One Man’s Journey

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Independence, always around the next bend, and over the next hill

Iain Lawson is a man with a fulsome history of the SNP, someone worth listening to for an hour’s chin wag if you met him in a pub for the first time. With his gravel laden voice adding weight to his presence, a heavy duty tractor gouging furrows in a fresh field, the listener is soon beguiled by his tales of Scotland’s bewildering capacity to spoil the crop before it has ripened.

He was an SNP member many years, serving on the SNP’s national council for twelve years, something of a record in the context of the NEC’s recent troubled times where new members come and go through revolving doors. Lately, thoroughly disillusioned with Scotland’s politics as advanced by the leader of the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon, he switched to the ALBA party after considerable inner debate.

This site receives a fair number of unsolicited requests to publish articles of others, sometimes I do the contacting. Not having an opinion on everything, I am happy to offer space to people with something relevant and informative to say about Scotland’s political malaise, particularly if they speak from the heart as well as the head. Here, Iain Lawson gives an honest account about the rise of the SNP and the conflicts that tore him apart, so to speak, and why he believes he wants Scotland’s independence reinstated far more than the SNP.

WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?

by Iain Lawson

I was so proud when my generation delivered the Scottish Parliament back in the 1990’s. At a stroke we had become a success. We had advanced the fight for full Independence a country mile. We had provided a platform where Scottish politics could for flourish and focus minds on what matters to our people. Unlike generations before we had concrete evidence of progress. Not for us a lifetime’s effort and little or nothing to show for it. Watch us go now we thought.

Initially progress was cautious Scottish Government’s formed by coalition between Labour and the Liberals kept things running as before. Yes there are more nationalists there but the electoral system, thus far,  had operated as intended and there was no sign the system would ever let the SNP into Government. The Parliament was awash with funding, so much so Jack McConnell thought it easier to return many millions to the Treasury in London rather than come up with constructive ideas on how to spend it in Scotland. Quite astonishing! The housing crisis must have been solved, just nobody knew or had noticed.

Then came 2007 and the SNP shocked Scotland through becoming the biggest Party in the election. By one seat. They had no majority mind but that maverick Alex Salmond claimed victory in the election and announced he intended to run a minority Government. The Unionists, still stunned by this SNP advance only offered a confused opposition and before anyone could do anything Alex Salmond became First Minister.

Alex Salmond

Now this is where the genius emerged, Alex recognised that the numbers left him vulnerable all the time so he had to come up with a defence. It was brilliant, he decided Scotland would have an innovative, active, popular Government and with machine gun speed introduced a host of popular policies.

After years of Lab/Lib Lethargy here was a very positive contrast that the people could get behind. All of a sudden all talk of overthrowing the SNP government disappeared, the more so after the Tories, at the time led by the astute Annabel Goldie, recognised an opportunity, particularly at budget time, to advance funding for some Tory priorities. As these often related to law and order or education, they were largely non contentious so it rarely proved a problem. The effect of this however was to remove the Lib Dems from their last role of significance in Holyrood. While in coalition with Labour they always enjoyed a few weeks of prominence when budget time came along and they could do a deal to win some concessions from Labour. Now they were out the loop entirely, an irrelevance!

No wind in their sails

Labour were in the doldrums, not quite believing they were out of power for the first time, they were fraught with internal conflict as they tried to overcome the shock. In the public mind neither the Labour or Liberals looked Government material so no alternative to Salmond’s Government remained. He had successfully overcome his vulnerability but it still remained crucial his Government governed well and remain popular at all times. He would dare the opposition to try and topple him and exact a terrible price if they did.

These were the golden years of the new Scottish Parliament. How proud we all were of this great success. Many found it unbelievable, a successful Scottish Government. It couldn’t get any better than this, but it could and did.

Beating a loaded system

In the 2011 election the SNP received the accolade their years of good government deserved and they overturned the electoral system that was specifically designed to ensure no single Party could win a majority and they managed a one seat majority, thanks to a verging on miraculous combination of circumstances that delivered an always thought  impossible overall majority of one seat.

With Alex Salmond as First Minister he knew we must make the most of this opportunity and he instantly put in process the events which led to the first Independence Referendum which was held in September 2014. During an imaginative campaign support from Independence soared from 28% to 45% and we were on the point of victory until the last minute “vow” saved the day for the Union. It was heartbreak for many but also a pride that we had run such an excellent campaign.

That pride reached new levels when the reaction of the Scottish people emerged. Beaten? Never! Membership of the SNP doubled and then trebled, and then quadrupled, continuing to climb to over 120,000 people.

The best of inheritances

That is the inheritance Nicola Sturgeon enjoyed as she stepped onto the stage at the crowded Hydro Hotel. Confidence was at record levels now we can finish the job. The 2015 General Election came quickly with the SNP sweeping all before them winning an astonishing 56 out of 59 seats. Now we will see action. When do independence discussions start?

Alas, this turned out to be the high point for our hopes.

Gradually Nicola changed the personnel introducing her friends, mainly female to cabinet. Independence slipped off the radar as did most new ideas, it became a managerial emphasis rather than new policies. Government slowed down. The 2017 General Election was a huge disappointment, ignoring the wishes of the membership Independence did not feature in the campaign at all. The core Independence support found it all very underwhelming and 500,000 stayed at home leading to a big loss of seats.

Shortly thereafter the Brexit crisis was well underway as Nicola sought to save England from their folly. Brave fighting words and promises about not tolerating Scotland being dragged out the Single Market against our wishes. You would see, when that became inevitable Nicola had a “Secret plan” that would kick in and we would soon be free. Do you remember these days? The condemnation anyone attracted who suggested the “secret plan” was a fallacy?. Trust Nicola, that is all it took and with one bound we would be free.

Of course we know now there was no secret plan, there had never been one. What we had just witnessed was a bit of classic delay politics. Just you wait indeed!

Neverending road blocks and tolls

We have waited through the Brexit marathon, followed by Covid being over, more recently extended to the “effects of Covid being over” all the time the British Government are reducing the powers of Scotland, closing down our options, introducing. Plans to sideline Holyrood by financing Councils and projects directly. One sided waiting carries big penalties I am afraid.

Opportunities are missed daily, no confrontation over closing borders, no fight to stop powers being stripped while introducing hugely controversial and downright dangerous laws like GRA and the very dangerous Hate Crime Bill that attacks the very tenets of Freedom of Speech, alongside malicious prosecution of political rivals and opponents, squandering huge amounts of taxpayers cash following personal vendettas.

SNP lost their way? For sure. On a very wrong and dangerous path? Without doubt. Unlike Alex Salmond, our First Minister has created a Government of pals, some, most would say most, of dubious ability and it is increasingly becoming very obvious.

Jobs for the boys, but mostly the girls

Covid out of control, education in the hands of a particularly poor minister, likewise moving the disaster that is Humza from Justice where he presided in our Justice System plummeting to a lower reputation than any thought possible before, with evil and wrong prosecutions resulting in huge compensation being paid to the victims, and with more to come, promotion to Health does not auger well for that Department either.

So many mistakes, such evil manipulation of power, such irresponsible squandering of taxpayers cash trying to settle personal jealousies has created the situation where a man like myself who was publishing loyal fulsome praise about Nicola Sturgeon urging people to be patient and give her the opportunity to honour her word as recently as at the start of 2019 now finds that trust betrayed, praying for the day when she and her entourage are gone and have been replaced by people who stay true to the goal of full Independence.

Who can replace the shame I feel for trusting her for so long and not recognising earlier that she has no intention of ever taking Independence forward if it risks her current power base. Too comfortable by half I regret to say.

I wanted to believe but it is madness to ignore the evidence. She shows no inclination never mind urgency, her Government and Party have ignored the need for preparation and progressing the Independence message. A series of internal moves has wrested control of the Party from the members and handed it over to a totally incompetent and misguided clique that controls the NEC who have removed any ability for members of branches to influence any event. The planned loss of National Council has effectively removed any ability for members to hold the elite clique to account. As money is raised until false pretences and spent on items not outlined in the financial appeal, the Party faces big credibility issues when next additional funds are required.

Ineria Incorporated

There is no vigour, no direction or vision, or planning. Activists are leaderless and mystified at the lack of campaigning materials or organised events. They know the Party now has an army of full time paid professionals, some with big salaries but all they see is the division between the payroll members and the volunteer membership widening by the day.

We should have all been more vigilant about this, it should never have been allowed to develop as it did but we wanted to trust, to believe. We found it hard to believe that our colleagues had a different agenda to progressing Independence.

We know now and for that error in judgement I am very sorry. I must confess to considerable anger that having being handed such a golden inheritance it has been allowed to be squandered as it has. I now doubt I will see Independence in my lifetime and that is a bitter pill to swallow. It will however not stop me trying, politics can change swiftly and nobody knows the future.

All we can do is hope and that has become a full time job for me these days.

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NOTES

Iain Lawson worked in banking and sales administration before creating his own pest control business in Scotland in 1979. It grew to become the biggest Scottish owned pest control company in the country. It then took over the state controlled pest control department in Estonia and a few years later also expanded into Cyprus. Iain sold these businesses in the last few years in advance of his full retirement in 2018. He also acted as the Development Director in both the Baltic’s, the UK and Ireland on a consultancy basis for Rentokil plc for six years.

He was in the Conservative Party before he joined the SNP in 1986, being the Chairman of the Conservative Party Parliamentary Candidates Association. He left in 1986, one of the nine men who walked from Gartcosh to London in defence of Scottish Steel. He has contested two by elections, Garscadden in 1978 for the Tories and Paisley South in 1990 for the SNP. He contested General Elections in Garscadden 1979, Dumbarton 1983, Stirling 1987 and Paisley South 1992. In every case, irrespective of Party, he improved his party’s standing.

He joined the SNP IN 1986 and after being member for about eighteen months was elected to the NEC. He was also the Executive Vice Convener in charge of Administration and Fundraising. He has held numerous posts including being spokesperson for Steel, Trade and Industry, Transport and served on the NEC for almost twelve years. He left politics in Scotland after he invested his life savings in Estonia and shortly afterwards he was appointed as the Honorary Consul of the  Republic of Estonia in Scotland, a post he held for fifteen years until his retirement in 2018. He now comments on Scottish politics through his blog Yours for Scotland. He lives in Paisley, Scotland, with his wife Celia, who is a former Provost of Renfrewshire.

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Nicola’s Fairy Tale

Nicola Sturgeon claimed 'hard times ahead' for Scots after independence  dream shattered | UK | News | Express.co.uk
Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland

In his Scotsman column, ALBA MP, Kenny MacAskill argues that Nicola Sturgeon sold voters on a fairy tale that is already starting to go wrong. Like so many others, he has seen that far from being equal to the task of encouraging more and more of the electorate to see the benefits of self-reliance in a rich country, and evolving a strategy to force Boris and the Tories to the negotiating table, she brought the job of First Minister down to her level of competence. Promises of new referendum tactics, and finger wagging at Downing Street are laughed off by a dismissive Tory party already making profound inroads into Scotland’s governance. Playing the role of Mother Scotland has to go hand-in-hand with political guile and statemanship, qualities Angela Merkel and Golda Meir had in abundance that they brought to their role as leader of their nation.

THE FAIRY TALE PRINCESS

by Kenny MacAskill

I’ve no sympathy for those in the SNP who predicted a referendum was sure to follow their victory in May’s elections. Not only that but when it was held, victory would be all but guaranteed. There was good reason to feel it might just have been England’s year on the football pitch, there was none to believe that Boris Johnson would concede a section 30 order to allow an independence referendum.

Bad luck and nerves cost England’s [team dear], there’s no excuses for the SNP. Far from blinking, Johnson has been emboldened. The Tories didn’t do well in Scotland, but he doesn’t care. The vaccination roll-out and a football feel-good factor in England mean even the calamitous restriction-lifting won’t unduly perturb him. He’s ensconced and knows it. A safe majority and a weak opposition, he’s just going to ignore SNP pleas and carry on regardless. Scotland has much to fear.

None of that was in the Team SNP script. Instead he was to baulk when the votes piled up for the SNP and pile up they did, but to no avail. Scotland’s no closer to a second referendum now than it was before the election. It was all a ruse or simply foolishness and naivety. Probably both. But what does that do for the second strand of the script which was that, after the referendum was dutifully ceded, it would be called in due course when the pandemic had passed? Then a public so beholden to the Good Princess whose leadership had saved the people from the nasty virus and the incompetence of the Big Bad Overlord would dutifully do as she bid.

Everyone would then live happily ever after in the new land. All that was needed was to “wheesht”, vote accordingly and it would all come true. It was a fairy story.

Instead we’re now in a place where we’ve no section 30 order or sign of a referendum and awaiting the pandemic recovery is fanciful as Boris Johnson pursues a strategy of “let it rip”.

Far from a grateful population, Nicola Sturgeon’s going to face growing frustration and anger, as there can’t be a recovery without independence. To date she’s been almost Teflon where her coronavirus presentational skills have absolved her of blame. But those days are past and attempts to achieve the elimination of Covid now seem a lifetime ago.

She’ll offer Johnson Lite but it’ll still come at a cost. The return of exams, school and university, never mind a care home inquiry, is still to come and is fraught with difficulties to say the least.

The reality’s a referendum has still to be won, the cause needs separated from the Scottish government and it must come soon.

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Scotland in the 21st Century: 3

In this third paper taken from his book, ‘Doun-Hauden: The Socio-Political Determinants of Scottish Independence’, Professor Alfred Baird relates the critical importance of demographics, one of the last subjects deemed an unspeakable taboo by unionists desperate to narrow this debate down to whether you like English people (the trap to catch the unwary as racists), and also by some anxiety-prone self-governance nationalists who hope never to antagonise our opponents as if somehow, being terribly ‘nice’ and respectful rather than civil wins adherents to the cause of equality and liberty.

“You humiliate us to control us”, said Mahatma Gandhi to the British ambassador and his committee sitting at the other side of the negotiation table. “It is time you left.” The ambassador responded, “With respect, Mr Gandhi, without British administration, this country would be reduced to chaos.” Gandhi smiled. “I beg you to accept, there is no country on earth that would not prefer its own bad government to the good government of an alien power.” “But my dear sir, India is British, we are hardly an alien power”, came the reply. “You do not expect the English to just walk out of India?” Gandhi answered, “Yes, you will walk out of India, because 100,000 Englishmen simply cannot control 350 million Indians if those Indians refuse to co-operate. And that is precisely what we intend to achieve, peaceful, non-violent, non-co-operation resistance, until you, yourself, see the wisdom of leaving, your Excellency.”

And as soon as governance of India began to cost Britain too much, we duly upped sticks and left, making sure we agreed to a the usual disasterous partition, India and Pakistan, which begs the question, (incoming satire) will Orkney be thrown at Scotland as a separate state, as is the British government’s usual practice in the matter of leaving a colonised territory it has usurped and sucked dry.

As for the modern day tactic of reducing intellectual discourse to racial likes and dislikes, both parties in the independence debate lost this contrived, repressive argument some time ago, just as independence will be lost unless we are willing to look at the issue and solutions square-on and methodically, in a humane manner.

DEMOGRAPHICS

The colonizer is a privileged being and an illegitimately privileged one; that is, an usurper’ (Albert Memmi)

Over the last two centuries some 3-4 million Scots, mostly working class, were displaced from Scotland due to the chronic lack of economic opportunities provided for them in their own land, and often helped to exit their country of birth by UK state ‘incentives’ (e.g. Empire Settlement Acts). During this period Scotland proportionately ‘lost’ more of its people than any other north-western European country, which suggests the exodus was planned rather than accidental.

Historic census data confirms that, over much of the same period, Scotland imported a significant element of its meritocracy and professional and managerial class from rest-UK, primarily England. Higher level posts in Scotland, even today, and as a matter of course, are advertised primarily in the London metropolitan press and are therefore aimed at the far larger labour market in rest-UK. Hence Professor Michael Hechter’s findings that Scotland (and Wales, as the ‘Celtic periphery’) exhibits ‘an ethnic division of labour’ that reflects a dominant Anglophone meritocracy as a feature of what he termed ‘the UK internal colonialism model’.

During the last thirty years since 1991, an average of around 50,000 people per annum have moved from rest-UK, mainly England, to live in Scotland, according to the census. This is considerably more than the number of people moving to Scotland from all other nations combined. In total, approximately 1.5 million people have therefore moved to Scotland from rest-UK since 1991 alone. The census notes that: ‘migration between Scotland and the rest of the UK is estimated based on GP registrations’… therefore moves which were not registered with a GP may not have been counted’.  This implies that actual migration figures are likely to be even greater than stated. 

In 2001, Scotland’s population was 5.0 million and by 2020 this had increased to a record high of 5.5 million, an increase of 10 per cent. An important change over the two decades is that Scotland’s annual number of deaths (63,100 in 2020) now consistently exceeds the number of births (48,700). Scotland today has the lowest fertility rates in the UK, which means there is no natural population growth and it is therefore migration that is boosting (and replacing) the Scottish population year on year. National Records of Scotland state that: ‘Migration has been adding to Scotland’s population for the last 20 years’.

During the UK union the make-up and identity of Scotland’s population has therefore been substantially altered through in-migration mainly from rest-UK, and by the very substantial historic, and largely incentivised out-migration of Scots. Migration is an important aspect of national governance over which Scotland has no control, nor policy, immigration being reserved entirely to Westminster and the UK Government. In other words, Scotland’s population remains outwith Scotland’s control, much as it has been since the UK union began. This does not mean the population of Scotland is not being ‘managed’, of course.

Significant demographic change brings with it changes in a peoples’ culture, language, politics, beliefs, values and hence also a change in ‘national identity’ and ‘sense of belonging’ of much of the population. For example, the census indicates that ongoing demographic change means there are now only 1.6 million Scots speakers left in Scotland, which implies that most of the remaining 4.0 million of the population today are Anglophone. This is important in the context of independence because we know that ‘peoples’ in self-determination conflict are linguistically divided; it is after all our (Scots) language and culture which gives us our national identity and provides the basis of our (Scottish) national consciousness and the motivation for national independence. It therefore stands to reason that people holding to other cultures, languages and identities will tend not have the same ‘Scottish’ national consciousness nor desire for independence as indigenous Scots.

This was confirmed by post-2014 referendum research findings, as people from rest-UK coming to live in Scotland mostly voted against Scottish independence, reflecting a linguistic and cultural (and hence ethnic) divide between them and the Scots. This evidence suggests independence may therefore be undermined by prevailing uncontrolled immigration from rest-UK to Scotland. In addition, the independence challenge is made more difficult through the use of an irregular local government electoral franchise for national elections and referendums in Scotland which is based on residence, not nationality.

Scotland’s in-migration differs markedly from that occurring in many other countries in that it is predominantly people from Scotland’s ‘administrative Power’ (i.e. England) who consistently comprise the largest single ethnic migrant group to Scotland, and this has been the case for the past century and more. That this movement is also oriented towards theprofessional and managerial classes further reflects a rather colonial reality for Scots. To some people migration is basically about survival, however, this is not the rationale for migration insofar as inflows from England to Scotland are concerned. The import of a largely mobile managerial and professional (middle) class from a single country of origin, the latter also wielding political control over Scotland, cannot be described as migration for survival. Conversely, the loss of 3-4 million mostly working-class Scots over the past two centuries and more, reflecting high and sustained levels of poverty, deprivation, unemployment and lack of opportunity in Scotland (relative to England), coupled with UK state incentives to leave, may more realistically be described as migration for survival. 

There are clearly significant differences between Scotland’s historic out-migration, which has levelled off somewhat since 1980s deindustrialisation and 1990s Devolution (the latter giving Scots some hope for the future), and ongoing in-migration, and through this the major changes that we see in the culture, language, identity and ‘sense of belonging’ of Scotland’s s population today.

Neoliberal attitudes promoted by the SNP leadership maintains that all those living and working in Scotland are ‘Scots’ irrespective of their actual national identity, the argument being that anyone who lives here should have a national vote in a referendum on independence. A national identity, however, cannot be forced upon people who do not want it, as some two million voters, half or more holding to other national identities, demonstrated when they opted to reject and block Scottish independence (and Scottish citizenship) in 2014.  

It is important to understand why such significant numbers of people from rest-UK, primarily England, move to Scotland. Scotland has an attractive natural environment and more affordable property prices than many parts of England. Scotland is also one of few countries with no controls over its immigration, which effectively means Scotland’s population may be fundamentally changed over time, as appears to have occurred, given census data. The advertising of most of Scotland’s professional and top jobs primarily in a far larger populated neighbouring country is another factor, as is the absence of any indigenous language requirement (i.e. Gaelic or Scots) for immigrants taking jobs in Scotland. The absence of any indigenous language requirement differentiates Scotland from other countries such as Iceland, Norway, Finland, Estonia etc. in that an indigenous language requirement explains why elites in these and other nations tend to mostly comprise indigenous people/speakers whereas Scotland’s mainly Anglophone meritocratic elite seems for the most part not to be comprised of indigenous Scots, as reflecting an ‘ethnic division of labour’.

There is increasing research evidence of so-called ‘white flight’ from English cities and towns where middle-class (and now also working-class), mostly white English people have sought to move away from diverse multi-cultural areas. For this group, Scotland appeals as an attractive location given the population here is still predominantly white, mainly English spoken, and with what is perceived to be a broadly similar (i.e. ‘British’) culture, values and identity. Brexit is another factor which, according to property transaction evidence, appears to have led to an acceleration in movement of people from England to Scotland; Brexit (and then Covid) closed off options for UK citizens to easily move to EU countries, notably Spain and France, and Scotland appears to be an attractive alternative. People from England also have a tendency to move to countries which already have a significant English resident population.

Other significant factors include an attractive range of differentiated (from England) public policies introduced by the Devolved Scottish Government such as free care for the elderly, free higher education, free bus travel, free prescriptions, and a general view that public services may be better resourced and maintained in Scotland than in England. Hence there are numerous reasons why a large, mobile, relatively well-off English population move to Scotland. The general motivation for this population movement, however, appears to be that, immigrants from rest-UK coming to Scotland primarily do so in order to acquire personal economic rewards and social advantage for themselves or, as Albert Memmi put it, ‘for an easy life’ that is ‘based on privilege’.

On the other side of what increasingly appears a colonial-like ‘balance sheet’, a number of concerns may be highlighted. Excessive demand for property and buyers bidding well over asking prices leads to inflated house prices and limited housing availability in Scotland. This means buying a house is beyond the means of many Scots, especially younger generations seeking to get on the property ladder, in addition to creating a shortage of housing. Significant inflows of older people/retirees increase pressure on public services, notably healthcare provision. The movement of a largely professional and managerial (middle) class from rest-UK to Scotland brings with it a desire for its offspring to partake in (free) higher education studies and this may serve to ‘crowd-out’ Scottish students from certain courses and institutions. And significant numbers of people from England taking many (perhaps most) of the best paid jobs in Scotland, and with no indigenous language requirement, means fewer higher level employment opportunities will exist for Scots.

A large and ever-increasing English population appears concentrated in specific areas of Scotland, creating ‘unionist’ enclaves as is reflected in tactical voting in favour of unionist MP’s and MSP’s. These are also the specific areas from which recent calls for ‘partition’ tend to emanate; partition is a continuing destabilising feature of British colonialism in numerous territories around the world, and in this context we know that an imperial power moving defined ethnic peoples around can create conditions for partition. In this regard the national integrity of the Scottish nation itself may be at serious risk through uncontrolled demographic change.

Limited availability of housing and restricted access to better paid jobs may also discourage and indeed prevent many young Scots from raising families. We now see a dwindling birth rate in Scotland and a population maintained and boosted primarily through immigration from rest-UK. Holyrood’s unwarranted ‘mystification’ policies in respect of GRA and school education more generally, it may be argued, also serve to confuse and in turn limit the number of young people having or intending to have families, as reflected in the reducing birth rate.

Ongoing population change clearly serves to alter the balance of indigenous peoples and their national cultures and identities, more especially when immigrants do not make an effort, or are not required to properly integrate into a community, such as learning the indigenous (Scots) language; in this instance the immigrant group is also imposing its culture and language (and hence its identity) on the indigenous community, which demonstrates a colonial reality. Communities may be fundamentally altered and indigenous peoples uprooted, eventually becoming a marginalised minority, as has now occurred in many of Scotland’s rural areas, islands, towns and in certain urban areas as well. Large scale uncontrolled migration from a much larger populated country into a smaller neighbouring country coupled with long-established Cultural/Linguistic Imperialism and Colonial domination policies runs the risk of totally altering and ultimately subsuming and even entirely removing the smaller nation and its main indigenous ethnic group. (Such an outcome may even perhaps be defined as a form of genocide, as arguably previously occurred with the Gaelic community, see: United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect).

The British State is ‘responsible’ for immigration in the UK but has no specific policy for Scotland, at least not overtly. However, it might be expected that a vehemently anti-Scottish Independence British State is more than happy to see a large and sustained influx of mostly ‘No’ voting Anglophone ‘unionists’ from rest-UK coming to live in Scotland. Whether or not there are covert policies in play to help facilitate such an influx, who knows, though some have suggested how this may be achieved (e.g. Andrew Scott’s book ‘Scotched Nation’), and there are clearly no efforts to limit movement and/or continued cultural and linguistic domination.

Given recent census trends as well as historic demographic data, it should not therefore be surprising that more than half of voters in Scotland today reject the offer of Scottish citizenship, Scottish nationality, and Scottish independence. National identity, as we have found, reflects and is determined by our culture and language and the clear evidence is that the large and increasing numbers of people moving from rest-UK (and their ‘extraction’) to live in Scotland will mostly tend to reject and vote to block Scottish independence; census and post referendum data suggests that half or more of the two million ‘No’ voters in 2014 was made up of people who do not primarily hold to a Scottish identity. This group reject Scottish identity (and hence any offer of Scottish citizenship through independence) primarily because it is not who they are or what they identify as, or wish to be, in terms of their own ethnicity; this further suggests that much of the anti-independence ‘No’ vote may be largely ethnically driven.

Independence is ultimately about a people having the power to deal with the fundamentals of their own country and this includes protecting its population, its culture and its sovereignty. No (sovereign) country would allow its population to be removed and/or boosted and replaced in such a blasé way as to threaten the existence of its own people, and their national identity, or ‘dilute’ their national sovereignty. Unrestricted colonial-driven demographic change coupled with Cultural and Linguistic Imperialism policies are well-established colonial techniques intended to undermine a people and thwart their desire for national sovereignty. Such factors inevitably influence a peoples’ culture, language, and identity and eventually call into question the very existence of their nation. In Scotland’s case, ongoing population change at current levels can only serve to seriously hinder prospects for self-determination and independence. 

All independent countries have an immigration policy for good reason and Scotland within the UK union is clearly lacking in this regard, resulting in what we see: a failure to secure self-government due to the constant dilution of sovereignty (through immigration) facilitating subsumption, cultural assimilation and continued marginalisation of the Scots as an ethnic group in their own nation. A second referendum by perhaps 2024 may therefore already be a lost cause due to the inflow of another half a million mainly ‘No’ voters since 2014, as reflected in recent opinion polls showing a fall in support for independence; this suggests independence minded Scots require a different strategy.

To believe that the historic mass displacement of indigenous Scots combined with ongoing selective replacement of Scotland’s population was not somehow ‘managed’ or intended would seem a rather naïve hypothesis; countries do not displace by accident 3-4 million of their people, half or more the population, and then partially replace them through importing a meritocracy reflecting the culture, language and identity of the colonial Power itself. This ‘process’ appears to still be in full flow much as it has been over the last 150 years or more, and now seems to be accelerating, perhaps reflecting renewed efforts by the British State to finally put an end to any possibility of Scottish independence via a covert plantation policy.

National Governments naturally pay close attention to population change and there can be little doubt that the British State continues to monitor, control and indeed manipulate Scotland’s demographics, though not in the interests of Scots or Scotland, and certainly not in the interests of Scottish independence.

Demographics is therefore a key determinant of Scottish independence.

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NOTES

The aim of these articles – published by kind permission of ‘Yours for Scotland’ website – is to help broaden the case for independence, and also to give the curious and the already convinced information generally denied them by the agencies of the British state, the same trying to sell ‘Britishness’ as they once tried to sell ‘Buy British’.

Article 1 on ‘Culture’ can be found here: https://wp.me/p4fd9j-q2T

Article 2 on ‘Language’ can be found here: https://wp.me/p4fd9j-q4U

ALSO: ‘Does Independence Decolonise?’ can be located here: https://wp.me/p4fd9j-pNG

BOOK: ‘Doun-Hauden: The Socio-Political Determinants of Scottish Independence’, available from Amazon.co.uk:

Posted in Scottish Politics | 3 Comments

Aiming for a Green Bank

Modern Money Scotland Public Group | Facebook

This essay is penned by the eminent economist Yanis Varoufakis. Known for his radical solutions to old problems, he was among the first economists to point out the obvious, that our unionist opponents prefer to avoid: forget false argument about what currency an independent Scotland will use; we print our own currency, us it. That way keeps Scotland out of the wretched clutches of the Bank of England and its priorities linked to England’s economy. Scotland can pin its currrency to the Euro or the US dollar. While the pound sterling sinks into a debt mire of its own making, pinning our currency to the pound might not be a smart move.

Scotland voted overwhelmingly to stay in the European Union and continue its cutural, scientific and trading with Europeans, a tradition maintained over centuries. The phony ‘Union of Equals’, dominated by England, barred Scotland from taking part in negotiations on the question of continued membership, effectively claiming Scotland is nothing more than a region of England in all but name. Like the SNP, the newly formed ALBA party promises to reapply for EU membership, though ALBA proposes we first join EFTA, the European Free Trade Association with Iceland, Norway Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Those four countries are among the richest small nations in the world. The UK was a member of EFTA joining in 1973, until it joined the EEC and ceased to be an EFTA member.

Yanis Varoufakis is Founder and Secretary General of the MeRA25 party, and author of several books including ‘Adults in the Room‘. Previously, he was the Greek Finance Minister in Alexis Tsipras’s government, resigning when he realised that the Greek party was about to accept the EU’s onerous loans that would never reach the hands of the people who needed the money to invest in infrastructure schemes and work, but go straight back into the EU Bank.

Taking time to read this work, readers will find Varoufakis’s writing aimed at the general public refreshingly free of economic jargon.

A Green Central Bank

By Yanis Varoufakis

The very fact we’re discussing the idea of green central banking is a reminder that we live in desperate times. It demonstrates that good people, who care passionately about the green transition, have given up hope of living in functioning democracies willing and able to pursue our common interest.

Since the 1970s, our Western regimes have adopted the mantle of central bank independence. Independence from what? From grubby politicians eager to use the central bank’s printing presses to feather their nests, comes the standard answer. Which, in practice, means independence from parliament.

But this also places highly political decisions (for instance, an increase in interest rates that shifts power from debtors to creditors, or the purchase of an energy company’s bonds) beyond the reach of the demos and into the hands of an oligarchy which has traditionally profited from policies destroying the planet. Indeed, every time political decisions are disguised as technical ones and removed from the democratic realm, the result is toxic policies and economic failure.

While I am heartened by the recent urgency to enlist monetary policy in the pursuit of the green transition, what fills my heart with sadness is that all the recent talk of ‘greening’ central banks is unaccompanied by any challenge to the notion of central bank independence.

Depoliticising political decisions

Just like monetary policies, green policies are – and can never be anything other than – political choices. Whether we introduce a carbon tax or divest from fossil fuels or boost nuclear energy, every such decision has different effects on different people, communities and social classes. They are political through and through. To leave both monetary and green policies to nominally independent central banks is, effectively, to subcontract every decision that matters to the oligarchy to which central banks are beholden.

In reality, what has been happening is that since the 1970s central bank independence has been an excuse for formally depoliticising political decisions. In other words, of intentionally shrinking democracy and ditching the notion that crucial political decisions must be reached democratically.

Central banks can never be, and have never been, independent. Their legal independence has simply bolstered their dependence on bankers, on creditors, on multinational corporate interests. To place one’s hopes of a green transition on these same central banks is to legitimise the dwindling of democracy while turning citizens into denizens pleading with central bankers to save the planet on their behalf.

Understandably, central bankers like Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank (ECB), cannot come out into the open to challenge basic articles of the charters that bind them professionally and legally. Being legally bound to not criticise central bank independence, it is natural for them to express any concern they have for the planet by seeking to ‘green’ their institution’s practices – for instance, to rule out collateral bonds that were used to finance lignite-powered electricity generation.

But for democrats keen to push for the green transition, it is logically and ethically impermissible to go on and on about the importance of ‘greening’ our central banks while staying mute on the antidemocratic travesty that is a pretence to central bank independence.

One may counterargue that, be that as it may, we are saddled with central banks whose charters are what they are. Given the climate emergency, can we afford to waste years debating new charters and fresh mandates for our central banks? Should we not do whatever it takes in the short term, within existing central bank charters, to discourage pollution and bolster green investments?

Yes, of course we should. Central banks must be pressed immediately into the service of the task in hand. Except this cannot and should not be done by having them apply political or environmental criteria to their lending practices, including quantitative easing.

Modifying the ECB’s mandate

To illustrate my point, compare and contrast two approaches for using the ECB’s firepower in pursuit of a genuine European green new deal.

One approach, which I refer to as ‘collateral tinkering’, is to tamper with the ECB’s collateral rulebook, by linking the haircut it applies to collateral corporate bonds to the carbon footprint of the relevant corporation. For instance, lending only 40% of an ExxonMobil bond posted as collateral, but raising this to 70% if the oil giant mothballs all future drilling projects.

The problem with this is threefold: legal, political and practical. Legally, the ECB’s mandate as specified in its charter must be extended beyond its current mono-commitment to price stability – a task that will involve 27 parliaments agreeing to a new charter.

But, even if this obstacle can be overcome or sidestepped, and everyone turns a blind eye to the new collateral rules, the political problem remains: who will decide which haircut applies to which bond? Subcontracting such a colossal political decision to unelected central bankers would constitute democracy’s last straw.

And then there is the question of the policy’s impracticality: how can the ECB monitor that ExxonMobil will make best green use of the funds it receives, courtesy of divesting from future oil drilling and securing a smaller haircut for its bonds? What can the ECB do if, say, it discovers that ExxonMobil took the money and, instead of investing into solar or wind, used it to buy back its own shares? The answer is depressingly little.

Forging an EIB-ECB alliance

The second approach is to leave the ECB’s charter alone (for now at least), but have the EU Council announce that it is instructing the European Investment Bank to issue new bonds annually to the tune of 5% of EU GDP to fund the green transition. As the ECB is already buying as many EIB bonds as it can find, legally within its existing charter, this announcement effectively forges an EIB-ECB alliance.

A casual statement by the ECB that it will continue to purchase EIB bonds will ensure that, without a cent of new taxes, the EU now has 5% of its GDP to invest annually directly into green energy, transport, agriculture and heavy industry. This will allow the EU to channel real money into green investments of our governments’ collective choice. No ECB charter changes, no collateral tinkering, just immediate green action.

While this move would not democratise the ECB in itself (that would have to come later), it would limit the ECB’s political decision-making and assign the selection of green projects to elected politicians at the EU Council and the European Parliament.

And yet we hear nothing of an EIB-ECB Alliance – such a move would be legal and most effective in harnessing the ECB’s firepower to Europe’s green transition. But our ears are buzzing with all the talk about green central banking relying on legally suspect and practically inefficient ‘collateral tinkering’.

Why? Because the powers-that-be are prepared to sacrifice the Earth before they allow for the re-democratisation of political decisions it took them so long to take off the demos’ hands.

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Posted in Scottish Politics | 1 Comment

Scotland in the 21st Century: 2

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This second paper by Professor Alfred Baird concentrates on language, the bedrock that defines one nation from another, and that facilites a nations ability to pass what it has learned and how it has learned, it’s mores and values and the people’s understanding of their place in the scheme of things, from one generation to another. For the first article, and Professor Baird’s biography, please see link at the foot this page.

LANGUAGE

“The most urgent claim of a group about to revive is certainly the liberation and restoration of its language. Only that language would allow the colonized to resume contact with his interrupted flow of time and to find again his lost continuity and that of his history. To this self-rediscovery movement of an entire people must be returned the most appropriate tool; that which finds the shortest path to its soul, because it comes directly from it.” (Albert Memmi)

The tenets of any society are founded on language, which is the ‘master tool’ representing and making its own culture. Language is what makes culture possible and without a people’s language the culture is lost for that people.

Languages are powerful political instruments, so powerful they may be viewed as a threat to national allegiance and identity. Language, culture and national identity intersect to form our belief in ‘who we are’. When a people become incorporated into a more dominant imposed language and culture that has subsumed them, they have then lost their heritage and identity, and hence lost their way.

Because language is the fabric of culture, when a language dies, the demise of the culture that gave birth to it becomes imminent. Language wanes not because of physical extinction, but because of cultural subsumption. To the indigenous Scots speaker, English gaes in ane lug an oot the ither and will never touch the heart and soul of the people in the same way the Scots language does: the ‘Scots (language) is a mirror of Scotland’s soul’, according to writer Billy Kay.

The cause of language death is attributed to the marginalization of indigenous communities and the subordination of their languages, where the speakers of a culturally dominant language in a particular area or nation marginalize the speakers of minority languages. The Scots language is a minority language in Britain and has now been made a minority language in Scotland; according to the 2011 census just 1.6 million Scots speakers remain, less than a third of the Scottish population. This is a consequence of the Scots language being marginalised in Scotland through Anglophone domination and a refusal by UK and Scottish governing institutions to teach the language in Scotland’s schools, despite repeated requests by the European Council for the Scots language to be taught based on rights under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Resolution (Article 14) holds that aboriginal languages should be treated as fundamental rights and that: ‘A mother tongue is a human birthright.’ This means the Scots language should be respected and protected but even more important it needs to be taught! If a language is not taught to new generations, it will be lost.

Depriving a child of their language at the ‘sponge’ time of life, the most precious learning years, means a cultural bond is broken. Scotland’s bairns go into Anglophone dominated classrooms and have their own language squeezed out of them, often by teachers who themselves have little or no knowledge of, never mind qualification in, the Scots language. An Anglophone hierarchy is linguistically programmed to consider Scots speakers as less articulate than them, reflecting the prevailing view of Scotland’s social institutions that the Scots language is not a ‘valid’ language, which is linguistic prejudice and ethnic discrimination.

It is accepted almost universally that the English language is useful for communication, however, language is far more than merely a means of communication; language is the principle means by which humans can claim diversity and define their identity. To preserve language is also an effort to preserve a people and their unique heritage and culture, as well as their national identity. By ignoring and marginalizing the Scots language, a consequence of Linguistic Imperialism and linguistic policy of an Anglophone elite hegemony running Scotland, this means Scots speakers are made subordinate, their Scottish culture is being replaced, and with Scottish identity and therefore national consciousness diminished.

Scots speakers are therefore discriminated against (from birth) in their own nation and continually disadvantaged throughout life by prevailing Anglophone language domination and prioritisation. Scots language discrimination results in inequality and the so-called ‘attainment gap’; many Scots speakers are left behind, considered as inferior and less articulate, discarded by an Anglophone elite, many of whom are not Scots yet who control Scotland and its social institutions. This ongoing linguistic discrimination ‘introduced a schizoid element into the national psyche’,according to Dr. David Purves, with significant adverse psychological effects.

Scots have a right to a ‘Scots Language Act’ to end linguistic oppression and discrimination and to respect and reinstate the unique irreplaceable connection between their culture and language. The Sapir–Whorf hypothesis states that the way a people think and view the world is determined by their language, and culture and language are undeniably intertwined. Yet, with just 1.6 million Scots speakers left in Scotland, the number of speakers will inevitably fall further if the language is not taught. Coincidentally this is also the same number of ‘Yes’ voters in the 2014 referendum, highlighting the significance of language in the development of culture, identity and national consciousness, and a key driver in the self-determination of any people.

Language is one of the main factors that serves to define and unite a nation, reflecting the fact that language gives people their identity. Take away a ‘peoples’ language you take away their identity, which is the brutal objective of Cultural Imperialism and colonial oppression. 

For centuries the Scots language has been ‘scorned as the language of a backward people’. British linguists and educators responsible for developing language policy (e.g. Bernstein; Bunting) stressed the ‘verbal-deficit perspective’claiming that anyone who does not use standard English is verbally deficient, has less prospect of academic advancement, and does not even have a ‘valid’ language. Educationalists clearly still believe that Scots is not a ‘valid’ language, for if they thought otherwise then they would surely teach the language.

The inevitable (and intentional) outcome of prevailing language ‘policy’ in Scotland is that an Anglophone elite hierarchy dominates Scotland’s social structures, including education at all levels. Social structures and institutions are language created hence an Anglophone narrative defines and determines Scotland’s society and purpose, which by implication is also anti-independence. In this environment the stereotypical way Anglophone elites, broadcasters and educators depict the Scots language as the language of the gutter and of the lower classes amounts to ethnic discrimination.

The Scottish working and rural class are basically all that is left of Auld Scotia in respect of the Scots language and are therefore the final guardians of Scottish culture and identity. We might consider how a Scots language narrative, flowing naturally and unhindered, would help re-shape and strengthen the identity and culture of the Scottish people. One could surmise the ‘Yes’ vote in support of Scottish independence would be expected to rise somewhat if more Scots appreciated that they had their ain braw langage.

The socio-political importance of language is well-established. Madeiros (2017) asserts that: “it is linguistic perceptions that directly determine national attachment”. Scots speakers therefore tend to hold to a Scottish identity, Anglophones less so, as seems apparent in the Scottish independence debate and in voting outcomes where the Yes/No divide is to a large extent linguistic and hence cultural. This is nothing new: minority and ‘national’ or ethnic groups in conflict are invariably separated along linguistic lines and Scotland seems no different in a British context. 

Quebec and Canada represent a divide between a Francophone Quebec and an Anglophone Rest of Canada (RoC). Francophones tend to have identification with Quebec and show a positive and significant relationship with support for secession whilst Anglophones mostly oppose independence. Identification primarily with Scotland is the same for Scots speakers who comprise by far the dominant group supporting independence, reflecting the fact that national identity and culture are linguistically determined, whereas the anti-independence ‘No’ vote includes a significant and perhaps now a majority Anglophone element, the latter reflecting Scotland’s changing demographics.

In Quebec the elite is predominantly Francophone, whilst Scotland’s elite class is mainly Anglophone. This is largely because the Scots language is not made a linguistic requirement in Scotland, whereas the French language is compulsory in Quebec, as is English. If the Scots language were given authority and made a linguistic requirement in Scotland (as well as English) it might therefore be anticipated that the elite in Scotland would consist more, or perhaps predominantly of Scots speakers. Inequality and under-development of the Scottish people (and nation) due to socio-linguistic prejudice thus favours an Anglophone elite so long as the Scots language has no authority and is not taught.

A consequence of Linguistic Imperialism is that the Scots-speaking community are largely excluded from taking elite posts within Scotland’s social institutions and are therefore ‘doun-hauden’ (oppressed) through institutionalised language discrimination and Anglophone elite domination. Scotland’s high-level jobs are advertised primarily in the London Metropolitan press and are therefore aimed at an elite Anglophone labour market in rest-UK which is ten times larger, and with no Scots language requirement for any post in Scotland. This has resulted in ‘an ethnic division of labour within the UK’s internal colonialism model’, according to Professor Michael Hechter.

A direct consequence of linguistic-based marginalization and discrimination is the ‘Scottish Cultural Cringe’, which is a psychological impediment suffered by Scots resulting in a lowering of confidence and self-esteem. Yet English is not the natural language of Scots, it is a foreign language reflecting another culture and identity. With solely an English language (and culture) imposed on Scots who are intentionally deprived of properly learning their ain mither tongue, the aim is to diminish notions of Scottish national identity and to encourage assimilation to a ‘superior’ British national identity, and to impose an Anglophone cultural hegemony; this is the purpose and consequence of Cultural and Linguistic Imperialism and colonialism. 

Loss of language inevitably follows the loss of sovereignty and is a common theme in colonialism. As Professor Robert Phillipson noted, English Linguistic Imperialism is: ‘..the dominance asserted and retained by the establishment and continuous reconstitution of structural and cultural inequalities between English and other languages’. Linguistic Imperialism is a sub-type of Cultural Imperialism which permeates all other types of imperialism, including colonialism, primarily because language is the means used to mediate and express them. In colonial societies ‘linguistic underdevelopment parallels economic and political underdevelopment’, which implies that it is not only the Scottish people who are ‘doun-hauden’ (oppressed) through Anglophone domination, it is also the social, economic and political development of the Scottish nation that is hindered.

Hierarchisation of languages also brings with it a rejection of authentic local values and their substitution of ‘different’values which reflect the dominant language group. This serves to strengthen the elite language group’s social stratification resulting in a segregated society reflecting class, status and power, all of which are distinguishable by language and culture. This in turn further limits potential for social mobility and serves to worse inequality for indigenous Scots speakers. 

In summary, Scots are ‘doun-hauden’, their marginalization and inequality perpetuated and reinforced through an imposed Anglophone elite structured society and related socio-linguistic prejudice and cultural domination. This is the inevitable outcome of Cultural and Linguistic Imperialism and colonialism which involve prejudice, ethnic discrimination, exploitation and worse, and which rightfully gives rise to demands of ‘a people’ for independence, to restore their national sovereignty and to enable them to recover and build upon what Albert Memmi described as ‘a moribund culture and a rusted tongue’.

The Scots language is therefore a key determinant of Scottish independence.

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NOTES

The aim of these articles published by kind permission of ‘Yours for Scotland’ website – is to help broaden the case for independence, and also to give the curious and the already convinced information generally denied them by the agencies of the British state, the same trying to sell ‘Britishness’ as they once tried to sell ‘Buy British’.

Article 1 on ‘Culture’ can be found here: https://wp.me/p4fd9j-q2T

ALSO: ‘Does Independence Decolonise?’ can be located here: https://wp.me/p4fd9j-pNG

BOOK: ‘Doun-Hauden: The Socio-Political Determinants of Scottish Independence’, available from Amazon.co.uk:

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Posted in Scottish Politics | 14 Comments

Count Me Out

Another dissatisfied customer decides hope is not on sale in his local SNP store. Colin Dunn was a regular tweeter on the subject of Scotland’s rightful place in the legion of nations, a fashioner of pithy posters on independence. Most of his well-conceived illustrations were memorable, posters worth collecting, and can still pack a punch – like the one above. A man cannot exist on airy promises alone, and like so many, he has decided to withdraw from the clamour for greater political rights, at least for a time.

His voice echoes that of many others who are, or who have, lost faith in the SNP’s determination to fulfil the promise it once made to the electorate. When the Torty party can get elected by fewer than 35 percent of the votes in England and yet move ahead on its manifesto, people are understandably bemused by the SNP’s reluctance to capitalise on its popularity. Repetition of promises only add cynicism to doubt.

An absence of any sales pitch on the obvious benefits of self-reliance confounds voters. Falsely castigated by opponents for ‘forever talking about independence’, the SNP must be the only independence party in history to deny that they discuss it, and they did that because it is true. If the SNP is not listening to the likes of Colin, it ignores the mounting voices at its peril, and is deaf to the footfalls walking away from support.

Recently, Posterboy disappeared off the Twitter and Facebook map. He explains why.

Still Here, Just Not Cheering

by Colin Dunn

A series of email messages from concerned independence campaigners ask why I have closed my Twitter and Facebook accounts and appear to have stopped campaigning. Thank you for the concern. I am well, but am taking a break. Here are my thoughts on where we are, and why I have decided to step back from the independence campaign.

In 1951 two million Scots, out of a population of five million, signed the Scottish Covenant supporting the formation of a devolved Scottish Government.

Today, it’s very easy to set up and sign a petition online – and just as easy for the result to be dismissed and ignored – but in 1951 the petition was two million actual physical signatures laboriously gathered on doorsteps, streets, pubs and village halls. This impressive achievement expressed the will of a very significant proportion of the adult population of Scotland.

The result? Zero. There was no powerful elected party with the legal or political power to legitimately implement it or force Westminster to agree to it. History is repeating itself

The greatest advantage of the Scottish independence movement over its opponents is the diversity and energy of its grassroots – individuals, groups and organisations. Tens of thousands of people spending all their spare hours working for the cause, disseminating information, educating, persuading. The pro-Union side, built from a few very rich donors and some small but very well-funded ‘astroturf’ organisations, has nothing like it. That energy and dedication is being squandered

Without a powerful political or elected organisation with the desire and legitimacy to press for an independence referendum, there is no end in sight nor a target to work towards achieving independence. 

There can be no real progress without there being an actual, real and genuine formal independence campaign sanctioned by the SNP, as only they have the legal and political power and legitimacy to trigger a second referendum. And despite repeated assurances and many false dawns, they are doing nothing about it.

Until that changes the rest of us are all just pissing in the wind, and the risk is that the valuable grassroots enthusiasm, with nowhere to go, will simply evaporate.

After 9 years of spending all of my spare time – and much of my non-spare time too – working on materials and designs for a ‘campaign’ that seems to have no end, I am tired. I have decided to take a break, perhaps a permanent one.

I’m a tiny cog in the indy machine, but I get the sense that many, many others, some of them very significant figures in the movement, share my feeling of frustration and weariness. Clearly an independence vote cannot take place until Covid-19 circumstances improve, but a real and legitimate campaign, with a clear timeline and destination, could be triggered by the SNP now, and should have been a long time ago.

Though I voted for it in 1997, for many years I was highly sceptical of the value of a devolved Scottish Parliament, but recognised over the next 10 years that it was really making a genuine difference in improving the lives of the people of Scotland.

Similarly for many years I was uninterested in independence, supporting electoral reform for the UK as a whole instead, and voting LibDem for 30 years to try to achieve it. In 2010 we all saw how that turned out when the LibDems compromised all of their principles in exchange for power sharing with the Conservatives.

My hopes for a fairer, more representational UK were dead.

In 2011 I consciously voted SNP for the first time, hoping that Scottish independence would then lead to a more liberal and democratic England too. Though I am not a member of the SNP (I was briefly in 2015 to push the SNP MP campaign in Westminster, though that sadly achieved nothing), I have continued to vote SNP to further the push for independence, though I have become more and more disappointed in the SNP’s lacklustre efforts to advance this aim. Whilst I believe that they are still a pro-indy party, my confidence that indy is their main priority has been shaken, and should there be no pro-indy progress before the UK general election in 2024 my vote may very well be going to a different party.

Should that inaction continue I doubt very much indeed that I will be voting SNP in the next Scottish general election in 2026.

The indy grassroots is a hugely valuable resource. It’s down to you, SNP. Use it, or lose it.

Colin Dunn – aka indyposterboy

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Posted in Scottish Politics | 14 Comments

Covid and Justice

Falkirk Sheriff Court

Eva Comrie is a solicitor specialising in children’s cases, or put formally: accredited by the Law Society of Scotland as a specialist in family law and also in child law. Her area of operation is Clackmannanshire, Falkirk and Stirling. Not the only law practitioner to go to press with their concerns, she has published a number of articles over past testing months on the problems of handling children’s cases in her area while labouring under pandemic restrictions, her reports highlighting what she experiences issuing from the “poor attention to detail of the Scottish Government”. A below the knee amputee, (LBK) she knows the problems intimately that affect the Scottish health service. A former active member of the SNP disillusioned by their highly contentious policies and slothful stroll to self-governance, she switched to the ALBA party, a courageous act considering the ALBA party has yet to acquire a solid powerbase.

Scotland’s Choice

by Eva Comrie

You’ve seen the figures for Scottish deaths from Covid-19; amongst the worst in the world and the positive case numbers are the highest in Europe. There are reasons for this, not the least of which are the obvious strategy of following the 4 Nations approach, refusing to close borders and ports, being feart to depart from Boris’ line and moving positively tested patients into nursing homes. The early abandonment of test, trace and isolate was wrong – I said so then, in March 2020, and got pelters for it.

My Dad was in hospital repeatedly over 2020 and though he never had Covid, was never in a Covid ward, there were patients in his wards who had Covid. Contrary to advice tendered, wards were mixed; some ambulance personnel refused to wear masks and gloves, including those contracted by Forth Valley Hospital privately. My family’s loud complaints were useless after the fact of a deadly virus. PPE supplies didn’t run out, but at times were in jeopardy.

Courts were not prepared at all. Not at all. No social distancing, no hand wash, no masks; just busy courts full of folk mingling. Then when the guillotine fell on 23rd March the courts were closed; some have barely reopened since and justice, especially for those on remand, and for families, and children in care, has suffered, to the great shame of a country which considers itself modern, civilised and progressive.

The presence of Covid-19 in Scotland, its virulence, its murderous nature – all of that was known at least since February when skiers and rugby fans were exposed; our FM knew about pandemics because she was previously our Health Secretary.

What prep was there in public life or in the NHS for Covid-19? Seems like not so much from what I saw then. Even when there was a requirement for patients aged 70+ to be tested on admission to hospital, that was not extended to patients already in hospital; some patients were allowed visits from relatives not wearing masks, other patients were denied visits and were given life changing information, including death sentences, while alone without a close relative for solace.

Carers employed by private companies drove around teams, in panic, on overtime, delivering aprons, masks and gloves. I was in hospital in Glasgow after first lockdown and barely any staff had as much as a mask; there were shared pens, for inane form-filling, no hand sanitiser and yet only urgent appointments were conducted so that for many months standard diagnostic matters have been ditched.

We’re paying a bigger and unnecessary price for this lack of preparation now – many of us have not been able to see a GP on time or get a referral for a health issue when further assessments are desirable so that problems have been stored up and issues have developed through ignorance and delay.

Folk with life threatening cancers now could have lived had they been seen last year; mental health patients might not be contemplating suicide had they had therapy before now; I’m a minor player in the game as I’ve just been waiting for an MOT on the leg for 18 months. I will get a couple of new ones, but the parts are delayed because of Brexit.

I am not a fan of the notion that Independence comes when Covid-19 is gone. Am I wheech. And here’s another reason – the Scottish drugs death statistics are due soon, unless they are massaged and delayed once more. (1,264 people died in Scotland through drugs last year.) Most of us on or near the front line fear this year will be worse. And that remains Scotland’s shame.

One hundred and more years ago folk like my Grandad was born into poverty in Lochee and Clackmannanshire but saw a way out through Army service; later in mines and heavy industry. Nowadays the descendants of their peers see no hope. It is very hard to be optimistic in Scotland today; we’ve become jaded, scared, isolated with a government telling us we have to hang onto the coat tails of Westminster for a while yet.

If we need Westminster to recover from Covid, isn’t that a white flag? A sign that we in Scotland believe that we cannot stand up for ourselves, cure ourselves, create our own futures, liberate ourselves, craft our own dreams, ambitions, aims and aspirations?

It is time, Scotland – time to stand up, get off our knees.

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Posted in General, Scottish Politics | 5 Comments

Scotland in the 21st Century: 1

This is the first paper from Professor Alfred Baird, a dissertation on the colonial reality that is Scotland under pernicious and exploitative rule of its neighbour with a populace content to allow the manipulation to prevail, at least for the most part. While some see the Union in need of repair and modernisation, there is a growing movement advocating the restoration of genuine self-governance, looking for a superior and equitable relationship with England that benefits Scots and does not hinder progress.

Each of Professor Baird’s papers sets out the key determinants of Scottish Independence. The articles are abbreviated chapters from his most recent book ‘Doun-Hauden: The Socio-Political Determinants of Scottish Independents’, a Kindle Store publication readers are encouraged to purchase for a fuller account of Scotland’s situation. Professor Baird’s biography and his previous paper published on Grouse Beater can be found at the foot of this article.

Culture

Historically the Scots have suffered more than most from a heavy dose of British Anglophone cultural imperialism, also known as cultural colonialism. Cultural imperialism involves an unequal relationship which favours the more powerful, in this case Anglophone, ‘civilisation’ and its culture. In any colonialism project the main divide between the ruling hierarchy and the native is inevitably cultural and linguistic, language forming the basis of culture. Where power lies is the pertinent feature here and power over Scotland clearly does not lie in Scotland, far less with Scots language speakers, the latter now a minority in Scotland due to the national Scots language neither being taught nor given any statutory authority.

Many Scots today appear to exhibit Schiller’s “packaged consciousness” whereby the British main stream media creates, processes, refines and presides over the circulation of images and information which determines beliefs, attitudes, and ultimately the behaviour of Scots pertaining to their very identity itself. Scots have been fed a concentrated British Anglophone cultural ‘package’ for such a long time it is little surprise that some Scots today hold to a British and hence Anglophone ‘national’ identity and buy into the notion of British exceptionalism, and with that comes an implied Scottish ‘inferiority’. 

The native bourgeoisie under cultural imperialism and colonial domination tend to ‘mimic the colonizer’, according to Albert Memmi, in an effort to progress socio-economically and to maintain their status and privileges, in the process casting aside and denigrating their own supposedly ‘inferior’ culture and language. Colonial schools (private fee paying) and elite universities further the segregation process along, with the top jobs often reserved to such groups, according to the Elitist Scotland report. Advertising most of Scotland’s top administrative and commercial posts primarily in the imperial metropolitan capital’s press represents another feature of colonial reality, hence Scotland’s mostly Anglophone meritocratic elite today. 

A consequence of this ‘cultural conditioning’, suggested Scots language expert Dr. David Purves, is a deeply entrenched feeling of Scottish inferiority which we know as the Scottish Cultural Cringe and a ‘schizoid national psyche’ resulting in a people lacking in confidence to run their own affairs.

Depriving a people of learning their own language, Scots in this case, is a common feature of colonial oppression, which facilitates another ‘power’ ruling over them and also serves to divide a dominated people. Frantz Fanon claimed that the desire for independence and nationhood can only derive from our ‘national consciousness’ which is dependent on the national culture and language that necessarily gives a people their national identity. Indeed, the struggle ‘to re-establish the sovereignty of any nation constitutes the most complete and obvious cultural manifestation that exists’

The aim of assimilation in colonialism is therefore progressed by denigrating a ‘peoples’ culture and depriving them of their language in an effort to replace their national culture and identity and diminish their desire for nationhood or independence. Any quest for independence is ultimately a fight for a national culture which means the struggle is therefore primarily dependent on culture and national identity rather than political ideology, ‘for liberation is a cultural phenomenon’.

Gramsci’s theory of ‘cultural hegemony’ reflects here the ruling class order maintaining cultural control and usage of that control as the primary tool by which they – the ruling class -keep itself in power. In Scotland this cultural control is maintained by what Scottish folk singer Dick Gaughan called ‘an illusion of culture’, and the idea or rather fantasy that there is one ‘British’ culture which is shared by one ‘British’ society within one ‘British’ nation; the foundation of this illusion is language, the English language. This cultural illusion, which is an artificial political construct, extends to music and the arts, though its basis is language, and specifically the English language, reflecting an Anglophone cultural hegemony controlling Scotland and its institutions and forming its ruling establishment. The British State has in effect built a ‘racial separation wall’ and a racial entity that can exclude others, such as Scots language speakers, under a mantra of the importance of the elevated Anglophone culture in which language plays a decisive role. Colonialism, after all, involves racism, prejudice and worse.

Those Scots of indigenous culture and identity for whom the Scots language remains predominant, naturally form the bulk of the pro-independence vote in Scotland, much as indigenous language speakers in many former colonies sought secession. The anti-independence ‘No’ vote, on the other hand, which is enhanced through an irregular and non-reciprocal residence-based franchise, is to a large extent Anglophone. The latter emphasizes and reflects those primarily holding to a British national identity and tends to be made up rather differently and will be substantially boosted by ongoing uncontrolled demographic change and may now perhaps comprise people mostly of non-Scottish indigenous culture and heritage, language, and identity. All ‘peoples’ in self-determination conflict are linguistically and hence culturally divided, reflecting the natural desire of an oppressed people to reject and fight against what the UN calls the ‘scourge’ of colonial domination and (cultural) imperialism.

The cultural capital of Anglophone elites therefore differs from that of indigenous Scots native speakers in Scotland, the latter now mostly comprising the working class, which in itself is no accident in a colonial dominated society reflecting structural inequalities. The Scots are a people who remain subject to an ‘alien’ culture and language that is imposed on them which is not their own and which makes them, and is intended to make them feel inadequate and inferior, hence the ‘Scottish Cultural Cringe’. This also provides impetus for the mainly bourgeoisie segment of the native population to opt for greater assimilation and in the process to cast aside their own culture and language. Outcomes here reflect the imposition on Scots of what Professor Michael Hechter termed an ‘ethnic division of labour within the UK internal colonialism model’. This process is referred to by Bourdieu as ‘enculturation’ and is an inevitable and intended outcome of cultural and linguistic imperialism.

The ultimate aim of cultural imperialism is therefore to remove and replace the natural national culture of a colonised people. According to Frantz Fanon, ‘cultural obliteration is made possible by the negation of national reality’, implying that once national sovereignty is forfeit, the national culture is surely going to follow suit. In terms of colonial and cultural domination, the Scots are therefore culturally and hence ethnically oppressed, giving rise to the psychological condition we refer to as the Scottish Cultural Cringe (the scientific term for which is internalized racism) and a negative feeling of inferiority amongst Scots which also results in a range of associated long-term adverse health impacts. This condition, which is closely connected with prevailing societal inequalities, lack of attainment and under-development of the Scottish people and nation, is imposed by and embellished through adominant Anglophone cultural hegemony. 

Scotland needs to halt the ongoing ‘symbolic violence’ inflicted on its people by a British Anglophone cultural and meritocratic elite, and allow Scottish culture and the Scots language, which collectively form the basis of Scottish identity and hence national consciousness, to develop naturally and respectfully and without undue external influence and domination. In this regard independence is necessary because, as Fanon reminds us,‘national sovereignty and independence is the only guarantee of national culture’.

Scottish national culture represents a key determinant of Scottish independence.

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NOTES

The aim of these articles – published by kind permission of ‘Yours for Scotland’ website – is to help broaden the case for independence, and also to give the curious and the already convinced information generally denied them by the agencies of the British state, the same trying to sell ‘Britishness’ as they once tried to sell ‘Buy British’ The false patriotism awarded to an abstract concept is standard propaganda wheeled out every decade or so by those who k now England needs Scotland’s wealth, the power elite who would keep Scotland underdeveloped, controlling our economy and exploiting Scotland’s resources.

BIOGRAPHY: Alfred Baird was, prior to his retirement in 2016, Professor of Maritime Business and Director of the Maritime Research Group at Edinburgh Napier University. He has a PhD in Strategic Management in Global Shipping. His specialist area of research and teaching is strategic management in maritime transport. His research activities encompass most of the world’s main shipping markets in Europe, Asia, Mid-East and North and Latin America, and Australasia. He has published more than 200 research articles, plus delivered over 150 conference papers, many as invited speaker at major maritime industry events, also winning several international prizes for his applied research work and development of applied theoretical and analytical frameworks in areas such as port privatisation, strategic management in shipping, container transshipment, and shipping service feasibility studies. He developed his own Masters’ module on ‘Strategic Management in Maritime Transport’ which was taught to postgraduate students at several of the major maritime universities in Europe and further afield. In 2020, Alf published a research-based academic textbook on the subject of Scottish independence – see below for details.

ALSO: ‘Does Independence Decolonise?’ can be located here: https://wp.me/p4fd9j-pNG

BOOK: ‘Doun-Hauden: The Socio-Political Determinants of Scottish Independence’, available from Amazon.co.uk:

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Posted in Scottish Politics | 6 Comments

Cancelling Women

HeraldScotland:

Kevin McKenna is one of the few Scottish freelance journalists the reader can expect to pen articles of good prose mixed with some common sense – and the occasional dash of Catholicism – though one might not necessarily agree with every opinion he presents.

Here McKenna offers an insightful study of the Scottish National Party’s troubled take-over by people with neo-fascist attitudes on what the rest of us should be thinking and doing when it comes to women’s rights, their rights after years of struggle now scuttling backwards thanks to the SNP, a compliant establishment and a lot of female-hating men.

The first signs of the SNP’s lurch to authoritarianism and removal of human rights I encountered was when thrown out of a party I had left months earlier, a reminder that numbskull gangsterism usually carries with it the hallmark of administrative incompetence. Still, it was deeply disturbing. Overnight, ‘guilt by accusation’ became the watchword of the SNP. Others feel foul of SNP belligerism, some their own colleagues. The worst was to come when no one in the SNP saw the injustice, or if they did, did anything about it, an indication of the hardening of attitude by a political party fearing no opposition. The democracy people thought they saw before them was a mirage, the representatives they trusted, uncaring and arrogant.

The SNP’s obsession with the sex live of others is something I hoped was a passing faze. What is worring is a perverse conflict has been created that has traces of becoming eternal, with the pretensions of those who want to be turned into women without modifying their bodily appearance or genitalia, for their sole desire to ‘feel‘ like women. 

If things are uncertain for me, a man used to the cut-and-thrust of wasted competitiveness, how do women feel seeing their rights withdrawn by a party many women voted for to help create an enlightened, tolerant, better Scotland, one led by a woman running a promised ‘open’ government, who appears untroubled by the profound unhappiness she is causing left in her wake?

The word ‘gender‘ has replaced those of ‘women‘ and ‘men’; ‘gender violence law’ has replaced patriarchy, feminism, feminist struggle. So far, women are forced to expend a lot of time and trouble to stop the path that this nonsensical ideology has travelled, the absurdity of passing laws that eliminate the material reality of women and men. 

Scotland’s Political Elites

by Kevin McKenna

THE new chi-chi idiom favoured by Scotland’s fake liberal elites is ‘down the rabbit-hole’. It sits with another one, ‘alt-Nat’. Each conveys a smugness born of narcissism: look at me; I know things.

They’re the sort of phrases you use when you want to exclude people whom you consider to be your intellectual inferiors. They’re as artificial and contrived as the liberalism and progressiveness of those who favour them; the platinum membership cards of an odiously conceited clique.They’re often commandeered in the treacherous and dangerous terrain on which the current debate about the rights of transgender people proceeds. And specifically when feminists, women whose liberalism is real and not ornamental, wish to defend their sex-based rights.

Simply for pointing out that transgender women are transgender women and never biological women they are deemed to have disappeared ‘down the rabbit-hole’. As though what they believe has been born of ignorance and fantasy and not the unalterable truth – underpinned by the laws of the universe – it actually is.

Transgender rights

Yet, what if this isn’t ultimately about transgender rights at all? What if we’re seeing the start of a dystopian experiment in government by group-think? Sure, the old party names remain but only to serve as a veneer of democracy; an echo of it: one that signals to the outside world there’s nothing to see here. A Caledonian Handmaid’s Tale with a touch of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Thus Scotland is added to that list we were all once told about. You know: those countries whose citizens fear the 2am knock. China with its one-child policy was always on that inventory and East Germany too, a place where all your neighbours were in the secret police.

Have you heard about Scotland? They’ve cancelled women and have state-approved misogyny. Mis-gendering can never be accidental; only criminal. The crime of rape is now maybe not rape at all if you claim the asylum of womanhood. A woman can get collared if she demands that an intimate medical examination is conducted by, you know, an actual woman. Visit Scotland by all means – the scenery’s great – just maybe avoid it if you’re more than eight months pregnant.

This abduction by stealth of what it means to be female has all happened because the police; the judiciary and certain sections of the press have been complicit in it. Even the churches and trade unions – traditionally the conductors of grass-roots resistance when basic human rights have been trampled – are curiously silent.

The words we use

In a dictatorship of the mind the primary targets are the very words we use. Once a ruling class has safely distorted the language so that it can mean anything they want it to mean, it becomes easy for them to turn it against undesirables; to criminalise and to target them. If you are the unchallenged source of all funding and all appointments then 14 years (and counting) of soft influence can also be used. Those who don’t participate in this public genuflection before the new super-class can be taken in the second sweep once the laws have been changed.

You hesitate to call this dystopian because ‘dystopian’ indicates something that’s far in the future. But this is happening now, sponsored and manipulated by the highest levels of government and in the main bodies where a government gets to exercise punitive and exemplary power.

The very concept of womanhood is being slowly eroded here by men. All the protected characteristics of women are disappearing, including the words exclusive to them – especially those specific to reproduction, sex and sexual health. These are being replaced by an ugly suite of contrived portmanteaus designed specifically to erode much of what wakes women women. If a government can successfully do this then the rest is easy. Nothing can be considered beyond its absolute control.

Where is the opposition?

The absence of any opposition in Scotland – from left or right – places this administration in a uniquely advantageous position. From here it can virtually assume full control by using the tyranny of these words and the laws constructed around them to remove all party and tribal allegiances. Thus, anything can be deemed criminally offensive and the unwary can be trapped on the wrong side of a constantly indeterminate red line that can be moved backwards and forwards to suit.

This government is engaged in the removal of the simplest means of protest – words written and spoken – and the meaning that they once possessed. With them also goes the means to move others. It’s then set to rule for as long as they will it and by any means they deem necessary. This is where we are in Scotland in 2021. Independence, it now seems, was just an ethereal construct to dope up the masses and keep them occupied while the real purpose was concealed.

The chief weapon of marginalisation is a new concept and a sort of philosophical legerdemain; that those defending human rights – specifically women’s sex-based rights – are deemed to be transphobic and reactionary. The contortions required to reach this conclusion are dizzying. They require you to leave behind what you thought you knew and replace it with absolute obedience to a will that believes itself to be almost divinely-appointed.

Most of all though, it simply requires a lie: that defending your own sex-based rights somehow tramples all over someone else’s. That being a feminist is threatening rather than liberating. You must either drop your feminism or change it to mean something else.

Second-rate glove puppets

Nicola Sturgeon and the cast of second-rate glove puppets she’s gathered to herself are leading this. It’s not about the rights of transgender people. It’s about power and how to cling to in perpetuity. This is not equality; this is a kind of fascism.

Many of those engaged in this gender struggle are being used as cannon fodder by a political elite who fear both women and transgender people. If you are a political player and you are weaponising this issue in any way then you should be ashamed of yourself. And if you are deliberately slandering people in public life who seek only to defend women’s rights then shame on you too.

NOTES

This site has published essays on ‘creeping’ fascism in society: https://wp.me/p4fd9j-n5A

This article was first published in the Herald Online on Saturday 19 June, 2021.

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Posted in Scottish Politics | 8 Comments

SNP’s Sleight of Hand Fund

Prompted by the controversy surrounding the missing £600,000 ‘ring-fenced’ referendum fund – this site bewildered at the never-ending reasons for its absence and its existence – reasons offered by SNP apologists, SNP treasurers, SNP HQ, SNP officials, first minister Nicola Sturgeon, and probably Uncle Tam MacCobblers and all.

The new national treasurer is now the old national treasurer, the previous incumbent elected to clear up the mess having resigned, unable to get sight of the account books to make sense out of the Alice in Wonderland adventures in creative accountancy, ot indeed, to have the right to see the account books held tight by Mr Peter Murrell, the first minister’s husband and CEO of the SNP.

The sentence that upends all that is stated before it, is the last one in paragraph 9: “There may be a need for a further fund-raising exercise early in 2022 as we approach critical political watersheds.” What watersheds or how many we, the electorate, face is not detailed. Put another way, the SNP are probably saying, they don’t have the money at the moment and even if supporters raise enough in 2022, a referendum on independence is not guaranteed. In fact, the implication is, it might not happen at all if not enough money is forthcoming.

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Posted in Scottish Independence Referendum, Scottish Politics | 8 Comments