So GERs proves Scotland is a basket case – independence is over. No, wait. It proves the opposite – we need to escape the Union. Quick. Either is right and both are wrong – it all depends on your standpoint and the truth is that no facts are going to change any minds at this stage.

Independence – and the Union – are essentially emotional constructs from the voters’ perspective and whatever line of argument you take, they will fit into their own version of events. So relax. Stand down and chill. Just watch the beanfeast as each side makes claim against the other, thereby entrenching their prejudices by re-interpreting information in different ways. Then ask yourself a question: Do you fight for independence to be richer?

Ask: Would you give up part of your income – a one-off payment or an ongoing tax rise – in order to be a sovereign nation again? Because, by God, I would. It isn’t just that independence is a prize in itself – at any cost – but it would be worthwhile to rid ourselves of the wheedling, cavilling, sneering Scottish lobby whose sole delight is denigrating their own country, their own people. The total lack of self-awareness is astonishing – adult men and women boasting about how indebted they are, how useless they seem and how feeble they are in the face of the grown-up world. You can dress it up as analysis, as ‘Professor’ Jim Gallacher does for the extremist Scotland in Union outfit, but the overriding point is made: He thinks his own country is horseshit.

And that’s it. That is his point – beneath the mock academic bluster and forelock-tugging gratitude to the British state for its largesse, Prof Jim’s message is simple: We cannae dae it. We live on handouts. See us, we’re shite.

This relentless bleating and knee-crawling obeisance to a romantic outdated vision of Britain – a country committing national suicide through political cowardice and incompetence – gives every self-respecting Scot the boak. Imagine how shameful you would feel towards the end of your life if all you’d done was shore up a class-ridden, xenophobic and backward country run by a public school elite while denying your own children the same advantages as other European nations. And why? Because the annual accounts looked a bit messy.

No, the truth about Unionists is that under no circumstance will they ever desert the UK because it means more to them than Scotland. They are emotionally attached and spiritually affiliated to Britain and nothing, short of an ISIS takeover of Whitehall, will move them.

When Scotland was awash with oil revenues (theoretically that is, as the British attributed them to a made-up economic unit instead of Scotland) Unionism argued there was no need for independence. Now there are no oil revenues – bingo – you’re too poor to go it alone.

Once you grasp the essential point – that it will stay this way until enough of them are gone – you realise too they are to be ignored and pitied. After all, what aspect of Britain would rouse you to action? What is there about it you would defend?

The quality of its democracy perhaps – no PR and an unelected House. The state of its economy maybe – massive public debt, low productivity, minimal manufacturing, breadline wages, no pensions, limited workers’s rights, brutal inequality and spending hoarded in one corner.

Perhaps it’s our contribution to human rights – you know, the ones the Tories want to bin with the ECHR. Maybe it’s British friendliness – overt racism stoked by the political classes, making second class citizens out of European workers, rejecting the EU concept of partnership between nations.

Is it the sale to foreign purchasers of strategic industries? Love of nuclear power? Love of nuclear weapons?

To be fair, we still make good television programmes – if you like lemon sponges.

But none of this matters to the believers. And, yes, it is a cult because no matter how egregiously Britain behaves, its adherents will obey and forgive. It is a belief system which is why so many like Ruth Davidson and Douglas Alexander react so angrily to challenge – they genuinely feel the fear of losing what is most dear to them.

And my belief system? Well, it is also powerful and heavily based on faith but not on restricting what people can be permitted to do. It is founded on the belief that we can trust ourselves, hopefully to do the right thing but knowing that if we get it wrong, we made our own errors. Countries do – Iceland and Ireland both walked blind into a bank-led borrowing crisis and both used the collective imperative of national interest to pull through and prosper – unlike the UK. (Although the architects of the system that permitted the crash, Brown and Darling, have prospered in international finance – how very British). Am I stuck in a single mode and unable to adjust? I don’t think so.

Short of independence, I see no reason why a more federal UK cannot be made to work in the interests of all and am willing to work for it. Democracy before dogma.

Between our two sides are found the changeable ones, the uncommitted who decide the outcome of elections and who can be swayed by argument. Do they stick with desperation and dinnae? Or do they have the generational inspiration to transform their country?

And what about GERs and those fiscal transfers and higher per head spending and budget deficits? If you’re Unionist, it is proof that Scotland is incapable and bust. If you’re Nationalist, it proves the Union has failed and we need to get out.

Won’t it be expensive if we do? What GERs doesn’t address is the attribution of state assets and other areas to be divided during disaggregation talks. Nobody can say what each side would offer as the tangle of shared lines of responsibility is unwound. One estimate based on population share would award Scotland £109bn worth of assets.

It is clear from the mess Britain is in over Brexit that complicated talks of this nature can reveal unknown surprises. Any Scottish ‘deficit’ could disappear in the deluge (or else Faslane could be closed).

The irony of GERs is that it tells us where we are today under the Union – and for UK supporters, it ain’t pretty. And that’s out of their own mouths. While they trumpet delight at their own country’s poverty and dependence, we clearly wonder how that can be so after 300 years of Union and the discovery of oil.

GERs won’t change anybody’s mind. But it will underline how different are our visions for Scotland.

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43 thoughts on “Relax

  1. We’ve given three centuries for the union with England to work for Scotland. It hasn’t worked. Further devolution will not work. More Westminster promises [!] will not work. The union with England must end – and soon.

  2. The problem is existential. It’s best explained by analogy.

    Why would you give all your income and resources to a larger richer friendly neighbour for him/her to control, receiving only pocket spending money in return for him/her covering all the major expenses, but also making all the major decisions? Without consultation?

    Just because you like your neighbour, and basically trust him, and probably agree with most of his decisions anyway – why on earth would you surrender your autonomy for an assumption of greater security and prosperity?

    Especially when the greater security and prosperity turns out to be questionable?

    Even if you thought you would be better off, 99% of people, given that offer, would say, ‘Er, no. Sorry. Thanks anyway, but sorry. I’d rather shift for myself thanks’.

    Because taking his/her offer, you’d essentially be living his/her life, his/her existence.

    And what’s the point of being alive, if you can’t live your own life? Exercise your own choices? Make your own mistakes? Celebrate your own achievements?

    Living under the thumbs of others like a household pet is no worthy life at all.

    • i actually used that analogy on the doorstep, while campaigning In the referendum 2014 and finished by saying that surely no one would give their income over to their neighbour, be given back pocket money which has to be accounted for and have no control over financial decisions made on their behalf. She only hesitated a moment before replying that yes, she would.

      I was sorely tempted to report to the next door neighbour who we spoke to next, that their neighbour was prepared to hand over their finances to their control!

      Of course, that woman had understood the analogy when she had replied as she did. My take on it was that it was a lack of identity with Scotland which was why the question had no relevance for her. She could not be stirred into realisation of the unfairness of Scotland’s situation because she felt no personal involvement.

      • I take it she wasn’t a Scot then? She was just being cussed if she gave that answer, because you’d skewered her.

        You should have asked her, straight up, at that point, if she believed Scotland was a country at all or just a colonial possession the English empire. Like Guernsey perhaps.

        I am fed up pussy footing around these closet imperialists. They need to be outed.

      • Would the lady in question, I wonder, be so ambivalent, if you then said her neighbour would take a cut and then pass on a percentage to all their rich business friends who would then come along and look for more money from the lady in question for all the privatised services they provided?

        • Aha, yes. But said lady was already glazing over with the extended analogy. I don’t think that she wanted to engage any more brain cells. in other words, I think that she saw the point of the analogy and simply wanted to shut it down with sheer bloody-minded obduracy. Hence her rather daft answer.

          She was Scottish, by the way. Sometimes people want to leave logic out of it. Too troubling.

          • I know that type. They just hate the SNP. For no particular reason other than they view them as the enemy of Labour, stealing Labour’s turf. But many are Britnats. I just wish they would admit it.

  3. While I would happily pay more taxes or a one-off payment for an independent Scotland there are many who could not afford to. There are also lots of folk who see money as critical to well being even although they have plenty. For me independence represents hope for the future where Scotland has the self determination to plan for the future. How wonderful that would be.

  4. Well said Derek and couldn’t agree more.

    I think the last indyref did it for me. Snuffed out whatever little regard I had left for the UK state and its definition of an identity. The way establishment parties and the media so readily turned on their own population, their own people, left me horrified and saddened. That they were so willing to cause harm, to denigrate their own and in the name of what?

    The real question some should ask themselves is, why would they want to identify with a system of government that would do this to those in their care? In fact, who could call themselves a government fit for office that would consider those actions?

  5. I remember some commentator in the 1st indyref pointing out that when India and Ireland wanted independence they didn’t sit down with a pen and paper to work out if they would be better or worse off financially as a result.
    The 2 arguments need to be separated out but just now that seems to be all its about , would we be better or worse off.
    Even the argument for nuclear weapons seems to be based on whether or not people would lose their jobs at Faslane. Would we be better off or worse off financially as a result of nuclear weapons.

    • But India and Ireland were oppressed. I mean, really, historically, oppressed. The problem with us is that we are not really oppressed as such. We suffer slights and injuries and the permanent stasis of mediocrity but not outright oppression as such. We are more ‘misgoverned’. That’s a harder sell to people who may occasionally grumble, but are basically content. What you are trying to do with these sort of people is to rouse them out of their apathy and raise their expectations. That’s why the Yes movement was so successful. We briefly became alive, briefly dared to dream of our unfulfilled potential.

      That said, for the most vulnerable in our society, I do believe they are actually oppressed by Tory governments voted in by English shires.

    • “when India and Ireland wanted independence”
      There were 2000 Irishmen and women, willing to die for Ireland in the Easter rising of 1916.
      We could not muster 2000 “Scots” to spend a summer picking strawberries for Independence.
      Yes within 10 miles of the most acute poverty and inequality in Europe *Dundee, the food bank capital of Scotland “.
      There are 15000 E.Europeans working for the minimum wage.
      People traverse the length of Europe to work, save m and amount to something.
      Scots dont do these jobs because “its not worth it, only be £30 a week better off, tada” .

      When you make “poverty and inequality” the main reasons for Indy
      its hard to justify.

  6. Totally agree with every word of this. Well said Derek. I would love to get into the mind of a BritNat for one day just to try to understand what their thought processes actually are. What are their concepts of self-respect and just self in general? What do they understand by the word and place ‘Scotland’? These are things that completely and utterly baffle me.

    Sadly, despite knocking hundreds of doors three years ago, the most ‘articulate’ response I ever got to blind loyalty to UKOK was something like ‘I don’t want that Alex Salmond being king of Scotland’ or variants on the kind of ill-informed financial cringes that Derek describes. These have now been replaced by ‘no more divisive referendums’ such is their determination to not even enter a debate that they wouldn’t properly engage with anyway. Totally pathetic.

    • I don’t know if you are a passionate European, but I guess the mindset of the Britnat is similar to those of us who feel deprived by Brexit. Overwhelming sense of loss. The difference being that while the EU is an actual thing, Britain is, as has been said, an emotional construct. No less powerful for that in the minds of many.
      And, of course, it’s ironic that Derek uses the argument about giving up some wealth for the sake of sovereignty. Because this is the same argument you will hear from Brexiteers. So while using the same arguments for remaining in the EU, as Better Together did in 2014, we find ourselves simultaneously arguing like Farage and his take back control when it comes to independence…
      It’s complicated….as Facebook might say.

      • A common error. If I may say so. The UK supported by Brits is already an independent nation. Scotland is not. We are arguing for self determination and respect. The UK has that, just doesn’t want to share. Therefore totally different circumstances.
        Brexiteers I hear from aren’t offering to pay more – on the contrary, they promised extra funding from withdrawal and are now in denial about the costs. Again totally different.
        Comparisons with Farage are just ludicrous. I want to be part of the EU commonality. He does not. He wants an end to immigration. I wish the opposite. He is racist and anti-Scot.
        Skimming fundamentals to contrive comparisons is a Unionist trick, no?

        • What Derek said! Also Scotland wants to rejoin the international community incluyding the EU whilst rUK leavers want ‘splendid isolation’ away from all the non English sort, which is why Britnats denied other EU citizens the vote in Brexit (as demanded by Farage) & why Scotnats INCLUDED EU citizens in the Indy franchise despite the proven risk that most EU citizens voted NO to Indy and like their fellow Scots voters, now regret doing so!

          • There are obvious parallels between the referendums, national control (depending on where you draw the boundaries) being the main issue, and the incumbents relying on Project Fear to give the victory as they didn’t have much positive to talk about.

            The main difference being that Project Fear failed this time – probabolly because the UK already had all the nation state trappings and a recent history of independence. So people felt it was safe enough to press the reboot.

            The other important lesson is how quickly the new reality becomes accepted. Only the Lib Dems still talk about EU membership.

        • “Brexiteers I hear from aren’t offering to pay more – on the contrary, they promised extra funding from withdrawal and are now in denial about the costs. Again totally different.”

          Who on the “yes” side in 2014 “offered to “pay more”?

          That a prominent contributor can advocate it is indeed laudable .
          We have already had “the penny for Scotland”, that went down like a lead balloon amongst the electorate.

          Ending austerity, does not imply declining living standards the opposite in fact.

  7. Federalism – a dead end much like this union is dead . Just another distraction , a jam tomorrow joke
    Shell & BP operate all over the planet , the one country they pay NO tax from oil extracted is the UK ,we give them tax breaks to take OUR oil , now thats a deal made in heaven for the public school educated wizz kids who run the country , only a tory could sell that one as being a good deal
    It must be truly baffling to them how Norway along with every other country manages to get tax revenues something smells and it aint the oil .

    Better together my ARSE .

  8. Have you any idea how many people haven’t a clue about what they voted for in the EU Referendum?

    I have asked folks who voted Leave why and I get answers like “Sovereignty” and ” we ought to be able to control who comes into this country^ and “nobody could stop us throwing out that dreadful muslim cleric with the hook hand”.

    I’ve been called a liar when I said that EU laws only applied to EU citizens and the cleric wasn’t an EU citizen. I’ve been called a liar when I said at it was the ECHR which prevented the cleric being deported. To be brutally frank most of them have never heard of the ECHR, don’t know what it does, why it was set up or anything else about it.

    I hate the idea of Jim Crow laws on voting but when I think how little people know about all this stuff I wonder if there should not be some sort of basic competency test.

    • Have to say nothing irritates me more than the regularly used phrases ‘the electorate isn’t stupid’ or ‘voters aren’t daft’. Vast majority of them are exactly that or, if I were to be a bit more charitable, just don’t have the time and/or inclination to bother trying to educate themselves. Most folk don’t have personal opinions, they have opinions projected onto them. This will always be a major hurdle to us while the vast majority of media they consume is rabidly British Nationalist.

      • Nail hit, firmly on the head. I too wonder sometimes if there should not be a competency test for the universal franchise! But then who decides on what is competent, and what is not?

        • What is required is a decent media. The average person isn’t daft if they have the facts. The problem is they have no access to the facts. Unless they go to a great deal of trouble to find them. The average person doesn’t have the time. A decent media is an absolute cornerstone of democracy but that’s not what we have.

    • Are you talking about Abu Hamza? He was a UK citizen, and therefore also an EU citizen. And he wasn’t being deported, but extradited – to the US. Where he received a life sentence and will die in prison (no parole for his offences). His extradition was delayed by appeals to the non-EU ECHR over the severity of US sentencing policy, but rejected in the end by the judges.

      EU laws obviously apply to everyone in the EU.

  9. Superb stuff Derek- right balance of commonsense, facts and emotional commitment.

    Like you, I’d pay one-off or continuously for independence. I can afford it – just – but I have no issue with that to help others who can’t. I don’t care how well-off Britain makes me as an individual if my children and grandchildren can’t prosper here, if religious and racists get to decide our council priorities, if priveleges for the few allow them to siphon off the profits into tax-free overseas accounts while the people here suffer a lack of investment in our society.

    I don’t want to exclude anyone from Scotland or being a Scottish citizen – I want us to have the power to decide how we want Scotland to be – and I would like a fairer, more inclusive and progressive Scotland.
    But first we need to have the power to make the decisions. The Soviet Union had two revolutions in 1917 – one to break the establishment’s cast-iron hold, the other to bring about change.

    Let us hope that we do the first, and that we make the second change more open and people centred than the Soviet example. We will if we want it enough..

  10. I think there is a huge amount of denial and hypocrisy in those ‘Scots’ who are in favour of the Union and continued Scottish dependence. There is nothing wrong with feeling you are British. Just admit it please and save us the false empathy for, and interest in, Scotland.

    What I can’t stand are those who profess to be democrats and internationalists – and claim that Scotland is indeed a country – just not a country which should ever have sovereignty.

    Cognitive dissonance? Or maybe just plain phoney?

  11. The UK vs Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden. Capital Investment as % of GDP. Compare and contrast 1970 to date – as exam papers used to say.

    UK gets an F. Bottom throughout. Look at the Current Account graph for the same period to see the end result.

    If the UK can’t do at least as well as it’s neighbours, most of whom didn’t have North Sea oil, it never will. It almost went bust in the 1970’s but was baled out by oil. What a waste that proved to be.

  12. Great post as ever Derek, but as I always share on FB, can you get someone to alter your ‘masthead, as it does not travel well and your picture never re-produces.
    Help him Sam! (Macart)

  13. Derek, I’m inclined to view that there two, at least, types main of Brit Nats. First there are the category who rejoice in England heavily funded sporting successes, hand on chest singing G S the Q – successes by mercenaries from whatever other country – but then wail about foreigners. Big Ben is important to them, as is BBC Radio 4. They’re education system imbued in them a feeling of superiority yet, I recall Dob Dillan’s words – they are only a pawn in the game.

    Then there is the elite. I doubt that they have any inclination to hand on chest singing GS the Q nationalism. England suits them because they are a privileged wealthy group in England, and in Scotland. India and Pakistan, and South Africa, and Rhodesia, once suited them, but that is no longer. And so what’s left to them but grouse moors in Scotland, oil in Scottish waters, and banking scams in London.

    Regrettably we have many of the first category – pawns in the game – in Scotland, but their BritNationalism is driven by a feeling of their inadequancy, driven into them by an education system that suppressed the reality of the union with England. Thumb suckers.

    And then we have a new category, mostly retirees, who have cashed in their chips in England, moved to Scotland for a better life, then vote Unionist to maintain the social system they fled. Eh? Really? Who else would vote for Mundell?

    I’m no Psychologist, just an observer pissed off with folk who self harm themselves politically.

  14. According to my reading of the Ger’s figures the English tax payers are subsidizing the Scottish people, we should therefore rescind the Treaty of the Union of Parliaments. thereby. allow them to spend the money saved on the English people. LOL

    • Alasdair Macdonald

      I know that you are being partly flippant here, Bill Purves, but I have often wondered why the BBC and the other media never ask Mrs May, Mr Cameron, Mr Brown, Mr Darling etc. why, if Scotland is such a basket case, England continues to keep it on life support? Surely, England should terminate the union and leave us, and the Northern Irish and the Welsh to wallow.

  15. Yes, I’d pay to be independent; I’d pay to be rid of those who continually run down Scotland and exult at our supposed reliance on English alms. (I’ll even help them load the pantechnicon) I want an Independent Scotland to be a beacon of egalitarianism, where, for example, top pay is restricted to, say, around 4 times the average worker (like the Ecology BS), where wealth is taxed and decent State pensions are provided, where companies pay their fair share and salting away billions in tax havens is made illegal and so on and so on. No, it won’t happen overnight, but if the lobbyists and the neoliberals simply move up from London and capture the executive then we will have gained nothing.

    Oh, and I want real democracy where the people are truly sovereign and professional politicians with all their lies and averice as, like Darling and the other contemptibles, they revolve out the door and into City jobs where they can prepare the next crash, are history. We must aim high.

  16. I welcome your comments Sir.

    But the media circus is only so much smoke and mirrors.

    The only real obstacle to independence now is the arrival, every year, of fifty thousand newly retired colonists from the Home counties, and those lucky few who have been successful in the cesspool that passes for business in this “precious” Union. Of crooks. We should rename it “Mordor.”

    These folks are not coming to make a new nation, but to preserve an old one. For them, the act of Devolution has simply created the opportunity for a two tiered health care system in the UK.

    Because Scot’s have a tradition of communitarianism, we commit considerable resources towards competent social services. This has widespread sympathy across almost all political parties in Scotland.
    Thus, our social services are a mile ahead of their counterparts in England and Wales, and made to order for your discerning retiree. Arrival of another half a million in the next ten years will add considerable strain to these services as our economy falters due to Brexit. It will likely precipitate the collapse of the SNHS by 2020.

    This is why Ruth Davidson is hiding right now. She actually recognizes the folly of her current masters in Whitehall. Too ashamed to defend them. She is Scottish after all. I believe even she would be shy of becoming First Minister of a bankrupt parish council. Who would want the job?

    For the majority of the lucky few who take up residence in this land – and they are lucky – Scotland is nothing more than a very large grouse shooting estate, with pipers and colorful locals. In their blissful innocence, they even believe it begins north of Hadrian’s Wall. Many will volunteer this misinformation quite sincerely. It is endearing, in an ironic sort of way.

    Meanwhile, with the collapse of the SNHS, they will be reduced to the same precarious state as their southern kin. A lot colder though. The state of them…

  17. Brilliant Derek!

  18. My hypothesis is there are around 1/3 Scots who are indy by conviction, about the same number for unionism, and a floating third (though if anything larger) who could be convinced either way. The White Paper was produced by the civil service so will use the state data available – an oil price fall obviously hits that, but as more powers on taxation are devolved, the official picture of Scotland’s economy will improve.

    More concerning would be if the Growth Commission report was pulled. It’s not clear that it has – it would seem sensible to separate its publication from the latest GERS. But if it has been completed, and the FM won’t release it, that would a signal that indy2 isn’t planned in the next five years.

    If it is published, then the hints were that it would sketch a picture of a successful Scotland where oil was only a top-up or bonus.

  19. How do you negotiate Federalism/Devo Max with a Government and its people with a 100% track record of double crossing, untrustworthy, bams.

    And what is the motive / desire for this for the Little Englander. And where is the demand.

    Put it on the table though and you can water down the argument for Indy with a thousand and one different flavours of Federalism, all with a different nuance, and have us all at each others throats arguing for our preferred variation.

    Which is sort of the point of it.

    And if we put our cynicism to one side for a second, wave a magic wand, close our eyes and pretend its been delivered. How secure will those powers be.

    Power devolved is Power retained. As the Brexit vote has shown all to clearly.

    Since 1904 the Labour party – the other cheek of Westminster’s scelpit erse – has been promising to abolish the House of Lords, and from much the same starting point, with regular frequency – promising Home Rule for Scotland – only to quietly drop it whenever in power. Tony Blair delivered Holyrood grudgingly, with a gun to his head by Europe. If he could’ve wriggled out of it, he would have.

    And lastly – lets call a spade a shovel. British Nationalism = English Nationalism, even if the Scottie Buts don’t realise it.

    Wales is one of the poorest, most deprived Regions in Europe, after 90 years of voting labour.

    While London is the richest.

    Westminster has one function, which is to asset strip all and every country to serve London and England and the Elites who rule there. And it has a long and practised hand at exercising this.

    Better Together My Erse.

  20. SteveAsaneilean

    One of the best pieces you have written on this blog Derek – thank you.

    The desire for independence is a normal human state. Fawning to dependency is quite definitely not – yet is what about half of the Scottish electorate seem to aspire to.

    If you voted No and Leave then you are, in your own small way 100% responsible for how Scotland is and how it will become. If you cannot or will not accept responsibility for the consequences of your voting choices then you are spineless and undemocratic.

    The choice of independence for Scotland is about that and that alone. Decision on taxation or nuclear weapons or the EU or whatever are for an independent Scotland to make. To conflate these issues with the desire for independence diminishes that desire and should be avoided.

  21. Brilliant post Derek. O how I miss your input on Radio Scotland.

  22. Touche Derek, could not have said that better! It is a beautifully crafted article.

  23. Have just returned from a Danube holiday with a German lady friend, on a Ukrainian ship with all German passengers ( and one Scot ! ). Started Germany (pop 80m), then Austria (pop 8m), Hungary (pop 9m) and Slovakia (pop 5m)

    No evidence of xenophobia except from one fat, rude female Bavarian to what looked like immigrants on a train – my friend then laid into her. What is clear is how successful the EU seems to have been in managing change and my reason to want to stay in it has nothing to do with “being richer” as you note, but the calming effect of the ECHR and other constructs.

    Having said that, you should see the activity ( if construction cranes are anything to go by ) in Euroland, and Hungary.

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