Deference or Dignity

The theory runs that Scots won’t move on indyref2 because the economic pointers are all facing south and anyway, who wants to add more turmoil on top of Brexit? Perhaps that’s the explanation for unpropitious opinion polls. Then again, perhaps it isn’t. Damned if I know.

I am pretty sure though that the issue of oil prices and debt is clearing the way through the verbiage to reveal a straight path ahead. What I mean is that many of us are now confronting for the first time the true reality of self-government – that taking your independence eclipses all other transitory factors. If not totally ‘an end in itself’, it is nevertheless the platform from which everything else can be addressed in the Scottish national interest.

As it stands, we are largely powerless to make strategic moves to transform key areas of national life – we have limited access to borrowing, can’t adjust corporation tax, set VAT or alter competition policy or industrial relations. We have no separate foreign or immigration policy, our defence needs are (not) met elsewhere, our energy likewise – even our broadcasting is not our own. But we do at last control traffic signs.

A country denied the ability to run its own economy is blamed for being bankrupt by the authority which exercises those macro economic powers over it. The British Treasury pulls our wings off and then laughs when we can’t fly.

One of the underlying aspects of the debt is that we are paying not just for Scotland’s borrowing and spending but for Westminster’s too. This is a debt over which Scots have no direct control and stands at nearly £1.7 trillion. We pay a population share.

Debt comes and debt (hopefully) goes. At the time of Waterloo British debt was twice GDP. We know from more recent history that oil can go through the roof – as in the oil crisis of 1973 – that inflation destroy savings, pensions and jobs – it stood at 24 per cent in 1975 – that house prices can lead to damaging borrowing and that, if you trust bankers, as in 2007, they can cause catastrophic results (and get away with it).

These are all the freak waves that hit any and every country and still the battered vessel remains afloat, just as the UK will after the Brexit finale. Britain survived the currency controversy with the IMF loan in 1976 and parachuting out of the ERM in 1992. What makes us think Scotland can’t also cope with the storms and headwinds that the UK and other countries have survived? We’re pretty sanguine about stormy weather, aren’t we?

And oil price fluctuations are nothing new. Throughout the 1950s to 1970, oil was between 20 and 30 dollars. It rocketed to nearly 120 in 1980 and was back below 18 in 2000. Eight years later it stood at 140 dollars. It’s volatile, remember?

My point is that we can fret and become fearful at every passing squall or else we decide it’s time to pilot our own course in our own vessel. Everything else is transitory. Ask yourself this: If today we’re too poor yet when the books balance we’re rich thanks to the Union, when will the time be right for independence?

I was gratified to read the First Minister say that independence supersedes the economy and all other factors because that’s my side of the argument. It isn’t that I don’t understand the utilitarian case because I am also convinced that we will do a better job than the rats-in-a-sack Tories who are little more than an on-going class war in office. Things will be better after self-government but the impulse isn’t, or shouldn’t, be to vote Yes for a fat wallet. Even the case for jobs and investment on which so much of Better Together was based simply isn’t a solid enough case either way because the promises of employment have already been dashed…from the Clyde shipbuilding work on planned frigates to the hundreds of job losses at HMRC where 17 centres will close.

(I did a hustings in 2014 with Linda Fabiani where the Unionists planted a union rep in the audience to ask if tax jobs would be guaranteed at HMRC East Kilbride if we voted yes. I said no one guarantees jobs that way and anyway 200,000 public sector jobs had been lost already in the UK. A year later hundreds of those staff had gone and the office will shut in a few years. Better Together in a paragraph.)

No other country I know of has taken its independence to be richer. You do it to be free to make your own decisions in your own best interests and, yes, to make your own mistakes. Ireland did just that when the Celtic Tiger turned round and bit them. They took their medicine and fought their way back, recording recent GDP growth of 26 per cent. I know it sounds dubious but even if it’s exaggerated, it was nearly 8 per cent in the previous period. The UK’s latest figure is 0.6 per cent.

I’m taking Sturgeon’s remark as a sign that her argument is moving beyond the policy detail of independence to the real meat of the case. Scots have a right to run our own country and will never be at ease until we do. If you’re frightened by passing storms, then stay indoors and keep your head down. If you really do think your own people couldn’t run a whelk stall – unlike the statesmen who brought us Brexit – then vote No the next time too.

But it’s becoming clearer that we can either suffer helplessly as collateral damage from the mess created by the Union or trust ourselves to run the country and tidy up ourselves. Deference or dignity, you might say.

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39 thoughts on “Deference or Dignity

  1. Bugger (the Panda)

    Tommy Sheppard said (I paraphrase) that nothing will change the day after independence, except the ability to decide our own future.

  2. It’s NOT the economy, stupid! You can’t answer a constitutional question with a calculator.

  3. This article probably encapsulates all I would like to say but in a more erudite fashion. I joined the SNP in 1965 at the tender age of 15 and have been a nationalist ever since, I was a nationalist before the oil came along and will still be after it is gone, whilst the wealth would be useful (see where Norway stands) we have so many other assets – coal, whisky, agricultural, renewables, timber, etc etc etc. – and freedom is more important than wealth although I have no doubt a free Scotland will do very well economically and certainly has plenty of friends throughout the world.

    • “…we have so many other assets…” You missed out something which IMO is very relevant for the not too distant future. Potable water.

      • If we carry on spraying crops with pesticides that are declining numbers of bees and butterflies, then what hope is there for clean water? You cannot sell water it is the planet’s bounty for everyone, just like the deluded that think they can own the land. Stop with the economic debates, freedom to live on our wee bit of the planet without oppression is all we want!

  4. For me its never been the fat wallet, from when I was an “impoverished” but Grant receiving student to a reasonably comfortable pensioner and yes, I can afford to say that now and am open to criticism. It’s not that the economy isn’t important, of course it is, but again, since I was a wee boy, I wanted a country where citizens were equal, and got equal or nearly equal shares of the pie. I will “happily” pay more taxes to enable redistribution but I want the rich and business to pay their share too. But more than that, I want self-determination, I want away from the corrupt, utterly and irredeemably corrupt Westminster UK Government and the layers of privilege and sense of entitlement of the ruling GB Establishment and to which the likes of the squalid greasy-pole climbers like Darling aspire. I want a fresh start where Social Justice isn’t a Cameron-like marketing cliche but is central to SG policy. I certainly don’t want a Scotland that is simply a UK-lite and it is up to all of us to ensure that doesn’t happen.

  5. Well more or less my thoughts Derik , the way the YES campaign allowed it’s self to be tied up in the Micro nit picking line by line daily page by page scrutiny of the SNPs white paper was total gift to the NO side who we now know as It turns out it’s the same as Brexit the other side don’t have a bloody clue , the far from Inspiring official YES campaign on reflection was a bloody useless enterprise led by inept but nice people always playing catchup always on the defensive this happened daily.
    A very good reference to Tommy Shepherd at the top of the page he manages to cut through all the dross all the unrelated guff designed to confuse and nails the subject usually at first attempt ,I really hope he wins this depute contest , although all Four Candidates have a very important role to play ,Surely it isn’t beyond the SNP to engage all of them where is it written in stone it has to be one Person , each of these Guys have a particular strength in their own area go for it Nicola surprise us all , go for all Four this time has to count, it might be the last throw of the dice for some time. In fact for some of us the last in our lifetime no pressure eh ! ha ha .

  6. Its always been about the right to choose and direct our own path and the economic argument (such as it is) has always been mis-sold to the public.

    The one and only pertinent fact of Scotland’s current economic standing is that there is only one legislative body who has had complete control of our economic levers. Only one body has had direct stewardship of all the UKs finances in point of fact. Just as surely as they have had direct control the message and messenger who tell the public what to think and who to scapegoat for their own catastrophic handling of the economy.

    If the UKs finances are in the cludgie then it follows, quite reasonably, that Her Majesty’s Government in Westminster are the one and only parliament responsible and no one else. They have the tools at their hands and they make the decisions. Poor ones apparently.

    Scotland’s population have always had the resources and the potential to be a successful, vibrant and outward looking economy. What we have lacked is confidence, belief in ourselves and our right to consider ourselves as good as any other.

    More importantly it is our absolute and inalienable right to govern ourselves as we see fit. The clue is in the word ‘right’. Its not a serving suggestion or a caveat. The right to choose, the freedom to decide for yourself is pretty much a benchmark of independence, whether it be personal or as a collective.

    We made a poor choice not so long ago and restricted our choices quite dramatically. The repercussions of that choice has proven quite painful and long lasting for a great many people. If we are very fortunate, we may get the opportunity to correct that particular decision sometime soon.

    If we are fortunate.

  7. Well said Derek, I have always believed in the right of self determination for every nation and have always found it hard to understand why my fellow countrymen and women would want to leave it to another country, nevermind England to look after their affairs, hence the reason for joining the SNP in 1971, at that time they were the only party with independence as their mantra. Hopefully they along with the wider YES community will see my dreams realised before my demise. It’s comin yet !!

  8. Agree. The democratic case has got to count above all else. I was gratified to see that Andrew Marr and John Curtice appeared to recognise this in the recent Marr programme. Battle for Britain. That Scotland and England are now two divergent countries with divergent interests, different poltical parties and different political cultures and that long term this signals the end of the UK as there is no longer any coherence to the UK as a political unit.

    They were not of course arguing for Scottish independence. Most of the programme was from a unionist perspective. They were just pointing out that the current political pattern shows no sign of change and in their view is unlikely to change, even if we have reached ‘peak SNP’.

    And that at some point there had to be a major constitutional change to reflect this democratic reality.

  9. I Argued in the first campaign that all the commotions re currency and oil funds , was so much fluff , its Scotland right or wrongs vs Britain right or wrong.

    Good old fashioned nationalism , albeit with a civic twist , for now .

    The fact the polls have not changed dramatically after Brexit , spit many NO voters, voting to remain. is much the same as not getting the party you voted for to win a General Election.
    There’s not much in it at the end of the day.

    As a NO voter in 2014 , I read the “YES ” leaflets that came through the letterbox every day, and wondered about all these “Foodbanks”, and “Bedroom tax ” , a veritable humanitarian disaster , was underway in Scotland. How “We had to independent because we would be more equal ” .

    Spite of all, no one has emigrated after dallying to long in a foodbank queue , and this “equality” is to be a species of equality that maintains Tory income tax rates .with “free health care and education ”

    Well we had all that since 1948 , and student loans are not the end of the world.

    So I welcome this new realism in the national camp , an acknowledgement or reality long overdue .

    • How would someone dependent on food banks have the means to emigrate?

      • i was thinking that myself ,along with student loans , but then again both blend in with the rest of a pretty confused post , i was going to type “confusing post” but that would infer the recipient or viewer was the dumb one , buggered if i know what was meant to be conveyed in the post .

      • Would imagine a bus to the Republic of Ireland was about £60 one way, a socially democratic, independent country, with an open door for immigrants, even more so if you have an Irish relative, as you qualify for a passport to boot.
        the ROI, can teach us a lot about free health care , education and social equality.
        Would imagine the million plus who crossed the MED last year would of jumped at the chance .

        If they don’t have £60 , in between mobile phone contracts and SKY movie subscriptions, would imagine hitch hiking would get them there.

        • The ROI does not have universal free health care. Education remains dominated by the Catholic church. Neither are things I would look for in an independent Scotland.

          • But at least they have the choice to do that. That is the point we have no choice. As a country we didn’t want to go to war in Iraq but we did. We didn’t want to leave the EU but we are
            if you had a flatmate that dictated everything about how you ran your life and your finances told you where to go and how to go. Who you were allowed to see and who you weren’t allowed to see When you ate when you slept that would be a it strange no? If they told you that people that were friends of yours couldn’t stay over. Would you accept all of that? So as a country and a nation why should we? When u leave home you do so at your pace. Paying for the things that you want and prioritise not your parents. It’s like basing your budget on your parents but get. None of us would ever be able to afford to leave. Yet we do

  10. Your enthusiasm gratifies my hart well said! Without being a wet blanket I think you might just be rallying the troops! I have been a life long SNP so that’s great.
    However, I continue to engage with ‘proud scots’ who were reluctant No voters and would love to take the leap. They are intelligent and genuinely worried about their pension, the currency, the way Scottish gov will change the way ‘they do things’ . I hoped I wd have more answers from Scottish think tanks and planners than I do (2years on). If only 2 years to go until ind2 we need to talk!

  11. Like many, I have always been an independence-on-principle guy. I have complete confidence we as a people can do an excellent job of running our own affairs. Once you get dragged into all the micro-economic questions it makes the No case stronger because it is based on uncertainty and fear. Yet Brexit has U&F to the max. and £1.6 Trillion debt into the bargain!

    One of the low points of our campaign was the claim (if I remember correctly) that each of us would be £500 better off if we voted Yes. Where was the vision, the pride and the ambition in that? Reminded me of the song “Is that all there is?”

    I hope the FM is going to pitch things more like this: do you want to have complete control of Scotland’s affairs or are you quite happy for another country to do so?

    WM is grossly incompetent, as its black hole of debt attests, yet some people in Scotland are still willing to let this rag-bag of shysters and balloons to continue their asset-stripping of our country to subsidise them.

    We have the people and a wealth of natural resources here to build a forward-looking and egalitarian country like Norway or instead we can remain in a failing, Ruritanian, unequal society riven by xenophobia and class division.

    Seems an easy choice to me

    • “Let’s take back control” is a pretty good IndyRef2 slogan.
      Worked for Leave, why not for Yes2?

      • “Take back control” , did not work in Scotland though, 62% voted against taking back control.

      • At local meeting yesterday these very words came up as a slogan.

        Trouble is the britnats will seize on this as hypocritical saying how can you want to be in Europe and have control. This argument may be nonsense and hypocrisy from them after promising we could only be in Europe by staying in the UK but as we well know the Britnats will use any argument – true or otherwise, hypocritical or not – to do down Scotland and the MSM will go with it.

        • “We want to be a part of Europe, and not a part of Britain, because we prefer it”. The end.

          I think all the nonsense about “control” is a smokescreen for the British obsession over not losing to Germany – or, more accurately, denial that Britain has lost. The time to do something about it was in the 50’s, when Britain got more Marshall Aid than Germany did, and squandered it on the “ongoing expenses” of running the remains of its empire, instead of industrial reconstruction.

  12. Scottish debt on Signiture of the Union £200,000 day after a extra £2.5 million as it was given a share of England’s war debt of 18 million. Who saved who?

    The RMT union claim that the wood group has registered it’s operations in Guernsey to avoid paying National insurance Depriving the Treasury of at a conservative estimate of 15 million a year no wonder Sir Ian doesn’t want change
    The RMT goes on to estimate some 200m is lost via this loophole per year

    Ask why if As Unionists claim Scotland is a basket case why corporation tax is devolved in Norn Iron but not Scotland not to mention the operating licences being sold at present

    A broad church of experts need to make the case for Indiependance the truth is out there

  13. Spot on Derek, my thoughts exactly

  14. I’m not sure I’d be gung-ho about condemning the 2014 campaign. There are criticisms to be made, but the result was far better than most on the Yes side would have forecast when the date was set.

    I think Alex Salmond, having given his working life to the independence cause, having made it his career, had every right to run the campaign, and I think he did a good job. If I’d been more passionate or more committed than him, or better at the job, maybe I’d have been leader of the SNP.

    We know very clearly now how venal and one-sided the “national” broadcaster is on the subject. And where we stand with the newspapers.

    Brexit had lots of support in the media, and the Leave campaign got equal respect and equal exposure.

    Unopposed American bombing didn’t defeat the North Vietnamese, but it sure prolonged the struggle (and they happily ruined Cambodia into the bargain). The question for us remains, how can Scottish Independence fight British dominance of the airwaves?


  16. “Scots have a right to run our own country…” Therein lies the problem. Many Scots see themselves as British and many see themselves as having a sort of dual nationality of two countries i.e. Scotland and Britain. Those Scots who consider themselves Scottish only will vote Yes and those as British only will vote No. But what about those who perceive themselves as having ‘dual nationality’? Well there’s a variety of views, ranging from proud Scotbuts (who are British only in all but name) to those e.g. who have made a conscious political choice to try to weaken the UK state.

    The voters who matter the most in the next Independence referendum are – as in 2014 – those in the middle of the ‘dual nationality’ range. And there’s a lot of them. But here’s the thing. I don’t think any appeal to Scottish autonomy on its own is important to them. There are lots of middle class voters in this group and they don’t have a heightened sense of historical ‘grievance’, social injustice, a democratic deficit or personal poverty.

    However when the details of Brexit start to be known and/or the hard reality of it starts to do some damage to their comfortable middle class lives, then we will probably see further support for an independent Scotland. Much though I would like to think these people will be considerably motivated by concern for their neighbour and a desire for real democracy, I suspect that watching their wallets get thinner will be the main motivating factor. To persuade these people to vote Yes we will need to continually emphasise the much greater risk – financial and otherwise – involved in remaining with Westminster. Not very noble I grant you, but necessary.

    PS Most of Ireland’s 26% GDP growth is due to profits from Apple. The growth is not ‘real’, only an accounting fix to benefit a giant multinational company and (to a much lesser extent) a small country.

  17. I want Scotland to stop being a dependent child and actually grow up and take responsibility for itself – warts and all.

    I look with a degree of envy to our Norse neighbours – Norway with its £800 billion “oil fund” (population 5 million); Denmark with a per capita income as much as 25% higher than our own (population 5.7 million); Finland with arguably the best educated population in the world (population 5.5 million); Sweden respected as an individual and influential nation in the world (population 9.5 million).

    But most of all I look to Iceland. An island of 300,000 inhabitants. It’s the seventh most productive country in the world. 85% of its energy is locally produced renewables. An unemployment rate 30% less than Scotland. The second highest quality of life in the world according to the UN. An independent place at the table with the UN, NATO, the OECD and the Council of Europe. Three TV stations where the native language predominates.

    Iceland’s fight for independence started in 1874 with the granting of restricted home rule from Denmark. But it took another 70 years to gain full independence and I doubt one single one of those 300,000 people would give that back.

    Why do a majority of my fellow Scots think that the prospect of being like Norway or Denmark or Finland or Sweden or Iceland is beyond their capabilities or ken?

  18. I believe that the FM said, ‘transcends’, rather than, ‘supersedes’, Derek.
    The MSM chose to misinterpret this as ‘abandons’.
    To win the argument, the soundness of the economy, lob stability, pensions, our position in the world, and international support and approval will be factors which convince former Nos and D/Ks, I’m afraid.
    Certainly the right to self determination is massive, as you point out; however, the project Fear Mark II campaign will still frighten some into voting to hide under the duvet until it all blows over, yet again.
    We shall be an independent country, ultimately. Brexit and the reality of the terms of the Brivorce may be the tipping point.
    Carney at BoE pumped £60 billion into banks and £10 billion per month in bonds to dampen the immediate impact of Brexit.
    Once reality bites, more Up Here will consider their options. remain with England and sail off into the world peddling their wares, or remain within the EU, as a citizen of Scotland.
    Too early to say yet. But the signs are that Self Determination within the EU will will the day, hppopefully.

  19. Steve on Iceland…..
    Great place but be careful with to close a comparison. …. yes it gets most of its energy from renewable sources but most of it is thermal which we don’t have thank God as it usually comes with volcanoes

  20. Unionists are a scream aren’t they, lets all stick with the people who keep doing it wrong they say, and their reasons? well, they always come down to one simple argument, and that is, Scotlands not good enough, which they don’t seem to grasp is rather insulting to those of us with more than the one brain cell

    Anyone can justify anything if they’re prepared to say anything to do it and it is the abiding trait of all Unionists

    Of all the countries who have gained their Independence from the UK how many have asked to return to the bosom of that Union ? and in the simple answer to that question is the reason for self determination

    There is no such thing as the UK Parliament of equals when Scotland can send 56 MPs to that place and be consistantly voted against by all so called UK parties even if they might agree on something Scotland must be shown it’s place, which is not there, as, whether you agree with them or not some of our Irish cousins just don’t take their seats because they know the reception and co operation they’ll get

    So it’s been made abundantly clear to Scotland the Parliament in England is Englands Parliament and in words we’ve all heard before “Thou shalt not pass” so Unionists just can’t have it both ways, if they want to own everything that’s fine but that doesn’t mean Scotland has to let them own our country anymore

    • The argument that I hear, which is much more constructive to concentrate on, is that the best way to affect change on Westminster is *not* to leave the UK

      I would argue that is not true. What is needed is a expression of success to counter the neoliberal narrative. To hard counter the ballony coming out the Murdoch empire.

      I believe we need to drive Proportional Representation in the UK, and become independent as a base to provide sanity to counteract the nonsense.

      How to argue that point successfully I would appreciate much help.

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