront to the City.

  16. I was surprised to hear Jim Naughtie spluttering over his kedgeree like a retired colonel at the supposed abuse of our beloved Ziggy on the internet. Most of the comment I saw was light-hearted and affectionate. Even the unpleasantly aggressive “F*** off back to Mars!” was at least partially redeemed by its satirical merit.

    • Concur Graeme,I have realised that all this talk of cybernats and the bullying factor is more about how the unionists would LIKE it to be.So that once again they can have the hurt feelings and cry because they are victims of democracy!!

  17. I saw the picture before reading any of the article and wondered why Jim Davidson had now entered the debate…

  18. Did Jackson Carlaw at some point not come out with a statement along the lines of he would leave Scotland if we ever became independent? I seem to remember volunteering to drive him to the airport myself. His family’s skill at running businesses (into the ground) adversely affected mine, so I’m pretty sure my memory is accurate on this.

  19. Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my
    4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go
    back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I
    had to tell someone!

  20. Interesting discussion on the BBC “This Week” program,last night (Thursday 27th Feb.) Andrew Neil,the host,with Michael Portillo and Alan Johnson.The subject moved from the Scottish independence to discussion on the probable referendum over the European Union.The parting line from Michael Portillo was that the Britnats would use the same tactics as they are using over the Scottish referendum and that would be the “Tactics of Fear”. Now this is from a man in the know,and agreed by the other two.Pat Kane also gave a very good contribution on the debate.We have the news stories about who is against independence being dripped fed to us.Did Standard Life not realise that we were going to have a referendum some three years ago,and could they not have issued their plans for a possible change of venue for Some of their Investments when they first found out? could an independent Scotland not mange to be a better place to invest with independence,just asking?

Leave a Reply